I wrote this a few days…

I wrote this a few days ago, the morning after the slam, and just finished revising it this morning. I'm not sure how well it works simply visually; when I read it, I inevitably can hear the rhythms, the parts where the base beat speads up and slows down. I don't know a way to indicate that for poetry. I need tempo markings, dammit!

The Dance is in the Blood

1.
Thi thi thay
Thi thi thay
Thi thi thay, thi thi thay, thi thi thay, thi thi thay

Seven little girls, seven years old
standing before a fat old man
learning to step in time
thi thi thay
learning to breathe in time
thi thi thay
with their stuttering hearts
with the rush of their blood

You are the slow one
thi thi thay
you are the lazy one
thi thi thay
he shouts it over and over --

"Faster!
Knees bent, spine straight!
Faster!"

thi thi thay, thi thi thay, thi thi thay, thi thi thay

Your mother watches
eyes narrowed
mouth tight
thi thi thay
and your stomach churns.

2.
Fourteen years old
and you're dancing in the basement

&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspyou have learned to hate this dance

dancing with her watching
with a cane in her hand
thi thi thay, thi thi thay, thi thi thay, thi thi thay

"Eyes sharp!
Neck sharp!
Legs Bent!
Hands!"

Eyes neck legs hands
Eyes neck legs hands eyes neck legs hands
thi thi thay, thi thi thay, thi thi thay, thi thi thay

"Bend your legs!"
thi thi thay
and you are drowning in the rhythm
of the pounding steps
the falling cane
upon your back
thi thi thay thi thi thay
"Dance!"

The cane falls
and something breaks.
you reach up
you grab her hand
as it comes falling down
and you say

"Stop!"

When your father comes home
he slaps you once
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp hard
across the face
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp for raising a hand to your mother.

He has never hit you before --
but they never hit you again
and you don't have to dance anymore.

3.
thi thi thay
You never danced like that again
but sometimes you remember
how it felt, in the blood
the music lifting up
the cane falling down
the pounding feet
thi thi thay

fourteen more years have passed, but
sometimes you can't help,
can't help but remember...

Sometimes when your mother
is talking to you
with a long phone line and a country between you
the blood pounds in your ears
the blood brings her right there,
right up in your face
and you can't shut it out
thi thi thay
you can't close your ears
thi thi thay
and she's shouting on the phone
thi thi thay
she's screaming on the phone
thi thi thay

and you're wondering
what has changed
you're wondering
where she went, that girl
that fourteen
with the upraised hand
the firm convictions

you're wondering
what would happen
if you just said
"stop"; you're wondering
what would happen
who would win
and lose

you're worrying
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp and wondering
why you don't say
"Stop."

thi thi thay, thi thi thay, thi thi thay, thi thi thay
thay.

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