I Don’t Stand on Stage Because I Know How to be Brave, But Because I Got Tired of Being Afraid

There are these moments on stage where I have to close my eyes for a second and summon the courage to keep going.

Being vulnerable isn’t something that comes easily to me; sharing so much of myself with a room full of people I have just met.

Offering the things I am sometimes still scared of: my brokenness, my failures, my ugliness, my fragility, the messiest versions of who I have been and often still am.

It can be daunting, and terrifying, and sometimes more than I feel able to do.

I don’t stand on stage to perform; but to tell stories.

To share of blood shed on the battlefields of my healing and knees still scraped from the crawl and how I am made of wounds but still standing and how every scar etched on my skin reminds me what a goddamn warrior I am to have made it this far.

I don’t stand on stage to be set apart by a mic, but to be drawn together because of it.

To practice courage, knowing when I do, it offers that same courage to others. It gives permission. It creates space. It allows authenticity. It brings belonging and intimacy to a world overfed on information yet starved of connection.

I don’t stand on stage because I know how to be brave, but because I got tired of being afraid.

Our stories are our history. Our legacy. Our humanity. Our connection.

They matter.

Sharing them requires the courage to be vulnerable.

But what makes us most vulnerable is where we become most beautiful.

“The speaking will get easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realised you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers and realise you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.” – Audre Lorde

Photo credit: Brendan Bonsack

Pretence: An Attempt To Make Something That Is Not The Case Appear True

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Cursed with the hands of an explorer,
I am persuaded by eyes as dark as caves,
always intrigued by the burial ground of people’s hearts.
I have become a professional in the archeology of pretence –
raised with dirt beneath my fingernails
I cannot help but dig for evidence beneath earth,
intention beneath word;
pick at meaning until it bleeds
then blame the wasteland for the flies.
He asks if I’m alone but not if I’m okay.
Letters fall from his tongue like charms of a bracelet;
I excavate truth not in the words he speaks,
but the emptiness between.
Pretence: An attempt to make something
that is not the case appear true.
Forgive me for wasting your time,
and mine.
I thought there would be more to find here.
I had forgotten how caves are nothing more
than vacant spaces
another would desire us to fill,
all the while left hollow ourselves.

© Kathy Parker 2019

New Spoken Word Poem Uploaded!

So, February has been crazy busy and part of that for me has been revamping my YouTube channel and recording some new spoken word poems as well as re-recording a few older ones in my swanky new studio setup, thanks to my firstborn, William Parker – Youtube – who, with over 100k views on one of his YouTube tutorial videos, is far more savvy than I’ll ever be.

Today I wanted to share my most recent poem, performed for the first time this weekend at the Paroxysm Press Showcase Series. It’s a reflection on the journey I have been on recently; the struggle to dismantle the strongholds of our survival and understand that allowing ourselves to become soft doesn’t mean we become weak; yet how tightly we cling to what we have always known.

For those of you who are new to my channel make sure you check out the other videos while you’re there – I’ll be putting some more up in the next while but for now I’m also many days behind in #poemadayfeb so have some catching up to do there first!

Much love x

Day Twenty-Two #PoemADayFeb – Sun


And when we couldn’t turn the page
we burned the book;
yet isn’t this the truth of love:
that we would rather
fill our houses with ashes
than promises;
that we would rather
curse the sun for drought
than believe for the coming rains.

©️ Kathy Parker 2019

Day Twenty-Two #PoemADayFeb – Sun

Day Eighteen #PoemADayFeb – Tanka (form)

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Rain beats like Morse code
taps the letters of your name
on tin roof pages
drenches my skin with wanting
still I wait for you.

© Kathy Parker 2019

Day Eighteen #PoemADayFeb – Tanka (form)

The Japanese tanka is a thirty-one syllable poem, traditionally written in a single unbroken line. Tanka translates as “short song” and is better known in its five-line, 5/7/5/7/7 syllable count form. Tanka poems are usually written about nature, love, sadness, and other strong emotions.

