Anonymous asked: Um, no offense, but can you please keep your discussion about slam poetry off that post? I know it needs to be made, but please; create your own post about it. Don't derail a post like that. It's rude and borders on racist. And if someone else derails, don't take it as an excuse to talk about what THEY want to talk about. It's the same "avoid feeding the troll" adage. Okay? Okay.
Well, no, not quite ok, as it were. I’m offering a critique, much in the same way the piece itself offers a critique on something that probably wasn’t considering what the piece is critiquing in the first place. I’ll not create my own post, especially in regards to the thread of discussion going on- it’s a discussion that needs to be had. I have no idea how that’s racist at all- I agree with the message of the piece entirely, but just because I have a critique to offer, because I’m not satisfied that just the message is good, that makes me a racist?
I’m not a troll.
I’m an educated person trying to have a discussion about the problems pervading slam. What you seem to be insinuating is that if I offer any critique of any piece that deals with volatile subject matter I’m immediately critiquing the subject and not the way it’s presented, and that means you don’t know much about critiquing.
STEP ONE IN ANY ART FORM: REMAIN DETACHED FROM YOUR PIECE ENOUGH TO SEE THE POSSIBLE FLAWS OTHER MAY POINT OUT.
Read Roland Barthe’s “The Death of The Author”. It points out that if we keep authorial intent, then there is no way of objectively critiquing any work ever made. You can’t define anything, art, people, bad cooking, by its intent alone. To do that is to ignore the agency of what things actually do. Ask yourself what the language DOES in a piece, not what the language is ABOUT. That’s what I’m doing. Don’t assume I’m a racist for believing that social justice causes aren’t an excuse for sub-par poetry.
Rude? No. Read the rest of my blag. You can find me being very rude there. This is me engaging in a critique, and just because you don’t agree with it doesn’t make me rude. It makes you ignorant and short-sighted. If you want to have a real discussion about intention versus craft in the world of poetry, and slam specifically, I’d love to. If you’re going drop racism because I look at more than message in a piece because I believe anything that calls itself poetry deserves a higher standard than soapbox preaching, then you’ll see what rude is.
Questions for Joe Strummer and David Bowie: Pop-Punk Superstar Death Metal Folk Suicide Poetry Blues
What do you do when you wake up and your love is bleeding?
How do you sew shut the lips on your wrists?
What do I tell my reflection when the pock-marks read more like poems and my poems read like pimples?
How much cocaine under my lip is too much
and will my parents still love me if they find out?
Should I smoke weed and sleep around to improve my writing?
Have you ever held a knife to your own neck and instead
of asking God “why?”
you asked “why not?”
Did you ever hate your voice so much
you started smoking just to change it?
What do you do when you’d rather write your fear
in blood and beer and safety pins on your forearms
than bleed your poems and drink your hope
and what do you do when you can’t tell the difference?
What do you do when none of your ghosts are dead
and you remember all their phone numbers?
How do I tell them I want to kiss them ‘til their lips bleed?
What’s the best way to get famous
do I fuck a lot
or should I start killing people
because my writing is shit and I can’t sing so good
When am I allowed to write a love song to myself?
Because David, I know I’m not alone
but it’s just me here in my nightmares
and Joe I know anger can be power
but I’m only ever angry at myself
How do I be a pop-punk superstar if all I do is write poetry?
Which street signs should I smoke under?
How can I be a rebel if I’m a lower-class white kid in college?
How can I be in love if I hate myself
and where the fuck did all this depression come from?
I wasn’t born like this I swear
Will somebody ever love me but not because I’m sad?
Joe, is there a heaven or do we just quit the band?
Dave, what else did that Starman say, and can he teach me to boogie?
I’ve already lost it so that part’s handled…
What do you do when you need patches for more
than the holes in your pants
‘cause for now I’m greeting every smile
with salted knuckles
so I can clean the blood off my hands
while I get my hands dirty
but I’m losin’ blood fast and my arms are tired
from punching every act of goodwill within reach,
Do I ever get to stop fighting?
Does the anger ever go away
or do I just keep punching salt blocks with bloody knuckles
‘til my fists break?
Am I doing it right?
Should I scream more?
Should I be political?
What do I have to be political about
I’m a white male from nowhere
who gives a shit about my opinion?
