POETRY: “PRAISE POEM TO SELF: A Sound Poem from Turkana” by Jacqueline Henry

Jackie! Here’s to you, girl!
To your Voice

Once so stifled, so
Afraid of its own sound

Never saying, “No, no. No!
This is not me!”

Swallowed into submission,
Cowering deep in a bubbling gut

Here’s to that Gut—to Guts!—
To trusting Self and Sacred Song

Percolating Gut (thanks to Turkana coffee!)
Forcing Voice up. Out.
Exploding, Erupting

A fucking Volcano. (Yes, go ahead, say it: Fuck. Your mother was
forty before she said the word.
You talked about that recently—in your pajamas, sipping wine
into the night—you talked about Voice,
about losing it and finding it

And what that meant (anti-malaria pills kicking in, dipping in, nod to griot Bob
Holman, stay with it, Jack)

Here’s to you, girl—for embracing your special
Sound! For saying—No, for Shouting out:

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Jacqueline Henry is a New York-based writer and editor. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The New York Times, TSR: The Southampton Review, Clarion, The Cape Rock, The North Atlantic Review, Round, and Writer’s Digest magazine. She won first place in the 2009 Writer’s Digest Poetry Contest for “The Undertaker’s Wife.” She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Stony Brook University where she has taught creative writing. In 2014, Jacqueline walked six hundred miles across Spain on the Camino de Santiago.