Announcing the winners of the 1st Annual Arcadia Poetry Slam!
Bridgette Yang, "Dragon Fire"
Eden Treimen, "17 Going On 18"
Hailey Cheng, "I Wish I Could Tell Her"
Cal Poets Student Poetry
All Student Poetry is the original creative product of the artist. No use of Student work is permissible.
All copyrights are retained by the author.
Beyond Baroque's Student Poet Program with Tresha Haefner, Danielle Bailey, Marcellus Wilson,
Jessica Wilson, Owen Watts, Lilli Keeve, Monica Caris, Nathan Mosher, Hanna Kraus, India Radfar
Cousin passed away, broke my heart in two,
looking at the world, got nothing else to lose.
I turned to drugs,
thinking it would lift me up,
but in the end, it fucked me up;
ended up getting me kicked out,
and pushing my family away.
It got me thinking about the day you passed away,
wishing for you to come back,
but it ain't coming true.
Hate how I found out that you passed away
by watching the news.
Still a young kid, I had no clue.
Went on Facebook, then saw a picture of you,
broke down in tears and knew it was true;
you passed away and there's nothing I could do.
Save a seat for me cousin, we'll reunite again soon.
I can't use your passing as a reason to do drugs,
gotta find another way to bring myself back up;
gotta realize that it was only I who was fucking myself up,
I know you're looking down with the angels
from high up above!
- Michael Orozco (c)2017
Still I Stand
Still I stand
still I stand,
through the hard time in my struggle
through the pain between me and my mother,
still I stand through thick and thin,
through the pain that I hold
inside my heart,
through the pain of carrying my heart
on my sleeve
still I stand;
against police brutality,
because Black lives matter!
Still I stand because my life matters,
now more than it pobably ever has
so I'll stand
and I stand,
I'll stand up, and as I stand up
- Keyomie Kendricks (c) 2017
I cleaned out my notebook
stroked the pages
and thought of your sweet nectarine lips
missed you a little bit
but not too much
just enough to make me wonder
Why do caterpillars turn into butterflies?
Transitions and pasts are needed to flourish, I transitioned from you, my past, so I could build my future as a butterfly.
Love is shaving your mustache because your lover thinks it looks like you share your face with a ferret.
Love so bulletproof, every term meant to degrade you makes you blush,and bullets don’t kill.
Love is dressing up like a clown because your lover thinks its sexy,however, you know deep down, this is meant to embarrass you.
Love, sweet love , is swimming in a shark tank with a bloody nose to be a hero.
Love, is degrading yourself for love that doesn’t belong to you.
Communal entities tell you love is until death parts you, but real love goes beyond the gates of the afterlife.
Love turns insults into terms of endearment.
Love turns you into your lovers bitch, but you don’t mind eating kibble and bits.
Love makes the intolerable acts of the one you “love” tolerable, you can manage to look
passed the insults, cheating, alcoholism, B.O., webbed feet, STD’s,and drug addiction all for a pretty face to call “yours”.
I'm a part of a part of man.
I kiss with my eyes open.
I give hugs, I don't shake hands.
I like butterflies, I loathe flowers.
I like hate, love makes no sense.
I'm everything, but nothing to the world
a worthless piece of a solved puzzle
I can't feed the hungry, including myself
food for thought is all I have to offer
I sit on Volkswagens on tops and look for myself
over the horizon i think i see a familiar face similar to mine
I'm happy because I'm alive
I impose my beliefs on myself over and over, it's a never ending cypher.
Three 120's later I've come to know what is to be of woman
I don't take that too seriously
It's just a distraction from the bigger picture, merely a consequence of man's lack of self confidence.
We can't simply be, we label ourselves.
Stoner, whore, village idiot, asshole, lover, fighter, gay, straight, bisexual, fat, anorexic, schizophrenic,bitch, nigga, cracker, prezentious, cunt, blasphemous human beings.
Who are you, you, or you to judge
We all bleed the same, breathe the same, do the same things to be okay as guests stars of American capitalism.
Peeking through hidden meanings is looked down upon, we're judgemental, in denial, and insane.
Sanity is a sick joke, created to kill self-confidence.
