Flashback: Why I Slam…

[Going through the archives trying to figure out what to read tomorrow at the Nuyorican and I came across this little ditty, a typically belligerent, sophomoric effort from that crazy Summer of 1998! Backstory here.]

Why I Slam…

Hi my name is Guy and
I’m not an alcoholic
I just drink a lot.

Can you spare some change?

Drinking is an expensive habit that
poetry just doesn’t support
begging the question…Why?

Why poetry?

I pondered over this
one humid summer night
halfway through my second draft
of a cold pint of inspiration
reflecting on that first poem
way back when
when the muse cried out in pain
inky tears running down my pen.

It was one of those deep, heartfelt free verse numbers
that meant nothing to anyone except for me
and the woman it was for.
I cried as I wrote it
she cried as she read it
and that day
the muse proceeded to bleed my soul.

Poetry is truth
and no two truths are the same because
your truth is different from my truth but
no matter what
when it’s real it’s truth.

Sometimes it’s confirming or contradicting
disturbing or frightening
entertaining or enlightening.
Sometimes it’s published and sometimes it’s not
and sometimes it’s slammed
because half you muthafuckers ain’t picked up a book since Dr. Seuss
and there’s no other way for us to reach you.

Can you spare some change?

Poetry is truth and truth is universal.

I speak in words universal shamelessly use a cliche
so there’s never a question of what I’m trying to say.

I’m not the one for flowery metaphors
academic whores seeking legitimacy
abstract poetics masquerading as ideology.
I got my M.F.A. at the Nuyorican Poets Café
and my Ph.D. in applied reality
so my poetry is for everybody.

Went from spectator to agitator in less than a year
‘cause I realized the truth wasn’t welcomed there.
Raised my voice a little bit louder
made a list checked it twice
deputized myself as Nuyorican vice.
Tipped sacred cows from plaster pedestals
dragged phony prophets from shadowy vestibules.
called out fake revolutionaries they were making me dizzy
told narrow-minded bigots their children would look like me
‘cause I’d had enough of their racist philosophy.
Threw thieves from the temple armed with three poems
repetitive rhymes for the roar of the crowd
ignoring the honor with which they’ve been endowed.

Steve wants to hear a poem
but all I’ve heard is shit
making me wonder when was the last time they picked up a pen
‘cause their signatures have rubber stamp written all over it
ranting on and on without saying a thing
making a mockery of slam poetry
in hopes of a perfect thirty
forgetting that the poetry IS the point.

Why poetry? I ask again
and this time I’m talking to you.

Poetry is truth and truth is universal
and I take that shit seriously.
When it comes to the slam I maintain my integrity
‘cause someone out there is listening closely.

They say the best poet always loses
but you know that’s a lie.
I’m going to Austin because sometimes
they tie.

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