Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Poem by Kate LaDew

every machine gunned word (stutter)

every machine gunned word
from my mouth is evidence of their failure,
tongue spattering against clenched teeth, syllables splayed in two,
blood dripping down my chin, watching them watch me,
forced twin smiles ripped in half,
clenched teeth, clenched fists,
clenched teeth, clenched fists,
weary heads nodding along to the clips and starts, eyes blurring,
hoping to reveal a prettier picture--
my mother took me to classes after school
waiting with other dumbstruck kids, the room filled with distractions
anything to keep the hands occupied, limit speech
my life has been stutters and stumbles to compensate,
afraid to say what I want when nothing comes easy
I’ve managed to become nothing, and been so slow doing it--
but what have I done to them?
this beautiful little girl they once had,
reduced to close lipped mutterings
this beautiful little girl grown up, unable to look anyone in the eye,
afraid to see the pity, the nervous laughter.
I will never give an acceptance speech,
never wave at my mother, my father from a stage
all my words have bled out, there’s nothing to reward, and all I am is afraid
curled up inside myself, waiting for the gunfire to die down--
hands grasp mine, old hands, tired hands, veins coarsing with matching blood,
we three are dying together,
felled at the knees and I’m sorry.
if only I could tell you, if only my lips could form the notes--
the rat a tat tat of consonants and vowels hits your chest,
leaves blood like a star over those old hearts, those tired hearts--
I didn’t want to fail, I wanted to give you something, anything at all,
if my breath would only fill my lungs completely for just a moment,
I could tell you what I’ve been saving up all my life--
I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry

Kate LaDew is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in Studio Art.

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