Tag Archives: Spoken Word

Holes: Freedom, finals week, and Good Friday (spoken word video)

What do you get when you cross finals week with Holy Week? I wrote this spoken word piece around the end of the semester in college and performed it at a gospel party and an event raising awareness about modern-day slavery. In cultures where our importance is measured by how busy we are, we need to remember what my friend likes to say: “Don’t kill yourself over this. Jesus already died.” Here’s the full poem:

Holes

“We’re not competitive at this school. We care about our grades as our personal best.”
– Tour Guide

“Don’t even complain to me, girl. I haven’t written one word of my capstone yet. You think you’re busy? You ain’t got nothin’ on me.”
– Student

This is King of the Mountain backward,
we climb the social ladder by
digging ourselves the furthest into the depths of despair,
crown you,
King of the Pit.

But if you keep your head above
grounded
level
we will shame you
back to our level.

Until there is no one left
with two feet on the ground
to pull us out.

Hole-ier than thou
tunnel vision
creates division
everyone’s doing their own
drills
down, not across
filled with cross words
when we cross paths
we’re not even building subways,
just potholes.

If we
pull our heads out of the sand
wash our hands –
will we find it is a dirty trick,
are we in too deep now?

Stress
got us into this mess
pit power
overpowers
now
is it over?

Piles of sand
miles high
immobile mountain ranges
double the range
between us and the sun.

Just as we drag the last rescuer down
we find
we are our own gravediggers
slaving away for
the King of the Pit
we have buried them with us.

Somebody
better bloody
save us,
or God is dead.

Crown him
King of the Jews
thorny, poke fun.

Dead God:
some bloody
body
in the grave
with us.

My God, my God,
why have you
forsaken us?

Cry harkens
sky darkens,
earth quakes
faith shakes
the mountains.

Mountains fall into seas.
Sun enters pit, we see
the light
rays
fill weak with strength
holes empty
raised
from dead
holy week:

Grave robber
shames shame
stoops to our level
makes the high places low
builds a holy highway
through the Word on the cross.

Crown him
with life,
“King of kings”

God with us
blood and body
gave
calm trust and rest
saves
from stress
frees slaves
from power of pit.

But we’ll have none of it.
Give me a shovel.
I got myself into this mess,
I’ll dig myself out.

 


Human (spoken word video)

Sexual harrassment threatens to make us beasts and objects, but we’re human. I share my journey of healing and forgiving. Performed live at Slam Africa.


Someone to come home to (spoken word video)

A third culture kid dreams of finding a soul mate who understands where she comes from, but realizes there’s only one ultimate home. Performed live at Poetry Spot Kenya.


Unthinkable: spoken word for Good Friday

This Good Friday, join me in meditating on the unthinkable humiliation God endured to reconcile with humanity. Listen to the spoken word and watch the lyric video:

Click here to watch it on YouTube. Here is the full poem to read more slowly:

Unthinkable

True Israel wrestled with God
drinking judgment upon himself.
Defeated the devil in the garden
resolving to ascend to the throne
by a thorny coronation.

Soldiers arrested
the Commander of heaven’s armies
who healed the enemy’s slashed ear
even now, “Let him hear.”

The Friend of sinners
friendless.

The teachers of the law
condemned one greater than Moses.
The high priest charged
God
with blasphemy.

The Lord submitted silently to torture.
Do not the miracles and the scrolls speak loud enough
of who I AM?
If these clashing counterfeits outweigh
divine dreams,
my testimony, the voice from heaven, and the dove…
what is truth?

The powerful washed their feet
the powerless washed his hands of it.

The Almighty accepted help
inviting someone to carry his cross
and follow him
for real.

The carpenter’s son
nailed to the wood
arms stretched wide
in a willing embrace.

Lamb born in a stable
no bone broke
spotless became sin
righteousness became curse.

Stripped –
the one whose robes filled the temple.
“Don’t tear the underwear”
while the holy curtain ripped.

Jesus’ manhood uncovered for all to see
the shame of Adam on a leafless tree
at the crossroads of all time.

Again refused an angel rescue team
to gain the kingdom.
Would save everyone,
save himself.

