Not Beckett

Yes I


“Yes I” was written in a period when I regularly attended poetry slams at the Nuyorican Poet’s Café in New York City.  Listening to the young rappers who performed as we waited in line to get in, I was struck by the recurrent theme of being true to oneself and narrating one’s authentic experience, however painful it is. Somehow their themes and their rhythms inspired me to write this piece.  It also adopts the technique of sampling, drawing on text from my favorite playwright. 


Yes I

In honor of the Nuyorican sidewalk poets

And in memory of Samuel Beckett

I hold myself in arms so still
The silence drills my bones and chills
Me till I know I never will
Know heat—no heat

Cold sweat like pearls upon my skin
With blood like liquid nitrogen
I float beyond all virtue, sin
Or pain—no pain

No judge no jury in this place
I only see the mirror’s face
No trace of shame a barren grace
Rains down—rains down

I bear witness to my breath
The flickering flame of life and death
For I will never leave myself

Sleep now sleep now I say and mean
That even in the darkest dream
A voice survives to wake and scream
I am—I am

I hold myself I’m in my arms
No hope of joy no fear of harm
With nothing left to do or tell
I’m in my arms I hold myself

Without tenderness, but faithfully
Without tenderness, but faithfully
Without tenderness
In faith

~ Kimberly Gladman ~