“Opening Words” (Biennial of the Americas 2015)

By Molina Speaks

(This poem was scribed to reflect the Opening Symposium of the Biennial of the Americas 2015.  Molina was commissioned as the live poetic scribe of the Biennial.)

Suit Jackets and Ties
Live at the Americas
Cocktail Dresses and Heels
Costume and Curtain Time, Shine

The Beautiful People shuffle truths and disguise Now
Live at the Americas

Let us talk Money
Let us talk Business and Big Names
Politics and Community

Tell me about the Thought Leaders in the
“The Conceptual Economy”
I will tell you about the hood
and the ideas that are mined from our lives
by monopolies

It is a privilege to be Here
I will soak it up and plant a flag
A seat at the Table for the Poet reading shadows
I am honored to be of Residence here


Let us talk of Now

Pull out the Resumes, Bios and the Script,
under-rehearsed name pronunciations
and Million Dollar accents
on Investment

Meet the Talent
Enunciate your Passions in Fluctuating Times

Meet the Millennials!
Meet the Billennials!!, the bilinguals

Meet the Now Statistics as America Browns

Do not panic, America
is Browning

Do not call me “Hispanic”
Another conversation for another time…

(do not panic)

For now we are speaking of Now
The Millennials are coming!!
The Millennials are coming!!!!

I counted 27.5 uses of the word “Millennial”
in session
and perhaps one mention of “justice”

Education and Choice, Taxonomies
Digital Currencies and Technologies
Old standards and Domains irrelevant
Times of Informal Educations and Social Media hype

Where will you find Yourself a  m  e  r  I  c  a ? ? ?

Interesting… these times are “interesting”
(every intellectual’s favorite word, including mine)
Call and respond with me…

    When I say, “Well, what do you think ??? hmm…”
     You rub your chin and say “Hmm mmm I  n  t  e  r  e  s  t  I  n  g …”


The experts say you can Now learn to computer program in about six months flat through some diligence and a free online class at Harvard… in exchange for your $70,000 receipt of debt from a university of your choosing: 

“Well, what do you think ??? hmm…”
“… Hmm mmm I  n  t  e  r  e  s  t  I  n  g …”

The experts say we are obsessed with public persona, that we are distracted, that we have redacted focus, that we are not engaged in the Now but instead are infatuated with the Packaging of Now…

“Well, what do you think ??? hmm…”
“… Hmm mmm I  n  t  e  r  e  s  t  I  n  g …”

(COMES NOW from Molina Speaks, you can find me on twitter at @ Molina Speaks that’s M-O-L-I-N-A S-P-E-A-K-S)

The experts say that the future of social media is really about teaching us how to set boundaries for ourselves…

Well, what do you think ??? hmm…”
“… Hmm mmm I  n  t  e  r  e  s  t  I  n  g …”

Finally, when asked, “what is the key to happiness?”, the experts say:

In a nutshell, “Happiness is about American Exceptionalism and Investment Potential…”

“Happiness is about Impact and Purpose…”

Another expert made it about “The Chicken or the Egg”, then babbled on about qualities and quantities, qualitative and quantitative data, extended wordiness and finally proclaimed that “It cannot be contained in mere words…”

Lastly, she said Happiness was about her Job, Success, and “Kicking Ass”

Well, what do you think ??? hmm…”
“… Hmm mmm I  n  t  e  r  e  s  t  I  n  g …”

Interesting indeed.

a  m  e  r  I  c  a
Look back at your history so that you can us where we are going
Let us play Definition together
as we sit Now at your Table: 



The Wings of La Mariposa

On this day the governors of La Alma
proclaimed Youth On Record
a social justice organization

It was a day some snickered,
some sneered, some jeered

The community at large cheered La Mariposa
peering into mirrors of self doubt,
inferiority complexes and barrels of disbelief,
turning over leaves from falling dreams,
from making something out of nothing
to taking old things we knew
and making them new,
speaking truth to news cameras
in search of sound bites,
barking at the heavens
a triumph
of horn lines,
rapping 16 bars at a time
about transformed lives,
watching the street signs change
under disappearing telephone lines,
in gentrifying times
we thought we might change something too

So we asked You
to support a vision

My son asked me last week about Capitalism
My response was a story about $2.1 million
collective footnotes in history, a building
that would broadcast the next seven generations,
constructed on the backs of artists,
activitists, dusty foot philosophers
and working class dreamers,
brave enough to collaborate with bigger money,
and big money brave enough to collaborate with the people

A step in a direction
of shedding the divisions
that imprison humanity’s wings

It was a day of celebration en La Alma,
a day we all breathed with less fear,
a day we knew you would remember us
standing here
speaking with you
the wings of La Mariposa.


