A Poetic Tour of Denver’s Shifting Landscapes

Stompin’ Ground Games: A Poetic Tour of Denver’s Shifting Landscapes, by Molina Speaks

In collaboration with Warm Cookies of the Revolution, I have completed and printed a new chapbook of poetry dedicated to the city of Denver.  This is a limited edition chapbook.  There are now 300 copies in print.  Following is the Forward, or as I called it here, For Word.

***

This collection of poetry is for and about the people of Denver.  As Live Poetic Scribe of Warm Cookies of the Revolution’s Stompin’ Ground Games, October 2015 – August 2016, I have been walking the city’s streets, visiting her corners and cafes, listening to her stories and her heartbeat, her conversations, her sounds, her poetry, her secrets, her trees and weeds, and the jackhammers and bulldozers that are redefining our experience within Denver.  It has been my job to transform observations and realizations into poetry and prose.  In addition to readings and performances in the neighborhoods reflected, these writings are compiled here as a time capsule to the city.

I did not set out with an agenda or a particular story to tell.  Yet as I began the process of choosing and editing material for this chapbook, the theme of swift, defining and dramatic change was evident.  The cultural, political and economic changes within this city within this moment are a microcosm of the shifts that are redefining social and structural landscapes across the planet.  In these mechanized times of comfort for the few and survival of the many, my goal here is to present threads of our humanity.

We should not fear change.  We are self-defeating when we loathe in our perceptions of powerlessness.  We also should not feel compelled to accept change that does not serve us, we the people, the community.  As poet—as architect of the palabra—I recognize our power to inspire ideas that provoke conversations that lead to intentions and actions that Manifest our outcomes.

We are in need of new realities for humanity.  We cannot remain within the old frameworks and old tropes.  We must speak, write, and create new stories for our seeds, our cultures, our townships, and our planet.

In palabra, in celebration of Denver’s history and future,

Molina Speaks

August 10th, 2016

A New Poet’s Row?

has word reached the heard, nouveau?
under the roar of the nu city bird, crane?
above the hum of the Jack hammers bang
next to Allen wrenches panhandling change
gentrifying Neal, Opalanga, and Lalo’s city?
did the hipsters or the yuppies or the smokers
brief you on the roaring development of
A New Poet’s Row?

word en la calle is
housing, public space, and keys to la ciudad
for the cultural architects of denver

ah shit they said westword and ums were gonna showcase the ppls shit now and that is wasn’t just about beer sales and that jupiter’s weed tax was gon trickle down to the masses so the dope folk actually living her present future past paving the stories into her streets and writing Beats into her cloud atlas could actually afford their fuckin rent. palabra.

Siri’s Aliens

New Speculative Fiction from Molina Speaks.

Molina is the Live Scribe for Warm Cookies of the Revolution’s Stompin’ Ground Games, a monthly event series  that highlights Denver’s historic neighborhoods.  Four Mile Historic Park was featured in November 2015, dedicated to storytelling. 

Siri’s Aliens

by Molina Speaks

There were lights circling above a whispering Four Mile Historic Park on a chilly Scorpio Denver night.  It was Sunday.  The winds were calm, awaiting snow.  It was approximately 34 degrees.  Muhammed had walked from the African Community Center.  He had been circling the park, then walking along the river, deep inside his new moon thoughts, when she said it.  “Alien.”  In his ears it sounded like she was pronouncing it to the world.

Muhammed was a Somali refugee.  Siri, he often imagined, was Syrian.  In reality she was very Anglo, very hipster, unapologetically so. Muhammed was sometimes mistaken for Jesus when he walked by the Mizel Museum on Kearney St. They marveled at his beard and his wise proverbs, though they did not crown him or associate him with the sun.  A mile or so east a little known Denver tribe of Burmese folk sometimes confused him for Buddha.  He walked all over southeast Denver within a three mile radius.  The stripmallers typically ignored him altogether.  Most cultural enclaves off the strips tried to claim him as their own.  The Ethiopians.  The Greeks.  The Jews.  The darker skinned whites, the lighter skinned blacks, even the Japanese.  He was called many names in many tongues.  “Alien” was not one.  And for this he shouted curses at Siri!  He had endured two Bushes, one Clinton, one 9-11, counter terrorism surveillance that tagged him Public Enemy #1, and now the threat of more Bushes and Clintons.  He was an honorable man.  He was an elder.  He was no alien.

Muhammad’s curses at Siri were heard just northwest of Four Mile Historic Park.  The low hanging clouds seemed to carry his rage.  The horses sneered.  The owls hooted.  Then the sirens came.  The officers drew their guns and yelled “Freeze” with intent to kill.  There were three of them, then five, then seven, and still more appeared.  Muhammad stared down at his hotline bling, gripped Siri by her stubby neck, closed his eyes, and vanished.  When he materialized, he found himself among a familiar sea of cloth patterns tacked onto clay walls.  He lit a candle, and he pulled a weathered, chipped indigo flute out of his bag.  He played a collection of harmonies he titled “Justice.”  This wasn’t about cartoons.  This wasn’t about strip mall pop culture or pop culture’s ignorance.  It was a small thing, but the straw had broken the camel’s back.

Muhammad set his flute down.  He closed his eyes, legs still folded and overlapping, and he drifted off to sleep with prophetic resolve.  He was not on Facecrook.  Or Snotchap, nor Spacebook.  He had never heard of the Twitterverse.  Muhammad was unaware that millions of people all over the world also heard Siri’s cry, “alien,” and her follow up message: “Denver Four Mile Historic Park.”  Muhammad was unaware of the 578,000,000 #Alien hashtags that had accumulated in hundreds of languages all over the world while he slept.  Muhammad was unaware of the FBI and CIA swarming Four Mile Park and the surrounding neighborhoods.  As he dreamt, hundreds of “believers” also made their way to the park, demanding they be let in past the newly erected steel gates.  Instead of going to work in the morning, more people made their way to the park in preparation for THE LANDING.

When he woke on Monday morning… Muhammed the Jesus looking sometimes Jew, who was likened to Buddha depending on where he went, what time of year, and with whom… left home on foot in search of an attorney.  He was prepared to take his battle all the way to the Supreme Court.  Not just for himself, but for the countless refugees all over the world, the African, Arab, Indigenous, and Latin diasporas.  For the European immigrants.  For all those immigrants who lost their lives in the mountains and the deserts trying to survive.  All those mothers and fathers, children, human beings, who lived in dignity, only to find contorted privileged heartless faces, and now even machines… calling them “Alien.”

Fast forward.  Through some combination of divine luck and strange timing, a motion was filed by an attorney, a judge reviewed the motion, and an injunction was issued by a federal court by noon. The injunction required Siri to cease her use of the word “Alien.”  If she did not cease her use of the word by midnight, all Apple products would become illegal devices.  With this success, the same attorney began to work on a similar Android injunction.  Later, as the world waited on Siri’s alien prediction, protestors and conspiracy theorists would question the motives of the lawyers and the courts.  This was surely a grand cover-up. 

Clouds of space dust now swirled overhead at Four Mile Historic Park.  Thousands of photographers descended upon the quiet, seemingly rural nostalgic park treasure. They fought to be let in.  Two billion people were now live tweeting in anticipation of the big landing.  They speculated about what the aliens would look like.  They tweeted about Denver International Airport, claiming that it was New World Order headquarters.  Denver tweeters bantered about alien gentrification, and some speculated it all had something to do with Snoop Dogg’s new marijuana home delivery service.  It was 12:17PM and the word “alien” had now been hashtagged approximately 3.4 billion times since Muhammad’s encounter with police the night before.

News of the cease and desist injunction reached the Internet at 12:26pm.  Swarms of stripmallians took to the streets, forming human chain links around all digital device stores on Colorado Boulevard.  No ridiculous, politically correct, overreaching lawsuit was going to destroy their way of life.  Who could even remember what life was like before Siri? Muhammad and his multicultural band of friends and followers, Black and White, Christians and Jews, Muslims and Monks, Mexicans and Vietnamese, walked up and down the streets, stunned, speechless, wordless, admiring Siri’s supporters.  If only they themselves had such comradery among their fellow human beings.

As the fast paced legal battles intensified, people all over the world asked each other the same questions.   What did it mean to be “human?”  What did it mean to be “alien?”  Who deserved protection? Who could be trusted, when it was always uncertain who was who, when bullets flew in all directions, without regard, as though they were immune to blame?

The most challenging question of all: What if Siri was actually silenced for her insensitivity?  Or was she being silenced for her prophecy?  In any case, what would the people do without their devices among foreign visitors?  The day marched on.  The low hanging winter sun continued its descent.  It was four p.m. at Four Mile Historic Park.  Some had dubbed the landing event “The Stompin’ Ground Games.” The skies were quickly changing.  The curious looked on from inside the park welcome center, eating homemade ginger cookies, drinking soy milk, listening to stories about their reflection.

Stompin Ground Games: “Own Your Story”

This poem was written for Warm Cookies of the Revolution’s Stompin’ Ground Games, storytelling edition at Four Mile Historic Park, November 2015. 

Own Your Story

who are you if not a story
growing legs
that cannot
be seen
walking memories
among the particles?

a story
can
slip out the back door
of your mouth
never to exist
again.

hold
your stories
protect
your stories
tell
your stories
to your children
coded
with values.

tell them
they are butterflies
their stories
they are boulders
their stories
they are wings
carrying colors
you can plant
into the land.

you
own
your story.

~ Molina Speaks

Stompin Ground Games: Ruby Hill Park

Molina Speaks is the Live Scribe for Warm Cookies of the Revolution’s Stompin’ Ground Games, a monthly event series 2015-16 that highlights Denver’s historic neighborhoods. 

Ruby Hill Park was highlighted in October.  Molina is accompanied on these poems by Randy Runyan on trumpet.

