A brief introduction:
Here is the April-May of 2021 Speak Poetry Edition Compilation. This is my first genre-focused compilation and is also the first compilation I have repeated outside of the same year. I first did this prompt in October-November of 2019. Much of why I chose the word speak back then was because of fear. Fear keeps us from speaking a lot of words we may need to speak and release. I wanted to share a prompt that would encourage people to speak through the fear or despite the fear.
I returned back to this prompt for very similar reasons.
A lot has happened since October of 2019. Each of us have lived through lives and days and experiences we could not have imagined. We each have our own stories of fear, of loss, of grief, of joy, of love, of confusion, of doubt, of anger, of growth, of celebration, of miracles, of the beauty of humanity, and also the ugliness of humanity within these past few years. And within that, we each have words that we may need to speak. We each have words that we may need to speak just for or to ourselves. We also each may have words that we need to speak out loud simply to be heard by somebody else. Speak those words my friends. However you need to, speak those words. Write what you need to your fear and your doubt. Write what you need to process. Write what you need to heal. Write what you need to celebrate! Write what you need to speak in order to dream. Write what you need speak to your shame. Write what you need to remember. Write what you need to hear. Speak those words you need to hear.
Whatever it is you need to speak, speak it my friends. Speak it.
And may the words that these writers have written within their poems be a part of that encouragement to speak your words. These poems are special and I cannot wait for you all to read.
As always, if you read some words that connect to you, reach out to the writer and let them know. A few words of response to someone’s words can go a long way. If you want me to pass your words along, I’d be happy to do so!
Happy reading my friends!
I’m sorry we lied. Hid behind black and white terrified of not knowing, of having no control. I’m sorry we told you to fit the mold or get out. I’m sorry we let you leave. Forced your hand. I’m sorry we let power corrupt. Broke backs not bread. Drank hypocrisy not wine. Spoke in tongues not love. You belong here as you are. You are safe to ask questions. Safe to wrestle. Safe to change your mind. This is not mass conformity Nor mind control. This is liberation. You are free to walk away, to stay, to come back Home. I’m sorry we were blind. Grace Gamache _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Yes, no, maybe so Kinda-sorta, not quite sure Hurts more than just us, you know Awakened by dreams They were truly bad nightmares Help me out somehow Yes, leave me alone No, don't bother me once more I am my own loan Borrowed for a while Pay is coming with interest Not what I believe Parker Nail _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ I Can Hear Your Heartbeat I love to ask about the heart. The matters of the heart. The home where the heart “is.” The broken heart. The heart attack. The heart break. The heartwarming—a favorite of mine. The hidden heart, the loving heart, the gentle heart, the sick heart, the evil heart, the heart that loves me. The heart(s) that love me. Love(d) me. A dear friend once asked, “How’s your heart?” I haven’t gone back since. I have one too. Afraid of Asking I think I am intelligently created. But you don’t believe that. So what do we do? Back On My Knees Should I sit on my knees to talk to you? How do I converse with a person I don’t see. A person I can’t see. Wait this piano music is really moving me. Wait, this piano music made me feel close to you. I’m in a building with people to study and love your words you gave to us. Are they really your words? Who is right, who is wrong? I’m scared to be wrong. I feel safe with not knowing. Your religion scares me out of life. Your religion, your faith—it doesn’t add up. Unconditional love seems to have many many conditions these days. I’ll just get back on my knees, fearful. Karmen Smith _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Terraforming I imagine my great great great grandchild, in orbit: Gently rotating, head tilted slightly back, Staring down through the vacuum at the glistening radiance, Bluer than the bluest of eyes. And I imagine that my great great great grandchild is smiling With a mix of astonishment, awe, and pride At what humankind had accomplished heretofore In that briefest of moments—in geologic time—that defined its existence. I wonder if my great great great grandchild, in the face of such a wonder, Will stop and think what life was like in my time. When trivialities reigned with such fierce import And so, so so much time was wasted. Would that fleeting image of me in memory mar that moment, And would that smile wither away, As my great great great grandchild, in orbit, considered, For the briefest of moments, that creation below? John R. Barner April 18, 