Slushies, in this episode we consider two poems by C. Fausto Cabrera, both of which speak, in very different ways, to the imagination in building our sense of self. The notion of being seen, a topic of universal relevance to any writer or artist, is explored in the first poem, which ends with the line “stuck in between the covers wondering when you’ll be back”, simultaneously exploring themes of incarceration or imprisonment. This discussion leads us to consider the many layers of being seen and Jason takes a moment to appreciate the “sexy time” of having a book tucked in your pocket. The second poem takes us on a related yet palpably different journey and reveals one of the paths our editorial discussions can take us to. Take a listen, you won’t be disappointed!
At the table: Kathleen Volk Miller, Jason Schneiderman, Samantha Neugebauer, and Dagne Forrest.
C. Fausto Cabrera is a multi-genre artist and writer currently incarcerated since 2003. His work has appeared in: The Colorado Review, The Antioch Review, Puerto del Sol, The American Literary Review, The Water~Stone Review, The Woodward Review, among others. “The Parameters of Our Cage” is his prose collaboration with photographer Alec Soth.
To Be Seen at All ,
“What makes us so deserving of space
in other people’ s minds?”
My boss in the kitchen asks me how it felt to be famous
after looking up my Washington Post Magazine
essay & cover art online. The question left me stuck
I didn’t feel famous. I hadn’t received much mail in years.
What does celebrity mean separate from saturation, fame to
the incarcerated— but infamy?
I question the value of telling people about accomplishments,
about publishing at all— in a place where your spades
game gets more respect, & swagger’s stuck in the last time you punched a
muthafucker in the face, what’ s the point? I just felt petty
for wanting to be seen at all. Guards are more concerned
with how many towels I have than who I become.
I’m being heard— & that should be the focus, right?
Is the nobility of a thing in or on purpose? Or the other way around? Cause who ever does anything for nobility—
I’m starving to be objectified: stripped down by the new young blond
guard like a Skinamax late nite B-movie, why else do hundreds
of burpees if not to play into the bad boy fantasies of anyone watching?
I went away before social media, but had my Lil’ cousin Artesia build
me a platform to stand upon, thinkin‘ it‘d present me
somehow, someway, maybe keep me present— be on someone’s mind or
wall, admired even for a moment. The Past says they miss me, but
since they never reach past the screen it’s not the real me,
only their memory. It’s not about me at all—and neither should the work be.
There is a point to this poem, in its lack of trust. & none of it is an answer.
How can I count on anything through a 2-way mirror? I am just
a writer, the world through my eyes glows different due to the depths of my
damage. When you close this book & move on
I’ll still be stuck in-between the covers,
wondering when you’ll be back.
In the Sun that Seeps from the Dungeons/ Window/ Everything is Bright
Because God is in an algorithm I hear through the toggle of my shuffle button/ from a playlist I
composed/ I tell myself/ that if I listen, while the TV projects a pretty face to see when I look up
from what I’m reading of poetry, mechanical pencil, click, click, underlining & taking notes in
the margins— sipping a mug of French vanilla creamer laden coffee w/thoughts swirling in my
cinnamon head/ the sheer alchemy of it all should/ naturally combust! What butterfly wings must
taste like/embers floating/escape the chaos, wondering west to set fires/troublesome/I
want blood in the cut, I want noise/they made me something vicious. Will I burn out or fade
away? The man in black speaks for me & reminds me I’m not alone. A rainbow in
the dark, I’ll take death before dishonor, bet I bomb on them first/ it’s just the life of an
I am an amalgamation of influences, intricate in their darkness, complex in their
origins, some speak integrable nostalgic, others spark dumb & rash/& I gave
away my youth to sit & listen to all at once/hopeful/ saying something of a future I’
II forget/ I longed for/ once /it arrives. I read my poetry book, circle a
word or phrase to slow down, hoping to see something I can lift/ above a drawn
line or jot in the margins that can change the way I see or say.
Words & wonder/ pour into my ears, my eyes catch/ images I pull into my
heart while I swallow the sweetness of an appreciation. In these
moments I am alive. Then God says, through The City of Prague‘ s
Philharmonic Orchestra that the path isn‘t interchangeable.
There’s no other person I’d rather be.