Can I? (Spoken Word)

Next week, I’m conquering my fear of performing poetry live by going to an open mic poetry slam. This is my piece, thus far. It is not yet as polished as I want it to be, and I apologize but I had not yet fully memorized the piece when I was shooting this vid. Also, sorry for the poor quality! Using a webcam here!

Comments, suggestions, and critiques are welcome. 🙂



Full text:


Can I…
Can I skip the part where
you bump into me as we board the bus,
our fingers touching against the doors
then you say ‘sup and I hide a blush?
Or the part where
we’re shoulder-to-shoulder inside
an elevator, stealing a peak
in between verses of Adele?
Or, or, or
when we find ourselves an inch
apart on the dance floor
at Velvet, and you ask for my name
again, and I pretend to forget yours?
Can I?
Just skip it?
Can I skip the part when my throat shivers whenever the phone vibrates
and then curse that my throat does that,
repeating for times’s sake:
I am a strong intelligent guy and
I don’t care about my phone.
I don’t care about my phone
I don’t care about —
Can I skip that as well?
Can I? Can I?
Can I skip you asking me out and me saying,
“Maybe, maybe not.”
Can I skip our first picnic date along the banks
of Quidi Vidi,
or our first Marvel movie —
you’ll pay. I’ll protest.
Not too much —
or our first kiss — this big
slobbering mess
of tongues and gums
that don’t know
where to go exactly
but happen to find their way
sort of —
against the backdrop of tire screeches and car honks
and hooter calls of
downtown St. John’s at dusk?
Can I?
Let’s skip it.
Can I skip the failed dates, the unopened gifts, the forgotten anniversaries, monthsaries, Jesus, weeksaries? Can I skip fake smiling at the photobooth at John and Sarah’s wedding, or getting all stuffed up for lunch with your parents? Can I skip the melting snowman I dragged you out to build last month?
Can I skip all that?
Can I skip all the alcohol?
Can I skip all the nicotine?
Can I skip the sex?
First sex, good sex, meh sex,
One time great sex, then mediocre
sex, then bad sex, then weird sex,
then the really weird sex, then more
bad sex, then gross sex, then “Honey,
let’s abstain for a month,” followed by
a body pillow in between bodies.
Can I skip that?
Can I? Can I? Can I?
Can I skip pretending not to notice you
installed Grindr again? Can I skip
you and Mark? And then you and Kevin?
And then you and Mark and Kevin? Can I
skip jolting awake three times a night
to a sweating cold? Can I skip half-empty
bottles of pills by the sink?
Can I skip the tequila that would
destroy my liver or the garbage bags
of dried up tissues or the jeweler
who refuses to accept a returned
engagement ring?
Can I? Can I? Can I? Can I? Can I? Can I?
Can we skip the calendar, the clock? Can we skip tomorrow, can we skip us and just be you and me?
Or can we just be these two guys who
bumped into each other one day
by the bus stop,
grinning, glancing,
and alone?
And then can I just fall in love with you tonight and then we’ll each go our merry way?
Can I fall in love with you
before bedtime?
Can I fall in love with you
between breaths of cigarette?
Can I fall in love with you
before we get intoxicated?
Can I fall in love with you
at breakfast?
Can I fall in love with you
in the middle of a photograph?
Can I fall in love with you
in coded messages?
Can I fall in love with you
against the back of a cab?
Can I fall in love with you
as shirts get peeled off?
Can I fall in love with you
just tonight?
Can I fall in love with you,
can I,
or can I just skip it?