Here’s the last track on the Bleed CD. It’s not labeled in the liner notes, so it’s sort of a hidden track, sort of. Here are a couple live performances of it:
This is my most popular ever slam poem, Blink. It was about my then girlfriend, mentioned many times in this blog, Tamara. I wrote it in Albuquerque by listening to a song on the record we were doing together over and over and over. It was written kind of before we were an item, or as we were just beginning or something, and it was a lot of unrequited love stuff. It’s very repetitive. People fucking love it. Black women in Houston fucking love it. When I was 10th in the nation, it was ’cause of this and one other poem.
It’s really nice, actually, having this one under my belt, ’cause I know for sure it actually moved people. You could hear them going apeshit during the poem everywhere you went, and that’s a nice feeling. People would come up to me about it – two people that I know of went and performed it for their lovers or families. One sort of saved a relationship with it, he said. See that’s kind of the whole point of any of this is feeling like “hey I fucking affected people! I really made their lives better.” Especially if you do it by just saying whatever you were thinking about at the time.
That’s the real reason, I think, that you continue wanting to be famous, long past any desire for “glory” or money or bitches and blow. You’re just like dammit I wanna hear that somebody did my fuckin poem in a debate competition or something. I wanna hear that somebody came out of their dulldrums or got inspired and made something good happen, or decided they could do that too, and became an inspiring poet themselves, or whatever. Feeling like nobody cares is the WORST feeling in the world, the WORST. But it’s almost like an evil siren drug, when you hit something right, because then it draws you back in! But then again, it really does feel worth it when people get really moved, and you really do feel really badass.
Everywhere I went for a long time, it was going to be for sure for sure that people would want to hear this poem. I didn’t ever have any of that “I’m bored with this fuck you” thing going on that you hear about performers having. If people actually WANTED to hear something of mine, I was glad to do it. Because mostly I figured me even being there and having people listen was a favor they were doing to me, and a lot of times I felt like I was jamming something down their throat that they really didn’t want to begin with, so any time I really got a request like that and I knew everybody in the room would pretty much dig it, I was totally glad to do it.
Especially with this poem. But there was one poem, called Yellow And White, that one friend, called Spec, would (will still) always request that I was hesitant to do. Mostly because I would always forget it. But I think also because it didn’t hit people like, say, Blink. Mostly it was only her that liked it! But I’d do it for her. I remember one time at some feature performance I stumbled all over that poem for her.
Anyway, that’s something we’ve talked about in the whole promotion cycle. You finally get something you think will move people, and you suddenly want to go promote promote promote, which eventually is unhealthy and selfish, and drives you into a not good place. Cycle cycle cycle. Sometimes the cycle is just, make a record, promote, make a record, promote, and you don’t get screwy, but I think spiritually, there’s still a bit of a cycle between loving generosity and creativeness and self centered desperation. At least for me, I’m usually relatively more generous and wise during creation than during promotion.
I thought I’d mention that, as talking about that stuff is where this blog is starting to go. I even changed the about page!
This particular recording of Blink is from the 2003 Houston Slam Off, the competition to determine the “city champion” and the team that went to the national poetry slam. I won, of course 😉 I think I got all perfect scores that night. I like these live recordings because you can hear people reacting during the poem. The only thing I don’t like is that Dave (the venue manager and recordist that night) went and edited out the cheering AFTER the poem, which to me is like the whole point! So I apologize for not having that on here, nothin I could do 🙂
The saddest thing though is the first time I came out (at all!) after me and Tamara broke up. I was so broken hearted that I stayed for a couple of months in my apartment just drinking and doing music theory homework, and one night the phone rings, and I answer it, and it’s venerable Houston poet Marcell Murphy, and he’s yelling at me to get the hell down to the slam.
I said “i got homework to do man” and he’s like “that’s BULLSHIT!!” and I said “I got nothin to prove” and this guy’s so great – he goes “YES YOU DO!!!”
*Laughs* So I drug ass out there, drank a few Pabsts, and in the first round of the slam, I did Blink, and everybody for a couple years KNEW it was specifically about Tamara, and they all knew we’d broken up, so they were like “awww”. I remember another great poet/performer/singer Keshia saying really loud “AWWWWWW :(” at the end of it. Then I walked off stage and straight to the back room, hid in there and just fell to my knees. But the odd thing was, as I fell to my knees, I knew just a bit that that knee falling action was a bit more dramatic than I actually was feeling. Somehow I just wanted to have a story. That’s how you do sometimes, out there, you fake a lot of shit because you think things are supposed to be hard.
Sometimes you fake it until you make it, but in a bad way where your fake dramatic bullshit turns into actual pain. That’s just dumb. Don’t do that. See that’s one of those things that I’ve discovered in this industry/world of entertainment and art that is just bullshit. I call bullshit on artistic drama. Art doesn’t have to come from being tortured. And I swear, most mother fuckers are faking being tortured because they heard some romantic story about Jackson Pollack or DaVinci going apeshit and cutting their ear off or throwing paint on the sidewalk. Or they saw Walk The Line and now they think to be a rock star they have to get a lot of beers and pills and see if they can puke up a piece of their intestine. Idiots. Absolute idiocy, really.
But uh, enjoy the poem, eh? It’s a love poem 🙂
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