A Slam Poem from a Wanna-Be-Slam Poet

In an attempt to bring liveliness to the pieces of writing that lay dormant on my laptop, I want to share a poem written with the intentions of slamming it down in some random New Orleans slam poetry competition.

There is something sacred about the art of sharing personal experiences. The basis of this story with rhyme and emphasis is factual, and the any fragment of exaggeration highlights a real feeling. Knowing that the statements of this piece present real insights into the statements I have received, I attempt to excise a sense of artistry out of a feeling of duty in this poem.

This art calling out to you, reader, is my experience in New Orleans’ Central City neighborhood. It is my reparation for my anger, and it is salve for my wounds.

The news tells me New Orleans isn’t a safe place to be.

That the locals here are the kind of people

That put others through uneasy-

Situations and make me worry, make me sweat-

Bullets whenever I feel that there is a stranger at my back.

It was the statistics and media that had me feeling

Like Central City wasn’t safe.

That families don’t exist here

And that the children were hopping gates

That crime was rampant and there were

Guns at every corner store,

Whether I could see them or not.

Had me wondering if maybe they were packing more

Than just post-traumatic stress disorders and a pocket knife.

I walked through the door at my first job

And I wanted it to feel like home,

But I was berated and pained and mistaken — All alone.

I couldn’t just come in, and I had to earn my keep,

But the persistence and the persistence and the persistence was key.

No more askings, just more listenings

Understanding deeply, a lot less Christening.

Because I didn’t know shit.

In Central City, the people are great.

I figured that most of my worries went other ways.

The native New Orleanians welcomed me, and I learn every day.

So when the odd angle of comfort

Took my guard and led it astray,

I only realized just then…

He crept in the doorway

after months of weeping and sorrow

Shared in the arms of the supposed “other”

I found some sense of relief, a kin to relatedness

I thought I found that “ease.”

He didn’t know anything — he didn’t remember one bit.

But he walked into my room, and laid down for a bit.

Exhausted near slumber and my body lay open,

Keeping to itself, no invitation given.

That doesn’t stop this man from thinking

That it is better to get what you want and then to be forgiven.

Underneath sheets and underneath clothes

Wandering with force the hand that knows

Unconsciously what it wants but refuses to ask

If consent is required for as long as this lasts.

And for as long as my fears of being unwelcomed

By the community that felt safer than my bedroom,

With all of those worries that seem useless today,

It was the locals that kept my worries at bay,

And rather it was the non-native that came and took my safety away.

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