Who is my audience?
How do I make people care about what I have to say
if I hate everything that comes out of my mouth?
Do I have responsibility to my own self-worth?
What do I tell people who like my writing?
Do I tell them I think they’re wrong?
Because I do.
Why do bleeding and performing feel the same?
Have you ever lost your voice from singing by yourself?
How do you know when it’s ok to quit?
Dave I know I ain’t alone
but it’s just me in my nightmares
Joe I know this anger has a power
but I’m only ever angry at myself
What happens when you get lost in the performance,
sweating starshine and stamping solidarity into every syllable
you lose who you used to be
who you wanna be
who you could be
you lost it all in making the audience believe
everything you say?
Does the audience know they might never see us again?
Or do we just thank them
and walk off the stage?
I am bleeding backwards: here, feel my pulse.
Touch the skin on my lower left back
there is a ridge there where my poetry begins.
I want to make you feel my feelings
that’s why we do this, right?
So I wrap them up in tongue blossoms coated with uranium hoping
something sticks inside and changes you
I do poetry because words are not enough
and some people don’t like to be kissed on the mouth
but these days
there is nowhere that I am allowed to make beautiful
except the air in empty rooms
Come with me.
Stand on the spaces in between the atoms in the floor
and let’s float together
let’s build something
beautiful for beautiful’s sake again-
I went to bed last night and dreamt that everything important
I could ever write about had been done.
All the suicide notes were perfect
and the Catholic School Boy confessional symphonies were all in tune
Everything about being a white boy with feelings
people were doing poetry that changed gravity
I dreamt that the way I feel about the wind
had been captured in a song by a kid down the street
and that everybody was singing it without me
This dream was true when I woke up
And the thought of being so purposeless
brought me to my knees on the concrete floor
of my parents’ basement
Poetry was my life until last night
I woke up this morning feeling a bit suicidal
I have nothing important to write about anymore
So I guess drown me in my own inadequacies
throw every anthemic dream of unison into a composter
burn my rape writing
and throw my cancer poems into a nuclear reactor
There is nothing as useless as something that was only designed to be beautiful
and some of us were made from a different kind of ugly
So if you’re that extra person
the one your friends forget to invite
if you’re the straight-B and C student who never contributes to the classroom
if you stay up at night dreaming of all the marvelous things you would do if only you had thought of them first
of all the things you could see that nobody else would if only you had the courage to open your eyes
if your dreams are haunted by memory loss
Be fleshless with me.
Drop the serenade skin because nobody every listened to you when you wanted to show them the songs on your cheeks
Strip the musculature because you were never needed to hold anything important up
they always could do it without us
Give your lungs away
You don’t need to breathe other people’s air
become fleshless with me
let’s find somewhere to sit
where our bones make shadows in the sunset
yeah, the sunset
because people like you and me could never get sick of talking about it
We have nothing important to do anyway
so we are free
We are fleshless
here- watch us bleed backwards
kiss our wrists
and maybe you can feel the wind on your bones
instead of your meaning.
— George Watsky
Words are not important.
Caress cardboard consonants
tongue trills ‘T’s tumble tremble to teeth,
Lost lonesome leaves languish lazy laying leftovers
on breeze from my mouth,
Mind molding molting molten monuments made merely madness
Strings of words strung
do not hold up to tension.
Sentences are incomplete thoughts in attempts
to slow the apprehension.
Logic is just that.
made of letters,
made of syllables,
made of sounds
to be made of sense.
I am not logic.
My words mean what you want them to mean.
you can trust me with your
Dreams and dares,
Give to me what you will give,
I’ll keep it safe,
provide shelter from the snowstorm
with a blizzard of words,
this snow-drift is in your honor.
my words are parasitic form cysts
it will become an affliction,
words like opiates
tip of tongue and tooth will turn to addiction;
I am a habit you cannot break,
because I’ll break-
of my languish for love I am toxic
radiate comfort, protection,
I know you.
You aren’t sure you can trust,
You want a hand to hold,
Shoulder to bathe in hot tears,
Heart to heat hearthstones,
I am these things.
I am these-
I am dust
of a dream that turns to a nightmare,
a flash of passion,
and a rush of destructive heat.
