Open Mic

The following poem tells the story of a special night on a retreat that I helped lead for middle school and high school students.  Each student approached a solitary mic stand without pretense but with maturity and courage and spoke vulnerably of past hurts, like gang violence, suicide, divorce, and illness.

A single mic stand
Lonely.
accompanied only by a single candle steadily burning
A sea of young faces staring at this lonely mic stand.
waiting for magic.

A boy steps forward.
Silence like that of a funeral procession
Death was present but its close relative dread was no where to be found.
Death was sought.
Not physical but emotional.
Stripping one’s soul, dying to others’ judgments.

A word.
A joke.
Uncomfortabliity.
All palpable.

Stories never told flowed like a treacherous river.
With each confession a new stream birthed from young kids’ eyes.
Then the magic.
Stepping away the boy was now a man.
The, no longer lonely, mic stand had a new companion.

With each child a new burden lay next to the mic.
As each stepped away, heart still racing but the weight gone.
United as the burdens looked similar heaped next to such a lonely mic stand.
Yet no burden the same.

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