lets go to the video tape!

the tale of the tape

Where’s the new shit, O?
Zero Hour at the Event Horizon*
The Perfect Omelet*
Federico Gracia-Lorca’s “Dawn
like dawn in new york*
Paying the Toll*
America: My First Love Poem
Spanglish- The new mother tongue*
Poem for the Hispanics who insist on mispronouncing the menu items at the Chino-Latino restaurant
Anything to Declare?*
Let me end it with this…
* new hotness

your thoughts on preparing for the match?
actually, some of the new hotness had already been performed but they did get edited (especially “Paying the Toll”) also “America: My First Love Poem” was written for the DC feature last year but i have rarely read it.

the theme of the set was the whole immigrant experience with 8 of the 11 poems dealing specfically with that topic. how did i come to that revelation? easy- i knew that the classic would be “Sorta-Rican” the rest then kinda fell into place.

speaking of which, “Sorta” was the gem of my solo feature from last year and this year’s gem is a tie between “Paying the Toll” and “Anything to Declare?” i really like the fact that one is a definite shift away from my narrative style and that the other is an embrace of my narrative in the direction of straight prose.

the other poems in the set include my handshake to the crowd, a new kind of poem that is weird in its structure yet still delivers the goods, (there was also a satirical rendition of my NYFA artist statement that i threw in for fear that i didnt have enough material), the obligatory love poem, and then the lorca cover which actually IS an immigrant poem of sorts and kicks off the theme.

the ride to the big game
after getting some stuff to help with the knee pain (i was NOT limping to the stage- hell no!), i proceeded to hit the barber shop and get a good beard trim. the barber came through like gangbusters with a massage seat, face scrub, noxema, hot towel, face massage, astringent and a cool shave. praise the clippers & pass the martini!

i got to 13 mad early and was able to enjoy some great viet food as fish finds my ass and we proceed to talk and chow. let me say here, a highlight of the last few months have been the peace & calm between me & fish. werd.

upstairs to 13 which gets more & more packed by the minute. thank hay.zeus of orchard beach! i was seriously worried that the weekend blizzard was gonna have me reciting to 11 folks. (this poems is for YOU, and this one for YOU…) now the nerves start kicking in and i curse the gout for preventing me from taking a hike and showing up 10 minutes before and for not letting me take a sip of liquid courage. all for the best, i guess, because the way my nerves were acting up, i would have been toast by the time i hit the stage.

now why the nerves, you ask? basically, 13 is my home venue, the place where i talk mad shit, praise & not.so.praise folks, hang and walk around like if i’m a poet and very sonn that swagger will be put to the test. if i don’t deliver, the conversations will go down like this- “well, let me say this first, i really like oscar as a person but…” and you can figure out the rest. i am very sure of this because i have heard this conversation quite a number of times. this may be the WORST set of pre.feature jitters i have ever experienced. it may have to do with the fact that i did invest a bit into the layout of the feature. yep, that’s it. i am a little past the “start with a good piece/end with a good piece/and have fun in the middle” mind set that i had earlier on.

(a nice omen preceeds the feature as both rich & fish make the last round of the slam & luis cartegena gets the crowd away from the slam mind set with a great “sorbet” poem)

kick off!
once i am up there, the jitters are gone. cool thing of this set is that i have a lot of moments recorded in my mind. in contrast, i only recall a few things about the upperCASE and the CD recording zoomed by.

good set. horrible banter. what happened? i dont know but i think i would prefer it this way, ya know?

at this point, much thanks to ed & omar for sitting me down one day and encouraging me to use my wit in my poems. it was a tool i used to great effect for this set.

and i’m audi 5000!

in the locker room
as i’m leaving the stage, jayne pierce hits me up with some flowers (ahhhhhhhhh) and i see tata crying in a moment that almost gets me to cry and will forever go down as a piece of my personal history. i love you, jess. mad props soon follows and i can start to breathe easy.

i never count who comes to my gigs. either you do or you dont but let me tell you, all the right folks were there and here i praise UPHA for being there when it was just me & my pen, when all i had was one good poem. these ladies i also love madly.

a shout to Nuyo Clothing for giving me a cool shirt to wear on stage. buy their stuff!

matt, jess & maria on the open mic and all thats left is res which was mad mad fun.

