Slam Master Tracey Smith
TRACEY SMITH born in Kalamazoo in 1970 is the youngest child of blue collar parents. He wrote his first poem in the 4th grade, as a punishment for not paying attention in class. Besides writing, performing and teaching poetry, Tracey has been a clerk, a janitor, a painter, a welder, a bartender and a fork lift operator. He has a BA in literature from Kalamazoo College and has been working to bring the Kalamazoo community together by hosting and promoting spoken word events since 1996. He founded the Kalamazoo Poetry Slam in 1998, was a member of the 2003 Kalamazoo Slam Team and has coached five teams of local poets in National competition.
Tracey Smith




for three minutes

youíll step on stage

And once, for three minutes

youíll take hold of the night

and own it

Youíll wear it

tighter than your skin

and youíll take it

wherever whenever it is, you want to go.

Maybe youíll take it

to the time and the place

when you first said I love you

wrapped in sunrise and afterglow

Or youíll take it to the those places

that youíre scared to go alone

like that once,

when someone hurt you,

though that someone never meant to

or the day you lost your mother

Or maybe you will take it to

the places that your proud of

like the time you stood up to your first bully

and you didnít shake

and you didnít stammer

and you didnít blink

until that fucker backed down

Maybe youíll take it all the way back

to the time you got your very first ďAĒ

on a reading test.

From the beautiful fourth grade teacher

with the long legs

long before you knew

what long legs could do


For three minutes

Youíll take it to the top

of the mountain of your grandfatherís lap

or to the bottom of the fear in your belly

Youíll take it to the time

when friendships were forged

out of common interests,

common addictions

and bad directions

like that time we got lost

in our own back yard

Youíll take it to eavesdrop

on the conversation

that we once


never should have

almost had


youíll take it

whenever where ever you want to go

but where ever you take it

where ever you go with it

whatís only the beginning

because once

for three minutes

youíll step on the stage

and have a chance

a space to find the grace that you

never see hovering around you

your whole life,

Youíll take it, and youíll share it

with the living and the dead

and it will become

the subtle mythology of a hundred ears

and wined its simple generous truth

into the fabric of generations.

Iím only telliní you this

cause I think you should know

you should know where this road goes

this narrow crooked road

less traveled road

Iím only a signpost

A messenger

A well-meaning coble stone

On your road to oblivion

And Iím only telling ya

Cause Iíve seen it

Cause Iíve heard it

Cause Iíve felt it move

across a room like lightning on the water

Iím only telling ya

Because once

For three minutes

It even happened to me


There are some things we canít imagine living without.

My parents were born in the 40ís

They remember

the first flush toilet the family had

the first radio

and the first television

the family gathered around

itís been on for fifty years now

cathode sunrises and test pattern twilights

mark our days

record our progress

and reassure our status

through Korea and Vietnam

Watergate and Iran

Soap operas and sitcoms

Moon shots and smart bombs

Itís been on for fifty years now

And we canít even imagine our lives without it

Even though over half the world

Still doesnít have flush toilets

In my generation

I can remember small changes

8-tracks and LPís

Cold war and LSD

And phones with actual dials on them

In a time before PC


Three was Pong and Pac-Man and Centipede

But in my lifetime

I canít remember

Ever seeing the sky

Just the sky

Something so simple

We left it behind

And never thought to miss it

On September 11th

We looked up

In the night

And all we could see

Were stars

No jet stream scars

No flashing beacons

Hurling through the vapor

Nothing weíd created

To distract us from the vastness

Of heaven

No visible influence

Of progress

To give us

The illusion

Of control