"Shrinking Woman" is one of my favorite slam poems of all, check it out if you can!


My kids want me to slam my poetry,
show me YouTube channels
named Button and Youth Speak
where poets, most of them under thirty,
orate in cafe-like settings, out at night,
to actual audiences who clap.

They deliver their poems with such inflection,
each word is the closing statement in a televised trail,
they could say something like
I LET my dog out last NIGHT,
and you’d think they were the president addressing the nation
ask not WHAT you can do for you dog,
but what your dog can do for YOU.

Not that anyone watches figureheads anymore,
but we might perhaps
if they paused and prosed as dramatically.

They have all their shit memorized,
something I could never do or frankly don’t care to.
I prefer the older poets,
Billy Collins or Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver
who read from actual books and
must first find their reading glasses,
usually resting on the podium.

A podium!
These cats scat in outer space,
without even a slab of wood to rest
or steady oneself upon.
Many are blue tooth miked,
not even tethered with a microphone,
electric umbilical cord.
They pace and gesture as though they
are headliners at a rock concert.
I want to fetch them back up singers
choreographed to their every pause
and raised fist, each open palm and pursed lip.

I read the transcripts of the poems,
How short they are on paper!
How less remarkable in ink!
Yet what they lack in metaphor
they make up for in chutzpah,
what they are missing in simile
they have double in drama.

Watching these shape shifters,
these cocky cadenced freaks of nature,
I DO want to slam MY poetry,
want to shake my words like martinis,
want to fry my stanzas
like strips of bacon sizzling in a hot pan,
want each line to go down like a three-pointer.

They are all so ANGRY.
As they should be.
My first poem will be about their courage,
these young plaid shirted, nose-pierced,
bandana wearing hipsters,
to share their disorders,
their oppression and hard knocks.
I will have the room uh-uh-ing and oh-yea-ing,
like we are at a gospel church
and THEY have just HEARD the good word.