the post game wrap up
i just heard the tape of the performance and for the first time EVER, i am not cringing at the sound my voice though i am wincing at the awful mic chatter i delivered. ;-) (thanks for tape, ray)

more shouts to guy, willie, ed & jeannie, rachel, raj, ellie, michele, peter, jessica elizabeth, scot, louder and especially to jai & nina for being there in spirit

i have been getting quite the number of compliments on the blog ring and i thank all you crazy mofos for the kind words, for reals.

in baseball, your pitcher is only as good as his next game. i guess in poetry, i am only as good as my next feature. this one is in the books and done. normally, i would brush it off and keep on truckin but on the real- i have had a lousy 6 weeks of arthritis pain & had some more of my past come back to bite me in the ass. guess what? i’m going to enjoy this glow for a little while. nights like moday dont happen all the time. i used to have rock star fantasies as a kid, picture myself on air guitar or drums or even as the lead singer. i never thought that shit would come to pass but it kinda has & life is too short to worry about the next feature.

yeah, i may just play the tape again and enjoy myself for once.

the sign off
love ya like if you helped make mah dreams come true

Party People/Party People

For the crew I run with, few things are better than scoring a good payday for your poetry. Most of the folks I know wouldn’t charge a dime to read their work for the right cause and what better cause than a brand new audience that isn’t judging you for any past reps or sheet like that. Throw in some loot and a few extras like complimentary lodging and airfare and you hit the jackpot! This is exactly what happened this Friday as I visited Syracuse U for La L.U.C.H.A.’s annual Cafe con Leche celebration.

I head to JFK, hop on board a plane and an hour later I am in the New York state highlands. How high? The locals were unanimous in their support for Bush… That’s how high!

They ask me to do a half hour set and while in the hotel room (Which was slammin’!) I have a near panic attack putting together the set list but pull it together in the end and get together a nice set that includes some new hotness in the mix.

Being pretty new to doing college readings, I first expected massive auditoriums of folks and then have settled for just a nice small room of listeners, which basically means, I don’t show up with any expectations any more. If I seem a little more spoiled in the future, blame Syracuse. These folks did it right- professional sound people, a real stage, catering a la jibaro with pernil, arroz con gandules, chicharon de pollo, empanada de pollo, empanada de res, maduros and the all time favorite, red Kool Aid! WEPA!! Add an awesome soundtrack (Thanks to co-feature, Shaggy Flores) and some of the best-dressed minorities in the highlands and for a minute, I thought I was at the Copa.

That’s the good news, with the bad news being that I am first up to bat. More jitters as the emcees announce me while Shaggy throws on Babe Ruth’s “The Mexican” and I am off to the races.

-Mercy on the Battlefield
-Getting Ronald Reagan to Visit the South Bronx (an intro into the short poem portion of our evening)
-Poem for the Hispanics Who Insist on Mispronouncing the Menu Items at the Chino-Latino Restaurant
-The New York Times Finally Got It Right When They Took the ‘R’ Out of My “Aight!”
-Martin Espada’s “Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands”
-Where’s the New Shit, O?
-Poem for Dia de los Muertos (new.hotness)
-Killing all the Stars (new.hotness)
Oda Para Leticia

In the “Reversal of Fortune” department, the poetry went over pretty well while my banter was wearing thin. I may be over exaggerating on how well the poetry went over cuz I could feel the crowd slipping from me towards the end of the set. I could blame it on “Leticia” but I actually hit some new highs reading that bad boy even though it was off the page. Ditto with the page version of “New Shit.” It was also cool finding the nerve to bust out some new.hotness at a feature though in actuality I needed it in the set maybe more to keep me on my toes than the audience. I front loaded this list with the golden oldies towards the front but I think I mixed in enough tonal shifts (TM Mara.Wherethehelldidmybloggo.Jebsen). The honest thing to say is that I may not have been the SLAM.riffic poet that a college (re: Friday Nuyo) audience wants to hear. Final grade would probably be a B+ but I know I gave these folks their money’s worth.

In preparation for last week’s louderTRIBUTE show, I memorized Yousef Komuyaaka’s “Blue Light Lounge Sutra for the Performance Poets at Harold Park Hotel” which now ranks as my all time fave how.to.dis.wack.ass.mofos.on.the.mic poem. There are some serious truths in this poem and it’s all done in a way that goes past being petty but still leaves a mark, ya know?

