12 Things I Learned at the National Poetry Slam

This year’s National Poetry Slam starts next week! So today’s throwback is a poem I wrote just after NPS in 2013.

Things I learned at my first National Poetry Slam:

  1. List poems are often effective because they’re easy to follow.
    Don’t count too high though. People are easy to lose.
  2. Everybody loses somebody.
  3. A dream coming true is always less romantic than the dream.
    A dream come true is more like no income for a couple weeks, sore knees, blistered feet, sleep deprivation, and airport food
    gone wayyy wrong.
  4. There are huge spiders in Boston. Which means there are huge flies in Boston.
  5. “No” has never been universally understood. “No” will always be open
    to interpretation.
    “No” is the first fly to arrive at the scene of the crime.
    “No” is a contortionist you have made fit in the smallest “yes” boxes.
    “No” is a chameleon.
    “No” is a foreign language to so many people
    it is heartbreaking.
    Heartbreak is a universal language.
  1. Any fly on the wall could tell you:
    There are venus fly traps blooming in
    every safe person’s throat
    to swallow
    all the witnesses
    there are teeth in their handshakes
    and their tongues are whips
    cracked backwards
    and licked clean of
  2. I have a superpower: I hit hard with soft fists.
    I couldn’t even hurt
    a fly.
  3. Hissing was designed for serpents. That’s why
    it sounds like the devil french kissing when you hiss
    toward people.
    Our confessions are living flies trying
    to scratch free of
  4. Once I write a poem it no longer belongs to me. It belongs to
    winged insects and the dirt and someone else’s beating heart.
    I know this because some day
    I will become feast
    for the flies, but my poems
    will continue.
  5. Everybody wants to laugh with you. My good friend from college
    was the funny guy. Said he got tired of being
    funny all the time.
    Said people didn’t like him as much if
    he wasn’t making them laugh.
    Sometimes funny guy don’t feel like laughing anymore.
    Said he sometimes
    feels like a fly drowning
    wrong-side up in a cup of wine.
    Said people look away when he gets sad and
    walk away when he cries. I think I finally understand why.
  6. In some way, we are all flies
    trapped behind the wrong side of the glass.
  7. When the window opens, fly away and don’t look back.
    Freedom has never come
    by enslaving your captor.


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