we are the eye contact that becomes uncomfortable.
we look away like we have low self-esteem because
we have low-esteem. we make you feel nervous,
even though we do not mean to. we are the fast name
introductions that bomb rush out of our mouths
while shaking hands. we are the other person’s name
which we will forget as soon as we do not say it right.
we are the over-enunciated words, the squint they give
us back. this is the other side of english, chopped and
confused. we are the words that stick to the side of our
mouths, the burst of spit that lands on your face when
we are struggling to get one word out. we pray about it.
we pray about it. we pray about it. we are the hand
movements that are out of sync with what we are
saying. we are you know what i am saying, you know what
i mean! we do not know what to use first: tongue, teeth
or breath. we run out of breath trying to test it out. we
are the kings of repeating ourselves. we are the nods
you give us as if you understand us the second time
around. we know it is hard on you, but harder on us to
deal with it. of course we pray about it. we pray about it.
we pray about it more than ever when the stakes are high
and we need the foundation of words to serve us like the
sun serves daylight. so we are left to find our own little
way through the dismay, so we tell statements, not stories,
the fastest you have ever heard. we are the conversation
that runs short and the smile we have because we are glad
it is over. we are the biggest comedians, jokes we can only
make out; we have so much life within us yet none in front
of people. we pray about it day and night. we are the phone
conversations that are hard on your ears. we are feedback
we don’t want to hear, the cringe of an echo, the dread of a
cold call, pull our hair out if we have to break down complex
information, shoot us before you make us publicly speak,
we can’t get past the phone interview for a job. we have a
degree, but cannot verbally deliver. we are crossed fingers
in hopes that our words fell out right, but unfortunately our
facial expression remained neutral. we dash from confrontation,
we call it no drama. we absolutely get ourselves, but sometimes
we don’t. we do not even know it’s a speech issue, we think it’s
just a small issue, something we haven’t fixed yet. we are all over
the place, cannot contain the words so they won’t spill out at the
same time. we even trip up asking God for help, but we still pray
about it. we pray about it. we pray about it this confusion
we cannot fix, this circus that lives in our mouths.
Oak Morse is a poet, and theatre teacher who has traveled across the Southeast as a performance poet as well as a teacher of literary poetry. He has a Bachelor of Journalism from Georgia State University. He is the winner of the 2017 Magpie Award for Poetry for the poem “Garbage Disposal” in Issue 16 of Pulp Literature. Other work of his has appeared in The Strange Horizons, Menancing Hedge, Page and Spine, Fourth & Sycamore, Dryland and Patch. Oak currently lives in Houston, Texas, where he works on his poetry collection titled “When the Tongue Goes Bad”, a themed set of work aimed to bring attention to a contemporary speech disorder diagnosis known as “cluttering,” a diagnosis which Oak has worked tirelessly to overcome.