Aural Pleasure

27 September 2013 § 2 Comments

“…I’ve decembered eastern european cities, and found graffiti rainbows muraled on the walls of bombed-out buildings, and all they were building there were churches.”

Krivo’s worn, upright bass and I grooved in the same Mississippi River eddy; Zach’s banjo twang rolled over rhymes which had been stuck in my throat for ages. Jazz and hip hop etched their spray can beats across the enraptured faces of our audience. A one-bulbed chandelier swung in small circles above my head, and my ephemeral kingdom reached to the far edges of Zigzag’s living room. The reign continued for a few seconds longer; I bowed and smiled, stalling to soak up the attention, then made sure to disappear to the kitchen while they were still applauding.

A couple of weeks ago, we went to the Portland Poetry Slam at Backspace. Now, I’ve been involved in Slam Poetry off and on for the last decade or so in that wherever I’ve moved, I’ve made it a point to find the local slams, lose at least five in a row, then resign to only reading during the open mic segments, energetically rejecting Slam’s competitive nature. It didn’t occur to me until that night at Backspace, a hip venue in Portland’s Pearl District, that one day I would grow out of Slam altogether – not just performing on its sidelines, but doing my own thing exclusive from its young and angsty passionstance.

Memorization has been a subtle enemy of mine for ages. To evolve the battle one night, I lay on the couch and plucked images from the air, hallucinations and dreams. Somewhere in my body they translated themselves into words, and journeyed into my throat and flew off my tongue and back into the atmosphere from which they came. They sounded like a raft drifting down the Mississippi at night, a woman swishing her feet in the water, decorated in filigree. Like a peacock feather birthed from the corner of her eye, spirals and vines in bluegreen violets swirling.

At the Poetry Jam Aural Pleasure #6, ZigZag and Susan’s lovechild, performers and listeners merged professionalism with infantile grace. I was honored to be amongst you. That inspiration flowed through me and into the microphone. The audience and musicians wrote my second poem; thank you. I choose to interact with poetry right now with a freestyle stream. My knees shake less; heart beats harder.

It snows sawdust in heaven when I cut down poetry to meter and rhyme. Thank you Roberto Bolaño, Saul Williams, and the mercilessly-loyal-to-form poets who thickened my skin to a clammy, callused tattoo. I’ve found a relationship with words that pleases me. Sometimes, it pleases others also: their faces glow, and air stops in their throats. The tempo of the music rises and falls like yogi rib cages on windy ridges. I’m glad to be on stage in those moments, with a mirror to show the audience the beauty I see.

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