I felt rotten the next morning. I was awake when she got out of bed, quietly gathered her things, and left. I was a little relieved but still sick. I took a couple of aspirins and drank from the faucet. I got into bed and slept a few more hours.

I received a message from Georgia. She ran a shop on Court St. that sold trendy clothes. I admired her. She always looked presentable and spontaneous, and had a delightful air about her. It was wonderful to watch her turn heads.

I did not mention that she was part black, but you wouldn’t guess it. Deep down I think we all just feel right about people, and it felt right assuming she was just tan. It wasn’t unnatural for her age. Deep down though, her beauty really confused me, and I always felt the curiosity of asking how she could see something in me. We had almost nothing in common, save for the smoking of the occasional reefer. She took me shopping sometimes and informed me of new ways of doing my hair, or jeans, or my overall appearance. She had set me up on a few dates too. She knew me so well, but I barely knew her.

“Let’s hang out, boo!” the message said.

“Okay,” I sent back, and a few seconds later she responded.

I had a poem to read at the Union around ten. I told her I’d be going and that it’d be great to see her, and she said she’d come.

I went there around ten but didn’t see her. Sara, Audrey, and Kaylee were there. Kaylee bought me drinks and told me she might be pregnant. Sara rubbed my back and asked if I was going to read the same poem. Audrey looked tired, and said that she and Superman had been fighting.

The Union was having a Hip Hop shop, and in between sets, there was a reserved time for spoken word. I gathered my guts and walked onto stage.

“Hello, my name is J.D. Adkins, and I am an alcoholic.”

People cheered, and I nervously reached into my pocket. I pulled out the poems, and read them.

“Life is a lot like taking a poop,” I began.

People laughed. I took a deep breath, the piece of paper struggling in my hands. “If you force everything, it just comes out in one giant, shitty mess.” People cheered. “But if you let things slide, trust me, good things will happen.”

I smiled and they applauded, and I told them I had one more. The bar grew silent, and my hands were shaking.

“This poem is titled ‘try everything once’,” I said. “Try everything once. Be poor just to be poor. Be gay just to be gay.”

Someone in the back screamed “Yeah!”

I continued. “Be high for three days, stumbling over yourself, through jobs, class, and relationships that are stalling. But be cool.”

Another voice cheered. “The whole world tells you to be cool, even me, but be hot man, hotter than the sun, hotter than the blonde seamstress, tying your knots, caging your fears, even your thoughts. Be bold man, bolder than key words in books. Bolder than the locks on the doors and vying hearts. Bolder than the 3 A.M car rides telling your roommate to go faster, faster, faster than the rising sun.” People cheered.

“But be high man, higher than the planes. Higher than Dickinson when she wrote of the tired plains. Higher than Hunter, Benson, or Nietzche. Sit atop of a mountain and scream loyally, I’M ONLY ME!”

The bar was silent, and my hands were shaking.

“But be you, man, if anything, be you. Be you when dubbed secret stuff, be you when muttered bearded scruff, be you man, when the whole bar is pointing, be you man, when everyone screams, imperfect.”

The bar was silent as I left the stage, but then grew into an enormous applause. Everyone was smiling and high fiving me, telling me I did a good job. I didn’t see Georgia anywhere but I didn’t care. I reveled for the few seconds in the literary gold that is spoken word.


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