Tough Flip

The Pilipino guy
Is the baddest looking
Guy on the block

Has a scar running
Over the bridge
Of his nose

His name is
Tattooed on his
Neck in cursive

“Percival”

Works as a transport
Specialist at the
Pilipino restaurant on
The corner

Transporting boxes of
Lumpia wrappers, produce,
Rice noodles, meat, meat
By-products and toilet paper
From point A to point B

On a
Hand truck

Placing it all

Ober dare
Ober dare
Ober dare!

When asked how things
Are going, he
Answers

So far…no good

Says he’s hanging in
There…has been hanging
In for more than 20 years

I graduated from
Hanging in there
University, he adds

Hang-U
For short

He’s one
Of their many
Success stories

(c) 2009 Tony Robles

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A Don’t take No shit poem

The message is clear
Early on

In the school yards
Where you had to
Put it into practice

There was shit
To follow you from
The bottom of your
Shoes on up

And through the years
It stayed

And the guys who took
The least back then
(or appeared to)
Are the one’s taking the
Most shit today

And the bus driver
Don’t want to take
Shit from the passengers

The workers don’t want
To take shit from
The boss and
Vice versa

The convict don’t
Want to take
Shit from the C O’s

And I don’t
Want to take
Your shit

And you don’t
Want to take
Mine

And here’s
This poem

Take it
Instead

© 2014 Tony Robles

Finding your tongue (For those born and raised in San Francisco)

It is said
That it is
The strongest muscle
In the human body

It has been
Used to hurt, injure, maim
Humiliate and on
Occasion, build

It has caused wars
And disputes, ignited
Love affairs, fanned
The flames of hatred,
Feuds

Some have used it
To manipulate the
Masses while others have
Used it to enlighten

It is a powerful
Thing, this stained
Curved, twisted, forked
Thick, thin thing that lies in
Our mouth like a springboard
Ready to pounce or inspire or
Light the fire

No wonder there are
Those who want to
Suppress it or cut it out

Some of us go through
Life not knowing that
We have one

And there’s this guy
In San Francisco who
Didn’t know he had
One

And year after year
Eviction and removal
Have gone by

And the friends of his life
The landscape of his life
The elders of his life
Have disappeared before
His eyes, replaced by
Skyscrapers

He’s finally found
His tongue

It was in a jar
In the cupboard in
The house where
He grew up

And the guy
Took that jar
And looked at his
Tongue

A lot had settled
And built up
On it

Hot sauce
Ginger
Wasabi
Vinegar
Soy sauce
Fish sauce

Sitting
In a ferment
Of fire

Waiting to
Be found

 

(c) 2014 Tony Robles

We Declare The Home of an African American Elder in San Francisco an Eviction Free Zone

It smells like home

It smells like butterscotch candy

It smells like a kitchen that breathes

It smells like warm gravy on thanksgiving

It smells like my grandma’s hug

It smells like my grandfather’s rug

It smells like the blooming flower of a garden’s dream

This is an eviction free zone

The ceiling is stucco that

Sparkles like stars

There is a dusty chandelier with light bulbs

Shaped like candle flames

All the flames are out except one, and it

Flickers

This is an eviction free zone

On the mantel are pictures of black

Faces, of grandmas, grandpas, grandchildren

Watercolor pictures of mountains and oceans

That melts the eyes in warm light

This is an eviction free zone

This is a maple syrup zone

This is a gumbo, black eyed pea zone

This is a Western Addition, Bayview zone

This is a down home black folk zone

This is the heart of San Francisco zone

This is an honor your elders zone

This is a house of memory

This is a house of no evictions

This is a house of songs

And a house above all houses

With songs above all

Songs

This is a down home home

With down home songs,

Down home voices

The eviction notice has been sent

The notice of intent has been sent

It has been received

Papers covered in dead verse

Sealed with a lead tongue

And the letter is addressed

To Mrs. Smith

43 year resident of her flat

In San Francisco

This is an eviction free zone

(c) Tony Robles 2014

I’m Fucking Broke by Leroy F. Moore Jr.

I’m Fucking Broke

By Leroy F. Moore Jr.

 

My life is no Hip-Hop video

Conscious rap still don’t know

I can’t pertain no lights camera or action

Let me break you off something lets go

 

I’m Fucking Broke

 

Not spiting Hip-Hop more like crying the Blues

No cypher got gentrified off my corner

No Adidas I got holes in my Payless’s shoes
Ray Charles sang my anthem, “Busted & I was born to loose!”

 

I’m Fucking Broke

 

Not laughing its no joke

The price of Hip-Hop culture is now out of my reach

We use to be it now we buy it

All of this paraphernalia can’t afford to fall for the okie doke

 

My three-wheel bike is my limo

Don’t look like what is on Love & Hip-Hop
At the end of the month

That is the time I’m at the lowest of my low

 

I’m Fucking Broke

 

That is for real

Hustling & dealing

Tap-dancing & jiving

For that dollar

 

Back then Blind Willie Johnson moaned

Today I’m hollowing

Off beat & Out of tune

Driving me to become a loon

Not spiting Hip-Hop more like crying the Blues

No cypher got gentrified off my corner

No adidas I got holes in my Payless’s shoes
Ray Charles sang my anthem, “Busted & I was born to loose!”

 

Not even on YouTube

Under the underground can’t hear a sound

So fucking broke can’t even buy a rope to get out

I’m done, I’m through

 

Just close the coffin so like Hip-Hop I can R.I.P.

 

By Leroy Moore Jr.

12/25/13

Google Bus Poem

White blight
Light sweeping
Across sacred skin

Impersonal hum
Of a drone

Scarring the eyes
Searing the skin
With words:
Eviction and displacement

Behind tinted glass,
Digital colonizers
With eyes that are neither
Half full or half empty look
For vacant space

Back and forth,
Up and down

Cutting across
Our skin and into
Marrow and bone

Our Epitaphs written in
Invisible digital ink
On the steps and walls
And floorboards and
Pots and pans in the
Murals of our bones

Songs
Crying out from
The soil

Not to be seen
In the drone of white
Blight light

Or in
An app

© 2013 Tony Robles

Slow By Tony Robles

This black brother walked
In to my office
(That really isn’t mine)
And said he was glad
To see me

How you been
my brother?
He asked

And I tried
To place his
Face

It is December and
He wore a red and
Black sweater and
Gold chain and one of those
Fur caps designed for the snow

A santa of a different kind

And he asked me about
The computer class that
Our organization offers and I
Told him that space was available

And he smiled and
Said that he is
Playing his music

(He is a percussionist)

And he spoke of
Santana
(Not Santa)
And got a bit teary eyed

And then he said
He hoped the computer class
Could help him because he
Is a little slow when it comes
To picking things up

And his words, undoubtedly
Inspired by some school, hung
Around his neck like a brick faced
Book

And I smiled and said,
You know, slow is best

I mean, when you eat a
Pot of stew, you want
To savor it
…slowly

You don’t want to
Do it like you’re
Trying to catch the Amtrak
Train out of town

And he smiled
And I smiled

And our laughter
Simmered

slowly

 

(c) 2013 Tony Robles