~ a poem to mark the grand opening of Youth On Record’s Youth Media Studio on the West Side of Denver

 Speaks, Kalyn, Yoda, Nate


Continue reading

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

Continue reading

What The TheloniUs


Thelonious Monk inspired scores of jazz and hip hop legends, but in his time he was that artist who contemporaries thought was crazy because he did things his way. They didn’t know if he was garbage or genius. History has proven Thelonious a complicated and brilliant visionary. His rhythms, patterns and textures continue to inspire musicians and poets alike. We are TheloniUs when we are not afraid to be ourselves, regardless of whether people “get it.” We are TheloniUs when we take what is old and make it new with our own original wild style. #WhatTheTheloniUs is a journey through jazz and lyrical improvisation.

Concept by Molina Speaks
Produced by Diles for Visceral View Entertainment

Vocals performed by Molina Speaks and guest emcees
Beats and Mixes by Diles
Mastered by DJ Icewater

1. #WhatTheTheloniUs features guest vocals by Ill Seven and Yuzo Nieto on Saxaphone. Written, recorded and improvised start-to-finish to Diles beat in a two-hour studio session at Dryer Plug Studios, October 2014.

2. #Check features guest vocals by Mike Wird, Asia Fajardo on Saxaphone, and Chris G on Flute. Written, recorded and improvised from scratch including beat in a two hour studio session at Cherry Sound Studios, February 2014.

3. #TimePiece features Randy Runyan on Trumpet. Written, recorded and improvised start-to-finish to Diles beat in a two-hour studio session at Dryer Plug Studios, August 2014.

4. #Hustle features Joshua Trinidad on Trumpet. Horns recorded at the end of #WhatTheThelonius session at Dryer Plug Studios, lyrics written in a 30-minute stream-of-consciousness session on a Wednesday morning at sunrise, then recorded in a 90-minute studio session at Late Nite Studios.

Molina Speaks - What The Thelonius

Future Town

Future Town
     by Molina Speaks

The future of music lifts
Ancient hieroglyphs in sound waves
Modern airplay must give way
The new creative class is coming

Humming, hovering, hustling
to be heard, our words curve
Mockingjay designs, dagger verbs
our picket signs

Old lines become shadows and we shade
Done standing in lines, music will even pay to play

We drown days of sorrows in cluttered bedrooms, unfinished basements, gentrified stoops, street corners, opening garage doors,
planting miracles into unlit space, endless time,
designing our own futures so we will not be swallowed
by dust bowls or ghosts in the machine

We are
not the mere relics of strange fruit,
not the forgotten hands of intertwined roots
We sculpted the bricks, leveled the floors and mixed cement for these buildings, and we want more than what we have been given access to

We deserve to be heard, so yes, we will even pay to play
Even if it’s just to spit the fire of lyrics to near nonexistent crowds, most whom will not hear the brilliance in the poetry of even one verse over the roar of beer, cell phones, sidetalk
We still write in chalk on sidewalks
You never know how you may reach the next one like you

Art will always say “I am Here”,
riding a bucking bull into Future Town waving two fish,
carrying two buckets of water and organ keys
into Aquarius

Be you Ol Skool, True Skool or New Age
the tags on the high beams are always the same
Adapt or Die
That’s music

We weather the edges left of center with our right brains
saddling it, circling days of crows that cray the decays of the age

Do you see a web that could upend the top down and flip it on its head?
Do you envision a collapse and a revision of disposable culture?
Or just The Collapse?
Can you envision a new system of economic and cultural exchange?
Or do you only see the cash?

