SPOKEN WORD SOAPBOX: Gabriel Ricard – ‘Give Yourself Up’

Spoken word soapbox

We are very fond of Gabriel Ricard here at Cultured Vultures. Not only is he a regular columnist with Make the Case, but we have also had the pleasure of giving his poetry Poem of the Week way back when. His talent is doubtless, which is why we were delighted when he agreed to step up on our Spoken Word Soapbox.

The first of three poems he’s sent our way, ‘Give Yourself Up’ is a somber piece of prose that lingers in the mind long after it’s recited. Check it out below and subscribe to our YouTube channel while you’re there. Feel free to enter the series yourself, send an email to [email protected] to find out more.

Give Yourself Up

He thought he had seen him walk on water that night,
but there was still blood in his eyes,
from losing an argument over how many times
the sun had set in the past two hours.

Too much fluid filling up his lungs
from thinking his long-lost fiancé
had breezed back into town for a rock and roll show.

Who the hell goes to rock and roll shows anymore?
You might as well write notes of apology by hand.

May as well pay for a dance with cash.

He thinks he’d be better off promising girls
old enough, smart enough to wait until the middle
to reveal their heartfelt belief that a true assassin laughs on the inside.

Middle of the night.
Middle of a shotgun wedding on a beach filled with cannon balls.
Middle of a conversation that started off with real promise.

Sweat drops from his eyebrows as though lighting up
the sleazy signs that point to confession. He feels sick to his stomach,
but he sings along the music blaring from room 208 anyway.

It’s country music,
but the outlaw’s singing about what they did
when all the howling bravado left them hanging from a clothesline
sounds tinny and muddled. He thinks it sounds the way the fat man
diving into the pool looks.

It’s not country music.
It’s the boys on the second floor
waiting for the levees to break,
and they’re not going to stop singing
until they feel like everyone has listened.

These guys aren’t dammed.
No one is. They’re just drunks.
The pool water is just filthy.
The girls are just lonely, getting older.
The fat man is just dying of something
terrible he did fifteen years ago.

Everything is as okay as it was
when the music was loud and pretty lively.

He burns his fingers on the chain-link fence.
He takes off his jacket, closes his eyes
and decides to remain whole for another hour.

He reaches out,
takes the first hand that doesn’t slap
the taste out of his mouth
and just starts to move.

Sparks from some pre-determined location
may as well be snowflakes.

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