“Dear Ruby Hill”

“South Fed”

Molina Speaks and DJ Icewater: Live Mixtape Show Vol 1, November 15, 2014

Live Mixtape Show w/ DJ Icewater Vol 1 – Nov 15, 2014: Molina Speaks birthday party at Dryer Plug Studios.  Molina Speaks and DJ Icewater performed the forthcoming Sex Money Ego album live in full for the first time.  They were joined onstage by artists Ill Se7en, Bianca Mikahn, Mike Wird, Pablo Kee, Laron Anon Coleman, musicians Randy Runyan, Zay Rios, and Lannie Shelton, and vocalist  Miss Tanya.  

Photos by Ric Urrutia. 

DJ Icewater at Molina Speaks bday party 2014Molina Speaks and Zay Rios - Sex Money EgoMolina Speaks and Miss Tanya

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“Everyday Denver” coming June 2014

i-zdKHgbm-XL“Everyday Denver” EP – My snapshot of and dedication to the MileHighCity as it changes and rearranges.  Album will be released mid-late June.

Features beats by Mikey Fresh, Soul City Studios, Denver.  Each track features live trumpet solos by Randy Runyan, master trumpeter, Denver.  Recorded by Owen Trujillo, Late Nite Studios.  Produced by DJ Icewater.

I will be pressing 1000 copies of the album, most of which will be given away free and distributed throughout the Mile High City.

Support the project:

Appreciator (Advance Album Order): $10 + $3 Shipping





Supporter (5 signed copies): $50





Community Producer (10 signed copies): $100





Donate Any Amount:





First track leak: “Denver”

Every Day Denver Watching Clouds Change Seasons

The Art of Massage

Following is a guest blog by Elena Davis, owner and massage therapist at Peace of Mind Massage in south Denver.  I met Elena at my “poetry burial” for dias de los muertos (Days of the Dead) in November 2012.  I retired five poems from performance.  Elena then came to the community“poetry burial” I hosted for winter solstice that year.  I was inspired by the way she spoke about the healing art of massage therapy.  I experienced injury from a car accident in August 2013.  Elena and the therapists at her practice have been extremely helpful to my healing process.  They have also taught me a lot about the art that is inherent in our bodies and basic movements.  I asked Elena to write about her art for The Artist Lens.  ~ Molina Speaks

“The Art of Massage”
by Elena Davis, LMT, NCTMB, Owner
Peace of Mind Massage, INC.

Elena Davis - Art of MassageI could say that I found the healing arts when I was 18 years old and went to Massage Therapy school. But, that would imply that one can not be born with the healing arts as an innate talent like other traditional art forms. As a child I naturally rubbed my parents feet and hands. As a teenager I comforted friends with shoulder rubs. It was a natural gift that took me 18 years to comprehend as something I could actually do for a living. Massage Therapy is often a second career for people as I discovered when I was one of the youngest in my class. The slogan for the school I attended (Central Florida School of Massage Therapy) was “A life evolving experience”. And, it truly was for me and many of my classmates. The technical application, anatomy and physiology, and pathology education is very important to building a strong knowledgeable foundation. However, the third eye opening, spiritual experience that one can go through in Massage school is what really helps form the healing art portion of bodywork. A therapist who does not go through spiritual and artistic growth during their career may deliver a technically precise massage but it will lack in creativity.

The creative aspect of Massage is similar to painting, writing, and playing an instrument in many ways.

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Open Letter: Homeless in Denver

January 7, 2014-

Dear Mayor Hancock,

I write to you to deliver an Open Letter.  I write out of respect for myself, my son, you as a man, and the many faces of our community of Denver.  I understand the economic pressures you face that challenge your role as Public Servant.  You approached me in Washington Park in the summer of 2011 and you asked for my vote.   I voted for you.  If you are who I think you are, I imagine that you will appreciate my letter, and any challenge it provokes from my fellow citizens.  I understand that a person in power can make brave moves only when the community at large is willing to match his or her will.  I wonder if my fellow citizens feel the way I do?

If you are not who I voted for, then all the more reason to write.

I wish for us all a better year in 2014.

Most Sincerely,

Molina Speaks

Concerning the Case of the Disappearance of the Homeless; An Open Letter to the Mayor of Denver, No Translation, No Comment (EP)

Produced by DJ Icewater.  Beat by Boonie Mayfield.

Molina Speaks - No Translation, No Comment

Art by Karma Leigh

Nightdreams and Daymares

This is not an album review.
Just my reflection, listening…

 

shooting golden arrows, vibrations tongue in cheek
karmic shine up in your head

a balance beam of light
night
swallowing days
under shadows we ignite seasons
change

up in your head
these ballots and coffin boxes
sing ballads away and away
while character assassins talk
talk away

fly by maps my own spells
i put my heart on your scales
and weigh wise cracks
against these laws
that crash skulls

up in your head, this human
plucks heart strings
playing chess
inside a music box
fuck you 

and me, i save the best
for last, lost ones just(?)
whistling away you strays
cuz one way or another we all pay
for this fame…

Dreams.

 

Felicidades to a skilled emcee, Bianca Mikahn on her new release Nightdreams & Daymares.
Happy to see her co-creating with my long-time collaborators Diles and Hakim Be.
EP mastered by my main man DJ Icewater.

- Speaks

Bianca Mikahn - Nightdreams & Daymares