It starts with a cigarette

Pressed to his lips

Held between finger tips

He’s nervous

Fidgets, knees weak

You’re up

Tosses butt

Walks across stage

With confidence that isn’t real

Carries himself well for a wreck

They don’t know that two hours ago

He held a gun to his head

Glances at crowd of lit eyes

He’s afraid

Reaches for drink

What they think is water

Is in actuality

Pure grain alcohol

Questions himself

Why do I do this?

Why am I here?

Reaches for mic with sweaty palms

Grips it like a whiskey bottle

He wishes he was holding something else

Wishes it was her but, she’s taken

Audience patient

Anticipating the sound of words

He begins

Spewing lines of drunken mind

Unorganized verse

Half thoughts and broken metaphors

They don’t like it

Crowd silent

He continues

But in his mind they don’t like it, don’t like him

Why does he care

Wait, what’s that?

A node, yes!

He presses forth

Oh, another node, yes! Another


They’re feeling it


They understand

Adrenaline rises

He surprises himself with energy

They’re behind him

He’s rhyming with

Timing and precision

He’s relieved as he finishes

Takes a deep breath

Says thank you for listening

Puts mic back on stand as

Hands come together

Making music that hugs his ears

It’s an embrace he needed

Calmly walks off stage holding back tears

Leaves venue, goes to bar

Knows that the joy was momentary

Is grateful for the night

Knowing that tomorrow

Whether he’s performing or not

The process starts over again


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