I am wolfen lips
snarl love poems
yet you come,
listening only to the words,
believing broken bile;
I spit-shine lies
you polish them to figures of truth,
trust not my regurgitated references
of feathered words,
they fly for naught but to fly,
much the same as I.
my wind pulls you close,
just to swing you ‘round,
momentum mocking you malicious
you’ll never see the eye of this storm.
Made of letters
made of syllables
made of sounds
I am NOT the things you want.
I am the words you want to hear.
1: Do not read this. This is not for you. This is not for me either. This is for the painted lines in the road, that is where my clear salt water will go, to gloss the paint, make it reflective in the night so that people can avoid car crashes. This is for the people in the cars- that they may not swerve off the road to avoid human contact in the future- meeting eyes through car windows can ruin somebody’s life, you know
2: Tell the truth bite its lower lip as it strings past your own feel it drip down your chin like spit from throwing up watch it acidize and spin and scream through the air through your carpet watch it bleed be so honest that it’s almost worse than lying tell it to everybody unlock your throat and peel your vocal chords paper mache them on everything you’ve ever thought about be belligerent and generous with the words on the back of your tongue hanging from your uvula scratching the top of your larynx breathe those words like a cleansing fire to every soul you meet and maybe I’ll finally hear what you were thinking on the echoes of the ashes
3: Read this. Memorize every point of grammatical structure, tell me how many times I alliterate, point out the gaps in punctuation I want a syllable count I want you to tell me how many consonants and how many vowels and how many times the letter “y” is used ambiguously. You’re being asked to study the last words that might ever pass from me to you. They’re a gift for the long nights spent on park benches and back seats of cars; think of this as a blanket- a woolen and scratchy one
4: If you wash your blanket, it will soften up. I promise.
5: Do more illegal things. Be afraid of physical realities more, it’ll put those worlds and black holes in the back of your mind in perspective. Break a car window and treat the shards of broken glass like diamonds, like crystals of numbered ice, like something so gorgeous and so dangerous you can’t help but touch it
6: Remember that I could have loved you like a burning building
7: Two burning buildings.
8: You don’t know my father very well but he always said 8 is great, so I hope that you’re doing great
9: When I begin to love something I am a piece of space-dust building momentum, catching follicles of memory and story about me, growing in size and speed, I grow a trail of broken promises and heady dreams, reach velocities astronomical, but I will never be able to love you, only orbit from afar for fear of breaking you with the impact of my sheer affection, so I’ll see you only every few years as I am allowed to pass by and feel your pull once more.
10: Don’t look directly at radiating interstellar objects; the harsh light of truth can blind you.
11: Don’t read this. This is not for either of us. This is for the shaking in my fingertips and the concrete on the corner where I pretend I can hear the ocean, this is not addressed to you, this is about you- there’s a difference there.
12: I still hope that you find something to make you smile the way you made me dream.
I can’t do poetry with my clothes on.
There are words along my ribs that are invisible unless this skin is naked
I got memories burned
along the insides of my thighs that people need to know about
from nights worth tattoos
and long runs
where the chafing isn’t so much a metaphor for life
as life is a pale metaphor for the
sometimes poetry with your clothes on hurts!
My feet burn and blister bashful in shoes and socks
laces locking my voice to the ground
Church and Catholic guilt syndrome has made a boy with a body ashamed of masturbation his entire life
so when I dream
there are cum-soaked blankets at junction of larynx and lyrics stopping my lips
looping knots down to my heart strangled
by the red lines keeping people safe from my truth about myself
No part of the stories we have to tell is unnecessary
The air in my chest is restricted by the thinnest of veils
when you are this small
there is no weight you do not notice
I can’t breathe with all these cover-ups and white-outs
A friend once told me that “your life is poetry, man”
And I was never good at editing my poetry
and I don’t want to edit my life
I won’t do poetry with clothes on
I do not want to edit the scars on my legs
or cover up the lumps in my back
nor the holes in my reasoning
if I am poetry
I want to be pure
like the way things happen
between our legs are some stories that must be told
both times that my friend Nayla was raped
she was not allowed to edit for content
there is a story under my left pectoral muscle
when my mother’s left breast was removed
we were not allowed to skip over the red and sodden vomitous details
fluid pouring through veins scar tissue and elastic bandages
attempting to white out the peace that could have been 2009
there are songs in my collar bones that go
The man her into the lamp into the ground
head smashing metal smashing floor like a time signature
arias about eating oranges and in between kisses I relive
“I thought about killing myself again last night but I didn’t tell you because I knew you would just hit me again if you found out”
I relive dirges for every beautiful thing I will never know that drip down my sternum
After I told her I’d been dreaming of knives
she told me I had to find somewhere else to stay or walk home
at my navel
where the music pools
there is a waltz
where in between steps
so I went home
How much of our tragedy and joy is edited for content?