Your neuroses will not rule if you recognize and accept them.
I'm no longer in denial, I took off my mask that made it seem that I was calm, cool, and collected.
I break down, I get mad, I laugh whole heartedly, I cry.
I learn from myself.
Challenge my thoughts and yours.
Everyone's a sinner and a saint.
The balance is relative.
I've learned not to question my feelings.
I can't hurt another person emotionally.
I'm not as good as some think or as bad as you expect.
I have a long list of problems cut short by forgiveness and gratitude.
I couldn't begin to complain about my life.
I have issues but my life is okay.
I may change the world
I may start a war
I want every pen stroke to come with love attached.
Eyes are things that say everything I can't even murmur.
I believe in my power as a being.
I'm label free
I'm not sold in stores
A rare gem
Once bitten by malevolence
Once a scared girl in a room corner
I hope someone can understand
I am a part of a part of man.
Hello, My Name is Poetry
It woke up one night
And forced me to listen to it
It knocked on my door
And told me its name was poetry
I asked it how old it was
It asked me right back “How old am I?”
I asked it where it came from
“How am I supposed to know?” it chuckled
I asked it where it lived
It responded, “Anywhere you can find me. But if you have to chase me, I promise you will never catch me.”
And then it left
Before I could open my mouth to ask it to explain itself
It was gone
It confused me
Then it left
I tried to run after it
Then I remembered that it was no use
So I sat and I waited, hoping that it would come back to me
But sitting and waiting doesn’t get you anywhere
So I went to bed
And when I woke up
It was there
It was everywhere
In the radiance of the early morning sum
In the smell of the fresh dew on the grass
In the song of the blue jay high in the oak tree
Even in the oak tree itself
In fact, it was all over that ordinary oak tree
At least, it seemed ordinary yesterday
Has it always been there,
This thing who introduced itself as poetry?
It must have been
Of course it has
I was convinced of it
I just never thought I would spend the rest of my life convincing everyone else of it, too.
Birds of a Feather
Birds of a fly apart-
Proximity never lasts.
There are more than two peas in a pod-
The others get left out.
Going to bed angry doesn’t affect the morning’s sun-
Waking up angry is why the flowers don’t bloom.
Curiosity didn’t kill the cat, life did-
If you aren’t curious you aren’t alive.
And so what if cats have nine lives and always land on their feet?
I’m not afraid of falling to my death.
A mouse scurried blindly across the cutting board-
There was only one, so I let it keep its tail.
I smashed a mirror with a hammer so everyone could see me as I do, so they could see how broken I am-
My luck hasn’t changed, only my face.
In the winter, they say no two snowflakes are ever alike,
But they melt in the palm of your hand before you can prove it.
And the birds fly south,
Even the tiniest bird with a broken wing flies towards the warmth.
And then it is spring,
And we will never know how far he got.
Two Seconds Too Fast
Running after the minute hand,
Like racing a cheetah to its prey.
The 12 on the clock gets farther and farther,
Time is slipping away.
It’s hard to compete in a race
Which you’re sure has already been won,
But the seconds, the minutes, the clock never stops,
And neither can I, I will never be done.
I long to grab on to the hands of time
And break them both in two,
Just one more minute, one more second,
One more day free of time to spend with you.
But just as I am almost caught up
The second hand slips from my grasp,
I know there is no point in chasing something
That is always two seconds too fast.
The Front Line of Hope
Drowned in loss; never ending battles
Hope charred by Miss O'leary's cattle
Stranded in seas of humans, no paddle
Hate's hiss is hushed by baby's rattle
Look over back for devil to tattle
Submerged beneath government's prattle
The bees fly--be wary: the butterflies sting
Ears too deaf to hear the caged bird sing
Prejudice is a bullet--shot M. King
Atropos is cutting too many strings
The dove didn't return to Noah in Spring
Hybris tell us pride is a useless thing
Poverty is very real--wealth is fake
Can you blame Eve for believing the snake?
