Category Archives: Poetry

student writings

“how to say RIP | for Deoni Jones” by Kaylo Grit

how to say RIP | for Deoni Jones (murdered at 22 years old in DC on February 2, 2012)

by Kaylo Griot     Saturday, February 4, 2012

Living in pieces
Of partial journalism
Buried wall posts
Google skimming

Living in pieces
Of memory
In minds
That could never
Forget what should
Never have to be
Remembered

I never knew you, Deoni,
But if I grew up a few miles away
We may have been friends
Maybe we met once on the red line
Waiting for the same train
Headed in the same direction

There’s nothing peaceful
In your death
Your final rest
Shouldn’t be anyway

You were still living
Living it up
Doing it up
And fabulous

There’s an eleven second
youtube video:
Man making his way
Across the intersection.
The DCPD say
It’s the guy
Who stabbed you

Is that true?
Was he the culprit,

The guy who weld the blade?

I think it’s bullshit
What they say.
I think it was the USA network
And all the other media outlets
Putting you down, leaving you out
And LGBT putting you last

I’m queer and questioning
Whether you knew
Before it happened
As legends always do
As legends always go

Did you see him coming?
Rushing you like newest wave
Of neo-nazi conservatism

Did you see your 22 years
Flashing before your eyes?
First the ones you never lived
Because of fear of worse than
Could imagine, the years
You thought of ending it
So many times.
Then the ones you lived
Despite fear of what’s imagined
The brutal hate to march through
Thick, condensed like an
Impossible heat.
Then the years to outlive you
The years you’ll never see.

I can only imagine
What you saw that night
The imagination produces
Glimpses of what your mind
Can comprehend
Or has seen before

We’ve seen it before
And I’m surprised I even heard
What happened

People who care say “So sad,” “RIP-rest in peace”

I say fuck that!
This isn’t sad
This attack doesn’t sadden me
This ripping away of life
Enrages me
Another flame added
To the burning wick
Burning down
To the ignition
Of a stick
Of dynamite

When will we explode?

“Contemplation” by Kaylo X.

Contemplation

by Kaylo X.

Nic Alea, published in the Fall issue of Forum, wanted to readdress an issue briefly
mentioned in our interview. Nic casually responded “Hopefully not for committing
suicide” to my question “What do you want to be known for?” I appreciated the candid
answer and felt it should be brought to the public forum as it is all too often ignored and
silenced. We met prior to the release party to discuss the matter. Before the conversation
Nic read me the poem “Queer Kids,” which is available to listen to and read here on
Boeotia. My reflection of our conversation follows:

Kaylo X.: Do you have friends/people who have committed suicide?

Nic Alea: Yes. Both contemplated and succeeded. More who have contemplated which is intense in of itself.

I’d rather do many things right now besides talk about suicide, which is why I am just
typing this (weeks after meeting with Nic for the discussion). But, who really does want
to talk about it? Isn’t that the status quo of our society anyway? Don’t talk about it. My
family didn’t when my sister attempted. It isn’t a time or memory I want to think about
and so I don’t. And we heal and move on. Or do we? I shared with Nic my story of my
family surviving my sister’s survival. I find things too dreadful to speak are the ones
most imperative to be spoken for everyone’s sake. If it has happened to you, chances are
it has happened to someone else.

We didn’t talk about it that night, but Nic knows and has helped me with my own
struggles with suicidal ideation. Both queer individuals, we are familiar with
the “subliminal” message that society teaches us: destroy yourself. Or at least: you
are not worthy of a “normal,” happy life because you are less than. The word queer,
although I and many claim it as an identity, literally means strange or abnormal…kind of
weird. As a kid it was difficult to embrace such an identity for myself because of fear of
being alienated, ostracized, or even excommunicated. I am not alone in the sort of fear
and anxiety “being in the closet” brings as countless people I have spoken to and stories I
have heard speak to the dreadful experience.

Nic’s poem tackles the programmed destruction ever so eloquently. It allows the reader
or audience to vividly imagine an act of suicide in real terms. This kind of writing is
activism. It raises awareness and addresses that our ideology is controlled by the media
which promotes a culture of fear, hostility, and misguided anger—the kind of culture that
harbors lynching. In our top down society one is typically forced to choose a place, a
role, an identity. If the identity threatens, destabilizes, then it risks being destroyed and
what more convenient a way than brainwashed self-destruction.

Nic spoke of children’s malleability and the violence that exists in our language for them
to pick up on. Children, without knowing the meaning of their words, say things to each other that they have heard from some media outlet, from their parents, or other people in
their environment. A radical organization led by Fred Phelps “preaches” a message of
hate and often times with very young children as part of their pickets. The message in
three words tells so much more: “God hates fags!” When one little girl was asked if she
knew what the words meant that she was shouting along to. Her response: “no.”

Our society is indifferent to suicide. We ignore people when they’re going through
depressions. Mental illness isn’t taken seriously. Suicide is often glorified, especially in
the case of celebrities. We see famous people reach epic stardom postmortem over and
over again. Is the work of celebs who committed suicide (accidentally or not) brilliant
because they killed themselves, or would they have found as much success living? It’s a
question Nic asked me at the end of our conversation on the topic. It brings me back to
the question I asked Nic in the beginning: “do you know anyone…? Don’t you? Even if
just Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf, Romeo and Juliet, you’ve heard some tragic story
fiction or actual and so it must affect you. Each human life should matter to everyone as
we all exist together in this dimension of reality.

I recently heard news that hit me hard as such events do. A young, 22-year-old woman
was murdered in the nation’s capitol. I wrote a poem out of the anger washing over
me. The poem is called, “How to Say RIP | For Deoni Jones” and can be found here on
Boeotia as well.

Kaylo X. is Forum’s poetry editor.

“Queer Kids” by Nic Alea

Queer Kids

by Nic Alea

i wish i was open apothecary fluid solution
graced across your forehead,
i could have watched you grow
like the backbone to a raven,

a summertime storm brought raging
into square shaped bedroom,

grandfather clocks gone ancient
fox tails wrapped up in your gloves,

i do not know what you did to your hands
but your arms were all cut up

every inch open up
like you needed all the secrets to seep through,

shape shifter you,

you know, child,
it’s easy to rip open,

no intention of getting sewn back together
blind folded coffin and a stack of letters

to be burnt by the writer of your eulogy,
no one should have been at your funeral this young,

this year, this age, too young,
before queer could turn golden,

before faggot could turn reclamation,
before pink triangle was a prison symbol,

before it all,
you were gone before it all,

you were just a baby
with a key hole mouth,

spit on and shoved out,
stampede and a body full of live organs,

i saw a woman with all your names tattooed onto the back
of her legs, buzzer but no ink

just scarification of you and you and you,
and the way they preyed on your bodies

prayed like the forest was howling
your coming out story,

while they grew teeth
to rip at your throat,

often i didn’t know
often i couldn’t have told you that,

you are not safe just because it’s san francisco,
you are not safe even if you wrap your growing limbs

around the base of their violence,
i can’t summon anyone here to save you,

they need to rewrite the textbooks
with clean cursive and a method of action,

you were young with skeleton closet already
dust caught all up in your throat,

you weren’t taught in school
that there are others like you,

we weren’t taught in school
that there are others like us,

i wasn’t taught in school
that there are others like me,

they don’t teach the queer kids
how to be brave in school,

they teach the queer kids
how to hang themselves from
creaking rafters in their parents houses,

they teach the bullies how to sharpen
their weapons, vocal chords and

how to tie noose knots for
the soft part of your neck,

they need to rewrite the textbooks
to include all the invisibility,

they need to teach
that there is no reason to think

we are any different, they need to show us that
being bent isn’t an open invitation to get beat up,

because our hearts are still all full of blood,
doesn’t that account for anything?

i’m going to try to come to you
bearing thread and a pocket of thimbles,

i can’t promise you anything,
not even red roses to make your swollen lips smile

as you pull wilted hawk feathers
like the silence that’s still shoved down your throat.

Nic Alea is a poet, student of life, seeker, femmefag, gender witch, introvert, stone collector, feminist, crafter, always and never. nic co-hosts new poetry mission: the new shit show 2nd and 4th thursdays at viracocha sf.
Audio of “Queer Kids” can be found below.