The guilty condemned the Judge
the Convict issued a royal pardon.
Eternal Life
flanked by murderers.

“I thirst,”
said the well of Living Water
and sipped at cheap wine.
They pierced his side
the wineskin burst forth
water and blood
our passage into his new life.
The bread of heaven
sliced to nourish our bodies.
L’chayim.

He whose breath
animated clay with spirit
gasped for oxygen
limbs throbbing to lift his lungs
committed his spirit
with his last breath.

The Author finished.
The Light of the world
went out at midday.
The earth shuddered
at thought of receiving its Maker
dust to dust.
Grave’s guards fled their posts
as holiness entered Hades
tied up the strong man
and plundered his looted lair.
Jailbreak.
Jesus loved us to hell and back.

The eternal loving union
of the universe
endured agonizing separation.
To reunite with his creation,
God was godforsaken.


Stained Glass (spoken word video)

To all us glass objects… what if our brokenness makes the light beautiful? An inspirational poem about grace. (Click here to watch video)https://youtu.be/19tsHh2IGHI

 


Matilda: The Truest Fiction (Spoken Word + Video)

Matilda cover4Watch the video on YouTube or read the poem below.
*trigger warning: child abuse*

What if I told you
That Roald Dahl didn’t write Matilda –
Matilda did.

She could read nearly as soon as she could talk,
So no one was surprised when she grew up to become an author.

Believe with me for a moment that
she tried several times to write an autobiography
but it was too painful to share.

So instead she created Roald Dahl,
wrote his autobiographies “Boy” and “Going Solo”
which of course were realistic fiction.

Next she tried to reach out to her younger self,
With stories of villains vanquished by children.
Stories with lots of funny bits, like children’s books ought to have.

But when a boy came over for tea
from what she would later call Crunchem Hall Primary School,
She realized children needed to hear her story.
She decided to write fictionalized reality.

The headteacher who tested students on their times tables
And insisted on perfect cleanliness
would be called Miss Trunchbull.

Yes, people would be caricatures with labels for names
like Miss Honey the teacher and Mr. Wormwood the car salesman crook.
The kid readers would never wonder who was bad or good
Because Miss Trunchbull would never put on charity fairs or give scholarships
and the parents would be nasty and dumb.

The horror of the headteacher’s office
Would not be rumors of what he did to little boys there
It would be something concrete,
a cement cupboard lined with objects that pricked you.

And since teachers couldn’t stop the menace,
Matilda’s burning anger would become a magic power
She would save the kids and send Miss Trunchbull away for good.

Of course, in real life there was no magic.

Just because Matilda could read books on the top shelf
Didn’t mean she could reach them.
Even as the cleverest student in the class
Her brainpower produced no miracles or even cunning plots
Only test scores that made Crunchem Hall look good
And a tendency to distrust her feelings.
And no matter how her eyes burned with anger
She couldn’t lift a finger,
much less levitate a piece of chalk to write threats from a ghost.

But write…
maybe she could write
words powerful enough to right wrongs.

Miss Trunchbull got away with outrageous evil
Precisely because parents found it unbelievable
Truth is stranger than fiction, Matilda learned,
So call it a story if you want people to listen
Peddle lighthearted darkness.

Yes, she could write a comedy
where everything was obvious
and the vulnerable were protected by mysterious forces beyond their control
she could write it for the children
perhaps not an autobiography, strictly speaking,
but it’s what she would have wanted to hear.

She hoped
that some precocious child who escaped to the library
would find her book on the shelf
would laugh at Matilda’s pranks
would know that justice wins in the end.

What if Matilda could save some kids yet?
Invite them to believe something so strange it might be true
That life is a comedy
That children’s books always have a happy ending.

… or in that case, what if Matilda wouldn’t have to save them?
Characters are not responsible for meting out poetic justice.
The author of the children’s stories would give them happy endings.
Mysterious forces protect the vulnerable
And I hear God’s in the business of saving.

What if I told you
the story isn’t over yet
but I know it will end well.
Believe with me for a moment.

What if I told you
The truest fiction I know how
Would you believe me?