Sunday, October 16, 2011

Esperanza Spalding @ University of Richmond

I saw jazz-bassist Esperanza Spalding play at University of Richmond, Wednesday October 12th. It was truly a great show; the intimacy of the Jepson Theatre enhanced the sound and the lighting technicians were very effective at capturing the moods of each song.

Upon discovering her work in 2010, I was inspired to do a compilation of artworks and poems for her. So I compiled them into a chapbook along with a bio and mission statemnt, and brought it with me to the show. Since there was no meet-and-greet or album signing after the show, I reached out the Stage Production administration and gave them the booklet to deliver to her.

The lady I spoke with, said that she would deliver it to her management when she could and advised me to follow up with Ms. Spalding's management via email. I neither know if or when the work will reach her nor when I will be contacted, but I have hope that something will workout. In the meantime, I will push forward and keep creating as Esperanza has done and is doing with her art.

Here are some of the pieces I included in the booklet!


Wednesday, August 31, 2011


We are born naked. Over time, we crawl, learn to walk and then are taught to cover our bodies—out of fear that the next person will judge our nakedness. But in reality, under all the shit we wear, still—we are all naked. When I crawled into poetry, I learned to walk back to my natural nakedness, fully robed.


Friday, August 26, 2011


Run, Blackboy, Run!

When dads run
away, black boys run
crazy—before tying their shoes.

He trips to school in the rain
with an open back pack. His mama yells,
“You forgot your hat!” But Blackboy
doesn't look back. Blackboy runs
mad. Blackboy runs late.

Every classmate knows black boys show up mad late.

“Stop! No running in the hallway”,
Ms. Whitelady says in her head “Black
boys are mad, black boys are crazy.” She says,
to his mama at the parent-teacher conference
“Your boy—needs counseling” and mama
only wants the best so Blackboy goes. Crazy
counselor lady says “Stop—running.
What were you thinking? Use your head!”
Blackboy says “Okaaaay”
but does not understand.

Confused Blackboy goes out to play—
in the rain, he cries out to his boys
until his eyes go red but hears “Stop—
being a cry baby.” He says “I’m not!”
but they do not believe. He leaves. Not
in his right mind, Blackboy proves them

wrong. Blackboy walks to the end
of a rainbow and finds a colored girl
with lonely gold coins in her eyes.
He scares off the leprechauns
and promises to never leave. He lies
her down in a bed of four-leaf clovers.
Inside, she’s raining. But he forgot his hat.
she opens the door, he runs through her hallway
and makes her cry out “Baby” instead—
Her eyes roll back. He doesn’t look back. They make
a baby that cries out “ga-ga”s and “goo-goo”s;
counselor didn’t specify which head to use.

Blackboy needs a new place to live ‘cause
tough love is the only thing mama can afford to give.
He jumps fences with child support nipping at his knees,
Blackboy needs green. His boys say, “It don’t grow
on the trees, it grow on the streets” so black boy goes
out to play—when his baby cries rainstorms,
Blackboy runs mad. Blackboy runs crazy.
His colored girl baby mama gets moody
and sad, ‘cause black boy forgot his goals;
the toilet is the only pot he be filling

with gold. Blackboy rolls—like a big kid now,
but ain’t saving enough money to buy baby’s Huggies.
So Blackboy runs—late, he stops—showing up.
Blackboy doesn't look back. Blackboy runs

colored girl mad crazy. Herself, she pulls up
by the shoe laces, walks over pothole puddles
filled with rainbows that committed suicide.
She goes up to the storefront window, gives
her gloomy reflection one last silver smile,
and then pawns in her eyes—
for just enough gold coins to buy a month’s
worth of food for the leprechaun-sized baby
with a mouth like an open back pack
who grows up to cry out,

“Mama, where is my dad?”


Monday, July 18, 2011

Harlem Night Song - Langston Hughes

Harlem Night Song

Let us roam the night together

I love you.

The Harlem roof-tops
Moon is shining.

-Langston Hughes

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tyler, the Created.


I made this listening to Yonkers on repeat. Keep creating.

