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Speaking Poetry

We all speak poetry when we share intense feelings with others or with ourselves

It’s not your words but the cry

behind your voice

when you sit across from me,

your tea cup gripped and I see

your eyes are moist as your knuckle

wipes away one tear.

Your heart betrays you as you speak,

just saying over tea what happened

yesterday that rippled through your nerves,

brought blood to your face,

thumped there by what you saw or heard

and how you could not wait to speak

to me or anyone who would listen

for more than a minute without interrupting you

when all you want is to be listened to,

get a nod from someone seeing in your eyes

what your words can’t say,

what your voice can’t hold.

It’s then that you transcend tranquility

as you pierce each word with your sharp tongue--

blood dripping on the table,

invisible, yet I can hear it, red and wet,

bleeding there when you tell

about the moment

you were living through,

and I hear the shiver you are sharing

over tea, not knowing you have touched me

with your words,

not knowing

you were speaking poetry

when you looked at me

and heard my silence.

There are other times that you speak poetry—

when you suddenly belt out a song

you’ve been humming at the kitchen sink,

dish water going down the drain

and you look up and see the moon

and sing out loud for the love of singing

and no one hears you as the words you love

come from your throat as if you were a sparrow

on the branch of a tree deep in the woods—

and the words you sing (though not your own)

are filled with who you are—the you whose voice

is never heard singing out like this

because there is no time or place

for your sudden burst of singing—

no way to take the stage and stand

in the spotlight—even for a minute—

and sing your secret self,

your voice like no one else’s --

and so you sing out loud from your kitchen sink

a love song to the rising moon.

And there are times while driving home

or to the store or lying in your bed at night

and you’re speaking to yourself—almost out loud—

saying what you want to say to your lover

who doesn’t understand,

or to a friend who hasn’t asked for your advice

but you speak your urgent words as if you know

some truth,

or sometimes, it’s the voice inside your head

who whispers what you do not want to hear,

but you listen to the poetry,

listen with your eyes closed

as your words reach where you are hiding,

taking you where you do not want to go,

leading you to the poetry

you speak to yourself

the poetry only you can hear.




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