Category Archives: poetry

Ode to Draymond

The King James Version
was completed in 1611
seven years after the King
commissioned a new English translation
for Church and King.
All splendor and allegiance to the King.
Words become law.
The flowery word of creation
actually the testimony of disciples
actually the translation of clergy
become the word and law of the King.

But underneath, what is there?
What do Kings speak?
What do clergy speak?
What do disciples speak?
The King’s law is no law. It is only words.
Never let them fool you.
Peel the layers and there is nothing but life.
Nothing but the life of the human being,
the one, and all.
Only life—the one, the all–is holy.
The lowest among us speak; it may be you,
on some days it is the 35th pick of the 2012 NBA draft;
who says, who has always said, who will always say,
until the end of time,
because we are alive,
Thou shalt not step over us.


to see the disappearance

who can say what might have been avoided

who can say what is unjust

they disappear, vanishing slowly from sight as they walk

down the street into the distance like a film’s slow fade out

and somewhere there is a record of life lived

which may be a child or a friend

or a backyard redwood fence built

or a child’s initials scratched into wet concrete 30 years ago

or a tree or bush planted

or a song once sung alive in the memory of another

or photo in a yearbook in a library

or in a drinking glass or necktie or LP that was donated to the goodwill, now in someone’s kitchen or closet or record collection

or a chair left on the street for someone to gather

or a burner—blues, reds, pinks—with crisp yellow outlines and 3D down and to the left

a graffiti piece that fades on a wall somewhere

or has been painted over

traintracks or rooftops or an alley

or under a freeway overpass




to find traces of


–an archaeologist

who is actually just a kid


to find a scratch into the earth of what the world once was

and if we are to survive

that kid will have to read that scratch

and make us know what it means

and make us know why it matters

and make us know that those scratch-makers

were the doers and builders and imaginers

we dream of

[for AJ, rest in piece, and for all the bay area graffiti writers who are or who once were–your presence is required and loved]

Scenes of Gentrification: Before Your Very Eyes

“You can’t perform the duties of a police officer and have racism in you.” -Darren Wilson


“It’s everyone’s movement, because its a movement for freedom.” – Anonymous @AnonymousChaos_




Scenes of Gentrification: The Life of Memory?

(Wasn’t it Beenie Man who said
“memories don’t live like people do”?
well, whatever to my cultural contexts…)

registering change
requires a test of memories, of memory

a battle with brain
pathways, clandestine tunnels.

what was here

can you remember?
can you toni morrison rememory?

loss is so easy
the victor is now—always

the challenge set before you
the duel proposed

whose blood will spill, evaporate
whose reality will spill, evaporate

whose blood will circulate
whose reality will circulate

we may pray for blood on the sidewalk
at least

Scenes of Gentrification: Sale Pending

sale pending
wavers in the breeze
a flag planted
driven into the earth
seismic ripples
ground shifts
reshapes plates
fire seeps out of newly split cracks
the reordering above
no less than
the scrape of the barnacled ship
on sand as it hits the shore
men in metal step onto land
and say
“it’s mine—i bought this—here’s the paper”
and soon, not long before they leave
the wreckage of the plunder
they have wrought, moving on
more destruction to come
they will say
“i have been here, like,
over a year now.”

From Berkeley to South Africa: The Archivist (A Poem from/for the JWTC)

A poem I wrote in South Africa traveling on a bus with 50 or so people in the Johannesburg Workshop of Theory and Criticism 2014, “Archives of the Non-Racial” is up on the JWTC Blog, link to the poem here. The bus became a space of beautiful dialogue, taking all forms. My offering was the poem.

At Dolores Godeffroy's restaurant in Swaziland.
At Dolores Godeffroy’s restaurant in Swaziland.



school’s out

I hear as

though the gurgling rush

of a river, the children streaming

down oregon street

approximately 3 oclock

after school

opens the flood gates

releases the prisoners

releases the spirits

emotions emerge as concrete-sharpened cuss words

the hurt, volume knob all the way up

they watch and listen to each

other, to the slayings they only just avoid

the laughter all the meaner because

they themselves have only narrowly

escaped the fate, for now, 

that awaits, as surely as

sun rise sun set

our young Amerikkkan girls and boys

in berkeley, california, usa.

Scenes of Gentrification #2: State of the Arts Redacted and Reconstructed

The watercolor paintings of Max Kauffman


the sacredness of

broken-down houses.

When Max Kauffman moved

from Denver to Oakland

about a year ago,

he became

instantly enamored with the area’s old, decaying Victorian houses.

In a recent interview,

he said he loved the fragility


by their disrepair, Continue reading Scenes of Gentrification #2: State of the Arts Redacted and Reconstructed