i. When you sit really close to the front of the room, you can see people’s hands tremble as they perform. You see the way they steel themselves before they step up to the microphone, hear the subtle dips in faltering voices. You catch these glimpses of actual human beings, mustering up the courage to tell a room what their story is.
ii. Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” I don’t completely agree; of course there are greater agonies in the world. But tonight, I listened to people share their stories, and felt all my own untold ones flutter around in my chest like a canary in a birdcage.
iii. Maybe that’s why we break apart like this at the hands of an audience?
iv. There were maybe three poems during the whole night that were not about love or being left behind. I don’t write too many love poems, although lately I have felt that maybe, maybe I could start. I put away my piece about suitcases, about the world and how beautiful people change you. Maybe I’ll get up and do it the next time.
v. What would I write about if I stopped caring about the right words? If I stopped sanding down the edges of violent language? I would write, “Sometimes I wake up in the mornings, and the ancient acacia towering outside my window whips me right back into bed, yelling that I need to grow stronger bones.” I would write, “When Jesus asks me to walk on water, the edge of the boat cracks my ribs like eggshells.” I would write, “The stars are singing through the nightmares.”
(Thoughts from a slam poetry night that my sister and I went to last Saturday night.)