PJ Visits EmersonWRITES: Who Will Survive In America?


If you'll remember, a few weeks back Damon and I had went to speak at Harvard. You probably remember because I wrote about it. Well, before that trip happened I happened to mention the possibility of this trip to a really good friend of mine who happens to live in Boston. I've known this young woman for, I believe, 10 years now and she's one of the few people who will unequivocally tell me about myself. Hell, sometimes I specifically call her to ask her to tell me about myself. I appreciate her for that. Well this woman that I know who lives in Boston who tells me about myself whether I ask or not also happens to teach a class on Saturdays at Emerson College to high school students under a program called EmersonWRITES. This progam is a workshop intended to help the students improve their writing and express themselves through creative writing. She happens to be an instructor in the poetry section. And she asked if I'd come through and talk to the students.


Now, I'm not a poet (and I even know it) thought I used to be. Well, that's wrong. I used to write things that I think one could call poetry, but I'd never refer to myself as a poet. Luckily, she didn't ask me to come be a poet but to come thru and talk to the students about strengthening their voice and getting their voices out there. I really enjoyed talking to the students and at the end, I gave all of the students - I think about 11 in total - a writing prompt. Using the closing track off of Kanye West's seminal album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as my muse and the 1970 Gil Scott-Heron recording of "Comment #1" attached to the music, I asked them to write based on the idea of, "Who Will Survive In America?"

While there, the students all shared drafts of their poems and I asked them to email me their final drafts and I'd choose one and then publish it here on VSB. Well, I've decided to publish two of the pieces sent to me. These students, and all of the submissions I received, were very impressive. I'm always amazed at how creative young people can be and this group was no exception. Below, enjoy the two pieces from Andy Rondon and Luthien Jabar.

Clap for 'em and welcome them to VSB.

Opportunity Makes the Thief

After all is said and done.
After, currency becomes the voice in your throat.
I’ll pay you in poetry,
Pay you in words,
but it won’t echo.
We will all survive in the land of opportunity,
But only the ones with tongues dressed in Jefferson,
will have an audience who listens to them,
They will live.
The ones with penny Lincoln lips
will fight to be heard,
but in a country,
where you have to put your money where your mouth is
there isn’t much to say.

After all is said and done,
There’s always money involved.
Always, a hand trying to wallet your mouth,
Pay, for your silence,
The thieves preach.
Preach, they want an end to violence,
but America’s economic garden always blooms in the season of war,
so guns are harvested
and given to those who will feed bullets
to anybody whose yearly pay is under 20 k.
But that’s not what They said,
that’s not what They hear,
I guess,
those who have paid the fee to live
can live with no fear.
Because whatever they say always gets done,
but for some of us
our tongues aren’t worth much.


Andy Rondon is a Dominican American writer who is a senior in Cristo Rey Boston and has written poetry for a good chunk of his life. He is particularly interested in majoring in sociology in order to help the lower class people, but for now he is attempting to bring attention to problems in the community with his spoken word poetry. If you’re looking for him, he’s probably at home thinking what the next line of his life could be.


red white and blue

sometimes all i can think about
is what's behind that flag
sometimes all i can think about
is chalices of red wine and tins of blackberry juice
our blood runneth over
sometimes i try to look for the stars
but all i see is red flags
in white
button up shirts with
collar jobs
blood stained hands
like blackberry juice
i listen to them slurp their blackberry juice
popping blackberries like xanax
looking for blue but
i can barely see the sky
all hazy from the heat
the suns been beating down on us all day
i’ve been in the fields all day
i’ve been in the fields
all day
sugar cane sweet old carolina
i’ve been
lookin for that flag for that flag for
that damn flag
coming up with only red flags like
blood stained hands
like blackberry juice
i’m getting tired of being drunk
and watching you drink
mama always said
the blacker the berry
the sweeter the juice
mama always said
when you roast a pig
kill it quick
panic releases toxins like
bad meat
like bitter meat
like one spear through the eye
watch me dance around this fire
adding gasoline to the blaze
like that red flag
that corporate suit
all roasted and swimming
in its own fat
lard for the children
lard for the children
drizzled with blackberry juice
running down the sides
like red flags
like blood stained fingers
like sticky fingers
child, you better


Luthien Jabar doubles as an ethereal being of light/overall creative hunny + a full time student. She specializes in poetry and invoking new perspectives and thought processes + is working on changing the world.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.



Well done, young creatives!
Interestingly, I just attended the Love Out Loud regional poetry night here in DC where scholars from 5th to 8th grade presented poems they wrote. It always amazes me how creative kids can be with topics that are as old as time, like "love." There were poems about family members, unrequited love, and inanimate objects. I was really impressed.