Team Bay Area

Swine Flu by Hadeel Ramadan

january 1st
3 a.m.
swine flu
fruitvale bart
& cracked open the levees of an epidemic
we have been fearing
since before
the sickness made Kings perish into the nothingness that is past.
as we carry their bodies
in body bags
strapped with the heat of a thousand suns
see we don't want the sickness
cuhs these pigs are far more deadly than any swine
holding my breath each time I stroll across police stations
cover my ears
at the sudden sound
of sirens
see their songs
suckle on society
like the stained lips of rape children
to their wavering mothers breast
we nurture them despite the fact
that we see a shadow of our rapists face in theirs
as if the cure is unattainable
we continue to take & take

allow these nothing more than common people to bear the flesh of the Gods on their simple bones
packing heartbeats in their clips
see this isn't on no overreacting liberal kid spitting left politics bullshit

this is us giving a Grant to the policeman who had Oscar
execution style on his knees

youtube videos blaze from
my monitor
making corpses resurrect from shallow graves
see Oscar Grant relives his death with each viewing,
as i watched his back crack as if Gaza was in its arch
& all i could remember was a photograph
i came across for the first time in high school
of a Vietnamese man crouched on his knees like a beaten dragon surrendering to mortals
it took all the way until my senior year in high school for me to learn about Hiroshima and Nagasaki
& that they are not just one of the easier genocides to talk about.
for 12 grades of my education each year the only massacre we were ever 
thoroughly introduced to was the holocaust

because in WW2 the U.S. fought against Germany and Japan

& in order to show the sinister ways of our adversaries
we brought one massacre to light, & went on to crumble the disintegration of Japanese citizens into the dust we have swept under our patriotic rugs

not realizing that the U.S.A & Germany were only looking at a distorted reflection of each other

we continue to teach our children
to be U.S. Citizens before they are human beings.
only mourn your people and their allies but disregard the flesh that lies on an enemies bones, see these borders are brainwashing

but the 2nd time i saw this photograph it broke me out of the trance
because the artist Bansky's spray can had revolutionized it

to depict
the same man
still as a beaten dragon
but no longer a pistol to his skull
instead a bouquet of graffiti encrusted roses emerging from
his assassin's hand
a portrait worthy of bringing new life from ash
recreated insanity into humanity
& i have strived to do the same for Oscar Grant with this very poem
because we are the artists of the movement,
are trying so hard to bring lost souls back to life,
trying so hard to reshape history
with our paint stained fingertips
but i have learnt to start working on right now
& so i will use these hands

to mold together each struggle i have come to know
find Palestine in every foreign
counterpart working class back bent barefooted barely making ends meet
see this is the only way peace can prevail
when the good do something
to stop evil.

from Oscar Grant to Hara Tamiki
& once we realize are pain is universal that is when we can bring the orbit of divinity back to our world
so our globe no longer has to rest on an axis of evil

let the voice of our deceased demi-gods rumble through our vocal chords




& i am starving for your humanity.

Untitled By Erica McMath Sheppard

We eat like we still slaves
Cause back in the days we got what whites didn’t want
And now we got something called freedom of eat
But granny still chooses salt covered pigs feet
And mama still chooses KFC
And I still choose whatever is given to me

At family functions
We got that kill your soul food
That food that will have you so tired
you would think the main ingredient is NyQuil

We got that death recipe
We eat that fried pork chops
5 layer cheese macaroni
Them chitlins
Off of food I get high
So high me and kites come face to face
And it runs in the family and some of us hide it
by sticking 2 fingers down their throat or getting surgery or taking pills

But me I just kind of let it show
Cause after school, therapy, night school, and work
I want nothing more then to inhale a double Decker
chocolate fudge brownie from the Latin bakery next door
In the morning, coffee doesn’t wake me -- a Twinkie does
At night tea doesn’t calm me more like a strawberry milkshake
Normal and I could never be in the same sentence

Yesterday I decided to right down some ingredients in my day to day diet
1st there where a million things I couldn’t pronounce
Then there was
Hydrogenated oils
High fructose corn syrup
Whey powder
High fructose corn syrup
Dye yellow 40
Dye red 52
Dye dye die!