We thread
Skill sets
As artists
We flex

Whether you wax Dystopian Utopia or Utopian Dystopia
We do not wait for outcomes, we create the context

A call to La Alma we address the most pressing issues of this design
The artist knows she can confront the education crisis, and through music, reverse the school-to-prison pipeline
The focused activist knows it is not about solving but experimenting
He actively addresses the systems’ isms
A life vision that reengages disenfranchised suns and daughters
Deeper relationships within the village
Land, food,clothing, shelter, water and music

To crowdsource the alleyways
Provide direct access to the underserved
Convert startup and revenue streams to unsuspected dreamers
Create capacity for new content in up-and-coming markets
Draft policies to make up-and-coming a reality for communities who are not, but need to be, and deserve to be


It is our responsibility to activate ourselves, advocate wealth, and create healthy space in vibrant places where the soul of humanity speaks loudest through the teeth of resilient youth who don’t give a FUCK
about any of this fancy language

They came to sing
They came to shimmy, to shake
They came to two step, doo wop, lindy hop, gogo, break
Pop, lock, salsa, merengue, bachata, krump, twerk–Orale!
They came to smile
They came to laugh
They came to play

We owe it to ourselves to be there with them
In the schools, in the parks, in the heart centers of Community
Downtown, uptown, ghettotown, underground, aboveground

Future Town.


[Live poeticizing at the Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit in Washington, DC.  Presented October 28, 2014 on a panel featuring Youth On Record, recognized for music education.]

A Rebirth for Aztlan

NACCS-Logo-web1I was booked to perform for Cultural Night at the conference for National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS), held at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, April 2014.   I wrote this with two literary perspectives in mind: 1) documentary prose based on my participation in the conference; 2) a poetic call to action inspired by historical Chicano/Chicano poetry.  I am a Chicano artist and a teacher of Chicano Studies.  I am also outside the canon and institutions of Chicana/Chicano Studies and Ethnic Studies.  I almost always find myself at the intersections of identity and experience, refusing to conform to any particular scene or way of being.   This constant Insider/Outsider quality to all aspects of my identity complicates and enriches all that I do.  It makes me feel fractured, and it makes me feel whole. 

I completed this poem at 6AM the final morning of the conference.  I printed 125 copies at the UPS store around the corner of the hotel.  I passed copies out at random to the conference attendees (i.e. NACCSistas), before eating lunch at Red Iguana Mexican restaurant and boarding a plane back home to Denver, Colorado. 

Some scholars see Chicana and Chicano Studies as a dying academic field, being replaced by the broader and more politically correct “Latino Studies” or Latin-American Studies.  The theme of the 2014 national conference was: Fragmented Landscapes in Chicana and Chicano Studies: Deliberation, Innovation or Extinction?


A Rebirth for Aztlán
By Molina Speaks

I do not speak fluent Spanish, but

I had a dream I rode a burro under el Quinto Sol
all the way to la conferencia nacional
de Chicana y Chicano Studies

It was in el barrio under spring sun
in a struggling school
that sings jaded songs of blue hummingbirds
odes to the days
that once claimed Aztlan

All the fancy raza
in their fancy clothes
with their fancy degrees, J.D.s and Ph.D.s
me incluyo
gathered to breathe new life
into a decaying field of dinosaur bones

Black ink from far reaching hyphens and extravagant palabras
like “Institutionalization”
like the students of Sal Castro
walked off their white pages
out into the gray streets
as post-institutional post-sovereign post-conscious post-neocolonial
globalized fragmented representational transformational intersectional
crawled off the computer screen and out the banquet facilities
into the community
of chavalitos, abuelitas, activistas, artistas, so on and so forth

The transnational corporate hotel chain had lost the year’s bid
and each NACCSista shared a dinner with a host familia
interested in reconnecting with their own
Chicano past, present and future

NACCS fees and moneys did not line the account books
of colonial hotel tycoons
Those tens of thousands of dollars                         
to la host escuela
to fund the reinstitution of arts and music for the youth

The barrio café that went green
to the mystification of gente at large
catered world class lunches and dinners with local produce
and the scholars drank organic fair trade Mexican coffee
roasted and brewed locally
catered also by the independistas of local commerce

There was more dialogue with strangers from strange schools
I witnessed extraordinary focus, inquiry and outcome driven activities
Sessions sat in circles not rows, less tribalism and invisible phones

Praxis through process-driven learning supplemented Power Point
as community graf writers and muralists collaborated with NACCSistas
to tell a new story
on an old wall
and NACCSistas created a hall                                  
of poetry
alive and evolving day one to day four

Youth scholars from all over la host ciudad came to “Cultural Night”
y los Chicanos Picassos del barrio were commissioned
to create live art throughout time and space
and there was no talk                                                   
of “Post-Chicano Art”

The city’s celebrated poetas were even bussed in on public transit
to pop bottle caps off cervezas
pull corks off botellas de vino
and mix drinks right there in the school commons
(porque why not, they gained propinas?)
Los profesionales did not miss their coveted happy hour
after long and grueling discussions of White Privilege
and everybody was happy
In a display of cross-cultural Intersectionality
the poets even read bilingual haiku
and with each pour of spirits
bled their souls from mouths to ears to glass
I must say the coin margaritas were of fine character
and the fiesta carried the roar of calaveras
dancing through the night

