Taking the mic ~

Ahem.  Testing… testing…

Is this thing on?


The mic awaits the echoes of me

lights search, the stage is set

my audience fidgets restless in the stalls

I open my mouth and everything…

falls… apart.


I’ve so much to say, I want to be heard

but I loathe the sound of my own voice

for every time I speak, it’s not poet

not melody I hear, not here.

It’s the voice of her, of them, of she


It’s the girl inside who doubts that I could

ever be more than just this

It’s the heart stopped child sat watching in silence

as the sky falls in, then is packed away again

the sister who tried to convince the brother

to just let her be, learn for herself, wait and see


It’s the mute amongst the madness

that abounds in hushed sounds

as I sort through the silt, unpick my memory quilt

searching for reasons why, only my kitchen tiles

get to hear my heart songs, not shared with the living

so with grieving I’ll sit in the bottomless pit

along with a Midland monotone, now spliced

with a hint of Southern sigh that doesn’t belong


I should leave them in awe, for I am a creator

a bearer of light, a star in the night, so why

when I speak, do I hear pathetic and weak

self-loathing turning in, how can I begin

to fit in this cast list, make my audience

roar, have them begging for more

their applause deafening my inner critic


Dry mouth, and on my tongue I taste bitter lemons

with a lick of Tequila from my youth

and in truth, a slither of saccharine

raspberry jam, the seeds stuck in my teeth

are the truth beneath, always gnawing away

and from time to time I choke on a cherry stone


For my encore, anticipation, turn the speakers up loud

bend your ear as I rattle and hum

and as the words run off track in my train of thought

you’ll find me in the silence I’ve become

Ahem.  Testing… testing…

Is this thing on?


I wrote this especially for dVerse Poets  Open Link Night tonight.  I have noticed an increasing number of wonderful poets literally stepping up to the mic to give voice to their words via Sound Cloud and similar digital media, and every time they do I sit in awe of their bravery.  I could never do that, I hate my voice, I would be too embarrassed… but why?  I’m more of an extrovert than an introvert, I am confident and a chatterbox in every other setting.  Maybe because so much of my true identity is wrapped up in my poetry, maybe that sits uncomfortably with my tone of voice? I don’t know the answer, but I thought it would be fun to explore in a poem today.  Thanks for reading


31 responses to “Taking the mic ~

  1. smiles.. maybe you need just a bit more time.. when i first recorded a poem i was concerned because of my german accent..but well…i am german and i have an accent..and that’s how it is.. i like the images you use..esp. the bitter lemon and tequila and
    raspberry jam, the seeds stuck in the teeth…ha..i can feel that.. smiles

    • Its possibly also a regional accent thing, there is quite a stereotype attached to certain Midland tones that implies something other than what or who I am. Thanks Claudia, look forward to hearing your voice one day.

  2. I really understood this with all the emotions emitted, for as you are with an open mic I am with what I write, the only grace is the autonomy given through the blog.
    Wonderful write

  3. it takes some getting used to for sure…i still get butterflies though when i doa performance or an open mic…i figure if i ever dont get them i am probably not saying what needs to be said…and then i will really be scared…

  4. I know what youmean, Vanessa! If I tried to read one of my poems, I’d probably sound like Willie Nelson after he just got woke up in his van on the side of the road.

  5. I love listening to the spoken words or poetry reading ~ But I can’t record my voice too, it comes out like a child or teen, high pitched. I have fooled many telemarketers that I am a kid in the house..ha..ha…. I can relate to the doubts and dry mouth…but I think in time, you can do it ~

  6. I think we all hate our own voices, (most of us) I know if I’ve ever recorded mine I think ‘Oh my goodness, what a dreadful voice’ and yet, others tell me I have a lovely voice… Shrugs… I guess we all see ourselves differently than others do.
    I bet this would have sounded so much better read aloud by you too! Maybe we should both have a go at sound cloud…lol I know I enjoy hearing other poets reading their works.
    This is really good writing!~!

  7. I have another poetry site that’s kind of fallen by the wayside (www.virtualpoetryreading.com) and I made it because I love to hear the sound of poets reading their own work. It always improves upon my reading in my head. If you want to try, my site has a link to SoundCloud where you could try.

    Maybe @daydreamertoo has an idea- she should read your poem and you read hers! Either way, I encourage you to screw up your courage and do it.

    Loved your poem -very open and brave. Mosk

  8. loved this, yes, I enjoy listening to other poets reciting their poetry it adds another dimension .and I too have ofternwondered whether I could do the same but as you say I think I sound awful – I have a Liverpool accent decidely scouse I feel – altho some say regional accents lend something else to a rendering – maybe – but loved the way you took me thro the stages in your write – as confidence built and yo take the plunge I almost expected to see that you had actually done a record – maybe next time – would love to hear – hgs lib

  9. This is an interesting take on the idea of reading aloud–I do it for others, myself as I am not someone who ‘gets’ a poem better for hearing it. I like to see the words and digest them with my eyes, but since I’ve started the audio thing, I find some people really do absorb the poetry better through sound. Anyway–it’s not as intimidating as it may look. AFA the meat of this poem, it comes across strong and your voice is very clear, so nothing is lost for me, just glad I got to read it. Now, if it came to reading out loud in front of a live audience–I’m with you all the way on that–couldn’t do it.

  10. They say public speaking ranks at the top of the five things people most dread, up there with getting lost in the woods and being eaten alive. But of course your wonderful poem is about even more than that, about the courage to be who one is, finding the self and allowing it to become what it wishes and can be. Your words delving into the possibilities, the fears, is filled with song.

  11. Well I did my first ever reading with mic the other day. I worried how I’d sound. I kept thinking, shall I be Atilla the Stockbroker or John Cooper Clarke. Then I thought, just speak with your personality. Your own voice will do.


  12. “as I sort through the silt, unpick my memory quilt”

    So much truth in one little poem from the brothers to the microphone!

    And let me tell you here that I wish this narrator to wrap herself in the memory quilt just long enough to know that it is as if an article of clothing and she can choose to pick out another article of clothing to wear as she moves on up!

  13. Read thrice in my two-plus years of poethood. I hated my voice, too, even though I’ve had to speak in public for work. Thought I sounded like a contra-tenor who had just inhaled helium. Then I recorded a poem for friends (I believe you know) and they noted a deep voice on the recording.

    Vanessa, we’re our own worst enemies. I’m sure your voice, with its “Midland monotone, now spliced with a hint of Southern sigh” is just as lovely as this poem. A splendid piece with some neat internal rhymes and lovely images. 🙂 xo

    ~ j

  14. Hello – I came here via DVerse and really pleased I did as enjoyed this poem a lot and also I understand your sentiments about not feeling comfortable with the sound of our own voice. I’ve recently done a couple of spoken word poetry events and find it terrifying and cringe at the thought of anyone recording me! 🙂

    • Hey Holly, delighted you came to visit and that you left a comment. I still haven’t made it all the way through the list there were so many this week! Thanks and well done on tackling the spoken word events… Brave lady!

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