Rob Gibsun

P.S. Music is a hellofadrug.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


in the dying hours of night,
Dracula sits in the driver's seat,
recounting all the necks he kissed in vain.

He lights a blunt laced with garlic,
knocks back 40 ounces of holy water,
bats his eyes at the rearview mirror
damning the nobody looking back.

He sharpens a wooden stake
with a silver-plated knife, carves 
a cross across his bloodless wrist
and prays for an after-afterlife.

In the vanishing minutes, he challenges 
the day to one last game of chicken,
revs the engine, picks a religion
and crashes into sunlight. 


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Khary Jackson (6 is 9)

I met him beside a church across from a park filled with Charlie Brown sculptures in St. Paul, MN at the 2010 National Poetry Slam. I remember seeing him working the scenes in the venues and sparked up conversation. We had a casual quirky conversation about art, theatre and performance poetry. I ended the conversation with "You're a cool dude." And he strolled down the street to mentally prepare himself to compete. And that was that.

Next time I see him, he's on final stage telling a compelling story about two african slaves in a fiery love. I couldn't hear all of it because the words were drowned out by the audience and the funky sound system, but the passion he performed with and the conviction to his character blew my mind. In that moment, there was no question that he was a slave speaking to the audience. When I returned home, I scoured the internet to hear the whole poem and came across "Carolina":

Khary's work inspires me to keep learning, writing, performing, and ultimately creating. Thus, here are quick paintings I created as a thank you for his hard work and diligence:

Khary, I thank you! Live long and prosper.


Monday, July 11, 2011

"What Do You Stand For?" Project

Project Description from Art 180: We are in week 2 of our summer 2011 public art project, “What do you stand for?” The youth at Boushall and Henderson middle schools have begun to paint their large format self-portraits! A total of 30 youth, 15 from each school,will work for a few weeks, once a week, to complete 4′x8′ self-portraits on plywood depicting their personality, dreams and beliefs. These unique works of art will have a public unveiling at October First Fridays, travel as an exhibition for 8 months and then be installed across the city through 2012! And it looks as though Virginia Currents MAY do a piece on the project and ART 180 too!

"Griot" close up

*All 6 of the other program leaders works. Top (left to right): Lizzie Gray, Rob Gibsun, Jess Norris. Bottom (left to right): Stanley Rayfield, Julia Scott, Hamilton Glass.

I am excited to be working on this project and hope to guide the kids to a place of expression, awareness of identity and a personal sense of freedom.

Friday, July 8, 2011


please forgive me
for I  have penned.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Weeknd

My brother-in-rhyme Marcus (duce of Get Well Soon) put me on to The Weeknd's House of Balloons album. In me, the music evokes a feeling of riding through the city at 3AM with the windows cracked open and the alcohol still buzzing in my body. The whole album radiates smooth, sexy, post-party vibes. Though all nine of the tracks are cohesive, "What You Need", "The Morning" "Wicked Games" "Coming Down" and "The Knowing" have been on repeat. 

So in return for The Weeknd putting his slow-burning soul on display, here is my visual thank you:

Check out his music at:

*As of now, "The Morning" is my favorite! The imagery in the first verse so vivid!

Monday, July 4, 2011


*Written in the voice of a man crumbling over his crumbled relationship.


This is
the relationship she gave up on
the something inside saying “Don’t go”
the close friends outside saying “Let go”
the loneliness I feel—
the lazy wheels carrying my weary mind
the GPS failing to detect my dissected soul
the idea of closure on the curb with a flat tire
the wrecked thoughts
the reeking feelings—
the alcohol punching down my esophagus
the liquid burns racing for the finish line
the brain tallying the 1st 2nd & 3rd degrees
the liver failing to detoxify my memories
the ignored drunk texts and phone calls
the clogged inbox
the aborted response
the interrogation of my hammered savior
the nail the coffin
the jail the coughing
the plug pulled from my god’s respirator
the lines of communication turned off
the switch on my heart turned off-beat
the love                  smacking concrete.

