November 2013 Words + Art Reading + Poem

exhibit | marshland
artist | gaia

This was probably the most daunting – and ultimately one of the most rewarding – experiences of the Words & Art Series. The artwork honestly wasn’t resonant, and there was much time contemplating what could possibly be written. And then inspiration struck! Two currents merged to create this incredible experience:

Earlier in the year, three creative goals had been set: 1) experimenting with new stylistic constructions of poetry (which was an early experience finding a unique ‘poetic voice’ back in early elementary school when rhyme-scheme was broken out of to create what was, at that time, something completely new as a personal experience), 2) representing and expressing different ‘voices’ from the ones usually represented, and 3) more humor.


The Netflix series, ‘The Killing’, had just been on, and it was incredible how the Swedish actor, Joel Kinnaman, captured American ‘tweaker’ slang and vocal rhythm.

The poem ended up coming through as the voice of a young boy of mixed ethnicity from the borderland between two of Houston’s less-prosperous ‘Wards’, or neighborhoods. Houston is a juxtaposition of extreme wealth and extreme poverty, and Gaia’s exhibit ended up being a meeting ground and point of contact for those two worlds to meet in the poetic imagination.

The profoundly revolutionary moment in the experience came when deciding to read the poem at the reading in the full voice, slang and patois of this young boy. It was like leaping off a cliff, not the least of which because there was a possibility of the reading being offensive or perceived as culturally appropriative. Neither occurred, and it ended up being a full liberation into inhabiting and speaking any world that could be imagined.


That Guy-a, he be one sick mo-fo.
Dope, man, graffiti in this place where my moms
always tell me to shut my piehole cuz this ain’t the place
to be, like, reverbin.
But it rocks for rappin, man.
When no one be roun an’ I be waitin on my moms,
I sneak in an’ reels the beats.
These creepy faces lookin at me, man,
they be like some weird audience.
If I can make these mo-fos move,
maybe I gots a future in the biz, u digs?
I be residin forever tween the numbers 3 an’ 4, u feels me?
One foot brown an’ ancho flavor – yeah, cuz, you feels me! – one foot black an’ fro, man
but these creepy heads ain’t be my peeps.
Whatchu smirkin at me for, mo-fo picture head?
U think u knows somethin I don’t?
U know nuchin, old dude.
U! Weird picture moms with shades on u head,
tryin to stare me down, I scare u?
My beats make u squirm? U know it, cuz!
My moms, she work in this cranked up place.
I ramble con mio wheels an’ boys,
busted grass poking thru busted concrete while this city bakes.
An’ moms stay cool in this place,
“lucky” to get some cranked up job pokin on keys all day,
so me’s and my bros can eat.
But we lives tween the numbers 3 an’ 4,
not this place.
This be a different place, man.
Sometimes I gots to wait for moms here
while she finishes up peckin on those lame keys
on that lame computer sittin in one place lamely
on some cranked up desk –
and I wanna scratch on these walls, cuz,
like Guy-a be doin.
Hey, this could be dope, man! You feels me?
Maybe I could spin my beats
an’ scribble on walls
an’ make creepy heads
& get famous, bro.
I gots a million tracks runnin thru my head, man.
Must be the brown an’ black an’ heat an’ concrete.
This place be weird, man, but it gots its own dope beats. You feels me, cuz?

Our Debut Voicing Art Book

Voicing Art: Poetry of Space | Place | Time
is now available!

Poetry inspired by works of art, the art of nature and the exploration of beauty, perception and insight through the cartography of the unseen.


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