WHO ARE YOU? Poetry and Truth – by artist Regie Cabico


– By artist and workshop leader Regie Cabico:LAYC Logo

My second summer semester at Latin American Youth Center brought 16 young adult teens divided into two groups: The Road Runners and The Money Makers. The students were motivated to listen and to share their work in an intimate sunny conference room. My goal is to have students listen to each other, creating a supportive ensemble.




In the lessons I focused on speaking with imagery. In pairs, students asked WHO ARE YOU? I encouraged students to transform themselves into things in nature and to consider that when we “lie” in poetry- we use these “truths” as metaphors, similes and hyperboles. I was blessed to have the in-class support of Abi and Tina, who are naturally gifted writers themselves. Students got to work with their mentors in a collaborative way.

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On our second workshop I had Slam Poet Dwayne B. from Metro Teen AIDS perform work to prepare students for the culminating event. Little “T” said it was a highlight. Seeing a resident from Anacostia speak candidly and with humor, highlighting the neighborhood.



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Because the students were so in tune with each other I wanted to culminate with an exercise I rarely get to do because it requires, deep self examination of their life and possessions. The prompt is “If I Should Die Tonight,” a powerful way to celebrate life not in the depressed sense.




We listed what our valuable personal attributes, talents & tangible objects of value were along with instructions to the people we cherish, who we leave behind. Courtney has always been supportive of the workshop but she pulled herself into a candid powerful poem.

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At the culminating event all the students read their work and Courtney started to write a new poem off the cuff. A lot of these students never saw themselves as poets, but in the course of the workshop, they took the assignment and composed raps and stories. They went inward and gradually got up to stand on stage for the first time.




The poems are small life celebrations, accelerated at the Busboys & Poets poetry reading. Students were asked to remember significant people in their life. Abi got full praise as a teacher. Faith saying, This was the best educational experience of her life. Courtney, said I was mad cool and funny. Here is a small sampling of their work.


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This program was made possible by funding from Alternate ROOTS, in partnership with LAYC.








I runaway from your hands

Even when all you did was hold me close

You gave me the proposition that you’d wait

I’ve been told relationships weren’t for me so

picked up that idea and ran with it.

To me a relationship was a waiting fest.

No not that kind

 The one where you wait till the other

gives into infidelity

But you held me close

Even when I would hurt you with my words

thorns of a rose.

Now let’s sit down and talk.

Its been 2 years that we’ve been on this

run now let’s walk

now hold my hand.

Our love is never ending like a wrist band.

Stay close.

Even when you feel like all I bring is a fall.

At times we will be lost as if we’re on the road.

But I’ll never give in to the negativity we’re told


Doctor Stupid says,

I am just a girl.

I am the youth.

I am this generation.

I am that outcast

or red in a room

full of white

that you can spot

from a peek of a window.

I am what inspires

the next generation.

But some are cowards

are so chicken

to stand up

from above

You see, I am not your circle.

I am a square.

These adults cannot compare

to what we bring to the table

so go ahead

adults sling your shot.

Us youth

can make mountains move

We can flip 7 dollars to 70

and that’s a guarantee

We kick aside the hassle

that you adults bring.

We are walking dreams crossing

mountains and bridges with flames.

you can see as if we were dragons.

you see as you sit on toilets.

We are trying

and that’s more

than enough.

We light a fire

so strong smoke

becomes your

favorite incense.


I am a 17 year old girl with a drive so strong.

I have patience so strong with a mother who’s bipolar.

I don’t believe in the 4 years of college. At the age of 11

I was told I’d start having seizures at the age of 16.

Never once have I had a seizure. I hustle

because I know what it’s like to wonder

where you’ll sleep tonight. I have come across death.

I conquered my pill addiction. I believe in God.



If I should die tonight

tell Lizzy that I’m worth a graffiti.

If I should die tonight tell mama

I made a promise and I kept it.

If I should die tonight let my brother know

I’m sorry I used his paint ball gun and tell him

I always knew where it was.

If I should die tonight tell my whole family thank you for

adopting me into this wonderful life.

If I should die tonight please tell Bonnie,

I’ll always be her Clyde.

If I should die tonight tell my little cousins

that they don’t want to be like me, don’t want to see

all the things I’ve seen.


If I should die tonight

make sure everyone knows that

this time it wasn’t my choice.

that I was ready fro the next

day of life with a different pair

of eyes to be helpful & productive

not incognito and depressed.

If I should die tonight make

sure that my room isn’t dirty.

That’s always been a big thing.

Everything needs to be

in the proper place.

My mom’s number isn’t hard to find.

Maybe you can ask the group home

staff for it, or call the last foster

home I was in or even go to 7***

Cypress Court where her number is

written nicely on the whiteboard that

hangs on the refrigerator in the house

that once was my home.

Just 2 years ago finding her number

wouldn’t be a problem because it

would be under parent/guardian

but now… Maybe not so much.

Make sure she knows all those

missed phone calls

were great conversations

she missed out on.


It’s been a hard day

I’ve been waiting for night

Change out of my street clothes

Get in my bed and write

I write about my day

and how I feel

I write about anything

Just as long as its real

I lay in bed and try to relax

While all these thoughts

in my mind slowly collapse

In the morning I wake

long and deep breaths

before I take the steps

that are needed to take

To get on my feet

and strive to eat

to get my bread together

so I can find a permanent

place to sleep

My whole entire life

I’ve been the black sheep

At least now I’m that

sheep that is grinding

every day of the week



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