A closet poet peeks out from her perch among mismatched stilettos and piles of funky laundry and breathes in the open air, tangy with words.
So, Saturday night was the Capital Slam season opener at the Mercury Lounge. As I had promised a few weeks ago, I threw myself off the cliff and showed up with two poems. Success would be measured in whether or not I peed my pants on stage.Growing up in theatre, I thought I was used to the pre-show jitters. But believe me, those little flurries of nerves before breaking the leg were nothing compared to the cotton-mouthed terror of getting up in front of these spoken word heavy weights and delivering words from my own pen.
Should I lead with the piece I know backwards and forwards, the one I could recite in my sleep? Or do I risk the new piece I finished Friday, the one I love, the one with the subtle pivots I flub every time?
What does the cliff have to say about this? Queasy, high-diving board feeling? Check. Let’s do this thing.
First round. Deep breath. Go.
Original of Speeches
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
What a flagrant, falsification of thievery that is…
…Why should novel turns of phrase be the best thing,
since man first divided loaves of leavened wheat flour,
into equally sized cross sections, anyway?…
Phew! My pants are dry and my heart didn’t burst out of my chest like an animatronic alien. Success
Unbelievably, I make it to the second round!!!! What?! So crazy.
This Day by Day
…This day by day is draining all the hale and hearty hope off this once bursting heart.
No. No, it bursts still.
It does. It does on days that fade,
into a rosy haze of solar death embalmed,
in a cryogenic sleep below the mountain’s fold.
It does. It bursts as a ripe plum,
when the sun becomes a broadening blur,
and flashes its grappling hooks,
of streaking fire over horizon’s edge…
A full recap of the slam complete with scores and commentary can be found right here.
What I love, love, love about this scene is how wonderful and supportive everyone is. Isn’t this a competition? Word versus word? Pen versus pen? Verse versus…yeah, you get the idea.
I peeked out, dipped my feet in, and now I’ve caught the bug. Two weeks hence I’ll be back up there with a few spare poems ready to go, though apparently you can do a whole season with just two…hmm.
So now, back to you: have you thrown yourself over a personal cliff lately and stepped out to do something crazy? How would you measure your success? Is landing dry and in one piece enough?