Various and Sundry Poetry

loud and clear

though it was not close to home
i decided to go to the open mic
in the middle of suburbia
no, further, san jose, a whole hour, and
a saturday night when i could have been
throwing back cosmos or sitting stoic
at the symphony
or flirting or better than flirting
i left the city for this
because of the plan
the big plan of
once a week
because once a week, I had said, you are going
no matter where, no matter if
the gas is getting expensive again,
you are going, forget the distance,
you are going to show up and
you are going to do this

you are a writer, I said,
and aside from the books you want to sell
aside from the fantasy of fame or fortune
aside from the dream-making and whirlpools of hope
there are things you can do
there are things you must do today
like show up
like show up and say something
you can do this
you must do this
reveal yourself, I said on the drive there,
the words you have been so carefully plotting
at home, twirling the syllables on your tongue,
forget about the shadows you normally
hide behind, the screen of your new Apple computer
which you love for its cheerful fluorescence and
better yet,
for its cheerful anonymity,
get out from behind that,
from anonymity,
get out and show up and whatever you do
be afraid of it.

see what it is to be afraid,
to let fear tingle your fingertips,
to let fear dizzy the pages as you hold them
to let fear rattle from the back of your throat
the veins of your insides
feel this galactic uncertainty of
am i good enough or
am i good
see what it is to be afraid but not
more than you can handle, not
enough to keep you silent
let everyone see this
let you see this
loud and clear
this is what it means to have a voice
this is what it means to use it

take 101, not 280
which is the slower, sweeter ride.
101 is that much faster
and they're going to start without you
if you're late.