Savon Bartley is an only child from North Chicago. He is writer, poet, teaching artist, and global health advocate known for eclectic readings. Featured at venues across the world his work is a reflection of his experiences with mental illness, social justice, global health, and what it means to be a better man than his father. He is a youth mentor at Urban Word NYC.
*Excerpts from Kanye West’s discography*
Historically / the Midwest is the murder capital / where young / I could die today / type attitude black kids are murdered for capital / & a white man get paid off of all of that / So who the kids ‘gon listen to / The schools is closed / the prisons open / the system’s broken / So I guess me if it isn’t you / I had a dream / I walked through the valley of the Chi where death is / just like moments passing in front of me / colder than the souls of men / I heard at least 3 murders this afternoon / The government want to put us all in a box like styrofoam / Last year Chicago had over 600 caskets / If you know what it means to find your dreams come true / this is something like the holocaust / like a plane crash / like Katrina with no F.E.M.A / I romanced about leaving it all behind / buy me a spaceship / spend my whole life good will hunting / 30 thousand feet up past the sky / and I don’t know if I’ll be back again / I did it for the glory / the fame and stardom / and in turn / it’s like the streets got Merrill Lynched / and we’ve been hanging from the same tree ever since / I wish I could stop time like a photograph / and respark the soul / like spoken word / straight from the page of your favorite author / what you think I rap for / I want you to be proud of me / but I know that if I stay stunting / I can’t keep myself and keep you too / I know I got a bad reputation / but that’s the old me / I don’t think there’s nothing I can do now to right my wrongs / y’all seen my story / my glory / I’m just tryna change the color on your mood ring / I’m on CNN talking like / this is my dissertation / I tell em this is family business / so I’m coming home again / every problem you had before this day is done / this is the day we become legendary / It’s gonna take a whole lot more than coupons to get us saved / baby I got a plan / on the count of 3 / this little light of mine / finna take y’all back to the better times / I ain’t even gotta act holier than thou / I know I can make it by / cuz right now thou has forsaken us / I know that Jesus died for us but / I just talked to Jesus / and I heard em say nothing’s ever promised tomorrow today / I got a call like / where are you yeezy? / I need you right now / you are a champion in there eyes / you can still be who you wish you is / he said / wake up mister west / mister west / mister / I said sorry Mr West is gone / It’s a new crack / on a new stove / everybody knows I’m a monster / sold soul for you / and y’all still don’t understand / I am a god / bow in the presence of greatness / Yeezus just rose again
Grown Man Bars
“Grown man bars is something you gotta deal with.” T. Rex
My mother believes the spine of a good man
and the spine of the good book
are the same kind of holy.
ppppppgood men who are far from holy.
I wonder if heaven falls far from the tree.
ppppppthick bodies of fog twisting out of a mouth like a repeated tongue
carry a crooked stench that pulls at your shirt like a fight .
ppppppmen whose futures slip off the corners of their hands
ppppppfall into the swollen belly of women they know too well
ppppppspit out an image that looks like them filled with blood.
A man’s hands are only meant to hold his own breath.
ppppppgrown men aren’t supposed to cry
ppppppppppppptears are just wet pieces of dead skin shedding an open sky
ppppppppppppplike a devil’s body in the garden.
ppppppmasculinity is a stab wound in the chorus of a song that doesn’t breathe.
ppppppmirrors with eyes the color of a bloody nose.
ppppppPain is a shadow you walk off
ppppppuntil your feet I like enough to carry the burden.
Heart is a burden.
ppppppA ship sinking in wet cement on cold nights with no one says I love you back.
ppppppmen are never supposed to love you back.
ppppppVoice is a shaking statue wrapped in skin.
The bigger man is a column of chewed tongues
better left for dead
swallowing the empty spaces behind my teeth like a still liquid.
ppppppmen who drink sanctuaries by the neck of a brown paper bag.
ppppppshame is when everything grows eyes.
ppppppa man’s face is a library of bloody knuckles
ppppppripping at the curves when he looks at what he’s become.
ppppppmistakes are lessons you haven’t learned yet.
ppppppI know pride is what it feels like to breathe through a straw.
ppppppFear is a high pitched laugh scratching at the shovel in your chest.
ppppppOnce I saw a casket pour out of a man’s back.
ppppppDying is when someone else bleeds for you. Once
Ashley called me a king.
ppppppI don’t have the money to prove it.
pppppppppppppSold the crown to pay for a burning skyscraper of mistakes I made with promises that
ppppppdon’t belong to me.
pppppppppppppof cracked doors whispering to themselves.
A man’s arms are a cave of dry scissors.
Fingers barbed wire around everything I stand on.
A man without his word is not a man.
Suit covers the whites in your mouth everytime you lie.
Anger is a clenched jaws heartbeat breaking it’s own lips
ppppppa sharp tool scraping at the edges of my eyes
ppppppuntil all I see is my father.