José Vadi

José Vadi is an award-winning writer and film producer based in Oakland, California. A two-time national slam poetry champion and recipient of the Shenson Performing Arts Award, José was the inaugural director of the Off/Page Project, a collaboration between Youth Speaks and The Center for Investigative Reporting, that incorporated investigative journalism and poet’s original work into short films, documentaries and live performances. His work has been featured by the PBS NewsHour, the San Francisco Chronicle, Mashable and The Daily Beast while his writing has most recently appeared in Colorlines, The Huffington Post, GOOD, Gigantic Mag, Jupiter 88, Specter Magazine, 3AM Magazine and Catapult.

 

 

“Sofia Liu 7/14/15”
on the night she was killed by an Uber driver in the Tenderloin

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—-

a bullet before a bumper ­
that is what i always thought
would take us out, something airborn
and able to reach us, sitting off Turk or Geary
wherever our bodies be at night, city never sleeps
neighborhoods like sea of sharks, cruising for rides
through the hills, to other realities, fairy tales i stopped
believing in at school, they say, don’t you like these books of
princesses and prince charmings and i know it’s all a lie, nobody
looks like that on our way home, this way home, they call me a gold
mine, a powerball, eight ball, another reality, snort my ashes like a cross
town commute, find my fare in undisclosed amount of legal fees and courts
of laws ­ nothing but black and white now, blood always on the streets, do they
identify me in settlement denominations, a child, or a street corner tragedy or a citizen, now?

 

 

 

“MUNI Stop ­ Market and 8th”

 

and the man in wheelchair
diabetes for legs,

he’ll still be sitting
atop your daily escalator, still

can’t cross the street fucked up
and illegal like you, diagonal jay

walker of private xshuttles,
heated leatherxxxred ass cheeks

these red curbsxxxprivatized, now
no rights too high for your legs

to cross, will you ever ask
the name of your daily counterexample

hand extended like everything
you fear your life will be

m

k

k

across your cubicle, a new hire
you: silent as your response to

fist fights on the bus lines
you don’t have to take.

 

 

 

“In the absence of color is a void that won’t sit next to me on the train”

 

 

white like alopecia is proof of God
a dappled deity sanctifying your lack

white like tired of talking about White people
white like undergrad programs in Whiteness

white like decaf skim lattes
ordered in workout gear at 7:25am
xxxxxxthe time these words are written
xxxxxxwhen forced to overhear your business meeting
xxxxxxthe world your office

white like The world your office
white like offices

white like work
white like off­-white cubicles

xxxxxxOxfords tucked into blue jeans and
xxxxxxbrown shoes with matching belts, stained leather

white like calling things white from brown lips is progress
because at least those lips aren’t lynching trinkets for sale

xxxxxxxa lynching is not a lynching without a crowd

white like my daughter will be asked by their teacher
xxxxxxxAnd your dad, what does he do
white like my son will be asked by all teachers
xxxxxxxDo your parents work

white like every action is one of colony
white like every residence is act of gentry
white like list off Neruda and the abbreviation ToMo
to describe your casual Sundays in bed with The Times

white like cannons
white like literary canons
white like both have the same targets
white like both pride the same quotas

white like down comforters that
brown people call White People Blankets

the idea that a commodity is only bound to white hands
My niece was four when she touched chinchilla

white as my tongue faints when someone i’ve met a thousand times calls me Juan

white like the assumption
white like guero before gabacho
xxxxxxthe nuance between epithets

white like rush hour trains and
me alone next to window seat
knowing even as sardines
the seat adjacent is a reluctant
destination for alabaster bottoms

white like muzak
like Journey sing alongs

white like the white in Ike
propelling suburban flight

white like moving to SF for jobs
white like musical festivals

white like wellness benefits
xxxxxlike Happy Place

white like Doing Good
xxxxxxlike Have a Good One
like philanthropy to white­-owned foundations

like black friends
invited to Oscars’ parties

like bones of forefathers
incinerated
glowing heat
falling from
your eyes.

 

 

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