Category Archives: poetry

Minster King X’s “Peace of Pye,” featuring American Prisoner Artist C-Note

On March 10th of 2020, Minster King X released on YouTube, the six minute music video Peace of Pye. It was produced by Kim Pollak, Editor-in-chief of the California Prison Focus, with commentary by American prisoner artist C-Note. All three are doing work as delegates for the Principal Thinkers of the 2011 and 2013 California Prison Hunger Strikes. These strikes, along with the Principal Thinkers’, Agreement to End All Hostilities throughout the California prison system and jails, is what ended the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation’s (CDCR), more-than-a-century use of long-term solitary confinement.

Peace of Pye as the working title, is a play on the work Minister King X was doing behind the prison walls. King in the mid-90s was an Oakland-based rapper known as Pyeface, and was registered with Highside Records. However, his rap career abruptly came to an end when he was sentenced to do time in the Feds and in California. He spent a total of 24 years behind bars, six years in Federal prisons, and 18 in California maximum security prisons. His principal conflict with California prison officials was his peaceful organizing around prison conditions. Pyeface, as he was predominantly known throughout the prison systems, was also affectionately nicknamed The George Jackson of Rapp. Peace of Pye is a provocative work of contemporary Hip Hop that has been seeping out from behind the prison walls. It is a mix of still life photos and video. In the first half, King narrates us through his journey in the prison system and the psychological warfare tactics the system uses; to the returning citizen who takes the lessons learned inside, and uses them to bring positive change to his community and to society writ large; all the while, never forgetting to honor the dignified individuals he meet inside. The second half concludes with a musical track and lyrics that will have listeners up on their feet, shaking their hips, screaming, “Vote’em Out! Vote’em Out!…..Vote’em Out! Vote’em Out!” It is a part of his strategy of using voter restoration and the power of art as a means to bring the death nails to mass incarceration.

[Editor’s Note]: Min. King X recently returned home after 18 years in California Maximum Security Prisons. He is a Hip Hop artist, writer, actor, director, founder of prison-based Anti-Hostility Group K.A.G.E. Universal and Co-Director of California Prison Focus, seeking support to grow a movement through education, culture and arts.

He is seeking support for his K.A.G.E. to the Stage programs including the production of a revolutionary theater production. To support his efforts, send tax deductible donations designated to K.A.G.E. Theater Productions to California Prison Focus, 4408 Market St., Ste. A, Oakland, CA 94608 or on-line at prisons.org.

For more information on Min. King X or K.A.G.E. Universal, visit http://www.prisons.org/speakers/37 or follow Min. King X on Facebook or Instragram: @minkingwilliam]

For more on Donald “C-Note” Hooker visit: https://darealprisonart.wordpress.com/2016/12/01/featured-artist-donald-c-note-hooker/amp/

To follow what’s happening in California prisons directly from those who are most impacted, subscribe to Prison Focus newspaper at prisons.org or follow California Prison Focus. Instagram: @caprisonfocus Facebook: @californiaprisonfocus Twitter: @CAprisonfocus Video Produced by Kim Pollak of California Prison Focus.

SLOW DANCE

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round?

Or listened to the rain slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight?

Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down.

Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short.

The music won’t last.

Do you run through each day on the fly?

When you ask, “How are you?”

Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,

with the next hundred chores running through your head?

You’d better slow down

Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short

The music won’t last.

Ever told your child,

We’ll do it tomorrow?

And in your haste,

Not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die

Cause you never had time

To call and say,’Hi’

You’d better slow down.

Don’t dance so fast.

Time is short.

The music won’t last..

When you run so fast to get somewhere,

You miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,

It is like an unopened gift….

Thrown away.

Life is not a race.

Do take it slower

Hear the music

Before the song is over.

[Editor’s Note]: This poem was written by a terminally ill young girl with cancer in a New York Hospital. With only 6-months to live, it was sent by a medical doctor. Since she will never make it to prom, graduate from high school, get married, or have a family of her own, her dying wish was to send a letter telling everyone to live their life to the fullest. By you sending this poem to as many people as possible, you can give her and her family a little hope.

Oakland’s Free Poetry Fest

February is Black History Month, and the 29th Celebration of African American Poets and Their Poetry at the Oakland Public Library’s West Oakland Branch.

This year’s theme, “Black Migration,” coincides with the 2019 theme of Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s Association for the Study of African American Life and History (Established in 1915). ASLAH’s 2019 theme “Black Migration,” emphasizes the movement of people of African descent to new destinations and subsequently to new social realities. While inclusive of earlier centuries, this theme focuses especially on the twentieth century through today. Beginning in the early decades of the twentieth century, African American migration patterns included relocation from southern farms to southern cities; from the South to the Northeast, Midwest, and West; from the Caribbean to U.S. cities, as well as to migrant labor farms; and the emigration of noted African Americans to Africa, and cities in Europe, such as Paris and London after the end of World War I and II. Such migrations resulted in a more diverse and stratified interracial and intra-racial urban population, amidst a changing social milieu, such as the rise of the Garvey movement in New York, Detroit, and New Orleans; the emergence of both Black industrial workers and Black entrepreneurs; the growing number and variety of urban churches and new religions; new music forms like ragtime, blues, and jazz, white backlash as in the Red Summer of 1919; the blossoming of visual and literary arts, as in New York, Washington DC, Chicago, and Paris in the 1910s and 1920s. The theme “Black Migration” equally lends itself to the exploration of the century’s later decades from spatial and social perspectives, with attention to “new” African Americans because of the burgeoning African and Caribbean population in the US; Northern African Americans returning to the South; racial suburbanization; inner-city hyperghettoization; health and environment; civil rights and protest activism; electoral politics; mass incarceration; and dynamic cultural production.

