This is a rant not a poem.
An announcement that racism is alive
an acknowledgement that sexism persists
a denunciation of homophobia, transphobia
a challenge to classism.
This is not a poem.
This rant is a testament to the unfulfilled dreams of Oscar Grant
the desecrated body of Jorge Steven López Mercado
the extinguished redemption of Stanley Williams
the silencing of our complaints.
The victim blaming, corrective therapy, Single Housing Units,
enhanced interrogation techniques, and
the Patriot Act,
second guessing, and
Please don’t confuse this with a poem.
There are no rose petals or metric similarities to be found here;
this is not a sonnet, not a villanelle, and
not in the Sapphic Stanza
though Sappho might have appreciated this reflection.
These words may be exiled, unrecognized
denied entry into the hallowed halls
of the canon, and
these words do not make a poem.
They are an afterthought
a poor man’s declaration of dissatisfaction
a compulsion staring down empty corridors.
An appeal to the atrophied synapses
of a society too nervous
to admit that
it is broken
that a legacy of
despair, disruption, and
cannon balls can’t be cleansed
without a rebellion against dusty ideas.
This song is a bayonet! A gun! A rocket propelled grenade!
Not a poem.
an uncomfortable stomach
breathing memories, fear, and
This rhyme is a condemnation
of the wealthiest and
the most powerful.
A composition for de Burgos, Girmay
for the sounds of funky beats and
for San Juan
for Pine Ridge.
An attempt to refresh circumstances
beyond our control.
A revision for our children
their dreams and
A prayer that words can equalize painful predicaments.
A shot in the dark.
A lonely arrow.
Do not let this poem, uh,
be viewed as part of
the literary tradition.
let this rant be a rant.
Feel free to call it:
Dismiss these words
having an agenda,
four decades ago.
when you are done,
done with the proper labels,
make a few acknowledgments.
Notice that this, notapoem,
abhors the internment of enemy combatants in Guantanamo Bay
and rails against the phrasing of “legitimate rape”
renounces musings of sexual assault, guised as “locker room talk”
and rallies against the torturous human warehouses known as prisons.
And let these scribbles be recognized for their complete
rejection of United States colonialism
in the homeland of this rant,
While notapoem, this rant takes great pains
for something and
for bell hooks,
for Emma Goldman,
against Wall Street,
for Lucille Clifton,
against her pedophilic father,
and against Pope Benedict,
for César Chávez,
against Donald Trump.
For the rant
For the poems
For Malcolm X
to the rant,
for the rant,
and by the
Victorio Reyes Asili is an activist and artist living in Albany, NY. Victorio holds an MFA in creative writing from The Vermont College of Fine Arts and is currently pursuing a PhD in English at the University at Albany. He was featured in the anthology of emerging writers: Chorus, published by MTV Books. Additionally, his poems are forthcoming or have been published in the Acentos Review, The Mandala Journal, Mobius, Word Riot, Pilgrimage Magazine, and the anthology It Was Written: Poetry Inspired by Hip Hop. Reyes Asili's primary area of research is in Hip Hop poetics; in relation to his research, he will be on two panels at the 2017 AWP Conference: "The Written Orality of Hip Hop Lyricism" and "A World Turned Upside Down, Hamilton an American musical." Before pursuing an academic career, Reyes worked as a professional activist, serving as the executive director of The Social Justice Center of Albany for 11 years.
Photograph by Ash Ponders