Listening and Being Heard

Kards1 works on the wall at Listen & Be Heard Poetry Cafe in Vallejo, CA Jan. 27, 2005

I am almost at the end of a writing journal that has taken me a couple of years to fill. I was looking back through it this morning and came across this entry. I was taking a first stab at writing a story about my experiences with Listen & Be Heard both in New York in the nineties and California after that. Maybe I still will, but I thought I would share this for a change of pace from all my notes…

Listen to the unexpected and unforeseeable words of a stranger who shows up for open mic. Be heard by the same people who show up because they want you to listen to them. It seemed catchy and simple to me, Listen & Be Heard. It occurred to me while walking alone at night on 8th Avenue, heading for the subway back to the East Village. I didn’t get a shivery feeling, more like a lightbulb feeling. I didn’t say it aloud to anyone when it came to me, cuz like I said, I was alone.

I didn’t like being alone. Really I wasn’t alone, alone cuz my little girl was still a little girl. But I felt lonely. And, it had finally dawned on my unreasonable optimism by then that some of my choices had created obstacles for us that I might never surmount in this lifetime.

Some things are deceptively simple, like ‘just be honest.’ That sounds simple enough. That’s all I want to be with you, honest. But we all know how hard that can be sometimes. So if you ever think I’m not being honest, just stop me. Cuz I might be tempted to try to make myself look good. And really none of us are good because we all have trash swirling around in a dead zone in an ocean somewhere on this planet.

Listen and be heard. That’s straightforward and simple. You listen. You are listened to. But most people want to be heard. The listeners only come in a couple varieties. I know I’ve tuned out when I shouldn’t have. You can’t always be listening. But there’s plenty of people who don’t hear anything even when they are listening.

Continue reading