Souls deemed weak are the last to break
Bubbling our problems in the depths of sake
The ones with the least have the most at stake
The ones with the most are the most to take
Children placed on the front lines of death
Instead of the joyous front lines of hope
Politicians smokin' power like its meth
Racists gulping all that hate like its dope
Murder leads to nowhere, learn from Macbeth
Victims forced to take the world's final breath
The front lines of hope
Keep the front lines of hope
Sins will be rinsed with water and soap
Instead of hunger we'll eat food and love
We won't look at our feet but gaze above
And when we grow tired and cannot cope
We'll find solace in the peace of King's blessed slopes
Standing together: a front line of hope
The Abandoned Inhabited City
As the train chugged into its stop at the station, I was greeted by memories, hovering in the form of archangels, sweeping the dust with their gossamer wings. The emptiness shook my hand with great fervor, looking me straight in the eyes at its brethren vacancy behind my pupil. Pebbles murmured their hello as my shoes crunched over their persons. The shadows were shy, observing me from the darkness of thickets, wondering why I didn’t have a black reflection following me around on the ground. Trees waved from rooftops, as if I were a brave knight coming home. The sun, setting in a tarnished plum behind the wheezing buildings, muttered a greeting more deep and low than the final exhale of a man. The moon, however, who had taken rule, chimed a jingle. Potholes littered the earth like gaping throats, and nothing moved. The clouds were a thick gray of watercolor, the smoke did not billow, the leaves hissed and rustled without shifting. I struck a match, but the light did not flicker. It did not burn.
Pripyat was a forgotten creation, the completed page in a child’s coloring book, whose loving mother tucked into a box of childhood artifacts in the dust clouds of the basement. It was the leaf shut between two thin pages of plastic, pressed flat and left as it was, forever; a work of clay crimped and folded and placed on a shelf, to still be the same decades later, just a sad, empty version of itself.
The place was alive, soundlessly. Old faded, flower printed teapots, cracked like bones, lay overgrown by weeds and tall grass, like blue glass water pots who had discarded their job. The vases were empty, but they were full as an apple; heavy with the past and a future that would never come.
After a while, I bordered the train again. I begged, oh, how I cried for them to come with me. But they seemed to accept there was no future for them here or any future for them anywhere else. And in that one moment, the shadows glowed; the dolls blinked; the archangels soared; the emptiness was full: brimming over like carbonated water and whistling like a kettle. The trees found their way from the rooftops to their homes in the grounding earth floor; the corpses of houses sprouted into their former selves; the sun breathed a haze of warmth; the moon was silent; the potholes secreted water as sweet as grapes; the clouds opened up to a cobalt sky, more blue than my sadness and clearer than diamonds. The flame flickered. But the wind blew, and the flame died, along with the resurrected forms of all the other citizens of Pripyat. Silence screamed once more.
Tears streamed down my cheeks. For, in the bustling city with cigarettes, overpopulation, blaring music, forgotten dates, and bold, black depressing headlines, I was surrounded by people, but I was horribly alone. In Pripyat, I was in complete, rambling solitude. But I was not alone. The wretchedness of this was beautiful.
Beauty and ugliness are no coincidence, no matter how coincidental or accidental their factors. Beauty is the product of the wretchedness of the world.
Wretchedness is the product of being deprived of the beauty of the world.
When you experience both, you end up with Pripyat.
And sometimes, you end up with me.
Listen, do not hear, as I tell you something so coincidental that it is fate.
The wind had died when I was set out on a task, and I watched from afar as the sun attended his funeral. He shuffled away solemnly, but soon realized he would have to attend the wake, and blushed an embarrassed red before hardening into the purple of the bruised plums that Ma dips into rice.
The path from the teahouse to the market followed the docks, where small boats could be seen bobbing upon the water as the fishermen searched into the depths of the water. Captured fish gasped in nets, their gray, slimy skin glistening like damp newspaper. Their eyes were dark as pebbles, but were wide and empty like vacant wells. However their bodies flapped, splashed, and twitched as if they had already been thrown into hissing, sizzling, vats of oil, while some lay still as if seaweed and rice balls muffled them.
Children raced and shuffled through the descending cloak of twilight like the geese scrambling and screeching over the gravel. I found it hard to keep balance in my blue kimono. Back then we wore sandal-like shoes with socks. There is a slight cleft in the middle, so we must totter and keep balance on the wood. I being an apprentice toppled over and slammed against the cold, unforgiving ground.
