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Ready, Set, Rhyme by Kalima Thomas ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Poetry has the power to inspire people and make a difference. The art of Spoken Word brings poetry to life with

performances that tell stories of life experiences, including relationships, politics, and social injustice. The artists in this book represent the phenomenal talent behind Philadelphia’s Spoken Word movement. This is Ready, Set, Rhyme...



Poetry is Not a Luxury This aint no love jones shit/ There will be no incense lit/ You won’t be able to snap to this/ Clap to this/ Without getting fat from this/ Raise a black fist/ While wearing coffeehouse black to this/ Push your ego back for this/ ‘cause we’re running out of time/ This aint no Afro-jiggy meeting of the mind/ No dread-lock rasta jazzercise/ No art beyond the people/ Peeking through elite peepholes/ Closed-mic confidential. Preferential treatment equals/ “I fit the stereotype, so I got a right to be on the mic” type entitlement/ Masturbate in silence/ Shhhh…./ I wrote for so long that I wondered where the title went/ Took the last of vital wind and spoke to Mother Nature’s heartbeat/ Asking that the Lord to part me like the Red Sea/ And allow my intentions to pass through to safety/ …If I am not worthy then take me/ And I can’t sleep for dreaming so don’t bother to wake me/ ‘cause Poetry is not a Luxury/ So until it blends with the wind/ Every breath is cutting me/ Deep to the core of my mustard seed/ Can’t catch up so instead I bleed/ And Sometimes I feel like a childless mother/ See, my rhymes died in the arms of its lover/ So I run for cover/ And give birth to stillborn thoughts/ While everyone around me is choosing to abort/ And everyone before them just wanted to get off/ With no intention of raising consciousness to the power of black, abstract/ Thoughts made into real say I got some heat on my sheets and I’m not here to word-play/ A verse tucked into my skirt and I’m ready to spray/ And if you fall fast, I’ll do my broadcast on a 5 second delay...-lay...-lay Fuck the iron!/ I’ma strike while the material’s hot/ Blow your mind in one shot with some flow on the rocks/ I sharp shoot on mute like I’m trained by the cops/ I stopped watches and shot clocks/ Raised chakras like livestock/ Text-fiend with a dream/ I’ve been meaning to detox/ ‘cause you cant elevate without time/ So, I shot time from the sky so it could no longer fly/ And it fell with a thud a little thud a little dirt in its eye/ And time was in awe with its jaw open/ The earth stands still/ While I make revolutions around the sun/ Til my feet are that of black oak/ Then revolutions become revelations/ As I relay the sensations/ Of The Souls of Black Folk/ I worked the spine until the back broke/ My book cried for mercy/ It said I “abused my right to custody”/ I said “this is the life you were born into/ Only soldiers in this cavalry/ The weak get left behind they only shine with shattered smiles”/ You see…/ Poetry is not a luxury/ So until it blends with the wind/ Every breath is suddenly/ Deep between the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen/ And I can’t see, beyond what my soul perceives/ So if my spirit’s not talking/ I refuse to take heed/ They said this mission was impossible/ But I will carry out my charge and serve 100 Years in Solitude/ Birth warriors in the interval/ My sentimental sentinels/ Preserve the shells of former selves/ And survive on my own fossil fuel/ And with what’s left/ I’ll gas up my jets/ And how could I ever be afraid of death?/ Cause I’m a kamikaze poet/ I’ll fly these words straight into your soul/ Then sit there with them and make sure they explode/ With birth comes this ardor/ ‘Guess you could call me martyr cause I’m willing to die for my clause/ The passions behind these predicates give reason for…/ Pause and take a breath now, There’s no time for death now, So I spend eternities in the solar system ‘til my soul’s wisdom has touched down/ Get ready for the countdown/ In 32, 31, 30 seconds this messenger will self destruct but, Scatter my dust across the galaxy/ But, I’ll come back as a rock…star…tree. And what you thought was the wind, will be air rushing to find me/ Plant me in the earth 6 feet and I rise see, I lily. I lilac. I rose. I resurrected in the form of prose. I be Mother Nature’s scribe. When unfaithful pens keep running out on me. it’s a wonder I’m still alive/ ‘cause I keep summonsing my veins to re(a)d pages/ So I guess its safe to say/ These ain’t just rhymes/ Deep within the confines of my mind/ My wanderlust is such a must that when I travel/ Time zones, single-handedly fighting back/ Against the attack of the clones/ Once upon a fortnight/ Once forged in the belly with insight/ Dancing with bodies of water/ Making love to poetic forms/ This be my birthright/ And I’ll be that living sacrifice/ Solidified on a holy night/ Crucified on a star when I’m far from being Christ-like/ I take commit to the mic original sin/ Posses the life-like wind/ I get the urge without a pen/ I’ll ink the words into my skin/ Then let you read my body language/ And even silence is anguish/ Cause poetry is not a luxury/ So until it blends with the wind every breath is gluttony/ If I use it for vanity/ These pages are sanity/ So I fill them with the children of suffering humanity/ This is for the tears that get lost in the rain/ And the joy that subsides in the midst of rising pain/ So I spit to the dying places/ The crying faces/ So heavy with pain that they are weightless/ And my fate shifts, as I take to the skies/ Collecting tears along the ride/ Trying to keep colored girls from committing suicide/ Cause when I become ageless/ Hope my life’s work is weighted in more than just pages/ But actions and fractions of kindness manifested in the blindness of love cause…/ Poetry is not a Luxury/ So until it blends with the wind every breath is…/ And I’ll be that poet with a slow start, Cause I don’t want to be clever with no heart/ Don’t want to be in the spotlight with no sight/ Don’t want to be on the frontlines with no fight/ Cause while many gain applause and haven’t even earned it/ So few understand the importance of being earnest/ My spirit burns like a furnace, And my mindsoulbody melt into one/ Migrate towards the rays, And I’ll stay behind… to scatter the sun.


Sam “I Am” Gaymon

I Write I was that peasy head lanky young buck from the roughest South Philly block bobos leaned to the curb I had mad hops ran rock with jocks but smarter than the average nerd Ten springtimes old in a house where the winter bricks were always cold sleeping with my coat on at night. I never had nothin’ so I never lost nothin’ Thank the Lord this gift he gave me aint cost nothin. All I got in this world are these words. So I write. And you would think mom and dad for all years they had been together would have learned to get along better God why you make me the oldest? I don’t wanna be in charge. The responsibility in this camp is too large. Plus, you get no paternal props for calling the Fraternal Order of cops on your pops. It is what it is. Yeah you heard right. And nothing is a curse like, or hurts like when he give your little brother your birthright because of this It was hard, on point like the Jr. Scotland yard standing guard wondering if mom was laughing or crying ear pressed against her bedroom door See, once you’ve cleaned your mother’s precious blood from the floor you will somehow become different than the average young baw! The only straight A’s fifth grader with bags under his eyes cause until he dozed off I couldn’t fall asleep every night. To pass time I’d play hide and go seek for weeks from the world in my head and I’d write. Practice my relentless mind scribble dribble….. Live at the Spectrum on Pattison and south Broad it’s the young gun, the lyrical lord with the most point scored, at the number two guard from Project U, god Its dude, god ! Who, god? Sammyuel, god! South paw pen handle hotter than the AND 1, A. I. Globetrotters! Flow wetter than baby dribble! No! Wetter than sweat! No! Sweatier than a big chick’s tits get right here in the middle, heated like a gasoline greased griddle! Flava like a Now or Later sandwich with onion rings and extra skittles… This borrowed vessel here for all my humble years has been the meeting house for greater lyricism and the level I play on! The grind I stay on! From this day on, please close your eyes and hold hands like a séance say uhhmm… I now pronounce you man and wife. Will you a man always keep, sleep with one hand on the mic for life and write? To have and to hold with two hands on the mic for life if you like, and write? Let not be separated for lack of dee jay, band or stage upon which to stand on the mic? Spit I will until I fall dead on the mic! Wake up three poems later on the same mic resurrected look out and see rows and rows of unprotected moes getting head from dykes . I will write. Till my very last stammered breathe or until death do us part. No need for the prenuptial. I was born and bred, ill experience fed to spit muscle in a land of mostly lip hustle! I write in the hope of creating a bridge between you and I that will change both of us for the better I give my life between the sky blue lines tryin to make the margins come together I write praying that that somebody tonight finds God who thought they would never know Him I write for healing knowing that the closest some of us may ever get to Heaven may be inside here singing songs like psalms and praying these poems My penance, my price, my soul’s sacrifice, my wrongs, my stories my poems, my plays, scripts,and songs Everything I ever wrote God gave me personally and I sport it like Joseph and his multi colored coat! Paper is religion, the pencil the key to the prison that freed the little poor boy who slept with his coat and hat on at night! That is why I would die if I couldn’t write.

Ms. Wise


JUST PRAY Everytime u feel the Spirit moving in your heart, just pray On mournful mornings When backed bills consume your box of mail and seem 2 barricade the breaking of dawn See, it seems darker with the lights on cause you’re continuously wondering when they gonna cut ‘em off again And your smile suffocates through Saturday morning cartoons Soap box operas and 79cent boxes of cornbread mix that keep your child smiling as long as u sprinkle some sugar on top Everytime u feel the Spirit moving in your heart Don’t stop Pray.

