Category Archives: The Arts

The Seconds I Kissed You By Micaela Shambee

The Seconds I Kissed You

A moment in time

By: Micaela Shambee


Photo Credit: Tumblr

You in front of me, me in front of you,

arms stretched forth to collide,

energies bursting to embrace

a place where waves and sand subside


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Insides, a jumbled mix

of fumbled nerves,

Gleaming eyes fixated

on womanly curves


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Two planetary bodies

destined to align,

atoms forming incandescent liquid rock

where mutual heat radiates inside.


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“Can I kiss you?”

a question to my core

heart palpitations

How energy soars


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Reverence to confide

these virgin lips.

their first kiss,

new life formed inside


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Seconds to minutes

to hours to days,

to memories

of years aged like fermented wine


Photo Credit: Tumblr

the seconds I kissed you

rang longer in my heart

and have lived longer in my mind


Robert Johnson

By: Amber Wilder

Picture can be found here

I first heard  mention of Robert Johnson in season two, episode eight, of the television series Supernatural, appropriately titled “Crossroad Blues.”  The focus of the episode is on people that make deals with crossroad demons in pursuit of fame and fortune.  The way the deal works on Supernatural is that a box has to be buried with certain items at the point of crossroads.  Once the demon appears, if the terms are accepted, a ten year deal is made.  Many believe that Johnson made a deal to be the best guitar player of his time.  Apparently, in accordance with the episode, he made a deal for talent instead of fame and fortune.  His death is still shrouded in mystery.  I believe this is because he died so young.

Robert Johnson died at the age of 27.  However, if you believe the stories about some of the great musicians that sold their souls to the devil, they all died at 27.  Could all of this be coincidence or superstition?  There are reports that attribute his death to the deal that he made (a la Supernatural), while others purport that he was poisoned.  The theory that he was poisoned has two versions.  In the first version, he was infatuated with the wife of his employer who subsequently sent a bottle of poisoned alcohol over.  In the second version, Johnson was sleeping with a married woman and she poisoned him.  Neither theory has conclusive evidence of who poisoned Johnson, but the general consensus is that he was poisoned.  His existence is still clouded in mystery because there are only two verified pictures of the man.

Several songs that hint at the possibility that Johnson sold his soul are “Hellhound on My Trail,” “Me and The Devil Blues,” and “Crossroad Blues.”  All three refer to or mention the devil in some way.  In “Me and The Devil Blues,” Johnson sang “And I said hello Satan,/ I believe it’s time to go.”  I do not think he could be more blatant than that.  Although his cause of death has not been confirmed, one can only speculate whether he was actually poisoned or if his deal was up, the devil sent his hellhounds to collect Johnson’s soul.  In the episode, George Darrow, a man who sold his soul escaped hellhounds by spreading around a special powder to stall the hellhounds and keep them at bay.  However, he was only able to keep the hellhounds away until he decided to help other people that made the same deals.  In the song “Hellhound on My Trail,” Robert Johnson sang, “You sprinkled hot foot powder, mmm, around my door/ All around my door/ Your sprinkled hot foot powder, all around your daddy’s door./  It keeps me with ramblin’ mind rider/ Every old place I go, every old place I go.”  The powder is used to keep evil spirits away, whether in a person or the devil.  In some cultures, protection against evil is very important.  Otherwise, an individual is left susceptible to possession, hauntings, curses and possibly dying at the hands of evil.  Whether this practice is rooted in superstition, old wives’ tales, or true occurrences, one can only imagine that something occurred to give this idea some validity at some point in time.  In “Crossroad Blues,” Robert Johnson sang, “I went down to the crossroad/ fell down on my knees/ Asked the lord above “Have mercy now/ save poor Bob if you please.”  I interpret the lines to say that Johnson regretted his deal and went back to the crossroads to ask the Lord to save him.  Perhaps, his prayers were not answered or he was reminded of the deal he made.  Those agreements are the deals that cannot be taken back for once they are made, they are binding.

I honestly believe that sometimes when these deals are made, the people that make them do not realize that these deals are irreversible.  These deals are binding contracts with no allowances for modification.  Instead of honing one’s desired craft, the fast track is taken.  The medium of an artist should be dynamic not static.   For example, the music of Michael Jackson and Ray Charles evolved with their growth over the years.  They did not have the same sound in each song, album after album.  The variety in their music was ever present.  I believe the same can be said for Robert Johnson.  Johnson’s music would have evolved into something far greater than the catalogue he left behind.  It would be very interesting to listen to how his music would have evolved 10 and 20 years after his last recording.

Robert Johnson earned money by “cutting heads,” or competing with other street musicians to lure over crowds (and their money)
Photo can be found here

In his music, Johnson talks about demons, the devil, and hellhounds.  His music, when one really listens to the lyrics, can be troubling, but the way he sings and plays allows one to be sucked in so to speak.  I can listen to Robert Johnson like I listen to Ray Charles and Sam Cooke.  I listen to those two over and over for countless days in a row without fail sometimes.  There is something haunting about Johnson’s music that continuously draws one in, at least for me.  I do not know how to explain the feeling of listening to his music other than to say it is almost mesmerizing in a way.  Johnson’s music is not saturated with synthesizers or false beats.  It is just his voice and guitar.  Perhaps, the reason I appreciate his music so much is because it tells a story, or maybe it is the raw sound of him and his guitar.

Today, a lot of people believe in the Illuminati and believe that many music artists sell their souls to the devil in order to become famous.  There are pages and websites dedicated to artists who are a part of the Illuminati and detailed theories behind the Illuminati itself and the artists.  It appears the trend for what people view as evil has changed.  Now, it is considered acceptable to sell your soul to the devil to make it in today’s music scene.  Whereas, two or three decades ago that was looked upon unfavorably.  A lot of people view the music business itself as evil and warn others away from it because it is very challenging to make money as a new artist.  For many that seek the fame and fortune of the music business, if a hit record happens with the release of the first album, the record company reaps the majority of the profits.  It seems that only if the artist is exceptional and signs the right contract will he or she experience any longevity in the music industry.  Perhaps the reason why some artists choose to sell their soul is because they feel that since the record company is going to attempt to rob them of their of money, they may as well make a deal to have the talent and keep the money.

Whether Robert Johnson sold his soul or not, his music lives on. His music, in my opinion, is timeless.

throwing on the wheel

rolling the fresh clay with vigor and aggression and slamming it onto the wheel. manipulating its shape into a spiraling tornado, only to compress and center it into the form of a circular disk. spinning to the rhythm of the foot like a high-wire balancing act. puncturing a hole in the middle just far enough to familiarize with its mass, but not enough to penetrate it altogether. pulling at its chubby cheek from one side, outward ’til its grin deepens and pinching upward ’til its smile bends. acquainting itself with every arch, the steel scraper smooths out excess water which trinkles down and down. whirling round, it goes, the pointers comfort the rim slowly, easing their way to its trust. voila! a masterpiece. a nice and even slice to its roots and it sits again, still and ready. ’til a wave starts to brew in the arms of coupled hands. forward, back, lift, and sit. resting a couple of nights until leather-hard becomes bone dry. not too concealed for it’ll stay wet. not too exposed for it’ll crack. feeling for its hardness, the hands measure its strength. into the kiln. while leaving rosy kisses, the earthware firing shields its skin. soon the hibernation ends. it’s glazing time. dipping it into the pool of chiapas blue and coating it, nice and snug. attention to purpose as the bottom is wiped clean for it to roam freely from table to table. in the kiln it goes again, my friend, until its baked to perfection. cooling off, it finally sits comfortably. it marinades in all its glory.

then a pair of dahlias come by and plop their butts on its head.


By Cynthia Suarez

Tormented Love (BOP) By Micaela Shambee


Photo Credit: Tumbler

Tormented Love

By: Micaela Shambee

I have lived like a butterfly to a flame.

Burning myself, disgusted again, so much, too tired…Fucked.

I’ve been the betta sucka.

Becoming your rancor, gutting out my love ‘till my bile bleeds, dripping

Rustic to the ground like decaying autumn leaves.

Is this what you like?


Since I’ve been loving you, I’m about to lose my worried mind.


Every, every, every time, another lonely Friday night,

‘til you said to me, “Coffee?  Or a mouthwatering tangled tango of toffee cream?”

It must’ve been the burning candles; you know how I love the flames;

It must’ve been your cologne’s notes of sandalwood; or just loneliness…

I laughed, said yes, let you, some stranger, kiss, and kiss my pulsing lips.

Spilled coffee grounds, bent over some barista’s kitchen counter crazing your cocky, jockey,

Suaveness, falling deeper into hellish bliss.

‘Til I kissed her sweat in your mustache.


Since I’ve been loving you, I’m about to lose my worried mind.


Damn, I kinda like the taste of it…

Am I a soft masochist?

Lying languidly on the hall floor.

You, spent, drying, heaving over my worn body.