A Poetry For The People Open Mic

by Ayo Khensu-Ra | 

Timeliness is important and frankly Boeotia hasn’t been quite as timely this past semester as might be desirable. There are plenty of literary events around City College and San Francisco each semester and though some time has passed, this post and the next chronicle a couple of those events in an effort to stay connected with what’s going on around CCSF and the larger literary community.

On Friday, Sept. 23rd the Poetry for the People Club held an open mic at the Reading Garden between Cloud Hall and the Science Building. Around noon I made my way from wherever I was, around Cloud Hall to the stairs that lead up the north side of the hill on which the two buildings. It was warm and sunny but I was anxious. Just why that was is hard to explain…for whatever reason I get that way before events, before seeing people, even people I know. The strangest part was I had felt much the same thing in almost the same place two years ago.

Not to repeat myself — I wrote about some of this in my first post of Fall 2011 — but I had creative writing poetry in Cloud Hall in 2009 and I’ve accumulated a lot of memories on campus since then — hanging out before and after class, attending a reading at the poetry garden, the my fellow students and I sitting on the grass, reading on the last day. Class was around that time and as I walked up, I was very much reminded of times before class and what was almost the same feeling of anxiety. Class itself — our discussions, the reading and writing of poetry — was almost always great but the minutes before were often more nerve-wracking.

Folding chairs were arrayed between the flagpole and the trees. There was indeed a microphone along with a pair of speakers, the chairs were filled. I sat across the plaza on one of the cement benches in front of the Science Building, my mind still humming with those memories. The event was just getting started and I listened, trying to juggle the present and the past. Antonio Mims and Fourm’s Kaylo X. emceed. Poetry for the People has a long history at City College and so it shouldn’t be surprising that several Forum staffers have also taken Poetry for the People including Katie Dalla the Poetry for the People Club president (who contributed to this post) and myself so you may hear a thing or two about Poetry for the People on this blog.

I sat jotting down notes, the voices reverberating through the speakers. Very gradually I was drawn out of my past, my anxiety into the stories, the thoughts, the words of those who were reading. The readers covered all sorts of subjects — social and political issues, the personal, love, death. The titles of some of the poems may give some sense of that range — Tatiana Lyulkin read a poem called “Black Pride,” Zhayra Palma read one called “Subways,” Kaylo read “Last Night Troy Davis Was Murdered” and “Move,” Gabrielle Wilson-Sealy read “Cop Watch” and “Open,” Miguel Navarro read “Don’t Go” and Katie read “Recipe for Disaster” and “We Met in a Dance.”

There were many others. The participants were lively, engaging and without pretension. As the name Poetry for the People might suggest, they were just ordinary people sharing thoughts and feelings, their own poems or poems that meant something to them. There was no distinction between audience and reading. Some were confident in front of the mic, some less so but it was clear they all had something to say and the poems they read reflected that. They were not dry or academic but reflective of inner states, of very human things and because of that often had the transcendent qualities of the best poetry. By the end of the open mic, I’d forgotten my anxiety in the experience of listening, in the conversation between reader and listener.


        
Photos courtesy of the Poetry for the People Club

Found in translation

Poetry, Poesie, Poesia

By James H. Miller

I have an undying respect for poetry translators. I’ve never had the patience or discipline to truly learn a foreign language myself. I tried Spanish so that I might read Cesar Vallejo in the original, attempted German because I thought Goethe was really rad, and then French for similar reasons—Rimbaud, you bad-ass!

I usually managed to earn a passing grade or better in these courses, but my actual knowledge of any foreign language amounts to funny vulgarities and swear words. So, if you’re like me (my sympathies if you are), those who translate poetry into English are crucial; whether it’s unearthing a master from Argentina, or showing us what, as O’Hara wrote, “the poets in Ghana are doing these days.” In recent years, we’ve been blessed with loads of groundbreaking translations from people like Edward Snow, Clare Cavanagh, and many other erudite guys and gals. I’d like to mention two translators that I’m personally grateful for: Michael Hofman and Jonathan Galassi.

First, Michael Hofman.

