Map of Austin Poetry #80

Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 15:55:13 EDT

Theme: Writers Corps Youth Poets Slam League

Originally scheduled for this week's theme: Stazja's Favorite Poem Project (Your favorite poem by a living poet.) Wellllll, after hearing the YPSL at Borders' "Bring in Da Slam III" I changed my mind. With their permission, I've selected works by five of the participants, from the anthology "my tongue is my choir" published by Borders Books and Music at 18th & L, N.W., D.C.

Next week's theme is "Memorial Day" and I'm still accepting submissions.

Thanks to all who have generously permitted me to include your poetry in the MAP.

1. Jason Gamio, 14, from The Bronx, has been writing poetry for three years. His poems have been published in Mexico as part of a cultural exchange between City Arts, The Point Community Development Corp., and the Mexican government.

The Day Is Coming

The day is coming are you ready

Are you ready for that day

Are you ready to live another way

Lots of laws being broken

Lots of mothers' hearts being broken too

Families disappearing in the thin air

For what

People going all out

Is it because they're scared

Or is it because no one's there for them

So I ask you again

Are you ready

Are you ready for the skies to

open up and the angels to come

and pick up god's chosen ones

Or the devil to destroy the world

more than what it is

Are you ready for this

Cause that day is coming.

© 1999 Jason Gamio

2. Larry Robertson, 12, writes about justice, faith, the meaning of life. Last month, he represented Washington, D.C. at the 2nd annual National Teen Poetry Slam in Albuquerque, N.M.

This Ghetto Side

This ghetto side is not a joke.

The bullets are not an illusion.

The fights are fought to kill.

And yet, still we waste all our dollar bills

and we can't get out of here.

So what is all this fear?

It is the '90's.

We can't be afraid of our own people anymore.

What for?

On this ghetto side,

things don't have to happen for a reason.

They can just happen to happen

for the purpose of happening.

On this ghetto side,

the word projects is not new,

because just about everybody lives in them

or near them.

On this ghetto side,

if you can fight,

you have a lot of pride.

On this ghetto side,

every day there is a dispute

on the subject of whose neighborhood is worse.

On this side.

On this ghetto side,

mothers struggle with 10 kids or more.

On this ghetto side,

we are selling our souls to public housing

and public assistance.

On this ghetto side,

we can do better than this,

if we realize that we are

not the devil's grand prize.

And please, don't say I lie

when I talk about this ghetto side.

© 1999 Larry Robertson

3. Shonnell Shelton also represented D.C. at the National Teen Poetry Slam. She is a sixth grader, 11 years old.

The Powerful Side of Me

I was born in heaven.

I walked on the Pacific Ocean.

I designed earrings so beautiful they glow on the worst days of your life.

I am bad.

I sat on the clouds watering my plants.

I got tired so I turned off day's sunshine.

My child is Mary who gave birth to my Precious Grandson, Jesus.

I am beautiful.

I gazed at the unsprouting plants as they started to grow.

I am powerful.

For a birthday present, I gave my mother Jerusalem.

My strength is powerful, therefore

I turned myself into a color flower so that everyone can see me and smile.

I am the one who made the sun shine.

I caught a flying cheetah 69,000 miles an hour.

I am so hip that even Mike Tyson couldn't knock me out if he tried.

I am so perfect that I can shine like a star.

I mean...I...can fly like a bird in the sky.

© 1999 Shonnell Shelton

4. Tabia Brown describes herself as "a Jamerican (Jamaican and American) middle-teen-aged young woman." She lives with her family in the Bronx, has been writing for nearly a decade. One of her future goals is to bring positive changes to the world.


Why did you call me?

I can imagine

You wrapped your hands

Thick and callused from a rough past

Around a phone

Slowly lifting it from its cradle cast

As your mind was momentarily hazed by euphoric smoke

And poked at it clumsily with fingers which knew the right path

Yet still occasionally strayed from the road.

But why?

Why when I told you not to do so

Late that night

Only days ago

As a street lamp cried a tear of lonely light into my room

Begging me to cry with it

I smiled

I smiled at your voice,

Dangerously heavy, deliciously low

Smiled but whispered, "My number, no. You can't have my number."

I said you can't have my number

So what was it you heard

There was my voice, calm and quiet

My thoughts, gentle and innocent

And together coalesced into my words

So you tell me what curled itself into a ball

And rested itself in a corner of your mind

Was its name Constantine?

Constantine for its consistency

Its smooth, even consistency

Often present, but seldom noticed

Or was it a ghost, a figment, an illusion

Having an appearance of reality

But a heart and a meaning of nonexistence

Or maybe it was a liar

Perhaps to me, perhaps to you

Never knowing who it was, who it was, the truth.

Yo, you need not get defensive

I'm not about to stretch my arms up,

Wrap my hands around your neck,

And squeeze until your past and your present is gone

See I don't want your emotions

I want a response


I'm simply curious

So won't you take me serious

Take me and my ears in your voice and tell us

Why did you call me?

It's FYI

Or rather FMI

Because maybe then

It'll help me know

Why when you called

I simply smiled

And whispered back


© 1998 Tabia Brown

5. Natriece Laynette Spicer is an 18-year-old aspiring author and poet from S.F. Her aunt, who had never been to a slam, sat behind me at "Bring in Da Slam III" and quickly got the hang of unrestrained slam etiquette when Natriece performed a killer piece that scored a perfect 30.

Not Just a Poem

Look into my eyes. I'm full of desire. Can you tell?

I'm as passionate about writing as the devil is about hell.

Check my pulse it beats for the alphabet,

palpitating to the cadence of a poem that I haven't finished yet.

But it's not just a poem, it's really something greater.

Though it is just phrases now it will mean so much more later.

To me it is as precious as the child I have yet to bear.

It is as priceless as knowing that someone really does care.

My weapons the pen and pad I used to get here.

Assisting my fight against insecurities and things that I fear.

This poem you see is not just a poem written simply to be writing.

They hold words so dark and deep you can't see them with good lighting.

My style, my wishes, anxieties, all expressed in one even that which I fear.

Whether it is the loving, sardonic, hateful or dreamy voice you hear.

No this is not.

No this is not just a combination of words, metaphors, phrases, ideas,

feelings and rhymes.

It is not superficial, overpolitical, foreign or seclusive. I hope you

don't mind.

These conjunctions, compositions, reflections of dreams and strife.

They are the passion that saved my soul, a glimpse into the story of my life.

© 1999 Natriece Laynette Spicer