Regie Cabico

Three Poems

20th Anniversary Reflections

Regie Cabico has appeared regularly in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and his influence on the journal has been significant. He has been a consistent advocate for spoken word poetry in DC and in these pages. Cabico was first featured in a Portfolio Issue in Winter 2007 (Volume 8:1), and subsequently appeared in several special themed issues: the Audio Issue (Fall 2008, Volume 9:4, guest edited by Katie Davis), the Tenth Anniversary Issue (Winter 2010, Volume 11:1), the Literary Organizations Issue (Spring 2010, Volume 11:2, in which he first documented the history of DC Slam teams), the Langston Hughes Tribute Issue (Winter 2011, Volume 12:1, guest edited by Katy Richey with Kim Roberts), the Floricanto Issue (Winter 2012, Volume 13:1, guest edited by Francisco Aragón), the Poetic Ancestors Issue (Fall 2012, Volume 13:4, in which he wrote a tribute to Essex Hemphill), the Splendid Wake Issue (Fall 2014, Volume 15:4, guest edited by Myra Sklarew, in which he provided an expanded and updated version of his DC Slam history), the LGBTQ Issue (Spring 2016, Volume 17:2, edited by Venus Thrash), and the Poets Respond to Shakespeare Issue (Summer 2016, Volume 17:3, guest edited by Teri Cross Davis). He guest edited two issues: the Split This Rock Issue (Winter 2008, Volume 9:1, with Kim Roberts, in honor of the first Split This Rock Festival), and Orbit: The Asian American Poets Issue (Summer 2014, Volume 15:3, guest edited with Gowri Koneswaran).

He writes: “Having been a guest editor for several issues of Beltway Poetry Quarterly gave me the honored task of gathering poets who have a political charge and fire, poets who radiate warmth and wisdom, poets who are on top of their craft celebrating identity and building upon the literary communities in Washington, DC. As a fresh poet, devirginizing my spoken word poetry in DC, Beltway Poetry Quarterly anchored me into this furious beehive of a nurturing community, thrust into editing The Split This Rock issue in 2008, I was able to bring celebrated mentors with burgeoning bards on the slam stage. I have found the Asian American voices in the community and I have also been challenged to write essays welcoming these writers and defining where we are n all of the turbulent governmental waves. Most of all, I’m proud to be part of a journal that forced me to look into DC’s literary history. Being a guest editor allowed me to bring what I do as a poetry curator in cafes and into the online pages. Beltway Poetry Quarterly is a powerful resource that I keep coming back to when I have writer’s block; it also gave me the support and vision to publish writers through Capturing Fire Press and the importance of archiving and heralding the courageous poets who bloom and inspire us.”


Three Poems by Regie Cabico

The Best Year of My Life

When you drove cross country to Los Angeles, I filled my room
with more books. When you called me a diva, I called you a diva.

When you never replied to my emails, I printed our correspondence
& looked for a hidden code. When you didn’t tell me you

were in the hospital, my tooth fell out. When you asked for a letter
of recommendation, I made out with guys in department stores

& gave out Godiva. When you were on television, I could hear
the toilet bowl whisper my name, When you told me your boyfriend

was a meth head, the landlady threw out my porn. While you
celebrated your birthday, I ordered another round for drinks

for myself. When you brought you friends over for Christmas, I fell
asleep on the red sofa with a silver  bow on my head. When you

showed up to class drunk because your wife was cheating on you,
I praised my solitary reflection. When you were absent at my

housewarming, I sculpted you form ice & placed you on a bar stool.
When your cell phone broke, I got hooked on salsa class.

When you wanted to compose music, I turned myself into a tiny bell
& listened to 5th graders write about thongs. When you gave me your

astrological data, I thought you’d want to see me again. When you
stood on the subway platform, I walked the other way. When you placed

a gun in your pocket & pointed it at me, I thought this is how it goes
& hopped in a garbage truck. When I saw the last photo taken of you,

I placed branches in tin vases, When you left, I walked towards you
& picked up your scarf.

First Turkish Shave

Tutku places a hot towel
over my lips & around
my ears (a soft psst)

Tutku lifts the towel
& then another

Each towel gradually hotter
until an iron skillet
burst of steam
on my cheekbones

The towel is your face
pressed to mine

Tutku’s fingers are hummingbirds
lathering the shaving cream clouds

Slow as the rocking
of our clothed bodies
on your bed

Circular as your tongue
tip loops to my tip tongue
a vertical lick to my ear

Jowls smothered
in juniper & spruce foam

My beard is just a week old
like our courtship

Tutku tells me the shave
will hurt more
because of the young stubble

so I nick & I bleed
take in the cologne sting
our necks exposed

This is how I define love
sitting back in the chair
prepared for the blade


My hands are toy pianos
in the mouth of a toddler

or wands punctuating
the poetry I recite
to myself in an apartment

of china bone white
walls & I wonder

if my fingers could
hold onto the steel limbs

of a helicopter
like Wolverine

or would they be large
enough to hold

Hello Kitty’s paws
at a Macy’s

Day Parade

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.