I’m fragmented ..
We are all fragments, mere laments and distress
We are all universally fragments of darkness
The universe is 68% dark-matter and 32% madness
I am a fragment ..
Trapped in the judgement
.. of the misunderstood
Through the cracks of what once was
and what will never be again
I remain hidden in that slow space
where the light kisses the night goodbye
and a new day of confusion unfurls ..
Fragments make up the world
Torments make up my memories
.. and shrapnel and cold steel are all I can feel
with pieces of pierced skin on my tongue ..
My heart lies quick, still ..
.. still ..
.. in shreds ..
A Collection of Poems from Carlos Contreras and Hakim Bellamy
“The contents of this collection takes titles of popular Rap songs from the 80s forward and uses them as the titles of poems by Albuquerque’s Inaugural Poet Laureate, Hakim Bellamy and myself Carlos Contreras.
The connection, we were raised on these “war songs,” they became our battle cries, and from the throws of these trenches, we’ve created a reality for ourselves by continuing to use the voices given to us by those who came before us.”
Today I found nowhere for it to go that feeling in my chest the one that wells up into eyes the one that makes me short of breath breathe.
I kept, telling myself breathe I was short of breath…
lots of stress
bills family work hustle repeat repeat after me, breathe…
I kept telling myself to do just that –
It feels like nobody would understand I don’t want to feel “like that”
Like this – this isn’t easy never has been.
Anxiety has been my friend or lack thereof for quite some time now – sometimes I wish we didn’t know each other’s names.
Sometimes I can barely remember my own when it comes to visit sits on my chest and refuses to say anything explain itself and I can’t explain why I can’t breathe… I kept telling myself.
it’s in moments like these that I can’t seem to find words –
Go figure a poet at a loss
I’ve lost a lot of time feeling this way.
lost some weight lost some peace lost a piece of myself that now seems replaced by the puzzling nature of being out of breath a natural reaction and action of survival – and it’s all I am trying to do sometimes, when it hits – survive breathe…
Think about how it will all be ok about how it all doesn’t need to get done today – things and people and life can wait –
As I wait –
Today, I waited for 3 hours to feel normal –
and that doesn’t in any way make me feel normal.
I wonder what inside of me has made this my… “normal.”
I fail and or give up before starting on finding answers to rhetorical questions that will only make me feel worse about myself while hoping I haven’t passed on the worst of myself
To my daughter – That she will learn to approach life with a chest that doesn’t feel like it’s a hundred pounds heavier than necessary – when all the sun did was rise.
My eyes dart across the room and look for anything that will make it stop
My mind never does my feet never do my mouth rarely does except when I find myself here –
Often alone trying to not be a burden trying to not be found out finding myself out of sorts and off kilter – the kind of day that can go fuck itself dying to be over and it’s only 10am –
And then at some point in those days in this kind of day the tide subsides leaving me in my own wake worn and weathered a little wet under the eyes a little sore in the chest frustrated between the ears but grateful to still be breathing.
It’s these things that make us who we are, the stronger for its or in spite of its the confusion worn like a badge of honor displayed for anyone willing to see to listen to ask –
I am not ok some days and that’s ok some days because my some days are some folks every day – I remind myself and say, just breathe…
Carlos Contreras has been recognized as a national champion performance poet. He got his start in the area of competitive spoken word, or Slam Poetry. He is a Community Organizer, Community Engagement Strategist with ProgressNow and the Founder of Imma Star Productions which is dedicated to promoting Poetry, Journalism, Activism, and Humanism. He grew up and resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico. READ MORE
Onna Tuesday: Poetry from Hakim Bellamy and Carlos Contreras
Cover Art by Anthony Evans
It is with this offering to the communities we come from and have come to represent that Hakim Bellamy and I, Carlos Contreras, pledge to continue to write, speak, and act. As poets, fathers, activists, and artists, these words hold truth, growth, and pain. From these places we develop our respective crafts, like so many practitioners who came before us – without space carved out – it has been created, and so from this place, we create. Listen, hear us, see us, and render yourself audible, visible, and important, along with us. In the beginning was the word – word
The contents of this collection takes titles of popular Rap songs from the 80s forward and uses them as the titles of poems by Albuquerque’s Inaugural Poet Laureate, Hakim Bellamy and myself Carlos Contreras. The connection, we were raised on these “war songs,” they became our battle cries, and from the throws of these trenches, we’ve created a reality for ourselves by continuing to use the voices given to us by those who came before us.
The recognition gifted to Bellamy and I, by the cultural producers of the 80s and 90s Rap era is then, that our voices matter – that as men (and women as well for all the female poets and artists of color in this world, in solidarity) we have the need and right to express ourselves, to paint ourselves visible, and to continue to call for change, equity, and understanding, as we aim to understand, appreciate and love ourselves first, with hopes that the favor will be returned.
