Poetry Thursday: Shook Ones II

Onna Tuesday:
A Collection of Poems from Carlos Contreras and Hakim Bellamy

Poetry“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.”

Carlos Contreras – excerpt from Onna Tuesday.
To purchase and for more info click here.

Shook Ones II (1995) – Carlos Contreras

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

I kept,
telling myself
I was short of breath…

heavy chest

lots of stress

repeat after me,

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 –

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 –

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
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
the stronger for its
or in spite of its
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…


PoetCarlos 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

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