Poetry Slam: Rives – Sign Language (with closed captioning)
August 7, 2019
From Los Angelas California, give it up for
Rives I work sometimes at a high school for deaf
kids. We put on poetry readings and poetry slams.
We call ’em deaf poetry jams. One poets poem goes … The night we met,
so many moons, were shining down on us so brightly
I thought “Hey, maybe those moons have mistaken us for
their Gods.” Another poet’s poem goes … I, I, I, me, me, me, my, my, my
Doesn’t anybody tell a story anymore? And another poet’s poem goes … Last night I dreamt I was little again.
And i could hear back then, but the silence in my house
was deafening. See some of the kids only write about being
deaf. Others make a joke.
Some make a mention. Some ignore the topic altogether. Not too different from the choices poets make
anywhere else with gender of skin color.
So you get goofy haiku like: Homework is bullshit.
And inspires out of me nothing but vomit. And poems like I saw on T.V.
that scientists have taught a gorilla to speak sign language.
Outstanding! Why don’t they
teach the gorilla how to wipe
it’s ass, assholes? And the words, the signs themselves
are as wonderful for me to watch as if they were hummingbirds or butterflies.
Words like goosebumps. Daydream. Giraffe. Sticky-icky-icky. These are high school students
who never pass notes in class. They just sign their shit
behind your back. And they greet each other
in the hallways lately, going … Can you hear me now?
No, well I guess– that’s good! That’s all. And they pester me for the
lyrics to hip-hop songs which they prefer
because they can feel the music
throbbing through the speakers we use for speech therapy
And I tell them Well, that says
“Everybody put your hands in the air.” And they do
Every month, at our little poetry slams, where the audience never spreads out,
it spreads back so that everyone can hear those hands. And it’s damn near silent,
and there’s never a microphone. But sometimes the poets do rock their poems,
and when a deaf poet rocks a poem, it echoes off the walls for these ears alone,
like i was born as deaf and as quiet as a starfish.
But if I had been born a man, I would pray to the lord above every night
at the top of my fucking lungs, just to thank him
for giving me voice.