2021 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ A Letter For the Sick This is a letter for the sick. Why do you rely on medicine alone to heal? Is it not I who gives medicine the power to heal? You take medicine daily to be healed yet you forget about the source of healing. You take my gifts and you run. You are my beloved. This is a letter for the deaf. I am crying out to you, Yet you refuse to listen. You hear my voice, and then you block me out. I am closer than your breath and you still keep things from me. You are my beloved. This is a letter for the colorblind My voice is written and I am not blank. With one motion you can see my love. The red letters are woven into your heart. I’m right in front of you. You are my beloved. This is a letter for the discomforted You have let him into my safe space. Can a branch bear fruit apart from the vine. It is thrown away and withers. Abide in me and your joy will be complete. You are my beloved. This is a letter for the weary You have heard that my yoke is easy and my burden is light But do you believe it? Not only is my burden not heavy, But it is the literal light that you see everyday. I AM comfort and You are my beloved. This is a letter for the one walking away I am right behind you. You can walk down paths that lead you nowhere But I will always run after you when you decide to turn around. You are my beloved. This is a letter for the worrisome Tomorrow will worry about itself. I’m not worried so why should you? I am the most relaxed person to ever walk the planet. Tomorrow, I knew that you would betray me, Yet I still prepared my table for you. Tomorrow, I knew that you would deny me, Yet I still washed your feet. You are my beloved. This a letter for those who now know These words are no longer just words, But they are the truth. Now you see yourself how I see you And you fall before me because you have seen my holiness. I am constantly fighting for you, Turning your sorrow to gladness And springing lilies from your barren soil. I value this relationship that I would rather die Than not be with you. You are worthy. You are beautiful. You are my beloved. Austin Frederking _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ green it’s spring again, and I love the green it’s everywhere I look, and I can’t get enough of it. in it I see hope and growth and a freshness that sets my mind at ease and brings me peace. and I can hear your voice sometimes telling me that I’m green too. green like the green that grows on trees. like the green I like so much. I get so in my head about getting it all right. and you whisper to me that it’s okay, I’m green too, growing like the trees that bring fresh air, becoming learning taking color. and green is beautiful but it also stings sometimes because it’s not forever. it’ll grow these beautiful flowers, blooming for all to see and admire and pick and cherish and it’ll also die and wilt away. and in winter we’ll forget all about the vibrant green that made the freshest air and when we all took a deep breath together. we won’t be able to see that color quite so clearly. green isn’t forever and neither are the flowers but green will always be green again. you say I’m green too and even though I don’t like the color so much on me, I’ll still take a deep breath. I won’t be green forever. I’ll grow flowers, and I’ll wilt away but I’ll always be green again. it’ll always be spring again. Caroline Beltrami _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4/13 She was breathing the same way that grandpa did when he went. Chest heaving with every slow and shallow breath. I’m physically standing in room 25 but the rest of me is in a room in a hospital in Jackson - telling him that he can go and we’ll be okay. There is a chill in my spine from the similarities. I stand next to my trainee, wondering if he has ever seen death this close. I assume Nurse has and I certainly know that Doc is intimately acquainted with death’s demeanor. Later trainee will say to me: they don’t prepare you for that part in online training. I’ll reply solemnly: no they don’t. He has just been inducted into the club for those who witness death for a living. He will not be the same from this point forward. Their faces will haunt him like the rest of us. Family sits to the left of her bed and holds her hand just as I did 6 years ago. They will soon learn that time does not dull this memory. Tunnel vision has surely set in by now for those left to grieve. Minutes later she is gone. She made her choice hours before and she seemed unafraid to face it. I made my choice years ago to show up on the front lines of death knowing I will never win the war. But maybe one day I can learn to ease the suffering and gently guide those ready to journey onward. And maybe one day I’ll be unafraid to face it. Emily Heyduck _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ there's this version of you: there’s this version of you that I cant afford to forget its the best one the purest one the simplest one and if I forget then what was all this for