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 ellipses
And create a pause for tomorrow to have a fashionable entrance,
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.
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.
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.
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,
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,
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.”