This is
the eroded smile I wear nowadays
the plaque painting over my teeth
the brushed-off dental appointments
the greedy decay drilling nerve-deep
the money shutting up and walking
the bullshit slowing down and talking
the mouth—martyred into a septic tank
the languished language
the wretched stank
the compost I compose to exhale fresh prose
the cons of the odds evened out by my plague
the history of my people’s undying Dark Age
the memento: the shadow shackled to our souls
the soles weathered flat by life-laden bones
the bacteria teeming under my feet
the smell of vinegar crawling from my toes
the fermenting socks and drawers I’ve worn all week
the cemented nails I haven’t clipped in months
the pungent hairs where my inner-thighs meet
the shower head’s holey grin and sacred spit
the water laughing at the genetic sin in my skin
the stain
the shame I can’t seem to scrub off
the cuts the clots the scab-like pain
the broken valves the open veins
the gagging shower drain.

This is
the reflection in the mirror avoiding eye contact
the bums not even asking for change.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Moon Medicine

"Moon Medicine"


I’m a lonely coyote
with a cactus-needle cry
dragging my body across
the cold-blooded corpse of night.

I was born with a vagabond heart
and never had a back yard,
so I buried hope under my skin
with the rest of my bones.

Like you, my heart is a sun-scorched mirror
a distant stone clothed in craters and frozen seas
a bowl of wavering emotions
a home for fettered footprints and memories.

In my ribcage, there is a death-sick vulture
pecking! picking! at the carcass of my love.
I lie to myself, and convince my ears
that the sound is the voice
of my deadened heartbeat.

And I’ve choked-up
every time a beloved left me,
so my stomach is a desert
of discarded goodbyes.

But tonight,
I sit in the belly of a canyon hell/low 
though you are my heavenly hi(gh).
My blazing eyes lift off,
and explore your glow with lust-laden sight.
The silence softens its scream,
and my hushed thoughts
grow wilder than naked sunlight.

Just step out of the sky and kiss me.
Kiss me to magnetize my howling blood.
Carry me from this dead cliff of loneliness
and fill my empty nights.
Claim my waning pain.
Scratch my waxing appetite.
Consume me like a flock of fleas
and free the love leashed in the dungeon of my heart.
Damn the ever-foaming mouth of morning
and the knifing teeth of its rabid sun!

Oh magnificent and ripening satellite!
You swallow the hours with your brilliancy.
Open your arms like swinging doors
and wrap my body like a blanket of wind
Ensure my drifting heart is anchored
in the timeless waters of your soul:

You are
an ocean of twilight kisses,
a bay of endless verse,
a river of healing laughter
carving through the canyons of my despair.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

R.I.P. Gil Scott-Heron

O Say Can You See (Ode to Gil Scott-Heron)

My friends,
when a poet speaks of revolution
do not be confused or afraid.
Revolution is change.
And the most natural thing in the universe is change.
And we all know it is what it is. And the revolution is no rerun;
the revolution is live.
Turn off the television, put down your remote and step outside:
Revolution doesn’t come from Super Bowl 45, Survivor, American Idol or CSI.
but still see that I’ve
arrived to speak in rhyme scheme
to describe the crime scene:

O say can you see—
the flag’s drowning stars, bloody bars and seams?
My country ‘tis of thee—
Land of lactose-intolerance, deadly diets and diabetes;
Where any rebellion-to-be
is an unsweetened tea party.
Your mascots truthfully speak:
The Yankees stole the homes of the Braves
and Eagles caged in coins will never fly free.

O say can you see—
Students pledging “one nation under God” from K-12
though the lesson is never heaven in when education is hell.
So they skip class and hop-scotch over knowledge
and end up having to pop lock and drop out of college.
They missed the shot coming up,
now they live and die by the BUCK! and buck—
And the GREEN has yet to rust so in GREED they trust;
some eat the whole pie and some feed on the crust.

O say can you see—
Money-hungry hogs pigging out on spoiled milk and honey—
The toilets are clogged and there’s no-doubt the people are plunging.
So we support political campaigns to claim, “Yes we can change!”
but end up voting for warfare and hypocritical campaigns
and the metal shards from exploding bombs
aluminumb our emotions and can pain inside our hearts.

