A collage by Jaz Colibri featuring flowers, hummingbirds, and butterflies.
Collage by Jaz Colibri.

out from behind a locked
  empty dumpster
           tucked in a
 dead end street
armed with
security cameras
                         that read
          “SMILE! …or we’ll shoot :)”
a slick but groggy Malice
            slips out of bed
                 into tailored times scare
gucci suits
       stitched & shackled panels read:

“insert your ad here”

                        “mm mm good jailbird”

“did you know geico can’t save you
                 15% or more
                on a life sentence?”

where all the convicts sing, 
                                            “verizon hired us”
                                  “join our sprint scamily”

“starbucks: drips of Crips in every cup!”

                 shirk hard,
                               have none,
                                           fuck history”

“walmart: slave money, shiv better”

and victoria’s no secret

peeling back
                       this technicolor scheme cloak
                    it’s crushed velvet lining
             disney plus

while corners of his lips 
                                   curl around the phrase,
“you wanna buy a watch?”
cuz there’s a time and place to feel things

places with space
                   for bodies expected
 to pull bootstraps
                          with their necks under boots
who can still get
            prime two-day deliveries
                                                     just in time 
for that vay-kay portal 
                   to all the ways 
                       that we’re making it
             to taste something 
                                                  that sets us
coming up for air 
in denial of the price 
we pay to breathe it

open peeled pockets
                      reveal a hall of mirrors 
with only half disguised dead ends
     of grime exposed concrete
            who peek along 
                             the edges of shattered glass
that warp and mar 
                    the lines they carve in our faces
and the scars they spanned
                        from our backs to our marrow
cracking with the memory 
                    of those who bloodied their fists
to break thru a wall
        knowing full well
          another wall may lay behind that wall
blocking these suns and moons 
    from seeing 
                           growing this world beautiful
          like drying cement between the glass
in the face of those of us 
               who turn down our eyes 
                                without lifting a finger 
in this maze 
        that demands witnessing
             a mirror is the first thing
                   that will make you afraid to love
more inclined to try to buy 
              all the things they sell us
                 that will prove we are deserving
as we move thru 
    this labyrinthian concrete jungle 
                          of sand, soda ash, limestone
                                          in an isolated cringe
lost in this genocidal glittering gauntlet
      where you can spend 
                                     as long as you like
free of charge
                        most people close their eyes
before too long tho
            who prefer to stumble blindly
                        and bump up against cool glass
 rather than 
      rise up against
                the cold “facts”
                      of our reflection 
                                   a barrel of a gun
                     who’s ammunition is too costly
eyes tight shut
          bodies grope the paths of ignorance 
minds rattling off 
    an inner wandering
                    passed down
                        guiding us to stay the course:

“may our children’s cries
                                    not crack
                              against leering concrete
          the way they accused
our shouts 
          of slitting their wrists 
                 on the falling shards 
                              of their skyscrapers
let us not forget
   that laughter, tears and screams
         are part of the weather
                 that moves mountains
                      the riots of our myriad tongues 
                                         must cacophanize 
                             the pews and pulpits
of the ivory churches of slaughter
   to cease
       the shepherding of bodies
            thru their cultural paper shredder
                                             refusing our ashes
                                   to be sentenced
                   like dust on a chalkboard
tossed out
        in favor 
                of the pearly allure of dry erase 
                            making it that much easier 
                                                for Malice to
what we lived, 
                                    and dream
                  the so-called objective truth
that there is such thing 

as a clean slate
a slate with no experience 
a slate that for all its emptiness 
   leaves no room for grief
and even if granted
the temporality
of limitless ink
that passes over
and vanishes from
the shallow plastic of this slates body
these magic marks of modern innovation
will be little solace
 if the lines our children
are taught to trace
are an alphabet of dementia

—a brisk collision 
         of unsuspecting bodies—
                             snaps lids back into heads
as a trickling crowd
                                 totter to the edge
                       of a fountain
                       at the heart 
                    of the mirror maze

Malice’s voice 
crackles over a megaphone
hocks it’s wares
                            bobbing and weaving 
round the ear cavities of
winded defunct human shells
               gathered at this wishing well
         downcast eyes lost
                                     in the reflection of 
50% off “everything must go”
                            a clearance sale of apathy
broken only by splashes
              of tossed expired credit cards

the criss-cross stranger on a train
         forces their smiles 
           with tongue depressors 
that must be bought 
           separately from popsicle sticks
     the roof
          of some 
                foreclosed mouth
                  at the futility
of breaking
 the numb gnawing 
     ambivalent silence
        who always cuts to the front of the line
 so many throats
             begging air 
                 to pass thru
                        in a chord
                                       the mercy 
                                         of echoes 
                                            of sounds
                                       bouncing back off 
                           stone and bark
              maybe even 
the bleached brow of a skeptic
                       lodging a vibration 
                        of translated resonance
                                  back into the marrow 
                     from which the prayer
sprung in the first place

scans it’s consumer’s 
moldy half-eaten glazed donut eyes
unable to penetrate 
past the corneas 
where their fried synapses
                    light candles for their dead

abruptly withdraws
the sad mouth organ sticks
from the jaws 
of a child’s
lil dumpy lips 
smacking back together
a reflexive hum of pain
that even startles the toddlers mouth
snaps the crowd 
                       out of their white noise stupor
the child 
           presses their lips 
                                      to inquisitive sounds

                   toward insistent sounds
                      and again
till sustaining 
                  a trail of hums
                         headed nowhere in particular 

