My Last Poetry Reading

My Last Poetry Reading

A Story by Erika Jones

My Last Poetry Reading


I can remember sitting in my favorite place at my favorite coffee shop, sipping at a highlander grogg sweetened with sugar and whitened with creamer while munching on a small scone that was baked fresh just an hour ago. The night had just started along with the shops open mic night that’s every Friday and I was in the time slot to go up around nine or ten.

I’m the only one that’s gone up to do poetry so far for the night, everyone else has gone up and done music, playing their guitars and singing into the mics cover songs that they’ve done beautifully. Even if they weren’t songs I’d rather listen to, they made every cover they’ve done better than the original. Some have even gone up and played original music they’ve written themselves and they’re amazing in their own right.

I, on the other hand, had nothing but a journal full of poetry and most of them freshly written for me to go up there and read, but I only had one in mind. This poem took a lot out of me and I almost didn’t want to go up and read it.

My stomach was fluttering with nervous tension and I felt like I would puke at any second. It’s not normal for me, because I’ve done this for two almost three years now at this same place, always showing up with deep, angry and sad works that everyone seems to love. I could even feel sweat falling down my scalp, dripping a bit from the rim of my glasses and down the back of my neck, making me feel like bugs were crawling all over me. I hate bugs, terrified of them actually so that made me even more uncomfortable to go up and read my poem and a couple of small ones to go with it.

Despite delaying once or twice in going up so I could get myself to calm down, I went up with four poems and started with a short one I named Thoughts from an Outcast part 1 all the way to part 3 before I did my newest one, almost terrified of what everyone would think about the poem once they heard it.

“You ready to go up there Erika?” One of the workers that worked at the coffee shop asked, though I couldn’t recall his name.

I nod, letting him know that I’m ready as I grab my journal as I stand up and I work my way up to the front once the musician that played before me cleared their stuff away.

When I was ready, my journal opened to the first marked poem I was ready to read and read like nothing bothered me.

It went on like this for the next two poems that were in collaboration with the first, and they were easy to read, though I can’t explain how that was possible. But it was the next one that took a few moments for me to get the nerve to read, but after a shaky start I was able to get myself together and read:


“Thoughts of an Outcast

I feel that everything I once was has been lost forever.                   

I can't seem to find that person anymore as I keep searching… searching.

Forgotten that I used to be somebody

And now I’m just a nobody that has been traumatized beyond repair.


I am beyond saving,

No one can save me from myself while I slip further away.

I want to just let go, run away from everything that's tormented me

And making me just a broken doll.


I feel empty, like something deep inside me has been ripped

Out and it can never be brought back.

I know that it can be refilled, but I've given up

It seems and not even my friends are enough to fill in the void.


I am a broken soul, beyond recognition

Because every time I look in the mirror, I don't know who it is

That looks back at me. He's not someone I know, he looks too

Scared, too beaten down and I know that cannot be me, it just can't.


I feel changed beyond what can be changed back.

These dull eyes will never be filled with life

Again, and that's the truth. Because I seem to have given up

No one can bring me back to fill the void again.


I am broken inside, and no one knows how to put the pieces back

Together, because if I can't, then no one can. I'm not ready

To go back to what it used to be, because then it will all be real,

And I want this to be nothing but a horrible nightmare.


Break me further, because that's all you can do anymore.

Break me so that there's nothing

Left and that I can finally move on from what has been done to me.

There's no other way for it to be done.


Throw away the key once you've locked me away,

I cannot go back to society because I'm finally crushed

Beyond recognition and no one can save me.

Not even my best friend for whom I once would give my life for.


Take away the pain, because that's all I feel.

Pain of being torn apart, and it's more than I can bare

At times, but I somehow endure it. There's no other path

For me, because that's all I know how to feel anymore.


Take away the memories, for I wish to be without them.

Make me start anew where I can't remember the horrible nightmares

I've had to live through because I don't know

How much more I can take of remembering all the pain.


Take the dust that I have become and let the breeze take me away.

Only then will I be free of this pain, of the horror

I’ll live through once all of this is over.  It's the only way that I know

To free myself of the burden of being in everyone's way.


I know you all just pity me, because that's all you can do.

No one knows what I've been through, because you've never

Been through it in my shoes. No one knows the pain

Of truly suffering with my horrible past.


So break me further, lock me away and throw away the key.

Take away the memories and gather up the dust I've become.

Let the wind take me to places where I can start anew,

Where there won't be pain, and where I can finally breathe once again.


Thoughts of an Outcast.” I say again once I’ve finished reading my poem and I quickly rush back to my seat while everyone around me is clapping. Apparently they were thrilled with the poem I just read, but I’m only terrified at the realization that I even read it out loud in the first place.

“That’s an amazing poem, Erika.” Some of them said.

“Great job Erika! Can’t wait to hear more next time.” Others have said.

I couldn’t do much more than nod to them with a low, muttered, and an embarrassed thank you while all I could think about is why did I even do this? Over and over. Again and again. Almost to the point that I had tears brimming the corners of my eyes.

I hide my panic and my threatening tears well, because no one has asked how I’ve felt, though they’ve come to tell me how great they thought my poems were and I don’t get to spend much time reminiscing the afterglow that should be there because my ride is ready to pick me up. So I gather all my things, unfinished coffee and rush out before too many people can talk to me.

I’ve been back since then, but that was the last poem I read out loud for open mic night, and still thinking about this breaks my heart because I had loved reading my poems to others even though I did a poor job at it. But ever since then, I’ve never been able to talk to a room filled with people, let alone a room with more than three or four people at once, including me. I can barely utter a whisper to most people and I’m more comfortable, even now, to sit in a secluded room in my house and talk to people through instant message than talk to people over the phone or in person.

To be honest, this makes me think that I’ll always be a coward.

© 2016 Erika Jones

Author's Note

Erika Jones
This is the memoir essay I did for my English class last semester that I feel like I did pretty well on even though it was extremely personal for me. One of the reasons why I didn't like writing papers that were personal was because of the "personal" bit. But here I am! Sharing it with all of you because I feel that this will help me get out of my shell and help me with my anxiety.

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Featured Review

As someone who has suffered with anxiety, I understand that bubbling, hysterical feeling you described. Sometimes it helps me to try to think outside of my own head. If I think of myself as a small factor in the universe, it makes my anxiety feel small, too. Anyways, I think this is a beautiful story.

Posted 5 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


As someone who has suffered with anxiety, I understand that bubbling, hysterical feeling you described. Sometimes it helps me to try to think outside of my own head. If I think of myself as a small factor in the universe, it makes my anxiety feel small, too. Anyways, I think this is a beautiful story.

Posted 5 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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1 Review
Added on February 8, 2016
Last Updated on February 8, 2016


Erika Jones
Erika Jones

Medway, OH

I'm Erika and I'm a 25 year old Author. I've self-published a small poem book called "Screams of the Outcast" a couple years ago and slowly selling. Not only do I like poetry, I love writing novels an.. more..