NPS 2009: Double Trouble Poetry Edition Pt 2

Part 1

It’s with a lot of hesitation that I write this final post in this particular series. It’s been a lot of fun, both in chatting with the SLC poets and in featuring their poems. That said, that doesn’t mean you won’t hear from these cats again, because if I have any say in it, you will. Plus there is a whole wide world of slam poets who are taking poetry to new forms, challenging minds and imaginations, so you’ll be getting to hear more voices every Tuesday (Slam Tuesday, anyone?)

Please leave comments if you’ve read and enjoyed these entries, I’d love to hear from you and I know the poets would appreciate any feedback you have. Let me know if you have favorite poets that you’d like featured, cities to feature, etc.

The last of the Salt City Slam team poets left to feature is none other than the dynamic performance poet Michael Dimitri. Seeing him perform is something you won’t forget anytime soon. He blends words into beautiful pieces that leave the audience inspired and full of hope. As with the other poets, choosing just one poem to feature is practically impossible. But there’s some good news: if you like what you see here, you can obtain more. In addition to purchasing the Salt City Slam book (which features every single one of these poets, 2 pieces each), Michael has his own merchandise available. His more recent chapbook is “Bravado of the Imagination”, and he has an older bit of work, “An Unbearable Gift” which comes in both CD and book form. The CD includes pieces the book doesn’t, partly because there are tracks with backing music. And being a CD, you get to hear Michael in action. For more information on how to add some works of poetry to your collection (by all of SLC’s poets), visit Salt City Indie Arts. Remember, buying stuff by these artists goes to a great cause:

Supporting local art.

Like it or not, we do live in a world bogged down by consumerism, where math and sciences often tend to overshadow art (which classes are cut first when a school is having budget problems? Art & Music). So support your local artists. Support ART.

And now, onto the poetry. Take these words-not only Michael’s, but all the featured poets-and remember them. And if they inspire you, then write your own works. And keep writing. And if you have a place to share your work, do it. Find a community in your area. Believe me, you won’t regret it.

by Michael Dimitri

I am sending you an SOS emergency thank you
a thank you for the human to human recognition

because I’ve been lost before
in that stained glass undercurrent of the ocean
like there was a plexiglass reality between us
almost as if there was an internal interrogation box
my stomach sat in like a convict of knuckles-
guilty of feeling too deeply

& I am her & I was him in his complacency

& I used to feel like the metaphor
of submarines who couldn’t relate to the drift
of words hung up there in the air
like the shells of black seagulls pinned
with black nails to a scarecrow
of an even darker sky

& language itself was a self-inflicted taboo
that grew into gnarled hands that could
wrap a painful contraband of confusion to the dark
every corner of the inside

Subjects like death & lost loves
were symbiotic creatures that hid
in the hard parts of the back of my throat
that I had to learn how to swallow

Like this was an unsafe place to say things like:

“Listen, I feel like when a soulmate
dies, everything seems less colorful.
Like a bright blue sky has suddenly been painted grey.
Like a rose as beautiful as it may be, will one day decay.”

But you say things like this for too long
but too short to have made peace with it
and even the most sympathetic ears
in a certain colloquial language
have a designated off-button

But I’ve found that the more times
I’ve stepped up to an environment
that wants to share poetry
I’ve been caught in the solace
of motioning momentum
with each unique story that I hear
like the crashing glass symphonic
beauty of a kaleidoscope
shattering into refraction of answers
to the questions I keep asking
so I keep asking in response
to the answers I’m receiving
the momentum of breathing
that between us can facilitate
a healthy module for healing.

So I’m sending you an SOS emergency plea
to keep unlocking the locks that hold back
your skull from thinking
unlatch the armor built on the core of your skin
Take off your fingers
Take off your hands
Take off your arms

because when you get right down to it-
the burning of the heart
is the only thing you need to hold a pen to the paper
splash the print of verbal pages you carve
from the marrow of your blood
cut from something that keeps you living
like an IV cable coming from your heart
to my ears

I’m not ashamed to say that I need you.
That your poetry means something to me.

But really?
What I’m trying to say is:
is that when you speak
you can paint an entire landscape
that can hold you up when you try.

Because really-
what I’m really trying to say is:
is the truly beautiful & magnificent
thing about wanting to build hummingbird lips
is that when you are ready…

I mean this…

you can fly.


