For More Than Poetry

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Seventeen

Tonight 
I washed off seventeen
Crumbled in the haze of apologies
scrubbing off the soot of insecurity

I found out my scars were temporary tattoos

Tonight 
I held a cat against my chest as I walked through TSA
Replaced my makeup with a
Sports bra and  lesbian haircut
and radioactivated the sun with the solar systems
 crawling out of my smile

Tonight 
I won't discover my beauty
in a dictionary or a magazine
but G-d refused to show Moses his face
to remind him the holiest is yet to be seen

And tonight I am holy
Tonight I compared myself to G-d
With the first poem that is not about
hating myself
Or surviving myself
Or swallowing myself

Tonight 
I am not a setting sun 
begging for another thirty pages
I am an Alaskan summer
the first southern fried northern light

Tonight 
I compared myself to G-d
Because I stole some wind
Crafted its flares into a razor
And shaved off all this seventeen
All this nervous sinkhole of apologies
All this long hair 
because he said 
he would sleep with me that way
All this silence 
because he said 
he could sleep better that way
All this hating other girls who were like me
Who didn’t acquire 
the taste for wordlessmess faster 
than the ability to sip warm beer
Tonight I compared myself to G-d
Because when she was seventeen
she probably sipped warm beer
at parties where no moonlight spoke to her
She probably got lost in all that darkness
And in all that eternity

When she realized 
all it takes is a hug 
in a crowded terminal
When mom cries she’s proud of you
To forgive yourself 
for all the people you’ve been

Tonight,
When you reconstruct destiny
Using chewed pencils 
and knee-high converse
You'll shudder as you contact memories 
and blooming tomorrows

When little you is large enough
To be everything 
they told you not to be

Remember, seventeen bellyflopped out teardrops of opportunity
It doesn’t matter how it ended up in your bloodstream
It is 92% percent water
And we are 97% clean
You will finger dust all the souls napping in your skin
At the diving board of 21
Your breath still bathes in rose petals

You will become become your own prophet
and drunk text the lightning

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

To the people who ruined spoken word for me—

To the people who ruined spoken word for me—
Fuck you.
Fuck your scream-cries,
personas,
the conversational beginning with splattered jokes
dragging letters into cracked voice endings
Fuck the shut eyelids
head down
three minute character preludes
Fuck your poorly developed metaphors
devouring highly complex issues
Picking prejudice up
like a weekend daddy who never wanted custody

Fuck the times it wasn’t about poetry
it wasn’t about empowerment
or snatching a voice out of the tunnel of shattered yesterdays

When we listened to a performer instead of a person
Fuck performing
Fuck enunciation and word choice
Articulating each line into calculated in construction
Sealing bodies of work in sidewalks
stirring letters into cement blocks to build a narrative
An injured, helpless, socially relevant narrative

Fuck every time you told me to peddle my trauma for points
Told me to capitalize on my identities
as if they were the beginning of a life sentence
To showcase my oppression
peel off my seared skin
so people would throw bandaids on my battle scars
Fuck the unscathed fingertips that quivered harpoon
and told me to be
The queer
The woman
The rips on a punching bag
Told me to emphasize the ruptures in my battered swing

Fuck every time we put up a rape poem because those swing well
or didn’t put up a race poem because maybe it wouldn’t

Fuck calling them race poems
and painting the people of color on our team as only one shade

Fuck your over the top hand motions
The normal sentences you made sound like questions
Or screamed for effect

Fuck the trembling pupils you watered like cactus flowers
so bystanders would drink up the undigested pain

Fuck every time you disenfranchised my joy
Because it wasn’t compelling enough
Because happy poems don’t win rounds
Because it’s better to drunkenly drive your life
so the audience can enjoy the skid marks you leave behind

Fuck every minute I thought that if I could explain
I hated myself
lyrically enough
maybe you would listen
maybe you would care

Fuck you.

Fuck every time we wrote to win a poetry slam instead of a voice

And fuck me
for writing this

For forgetting that poems forcefed me courage
pulsed truth that sips tea underneath my fingernails and nightmares
for believing in strategies instead of myself

Fuck every time I listened to the score instead of the poet’s face
or the last clap instead of the last line
Forgetting when it mattered what I had to say,
not how rehearsed I could say it
When it could never satisfy a room of strangers
Because when you drip poetry
Real,
frosted lavender
tangerine sunrise
we are damn alive
and still breathing
poetry

There is not a stranger in the room

When did we become audiences instead of families?
When did we find the time to judge between listening?
To exploit atoms of devastation into playdough?

Every word is a vibrating chick passing through silky palms
Your forgiving thumbs
That cannot crumble a pulse
cannot rehearse a raw soul into submission
Poetry can’t be trampled into a political agenda
Because there is nothing political about survival
It pirouettes through reincarnated hope

Leaves of spoken word refuse to wrinkle in the sunlight
Refuse to plummet into dust
Stanzas will not decay
they are god rising from a sea of tomorrows
and maybe I can I only find colorless miracles at my doorstep
maybe you ruined them for me
But you will never ruin them for good.

Contact

Ariel is available and interested in anything creative!
For spoken word performances & workshops, web & graphic design, or other writing/film projects please contact via email at arielsob@usc.edu.
New York & Los Angeles work preferred!