Another cut wrist wound…wet blistering drips of passion.

I watched a butterfly die today.


Since I’ve been loving you, I’m about to lose my worried mind…


This BOP poem was inspired by Led Zepplin’s Since I Been Lovin’ You. 

Press play while reading!

*This poem contains copyrighted material. Do not repost without explicit permission.

I Don’t Remember: The Universe By Micaela Shambee

I Don’t Remember: The Universe

By: Micaela Shambee


Photo Credit:

I don’t remember the swirling of energies,
The hot, dense, single point in time.
The oneness that split into two.
The big bang.
Or Pangea.
Or the forming of the daffodils in the fields of the country side.
I don’t remember the rose that formed the sweet smell of Chanel No.5.
I don’t remember the dirt that formed my grandmother’s grave.
Neither the fights over her possessions, nor the way her children behaved.
The last argument that lead one of my cousins astray.
I don’t remember what broke our family like watches with seconds that stand still,
I don’t even recall taking the morning after pill.
I don’t remember when I fell in love with you,
when one became two,
our first date, or what we ate.
Or the birth of our kids,
One named John, the other Kate
Two from one womb
A boy and a girl
Never thought they would leave us,
and go off into this world.
But wait, just wait…
Can’t remember the future,
When I can’t remember the past.
I don’t remember the creation of the Universe,
I just know our time here ticks away too fast

How Momma Gave Me that Swang by Micaela Shambee

Growing up black and a girl in America means that there are certain cultural rituals that are a rite of passage…one of them being a girl’s first perm.  The process of changing one’s hair texture to another gave black women a sense of identity, one that challenged our ability to be apart of society.  Unfortunately, this process stripped away important facets of our original identity, all in an effort to be accepted. This poem looks into the process of this ritual, and its importance to Black women’s cultural identity in America.

Young Black Girl

Photo Credit: Google Images

How Momma Gave Me that Swang

By: Micaela Shambee

Momma grabbed the box from the shelf.
“Should we get super, regular or mild?”
Momma looks at my nappy head,
feels the coils of curls atop my crown.
Without pulling too hard,
Momma finally makes a decision.
We home now.
Sitting between her legs she
mixed the chemicals in the kit like a cocktail.
Rotten eggs stirred with a wooden spatula.
Held my breath as she stirred, rickety legs on the oak table nearly buckled under the weight of her churn
In our wrought worn kitchen

Momma gave me that swang

Twice a year
Wide tooth black power pick parts my naps
Grease slathered ‘round my hairline.
Laid the cold cankered mix on my scalp at last.
“You better tell me if yo head tingling now.”
Momma scolds me.
Last time,
Told momma when my head started to tingle,
and hair didn’t come out straight.
For every straight follicle, their was a nap
So while my head tingled this time,
my lips stayed shut.
30 minutes ’til

Momma gave me that swang

Scalp burning now.
Race to the kitchen sink,
dirty dinner dishes filled the other side,
Lukewarm water running
through my strands,
Eyes stay shut, as water soothed raw scalp.
Blow drying next, hot comb after,
raw scalp, brand new crown
that’s how

Momma gave me that swang

Black Boy Bang (BOP) Micaela Shambee


This poem uses the popular line from Billie Holiday’s hauntingly beautiful song “Strange Fruit.”  The refrain, “Strange fruit hanging from poplar trees,” is as true today, as it was in 1939.


Photo Credit: American Song Book

Black Boy Bang

By: Micaela Shambee


I inhale morning fresh dew,

As another headline flashes across the screen.

Peering out the poverty stricken window

With coffee in hand, devoid of any fancy hazelnut cream.

Stands an ethereal presence by a familiar family tree.

As the TV blares, a voice hauntingly sings


Strange fruit hanging from poplar trees


News crying like gossip during double Dutch.

Avalanche, quake, riots; Baltimore is on fire!

Red, white, blue; by evening your country will hang you!

Tasers and clubs by the strong arm of the protect and serve.

Familiar flanked skin,

Different names blowing in the hot wind.

But all the same, Martin, Dunn, and Gray

Is another black, boy, bang.


Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.


By daybreak there, still I see

Black lives like dead leaves scattered amongst poplar trees,

Dead leaves lying like precisely ordered deaths.

Casket filled black bodies with dark, burnished flesh.

As the blowing air hums with death’s cries,

Protect and serve preserves white pride.
Strange fruit hanging from poplar trees.