Michael Hofman was born in West Germany in 1957. Among other things (poet, free-lance writer), he’s an excellent translator and winner of countless awards. He most recently edited an anthology sensibly called Twentieth-Century German Poetry, which includes fine translations of poems by Rainer Maria Rilke, Bertolt Brecht, and Paul Celan, along with many obscure others who’ve never, to my knowledge, been rendered into English so handsomely before. Continue reading Found in translation

“Forks and Knives” by Kevin Sullivan

Forks and Knives

by Kevin Sullivan

feeling romantic
even over graveyards and cigarettes
past my field of vision,
out of my life
these thoughts, counterfeit nostalgia

quiet bedrooms
which I’ve just entered
offer opportunities I’ve never had
(I never will, I can project
legions of fantasies between four walls)
life is a mixture of standstills,
resistance, and falling
the elements will swallow you happily
without fidgeting forks and knives

“this ain’t no mecca” by Ayo Khensu-Ra

this ain’t no mecca

by Ayo Khensu-Ra

the line spreading out in the dark
drawing itself under the car past
denny’s and white castle, gas stations

huddling together under rough
bristles of an old gray blanket
Toyota van our walls
the prairie and marching rock
rising beyond the windows
slipping away toward the wide
darkening sea

clouds flushed
with light like blood
playing through
the latticework
of our palms

music booms out into the night
the van stands in another parking lot
and you talk about the pad of paper
you left at home, the gray-black
murmurings of your hands
the whisperings of your hands, of
ink and charcoal, of pad and pencil

day stumbles on to day, you say
how lovely the sunset is out past the bridge
past Land’s End, when the misty wall breaks
and the bounds of the world are again boundless.

I pick up a package of our things
papers calling like white sails from the sea
calling like the windy heights of home
and I know we’ll drive, ramps and
buildings sprawling out below, planes
drawing invisible lines in the sky

listen to echoes of announcements
wait in black chairs
listen for embraces

we’ll turn
I’ll turn
back to my van, back to Gilman
or farther and farther south
or to islands in the ocean

“Doctors, Gods” by Evan Jones

Doctors, Gods

by Evan Jones

White mice, white
90 degree coat edges
below knees-I have
a history of
not trying to have
a history
with them,
if you know what I mean.
never could get too
comfortable as they always seemed a little
too comfortable with
me, my flesh me,
and its theoretical, but still
entirely possible
end.

What will I do
if and when
they should begin
living
in the next room
of this
and every other
house
after it
from now on?

khumbula

khumbula

you’ve already seen the stars in the southern sky
and still you burn
with the intensity of an ancient inferno
from the land of first life.
I want to fear lions, stalking through the darkness
at the edge of the firelight,
to sit with you, watching
the flames melt the moon,
under your stars
which sparkle with a luster
unrivaled
by any diamond ever mined.

by Cara Baker

(Untitled) by Brendan Winnans

by Brendan Winnans

I have inexhaustible cravings
For adventure for wanton vices that I have canoodled with in the dark.
And sometimes I find myself alone and bored
I wonder if I should open a fortune cookie, base my whole life around it,
and if it will then excite me, forcing me to destiny.
And I sometimes
wonder if ripened plums wonder why they share such alikeness
To sunsets.
And I wonder if the juices of the self same plums can make up for nights
of gambling given up, fag ends gone unsmoked,
Because alongside the plums I too have wondered.
And I have wondered,
Because after longnights counting strokes with vices
Like unbridled lovers I have woken to morning
And in the morning
I have seen burning parrots
And I have seen where burning parrots go to lay their eggs.
I have climbed the branches of sleepy trees.
And sometimes I wonder where the wild birds go to fix their broken wings,
And whether birds in plum sauce taste different when they had no place to go.
I have had my tarot read and come up with
I have sold a bit of cocaine or rather split the bag.
I have dug into the mud expecting to get dirt under my fingernails,
And I bite them sometimes just to taste.
I listen to the radio when I am sad and walk around the changing world I keep in my head,
I wonder if I can be happy without a queen, without foghorns and fog.
I wonder if in a year I will reach across a table for some ketchup and put it on
Some chitinous bugs or some strange new concoction of taste I have never dared to yet try.
And I dare to ponder on this thing called hope, call myself a man
And let it grow.