To help out a buddy who was hosting a poetry slam event in Lexington, I decided to jump into writing and performing poetry. After all, it’s been a year filled with pushing my limits and breaking out of comfort zones, so this just seemed like another opportunity to add a fulfilling experience to my life. And it sure was!
I had already been working on a piece called “Citrine”, based on the girl that I essentially fell head over heels for before she absolutely destroyed my heart this spring, but the main theme of the event was Dada-style political poetry, so I needed to come up with something more topical and save the personal poem for open mic time. My solution was another poem, “Agent Orange”. Although shorter than “Citrine”, I was proud of how quickly it came together to provide a powerful punch.
As far as my performance went – I’d say pretty well, considering that this is the first time I have ever recited poetry to a crowd. It’s definitely not my first public speaking gig, but there is a different dynamic when you’re presenting something you’ve created yourself and have never shared with the world. It was a cathartic experience all around and honestly, I think I’m going to write more when the inspiration hits – that way I’m ready for future events!
Original Piece “Agent Orange” written and performed by Shelby Jones.
Orange but not the lorax
Weak, stupid coward
You have fooled the masses
Sold our future for gasses
Decisions roll like waves
The waters will foul
You know nothing of the havok you have wrought
But my children will
Did your picture book tell you that EPA meant
Annihilate our beautiful state
I’ve never seen a capitalist cower
Behind a nationalist front
But when you are supported by fascists
I’m not sure what you want
I speak for the trees
And the rivers
And the future you have sold
I will live to watch it unfold
Lucky for us you are just one man
The world stops for no one
She will heal her wounds
When we destroy ourselves
I remember the first time I saw her; the girl with the crystal around her neck.
Upturned nose, faint smile, brown eyes behind glass.
NASA shirt, modest mouse, iced coffee to spite the cold
Uncanny, whole, natural beauty & soul
“Good Morning” were your first words to me.
“We’ll See” were your last.
I was too shy to reciprocate.
It took days but I overcame it.
“That crystal on your necklace, what is it?”, I ask
“Citrine”, you told me. “Heat treated amethyst.”
The ambitious plans were made
Unicorn, panda, nicknames stayed
We drank bottles of liquor, watched terrible shows, stories were told;
Time spent with you never grew old
I remember a girl who could fight the world
You’d sit and watch, taking it all in
Nobody ever asked for your voice
But I could always hear it, a call to reason.
You never asked for a hero,
But I saw myself in you;
I tried to share the experience
Of a struggle to find myself and begin anew.
You started to drift away;
“He’s really nice”, you’d say.
“Don’t wait around for me”;
A friend you would never let me be.
Trapped in a past of your own creation
Anchor drawing tight with every strain
The blade I lent you to cut yourself free
Instead was turned against me.
I didn’t realize how little it mattered;
Being upfront and honest
Was the epitome of intensity
But not as painful as your apathy.
It was you who never listened,
You who never cared,
I pushed you to seek more from life, but you prefer simplicity.
I am what you left behind before,
So it is easy to keep running.
I seek the closure that I can never have.
You climbed away and I cannot follow.
And yet you still fight your demons and your past,
the pressure turned that crystal from purple to gold
You are stronger than that citrine you bear
You have been hurt and but the scars will heal
I wanted to be a part of that journey
And now I am left drifting out of your universe
I’ll never apologize for knowing what I want
But I can apologize for thinking you were worth letting in
Good luck with the bed you’ve made
I am sleeping well these days
Now we stand at a distance and we don’t speak;
You’ve hidden your heart behind a new wall, shacked up and weak
I hope for your sake it’s all that you need
Because this lost friendship has haunted me.
I’d like to say this all was a mistake
But we both know that’s not true
What I want can never happen
Until you admit you want it too.
I remember the girl with the crystal around her neck;
She doesn’t remember me.
The citrine glows;
Love is lost, but life still goes.