The event is free to all, and while featured presenters were selected in mid-January, there will be an open mic for those interested in participating. Artwork displayed by local artists always adds an important, interesting and colorful element to the celebration.

In the 29-years since the events inception, many poets have graced it’s stage. Participants have ranged in ages from 8 to 80, some now adults and in college, others, now parents with children. Music, dance, and costumes have enhanced past performances as each participant shares her or his unique style, including poets performing in ensemble. Published writers, award-winning authors, and brand new poets reading their work in public for the first time have graced the stage. Oftentimes, the most moving recitals, were from poets who had never recited their work in public

before. If anyone has photos or footage from the past 29-years, please contact event founder Ms. Wanda Sabir at info@wandaspicks.com or leave a message for Ms. Sabir at (510) 255–5579. She would love to have the opportunity to make copies of your material.

The event, Saturday, February 2nd, 2019, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Oakland Public Library, West Oakland Branch’s Multi-Purpose Room is free to all and includes refreshments donated by many local vendors. Besides poetry, event planners would love to incorporate anyone who wants to volunteer, such as help with refreshments, the setting up of chairs, and any other pre or post behind-the-scenes work. If someone from the community knows a TV station that would be interested in broadcasting the event, event planners would be most interested in making this a reality. Also YouTubers, and other social media influencers, are most welcomed to share this event on their platform.

Event: 29th Celebration of African American Poets and Their Poetry

Date: Saturday, February 2, 2019

Time: 1pm-4pm

Location: Oakland Public Library, West Oakland Branch, Multi-Purpose Room

Contact: Oakland Public Library, West Oakland Branch; 1801 Adeline Street, Oakland, CA 94607 (510) 238–7352; Ms. Wanda Sabir info@wandaspicks.com or (510) 255–5579

[Editor’s Note]:

The Celebration of African American Poets and Their Poetry is the brainchild of Bay Area community activist, Wanda Ali Batin Sabir. Ms. Wanda Sabir holds a BA in Humanistic Studies from Holy Names College, and a MA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Professor Sabir has taught English at various Bay Area colleges and has developed college-level English curriculum for multi-tiered Educational Systems both public and private throughout the Bay Area. She has been the art editor at the San Francisco Bay View for over 20 years, and a freelance journalist for theatre, music, dance, visual arts, as well as giving literary reviews both local and national. She can be heard on her radio show Wanda’s Picks http://wandaspicks.com/radio/ and her awards and activism are far too lengthy to be communicated in a single article.

THOUGHTS ON FUCKING…

“Believe in your fucking self.
Stay up all fucking night.
Work outside your fucking habits.
Know when to fucking speak up.
Fucking collaborate.
Don’t fucking procrastinate.
Get over your fucking self.
Keep fucking learning.
Form follows fucking function.
A computer is a fucking Lite-Brite for bad ideas.
Find fucking inspiration everywhere.
Fucking network.
Educate your fucking client.
Trust your fucking gut.
Ask for fucking help.
Make it fucking sustainable.
Question fucking everything.
Have a fucking concept.
Learn to take some fucking criticism.
Make me fucking care.
Use fucking spell check.
Do your fucking research.
Sketch more fucking ideas.
The problem contains the fucking solution.
Think about all the fucking possibilities.”
–Author unfuckingknown

(any fucking questions?)

ME

I don’t claim no sect
We don’t do that round here
My wife and God the only things I fear.
My shoes; nigga you couldn’t take two steps,
Check a ghetto near you, they know my rep.
Been in a lot of major cities, done did a lot of time
Charge it to the game, I lived a life of crime.
Never been a rat I’m a stand up guy.
As for that other nigga he was dropping them dimes.
Took my shyt on the chin cause I’m truly a soldier
No regrets, I’m a man; thug it out til it’s over.
Three hots and a cot thats the sum of my existence
Nothing to it but to do it;
Ain’t no need in bitching.
They say you only do two days
Your first and your last,
Well you can tell whoever said that they can kiss my ass.
I did errday, a nigga wasn’t cut no slack,
Prosecuted and penalized when I went on the attack.
Didn’t ask for no breaks cause wasn’t none being given,
Only goal I had was to continue living.
Surrounded by dope fiends, crazy folks and even a few killers,
Chomo’s & homo’s and of course the squealers.
Year after year this was my fate,
Engulfed in a world misery and hate.
You ask does crime pay and I say hell yeah!
The niggaz playing the game is all you have to fear.

