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 would say) is good…

DC was the bomb! My set went great though I didn’t get to write the second poem and pull a Leon/Villar on the folks in Teaism since they only had three people on the Open Mic. There was a cross town slam going on with a prize of $800. I love slam but I hate big money slams in that if somebody beats me out for $800, that is a pretty good place for animosity to begin- I’m just sayin’.

Here is the set list-

*Mercy on the Battlefield

*Where’s the New Shit, O?


*Willie Perdomo’s Crazy Bunch Barbecue

*Brooklyn Back Break Beat

*America: My First Love Poem

*Getting Ronald Reagan to Visit the South Bronx


Mucho fun doing MotB first and not having the ‘have they heard it before?’ issues coming up. On the straight up- I LOVE doing that poem and I still think it’s an excellent display of my writing. Today, I would make some more edits but it still stands y punto. Coming out next with Where’s the New Shit is a nice inside joke to myself and a quick change of pace from my Spanglish rich stuff. So then I can do Capicu without feeling like I have to hand out a dictionary. I was able to nail the CAPEEECCCUUUUUU real nice, something I haven’t been able to do in a while.

The Crazy Bunch Barbecue is one of my favorite pieces of poetry ever and it was real cool to bust it out (Thanks, Tony B) and became a segue way for BBBB which had a lot of Perdomo in it (and I let the crowd now that- and yes, even though they only had three open micers DC Slam had a nice crowd of 70+ in the house). I lose my set list at this point, prompting a friendly heckler to quip- “What the fuck is a set list?” It means, I love you all.

The New Hotness emerges with America, a poem that is going to be fuckin with me for a while as I found out some things about my history on the long bus ride. Nothing new, mind you, just shit I never really put together about my parents and my infancy. Speaking of family, I joke that walking into the Million Woman March is like having your cousins crash with you for the night… and as a Latino, that could mean a LOT of people. Yep, my banter was in effect.

Getting Ronald… is always fun to break away from the three minute norm (here I do a time check and get the 5 minutes more sign so I figure I’ll just do one more) and leave em with one of my favorite trips ever, the journey to and from Brooklyn in Ceviche.

“Thanks for listening, DC”

Life has not been that great but Sunday in DC was just fuckin’ perfect! The sights, the march and then having a fun relaxed set of my work- nice!

Afterwards, Delrica (the Slam Mistress) passed the hat around to sweeten my take home and it was enough to make what would have been a financial loss into a break even- Nice! A good number of compliments that generally sounded like this, “I like the range in your work.” which is exaclty what I wanted to hear and not the ever dreaded (though still appreciated) “You were great and I liked all your poems but i REALLY love the one about dancing!” So frontloading with MotB and letting the rest of my stuff build up from there is a pretty good place to be… for now.

The Slam was a Slam with all the DC regulars being mad pro and knowing their audience and what to drop on em. The work was not the standard fare and I got to hear a good range of stuff.

Afterwards, I had three hours to kill and no idea how to kill em when Truth Thomas, 2nd place in the Slam, offers to show me the OTHER side of DC and I was like, “Hell yeah!”

Q Street has seen a lot of history and is in the middle of a gentrification phase (sound familiar) but there was enough heads to let me know that this was a lil more of what I was used to. Harold, 1st place in the Slam, and Belia join us and we had a long ass talk about the slam and writing and influences and teaching and all the same stuff that mad me feel like I was in the Ox late or at Res being a jackass.

Truth also showed me another Jazz part of the city (Andrew Morgans?), we ate some more and then he dropped me back by Chinatown where I grabbed a way packed bus that had no AC on a humid night back to the city. Not only that but then the dude next to me insisted on having a convo with his boy a row down and was fuckin with my sleep but hey, if one thing don’t go wrong then it ain’t perfect in my eyes so this trip was officially- perfect.

Shadow boxin’ when I heard you on the radio

My soul is quenched! Last night’s feature was just what the doctor ordered. Let’s start it a la Tony Brown and recap the set list (as I best remember it)

How I Got Here…*
How I Got Here (continuation)
Brooklyn Back Break Beat
Where’s the new shit, O?*
Oda Para Leticia
Sorta Rican (Prelude 1)*
Sorta Rican (Prelude 2)*
Sorta Rican (Double Discovery)*
Mercy on the Battlefield
Let me end it with this…*
*New poems making their debut

The night started a bit late as Mindy (the host & curator) tells me that I go on first and that the Open Mic comes on later. (Reasons the Open Mic should go first- let the feature get a sense of what type of audience is present that night; also, allow somebody(s) to warm up the mic and the space.) Since I am not going to get those favors I gotta do something to calm my nerves. I already had a Gin&Tonic thanks to Mara which was cool to settle down but I didn’t want anymore and read on the mic all sloshed up so I go out to the patio and have a stogie courtesy of Noel Camacho. We talk about some Bronx poetry and the cultural rebirth and then he gives me a second to gather m’thoughts and papers.

