i want to slam poems in spanish

i want to slam poems in spanish. 

read that again.

i want to slam poems in spanish.

now picture me reciting that line followed by 3 minutes of other similarly sleek sentences in some cozy coffee shop, crammed with people, and filled with the smells of fresh grounds and the sounds of steaming milk. 

i want to slam poems in spanish. 

i want to, but i don’t. i don’t because i can’t seem to write in poetic form and if i did i think i would die a death by hyperventilation waiting to recite poetry in front of an assembled group. one poetic line is all i’ve got and that isn’t enough to make my wish come true.

i’m called to other things it seems. things like listening and noticing and loving. periodically i feel called to bring someone a meal or to write one of these posts or to pass along a link to something that i think might change someone’s life. or week. or day. sometimes i feel called to send a text that says “i’m thinking about you. you matter.”

which is what i did today. i texted my friend garret who is on tour, performing spoken word poetry around the country. shortly after i pushed send my phone rang and it was garret. we got to talk for a bit and it was lovely to have sound accompany words in ways that texts can never accomplish. it was exciting to hear him describe a recent calling, made clear to him when the person he was staying with him was watching rambo 3. it’s not often that someone recognizes their call while overhearing rambo 3 and working on poetry. he did, however, realizing that, just as rambo realized he was, perhaps, put on this earth to accomplish the task set before him, he (garret) was possibly put on this earth to share his words with those of us who need to hear them. 

which brings me back to wishing i could slam poems in spanish. 

a couple of weeks ago i was at a slam where the open mic included a young woman who performed her piece in spanish. it was beautiful. it was stunning, actually. i have no idea what she said but the sounds of the piece were soulful and the response of those who understood the words was profound. people “mm-hmmm’ed” and blew out little “whoooo” breath sounds and shook their heads. i’ve made these sounds and gestures when i’ve heard my friends and others slam. i love being lulled by the rhythm of the meter and feeling of different poems and those who recite them. i can hear, in my mind, the pauses and rises and falls that create emphasis and call the hearer to attend in a different way. i hear them in my unwritten spanish poem and yet have no natural way with which to bring them forth.

could i learn to write poetry? sure. could i overcome the sheer terror i imagine involved in performing a piece? possibly. and yet, that isn’t the point. i don’t feel called to it. i desire it, but i don’t feel called to it.

i recently got to hear richard rohr speak about living from a place of deep, internal “yes.” he reminded the assembled crowd that it is healthier to identify ourselves by that which we are for rather than by that which we are against. this “yes” feels to me like a calling. i can wiggle and shake and squeeze myself into becoming a slam poet but it will never bring about the deep yes that i experience when i live into my true calling which often feels so ordinary and non remarkable. my calling doesn’t have a meter or rhythm or involve lulling. and yet, it is mine. and maybe i was put here to live into it.

and you have yours. and maybe you were put here to live into it. it may not be what you wish it was. you may not even value it. you may clean houses instead of writing top ten hits. you might extend kindness on the train home rather than climb mount kilimanjaro. you might check groceries or teach children or sit on boards or coach a team or answer phones instead of doing any number of glamorous things you imagine. and yet, if these simple acts tap into your calling, then you are in the exact right place at the exact right time. your “yes” may seem like the most mundane and ordinary thing in the world to you and yet it might be just what the world needs...even if you don’t understand it....kind of like poems in spanish.


  1. I could try to translate for you.

  2. i love the words about calling, 'live into it.' and the suggestion that glamour is overrated.