I’ve ignored the website, ignored poetry for way too long. Originally I was going to post a poem I wrote a few years ago after being inspired by Walt Whitman. But I’ve also been beating myself up lately for failing to write poetry for the sake of performance. So today, while proctoring the CAPT math test, I gave it a shot. (Don’t worry, I still caught all the cheaters.) I started in one direction, but ended up going somewhere else. While I know that performance poetry is meant to be experienced aurally the first time, I wasn’t going to shoot webcam video of myself. If that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.
Thanks to Alex Hutchins for the video tutorial in how not to poem.
Some people write to illuminate
but I write to obscure.
I can’t tell you anything I’m sure
of. Or maybe I’m just not committed.
Maybe I leave just enough wiggle room
to wriggle my way out of my inexactitude.
Maybe I don’t know all I say I know
and to be wrong would destroy my fragile psyche,
would pluck the joker from the foundation
of my house of cards,
would, what with all the dynamite of destruction
already planted on the other side of this façade,
ignite the implosion the spectators came to see.
Maybe I can sign myself up
for the National Register of Historic Places.
Put me on a map, make me a site
where all the visitors see my flaws
as intentional, where my errors are sown
as traps to see if you’re paying attention.
Do as I say, not as I do.
Those who can’t do…
you know what they do?
Teach someone else to stand in front of the room.
Like the guy who recruits suicide bombers,
I make students strap poems to their chests,
walk into a crowded room, and go off.
Teach someone else to stoke the flames
of their passion, to light their inner fire:
We don’t need no water
Let that motherfucker burn.
Do as I say, not as I do.
‘Cause I can’t say I’ve ever stood here before,
trying to stop my hands from shaking,
trying to stop my words from colliding
with each other in their frenzy to get out.
Each of them fears your scrutiny as much as I do.
Do as I say, people.
Think for yourself.
Don’t worry what others say.
Speak truth to power.
And understand, always, that you have the power
to decide whose judgment matters.
Do as I say.
If I did, I could a tale unfold
whose lightest word would harrow up thy soul,
freeze thy young blood, make thy two eyes, like stars,
start from their spheres. But these words are not mine.
Neither were those.
You see, I’ve always been a guy too scared
to even pour my pathetic secrets onto the page,
forget about having the balls
to ever get up on the stage.