Tony O’Brien was the featured poet at First Friday Open Mic on February 3, 2017. O’Brien is also a photographer and a jazz musician. He melded his talents of being a poet and a photographer for his performance. At the open mic, he had participants hold up posters of his photographs with his poems imprinted on them.
When O’Brien was asked when he started writing poetry. He said that in 1980 he was “messing around at work, placing some thoughts on paper . . about my kids.” He was writing about life in general and about his two boys. He became more serious in 1992 and he really started in 2006 when he developed his style, “word poetry.” He explained that “word poetry” was “rooted in Hebrew poetry. (It is a) biblical way of writing, based on parallelism, step and climactic. . .and end up on paper visually.” His poems were published in the book, “Inspirational Poetry by Design.” The book is available at the Beale Library.
O’Brien said he went on to brand his style of poetry, “Work Poetry,” by registering the name with U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. One of the poems that O’Brien performed was “Before I Die” which is an example of a climactic poem.
Before I Die
Within the sixty-six books
That were inspired by your spirit
And written for the sons of mankind.
I have but one question that I must ask from my heart
That has caused my soul to be in fear. . .
I am like a ship without a rudder.
I beg that you guide my heart
So that my soul will not be in fear, and that you
Anchor my heart upon your word
So that I can find my rest.
And as I like in my resting place,
I beg that you cause my soul to stand
Because my greatest fear is that I give you a reason to
Refuse me before I die.
Following the performance by Tony O’Brien was open mic portion of the evening. Here are poems from poets who performed during the open mic. These poets provided their words to be shared on this website. The poems are placed according to the order of performance by the poets.
Honey, Scruff, Whiskey Moan by Mateo Lara
“It’s always ever a disaster,
paying attention to details,
I’d run the moon out of the
sky, waiting for everything to
“I was high” Yaritza Castro
“I love you,” he said.
Three words planted like seeds
in my mouth.
Seeds I would cultivate
into beautiful flowers, only to
hide them from anyone who wouldn’t
replant my garden after I tor
those flowers from their roots.”
Poems by Clark Long
“Some day the Sun will blow
and toss the planets into deep space
and all the sunscreen will freeeze!”
“My name was X,
soon to orbit NOTHING!”
A poem by Diana Ramirez
“. . .Frown upon me you might,
But i have been created to create,
and you were born to see the light,
And our story
is the longest
ever told and I refuse to be a mold,
molded in the image that man has sold.”
Altars by Normal G. Camorlinga
So I sit by the altar Latinos leave
for their dead
Placing silly ideas into boxes
& rearranging them in my mind
With a Marigold flower in one hand
And my heart in the other to
greet you when