How much of ourselves do we deem unnecessary?
My body is a much a part of me
as the poems I hope to bleed from it
I cannot attend a free speech event
without a free body
I will not do poetry with clothes on
y’see I was born a poem,
naked like a heart attack
still on my skin
for all to see
wailing for all hell
somebody heard a poem because of it
I wanna twist into your shout
while we shake it up with the lights on. Baby,
we’ll shake it down
to the foundations
work this unrequited lust right on out of my bones into your body
c’mon c’mon c’mon baby now
into new galaxies
hip-flashing throw off
gravity with the force of
spin and yell
all from this squeaky
bedframe and these
sweatsoaked linens let me
to the world what love
is supposed to sound like
your sweet salt-liquour
flavour has had me
going from when
I first touch-tasted
let me tonguetwist through your bodyshouts; they named drugs like ecstasy after us
coil springloaded through my
bloodstream winding your hair
through this heated haze
let’s spiralshriek our way
into a craze
you’re a twisty
little girl all angles and curves
and you arc in ways that
would make pornstars blush so-
velvetribbon yourself around me and I’ll bowtie us together
with your fingernails
down my back
these shoulders curve round making
my chest into your echo chamber
and here comes the bridge let’s
tangle each other to bits and i’ll
touch you in ways that make aphrodite jealous
I’ve got these magnetic hands you are molten iron
writhing with heat
let’s get viscous
and boil to the beat
spine-mashing shadow-crashing midnight-skin-dashing
shout into me whatever you desire and I’ll twist myself hoarse
til the air around us simply can shriek no more
and before you know it, the song is over.
We’ve reduced this love-shack to rubble
the steam hasn’t cleared yet
let’s see if we can make this single-track flashback
into an all evening marathon
so once more love
twist into you
while we shout
And we’ll all hold hands with clammy fingertips
like it’s gonna be alright this time.
It wasn’t your fault she died.
At least she went out dancing.
Like the sun will come up and the truth will really set us free,
the way apples taste better when you grab ‘em off the tree,
or a waltz when there’s no music but two heartbeats and the wind,
or how dirt manages to sound sweet in your nostrils
I wonder if she tasted dirt as her head hit the dresser or
was it just a piece of God’s tongue licking her insides
‘til her body shook too hard with some kind of
unholy ecstasy to last any longer-
I’ve heard people call God a drunkard for pain,
and I guess epilepsy is proof.
I’d rather call it dancing.
We’re gonna finish this handle of rum together,
start on the wine,
and let the fire inside every one of us
die like February was just another broken promise,
I’m runnin out of cigarettes here,
the dances are all ending
and Boise doesn’t have enough back alleys to stay lost in all night,
one of us will have somewhere to be,
so I’d suggest if you got anything left to do,
anybody left to kiss,
anybody left to hurt,
build oceans with,
get the fuck outta here because sooner or later we’re gonna have to face the music
and I intend on singing along.
There are shakes in my bones from December that are just getting out now,
and I ain’t been able to smile proper since I dunno how long
but our aunt Jane,
man, she pull sunlight out of her ass
like she had galaxies inside of her
just waiting to stunner-gun love-guitar our eyeballs out
‘til we couldn’t help but dance
and somebody once said she moved with
I wish I’da made that up about her myself, but it’s just the plain old truth,
the truth is better than a poem.
The sunrise is only a few hours off and
these candles are burnin’ low,
and the light of one wild night of life
is gonna fade into that grey abyss
between whatever we shook, rattled and rolled ourselves into
and whatever Jane’s dancin’ through as we speak,
so all of us, grab a girl
grab a guy
clear out the furniture.
Let’s have a dance.