The following is a tribute to the high school poets involved in Victoria’s annual ‘Victorious Voices’ slam poetry competition. You can read more about that here:
We approach the stage, in silence. Face the spotlight glare with an ‘I’m too cool to care’, but it isn’t fooled. The microphone stands and waits, all chrome and grace, knows not our name, will accept no blame… it only relates to patience. Patience. So we back away, close our eyes and dig deep inside for… Truth? Beauty? Pain? There’s so much inside that will no longer hide; it seeks escape, wants to leap from our chest, spread its wings and soar into that forevermore place where it can land in safe… be safe, be now.
So we take Courage in hand, along with her sister, Shame, and step forward. We open our eyes upon darkened skies and the winds we have wound around and around uncertainty unfurl. We stand, one step shy of the cliff, hoping to leap into forgiveness, buffeted by criticisms, unseen, unspoken, known only by our oldest friend: Fear. And his cousin, Loneliness. But we will wait no more, cower no more. We have new friends now. Words are our tools and with them we chip and sculpt, mold a view of ourselves that no one knows, has ever seen, has never been until now. Now.
The first time, not the first time, the first time, every time, and so without thought, without breath we take that step, and jump. Words fall from our mouth and blossom and curl, perform their own sacred dance with Beauty and form patterns of their own we have never seen, have always been, in waiting, in waiting to be uttered. And with their flow the shattered fragments of our Soul realign, re-combine, become a whole we’ve never known, standing there alone, in silence. We fly.
We dip and soar, want to roar, if only Joy had a brush we would paint the world with rainbows. With each release we open to peace, a quiet inside, not the void we tried to hide from a world that didn’t care, didn’t know we were there as we stood within our own shadow. We sing out a torrent of words, form a bright blue world of verbs and vowels – linking chains of thought into drops that ought to sustain us, suspend us… and then we pause.
Not a pause for the clause; the next word runs circles around our tongue but refuses to leap beyond our teeth and be spoken. Clings tight to the thought that birthed it, hollers no, will not go, and we stumble. Our wings fold, Dumbo’s magic feather slips from our fingertips and is whisked away by the sound of the pounding of our heart as it skips a beat, wants to join our brain in retreat and return to that cocoon of anonymity. And all that we hear is the voice that exclaims, despite our best claims that we have no right to Be. Here. Now.
We fall, inward, not outward, dissolving quietly into a puddle of embarrassment that no one knows, no one hears, just a silent hush, a distant rush as we drip into the floor. And then we hear it. Quiet at first, a forest of crickets has burst into the room, but no. Not crickets, but fingers, snapping in the dark, slow the beating of our heart: we are accepted. Accepted, not rejected and the words we have neglected burst forth once more. And suddenly we realize: we have a voice, we have words to shape our feelings, we have a place to stand, united, and because of this We Are. Victorious.