there’s this version of you thats slipping away as hard as I try to remember the details the moments they fade quicker than I can keep up there’s this version of you that haunts me that feels real but is too distant to touch I want it back but never will there’s this version of you thats holding onto me it overtakes me when I least expect it when I try and push it away it floods my memory there’s this version of you that im letting go of im making peace with im allowing myself to grow away from there’s this version of you that ill always miss Savannah Shaw _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Speak He invites me to I open my mouth in response And an opposing force stops me short A memory, several of them A recollection of the last time I tried ties my tongue How little the truth set me free back then He invites me yet again With tear laden eyes For honesty More than anything For confirmation, affirmation That our relationship is still on the mend The anger wells And dissipates Like smoke from a tea light How crippling are his tears to me How quickly I unravel I remember, yes But the fury fades Soon after this conversation It will return And some regret will hold fast Building like dust on a ceiling fan blade I go on autopilot Trying to respond with truths that are sufficient enough That feel like progress Yet the back of my head swims with The other truths The infidelity The manipulation The lies The irrationality The dependence The distractedness How does it all lose its legitimacy When it is time to address it In the face of sincerity I know the healing process is slowed all the more without doing so And I am doing everyone involved a disservice But if I speak, then what Then we’re back at the start The root of it all still orange embers Never cooling Words are so powerful when spoken So troubling when harbored Something so intangible so able to shatter To mend I remain - comfortable enough in the land of half spoken Fanning my embers Soothing my hope in the future all the same Am I waiting for something to break? Some moment that warrants my words more than now? Surely I am Surely I should Speak Anonymous _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ April 27th It’s just days now. I’m sure of it. The days, yes. But the man, I mean. I’m sure of him. I trust him. I love him. Last night I watched him lead. He led a crowd to bend down low. And to raise their voices. To cry out to the One who hears. The One who heals. The One who healed. I’m sure of it. Yes, the healing. But the King, I mean. I’m sure of him. I trust him. I love him. I believe him. I will follow him. We will follow him. I’m sure of it. Rachel Gamblin _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ COMFORTINGLY SIMILAR, WILDLY DIFFERENT You’re not here yet, But when you are I know you’ll love it. The places your mind will take You will certainly bring joy, curiosity, And a fondness for people you’ve yet to meet. If you ever begin to worry, find your friends. The ones that rescue instead of demand, And they will be your heroes. Some will be comfortingly similar to you, And others—wildly different. You haven’t met them yet, But when you do—I’m certain you’ll love them. a letter poem found in Carolina’s shoebox, one week after the kite. Karmen Smith _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ To Natalie, To know you Two lily pads away. To meet you one day at the Fern Forest Cafe. To beauty I drew, To freedom I stayed. Too unique just To be Two long hops away. Today, we will meet Two hours today To make less the leap from two cities away. To eat and To drink, To share time and space. Together we'll meet at the Silver Soiree. "To Beauty" "To Freedom" "To Friendship," we say. Tomorrow we'll meet at the Fellows Cafe. Two melodies Two tunes Two friends we will stay. To never now be Two too far away. Carson Travers _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ She burned a deep yellow Fierce and bright Her roots sank deeper With each morning’s new burst of light As she began to learn She began to grow Deeper and deeper went her roots And it began to show Some walked by her Admiring her beauty And some walked by her Whispering in dismay “That weed doesn’t belong here,” She would hear them say Yet still she stood tall For she did not want to fall One night As she continued to grow She suddenly realized Her color no longer showed A soft gray Took yellow’s place Time and wisdom Seemed to glow in her face New seeds were growing within her Bursting forth with new life On the outside she appeared fragile But on the inside she grew with new might Suddenly The winds of change began to blow And she quickly realized It was almost her time to go But this was not her death No, she still had much life left to live But she had lived enough to know That her time in this place had come to a close She had grown and grown And seen new things But she had new things she needed to see And new things she needed to dream So one by one Her seeds blew away Gently and softly Into the light of the day She saw that