Tag Archives: poem

the DC Youth Slam Team’s 2014 SEMI-FINALS SLAM

is on sunday, january 26th at 4pm at the smithsonian’s national portrait gallery in downtown, dc. it’s free and open to the public, so bring the whole crew to see dc’s finest young poets performing their original spoken word poetry.

semi-finals poster here


the fb event is here https://www.facebook.com/events/631308690245016/

and you should be there. the dc youth slam team is absolutely amazing.

here is a video of one of the teenage poets performing at a rally on the national mall in front of the capitol. his name is Malachi and i think he is one of the poets who will be performing at the semi-finals on the 26th.



Electric Sunshine

Names? She goes by many
Do not try to label her
She gets out of all your boxes

Smiling at your uneasiness
Inviting you to laugh at yourself
She won’t do it alone, so you go with her
Beautiful five foot something, dark curly hair, 
She can make prison walls show their dimples

Stretching ocean waves flat across the face, a rocky shore
She’ll silence its mighty roar

With eyelids like butterfly wings
 Two flutters and tidal waves wash away nations worlds away
Her stare lowers sea levels around the earth
Boiling beaches without uttering a single word
Phony suckers evaporate in her presence, and
Sunflowers bend backwards following her as she walks by my building
Five foot something, beautiful brown hair
Daughter of hippies
Descendant of hustling immigrants
Mother of creation, she
                A future
Outside the lines, confident strokes
She’s not worried about finding a man
As much as a reason
To keep the struggle in her back pocket
We all know what the guys are looking at
No need to spell it out on her bottom
The movement is in her genes,
Attractive activism swings from generation to generation
Marching through her blood like city streets
Up to the steps of her capital buildings
Where everyone can see
Where she gets it from,
Mother taught her how to raise children, not her own
For hours each day, she
A flexible temple, her body
Stretches almost as much as her mind
Both needing to shake it off, sometimes
The daily grind, can be difficult
But she is coffee
Already made, organic, smooth and strong
Do not fear her stubborn stains she only spills on those who don’t know how to hold themselves

Names? She goes by many
Do not try to label her
She gets out of all your boxes

Call her sunshine, her spirit touches you through intermediaries like the moon when she’s not around,
Many have tried, but no man can walk on her
Ground-ed like a lightening rod
She is not easily shocked
    Electric sunshine butterfly woman
Sister transforms awkward to awesome when she enters the room
She turns strangers to family with her loving cocoon 

Weaving a little more of what this world needs into the corners of every social fabric
Wearing love as an old tee shirt

Worry as a prom dress
Life in a necklace
Joy in her earrings
And justice as brass knuckles
She is not an easy woman, not your girly girl
Do not try to label her
She gets out of all your boxes
Running, she
Chases dreams back to where they came from and forces them to grow up
Developing old realities from young fantasies
She stays in the darkroom
Raising children, not her own
Out of the city chemicals 
With increasing contrast
Between their present situation and their past
    Always looking better

    She, is light

All colors together, as one
Running faster than anything or anyone
Across the room
To give you a hug.

What Do You See? Questions from Trayvon Martin to his killer


What do you see when you look at me?
You don’t look me in the eyes
So what is it you’re looking for?
Am I the kid who beat up your brother in middle school?
Am I the one who stole his bike and you couldn’t do anything about it?
Do you see vengeance in me?
A chance to get back at him? To get over?
To “make things right?”
Is that why you followed me?
Or are you a “teacher?” A righteous educator taking life lessons to the street
with a bully curriculum and a 9mm?
Do I look stupid to you?
What was your GPA?
Do I look like I need to learn a lesson
Hard as steel today?
Aren’t we all stupid to you?
Aren’t we all carrying guns and breaking laws?
Or is that just you?
Really, what do you see?
What can you see?
Can you see my father? Or does my skin preclude me from having great male role models like yourself?
I hear you mentor black boys; what have you told them
About hoodies and iced tea?
What of Jim Crow and self-defense laws?
What of segregation and privilege?
Have you shown them what streets they cannot walk?
What white ladies they cannot talk to
Or whistle at
In this sundown town?
Have you drawn chalk outlines for them
To step into for the “safety of the community?”
Have you told them how much their hair reminds you of drugs
Their noses violence, their lips rape, their skin crime?
Have you scared them into forgetting their pride
And cowering before you, Massa?
Or are they just the exceptions to your black rules?
Just the Oprah’s and Obama’s among the 99% of us thugs?
Am I all dick and fists to you?
All crack and rap and basketball?
Am I not a child still?
Can you not see my mother in my cheeks?
Her joy and laughter and pain and hope
Breathing through my lungs?
Is she not holy, not sanctified, not deserving?
Like your mother?
Can you see her grief?
Can you touch one tenth of the earthquake
Rumbling in her chest every morning she wakes
Without me?
Can you imagine the almighty strength she wields
To prevent herself and my father from finding
Sweet relief in the same violence turned around?
Can you see how god she is?
How god we all are?
Even you?
I wonder, truly
What do you see?
What can you see
In me
Besides bullets?


