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brown out shouts!

brown out shouts!

this is for matea who dances the bomba

with hands that crest moonhips
and kisses harder than she loves herself.
every trans, genderqueer, futchie, fairy, AG,
anything with roots arches toward her, they can’t help it,
their arms like petals soaking up her light.

and this is for my student, hard ass krystal who doesn’t want anything
to do with brasso or that jrotc uniform, however constructs a sonnet
as simple as some of us make our beds. he just wants 3 meals a
day for his brother and a brand new binder for his chest.

for Javi who takes his tequila quick.

for aqua starr black.
because they had the bravery to re-name
themselves: aqua. starr. black.
sometimes you just gotta call out your power
cuz no one else is gonna do it for you.

maria is a dancer clasping onto hardwood by the heels
but serves our coffee at the diner always w/ a smile.
she’s pissed off cuz her wife cannot afford to go to the hospital.
although, you can’t see it, her heart breaks because no papers or government
can explain how this  person in the bed makes her laugh
like a gutteral fool.

for JP who draws sketches sneaking them in your purse.

for Celiany whose caliber demands that the very least her lovers
have the following traits: dexterity, initiative, and someone who can put it down.

for every son shaped in bullets, your heart as compact as
a trigger, your voice a sharp wind song that wants to lay a forehead
down on the chest of your boyfriend.
let your letters survive the wars, jail cells,
let the meter of your words swoon your lovers back to the bed,
as you take turns turning off the alarm on the nightstand with
your toes, elbows, orgasms, and  in between kisses.

for that one lonely Korean guy Jake who found me in a group of
500 white people in the frenzy of the Sugar Club in Dublin, Ireland.
I make due, he said. & we can still see him shrugging in the strobe lights,
hungry for somewhere else.

this is for you this afternoon, spring cleaning your blues away,
maybe in your favorite t-shirt, maybe you called in sick,
maybe missing your family back home, maybe your voice is hoarse
from asking strangers for food, maybe you lost a lover or
are losing yourself, lost in the whimsy of musical notes.
the rhythms can consume the sadness, if you let it.

for my dearest sarwat who sat on a hill, held up the sun, looking at all the
fiiiine transmasculine and queers of color and said without
saying, mm mmm I deserve this.

for español, pangasinan, patois, pidgeon, mandarin
love poems you write.

for those immigrants, babydykes and trans youth who sprout out
from neighborhoods described to tourists as, don’t go there. its dangerous.
rolling up their windows from our existence.

for you who fights for our rights,
for you who laughs too loud,
for you who eats too much,
for you who twists wrists by paintbrush,

for you who will not let your spirit pass up a sunset or a protest
even when you think you deserve less sometimes.

for you
because there’s a brown out right now
and by that I mean there is no electricity,
which means life is crashing and pouring down

and by that I mean I am lonely,
which really means
that we are brown and transgender and queer and out
and we’ve been told too many times that all of those

cannot belong all at once. that based on those odds,
we equal death.

for you / for us / for we
because without explanation, we exist
and you, you like all of our ancestors before,
you live it so fiercely that even when injustice sets in,

this rumbling sky houses your breath and
that is better than any survival story,
that, that is joy being born.


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undoing to become

kay barrett will delve into topics of self-testimony in this interdisciplinary workshop of performance, writing, and story telling. Participants will share narratives they’ve been told of myth, truth, and transformation. how do we move collectively to reclaim and invent empowering stories? workshop participants are asked to dress in comfortable clothing, and to bring their journals and/or writing materials.

max participants: 20
timeframe: 1 hour and 30 min.

discovering your move(meants)

this workshop is focused on artistic journeys, not outcomes or polished performance art. participants are asked to dress comfortably and bring ideas of whatever political “movement” comes to mind. we will create safer space as participants play with movement, text, and performance. create confidence and social movement in your storytelling!

max participants: 20
timeframe: 1.5- 2 hours.

WE fight back!

learn how your voice & body can control situations that are threatening or dangerous. unfortunately the of color &/or queer community are constantly facing violence– whether in our homes or streets. we will understand basic strikes, blocks, kicks, and verbal techniques to help us engage our spirits towards confidence. uplift yourself & come dressed in comfortable clothing.

k. barrett is a 2nd degree blackbelt in tae kwon do & has trained for over 12 years. as a former instructor & coach, kay now concentrates on primarily of color, LGBTQQ, womyn, & youth communy-based social justice self-defense/martial arts.

max participants: 30
timeframe: 2- 2.5 hours.

queer human rights?

do people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or queer have human rights in the US? globally? this workshop will be a hands-on discussion and group analysis of models of LGBTQ resistance of war and militarization, and how we create solidarity. we will be using the context of the Philippines as well as other human rights movements. together we will try to negotiate these questions: how does homo/
transphobia connect with war and occupation? how can anti-war and solidarity movements connect with LGBTQ politics?

k. barrett is Chicago coordinator of Gabriela Network as well as founder of GabNet’s LGBTQQI Nat’l Caucus.

max participants: 20
timeframe: 1.5 hours

just pick one: gay or brown?

this workshop dares us to understand and adore our whole selves. as marginalized communities we are pressed by mainstream to choose our fights or dedications, be it racism or classism or queerphobia, you name it. paying homage to audre lorde: “i do not believe in single-issue politics, because we do not live single-issue lives,” participants will discuss avenues of critical intersections as brown, poor, trans, immigrant, woman-identified, artists, or other. how can we come to a place of honoring ourselves fully? You are encouraged to bring a journal and writing materials.

max participants: 20
timeframe: 1.5-2 hours.

since my body

since my body

i am no wooden doorframe
watching you walk away again.

i am dwelling on lumbered
voice, octaves trying to carve out a
full night of sleep.

can i write that poem?
(propping up metaphors to disconnect the skin cells)
can i write that poem?
the quiet, hold still- the i am
trembling, stop it, no no- or

do I count on the ceiling
to keep me from screaming out of this room?

this is not sound byte comfort to a survivor
or a diligent response to your alcohol
breath and suctioned hands:
lover gone bad,
lover does not punch but–,
lover circles a body closer closer until it drains,
lover demand demand demands until empty,

i want to warn the rest.
tell them
your hands are malice and have the
coldness of x’s.

your hands erase.

i now hate my bed.

turning my belly to the mattress,
i wonder if i had not the spine,
where would the rest of me be?

your hands would
have taken me apart / your tongue a shelf,
packing the arms / the thighs /
the obtuse of my
ear /
for re-occurring nightmares

and when do i let myself alive again?
after a new girl kisses my forehead?
will she bathe me her armskin, take her hands and
place them on cheek,
let me take the lead?

will i push until intimacy walks out on me?
until all i am left with are my own hands
and lofty deep sounds? until i massage out
the welts you left with coffee at 2am and
another poem that will never be read aloud?

do you think that i am made of vacant corners?
am i not supposed to
open up my sunken heart? not
for the life in me dare another woman
on these collarbones?

you do not mark that easy.
no territory of my map has your lines clearly drawn.
my dirt, my growing, my mass, my direction
my daring, my breathtaking
were never yours.

the colonizer in you,
the arrogance in you
that claims that:
this was nothing at all,

is questioning at night.
is lampshade light monitoring the folds of the hand.
is sick of every movement
since my body.

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Everything down at your feet (for Adil)

Everything down at your feet
We do not count names on a wall for memorial
Or pan our pupils to stacked missing persons reports
Or cuss the cops dismissal of another body fallen
in the ghetto.

we do not pray the rosary walking from
station to station, eating only the foods
that remind us of the dead, accepting howled
sounds for voices of ancestors.

We aren’t catholic or don’t make the sign of
the cross at every cemetery we drive past.

But we do feel guilty.

finding passage to our next midterm
paper paragraph, day job, reluctant dentist appointment,
we were jaunted into closed eyes,

this Monday.
we wanted
to put
everything down
at your

it’s not the shrewd news of it,
of the procession of death
from phone call to phone call
war makes far worse

but you/

you made us who
haven’t spoken or look each other in the eye,

call long distance for your message.
“there was no note.”

your face
couldn’t have said the word cliff,

we didn’t see the hurt you drew around yourself,
the lines near your eyes we assumed were from
squinting, not from this.
how many questions do we have?

how come, was it your father’s fists?
did you unlike so many of us, take notice of north
america and look away?
did you decide no matter how temporary,
that the world was too much?
did another passer-by call you faggot mincing
another good day?
was it a trigger, like the way
we have nightmares in lover’s arms
or did you make the decision and
only got so far that

gravity came to answer?
jump or stay?

if you were
to come
pick me up this Friday night,
you’d kiss my cheek in silence

your best feather boa whisping as gallant as a cloud,
ready with your fist
held up to lips like a microphone,
a Madonna song would burst from speakers
and only you could coax the refrain,
out from my mouth.


For Adil

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psalm for a womon at age 60

Psalm for a womon at age 60

For she who sang to young ears old country time radio and malinak lay labi

Bring forth the father who is now a cloud roaming.
Bring forth the mother who was a severe beating and before she died
an apology you accepted.
Bring every sister back in her likeness.
Bring more than eleven at the table, passing steamed pots and you the oldest
reminding them be careful.
Bring the dead husband who made wooden squares colorful cages with our faces
looking younger in them. You kissed him many times, without one arm around his waist.

Ask the auditor, second that motion / you and I were born political.
Make you vice-president of another organization:
Mangaldan, United Pangasinan, Rizal Center.

Bring cables that travel to Quezon City microphones and Sharon Cuneta and Aga Mulah
—I’m against nothing that makes you laugh and sing in the bed.

The permanent marker is in the top drawer, write down large letters S A N F A B I A N.
A cousin gets your old tape deck radio; you carefully include white tube socks,
hats, our smell.

Let toe step be center of the dance floor, her cha cha cha, her boogie—
knees bent like busy elevators, both men and women in line,
your daughter used to stay up late /
do you know the time?
of course you knew the time, you worked the graveyard shift since 1990,
three more songs, anak.

Look carbon copy / my face, eyelids, thick hair to your louder left dimple.

Blurred chorus of knuckles, a dropped vase over a head, hard thud of your drumming anger.

Get the brush and rubber band.
fingers will curve your hair like the first time a child runs—
fumbling, traveling, a handful.

For the mother who told the daughter to be architect of her own city. No one will
build your…

when I visit you in the basement we watch Filipino news, corrupt murder bribery
your voice pitch standing next to Malacanang Palace, gripped to the throat of anyone
who steals.

Bring the games of poker and pusoy;
claim some hearts and diamonds somehow.
strategize. collect. make the best possible combination.
When you are tired, let me take your turn.

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