 

by  microgod

TITLE NOT KNOWN

This is a poem to which I lost the Poetess contact information. I even lost the title to the poem. But nevertheless, it’s a piece, with such rawness, it had to be published.

Who got those concrete balls?
The kind that aint scared to let em hang…
Not the ones thats tuckd n they ass.
Im talkn bout courage… ‘ lion balls’.
Where r the brave, secured, strong men at.
Do yo balls hang low?
Can they wobble to the floor?
Can u tie em n a knot?
Can u tie em n a bow?
Can u throw em over yo shoulder like a continental soldier?
Do yo balls hang low?
Where they at?
Where the kings of the jungle at?

Ima strong cat…Lion tamer lol but where r the real strong kings at?

Not these ol water down… sugar n the corner of they tanks ass cats . Assumin only they know bout the sweet water n them.
I like the pure… no additives no perservatives.
One mo time where the cats at that balls hang real low?
who aint scared to b my king of things.
So where oh where?

by Author Unknown but looking for her (contact us)

THE REALEST NIGGA

This is a step away from the norm,
Not just your everyday poem.
This is the tale of one guy
Who really was “about that life!”
Im talking cash & cars
Drugs, guns, & broads!
Anything & everybody had a price tag,
The money came in by the garbage bag!

But what about the other side of the game?
The part where niggaz is dropping your name!
Telling the cops where your moms live & shyt,
Giving up the spot where you hiding them bricks!
Got caught up in a little
Couldn’t hold his own like a man.
Now, he solemnly swearing on the stand!
Suprise, suprise! Its your best friend!

Now,you headed up state to hug that cot,
Even Johnny Cochran would’ve told you to take that cop!
25 muthafuckin years go figure!
That’s what I got for being the realest nigga!

by microgod

SETBACKS

No longer confined to that place.
That total and complete lack of space,
of which there was no room to move or grow. Sophicating without life’s oxygen to breath..
I’ve decided to leave.
I’ve decided to break away from that dark void,
where I was stuck and immobilized. I’ve deployed.
My soul has ejected.
I now stand forth, erected…
Ready to pull away from the dark decay of my broken dreams. Away from the sitting still of my drive and will.
I will pull away from the dark soot clouding my vision.
I have regained ambition.
As I detach myself from the black sands of hopelessness and despair.
They crumble as I seek to claim what is out there,
what is out there waiting for me
in the land of milk and honey…
In the wide open space of possibility,
I have the strength, the will and ability,
to bring into existence the things I want and desire to possess,
by simply getting up off this chair of set backs and give ups that hinder me from my success…

By: Rachel R. Bridgett 4/25/2015
© All Rights Reserved

AMERICAN PRISON SYSTEM

The system is put in place
to be against us.For people of color,
America has got no love,
for the 30% of blacks
who make up this nation,
60% of them
make up the American prison population.
If we plead the words, “STOP this wrongful legislation!”,
“the new Jim crow!”,
the “3 strikes you’re out!”
They wouldn’t hear us though!
In an oppressive
morally bankrupted society,
the rich buy stock in companies
who get rich off our misery,
the booming business
of keeping black people in cages.
Legalized slavery
the system is racist.
More and more prisons are being built
with anticipation.
that 1 in 3 black men will go to prison in their life,
a modern day plantation
SO MUCH EFFORT,
is being put towards keeping blacks in jail.
Not much effort in rehabilitation programs.
They set us up to fail.
Nobody wants to hire
an ex-inmate,
with prison on the record
seals one’s fate.,
What choices does one have
in order to eat?
With this system set in place,
they’ll be back on the street.
And just because it’s the law
it doesn’t make it alright.
Sisters and brothers
we need to rise up and fight!
Stand up for ourselves, in unity
and come together as one.
Speak out! To be heard,
so that we can overcome!
Put an end to it all
and no longer be victim.
to the unjust and oppressive
American prison system…

By: Rachel R. Bridgett (2015)
© All Rights Reserved

WHY

Why?
Do we poison
And pollute
Our blue skies
Why?
Do we put toxins
In the seas that wash
In with the tides
Why?
Do we cut down
The trees that without
We can’t breath
All in the name of
Money and greed
Why?

There must be
Another way I sigh
Why?
There must be
A way to save
Our skies
Why?
Because if the
Destruction
Doesn’t end
Our lands will
Be barren
And our seas
Will be spent.
Why?

Why?
Because in this
Day and age
I find it hard
To believe
That we can’t fix
The problems
Naturally
Why?
In such scientific times
Not one answer
Or one solution
I don’t understand
Why?
There is so much confusion
Why?

Why?
Are we blind
To see the wool
that’s constantly
Pulled over our eyes
Why?
Are walking towards
Our own end like
Hypnotised zombies
No one to defend
Everyone following
The same old trends
Why?
I will take the first step
Back to reality I just
Wish the whole word
Would follow me
Why?
Because then we
All would be free
And the world we live in
Will come alive and
For future generations
They will go on and thrive.
by Keely Bryant