As I come back to the bar, I go down some steps as I am intro’ed (very, very diva)! The Willie Perdomo stool is there so I set myself up and after some light banter. Start with the first of six new pieces, until I turn the page and instead of the end of “How I Got Here…,” I find the “Ceviche” poem. Luckily the poem ended on a good note. The crowd clapped so I played it off. Did “Ceviche” (since it was there) and I wanted to make sure that I looked like I knew what I was doin’. Finished it up and then searched through the papers for the end of “How I Got Here”

…ok, y’all… lets pick up back where we left off…

Damn, I am nuts. Actually, I am just blessed with the gift of gab. There are a few things that can’t be taught in poetry- metaphor and banter. Either ya got it or ya don’t. When I first started, my poems were weak and my delivery, god awful, but I knew how to intro myself and keep the crowd on my side for a minute and that talent has followed me ever since.

Which is how I survived my friend Alexa calling me while I finished up a poem.

…yeah. i’m in da middle of the feature.. i know they told me i would go on latah but they changed their mind… everybody say “hi, alexa”… HI- ALEXA!… gotta go… call ya latah…

A nice mix of old and new and a tip of the hat to Rich with “Where’s the new shit, O?” as I can not feature with Villar in the crowd and not drop some new hotness.

“Sorta Rican” is the personal/political rant I’ve been wanting to write ever since I saw a 10 go up in the air. (Why lie?) I always knew that I wanted one in the holster but I also knew that it would come out of me at the right time and sure enough, it did. Three parts- all very real and observational as these Pietri tributes have left me with something more than just post poetry giggles.

“Bi/Cycles” is the poem that I never have the nerve to read. It tells the most about my big heart break but still keeps a sense of flow on the page. Born of a Guerrieri led louderWorkshop, he was so psyched about it- he read it before my upperCase but I still never found an opportunity to drop it on a stage- till yesterday. There were mad smiles as I was up there and I could count on looking up and seeing family beaming with pride. There is a reason why I don’t read it- most people don’t get it! Leading to me finish the piece to utter silence.

is my response to the crowd. They did and Mindy asks me to do “MotB” A week of Bonafide doing “Creed of the Graffiti Writer” and me loving it everytime (click, clack, click, clack) threw all those “Aren’t they sick of it, yet?” doubts to the curb.

I performed it and then closed out with a nice short to the point piece that tells of where I hope to end up when the applause finally leaves.

…thanks for listening y’all…

Best part- I still had five poems in the belt ready to whip out. I really wanted to drop “Ronald Reagan…” and “Capicu” was all memorized but the flow was right and I punched out at the right time.

Special love to Bonafide and Juan Diaz for calling me right before and wishing me the best. Hey shit happens… right, Juan? ;-) Of course, the CEO of UPHA, Alexa, gets some extra sugah for her call.

Big ups, in no particular order-
Noel Camacho
Holmes McHenry
RL tha Gifted One
Anietra Guzman
Mara Jebsen
Rich Villar
Jessica Torres
Eliel Lucero
Edward Garcia
Matt Siegel

and the extra special surprise of the night- Michele Kotler. As we speak, Community~Word Project is in the process of sending out over 2,000 invites to a fund raising party that will help define their next fiscal year and in the midst of all that, Michele came out for me. Nuff said! (Notice how that makes 12 and I hit my number- yeah, kid!)

The Open Mic followed and as it tends to happen- We took fuckin’ ovah!
Fish, Rich, Jess, Matt, Eliel, Noel. Holmes, RL and Ed (thowin writers block out the window and droppin some newness for the first time in months) all did their thing.

Let me say that every beauty has an imperfection and it came through in the form of the “Surprise Feature!” as a Johnny O regular dropped four pieces(!!!) to close out the night. Lucky for him, the hatah took a night off and let it be what it be.

Lechonera- El Coqui was fun but not as fun as it coulda been since our favorite waitress took the night off. Much pernil followed and Matt discovered yucca or as the gringos call it- cassava.

OK, I’m done. Long ass entry, for sure, but one that I will look back at and smile at from time to time.

Sorta Rican, out!

Bronx Writers’ Center and Literary Freedom Project
present at the
Storage Art Space
Mistaken Identity 10.28.2003 7:00pm
  Tuesday, October 28, 2003 @ 7pm

Revisiting places lost, poets
Oscar Bermeo, Lynne Procope, and Patrick Rosal
examine the tenuous connections between their own
American identities and the native cultures of their parents.

Storage Art Space 
261 E. 134th St. (bet Third Ave. & Lincoln Ave.)
Bronx, NY 10454

For more information email
or call 718.409.1265 

Refreshments provided by Blue Ox Bar

This event is presented as part of NYC Lit Fest2003: Home
a citywide literary festival produced by the New York Literary Roundtable. 

Mistaken Identities is supported by the Bronx Council on the Arts

Directions: Train: 6 to 3rd Ave/138th St station. Walk south 4 blocks. Buses: Bx1, 21, or 32 to 136th St. Walk south 2 blocks. 

The Literary Freedom Project is a not-for-profit arts organization empowering communities of color through literature, creative thinking, and independent publishing. 

The BRONX WRITERS’ CENTER is devoted to the artistic and professional development of Bronx writers, and to expanding the audience for literature and literary events in the Bronx and beyond.

STORAGE ART SPACE is a not-for-profit art space located in the Mott Haven district of the Bronx, dedicated to free expression of thought.

This event is presented as part of the NYC Lit Fest2003: Home a citywide literary festival produced by the New York Literary Roundtable.