Nobody

Posted: February 10, 2010 in Poetry
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CONTEXT: June, 2007

I wrote this about a week before the Slam finals in 2007. I tried to memorize it and quickly realized that there was no way I could get it ready in time. I didn’t really have a fallback choice since I was at the point where everything I wrote before Why Art? had dimmed substantially in my eyes.

So I decided I was better off reading it. (Not a decision I would make today.) So I practiced reading over and over, trying to make it smooth. The day of the finals, I gave it a run through and realized I had just done the whole thing without looking at the paper. I had memorized it by accident!

So the plan was to take the paper up there with me but only refer to it if needed.

I did Music in the first round, and had done quite well.

Then the nerves hit… hard. So hard that I actually thought I was going to be ill. When the time came for me to go up to do this piece, my hands were shaking so much that I knew I couldn’t hold the paper as planned. I shoved it in my pocket and just hoped that I had the piece down.

I did.

This is the poem that actually put me on the Capital Slam team going to the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in 2007… my first season of slam poetry.

It also is the first of my pieces to appear on a CD… on Live at Capital Slam 2007 (along with Growing Up).

It is still a piece I perform, though I have slowed it down somewhat to better effect, so I am not sure it would work as a slam piece anymore.

Oh, and the grey day line is a tribute to THE signature piece by my good friend, Danielle K.L. Gregoire.

    Nobody

I saw nobody the other day
He was standing in line at the Tim Horton’s
Ordering a double-double
As was the person in front of him
And behind

I saw nobody passing by
With a newspaper in hand
And staring blankly
At the don’t walk sign

I saw nobody driving past
In a grey Ford
Going to a pointless job
In a grey building
Joining other grey suits
Going through the revolving door
And talking about the weather
On yet another grey day

I got on the bus the other day
And nobody was there
Row after row of nobody
They were staring out the window
And keeping to themselves
Lost in a sea of nobodies
Just like them

How do we become faceless?
How do we become statistics?
What happened to each person’s
Hopes and dreams?
Who longs to grow up
And lose themselves in nothingness?

We train people to strive for mediocrity
We set up societal norms as
Some sort of ideal
And punish those who
Push against the boundaries

We respect and worship those
That don’t conform
As long as their differences
Meet certain criteria
Look at that actor/singer/writer/
Politician/scientist/demagogue
They are really impressive!
They are somebody!

Meanwhile we use those differences
To push the rest back in the pack
To emphasize their normality

An endless stream of reality shows
And trumped up talent shows
Parade past our screens
While we all try to grab the brass ring
But Jack Bauer’s magic clock is counting down
And it won’t go past fifteen

Fame comes in pre-packaged doses
As we are told who to care about
While being sold the illusion
That the public makes the choice
As if that choice wasn’t made
Long before anything went to air

The promise of possibility
Is fed from controlling hand
To eager mouth
But just a taste
So we all know our place
Because what’s more important than fame?
Well, that’s easy
The need to belong
To feel comfortable and warm

The need to belong and the need
For pre-packaged fame
Slap at us from both sides
Until all we taste is a mouthful
Of acidic bile and commercialized,
Celebrity-endorsed defeat

Because if you aren’t somebody
Then you are nobody

I followed nobody the other day
I followed him into a coffee shop
Where he met with some friends
They sat and joked and talked
About their day

And that’s when I realized that
I had made a mistake
It seems I followed somebody after all.

“““““““““““““`

Next is possibly the worst poem I have ever written.

How is THAT for a sales pitch?

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