La La Land Film Review

By Cynthia Suarez

Damien Chazelle, director and screen writer of La La Land, has definitely made his mark in Hollywood’s world of cinema. Critics are raving about La La Land for its story about two dreamers who aspire to make their dreams a reality. It has made an unprecedented number of wins including seven Golden Globe Awards and eight Critics’ Choice Awards. Though it is a 2016 film, many have deemed it reminiscent of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musicals, the likes of which include the famous Singin’ in the Rain and Three Little Words. La La Land revisits classic Hollywood during the 1940s and 1950s, times where lavish, love, and passion roared.

Illustrious movie star Ryan Gosling plays the role of Sebastian, the jazz musician, who refuses to be bound by the progressive and digital world of music production. Golden Globe Awards winner Emma Stone portrays Mia, an aspiring actress struggling to make a cut in the entertainment industry. Together, they enchant audiences with their dance sequences and sunny voices. Though their chemistry stems from previous films like Crazy, Stupid, Love, they reach a new high of love and magnetism in La La Land. Indeed, they do share intimate moments with each other. Still, each person has his personal ambition, something like that of a priceless gem, delicate and treasurable.

Courtesy of Dale Robinette/Summit Entertainment

Damien Chazelle welcomes the visual experience of old-fashioned films by shooting La La Land on film versus digital. This anamorphic format is ideal for long acting takes and fluid dance movements, a medium far more raw, sensual, and romantic than digital movies. What’s more, Chazelle uses 35mm film for much wider shots, so no intricate detail goes unnoticed. Directors Guild of America (DGA) describes La La Land’s cinematography as “a Technicolor vision of contemporary Los Angeles.” Technicolor is a motion-picture process that superimposes primary colors onto synchronized films of the same scene. The end product is a simulacrum of traditional musicals and La La Land is no exception. It takes its audience on a psychedelic trip of sorts through the use of saturated colors. The eye-popping colors found in the actors’ makeup, costume design, and setting of this film all play up a theme of freshness, growth, harmony,  and sensuality.

The big song sequences song by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are captivating. No lip-syncing is necessary with vocals as soothing and effortless as theirs. They provide a level of authenticity unmatched by any non-diegetic sound. Gosling and Stone pair their vocal stylings with synchronized dance numbers that leave their audience mesmerized. The two naturals have contagious rhythm and flair, giving their audience a reason to jump out of their seat.

Courtesy of Dale Robinette/Summit Entertainment

Furthermore, the Los Angeles sites that become the mise-en-scène are effective for this anachronic narrative; the film comes full circle when flashbacks to specific scenarios are later adequately explained. Everything in frame, from the actors to the lighting choice, works collaboratively to reinforce the tone of each scene. Take the sunset scene for instance. One would think better than to insist on a sunset that lasts for only 30 minutes, but not Damien Chazelle. His meticulousness needed to be fueled. This shifting setting gave the cast and crew only five chances to film the scene successfully. Nonetheless, The New York Times shares that Chazelle wanted the specific Technicolor glow best achieved by a sunset.

For some time now, musicals had been overlooked in the film industry. Not anymore. La La Land gives life to the term “modern-original musical.” It revitalizes the spirit of traditional musicals with a modern twist, and rejuvenates the love people once had for them. Furthermore, it is a tale of two creative dreamers whose passion and commitment are put to the test. La La Land celebrate the livelihood of music and dance, for both often express more than words can say.

La La Land is a visual satisfaction and a must-see film for the modern day romantic.

Related articles

“La La Land” Make Musicals Matter Again

Damien Chazelle gets romantic with La La Land; the Oscar-nominated writer-director says film was the “only option”

Fun in “La La Land”

Accept Me as A Refugee

By Romeo Sayon


Although I may look different, I am not a criminal

I am running away form a manmade disaster

Please don’t refuse me, accepted me as a refugee

I had no freaking idea what brought about the war

The only choice I had was to run away from home

All I need from you right now is humanitarianism not hate


I did not travel all the way from home to be hate

I did not travel across sea, ocean, thousands of miles, etc. just to become a criminal

I migrated to this continent, to this country, to this place because I need a home

My home has been partially or severely destroyed by a manmade disaster

I am very must sure there will be nothing left home for me after the war

I am not a media to your society, I am a refugee


It was impossible to get food, that why I came here as a refugee

I will be very happy if you would give my something to eat, instead of hate

Where I came from, everything that produces food has been damage by the war

UN is prevented from supplying food by both sides- do not consider themselves criminals

The country is worse than a famine disaster

I wish for the war to be over and for me to find a home


I never thought of boundaries that separate other countries from my original home

