Tongue Tied

December 3, 2020

I have to give a speech this term—

and, frankly, I’m afraid.

It’s not my form of fun,

and now I’m speaking for a grade.

I have to give a speech this term

and share my thoughts aloud.

They say it’s just like writing,

but the difference is a crowd.


I don’t mind attention,

and I know my friends agree,

but when I’m standing on a stage,

I’m not sure that it’s for me.

I know how to express myself,

and writing’s not my fear.

But if my voice is trembling,

can I trust it to be clear?


My hands would start to shake,

although I didn’t have caffeine—

it’s like every nerve is quaking

when I know I can be seen.

My lips go limp and quiver

while my tongue goes numb and dry.

I can see the people smiling,

but I’m barely getting by.


I might think my notes are thorough,

but my vision would be blurred.

I try to raise my voice,

but I’m afraid of being heard.

It’s a funny little paradox—

I’m brave and then I’m not,

and I tell myself the only thing

worth fearing is my thoughts.


I could work on courage,

but my flaws are all I see—

it’s like all my insecurities

just point me back to me.

So if it’s not the speaking,

or the panic, or the dread,

could it just be that I’m wary

of the thoughts inside my head?


Maybe I don’t talk because

I’m scared they won’t applaud,

and maybe I’m a poet

for a validating nod.

Maybe I will learn

how to be calmer when I speak,

and maybe if I’m wrong sometimes,

it doesn’t mean I’m weak.


I have to give a speech this term—

I feel I’ve met my end.

But if I’ve learned from poetry,

it’s that words can be my friend.

I have to give a speech this term,

and even if I pale,

perhaps to do the daunting thing

will mean I can’t have failed.


  1. Terah

    This is great Cindy! I love the way you shape the words into feelings!

  2. Ella F

    I love this! 😍


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