Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Beat Poet

During my semester abroad, I had the pleasure of attending a few poetry slams. Spoken word poetry is one of the most powerful mediums I have experienced, and listening to one talented poet after another was truly an honor and a privilege. The thing about spoken word poetry, like that written and performed by Saul Williams and others, is that it often is meant to stand up to establishment or challenge injustice, speaking truth into the darkness. In short, spoken word poetry is supposed to change the world. At least, that is the intent. But for all the poems and songs and performances that are given by so many talented artists, the world is still broken and we still aren't doing our part to fix it.

With that in mind I wrote this. I call it The Beat Poet.

A soul patch and a soul,
Weapons with which to wage a war;
Fighting bullets with words and hatred with truth.
He deals in mesmerizing minds,
Memorizing the milky white and silky smooth
All-American yet socially conscious
Versions of both his reality and yours,
Restricting your ability to resist it
While opening your mind
To explore the vastness of possibility.
What seemed impossible to imagine
Is now happening right before your eyes:
One man with a notebook and pen
Is capturing your every thought,
Digging out the common ground
Between his truth and your own.
He holds your gaze willfully,
Unable to return it due to the lights in his eyes,
But unwilling to ignore the stillness surrounding his words.
You can’t look away even if you wanted to.
But some schism still remains,
Separating the speaker from his audience
As the truth flowing from his lips
Fails to find every ear
Or every heart.
Take the silence for what you will
Be it awe or agreement
Or even fear of what he has to say...
But know that words never make a man,
They merely open a window to his soul;
And while there might be power in his voice
And passion in his words
And strength on the tip of his tongue,
These mean nothing
Unless word becomes deed
And passion becomes action,
Forcing the world that hears him
To shape up, step up and stand up
For something bigger than itself.
Whether of love or hope or some great virtue,
No words of a beat poet ever changed the world.
They merely cast a challenge into the silence
To reject the lie and embrace the truth
That the power isn't on my lips,
Nor the strength in my words
But in every heart and every mind
That hears them
And does something about it.

And so on...

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