Let me end this tangent now before this turns into a novella. And end it with this lil ditty- I was at the Syracuse airport by 5 in the am so that I could make sure to be at work by 9am and as of this writing I have only enjoyed two bouts of one hour sleep in the last 40 hours. Poet rock star? Not yet. Not even close.

Love ya like freqent flyer miles!

another lap to go

friday:: with the knee and ankle back to 90%, i walked around a nice portion of lower manhattan with a friend. started in union square, got down to astor place, stopped for some ice cream (stone cold creamery, babee!), shared some ice cream on a bench, walked through st marks, picked out a new hat, stopped to admire the juicy burgers (which i cant have right now) at paul’s, had some fresh apple and parsley juice (which was like drinking an orchard- they put in like 8 apples in dat suckah), realize that my cell is missing… walk back through 2nd ave, st marks and astor place… find phone by the bench where we had ice cream… truly i am a lucky mofo!… walked down broadway, across third, up sixth ave and then shared cafe au lait & a strawberry margarita (guess which one i had) at french roast all the while sining prince songs. ny can be really beautiful, y’all.

saturday:: after work, headed to 168th & broadway to see bonafide and “Platanos & Collard Greens” bon was great- the play was not. bottom line- too long, too many tangents and not enough believable relationships. this could be good but it still needs work. in movie jargon, i believe the term is- wait for the DVD.

saving the night however was a stroll through the heights (yes, i am walking now more than ever) and some awesome chino latino!

sunday:: now is where it gets interesting as i get asked at the last possible minute to do a collaborative showcase at the bowery and like the mad fool i am, i accept

11:30 am- meet ted, curt and john, three phenomenal dancers, at the bowery. discuss which poems we will be using (Mercy is disqualified as a) its too obvious and b) all these guys are 6 foot plus and they want something more physical to use

11:45 am- figure out the first two minutes of the performance and set up the lights and music with the tech guy

12:00 pm- have brunch on 2nd ave while discussing creative process

1:30 pm- walk over to Soho (again with the troopin’) to practice at the most incredible apartment/studio i have ever seen.

2:00 pm- the guys are still stretching

2:15 pm- we pick out three poems. i perform em. they have some ideas and we run through it once. change the order of the poems. run through again. lookin good!

3:00 pm- head back to the bowery

4:00 pm- show time!

4:10 pm- still waiting but now the bowery is packed.

4:15 pm- we are on! and the first act.

4:30 pm- take our bows and exhale

i have never been so calm on stage during a reading but the gallon of sweat on my back says that i was in a near panic somewhere in my head. the roughest thing was having all this motion going on around me and having no idea what the guys are doing.

final set list-

-ted, curt and john hit the stage and do a minute of improvisation

(total black)

-Getting Ronald Reagan to visit the South Bronx (in the dark!)

(lights up)

the fellas go into movement


more movement and a solo in the middle aisle


we went with a “living in the city” theme as all these poems use nyc in the backdrop.

i have to check out the tape but the feedback was very positive and considering that i had JUST met the guys five hours ago it is a damn near miracle. i cant complain too much, i had a good time and learned a lot from the experience.

then i walked all around China Town.

monday:: almost didnt go to 13. saw 1/2 of kwame dawes set (half is better than nuthin- he is amazing!)

slammed at the request of eliel & RAC. almost made it to the last round but missed out by (booming radio voice)ONE TENTH OF A POINT (thank you, don pardo)

long time readers of the blog will noice that the point.one.oh curse is still in effect… i wasnt happy but it is what it is and i just have to work that much harder for next time

maybe i should have walked around the east side or sumhin, that seems to be the winning formula

love ya like track sneakers!

back from Normal

a’ight- i got NO sleep tuesday night. not a wink. profe drives me and tata to the airport. fish is waiting for us. and i am ULTRA jacked up now, sleep deprivation will do that i guess.

the plane ride to chi-town is ultra quick so no sleep there and then we have a few hours of lay over but i am still amped. so much so that i start doing an impromptu Q&A right at the terminal with the crew which was really amazing and when it was all said and done, i was ready to lead three hours of discussion.

plane ride to normal, very short as well (and hella cramped) so again, no sleep. as soon as we arrive we hit a radio station to record some poems for their broadcasts (kinda weird that they only wanted our short work, i mean i understand, but it kinda has us shuffling since we left our bags in the car)

some food, GOOD food, and then the hotel… sleep? not while Charmed is on!

flash forward a few hours and here we are… at the Bone Auditorium of Illinois State University and me with all of about 5 hours sleep total for the last two days but the show awaits and thats all i need.