every piece that broke off of her Was bursting forth with life abundantly And in each of the places they flew Life bloomed new And started again. So if the Little Dandelion learned anything through her journey It’s that sometimes the bravest thing you can do Is to let go when the winds begin to blow For perhaps it’s only then That you truly begin to grow Hailey Hawkins _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ you wanted glass castles and high mantles big enough for fires that can burn the bridge(t)s between you and your past relationships did i say relationships? i meant all the different versions of life you led never once bringing yourself fully to the table the good old days insecurity and insincerity what if you told me you missed it? but i miss you don’t waste wood trying to burn down the bridge(t) you built between where you stand still and where i move foreword the good new days Bridget Walton _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ On the plane watching the news The unrest. The murder. The bombing in Palestine & Israel Horror. The numbers are rising. They keep rising. For Palestine more so. more so. Please, make it stop. Oh God, we need you. Oh God, how are you responding to this now? How shall I? I ache. I distract myself, so I don’t have to sit in the gut-wrenching pain of confusion of hopelessness of inability to make right what is so clearly wrong Oh God, my stomach hurts. We need you. You are the God of hope. But where is hope? We need you. You are the God of healing. But where is healing? We need you. Oh the land needs your healing, God. Oh I humble myself. I follow your example, Jesus. I don’t have the words to say to honor both my Palestinian and Israeli friends my Jewish & Muslim friends I don’t have the words but you do, Jesus. I think of you, Jesus. I picture you walking into Palestine Walking with grace and peace Looking the woman the child the man Looking each one in the eye and reaching toward them Reaching out your hand to heal to connect to love and serve. to protect. I picture your eyes and your hands. Oh I see your love for Palestinians This love that could cause Israeli leaders to uproar. I think of you, Jesus. I picture you walking into Israel Walking with grace and peace Looking the woman the child the man, Looking each one in the eye and reaching toward them Reaching out your hand to heal to connect to love and serve. I picture your eyes and your hands. Oh I see your love for Israelis This love that could cause Palestinian leaders to uproar. You love both. You love all. You are not violent, Jesus. No, no, you Heal. You are not hidden, Jesus. No, no, you touch. Oh Jesus, as I think of you, my soul is revived. My hope is restored. In a moment's time, you do this. There is hope for violence to cease. There is hope for peace. There is hope for justice. There is hope for unity. You are the hope for violence to cease. You are the hope for peace. You are the hope for justice. You are the hope for unity. You are. Oh I ache for you. Rachel Gamblin _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ To a Younger Me Oh if only you knew the joys that are to come. Hold on sweet little boy, your deepest sorrows will one day be your greatest joys. You won't feel unseen forever. If only you knew the deep love waiting to wrap its arms around you. We’re so loved and you don't even know it yet. Not a tear has been wasted, no wound will remain hidden. Even this, yes, even this, will one day be made beautiful. Our scars will be art, our wounds: glory marks. Oh if only you knew. But I guess that's the whole point- you don't know, and you won't for a while. You can’t know joy without having tasted sorrow. One day the joy will be oh so sweet. Caleb Burke _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Shifting Together - inspired by my students This year has shifted Something If not Everything For each of us We are connected Through where we have felt disconnected Through our loneliness Through our questions Our grievances, frustrations, and pain We are connected Through our lives lived behind the screen The log on Log off And do it again The next day Monotony We are connected Through our utter resiliency Connected to Our ability to face Stress, challenge, change And Our persistency to then create New routines and rearrange everything We have now come to know More deeply What it feels like to Isolate And Hibernate In the midst of uncontrollable change Yet, Even in where we isolated We reached out And held onto one another Through the words That could travel Without touch And Close physical proximity Our communicating Through paper and pen And through our screens Became Our Everything And, Has helped us to see We are in need Of One another’s Words And Shared humanity So, As we continue to shift In what seems to be The never ending Challenge and change May we continue to speak Our words May we Share, Create, And Express Vulnerably Humbly And Honestly As a community And may we not forget to name One another’s Beauty Strength And Resiliency Bailey Frederking