NPS 2009 Final Day: Double Trouble Poetry Edition pt1

Today marks the last day of National Poetry Slam 2009. The semifinalists who will be looking to take the honor of being The slam team of 2009 are as follows: San Francisco (The City Slam), St. Paul (Soapboxing), Albuquerque Poetry Slam and NYC (Nuyorican)

Congrats to all the finalists! And congrats to all 2009 NPS participants. As the slam mantra goes: “It’s the poet, not the score, that matters.” And can you even imagine the poetic caliber that came together in Miami this year? It’s mind blowing.

Congrats to SLC and the poets for representing this city in a great light by bringing great art to a bigger audience! And thanks to them for letting me do this series. It has been a lot of fun sharing their poetry on this blog, and I’m sad that it’s over.

With that said, I’m going to end with two poets instead of one, since today’s it for NPS ’09 and I would miss someone if I just ended on one. So today’s Salt Lake Poets are Josh McGillis and Michael Dimitri.

Both of them are brilliant minds in their own right, so keep reading. And for those of you in Salt Lake or in the area, I cannot say this enough: Come out and support local poetry! Every Wednesday at Mestizo and every Saturday at Baxters. And if you have enjoyed what you’ve read by the poets, contact Salt City Indie Arts-the poets featured here plus a variety of other Utah based poets have Chapbooks available-so you can add some original SLC poetry to your collection. And when someone asks about the books, you can shrug and say, “Didn’t you know? SLC is THE place to be for slam poetry right now.”

And with no further ado, some poetry.

By Josh McGillis

You ask, “Why is your poetry so dark?”
And I tell you, “Ma,
The world is a beautiful place,
All ya gotta do is look around and see it for yourself.
The way the stars look like a series of ellipsesOrion
And create a pause for tomorrow to have a fashionable entrance,
That’s poetry.
I just don’t see things that way.
My heart beats in breakdowns.
I believe in beauty in paradoxes
Like how the person that brought me back to life
Left me a sticky-note reminding me what it felt like to die.
I try to keep it honest
My mouth is a mediocre set of wind-chimes,
And most times they’re singing calmly,
But the winds that push themselves through this music maker are fierce.
The storm is building
When I write, Ma,
That’s when the rain hits.
The release,
Like a sudden keystroke off a piano in an empty ballroom.
Hope means more to me than happiness,
Because happiness is overlooked,
Taken for granted,
A Christmas gift you play with the first day you get it,
But toss aside the next morning.
See, Ma,
I don’t live off sunshine.
I spend most days in a tunnel
Where the only light source drifts in from the exit.
Sometimes it seems so far off that walking to it may take weeks,
But the light is always there,
I thrive on it,
The light turns my eyes into projectors,
Reflecting off the lenses and casting images of tomorrow
On the walls that surround me.

Now look,
I’ve invited you here for two reasons.
The first is to show you that it’s not as dark as you think.
I know you worry, and I needed to show you that I’m okay.
The second is a little more complicated.
I’m always hearing about the things you’d like me to  change,
And now it’s my turn.
I worry about you too,
So consider what I have to say as lessons in hope.
All I’m asking is that you listen to what I have to say,
I know you have more experience in this life than I do,
But please,
Allow yourself to get a little lost with me.

Mom, you’re a beautiful woman, and I wish you could see that.
So first, I want you to look into the mirror and tell
yourself you’re pretty.
Then I want you to say it again and again until you believe it.
Every time that you look at yourself and say you’re fat,
I can hear a little piece of you die off,
Like the petals of a flower that doesn’t get enough water.
Second, I want you to make a list
Of every dream you’ve ever given up on.
When you wake up each morning,
I want you to cross one off and create a new one at the bottom,
But don’t give up this time.
Third, I dare you to trace each letter of the word LOVE
Along the scars on your wrists
And forget about the mistakes you’ve made.
You don’t have to do it right away,
These things take time…
Just work on it for me.

I know that sometimes you don’t think you’re doing your job right,
But know that a year and a half of sobriety is all that I’m askin’ for,
So really,
you’re doing just fine.

I know that it will only be a matter of time until you ask me again,
“Why is your poetry so dark?”
And I’ll have to tell you, “Ma,
You and I are both in the same program,
One day at a time,
And judging by those ellipses in the sky…
We’ve almost made it.”