braided and baked

braided and baked like challah
my identity is constantly turning and being read
like torah
different interpretations of the same living thing
and idea an artifact we can study
it is my breath on the bar’chu
calling me up to be
my tongue on tekiah waking up those who sleep
i speak
my purpose
i am
my words my deeds my dreams and my bloodline
swimming in ashkenazi rivers looking for a solid home
drowning in survivor’s guilt and
windsurfing in a poem
i am
only the food i eat literally but
there is much more inside me spiritually
i am
between ancient and fresh
right and left
spirit and flesh
hashem and nefesh
between hip and hop
there is a hyphen
a chai fitting between jewish and white
between erev and night
between misappropriation and my natural right
i lay flat
putting my body on the line like my ancestors did
when it’s time to stand for justice
time to sit-in and protest for fairness
time to speak up and lay down our arms for peace
my identity guides and reminds me that
i cannot cease until all are free
for we were once slaves
now comfy and prosperous in our post-post-modern age
our obligation remains
burning like the eternal flames in our temples
but many in our diasporic tribe bring us terrible shame
it’s simple
know mercy
do justice
be not pharaoh
be not goliath
do not create ghettos
tear down walls
love your neighbors
because we are a people
braided and baking together
constantly turning being read and reinterpreting ourselves
and struggling to not forget where we’re from
struggling ever so hard to tikun olam
our ability to heal the world does not come from violence
it is not born in security threat analysis or
border wall military check points
check again
check your holy books your history and your heart
check yourself
my friend my sister my brother
my identity
our identity
is deeper than skin
so check the weather you will see a change blowing in the wind
on the backs of a diverse new generation
bringing together the right and the left
the spirit and the flesh
hashem and nefesh
ancient and fresh
to build the bridges we need
to save our identity


i know you wanna go coz all day you gotta wait gotta wait  for the train and then wait at the gate wait for the show and wait to have fun and then wait until you can go wait for … Continue reading

look away

a pause
and a breath
then nothing

perhaps a stare
unwilling to go there

we cannot even look

the dead have names
we read
and remember
we read and forget

a pause here
or there
we pay our respect

as though we recognize
what we owe
no service rendered
save for the gates
to the soul
left open

vacancies to be filled
some with vengeance
all with despair
deep brown eyes
no one can repair

only cover

hide from sight
wrap in blankets
pulled down for us
not for them
the earth has already shaken
them off
swallowed them up
and spit them back
in our faces

and we carry them now
without ever looking
burden less than grief
duty almost as strong
as our helplessness
feeling more dangerous
than not

we seek protection
take cover
take cover
take covers
spread sheets over eyes
pull down blinds
keep moving
keep covering
let them not be seen dirty
let them not be seen naked
how they came into the world
how they were forced out

we cannot even look
at the truth
when it opens up the earth
and floods our eyes with shouts
no pauses just
deep brown eyes

look away

deep brown eyes
crushed beneath the weight of
our own homes
suffocating slowly in
our own tombs
customized and crushed

look away

lest you wish to take their place
eyes deep brown
something deep down
south making noise
so we dig
and we work
we dig and we work
salvaging enough shreds of hope
to braid a wick
dip it in blood
dip it in oil
and mutter a prayer
for the next seven days

cut off all of our hair
wail at the sky
and ask the same questions
without looking into the

deep brown eyes
no one can repair

only cover

hide from sight
wrap in blankets
pulled down for us
not for them
the earth has already shaken
them off
swallowed them up
and spit them back
in our faces

and we carry them now
without ever looking
burden less than grief
duty almost as strong
as our helplessness
feeling more dangerous
than not

i’m on the you tube