All I wanted was to run away from the frontline and cross boundaries to become a refugee

I did not care about lines that separate countries, all I wanted was to escape the disaster

Not just anywhere but across boundaries where I would find prosperity not hate

I crossed countries to escape those fighters who did not consider themselves criminal

I would have cross border fencing made of barbed wire just to escape my country war


My freedom was not guaranteed where I came from because of the war

Fighters from both sides did not offer any peaceful resolution, so I have to find  new home

I could never achieve happiness because of those in charge, I called them criminal

The only way I could live a better life was to come here and become refugee

All I really need is love from you Europe , not hate

I hope I could never again come face to face with the same disaster


I have been rejected by other countries who did not care about my disaster

Another country put me into a place surrounded by fence, all because of my country war

I have heard some politicians talk bad about me because of hate

I have heard and seem protests requesting that I returned to my extinct home

I wonder why some Europeans do not want me as a refugee

I lost everything in the conflict of my old country but that does not make me a criminal


Europe, World relieve me of my disastrous past, accept me as a refugee.

Give me home, do not give me hate.

I am an escapee of war; I am not a criminal.




















Aahh Fest was lit!!!!

By: Amber Wilder

Sooo…… Aahh Fest was lit! It was a two-day affair that spanned the weekend. Saturday, the 24th, was the community day for youth and parents to come out and enjoy. Sunday, the 25th, was when the advertised artists came out and this was an 18 years and older event.The vibe there was super chill and relaxed. It was basically a gathering for young, positive people to come together and listen to some good music, and most importantly, have a good time.  The artists featured were The Internet, Vic Mensa, Jeremih, Common and Bilal, The Roots, Ice Cube, R. Kelly, and J. Cole. In between sets, djs played to keep the crowd entertained as well as the hosts.There was also a tribute to Timbuck2, one of the best dj’s who died last year. He is still truly missed here in Chicago and in the lives that he touched. Porta Potties were standard issue if you needed to use the bathroom; your best bet is to go when you get there, preferably early, and do not drink heavy. For future reference, alcohol is expensive and water is $4 a bottle.

Tickets ranged from around $60 and up; however, coupons could be found to get them cheaper. I purchased mine for $48 and a friend purchased his for $50; for clarity, our tickets were for general admission. The VIP and tent tickets were $115 and up on Aahh Fest website.

In my opinion, J. Cole was worth the ticket price alone. His set was amazing, the crowd knew all the lyrics, and the experience was one of the best I’ve had at a concert. It was a had to be there moment, words cannot describe the feeling. His song list included many from his latest album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, and a few from his previous albums. Towards the end of his set, Jeremih came back on stage to sing a song that he was featured in.

Ice Cube is the runner up even though he only performed 3 songs, 2 ½ if you want to get technical. We knew he was coming but no one knew when he was going to perform. Common brought him on during his set. The crowd was alive with energy and when the crowd was asked if he could perform one more song, the crowd screamed to perform more than one song. Also during Common’s set, R. Kelly appeared on stage and the crowd went crazy. He performed one song and sang the beginning of another before walking off. The Roots set was good and live. The energy that they bring is amazing and calming in a way.

Jeremih’s set was good, though it was cut short because he did arrive late and the coordinators’ wanted to keep on schedule for the rest of the fest. He performed a mix of old and new songs in the time that he had.

Vic Mensa performed a song called “16 shots” and it was written in response to the murder of LaQuan McDonald. The vibe before was easy-going but during and after the song, it changed because for those of us that are ‘woke’ or bothered by us continuously dying in these streets even with our hands up. The feeling that this song evokes is anger and the question of why is this continuously happening especially when the officers are not brought to justice. The lyrics to the song are here. The performance was made even more powerful than the crowd chanting ‘F— 12!’ by the end of the song, shots rang out (on the recording) and Vic Mensa fell to the ground akin to LaQuan’s body. The song needed to be heard, no matter how heavy it made you feel. Aahh Fest was a reprieve for us, like a break from all this madness that we see and hear constantly on the news and radio that another one of us has died due to police killing us.

I do recommend this fest, especially if you can find tickets on sale if you do not want to pay full price. The date for 2017 Aahh Fest is September 23-24th according to the big screens that showed advertisements and sponsors of the fest.

If the artist lineup does not tell you how lit it was, I now have a sore throat.


Lyrics to Vic Mensa’s “16 Shots”‘:

I recorded this video of Aahh fest performances; some of the clips feature strong language such as the n word and f word.