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'The Dream'

Slam poet Gayle Danley performs for <em>Tell Me More</em> in Studio 4B.
Douglas Hopper/NPR /
Slam poet Gayle Danley performs for Tell Me More in Studio 4B.

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'd 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 reign tens down on you like confetti and you are a winner for once in your life — a box of cereal, a rented Chevy, fifty 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 only where you refuse to go again.

Copyright by Gayle Danley. All Rights reserved.

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