Shine through your sickness The healthcare provider saying he can’t provide 4 your sickness

cause you ain’t got the riches 5 and dime prices gon’ non-existent Dishwashing liquid that washes your clothes and your dishes Shine In the same jeans you wore in the same week 2 or 3 times Shine’ When your credit card gets declined in a long line You gotta shine You gotta shine more 4 the thousands more who would exchange your problems 3score in the land of Darfur Dip your fingers in the waters of Zimbabwe 4 a soul as strong as satchel explosives in Jesus’ backpack Feel victorious in the midsts of a war and the strongest blow can dissepate your roof and see how u make it pure Shine but fail 2 destroy your foundation 4 every Iraqi child trained 2 aim at an American soldier Turn off the station! Wait until he’s older Don’t let the media fool u! and colder Pop in an underground Ms. Wise CD Shine 4 his resentment and rock 2 the rhymes ‘til your mind be free her confusion And tell the child born without arms 2 embrace the rhythm their losses and the boy without legs 2 dance like David danced your bruises High up on the stars ‘til the friction sparks something Stretch your arms out 2 the sky and redefine your hands itching Light this world on fire with 2 sticks and 1 stone and show them how survivors Crucifixion’s in the palm of your hands make it happen Pump your pain against your heart You are golden and thank God 4 your broken pieces Created by the Father and cleansed by the Son ‘cause you can’t learn 2 build without some parts. Shine Shine past the calls of collection Everytime u feel the Spirit start Telephone disconnections Don’t stop Shine Past the weight on your shoulders Pray. Past the postman carrying your bills that await on his shoulder Go on, God’s child, shine Past the unemployment lines


Kevin White (Eternal Thought)

A Brother’s Love

I love you Between pain and concrete windows Glass streets and steal heart beats Between 6 feet of the good dying young The crack epidemic and the same gun Aimed towards the sun to end our existence Between deaf ears and all those who took the time to listen Between your mistakes and perfections Your anger and aggression Between false hopes and misguided directions Between capitalism and liberation The big house and the white house From the days of morals and values To materialism and not being valued Between warlords and peacemakers Selfless givers and selfish takers Between the past and the present Faith and science Between God the devil and everything that I am Between this paper and pen A bottle of spring water A half pint of gin Between Nat Turner and she have yet to be born Sunny days and endless storms Between insanity and the norm Death and being born Between fact and fiction And the things I have yet to mention My love for you is God given Ask Jesus or Nas They will tell that it was written From beginnin’ to endin’ So brother behind bars, you’re not alone Because if you were born BLACK or BROKE We were born in AMERICA’S PRISON!

Queen Shakirah 10

Pray Hard

You don’t have to feel ashamed sister, I understand you, better yet, I am you, so let me be the first to admit that some shit shouldn’t be left unspoken, I know the reasons that your spirits has been broken, And silence doesn’t make it any less painful, and women’s problems shouldn’t have to be shameful, so take this as permission to be exactly who God made you, and from the path other women have swayed too, but recognize His power because through you, the world has been created, So it’s ok to let the rain fall when the deltas have already been flooded, It’s alright if you’ve grown tired of treading water, for once let the waves consume you, don’t assume that you have to be superwoman all the time, ‘cause even supermom, superbusinesswomen, supermaid, super save-a-friend, super queen-in-public, superfreak-from-within, needs a break sometimes, we need to breathe sometimes, need a chance to grieve sometimes for the little girl we let die inside us, the girl that kept our dreams alive in us, use to confide in us about her fears but we ignored her, got so caught up in the rat race while she walked beside us we bored her, left her to fend for herself, so ladies, we’ve got to take care of us if no one else, ‘cause a flame can’t light the way for no one else if it’s burnt out, take time to reflect on how your life has turned out, it’s ok to be embarrassed sometimes, it’s ok to have regrets, it’s ok to admit you’ve made mistakes, it’s ok to get upset, but don’t be ashamed, no matter how great the sin, chances are, you’ve been forgiven, if you could only learn to forgive yourself, be that sin big or small let God be the judge sweetie and realize, you don’t need no middleman to speak to your Lord, if you want forgiveness, ask for it! for who is so holy as to tell you that you are not worthy to bask in His glory in the privacy of your own home? be it with the congregation or at home alone, know that you are directly connected to your maker, So pray hard, for the women who have ever put themselves aside, who have ever willingly choked on their own pride for the sake of another, pray hard, for any sister on which you’ve ever wished or initiated harm, for ever going into spiritual, emotional or intimate battle unarmed, for the women who have ever considered or commited embryo homicide, for every colored girl who has ever considered suicide when the rainbow wasn’t enuf, pray hard, for every mate you found unworthy of your blessings, for every soulless encounter you found unworthy of undressing, I understand the guilt and the pain, while others may label your troubles insignificant, cause the effect is the same even when the sources are different, I understand the strain on your mental, I understand the depression, when it comes to trying to make your household perfect, I understand the obsession, But I understand better now that to truly appreciate your blessings, let go of the shame, be humbled, be enlightened, and pray hard.

Will Little


The Book Of Life When life seems unfair, the tears starts to run out, pain hurts too much, struggle gets harder, voices get unheard cut gets too deep conscience get to eating at you literally you can’t sleep, when right seem wrong and left turns right when you choose ignorance over knowledge death over life. When parent act too young our children act too grown addicted to the street life no guidance at home. A young life is lost because he didn’t know what to do with it, community turns a dead ear have we come immune to this, her innocence got stolen at such and early age and the only thing she did wrong was trust uncle dave, cause daddy’ s in a cage and mommy’ s in a daze from puffing all that haze so now she afraid. let’s turn the page in this book called life take a journey with me through a book called life..

Ready, Set, Rhyme  
Ready, Set, Rhyme  

Philadelphia Poets