(fish has a real good recap on his blog so why bother rehashing- go read it, now!)

here is the set

*Sorta Rican

*Getting Ronald Reagan to Visit the South Bronx


*Poem for the Hispanics Who Insist On Mispronouncing the Menu Items at the Chino-Latino Restaurant


*Martín Espada’s “Rebellion Is the Circle of a lover’s Hands”

*Mercy on the Battlefield

fully 100% memorized, kid! a few errors here and there but nothing that required me to restart or reset… with Capicu also in the memory banks and Cartogrpahy & Oda Para Leticia about to be added i will soon have a half-hour set all good to go. this particular set (with very light banter) came in at 16:02 so if you figure that i can talk a helluva lot more than i did for this set and that the other two pieces are about seven minutes combined… i’m good to go!

this was a very serious set for me. i was trying to bridge the gap between being slam.a.rific and being invited by an acadmeic institution to fulfill an objective (in this case, their recognition of Latino Heritage month) hence, the minimum of banter and if i hadn’t forgotten my water… it would’ve come in at 15:00 on the dot (control freak! control freak!!). i am glad that all the poems stood on their own and was able to take all these little lessons from every time i hit the mic and roll em up into this performance. it feels like another has been cleared and that its time to brace up for the next one…

afterwards, ISU was nice enough to treat for sum italian food and then we had a parking lot Q&A at 11:00 at night! yep, everybody got to round robin and we even switched it up on the students and got to ask them some stuff. all finishing up at abut quarter to 12 their time which is our 12:45am which means that last time i got some sleep was almost 40 hours ago!!!

slept like a baby, a snoring baby, but a baby none the less and called it a fine day.

love ya like if i was singing La Bamba before entering a small engine plane wit ya!

clean living? yeah, right

i have the muthafuckin worst migraine right now making this post just one for me to look back on

machismo redefined (set 1)

- America: My First Love Poem

- The Great Un.Communicator*

- The Mexican Cabdriver's Poem for His Wife, Who Has Left Him by Martin Espada

- Sorta-Rican series

machismo redefined (set 2)


- Battlefield: Revisted*

- Threads of Yesterday*

- Where I'm From a Community Poem by the Kids in my Creative Writing class

- Ceviche

*new hotness (with a nod to crockett out in the ‘glades)

the crowd was tight which always makes it easy to focus on some key people for strength… the double set concept is kinda fun… i got there late (damn, the MTA! damn, them to hell! heston moment- over) so i didnt get a chance to really settle… luckily, i laid out set 1 before hand… its weird performing while there is still light outside… America needs a lot more edits but is a good intro piece… i talked way too much about “the un.communicator” before the poem- a clear sign that you are ready to shit your pants… i shoulda went with the other martin poem… the sorta ricans get stronger & stronger… there were some ladies in the front that were giving me the cool.heckle- which is fun… better that than silence… there were some hella hot ladies in the house

set 2… more calm… cartography needs to get memorized… ‘battlefield: revisited’ comes from a convo i had with eliel (which it was dedicated to last night) and the fact that i’ve been wanting to write another “salsa” poem for a while… may make a book about this dance thing… may have to take more dance classes… ‘threads of yesterday’ comes from one of sabrina hayeem-ladani’s visualization exercises… she asked us to come back to a really early point in my life… it was a good place that i went back to… my kids poem rocked… end with a punch- eliel wants the ‘ceviche’ piece- tato!…

intimidating to feature with fish & bon in that they both are A game players… machismo was really fun w. fred being an awesome host… nice support system… thanks y’all…

afterwards, we hit carlitos. did ‘battlefield: revisited’ but it didnt have the same punch. good times, though.

ok- check list- kick ass fun set, only two beers, ate well, got to sleep by 1am, 7 hours of sleep and i still wake up with this headache! but i have three new poems to edit so life (as the fish.man would say) is good…