In honor of National Poetry Month… “Poetry Speaks”

Poetry Speaks
(by Kate Messner, Copyright 2012)
Good evening.
Thanks for coming.
I’m honored to have this month
A whole month, and April, too (so shiny!)
Dedicated to my words, my breath, my beat.
But before I go on,
I’d like to take this opportunity
To clear up a misunderstanding
About who I am and what I do
How I speak and what I mean
Why my tears run blood-red
And my red blood pulses with ancient drums
Why my heart sprays out confetti when it beats
Like somebody shook up New Year’s Eve
And sent juicy, frothy words
Busting out
All over your nice clean suit.
Who am I?
I am poetry, and let’s get one thing straight.

I am not reserved.

I am not reserved for anyone –
Not dead white men
Scribbling away with quill pens
Not women in crisp black suits
Sipping champagne in big city art centers.
I got nothing against them,
(I do enjoy a black-tie night now and again,)
But don’t you hang a reserved sign on me.
This table has chairs and pens enough for everyone.
I am too many things to be reserved for
Any one thing
Any one body
Any one world.
I am your best day
And your worst.
I’m the bright-light joy
Of brand new babies
Breathing air for the first time,
Crying out,
Hearing words – gushes, rushes of language
Life, super-charged.
I am hands-touch, first-kiss
And all the muddled up
Jumbled up messes that come after.
I am the dark-night-dying-red,
Close-your-eyes and scream pain
Of towers falling.
Over and over
Rewind- replay- still ends the same way
When all we have are words
That weep.
Everybody knows pain
And everybody knows joy.
The wonder of crocus shoots
And chocolate frogs
Stars that shoot across the sky
So fast you’re not even sure
They were real.
But they were.
So I am not reserved.
If you need to slap that sign on me
You just add a note at the bottom
In magic marker or crayon, maybe
Make it say
“Reserved for the old and the young
The rich and the poor
Hearts laughing or crying
Or almost too angry to write.
Reserved for Whole Mad World.”
That’ll do.
Because I am poetry.
And I am out-going –
Out going on subways and buses
In school kids’ lunch bags
And playground rhymes
On the lips of farmers praising early spring
And mothers whispering late-night feedings
I am out-going
Going out –
Going out to preach and party and mourn
Going out to grow the blades of grass
Sing them up into springtime
Words breathe oxygen, sure as they make sounds.
I am poetry, and –
What’s that? My time is up?
I see the buffet table’s ready
So I’ll step down.
But I’ll never be quiet
Know that much.
You’ll hear me out there,
Crying when you are, too.
Screaming injustice till somebody listens,
Laughing at bawdy jokes
In my too-bright red suspenders.
You’ll see me pointing to that sunrise the color of berries,
That leaf that looks like an old man’s face,
That girl in the corner with dreams,
Pay attention.
Thanks for coming today.
Enjoy this feast of words.
And when it’s over,
You go on out.
And make a poem.
Do it.
Make a poem of your own.


Copyright 2012, Kate Messner

A note about sharing poems online: Teachers – Feel free to share this poem with your students, no special permission needed.  Bloggers – If you’d like to share this poem with your readers, please do so by quoting a short excerpt and linking to the full version here. Thanks – and happy National Poetry Month!

10 Replies on “In honor of National Poetry Month… “Poetry Speaks”

  1. Oh, thank you, Ms. Poetry! Thank you for being there for all of us, all the time. Happy special month to you, but please know that we love you all year long. a.

  2. What a beautiful ode to the heart and soul of poetry . . . and a powerful reminder to honor and nurture the poetic spirit in each of us.

  3. When I should be sleeping, I am reading. Reading words much like notes on a musical score, having a rhythm, a force, a tribute..truth.
    Thanks for this. It’s beautiful.