Help! (A Poem in Requests)

I debuted this at an open mic night this week. It went over very well, although I don’t think it will be nearly as effective on your screen as it is read aloud.

Hi, hello, how are you – And all other appropriate aphorisms beginning with H, Including my entreaty for you to help me— For, you see, I am new to your stage; I am untested, unpracticed, yet unafraid Because I have an audience of veterans who will sit and stay and hear what I have to say And possibly to aid in the ways I’ll ask. (It’s a long list. And you probably should hear them all before you accept any, because “once you feed him, he’ll keep coming back.) Help me to speak with confidence Help me to make at least a little sense Help me to seem somewhat prepared and therefore maybe not as scared Help me to stand strong and not shake or quake or quiver as I speak Help me to make eye contact… but not to hold it for too long seeing as that’s leering or staring or fixating or obsessing— Help me to select and settle on a word instead of listing every option available—in the hopes that the perfect synonym will create the perfect line Help me to not shoot for perfection but to not accept mediocrity Help me to maintain high hopes but even higher humility Help me to not rely on repetition, especially alliteration and consonance and polysyndeton—which means including a string of ands or ors between listed words Help me to not sound condescending when explaining Help me to not use erudition as a crutch, to not be too pompous or pedantic, pretentious or priggish Help me to not split infinitives Help me to not have changed tenses Help me to not use too many metaphors and similes because I’m—like—so over figurative language Help me to come up with strategies aside from irony or bait-and-switch to elicit a response from the audience Help me to enunciate, to vacillate and vary the rhythms with which I recite, to elevate when emphasis is required, to not sound like I’m tired, and to land the point before it has expired, instead of subjecting sonorous sentiments through which I seethe— Help me to remember to breathe Help me to not depend on end-rhyme every time I end a line, and to never—EVER—pair “Hands in the air” with “just don’t care” – I mean seriously, why is that the standard? You’d think we’d come up with a more original way to express unabashed joy by now, right? Sorry. *Ahem* Help me to not go off on tangents… (Unless they’re totally necessary.) Help me to not dramatically pause, as if I’m expecting you to laugh Help me to avoid William Shatner’s vocal cadence, and all will be well Help me by listening Help me by looking Help me by telling me truly what you see and hear from me, what you enjoy, what you’d destroy, or what of my work you too might one-day employ; tell me what you would keep and what you would chuck right out the big damn metaphorical seventh story window And now help me to go Help me to step down and resume my seat while you politely pay respect and accept my appreciation for your attention. Thank you.

The following lines might be added if needed:

*Help me to not correct myself on stage or to apologize when I’ve misquoted myself

**Help me to not lose my place on the page

#humor #Poem #SlamPoetry

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