i know for a lot of the heads that read this being published is old hat and getting included in an anthology is about the equivalent of just getting the girl’s number. “nice start- so what you gonna do with it?”
before any of that, big thanks to maria who put up with me being online for almost an hour to get the work submitted to PSi on time. unlike some of my other forays, i didn’t wait till 11:59pm to do it. i actually did it with a few days to spare but that’s cuz i was hearing about mad problems the online submission system was having and i decided not to take any chances. the rules were pretty simple- any poem performed at any time during nationals could be submitted. that includes poems done during the (now)legendary sessions of hotel room poetry tag and even some of the ciphers that were going down in the lobby as for the first time, ever, i was getting schooled on chicano poetry (thanks, team san antonio & team ‘burque)
my official tally of poems performed at NPS were “MotB” (in english at the slammaster slam & in spanish for the latino showcase) and “Ceviche” (also, for the sm slam). i only had time to submit “Ceviche” and the ingles “MotB” since i was having a hard time tracking down my online version of “Batalla” and maria was ready to pull the plug on the Mac since i had promised her i would be done in ten minutes (and i was online for almost an hour at that point) it would have been nice to submit it and i know that I would have loved to see it included as to add a lil aji into the midwest mix. oh well, no worries…
and the winner for inclusion to the PSi anthology… “Ceviche”
pretty fitting considering that it is the poem that let me really speak as o.b. and not as o.b.wanting.to.sound.like.a.poet (equally exciting is how my “Can we go to the place in Brooklyn tonight?” endline segueways to the next poem in the anthology- Dawn Saylor’s “Take You to Brooklyn” say word!)
the story behind the poem has been told a bunch of times and if you haven’t heard it- just ask me about it after the next Acentos and i’ll be sure to fill up a half hour of your life
the woman in the poem is still a nice part of my life and i can’t wait to show her the book. she’ll blush, give me a big kiss, hit me with a hug that will knock my solar plexus back an inch (yeah, she’s in that poem, too) and then we’ll look at each other for what will seem like a long time thinking about the ‘what if’s
i’m also looking forward to show it to mah parents who (cuz of my not being able to officially graduate and never making to thru college or getting married) don’t have that big framed picture of me in the hallway. i know the above aren’t the be all and end all of life but it would be pretty silly to have a giant picture of me just chillin’ as opposed to the symbols of accomplishments that my brother (full 4 year scholarship to cardinal hayes high school in the bronx), my baby sis (graduated hs with a full four year scholarship to a connecticut university- which she left after a year of their racist shit. smart & ballsy) and my sis (adelphi graduate- majors in child psych & education)
i still hope to give my parents the big pic (yo, spanish people LIVE to frame them suckahs) with me graduating from a college one day or some shit. a nice shot of me being on stage would fit pretty well but my fam doesn’t really get it. they know it makes me happy and that i NEED to move my creative energies somewhere but i think they equate it to a serious hobby more than anything else. my sister, for sure, doesn’t get it and has actually told me to leave the life. she thinks all i do is go up on stage and do whatever it takes to get applause. i’ve explained to her some of the risks that i have taken with my work and that most of the stuff that does actually get me accolades have been the risks i took on stage. no go. that’s when i realized that some people can never understand what this life means and the sacrifices that go with it.
two friends have recently asked me again about giving up the life. the second, in an indirect way, he knows about it (probably more than i do) but i also think (looking back now) that ALL he knows is the life. i’ve had other outlets for my energies, not as fulfilling, but they gave me back some good rewards- shit, they gave me a living for most of my adult life. the same way i am with poetry is how i used to be with business. late hours, perfection, the rush of last minute antics, dealing with people, schmoozing in & out of deals, making an occasional enemy cuz i never believed the customer was always right, shit like that. i know what loving something that only reflects love is like. it feels good as long as the shine is there.
now i know what it is to love something that radiates that same energy, not just back but around, feels good- damn good. it would take a lot for me to give this up now. a hell of a lot, it would have to be something that would have that same radiance and, maybe, just a lil more risk. maybe poetry is too sure a thing. i could probably die a happy hobo going around the country hitting open mics with my two poems… maybe. maybe there isn;t enough risk in doing what i do, i guess thats why i still like doing the open room with rich. 2am poetry to a crowd that has been conditioned for a (lets say) style of poetry that is different from mine let’s you know that you are doing it for more than just applause.
the first person that dared me to give up the life will be taking me out for lunch later today. i am pretty sure how he will react when i show him the book- the same way he reacted when i showed him ‘5 past 13‘
thats it, nothing else. he has a free copy that got buried in the glove compartment a few weeks later. not much i could say about that. either you want to listen to it or you don’t (on the real, my track aside- ‘5 past 13’ is almost 100% awesome and i do believe it is the best poetry CD i have ever heard. end plug)
when the CD came out i remember thinking that it was an accomplishment that will stand as a chronicle to my early days at 13 and the birth of synonymUS, and those stories will always live on in ray’s music and my words.
i feel the same way about this book, no matter what turns come next, no matter what hole i end up in or what cloud i find myself on- this is something no body can ever take away.