Day Sixteen and Seventeen #PoemADayFeb – Cusp and Unveil


And this is where we will meet;
this place in-between, where
we will shed our clothes and
watch all we have been fall to
the floor; unspoken promise
heavy beneath our tongue.
Your lips will taste of warm soil,
my skin of summer rain;
tear-stained earth, sweat-stained
sheets, thirst-stained promise.
We will write new stories on each
other’s bodies, volumes of words
we have longed to say, but couldn’t –
unveiling flesh, unveiling desire.
Yes, this is where we will meet,
my love, on the cusp of what
we once were, eager hands
grasping for what we now become.

© Kathy Parker 2019

Day Sixteen and Seventeen #PoemADayFeb – Cusp and Unveil (missed yesterday so throwing two in for today!)

Day Thirteen #PoemADayFeb – Change

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I tell him I will write a poem where the letters of his name
are woven through every line; that I will not place him
in the spaces between, where I hide meaning inside
of metaphor.
I do not tell him of the way this terrifies me; to write
of such pure things, as friendship, as him,
when my native tongue is fluent in the language
of sorrow,
and his name does not belong in such dark places.
Someone once said all you need is twenty seconds of
insane courage for something great to happen
and it made me think of coins in the air;
the way we hold a lifetime of hope inside our lungs
as fate is decided, except it’s probably not a lifetime,
or even twenty seconds, but is courage just the same.
Snowboarding while listening to My Chemical Romance,
he tweets, and I have listened to them on repeat
for an entire year and I want to grab hold of this moment
of kinship
but there are wounds on my fingers still trying to heal and
bloodstains never looked good on new beginnings
and I still have not told him
how he was my twenty seconds that day;
how we spend our lives afraid
to throw our coins in the air; so unsure which way
they will fall, until we soon become tired of pockets full
of loose change weighing us down.

© Kathy Parker 2019

Day Thirteen #PoemADayFeb – Change

Day Twelve #PoemADayFeb – Summer

woman-in-rain-storm.jpgAnd this is how it happens;
months of half-descended skies
dampen our gaze and like greedy children
we clamber to see the first yellow vein
touch the surface of fleshy cloud; we drench
our shadowed bodies with light, careless
to heed the warnings of our youth –
eager gaze prolonged, cells of retina
bleached by sun’s bitter kiss.
Black spots, blind spots.
In a dream,
sky above scorches flesh
while ground below holds frozen
and the air hangs thick with a metaphor
I cannot see, blinded by beams of him
coming through the doorway of my winter.
Black spots, blind spots.
He does not notice how taut my arms
become from holding up the sky for him.
I do not notice how razor-edged the ice
against my flesh until I bleed.
Black spots, blind spots.
Blistered eyelids force my gaze away
from that which I once hungered
and I see what I did not before:
love is only born of the soft soil
beneath our feet.
The scales fall from my eyes.
I am the rain.
And he is so last summer.

© Kathy Parker 2019

Day Twelve #PoemADayFeb – Summer

Day Eleven #PoemADayFeb – First

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I lost my voice when I was seven;
buried in an unmarked grave
where all untold stories go to die.
I learned it’s quite a skill to hold
a lifetime of words beneath your tongue
and not choke on the debris of letters
that fester in the back of your throat;
to swallow truth like a hungry dog with
bared teeth;
willing another to not come close enough
to taste such foul feast upon their lips.
It turns out there is no minute of silence
for silence;
no funeral for people to dress in black
and eat jelly cakes
and cluck tongues over the tragic loss
of life taken too soon.
Innocence taken too soon.
There is only the sound of applause; let a
woman learn silently with all submissiveness.
I am thirty-four when I find my voice again,
yet it is not the first time I speak
which brings me to my knees,
but the first time I am heard.

© Kathy Parker 2019

Day Eleven #PoemADayFeb – First

Day Five #PoemADayFeb – Journey

I was looking for one

not afraid to journey

upon these war-torn

paths of my freedom

but he was never

a man of sure foot

and what I needed

most was a traveller

with heels as blistered

as mine.

Day Five #PoemADayFeb – Journey