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Poet: Dreams Know No Boundaries


All this month, TELL ME MORE is marking National Poetry Month by hearing from a diverse range of poets. Here now is slam poet Gayle Danley.

Ms. GAYLE DANLEY (Poet): This poem is about one of those moments when everything comes together in your life, and it almost feels like it erases all of those horrible mistakes you made and makes everything clean and makes everything right.

It's actually untitled, but how about we call it "The Dream"?

Sometimes it's best when you don't know where you're going, when the road in front of you is as dark as the road behind. There are no street signs.

So, you drive inside of a night so black, even the street lights are afraid to come out.

The other day, mama waved goodbye to you as you backed out of the driveway. You had no roadmap, but you knew wherever you were going would be better than where you were, would be where you would be, would be your new home.

See, three weeks ago, the bookstore cashier with her green hair and her piercings told you, you should go compete at the National Poetry Slam Championships, and you had never heard of that.

But you figure anything beats subbing kindergarten with their sticky fingers and farts, and so you go. You borrow 50 bucks from mama. You grab a box of fruit loops. You rent a Chevy and you go.

Asheville, North Carolina greets you like a warm, chubby auntie. You have no money, so you sleep on other poets' hotel room floors and dig into your box of cereal. But at night, you are rich. The microphone makes a silver halo around your head. You look inside of her, and you see clearly.

Clearer than in fifth grade, when Patrice kicked your butt by the monkey bars. Clearer than Mrs. Anderson declaring you would never succeed, and she - she needs to take her crystal ball back to Target because it's not working.

Clearer than the chant, you're so stupid, Gayle. You're so stupid, Gayle. You can't do anything right.

Clearer, stronger, better.

The judges rain tens down on you like confetti, and you are a winner for once in your life - a box of cereal, a rented Chevy, 50 bucks and a champion -National Poetry Slam Champion.

A winner for once.

You know, sometimes it's better when you don't know where you're going, only where you've been and where you refuse to go again.

MARTIN: Poet Gayle Danley reading her poem in our D.C. studios. To hear another poem by Danley and other poets who've contributed their work for our series on National Poetry Month, please check out our Web site at

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. OMAR SOSA (Jazz Pianist, Composer): (Singing in foreign language)

MARTIN: Coming up: Cuban jazz pianist Omar Sosa has traveled all over the world, learning new sounds and textures that have become part of his music, and he takes listeners on that voyage in his latest album, "Across the Divide: A Tale of Rhythm and Ancestry."

And Sosa joins us for an in-studio performance you will not want to miss. That's just ahead on TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.