My eyelids were the shutters of the house nestled on the hill near the sea—wind and salt spray beat them open. They fluttered, like the sails of a ship in a relentless storm, yet they held the weight of curtains of a show on opening night, stained crimson. It wasn’t until I came around that I realized my own blood was blushing in a pool of red. When I had fallen and become disoriented, a fish, which had managed to flop onto the dock, had bit into my arm.
My arm had been gnawed into a tongue of scarlet that lapped at the salt, stinging my soft exposed tissues. The injury was not that pernicious—just a cut. In fact, the fish seemed in worse shape than I was.
His gills shuddered, his mouth agape in a big black hole that not only swallowed space but oxygen as well. He wiggled, overcome by the terrible poison that was my blood—his dagger teeth were dipped in it as if it were sauce.
Fast as lightning, a fisherman scooped the dying fish up. His beard and hair were speckled with salt and pepper, as if he had risen from the foam and barnacles of the sea. Without a word he threw the fish into the street. It flopped pitifully there for a moment, twitching like a thin branch, before the peasant children descended upon it. They came in a stampede of scratched knees and dirty faces, empty eyes and roaring stomachs.
They ate the fish raw, and sucked the puddle of blood around it. My blood. The blood that had poured from my arm. I watched, horrified, as it dripped like syrup down their faces. When that was gone, their faces rose, starring at me with those drained pupils, before they retreated back into the shadows of the path.
The man drew in his net, simple as that, and shoved himself away from the dock, sending ripples spreading out like cobalt bangles around him. He held up his fishing line. “Be careful, they’re carnivorous,” he mutters in a voice low as the sea. We both eye the fishes in his net, which were tearing at each other. They snapped at each other with razor sharp teeth. “They also eat their own kind.”
As he pulled away from the dock, I didn’t know if he was talking about the fish or the children.
Echoes of your faded voice
My past decisions
Frightful and uneasy
2 a.m. sadness
It’s lonely in the cave of life
I only hear them
I only hear the echoes
And when they’re gone
A little part of me goes, too
A sixteen year old
A girl who sees the world differently
Than how it really is
A sensitive, heartfelt mess at times
Not ready for real life
Not ready to be an adult
Or to get a job
She finds solace in rock n roll music from a time long gone
In films where she can escape the real world
In books she can hide behind
In pictures she can tell stories about
England is her true home
She’s walked along a tree filled bank at Versailles
She’s seen the world atop a mountain in Colorado
No, she hasn’t found true love
Like many people her age think they have
She’s never gotten completely wasted
Or tried any drugs with “so-called friends”
That would show her how destitute and frightening
A teenage life can be
Like the snowflakes
That fall in the winter
When you feel as if
Everything’s gone to shit
When you don’t
Know what to do next
Or how to proceed
A certain emptiness
A hole that can’t be filled
When your chest heaves
And your mind shuts down
The tears pour out of your eyes
Like a waterfall
Like a bird that’s broken its wing
Or when you feel your
Heart shatter into a million pieces
It’s when you know
You’re losing a lot of friends
Or when your judgment is clouded
There’s layers of imperfection
Flaws in the system of society
It’s not a definition or a fact
It’s just sorrow
Where Poems Hide
Poems hide like a diamond in the rough,
They hide in a place where one's too afraid to enter,
but when brought to life,
a beautiful ensemble of letters, words and phrases,
dappled in the golden rays of discovery can be found,
They hide in the shadows, evading the prying eye of the flashlight beam,
Stuck in cobwebs,
In an old tortoise shell,
Between violin strings,
Under rocks lost in the tide,
Beneath Hebrew characters,
Behind the oppressive veil of Sharia Law,
They hide in a Shinto Shrine,
In a Buddhist monastery off the beaten path,
They hide in a frozen lake,
protected by a dark green, frigid veil,
Poems hide in the cracks of pavement.
They hide in the iridescence of a hummingbird,
In a child's first breath of life,
They hide in the farthest depths of the sea,
where everything is so dark you can see the stars and how the universe it self was made,
Pomes are poems are found so deep you have to waltz around the Milkyway sometimes to reach them with your fingertips,
In the dregs of green tea.
