Open Mic

The Yakima Coffeehouse Poets presents Open Mic Night on the second Wednesday of each month, September through May.

We would like to thank Larson Gallery, W Nob Hill Blvd & 16th Ave, Yakima Valley College Campus, in Yakima, for allowing us the use of its Gallery Space.

This event is open to the public and people are encouraged to read their original poetry. (Please keep your reading time to about 4 minutes.) Donations are welcome at the door.

Yakima Coffeehouse Poets

Next Open Mic night…
Wednesday,
March 11, 2020, 7 pm

Host: Aileen Keown Vaux

Larson Gallery, YVC Campus
(Corner of W Nob Hill Blvd & 16th Ave)

Free parking for open mic night is available in the main YVC parking lot next to Parker Field, east of Larson Gallery.

Aileen Keown Vaux is a writer, educator, and public speaker whose chapbook Consolation Prize was published in 2018 by Scablands Books. Her bi-monthly column can be found in Spokane's newspaper The Inlander. She grew up in Yakima, and is inspired by the rural and agricultural environments of the Yakima Valley. Her book Consolation Prize is based on themes from the Central Washington State Fair.
Aileen Keown Vaux is a writer, educator, and public speaker whose chapbook Consolation Prize was published in 2018 by Scablands Books. Her bi-monthly column can be found in Spokane’s newspaper The Inlander. She grew up in Yakima, and is inspired by the rural and agricultural environments of the Yakima Valley. Her book Consolation Prize is based on themes from the Central Washington State Fair.

Unsolved Mysteries
—By Aileen Keown Vaux

When you tell me about the Old Man,
the dead hemlock tree bobbing
vertically in Crater Lake,
I want to say I understand.
My animal is a caldera of craving,
a lizard brain sunning itself on the rim;
It’s so much more desolate than I imagined
you say of the hollow the volcano left in its wake,
an opening where people take a guided tour
following the Old Man on his trip from one edge to another.
I am a single hemlock on display,
with small rafts of humans waving my way,
spying me with their black binoculars,
wishing me well, saying, You’re doing okay.
I expect, in another 100 years, to find myself dead,
making the same loop after more mountains have blown their tops
and most of the birds have flown the coop.
I want an animal life, making warrens in barren hills.
You’re making me want to read this book,
Advice for Future Corpses, lessons for a time
when the point is moot, when we see the event horizon
drawing us into something grave.
I heard you could stack the Eiffel Tower,
the Statue of Liberty, the Washington Monument,
and all the despair we’ve seen together,
and still not find the caldera floor.


DO THE WAKKY YAKKY!
         —By Aileen Keown Vaux
Don’t be shy.
When the dance sensation hits
I’ll look a fool if I don’t try.
Sure, my coordination will be shaky,
and the muscles I never use will ache.
I put my right hand in,
I pull the left ventricle of my heart out
and look at it.
Look at it.
This human heart in my palm
works all damn day to keep me alive
and now it lives outside of my body.
Be respectful.
I have to go back to work,
sitting in a chair ergonomically designed
to shave a mere twenty years from my life,
employing my heart to pump blood through my body,
which, after all, is a deep sea
diving suit worn inside out.
If loving you means holding
this human heart in my hand
and worrying about sun exposure
and the gloom that we won’t expire together
then I don’t know if I’m up for the job.
I’ve lived so long in my air chamber,
in my double breasted suit–
It scares me to consider breathing outside
of this world and into another,
but I would look a fool if I didn’t try.

Yakima Coffeehouse Poets


Like the Poetry contest, Open Mic Night got its start at Allied Arts. The event was initiated in 2005 by local poet Elaine Smith. Then encouraged by the former Allied Arts director Elizabeth Herres Miller and her successor Jessica Moskwa.  They felt a monthly forum where local poets could read original work would complement the annual contest. They were right.

Poets Claire Carpenter, Dotty Armstrong, Chuck Forster, Rod Nelson, Linda Brown, Ed Stover, Elaine Smith, and Mark Fuzie have kept Open Mic alive.

Open Mic Night was popular at the outset and remains so as a program now run by the Yakima Coffeehouse Poets.  Come read a poem and meet your fellow Yakima poets.