Thanks to Emily Pohl-Weary's PSW workshops for the inspiration
I refuse to read a disclaimer before my poem because my breath would be better spent distilling the distance between the point within my body in which sound is born, to the edge of my mouth where I tip the words out and allow to fall to the floor.
Don't bother picking them up.
They're already on their way towards you, riding air currents, snaking their way up your spine, crawling into your ear and then resting in that place in your mind that flips on a light switch and illuminates the darkest crevices of your soul.
Listen to the gentle hum of electricity as it warms the frosted glass and spreads outward, light stretching toward you like an open palm.
"Here," it says. "Bask in me. Let me soothe your soul and smooth those lines from your face."
I refuse to read a disclaimer before my poem because I wouldn't want to mislead you. Wouldn't want to cloud your mind with contrite conjunctions connecting confusing conjectures confusing conjectures confusing conjectures con-fusing.
I don't want the space between us to become greater. I want you to hear what I am saying loud and clear—I will annunciate for you so that I don't have to repeat myself.
I don't want to waste time apologizing for my inadequacies because in that time you might begin to peer too closely at my skin, notice the cracks I tried to cover up with foundation.
When I speak, you might notice the coffee stains on my teeth as I run my tongue along the top row, self-conscious during my self-imposed disclaimer.
If I don't speak loudly enough, you might hear a sputter, mechanical gears winding all rusted metal slowly breaking down because my heart was faulty so I had it switched for a motor.
You might notice how I press the tip of my fingernail into my thumb, a nervous habit employed to re-channel the anxious energy to one place so my body doesn't twitch, so you don't see the nervousness in my face.
I can't face the crowd during my disclaimer, so I turn my gaze to the floor and imagine I'm alone, that I'm speaking to myself at home and no one's here.
I will not read a disclaimer before my poem because it would give you too much time to scrutinize me, size me up, pick out all my faults and tear me apart with just a glance.
I'll keep my eyes on the floor because I can't face you. I can't stand the look in your eyes that say you're actually listening to what I'm saying and you care.
I'd rather not read a disclaimer because then beams of light will pour out of you and pierce through my skin to my motor and I'll cough rust.
And it'll mingle with my words until something resounds true and we'll lock eyes and I'll have to turn my face towards the floor and press my fingernails into the tips of my fingers to re-channel the nervous energy that threatens to cause me to crack and crumble and fall to the floor in front of you—so I implore you.
Do not, under any circumstance, allow me to read a disclaimer before my poem.