Regie Cabico

Regie Cabico: Tenth Anniversary Issue

Tenth Anniversary Issue: A Tribute to Guest Editors
Volume 11:1, Winter 2010

Guest Co-Editor, “Split This Rock Issue,” Winter 2008


Regie writes:
“Editing Beltway‘s Split This Rock Issue was very special because it introduced me to poets who were politically engaged and poets who have been instrumental in the work I’ve done as artistic director with Sol & Soul, a non-profit engaged in spoken word art culture. I left the Nation’s Capitol 18 years ago, an actor headed for New York and came back 18 years later, a poet. I think what drove me out of New York has to do with the Bush climate, gentrification, the gradual economic and artistic collapse since 9-11 and the war. These upheavals were unbearable and while editing the Split This Rock Issue I felt all the poems spoke about my frustration with America as a whole. The introductory essay I wrote was inspired by the political fire of the poetry. Now that the next Split This Rock Festival is happening under the Obama administration, I can’t say that I feel completely undoubtful of the future but I am comforted by the voices in this issue who are as passionate about poetry and art for social change. These poets keep me in Washington, DC. They are my strongest allies and I would not have met them without Beltway Poetry Quarterly. Special thanks to Kim Roberts and Sarah Browning who have grown to be my greatest supports.”

From the Editor:
Regie Cabico is charismatic and funny and opinionated, and I count myself lucky to have him as a friend and advisor. He is an advocate for spoken word, touring the US and Canada, performing and teaching widely. He seeks out young writers to guide and encourage, and has a particular interest in promoting other Asian American voices. For Beltway Poetry, he reminds me on an ongoing basis of the importance of the region’s spoken word tradition, sending new poets my way. Regie was a guest co-editor for the Split This Rock Issue, highlighting a bi-annual festival in DC which he helps to coordinate. His thoughtful discussions of how we should define political poetry for this issue changed my thinking on what it means to be a socially-engaged writer. He was also a featured author in Winter 2007, and his tracks on Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch were a highlight of the Audio issue.



for Karen Carpenter

I was born into a Disney menagerie with not a single goal.

It is 1967 anybody with an amp could have an ambitious hallucination.

When I wake from the cell of my dressing room, I feel the bird’s flight
in my body. The wing pang, lifting heave, locating itself above
my slumped shoulders and shoveling vines with my single voice.

It’s just a voice, brunette with bangs, floating, dirigible, ready to explode
but can’t. So I snatch a pair of drumsticks and love their suspicious feel
in my hands. Secretly, I want to smash glass.

I hate the color of an obedient deed so why do I sing its octave?

Notes that open in compassion, ribcage propped apart. My heart
lodged too close to my ribs. I’m a tree-limb steady in a high ball
generation of acid and Joplin slang.

From the surface of a mirror, my body emits hues
of yellowish orange. I hear the click of distasteful tongues
disturb my perfect silence. The motion of twirled knitting sticks
and the way yarn licks the air as it snarls towards me.

The crocheted mass, an exquisite dangle from my lap.
That’s the music that’s mine. I don’t want sex, just synchronicity.

There is a stadium grace when I sing. Sand and the streets
breathe the same cacophony of sing-song jangle and station wagons.

I’m able to fill a cavity
with a 4/4 drum riff wedded
with the throat call of longing.

The camera adds 30 pounds. But pounds of what?

30 pounds of silverware
30 pounds of fan mail
30 pounds of stroganoff

My heart beats so fast I enter slumber. I hear
the winged timpani in my chest. I enter a sleep…A black note
floods the swollen roof of my mouth, an empty bee-hive home,
a Los Angeles suburb…

If only the skeleton of a girl like the white key of a withering piano
could sing. An ambulance siren…that bird’s contralto.

My mother picks me up. Karen, I’m sorry…
The clock of attachment stops.



In the yellow of butter
My mother colors my skin
In the yellow of sun
M skin becomes brown
In the yellow of yolk
My grandfather finds an egg
In the yellow of noon
We swallow the baby chick
Balot they call it
Long life he says
And discards the purple shell



Kathy Keler, "Overturned," 2008, acrylic and alkyd on canvas, 14" x 11"

Kathy Keler, “Overturned,” 2008, acrylic and alkyd on canvas, 14″ x 11″


3:47 a.m.

Last call for drinks
I stumble to his motorcycle
Ride the wind behind his back
My hair plays Born To Be Wild

4 a.m.

Inside his apartment
is an enormous
tank of goldfish
Anthropology books
spill over a desk
(I’m glad there are no dogs)

4:21 a.m.

He unbuttons my shirt
licks my tit
slams me eagle
on the mattress

5:30 a.m.

I stare at his body
with my stain on his chest
“You’re my best geisha guy”
he whispers, turning the halogen off

6:33 a.m.

The sky turns form purple to orange
as I walk home from the East to the West
to roll back on my bed

7:10 p.m.

He doesn’t know that I compose poems
on a keyboard that I wear eyeglasses
to work that I spell my name
with one “g” that I am allergic to cut grass

this is the vanishing act of the year




Regie Cabico is a spoken word pioneer, having won the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam in 1993 and taking top prizes in the 1993, 1994 and 1997 National Poetry Slams. As a theater artist, he received the 2006 New York Innovative Theater Award for Best Performance Art Production as part of the New York Neo-Futurist's production of Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind. His solo shows have been presented at Dixon Place, Joe's Pub, The Public Theater, Seattle Fringe Festival, Contact Theater (Manchester, England) and The Humana Theater Festival. He is a teaching artist at The Kennedy Center and performs his work throughout North America and the UK. He received several fellowships from the DC Commission for the Arts & Humanities, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Television credits include NPR's Snap Judgement, and HBO's Def Poetry Jam. His latest solo play, Godiva Dates and One Night Stands, received critical acclaim at the 2013 Capital Fringe Festival. Cabico was a featured poet at the 2016 Split This Rock Poetry Festival. Cabico is co-editor of the anthologies Flicker and Spark: A Contemporary Queer Anthology of Spoken Word and Poetry (Lowbrow Press, 2013) and Poetry Nation: The North American Anthology of Fusion Poetry (Vehicule Press, 1998), and his work appears in the anthologies Short Fuse, Poetry Slam, The Spoken Word Revolution, and Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC. He is co-director of the Capturing Fire National Queer Poetry Slam And Summit. To read more by this author: Regie Cabico: Winter 2007; Regie Cabico's Intro to the Split This Rock Issue, Winter 2008; Regie Cabico: Audio Issue; Regie Cabico on DC Slam: Literary Organizations Issue; Regie Cabico: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue.