To the teenage boy Just Getting Through his poem at my open mic series last night– his first open mic ever: I want to tell you I love you, in a hair ruffling big-sister way. I love you in that way that I won’t say, “wasn’t he cute, how he mumbled a little too much to a room of strangers, rhythmically cleared his throat every other line, and how every now and again he violently flexed his right knee to control the electrode-driven shake?” I love you in a way that I won’t tell you I wasn’t paying much attention to your too-long poem called “God,” only that I like how you wrote about your faith in a way that showed how important it is to you–the repetition of natural world images was cool, though maybe you want to pick just a handful of your favorites to expand on– and that writing about something so big is hard, and so important, and I hope this is the first of hundreds of poems about it. I love you as a hostess loves her guests and the empty plates they leave behind. I love you for coming with your friend, for asking your mom to pick you up, for staying just long enough on a school night to hear some other poets whose deceptively glib or wry or vague or romantic poems are still really about the big things. I love you for your voice. Welcome. We’re all trying to say what we mean and control the tremors. Welcome. You rocked it. See you next month.