                                             but certainly away 
                      from the conveyor belt
               of Malice’s 
10 step program
       onto the lips of the crowd
                          who little by little 
feeling the voices of many
                the voices of always
                       ever were ever will be
                                 moving thru our lips
voices that climb over prison walls
voices that will stop a bullet in its tracks
voices that prove
        there can be no cost of living 
         other than the care we give each other
voices of mothers breathing life into dead children
voices wrapping their arms around hulls 
     to sink ships of military cargo
        before they can reach detonation 
voices that tear the price tags off mama earth
knowing no one can make demands 
of stolen land they have not cared for
voices that reclaim their labor 
                  from lazy wealth hoarders
to serve the people and only the people
the people united
voices resisting the urge 
           to turn on one another
               when the world on our shoulders
is too much to bear
voices that ride 
        behind jokes punching up
                 in a world who’s humor 
                          always seems to punch down
voices that fall like rain 
                    over blood gorged heads of state
    to let them know 
           an age old newborn season is coming
voices tasked with being
              the bearers of stories 
                         that were never written down
voices that cradle 
             soul lullabies 
                    birthed within us 
                        when we’re alone and afraid
voices whose notes can trace 
                                        the trail of a tear
voices hissing 
              like the tea kettle before the scream
voices that smell like a stew 
made from all the shit in the fridge
                               that was about to go bad
voices that reprimand 
                          out of love
                           or rather
                       fear of a world that hurt them
voices that ring 
            like instruments cracked 
                  under the weight of singing truth
voices telling each other 
              how beautiful we are
                   when we stand in our power
voices that chide
       “how dare you forget you are loved”
voices that grow the rose in the dark
voices that break
                        so light can shine thru them
voices that carve out love 
                         from the most unlikely places 
voices that travel on echoes 
   so when any one of us speaks
            we know we are not speaking alone
voices crafted in all our many tongues
      that devote our lives
                          to live meaning
                                   into a word like justice
humming songs 
      Malice can’t market
        wanting to be filled with all our names

We are carbonados!
Metals no match for us!
We are carbonados!
Concrete is bound to bust!
We are carbonados!
Water that’s life will smooth us over!
We are carbonados!
Your cold walls just make us sharper!
We are carbonados!
Flash a reflection you can’t hide from!
We are carbonados!
Your lights can’t pierce, frame nor disguise us!
We are carbonados!
We can take the heat!
For when we’re cast in fire
Your metal will melt and set us free!
We are carbonados!
Grounded in the depths of the sea!
While when wrapped in water
Your metal will rust down in the deep!
We are carbonados!
In the wind our stones will ring!
But too much time out in the air
Will turn your metals face to green!
We are carbonados!
We emerged out from the earth!
How long can you lie steal twist and deny
What we both share in birth!

ineptly attempting
to shove tongue depressors 
               back into mouths
                 only making the notes louder
                                                 raucous bellows 
by Malice’s 
callous decorum 

               rhythms rippling the fountain pool
soon hit their bodies in waves
                quaking them to twist and shake
                 footprints left from dances
                        that were paved over long ago
drawing bodies 
      into kaleidoscopic whirlpools of touch  
and departure
          spanning the distance of     
                  eyes locked from across the room 
to tongues 
              cloying for the words 
                                         we keep caged 
                                in the back of our throats
hands searching our bodies for comfort
a scent to take us home
       a moment of reckoning
           with the soil, waters, and stars 
                                of the womb we all live in
an attentiveness
               to an intimate expansive knowing 
of the many spaces within and without us
       interweaving our multiplicitous         singularities
                  and communalities
that dissolve the sediment 
                                  that is every nation state
and defy identification 
             within the naturalization 
                                        of settler imaginaries
like a table of people 
                                      with long spoons
filling the bellies
                               of those across from them
at the first sign 
               of rumblings
                      of this hunger without borders
that still respects 
                                autonomous boundaries
that determine our accountability 
                                                  to one another
that till the soil
                           making space for us to grow
                                     and burn

                the many soundings of our erotics 

no longer kept in the confines
of Malice’s blood money fetish 
                                              beyond the sexual
a mapping of existence as pleasure
                                   pleasure as power 
power we can activate 
                     in our acts of mutual otherness

                 tanking the ratings 
           of Malice’s
 hallmark channel
                      with physicalizations of desires
too raw to be televised
  rounding sacred circles
                  woven like baskets by river veins
that cradle a world 
             perpetually becoming 
                          beyond the limits
                               of infinite perfectibility

shoves wood slats 
                  down sounding throats
                              only easing and expanding 
                     the channel for breath 
to dip deep 
                                into the forgotten corners
of the diaphragm
                        and excavate those sounds
                                                           from the
                                    paper thin cocoon 
                                      for the moment 
                                  indiscernible feeling
                                       whose echoes
                                     leave handprints
                                              in rock
                                         of something 

Jaz Colibri is a member of the Wood Street Community and a houseless trans organizer who provides mutual aid support to houseless communities experiencing evictions across occupied Huichin (Oakland).