Open the Mic

Last Saturday I hosted an open mic night at the Seka Coffeehouse at my church. It was a perfect gathering of talent and appreciation, the ultimate expression of creative generosity, and I was honored to be a part of it. I read two poems myself, both of which have been on this blog before. I edited them for the event, and I'm proud of the changes. You can read earlier versions of "I Rode the Devil's Back" and "Glitz" through the links, and the edited version of the latter is below. It's a good example of how the revision of a single stanza can improve the whole.

Watch me bust at the seams
to offer you praise—
and if my dance seems epileptic,
know my heart is full of grace.

My garb is gangly and gauche,
cheap cheesy kitsch and unholy,
but holy's your business—
it's you drawing breath from my lungs.

In this space particular, all I can give
is a song that will break all your crystal—
will rise to the rafters, 

and ruffle the wings of the owls.

While everyone watching thinks:
oh, what a shame!
That such music should come from one
so overweight,
or these notes make their way through
my messes of hair
and emerge from between such
crooked teeth.

They are good enough to wonder in quiet,

neighbor to neighbor, inquiring silent:

How could he be pleased,
How the Lord satisfied,
or the one with the microphone brazen to try?

I ignore all their eyes
and the skin I stand in,
thick in the way of the aria
fit for a king.

Such contradiction
of praise and praiser.

Oh, we all have our highs,
we all have our lows.
We carry our growths
on the sides of our faces—
and maybe they know
and maybe they don't,
but we all limp and shudder,
we tramp and we hulk.

And the bones that aren't broken,
they still quake like we're choking.
The voice that we sing with
fits us like an epileptic.

But.You. Look full on my face.
Bless the place where I stand.
And draw one last note—
out of my throat—
to hold in your enormous hand. 

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