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Carlos Contreras is the Community Engagement Strategist at ProgressNow NM, a Kellogg Community Leadership Network Fellow, and a Masters Student in the Department of American Studies at the University of New Mexico. Contreras is also currently an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Chicano/a Studies. He is a community organizer, artist, father, and human being. Contreras works daily to try and make the community he lives in a better place for everyone who lives there too. Contreras specializes in event coordination and creation – as well as collaborative art, writing and performance coaching, by way of his own small business, Immastar Productions (www.Immastarproductions.com). He is a published author (Time Served, West End Press 2014) and National Champion performance poet, working to create space for artists in Albuquerque, in ways that don’t exist. He believes that #ArtIsEconomicDevelopment and #CommunityIsInCollaboration.
As the inaugural Poet Laureate of Albuquerque, NM (2012-2014), Hakim Bellamy is a national and regional Poetry Slam Champion, and holds three consecutive collegiate poetry slam titles at the University of New Mexico. His poetry has been published in on the Albuquerque Convention Center, on the outside of a library, in inner-city buses and in numerous anthologies across the globe. Bellamy was recognized as an honorable mention for the University of New Mexico Paul Bartlett Ré Peace Prize for his work as a community organizer and journalist in 2007, and was awarded the Emerging Creative Bravos Award by Creative Albuquerque in 2013. In 2014, Bellamy was named a W. K. Kellogg Foundation Fellow and was awarded the Food Justice Residency at Santa Fe Art Institute. Bellamy has been named “Best Poet” in the Weekly Alibi’s annual Best of Burque poll every year since 2010. His first book, SWEAR (West End Press/UNM Press) won the Tillie Olsen Award for Creative Writing from the Working Class Studies Association. He is the co-creator of the multimedia Hip Hop theater production Urban Verbs: Hip-Hop Conservatory & Theater that has been staged throughout the country. He facilitates youth writing workshops for schools, jails, churches, prisons and community organizations in New Mexico and beyond. Currently, Bellamy is completing multidisciplinary arts projects (manuscripts) from his travels to Turkey, Nepal and time he recently spent with His Holiness Dalai Lama XXIV. Bellamy has had his work featured on AlterNet, Truthout, CounterPunch and the nationally syndicated Tavis Smiley Radio Show. He is the on-air television host for New Mexico PBS’s ¡COLORES! Program. Bellamy holds an M.A. in Communications from the University of New Mexico, is the Creative Writing & Literature Department Chair at New Mexico School for the Arts and is the proud father of a 10 year-old miracle and is the founding president of Beyond Poetry LLC.
Nationally recognized author, performer and Poet Laureate of Albuquerque (2012-2014), Bellamy will perform at 7:30. An on- air host for the New Mexico PBS show ¡COLORES!, Bellamy’s multimedia performance will address the intersection of young Black male bodies and institutional racism/violence. He responds in poetic verse to video of a talking circle with young Black men less than two days after the Charleston Massacre. His performance will also include Acapella Hip-Hop poetry/theater pieces.
Black Mantra: A Meditation on Healing is a multimedia hip hop performance piece born from talking circles with young men around issues of identity and masculinity. Originally organized to take place on June 19th, 2015, the first talking circle with young Black men was preempted by the massacre of nine parishioners of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Based on content sourced from real conversations about issues impacting contemporary notions of masculinity, Black Mantra wrestles with the notion of “art as mirror” and “art as window” to conversations young Black men often only have in the confidence of one another, if the event they are fortunate enough to have them at all. This performance copes with the human impact of lived (historical) and perceived (media) trauma on our fathers, spouses, brothers, sons and loved ones. Black Mantra is the performance of being seen. #DialogueDrivenTheater
The performance on Friday, November 3rd at 7pm (@ the African American Performing Arts Center NM Expo) will also feature the live appearance of young men who participated in the talking circles two years ago. Audience members will have the opportunity to hear from them in a moderated discussion panel and Q & A.
Featured Guests (co-creators): Fernando Barrios, Deshaun Summers, Siddiq Muhammad & Zavier Thompson
This event coincides with “The Music and The Muse: Art by Reginald Gammon” Opening Reception at the African American Performing Arts Center Gallery (across the hall from the auditorium)
you were our Gorgeous George,
who would wear our Black
and die for our skins
you were not humble
you were everything we were not allowed
like pretty, so pretty
you were rich, loud
and on TV
a hero in the flesh
even when you turned your front lawn
into a drive-in
for the neighborhood children,
from TV-less homes
your personality towered
over the big screen
you could illuminate an arena
light it up
before you knocked their lights out
our gold medal flower
a bronzed Adonis
live and direct from Olympic Rome
full blooming as soon as you got home
to a country that would not recognize
when Burdines Department Store
didn’t allow your kind
to try on their clothes
you should have given them the shirt off your back
and showed them your belt
you were never one for being whipped
that is why I am left speechless
watching you tremble
for the beatings you took in our ‘stead
the racism you couldn’t out run
the slavery you couldn’t duck
the hate you couldn’t punch
I remember how you could never shut up
a poet in a sea of fists
you are the same reason so many colored boys
choose life in the ring
because it was the one place
you could control your environment
and our imagination
more than fast hands
you were unbelievable feats
the only A-lister in Miami
without a drip of drug or drink
more pugilist than pimp, married to the game
never an adulterer of the sport
so abstinent they thought you were gay
so obstinate they thought you were crazy
like my teenage students do,
when I tell them you were clean
because it’s hard to believe that you were that disciplined
before Allah made you
before Holmes, Frazier and Spinks
before Foreman and Foster
Sonny Liston and Sonny Banks
Your mouth made you transparent
cause Lord knows
Having a glass jaw was never quite your thing
you told the world you were a minister
and you went to the mat for what you believed
loved your country enough, to raise your hands for money
but not enough to raise a gun
you painted canvasses
with your own blood, sweat and fears
for our pleasure
and because you knew the real enemy
they didn’t let you fight for three years
you said you lost nothing
like “peace of mind”
and that’s when you became our hero
the greatest that ever lived
and it had nothing to do with who you hit
but who you didn’t…
you shook up the world
and it’s still shaking
all those hits you took for us
now you’re still shaking
and I pray
the best prayer I know how to pray
that you are teaching us your dance
teaching us how to love
with our hands
how to not fight
when we have to
you taught us the butterflies
and the bees
you told the American government
not who you think I am
not who you want me to be
you told them
you have a new name
and when they wouldn’t say it
you made them read it
we like to pretend fighters ain’t smart
but you’re a genius
so all that
to say this…
your black fist
taught me the difference
between fight and forfeit
that Black is MORE than beautiful
Black is gorgeous.
