TENTH ANNIVERSARY ISSUE: A Tribute
to Guest Editors
"Editing Beltway's Split
This Rock Issue was very special because it introduced me to poets
who were politically engaged and poets who have been instrumental in
the work I've done as artistic director with Sol & Soul, a non-profit
engaged in spoken word art culture. I left the Nation's Capitol 18 years
ago, an actor headed for New York and came back 18 years later, a poet.
I think what drove me out of New York has to do with the Bush climate,
gentrification, the gradual economic and artistic collapse since 9-11
and the war. These upheavals were unbearable and while editing the Split
This Rock Issue I felt all the poems spoke about my frustration with
America as a whole. The introductory essay I wrote was inspired by the
political fire of the poetry. Now that the next Split This Rock Festival
is happening under the Obama administration, I can't say that I feel
completely undoubtful of the future but I am comforted by the voices
in this issue who are as passionate about poetry and art for social
change. These poets keep me in Washington, DC. They are my strongest
allies and I would not have met them without Beltway Poetry Quarterly.
Special thanks to Kim Roberts and Sarah
Browning who have grown to be my greatest supports."
From the Editor:
Regie Cabico is charismatic and funny and opinionated, and I count
myself lucky to have him as a friend and advisor. He is an advocate
for spoken word, touring the US and Canada, performing and teaching
widely. He seeks out young writers to guide and encourage, and has
a particular interest in promoting other Asian American voices. For
Beltway Poetry, he reminds me on an ongoing basis of the
importance of the region's spoken word tradition, sending new poets
my way. Regie was a guest co-editor for the Split This Rock Issue,
highlighting a bi-annual festival in DC which he helps to coordinate.
His thoughtful discussions of how we should define political poetry
for this issue changed my thinking on what it means to be a socially-engaged
writer. He was also a featured author in Winter 2007, and his tracks
on Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch were a highlight of the Audio
MY PERFECT SILENCE
for Karen Carpenter
I was born into a Disney menagerie with not a single goal.
It is 1967 anybody with an amp could have an ambitious hallucination.
When I wake from the cell of my dressing room, I feel the bird’s
in my body. The wing pang, lifting heave, locating itself above
my slumped shoulders and shoveling vines with my single voice.
It’s just a voice, brunette with bangs, floating, dirigible, ready
but can’t. So I snatch a pair of drumsticks and love their suspicious
in my hands. Secretly, I want to smash glass.
I hate the color of an obedient deed so why do I sing its octave?
Notes that open in compassion, ribcage propped apart. My heart
lodged too close to my ribs. I’m a tree-limb steady in a high
generation of acid and Joplin slang.
From the surface of a mirror, my body emits hues
of yellowish orange. I hear the click of distasteful tongues
disturb my perfect silence. The motion of twirled knitting sticks
and the way yarn licks the air as it snarls towards me.
The crocheted mass, an exquisite dangle from my lap.
That’s the music that’s mine. I don’t want sex, just
There is a stadium grace when I sing. Sand and the streets
breathe the same cacophony of sing-song jangle and station wagons.
I’m able to fill a cavity
with a 4/4 drum riff wedded
with the throat call of longing.
The camera adds 30 pounds. But pounds of what?
30 pounds of silverware
30 pounds of fan mail
30 pounds of stroganoff
My heart beats so fast I enter slumber. I hear
the winged timpani in my chest. I enter a sleep…A black note
floods the swollen roof of my mouth, an empty bee-hive home,
a Los Angeles suburb…
If only the skeleton of a girl like the white key of a withering piano
could sing. An ambulance siren…that bird’s contralto.
My mother picks me up. Karen, I’m sorry…
The clock of attachment stops.
AN AFTERNOON IN PANGASINAN WITH NO ELECTRICITY
In the yellow of butter
My mother colors my skin
In the yellow of sun
M skin becomes brown
In the yellow of yolk
My grandfather finds an egg
In the yellow of noon
We swallow the baby chick
Balot they call it
Long life he says
And discards the purple shell
Last call for drinks
I stumble to his motorcycle
Ride the wind behind his back
My hair plays Born To Be Wild
Inside his apartment
is an enormous
tank of goldfish
spill over a desk
(I’m glad there are no dogs)
He unbuttons my shirt
licks my tit
slams me eagle
on the mattress
I stare at his body
with my stain on his chest
“You’re my best geisha guy”
he whispers, turning the halogen off
The sky turns form purple to orange
as I walk home from the East to the West
to roll back on my bed
He doesn’t know that I compose poems
on a keyboard that I wear eyeglasses
to work that I spell my name
with one “g” that I am allergic to cut grass
this is the vanishing act of the year
Regie Cabico is
artistic director of Sol & Soul, where he coached the DC Youth Poetry
Slam Team as part of the 2009 Brave New Voice's International Youth
Slam. He is also coach of the 2009 Montreal Slam Team. Recent work of
his appears in Bellevue Literary Review, Ocho, Delaware
Literary Review, Spoken Word Revolution, and My Diva:
65 Gay Men Write About The Women Who Inspire Them. He divides his
time between Washington, DC and the Bolt Bus.
in Volume 11, Number 1, Winter 2010.
more by this author:
Intro to the Split This Rock Issue: Vol. 9, No. 1, Winter 2008
Cabico on DC Slam: Literary Organizations Issue
Regie Cabico: Langston
Hughes Tribute Issue
Regie Cabico: Floricanto
Regie Cabico on Essex Hemphill: Poetic Ancestors Issue