Friday, October 8, 2010

The Poetry Slam

I met a girl.  She's a nurse, and she was working at my friend Ginny's house.  Ginny is bed bound.  She doesn't let that stop her- she hosts a Hope Chapel Nashua Mini church every week, where we show up and discuss the message from sunday, hang out, pray for each other, and do church outside the four walls, mini group style.  So this girl, this pretty pretty girl is one of her nurses.  She says she m.c.'s a poetry night. (  I bring some friends to check it out a few weeks ago and I find this girl there, but she is not the same pretty, pretty girl.  She has more black eye liner than I've ever seen in my life scribbled all around her eyes, and she's wearing a skunk hat and an ill fitting red T shirt.  She recites a poem about an anteater.  It's quirky, and has a sort of double meaning.  The rest of the poems I hear that evening blur into a mush of the extraordinarily lewd mixed with numerous references to barbed wire and skin.  But GREAT people watching.  And all poems are scored by expert judges Pictionary style.  Suffice it to say that, although the poetry was bordering on abysmal, I liked it.  And hated it.  But mostly liked it.  So I came home.  I wrote a poem.

Everyone knows I'm codependent over you
They say that like it's a bad thing.
Rolling their eyes 'cause I don't go anywhere without you.
Can people tell you're the first thing I think of in the morning?
I bet it shows on my face.

Most of my friends know If they bring you along,
I'm much more likely to show up, and in a far better mood.
It's as if I can't get really excited about going anywhere,
unless you'll be there. 

My mom thinks it's unhealthy the way I depend on you.  I can tell she
thinks it's somehow immoral, the weakness I have for you, the time
and money I spend on you.  She narrows her eyes whenever she
sees me with you, and I can tell she thinks you're unwholesome on some
gut level.

But they just don't understand.  Really, they don't understand.

When I'm with you, I feel more alive. 
I feel like the world is expanding out in front of me,
filling with possibilities, rolling out like a red carpet,
a song with a catchy beat in the background.
You inspire me. 
Maybe not you, exactly, but when I'm with you,
I get all my best ideas.
You make me feel more like me. 
You make me want to go out and actually do all the things I dream about doing. 
But the best part is, even if I don't, It won't matter. 
We can just sit and look out the window,
watching cars,
and I feel like I've done something vital. 
With you by my side, I swear, I feel smarter, more sophisticated, better looking.

I can see why people look down on me, why they judge me.
Everyone knows it's passe to rely on a crutch like this.
Shouldn't I be managing things on my own,
not letting you be the driving force behind all my efforts?
I shouldn't be leaning on you to make me feel like me.

Of course, only my closest friends realize the truth.
You're nothing but a placebo. 
Everyone else thinks I can't function without you,
but we know it's an illusion. 
You know you're a fraud, and I just pretend you're the strong one. 
The truth is, I don't need you at all. 
But some part of me obviously needs to think I do.
And everyone around me nods like they understand our relationship,
quietly judging me, believing you are the secret to my momentum.
I don't know what's more messed up- the fact that I let them think this,
or the fact that I can't let you go. 
My mom thinks I should ditch you either way,
she doesn't think I should play these mind games. 
She wants me to move on to something better,
something healthier.
But no one else makes me feel so good,
or lets me pretend like you do,

Last Friday I went back.  I missed the open mic section by moments.  All that's left is the Poetry Slam.
Poetry slam, it turns out, is a contest where the last person to sign up, (Me, of course), has to go first.  Each poem is judged by a group of audience members on a scale from 1 to 10.  Each contestant performs his poem, and the top scorers go on to battle each other to the bloody end.  Better bring a fist full of poems to duel with.  Or, in my case, better blithely enter, ignorant of the gaping hole of wordy shame waiting to swallow you.

I shook like a trembling leaf.  My legs were vibrating, shaking and wobbling.  I read it anyway, and even forced a few desperate moments of eye contact.  Then the scores came in.  "5.5, 5.7,..." and I blanked out for the rest, since I instantly realized that on a scale of 1 to 10, I had not managed to wow them, to say the least.  I now wonder how high my higher scores were.  I wish I hadn't rushed off so quickly to my happy place because, as the night went on, I realize that the judge read the low scores first, proceeding up to highest.  Ah well, those moments of brain footage are all snow.  Panicked, shame laced blizzard.

It turned out that the first week I went was some sort of fluke, a goof off week before the elite shipped out for the Nationals. (Who know there were national level poetry slams?)  Last week, I am happy to report that my poem was by far the worst.  The boys and girl who competed had such a wide range of content, humor, drama, and charm.  Being -what I nerdily refer to myself to as- a "word person," it was not a feast of the senses, but rather, a snack attack.  Little delicious snippets of phrasing and sparkling ideas.

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