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Tongue Tied

Illustration by: Sabrina Carrizo Sztainbok



a poem for when the words don't come easily sometimes my tongue feels heavy in my mouth and my words tumble out like dirty laundry from an upturned basket my words are not pretty or neat they are jumbled and ugly and large,

day-glow green -

they cannot be ignored i taste regret on my lips as soon as i speak and it is bitter, battery acid on my heavy tongue other times i cannot speak at all my body seizes up, ribs fold in on one another and words do not tumble from my mouth, they do not even come out as a whimper they knock and they holler and rattle the bars behind my teeth like madmen but they are not permitted to leave all this in a moment and i feel like everyone must know that my wiring is faulty, frayed at the edges like the knees of old jeans worn down from nighttime prayers to a god i hope is out there listening this poem is a jumble sale i'm holding out my messy words and asking you to take them because they are too heavy for me to carry on my own and if we share the load then maybe my shoulders won't ache so much maybe my throat won't burn with regret at the words i have said and the ones i have been too scared to if i exorcise these feelings from my chest with these lines then maybe i can make space for new ones to take root i want my voice to sound like the rain that nourishes the garden i want to be that garden i want to be beautiful and golden and i want people to hear that in my voice i want to speak golden words and build cathedrals with the sounds my mouth makes

this is how i feel on the bad days

but on the good days when my mind is my friend and the sound of my voice doesn't hurt my ears so much

i remember that my speech may be a three-legged race on hot coals but poetry poetry is the hummingbird caged in my chest learning how to sing and it is good and it is golden

and i am good

and i am golden

and one day i will be able to say all this out loud and i will not be afraid.


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