At the conclusion of la conferencia the village curandera
walked out into el parque with her sage y copal
to bless all the conference quetzalcoatls
for their long journeys “home”
The plenaries on spirituality and indigeneity came alive
as spirals of ancient smoke kissed La Virgin sky

Rudolfos Anaya y Acuna y Corky y Cesar nodded in approval
Huitzilopochli tipped his hat
Tezcatlipoca offered his toothy grin
and shook hands with Milagro and El Muerte
Tonanzin y Frida shared a sensual embrace
(Ana Castillo glanced sideways with a smirk and slight hint of jealousy)
Anzaldúa penned a poema to mark the occasion
Roberto y Patricia joined hands once more
raising them high up to the heavens
towards the great salt lake and the seven caves
and the ancient Chicano clap commenced

The spirits were quite pleased                
and I, like you, like them
disappeared into the sunset on mi burro
all the pinche wey                                       
back home
in and out of days
stopping for water                                      
only once

Perhaps it was only a dream
like it was 1968
but it was more like 2015
Beyond Fragmentation
Sneering aggressively                                
at the prospect of Extinction
A Rebirth for Aztlán.

Extended epitaph for la blue eyes

En la memoria de mi abuela Susie Medina (maiden name Esquibel), 1915-2014
Rest now January 17th, 2014


Extended epitaph for la blue eyes
A weary traveler
She remained
In Western valleys
Stubbornly speaking Spanish
With pride her lips curled tight
Around dusty ways
That sting like scorpions

She survived a man
His vices
A brutal poverty
To grow branches
And branches growing leaves
With few smiles
Holding onto life
Through bitter chills

Here she rests now
Peace without a nest
Nestled without rest
Into hearts and minds
Of copper inheritance
Learning the contradictions
Of time

A brutal century
Releases water under roots
She is free
Wandering sky
Can her people see
Tumbling down this long windy road
We have learned?

- Molina Speaks

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

Without Extreme Faith


Without Extreme Faith
by Molina Speaks

     Inspired by the words of Junot Diaz
     Americas Latino Festival, Denver 2013

“This is no keynote, just an artist”
taking shots—
shots at those calling 
at the stories
we all tell
to deniers

There is a fire burning in the ghettos of time
nobody sees their faces anymore—
the poor
disappeared from Public Space
space disappeared
from public life
there is no public 
in the network republic 
of nanosecond time.  

Coming of age in the 80s
brought up on punk and hip-hop
they thought 
the 90s would be like the 60s
the zero zero decade was to be the 70s
so is this the 80s again
obama, reagan? 

Trillions of dollars spent
on de-motivation 
minds bent only to the market
youth speak fluent dystopia 
without Rage
one cannot
be an artist 
without extreme faith. 

Education fails kids
as politicians fail civics fail cities
and passionate teachers
teach the physics of civics
to youth 
who intrinsically know
there is no longer such a thing.

“The world will have a hard conversation 
with you
whether you like it
or not,”
progressives rot
without alternative pathways:

“The white bankers know 
they need diversity training
while the cultural radicals
refuse to acknowledge
systems they recreated.”  

“The only way to survive”
is to gather resources
to care for our bodies
to speak our stories
to see marathons
not fuses 
and brave steps forward
in simple solutions:

“A ten year moratorium
on men’s leadership roles”
why not?  Because

a 3000 year old civilization
could travel forward
to see us doing 
what they were doing
what we are doing—
a calendar society
owning people
counting nature
resource by resource 
creating artifacts
of repetition 

Another civilizational moment
is possible
beyond demonstrations
within imagination.

Disrupt the networks.
Break the class divisions.  Whenever possible
forgive yourself and have patience.

You cannot be an artist 
without extreme faith.

They Call It Inspiration

Ideas die slowly, like stars
I can feel them washing
away like bridges.
New dreams populate hemispheres

This breath, wild smoke
circling our minds like fire,
evaporating sweat
from conscious thoughts
that stick
like wooden proofs.

Is truth ever defined?

like laughter
tumbling Eifel towers,
we watch the waves and intertwine
madness with happiness,
running from normality
like disease, roaming the hills
until time
falls out the clock.

I am awake
and inspired.