Since I dropped the ball this year in the great show-me state of Misery (in fact I left a trail of balls from the stage to my seat and all the way back to Brookridge Street here in Ann Arbor and I'm still not quite sure I've found and/or replaced them all -- then again were these really my balls to begin with?...). Anyway, since I let everyone on my team down, and everyone in my family, and everyone in Ann Arbor and greater Washtenaw County and its environs, and especially anyone who ever really, truly appreciated how great someone's ass has ever looked in a pair of pants, well, here's my plan:
I vow to set aside this petty, frustrating, counter-productive endeavor of worrying about what it means to be a "competitive performer" and return to my previous practice of pashionately not giving a fuck.
After all, if I truly did give a fuck about "performing" at nationals, I would have pandered to whatever geopolitical mood ruled the day (although I might have kept my pants on -- and not out of some puritanical sense of prudishness but out of a more advanced aesthetic awareness of the fact that no one wants to see my hairy ass -- as my last four or five girlfriends have made painfully clear). To be more specific, I would have recognized the choir for what it was and appropriately preached to it. In St. Louis, how many minds were truly challenged by our collective words? Aside from the poets themselves, we'd have to ask the four people who actually showed up.
As for the poets themselves: to hear that most of them had a wonderful time in St. Louis, as Ann Frank liked to say, "despite everything," well, that's just ducky. Put nearly 300 slam poets on the Kamchatka Peninsula and give us enough beer and microphones, we're gonna have a good time. We're also gonna leave a big mess behind; We're gonna leave everybody at the Mil'kovo Hampton Inn wishing we were never born, not to mention our insensitive disruption of the late-summer caribou hunt, all for the sake of informing the eager minds of young Kamchaktans that child molestation is an unhealthy practice and George W is a bad president.
Also, if I truly gave a fuck about performing slam poetry competitively, I would not compete year after year to be on the Ann Arbor slam team. This at first sounds contradictory, but trust me, it's not. Apparently, because the Ann Arbor slam has close ties to PSI and its cousins, we are without a doubt rigging bout draws and fudging numbers -- and we're so bad a team that after all our manipulations we still come in virtually last. We are the team everyone loves to hate, and we're not even the Yankees. We're the Montreal Expos of Poetry Slam. Except even that's a bad analogy. We can only WISH we were from Canada.
And so, if it means that I shall go back to bringing pages to the stage with me in order to get through three minutes of pithy apolitical social commentary without fucking up, I shall do so, and I will leave the planned re-enactments of police brutality and military torture on the East and West Coasts (where they not only belong, but are apparently accepted as entertainment). I will even put my hand back in the pocket of my dirty blue jeans while I read, if necessary. And don't blame ME if the Ann Arbor audience puts me back on the team in 2005. It's not my fault that they're the only ones who get my jokes.