WHEN YOU GIVE ME SOMETHING TO DRAW WITH
The tick-tock of a clock,
My mind didn't wander,
I found the key and opened a door labeled 'ME,'
Unlocking it, I was sucked right into a maelstrom of doodles and crazy things.
A black and white masterpiece of scribble scrabble.
The ink of my pen travels to distant lands,
I dip into other worlds,
swirling between the margins,
I draw the Mona Lisa but abstract.
Waves of black lines.
I draw deserts, mountain ranges, oceans, and cities,
mandalas of yins and yangs,
coconuts and tigers,
with horns, sharp teeth, shaggy, tangled manes and friendly eyes.
It smiled up at me with a toothy grin.
I created life between the lines.
UP FOR INTERPRETATION
Her spirit like a tumultuous wave of fire,
and at times,
cold like a heartache,
Stones on your bear feet,
Like nails on your neck,
Also beautiful like a painting made of gold leaf and peacock feathers
But wicked causing blood-soaked tears,
Her eyes like world maps when you stare too long.
Lightbulbs and paperclips died here,
Fishbones catching in your hair,
Taste pain in these murky waters,
Death resonates on the lilly-pads of life.
A Day In My Ideal Life
When I wake up a dog,
or a woman, or both
will be at my bedside.
The shower’s already on
My jacket’s skewed
a little to the left,
and my shoes battered
but still expensive. The
woman is still asleep without
a leash. The dog, the opposite.
We will walk, on the sidewinding
streets of San Francisco. Mostly up,
and when down, the dog strays
and wanders. But we make it
to the coffee shop. The coffee shop,
the one and only. Setting my stuff
down on the run-down couch,
the barista gives me
The couch feels warm and
homeless and my laptop is
expensive. Then I write,
in my notebook or laptop,
with randoms or people I have
seen many times but refuse to
indulge more than just
a Hey you, how have you
But I will write, then
perform at night in an obscure
place where people do not
know my name. The lights shine
on their faces and darken my shadow.
I’m not poor.
I will die in the realm
of life, plagued by some illness
that antibiotics has transformed
many times over until
modern medicine from right now
cannot cure it. Maybe it
will be cancer, but not cancer
that is known now, but a different
cancer, a super cancer, per se,
or cancer of the appendix.
And the doctors will say, take
This poison and get rid of that
poison, but the poisons will
complement each other like a
jacket over a button-up shirt
and they will tell my immune
system to sit down, cause it’s
old and senile. I will be in
the US, that’s for sure, probably
in some big city, maybe New
York. I think some people will
Be at my funeral, that don’t
know me personally. I won’t
care though cause I’ll be dead.
Ambition cages one
in a nonexistent, metaphorical
cage, that has no physical
boundary, but that nonetheless
cages you, expanding
slightly slower than the force
you exert on its fragile
frame. Everything’s within
your reach, but coincidentally
it’s also not, and coincidentally
it’s completely out of everyone
outside the cage.
Shaped like a corridor
rather, is what I meant. It’ll
never escape you, unless you
biologically alter your body,
becoming dependent on marijuana.
Soon that will wear off. Two
paths can develop, a yolk tying
you to inadequacy or a helium filled
balloon yoked to you, pulling
you higher, but always up,
Here’s how it happened.
There was a huge light
And all of a sudden
I was in a world
Out of this world
Rainbows, cats in PopTarts,
Monsters, people doing
Back flips with no legs,
Then there was a door
That was saying Owen,
Owen, so I went in the door,
I came back
To the real world and
That’s how I got an F on my History test.
Angry, but I’m no Bird,
I am red, but I’m no tomato,
Screams come from my mouth, but I am not dying,
Water comes from my face, but I am no sprinkler.
Why would you do that?
You know I don’t like it when my food is touching!
Give Me a Sign
I walk down the street
With my doughnut and coffee, the usual,
When I run into something hard.
The world goes slow-mo as my doughnut falls.
What’s the deal man that cost me
2 easy payments of $5.99.
The man stands motionless.
Hey, are you listening to me?
It was strange cause
He didn’t move or talk, but
Had a tattoo that said STOP.