by José Vadi

the question
of whether or
not to do art
is futile
knowing [still]
the bullet never flies
without first
a hammers


the ball dropped;
so did my logic.

pictures prove
brief romance.

we are adults now:
degreed, well-


we’re getting a cat;
naming it Knuckles.




my friends
are long winded chat avatars
and postcards kissed before sending,
both written from bars
a cocktail napkin stared at
long enough to form a whole

like we did
at that modern museum
staring at Chagall and Miro
re ­enacting Shadows
with you both in
the sculpture yard;

you are missed
more than memories
blurred and
lost at last call
I love you,


A train ride
across racist states
without wifi
is not obligation,
but the loyal duty
of human beings co-
existing at weddings
where the father of the
bride orders all five beers on
tap before asking telling me
to hold them all
(, baby,)
lighting his cigar.


i fear having a child
that will hate the
world it greets to the
point they choose to
leave before
i die.


Fucking for a fucks worth is no longer the fucking point when you’re grown enough to fucking
know when to fuck and fucking mean it.


My friends are still dead.
I can’t change that
in character names
of novels I want to publish
before I tell my ghosts, somewhere,
At least someone can steal it now,

like we did:
the boosted 35mms roles
into what I carry
with me
into every apartment,

the leases
i sign in ash

wishing you lived old enough
to start drinking coffee

with me.


you need breakfast daily.
your sex, best affirmed at sunrise.
there is a regiment to it all.
the all is beyond your control.
the you in control wakes in stillness.
realizes existences’ muddy slap;
cold fog aftershave reminding me
this town’s a pending swamp.


in killing your idols
you’ll hear their
first breaths again;

the one that made you
fall in like
with their peer-
level charm,
single direction
to egos and foreboding
proverbs re: keeping enemies
closer than friends;

never a same road
we’re parallel freeways
only intersecting
at each other’s shows,

a reason these words
are scribed alone.


, and kill those idols still.

Plead no [more] contest[s].

Don’t hire lawyers
when deities
fall to grace
for bitcoins
these days,

we’ll always make
the Mickey Mouse club
look like fetuses
learning to piss straight;
we’re slices and scabs
of each other’s childhood,

Poet – ­
i love you [ ,


Know your underground is
never as underground as
the one that leads behind bars
and that you are a bite mark
away from Marv Albert
and that 90s references will
one day /
this day
be /

cool again.


keep trying
to describe the ricochet
of Kurt’s decision;

one day still
it may heal the wound;
the first idol
with whom i aligned
my pulse.


book the show
but fuck their set list;
fuck the stage before the audience;
blushing is for bench warmers
and neither deserve front row to Messiah;

double the specials and
lights from the grid above,

nothing so bright
can erase roots
this singed,

make this event
your white lit fear,
shine it 19th century deep

smell my flesh burning
in the goddamn spotlight [still]

trying to illuminate
the color of art
patrons’ deepest pockets’


Walk into brunch with white girlfriend like
fuck your life;

Walk into brunch with greenbacks like
fuck your life;


Your eyes [still] hover over bad decisions
in petty sitcoms cutting floor treatments
nine hours ahead of my reality.

You won ­
beyond our towns expectations;
beyond an awkward kids
slumped anatomy,

please don’t forget
how hard the fall
like the time
[                          ]
and i still drove
you to work.

i’ve forgotten to
ask myself
what you’ve
given me.


as a kid between angels and inland empires,
a video of a group of cops hitting
an unarmed black man
with their feet
appeared so brutal
that riots seemed warranted.

today the dash cam footage of
latest black live discarded by police
blares across tv screens in Fort Lauderdale
on color monitors above white kids
complaining their burgers are cold.

the footage follows me
on the seat backs of flights
thousands of feet above the ground
where i can pay to watch this news
a credit card swipe from
above the riots that
sometime occur now ­-

and did i
climb the roof
like my memory says i did
and try to see smoke rise [still]
from Rosencrans to Pomona?


the small time hustles and full time drive;
the years after twenty ­one.


the moment i knew it was
better for him to die
than prove another year
beyond ninety.


being the officiant of my sisters wedding.


i have not remembered a dream since I can’t remember.


i’m an in ­house personal assistant
the boss is away
i take care of the dogs
but find also
condom wrappers, lingerie,
busted sheets and the like
sprawled in the guest room
like au pair and husband affairs
tend to do, wine glasses half full on
the kitchen island,

the same day the kids
from next door visited
and the au pair said nothing
nodded hello,
knowing this space was hers
more than my temp ass
had shit to say about it.


at thirty,
we speak with good friends
about how much we value
the times we can be alone
while we sit
having drinks.


there is a person inside me others would describe as a fourteen year old Oakland bred
self ­identified ratchett perennially on the 1R on AC Transit, speaker blaring, poetic entrepreneur
and interior designer some call Keema others call Carlos others call the Hook ­up your proverbial
The Homey but none of these false tags sway the fact that [     ] never tell a lie they just tell it.


i remember
being happy
Nak described
the shotgun
[Non ­] existent across
her chest.


will i be remembered.


i have seen enough of this country
to know more of the parts for
which i give negative fucks.


when i darted into traffic
anxiety my Gepetto
behind these eyes [still]
the gloss of fear

debating today whether
or not i wanted to die;
how close a
chance engendered,

i fear dying
and living
without the fear
of sleep.

the night
expands onto
like mornings:

this time suspended

this time immortal

we are the ephemera

we breathe daily

to existence

towards forgotten.


[                           ].