Monthly Archives: May 2011

On Becoming an Ex-Writer: A Personal Essay (part 1 & 2)

Blessed and honored to announce that Part 1 & 2 of my non-fiction essay “On Becoming an Ex-Writer” just went live at Doveglion Press! Many thanks to editors Barbara Jane Reyes and Oscar Bermeo for the shine. Shout out to coming out and coming of age in the golden early 90s in Frisco, writing on walls, bombing partners and falling in love with words, one at a time. Trying to connect the dots before they fade…
Check it out and let me know what you think.


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Filed under 90s hip-hop, blues, childhood memories, community organizing, friends, getting politicized, graffiti, Inspirations, literary universe, origins, poetry, San Francisco

I Do Not Know Our Name, But I Can Tell You Where It Comes From (work-in-progress)

Our name came from
a wood-burning fire
in a dirty kitchen,
a limp arm thrown
over the shoulder of a man
slow dancing,
a dark grey feather
floating down
to the ground.

It came from peeling back
corn husks, frying bawang
in hot peanut oil, twisting
a carrot root out of the
salty earth from its top.

Our name came from the pucker
of dried plum rubbing
inside our cheeks,
the pale yellow memory
of a sampaguita flower.

Our name came from
a secret password
that only opens
without trying.

It came from
a question.
A little girl tugging
at her mama’s pant leg
asking why the moon is in the sky the moon is in the sky the moon is in the sky.

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Filed under colonization, origins, Pacific Ocean, poetry

The Other Side

That night
you enter the tunnel
back in your country of subways

*there is no easy way

Inhale moss and tar and vibrating
air that always waits for the next train rush
air that does not know moonlight

there is no easy way

Tunnel the length of a blues song
tunnel your chorus
take your time warming up

should I, should I ask for more

Belt out Etta James,
nightsilk worn by the friction
of deep thunder and lightning

so I won’t be wasted

You’ll never hit
these notes again

like sugar on the floor

they carry
you to the other side

*Lyrics from “Sugar on the Floor” by Etta James

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Filed under blues, love, music sweet music, poetry

Grieving in Cameo (Can the Living Haunt the Dead?)

for Don Cornelius Belton

I’ve become an extra in the background
of your afterlife. Who thought it possible?
I knew you would choose the city.

Last week I stared at you through the
window as I separated darks from lights
at the laundromat across the street.

You strode forward to meet the wind
grinning with a ghost at each side.
Did you know that I was there?

I hope to land a speaking role next time
but that may be against the rules.
I’m sure it’s not up to you to decide.

Did you mind when I showed up
at your afterlife night spot
and told you to fix your hair?

Your hair was a shoulder-length
curtain of white beads, Rick James style.
You looked dapper, except for the little tuft.

You passed by me at the bar
on your way to the disco
down the dark staircase with a turn.

I grabbed you gently by the arm,
you paused but did not stop
when I pointed to the unruly bit.

I was only trying to earn my keep.
I wanted you to look flawless
underneath the revolving lights.

You were happy to see me, I think.
You looked me in the eye this time
before continuing your descent.

I heard the needle drop
on the record a drum
like my own heart
beat at your arrival.

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Filed under poetry, spirituality, teaching, the dead, Writers & Poets


Love me, love me, with two hands & no rearview.

Aracelis Girmay

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Filed under love, poetry

Response to my sister grieving at the bottom of a well

Dear sister,
I want to crawl into a bucket
wearing a big ass puffy coat
and lower myself down there
to give you a hug you can sink
into instead. Or release a jar
of fireflies to keep you company
and bring you some light.
Or maybe you’d like floating cloth
bundles that release baby potatoes
on your head that make you laugh
and the sound of your laughter paints
the walls of your well a spring green
where little shoots of daffodils
and violets start to poke out.

I’m so sorry you’re down there right now.
I have a whole big strong heart
full of love and resilience for you pumping.

Maybe you’d like to hear this song while you’re down there, too:
Tell me how it sounds when you tilt your head up at that circle-shaped opening of night sky that is still yours.

I’m here. And I will come looking for you.

love you so much (it’s not hard),

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Filed under friends, love, music sweet music