Let there be peace
So frowns fly away like albatross
And skeletons foxtrot from cupboards,
So war correspondants become travel show presenters
And magpies bring back lost property,
Children, engagement rings, broken things.
Let there be peace
So storms can go out to sea to be
Angry and return to me calm,
So the broken can rise up and dance in the hospitals.
Let the aged Ethiopian man in the grey block of flats
Peer through his window and see Addis before him,
So his thrilled outstretched arms become frames
For his dreams.
Let there be peace
Let tears evaporate to form clouds, cleanse themselves
And fall into reservoirs of drinking water.
Let harsh memories burst into fireworks that melt
In the dark pupils of a child’s eyes
And disappear like shoals of silver darting fish,
And let the waves reach the shore with a
Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
Lemn Sissay MBE is a British author and broadcaster. He was born in 1967, Lancashire, England. Click on link for more information about Mr. Sissay.
Muhammad Ali was born Cascius Clay in Louisville, January 17, 1942. He was an Olympic gold medalist and later Heavyweight Boxing Champion. He was outspoken human rights activist and spokesperson. Read More.
The Man Who Would Be King (for Prince) by Hakim Bellamy
We all knew him
as an adult
possessed by music
But as a child
He was obsessed
with the old Hollywood Studio system.
He studied the tape,
the heads of these studio houses
and all their movies
from the 30s and 40s.
If you are in your 30s
you recollect Under the Cherry Moon
you recall the first night you ever noticed
the rain bruise a certain hue…
for a fraction of a second
if that precipitation
was nothing more than the excessive perspiration
of a strange colored fruit.
You remember him giving his name back
because the studio heads
said they owned that too.
Even though his birth certificate
swears he was born
the son of a king.
They should have seen him coming,
Grandchild of Louisiana
Son of band fling turned matrimony
Godson of James Brown
Descendant of LaBelle and Parliament Funkadelics
Offspring of the group thing…
Married, only to the game.
I tried to told ya,
he studied the tape.
composed, and performed” by him
Slave only to his music,
not his masters…
so he owned them too.
Said, “I’m gon’ go’head and get me one of them there plantations.”
Called it Paisley Park.
Fought the industry overlords for his emancipation paper
Showed his whole entire ass
to the entire music world on TV
In the name of Jimmy Scott, he did.
In the name of Bo Diddley, he did.
In the name of Charles Mingus, he did.
In the name of dead, Black musicians’
and stolen songs.
As though his very name
In a perfect world,
a different world,
not the one where his self-titled debut album
comes out the selfsame year I was born…
A better world.
A world in which
would be a video game, about dancing,
and you could cosplay
a battle between Michael Jackson
Some sort of 8-bit 80s adolescent
wet dream-wich of fantasy…
where I get teleported back, like 1982,
to a moment in time
when the two most famous people on the planet
Gods that dressed, spoke and/or looked like women.
Black Folk, so surprisingly proud of these post-gender geniuses
that Mom and Dad scarcely flinched
when I confessed that I too wanted to be a symbol
when I grow up.
In his perfect world
where the girls
get all the drumsticks,
and the color purple
exists somewhere between pink
Where if queer were a color
It’d be black,
is whatever the funk
you want it to be…
A world where we are all
at least 5’6”
Author’s Note: High-heeled shoes were originally worn by men. As early as the 10th century, many horseback-riding cultures wore heels on their boots and on their shoes, because heels help you stay in the stirrups (which, consequently, is why cowboy boots have heels too).Heels were seen as an expression of power and privilege reserved for male royalty, and only later co-opted by women in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Community Publishing is committed to providing a digital platform for local artists of all mediums through the creation of multimedia eBooks, while promoting literacy in our community. Community Publishing uses a “ground up” approach which emphasizes an all-encompassing collaborative method.