Percolating Poetry

It’s time for the Percolator. It’s time for the Percolator.”

I was twenty-something. It was the early 2000s, and I was in Raleigh, NC at a nightclub called Visions (long since extinct). The DJ took center stage, and the crowd gathered ’round.

“Come on up to do ‘The Percolator,'” she said, and I took a step forward, towards the spotlight.

My friend grabbed my arm and held me back. “You don’t know how to do ‘The Percolator,'” she hissed.

She was right; I’d never heard of it in my life. I fought off her grasp. “I don’t care; I’ll do it anyways.”

But she was a muscly sort, and she held me back as a handful of dancers came forward, and a song came over the speakers – more of a pattern of popping sounds than a song. The only lyrics:

“It’s time for The Percolator
it’s time for the percolator.”

I don’t know that I ever properly thanked that friend.

This is the closest video I could find to what I saw that night:

I remember more popping up and down, like coffee in my aluminum camping percolator. Its clear glass top shows when the water is boiling over the grounds, and you can watch it change from light tan to strong, rich brew while you wait. Whenever I use it, I think…it’s time for the Percolator.

This post is, improbably, about my poem being accepted to the NC Poetry Society’s “Poetry in Plain Sight” program. “PIPS” brings North Carolina poems into “plain sight” in major NC towns, such as Raleigh, by printing them on posters. I am deeply honored to be selected.

The poem they chose is “Language.” I submitted it without any clear idea of what “PIPS” was, what I was signing up for, or the slightest anticipation that I’d be chosen. I just stepped forward.

I’m ready to dance. My poem will be on display next February in windows and other street-visible locations in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Burnsville, Wilmington, Durham, Greenville, and Raleigh. As Lil John says, “To the window, to the wall.” It’s time for the Percolator.

Writing with Kids

I just finished Writer Mama by Christina Katz, a how-to for moms launching their writing careers. It was more targeted at nonfiction writers, but the layout was enjoyable, and the author has some good advice: make time to write, somehow, anyhow.


Well, my next book is Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I love Barbara Kingsolver. And there, under her name on the cover, are the names of two co-authors: her husband and daughter. What if writing was a family endeavor?

Last month, I wrote a short story with my 6-year-old son, The Legos in the Cupboard. My writers group, Carteret Writers, was looking for responses to novels from 1982. My son and I had recently read the Indian in the Cupboard together, so we decided to create a spin-off with a Lego vehicle he had recently constructed (and of which he was extremely proud).

If you can’t find time to write without kids interrupting, and all else fails, there’s always writing WITH kids. I enjoyed every minute of it, and now the 4-year-old has his own story, too (inspired by his Lego jet). The 6-year-old has another story planned, and me? I’ll take it.