Our food is speaking to us
And if the word dye is in a food you eat and you want to live
I suggest you throw it away
And it’s a blessing and a curse in one
Because I know about the same information on food as a Kaiser Permanente nutritionist
But still I do the same shit

The body is supposed to consume between 2,000-2,300 calories a day
5 fruits and vegetables keep the doctor away
Turn of the TV and go outside and play
Did you drink your 8 glasses of water today?
And if I would just take my own advice
My body would transform from
Oprah to Beyonce
From Rosie O'Donnell to Tyra
From Dr. Phil to Dr. Oz

I don’t wanna be skinny
Just wanna be able to incorporate movement
into a 3 minute poem without running out of breath
Just wanna play tag with my sister without tagging the base
Just want this smile to be genuine when I put it on my face

Cause I’m not happy
And I’m tired if hiding behind big coats and hoodies
Behind pulling my jeans over my gut
Behind a girdle
And its gotten at it’s worse when the vegetables
my family eats are even more unhealthy then my granny’s pig feet

We eat them
Over cooked greens with bacon bits and ham hocks
We eat that broccoli with extra butter and ½ pound of cheese
We like our okra deep fried
We like our chicken deep fried’
We like our rice, our turkey, our cake deep fried
We like our fries deep fried
We like our catfish deep fried
We like our apple pie, plantains, our noodles deep fried
We like our biscuits deep fried
We like our
life deep fried
Eating this shit you would think I would want to die

But I’m an addict who’s addicted
It’s like I pine for high fructose corn syrup
even though that shit will have me sick as fuck
Its like no matter how hard I try I just gotta have that Sprite
Its like 3 for a dollar candy bars on sale at Walgreens
and I end up spending 2 dollars which is 6 candy bars
that I know will make me nauseous but hey snickers is the shit

It’s like I’m an addict who’s addicted
Its like Let me hit that cookie one time
Its like being on the South Beach diet 2 weeks 3 days in and mess up
when you see a Popeyes commercial for 2 pieces of chicken for a dollar on Tuesdays
and today is Tuesday and you have exactly 1.25 and its less then 5 minutes away

Its like knowing most of your family has diabetes
but your still smacking on sour patches
as you're walking your aunt to her dialysis appointment
It’s like Auntie Marlow being blind at 32
It’s like Grandma Susie dying from a heart attack at 51
It’s like cousin Kieara shooting insulin in her nine year old arm
It’s like Uncle Jimmy having an amputated foot
It’s like brother Christopher having juvenile diabetes at 5
It’s like damn
It’s like damn
It’s like

Mien by Bryant Phan

We are nomads,

The unknown bastard children of Asia

We don't have a motherland

So speaking Mien is our only resemblance to our roots

This is the closest thing we have to home


In 1993

I was born carrying the language of a homeless nation

Was the only thing my father had to remind him of self-identity  


When I was 5,

We were evicted from our first home in the United States

I asked my father

Why are we running?


He tells me this isn't the first time we ran away from a place we tried to love

We've been running our whole life

Calling more places home

Than we can count calluses on both hands



January 1978,

He fled south with his family from Nam Keng, Laos to Bangkok, Thailand

Said that these were the longest nights he ever spent away from home 

Watched gunpowder and bullets enter in the sky and explode like an orchestra of drums

Seen his people come crashing down like comets

He wished for survival on these falling stars



Thailand held my people as refugees

Wanted to disassociate themselves with our burdens

They prefixed our last names to make sure we couldn't hide our homelessness 

Our surnames were no longer

Chao, Lee, Chin, Phan

But Saechao, Saelee, Saechin, Saephan

We were just said to be disastrous



The United Nations shipped my father to the Oakland

America is our newest home

But this isn't our second or third


We are so tired of trying to find a place to live

First we were outcasted from the mountains China

Dumped from the fields of Vietnam

Ran away from the villages of Laos

Exported out of the refugee camps in Thailand

We are tired of feeling unwanted

We even peeled the self-identity off our skin and tongue


Told ourselves,

It's easy to forget a language

We choose not to speak

Assimilation was our survival technique

And English was our new survival song

We just wanted to live

So we called whatever place we could home


When I was born

My father removed "Sae" from my last name


We have no written past
But I am a writer
This is my attempt in reviving my legacy
I will have my say in my history

We are forced to put ourselves through a self-inflicted Holocaust to be accepted

But we've learned that we can't love a country that wants to change us as much as we want to change it


You taught my father that he is unimportant like a farm animal trapped in a cage


You anglicized our crowns

Made them into halos and neck-laces so we could angelically hang ourselves whenever we wanted to feel graceful in your heaven

You called this my freedom


But after years of running in the fog,

We learned that the beauty of the wind sit in our lungs like homes

Learned that our freedom is in the Ga' Soy and Liang Fen we cook

The "Lang Xing", "Yie Hnamv Meih" that exchange in our everyday conversation


We keep songbirds in our lungs so when we speak in our natural tongue,

We sing melodic whirlwind

This is our national anthem

But we don't have our own country

So our language is the closest thing we have to a home

Miles Apart By Jasmine Williams

We live 3 thousand miles apart
On two different sides of the country
However we share a connection that drives us further apart
I called you brother, you said "don't call me that"
You told me, " Your father, pastor should've never had a child out of wedlock,
So bastard, we were never meant to be brother and sister"
And I could have fucked you up for that
I don't know you
You don't know me
We were our own two forced to become 1 family
Like defying our own gravity
A magnetic connection that disconnected and bounced back
And now you are dying
In need of a kidney,
If I were in some bad situation, you wouldn't come to my rescue, wouldn't bail me out,
I haven't talked to you in 8 years , Instead you shut me out
But still, im finding myself on this road, on this journey to you
Even though you hated me , before you got to know me
So used to being the only child, how selfish you are
When I came into the picture, I imagined that I would fit perfectly in the frame
But all traces of me have been cut, burned, and photo shopped out of shame
 I still feel the burning as our relationship turns into ashes, crumbling, decaying, like you are about to do if I don't get to you
Im so easily forgotten,
 like the secret I was told to take to my grave about you
Hush.hush. don't say anything jasmine ...he's gay
He told me not to tell you
And I couldn't help remembering that " a pastor should never have a child out of wedlock"
Well some people think, its wrong for pastor's son's favorite color to be pink
Im not pointing fingers, Im proving we both have skeletons in our closets that have more in common than you think
And now, im on this everlasting lasting journey, to save your life
I have been on this expedition , traveling for 8 years of wasted time to get you
My feet are tired
My legs are giving up on me
My arms are swaying
My heart is aching
Are you afraid , that when I reach you, I will judge you ?
That I would disown you,
Are you afraid of being gay ?
That I would call you a faggot

That I would cut , burn, and photoshop, you out, like you did me, are you afraid of showing affection to a man in front of me?
You said nothing would come between us, but over 3 thousand miles of distance did
When will you grow tired pretending to be someone you are not?
I called you brother, you said don't call me that
"Don't call me beautiful
Real men don't wear pink, "
 but were pretending
That's why death found a way to dance a pink ballerina plea around you
Stop pretending
And I will stop frontin like I don't need my big brother
Stop pretending like your favorite color is blue
I will stop pretending
Like I don't miss you
Like I don't love you
This is the thin line between love and hate
I hate it when I hear your name spoken from others in the family because
My heart starts being fast
My face lights up in hope , that you will ask about me
I hate you so much that I could rip out my kidney to save your life
I hate all this time we wasted , pretending like we aren't related
I love you
 we are kin
Im not asking that you come out to me
Im fighting for you to let me in
Im not judging you
I don't care who you choose to love
As long as you will love me
I running to get to you ,
So what if the paths we travel are different
Even though my road I take may be labeled as straight,
 I'm not afraid of bumbs, curves, or left turns along the way
I am sprinting to get to you , so that you can live
Where we can reclaim our loss of time
I always cared about you, that is fact
I am on the way
 To give you another chance, to become a legend on my map
I love you big brother , and I will always call you that.

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