cristin o'keefe

a few of my spoken word/slam poetry favs!! :)

1. Loyce Gayo- How We Forget 

“We forgot burning cities. We forgot cities are still burning.” 

2. Sierra DeMulder- Mrs. Dahmer 

 “Will I be forgiven for the sins I did not commit, but created?” 

3. Jeanann Verlee- Unsolicited Advice to Adolescent Girls with Crooked Teeth and Pink Hair 

“When the boy with the blue mohawk swallows your heart and opens his wrists, hide the knives, bleach the bathtub, pour out the vodka. Every time.” 

4. Siaara Freeman- The Drug Dealer’s Daughter 

“Some nights, I put on my father’s chalk outline and teach it how to walk. My face is a haunted house my mother screams at out of habit, not fear. Most days I am an alley that no one will enter alone.” 

5. Rachel Wiley- 10 Honest Thoughts on Being Loved by a Skinny Boy 

“I say, I am fat. He says, No, you are beautiful. I wonder why I cannot be both.”

6. Melissa Lozada-Oliva- Like Totally Whatever 

“And like, maybe? I’m always speaking in questions? Because I’m so used to being cut off.” 

7. Imani Cezanne- The Hunger Games 

“I can’t help but notice how painting poverty in whiteface makes it fantasy. Makes it fiction.” 

8. Arati Warrier- Witch Hunt 

“I picture myself coming out and my parents heartbreak flooding all of India.” 

9. T. Miller- The Other Black Man 

 “Joke: A woman, a black, and a gay all walk into the same bar. In the same body. Punchline: her life. Punchline: her death.” 

10. Ariana Brown- Volver, Volver 

 “Can you still be considered an immigrant if you are traveling to a place that was yours to begin with?” 

11. Crystal Valentine- Black Privilege 

“Black Privilege is having the same sense of humor as Jesus. Remember how he smiled on the cross?” 

12. Hieu Minh Nguyen- Stubborn Inheritance 

“It took my mother eight years to accept me for being gay, for eight years I sat and watched my house burn.” 

13. Khary Jackson- Carolina 

“They stopped asking me why I howled in my sleep. They knew better than to call you a fever.” 

14. Rachel McKibbens- Last Love 

“Go with the one who loves you biblically. The one whose love lifts its head to you despite its broken neck.” 

15. Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz- For People Who Keep Asking Me Why I’m Still In Slam 

“Because I have heard poets say things in front of roomful of strangers that made me pulse, made me sweat, made me want to push further, risk everything, be that beautiful.”

16. Olivia Gatwood- Manic Pixie Dream Girl

“Once, I told you I was afraid of my father, and for a moment I was so human that the audience lost interest.”

17. Aaliyah Jihad- From My Mother to Her Late Daughter

“This home is your shrine now. Your portrait is painted in Jack Daniel’s stains in the linoleum. The smell of your hair is trapped in billows of fireplace smoke.”

18. Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib- Summer of 2009

“Which is to say that we are too old for all this shit. And by ‘this shit,’ I of course mean living.”

19. Christine Howey- My Passing, 1988

“And after building up my courage in the car for two hours, I walk inside.”

20. Suzi Q. Smith- Black Hole Mouth

“If you could just be black enough, if your hips could narrow and your lips tuck in, if your hair could be more polite, if your face would just apologize, always arguing with itself so publicly.”

You know, they say that there is a part
of the human chest that if you strike it hard enough,
it makes the person’s heart explode. This sounds like
such a lie that I have to believe it’s the truth. If I were
science, I’d never tell anyone where this place is.
If I were science, I’d have named this place after you.
—  Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, Not As Smart As I Think I Am
He is not a bad person for not being
in love with me anymore.
To say it out loud. To mean it.
To know it, true as a toothache. To remember how badly
I wanted to have it back, your love. How hard I fought.
But in the end, how even I knew. Like how trees know
to let go of their leaves, that nothing can stop the winter.
—  Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, from “The End of It”
He is not a bad person for not being
in love with me anymore.
To say it out loud. To mean it.
To know it, true as a toothache. To remember how badly
I wanted to have it back, your love. How hard I fought.
But in the end, how even I knew. Like how trees know
to let go of their leaves, that nothing can stop the winter.
—  Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz, from “The End of It”

Because I have heard poets say things
in front of roomful of strangers that made me
pulse, made me sweat, made me want to push
further, risk everything, be that beautiful.

Because sometimes I have felt that beautiful.
Because sometimes I have felt ugly too
and it was okay.

—  excerpt from FOR PEOPLE WHO KEEP ASKING ME WHY I’M STILL IN SLAM, by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz.
You know, they say that there is a part
of the human chest that if you strike it hard enough,
it makes the person’s heart explode. This sounds like
such a lie that I have to believe it’s the truth. If I were
science, I’d never tell anyone where this place is.
If I were science, I’d have named this place after you.
—  Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, “Not As Smart As I Think I Am”

I’m sorry I could never see myself
out of the twitching fever of my heartache,
that I traded everything we had for something
that never ended up being.

But if I could take
any of it back, it wouldn’t be the glittering hope
I stuck in the amber of your eyes, nor would
it be the sweet eager of our conversations.

No, it would be that last stony path to nothing,
when we both gave up without telling the other.
How silence arrived like a returned valentine
that morning we finally taught our phones not to ring.

—  Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz