Poem: Mic Check

This poem was written to remind Pastors, Teachers, Poets, Worship Leaders, Choir Members, Singers, Rappers, and all other verbal and lyrical representatives of God to be humble with our gift.  He is the voice.  We're just His microphone and small players in His sovereign will.  Don't go ego-trippin'; get your ego checked.  #MicCheck

Tina B at P4CM.jpg

Mic Check

Written by Tina B

© Copyright Tina B Poetry. 2008. All rights reserved.


You’re just a vessel
An empty tube
Until I breathe into you
Words that live through traveling vibrations
Traveling across nations

How can a man hear unless one tells another,
Who tells another,
Who tells another,
Who tells another,
About my salvation

See, my words travel
You’re just a piece of the puzzle
My beautiful vessel;
But you’re just a disposable frame that’s only as great as the One who’s using it
I’m looking for a dead mic with no static feedback
So I can feed my congregation without confusing them
It’s an indescribable music when
Brass and woodwinds play their own specific part
But listen to one conductor of the intricate orchestra

So whether you stay laced and polished like professional Sterlings
Or maybe you keep it simple like a toy mic for kareoking
I’m just looking for a yielded object so I can get a word in
Then out
And heard among the multitude
You must’a heard what I can do

I can take a staff and divide water
Turned water into wine
Killed one of the tallest giants
With one of the smallest rocks
I locked a lion’s jaw
My spit can give you sight
So when I grip your mic…
I spit flames in it

My lyrics are the burning bushes
But my love hides you from the burns
My bio’s in the Bible
Go back and ask the (three) Hebrew boys

I am the amplifier
I am the tweeter
I am the bass in the speaker
I am far more than “Missy rippin’ needles off the meter”

I am the official mic checker
Checkin’ yo ego
The clay breaker
Crushing anything unlike Me
I Am

Of divine strength in the brink of a moment when you’re weak and feeble
Better yet, I am that brink
You know?...That edge that keeps you
That leash that yokes you
Tight about your neck without choking you
I Am

I am as a gold maker
Placing his precious metal in a piercing fire until it’s refined
(That would be you)
I am undefined and infinite
So is my mind and my intentions
I Am

I am morning
I am night
I am not just alpha and omega
But everything in between
I am beta, gamma, delta, epsilon, zeta
And it is still I from xi,
To phi, chi, psi, and then omega

I am the great
I Am
How dare you stand
There and think without Me you can
When it’s my grace that’s kept you,
My mercy that’s held you,
And my love that allows you to open your mouth loudly
My dear child and microphone vessel

For every time you tap the mic to test audibility and clarity
Know that I simultaneously tap into your spiritual awareness
Checking for complete submission and humility

So before you begin your poetry
Take the time
Look within
You’ll find Me

Mic Check

Poem: Pray for Me

This poem was written to highlight some of the initial challenges many face after accepting Christ.  It was written to encourage long-time Christians to pray for those who are new to the faith, and for us to provide continued love toward one another with gentleness. (2 Timothy 2:14-26).  

Pray for Me Poem by Tina B.jpg

Pray for Me

Written by Tina B

© Copyright Tina B Poetry. 2014. All rights reserved.


I can't fight this feeling
I’m so tired of pretending things are normal when
My path really ain’t the straightest
And my choices aren’t always the greatest
In fact they're considered wayward
I’d be favored among sinners and strayed men
Aye man,
I’m just trying to press my eyelids and hands
Bow my head, say “Amen”
And be approved
Who knew life for me would be so cruel
No one ever told me about Christian persecution


They’d say my battle ain’t with myself, or with any other man
Instead it’s with powers and spiritual principalities
That I don’t really understand
All I know is that I’m struggling to do the right thing
‘Cause evil is always with me
Persistently pushing me
Testing me
Trying me
Tempting me


And each fall, I get weaker
My temper gets thinner
Temptation gets harder
Wisdom, farther
I feel far from the Father
Patience becomes complacent in this devastating state of hopelessness
I can’t help but feel helpless
‘Cause folks are selfish with their blessings
I’m screaming out for a rope
To save me
Persuade me
Help me cope
No joke
This struggle thing is sucking so much from within me
My legs
My steps
When I breathe, it’s my breath
Everything gets weak
It seems
I get up
Just to fall again
I stand
Just to stumble more
Cyclical sinning has my life spinning like a revolving door
Painful chapters pack my life’s folklore
But fictitious fairy tale smiles
Keep the truth concealed inside
The fight within continues
Tangled nerves
Twisted sinews
Fighting for freedom from sin’s captivity
It’s funny
When I wanna do right
Evil is right there with me


Why is following Christ so costly
I came as I was but wasn’t ready for all this change
Trying to spend time with whom I’m supposed to,
I’ve bankrupted on friends I was close to
I broke habits and compounded my interest to learn more of Him
But now I’ve got more lonely days than I was banking for
This is expensive
To be set apart from the bulk and individually wrapped in Christ…
This life
It’s expensive walking in repentance
Don’t tell me about conviction
Without defining the difference
To a life converted
If I’m hurting, will you encourage me if I fall
Even if its seven times
Please, get the log out of your own eye before you reach for the speck in mine
I’m talking for real, will you do more
Than whisper, “Welcome to our church” then watch me wallow in my sores
I. Need. Help.
Love me more, and judge me less
Willing is my spirit but weak is my flesh
My flesh
It grows like cells, divided
Occupying spaces it has no business
It is cancerous, to the Body
Flesh. Cancerous. To the Body.
Can you show me how fasting is the chemo to such a spiritual affliction
Be honest
Do you even know
Cause if I’m a babe in the faith
Then how can you train a child in the way that he should go?


This poem wasn’t written with intentions to offend
It’s just to challenge your balance
Of practical advice with your spiritual influence
Do they walk in congruence
Keep your pride, give me proverbs
Give me prudence
Give me patience when you break it down
Can you be gentle?
Can you milk me the Word, because for now my taste buds are simple
And I haven’t yet acquired the desire of lamb
I just want Him who says, “I am”


I am telling you,
Sin lies in wait at my door
Death, jail, and divorce
Is surprising my family by storm
Can you strip from your fancy church clothes
And give me the explicit gospel some more
I need truth!
Not like brood viper Pharisees
Who’s lives are like fish drenched in sauces of hypocrisy
I don’t wanna be a person,
Who knows how to jump real high during praise and worship
But can’t walk real straight when things are far from perfect
The purpose of this poem is to ask you to do the same
Can you give a helping hand and give glory to His name at the same time?
I’m talking for real
Without hypocracy
Without the games
I’m not asking for you to play with me,
I’m asking you
To pray for me.



How Did You Get into Construction?

If I only had a penny for every time I faced this question.  I imagine the question comes from the realization that, as a Black woman, I am a rarity in this industry.  But no matter the origin of the curiosity, my answer is probably one you'd never guess.  

Marlin (Tina) Sylvester.jpg

How did you get into Construction?

It all started with a boy and a basketball.  We both loved the sport and grew up like Monica and Quincy from Love and Basketball.  (But only in the basketball perspective though.  No romantic fairytale ever followed which has been completely fine with both of us AND his wife).  He was like a brother to me and I admired him, so when he wanted to play ball at Booker T. Washington High School, well… so did I.

Since we lived on the east side of Houston in Pleasantville, nowhere near Booker T’s school zoning, we had to take an entrance exam for admittance.  At least that’s what I was told anyway.  I had no idea that the exam was for a vanguard, college prep program for “The High School for Engineering Professions” (HSEP) which just so happened to be on the campus of Booker T.  I was clueless.  I was a young freshman in for a big surprise, however, I survived.  Four years later I shot my last jumper on the Varsity team, earned a handful of academic scholarships, and was ready for college.  I picked Mechanical Engineering as a college major because, well… why not?

All was well for me at Texas A&M University and I had no complaints.  But then came a pesky bug that I’m still quite allergic, dry-eyed, and itchy to when it’s near me.  They call it Calculus.  I call it Confusion.  I flunked out of Engineering, lost my biggest scholarship, and had to pick a new major because of it.  It’s a wicked subject.  I found myself gathering the fragments of my confidence and strolling over to the College of Architecture on TAMU’s campus to talk with the Construction Science Department Head.  As a kid, I remember being inspired by my mom who worked for Bechtel then Flour which have been the two biggest players in the entire industry of construction related markets for years, while making history as a black female draftswoman there.  I thought, “Ah-ha!  This is it.  This construction stuff is in my blood.  This major is for me”.  I applied.  Then, praise God… I was accepted.

Now, based on the way the COSC Department at TAMU was setup, students were trained extensively to write compelling resumes, develop attractive interviewing skills, and had to mandatorily attend career fairs.  The department significantly prepared me for employment - it still has the highest post-graduation hire rates in Texas for construction employment.  I accepted one of my job offers from those career fairs and I have been in the Commercial Construction industry ever since.  I currently work for AECOM, the 3rd largest company in construction related markets.

Shout out to Randy Burns II, The High School for Engineering Professions, and the COSC Dept. Head Leslie Feigenbaum.  Thank you for your influence in shaping the path of my technical career.  

By the way: I never got scouted from high school but the boy (Randy) went off to play for Wichita State University, was the No. 1 scorer, featured in Sports Illustrated, and lead them to their first NCAA Tournament appearance among other cool stats.  I’m still proud of him and he’s still like a brother…with an amazing wife!

How Did You Get into Poetry?

In so many words, I get this all the time: "So, you have a technical background in the construction industry with an architecture/engineering related degree, yet you're an artist?? How did you get into that?!" 

How Did You Get into Poetry?

It was my senior year in college.  I was 22.  My roommate at the time was deeply interested in poetry and drug me to local café in Bryan, TX.  I remember the lazy, worn-down couches and the smell of cigarette smoke that were far from attractive.  I also remember how mediocre I thought the talent was; the entertainment was suitable for a “let’s get away from the house” kind of moment but not exactly something I would have wanted to pay money for.  Perhaps it was the way poets were reading from books, tablets, napkins, or whatever they had in their hands while making little to no eye-contact during monotoned oration.  Truthfully, outside of my fruity little cocktail I was getting bored quickly.  Then along came Mike Guinn.

A tall, black man with nothing to read from was being welcomed to the stage by standing ovation.  I was intrigued.  Who is this?  I watched closely as he moved the mic and stand away from him before he performed with passion and a sound that commanded the room.  I had never seen anything like it.  I was hooked. 

My roommate and I got back to the apartment and playfully tried to imitate the talent from that night.  Low and behold, this girl thought I had a little potential and suggested I perform the following week at that same café.  Lord Jesus.  Eventually I obliged; her persuasion was pushy.  I performed and performed again.  I liked it and I suppose the crowd liked me too as I accepted an invitation to be a featured guest just as Mike was.  I later won the first slam competition I had ever entered before winning my spot on the Houston “VIP” Slam team to compete nationally.  (Both occasions were a BIG deal).  From there, people began to hire me to perform and that’s when things really took off.  

Through time and maturation, I’ve learned to appreciate the words of poetry and not just the performance.  So, to all poets who read, keep reading and ignore ignorant people who don’t know how to appreciate your form.  It may take a while, but hopefully understanding and admiration will develop for them as it has for me.  There is poetry for the page and poetry for the stage.  Beautiful in their own right, poetry has taught me to love both.  

Shout out to Krystle Wilson, Mike Guinn, Revolutions Café, and to all the poets I’ve met along the way.  Thank you for the influences you made that helped shape my poetry.