O say can you see—Our Mother Earth aching?
O say can you see—Our Mother Earth quaking?
Children, Hurry! Start running! Hurricane Tsunami’s a-coming!
The showers are drumming! The Powers are mumbling!
“The towers are tumbling!” And the hours are crumbling!

O say can you see—
us walking out from the under rubble of the past
forever standing, hearts together, hands clasped—
lifting every voice and singing something
because we know the revolution is coming!
And revolution is change and change is money and money is time
so, the revolution is a time that cannot be filmed or televised
simply because, the revolution first takes place
when we wake up and change our minds.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"College Grad: Indentured to serve"

"College Grad: Indentured to serve"

I walked out of high school
with 13 years rolled into a diploma.
I was a young black male on the rise,
groomed, shirt slightly unbuttoned,
sporting my suit neither noosed nor tied.

After the graduation caps rained,
that thunderous applause came to a fade
and I knew I had weathered the storm.
So I folded all of the pain from my gain
into a paper plane, found the closest garbage can
and aimed.

I stood on the shore of my success,
calling out to that sea of scholarships and grants,
waiting and wading, just jumping and waving at the tides.
Sadly, that glass bottle with the letter inside never replied.
Financial Aid was a lie; it couldn’t even afford to buy me a free ride.

And just my luck, Uncle Sam pulled up to my house
in a dented Chevy Venture with a taxi sign on the roof
that spelled out: “C-O-L-L-E-G-E”.
So I forgot my best interests, listened to society,
packed my bags, opened the side door and stepped on in.

He threw his arm over the passenger seat,
looked back and spoke with a grin:

“And you don’t think you can afford to roll with me?
Well, for a fixed rate on your liberty, I will loan
you thousands of dollars you have never seen.
With your degree, you can get a high-paying job
and make so much money your wallet will scream.
You’ll be swimming in waves of green from sea to shining sea.
Then you can buy you a nice car,a big house,
and find you a wife to pop out 2.5 babies.
You can diet, straighten your nappy-ass hair, dye it,
and then bleach and brace your crooked off-white teeth
to get that picket fence smile like the stars on TV.
And forget bonds, you can invest in your wants and neglect your needs.
Then, as you sleepwalk in the chubby smog of your American Dream,
you can cough up the money—to pay back to me. All you gotta do
is sign on the promissory dotted line. Come now neph, we family!
I WANT YOU to trust in yo' Uncle Sammie.”

So I looked him dead in his dollar sign eyes,
and told that drug lustin' love rustin' oil slick talkin’
outta his gas guzzlin’ elephant donkey ass mind
relative of mine, "Fine, Now shut up and drive!"

Three years passed, and I’m teary-eyed, wallet dried,
in the driver’s seat with my hands shackled the wheel;

I’m shackled to steer
this taxi of government taxing
and I drive like a road-raged
slave tryin’ to escape his fate.
But after 4 years of speeding
through subsidized red-lights and fines,
there is no mo’ Moses conducting the ride,
no mo' boarders to cross to get off the plantation,
no mo' Mason-Dixon line.

It took me until my senior year of college to learn
how to be a wooly-eyed, black sheep lost in the herd.
And after all of my diplomas and degrees burn,
I will still be a field nigger, indentured to serve—
for the rest of my cottonpickin’ life.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

tragedy of the english, man

"a tragedy of the english, man"
watercolor x ink on latex-coated fabric


Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Loneliness is
two spinal hands
all fingers and no wrists.

Loneliness is
an invisible of set ribs
caging the heart in its clench.


Soular Savior

To any concerned Who, I am the solar savior;
Mr. Coolest of Cool, peep my polar behavior:

I see—icy, frozen ponds of prose in bonds.
Got no time to dispute over pros and cons.
POOF! ABRACADABRA! I chose my wand…
BOOM! Shattering matter; my flow’s the bomb.

Roll stones from the tomb, son, I rose the GOD.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Shopping for something new

Her eyes were two 24-hour department stores
and I was looking for a new pair of shoes.
Her lips were two automatic sliding doors
inviting my tongue to mosey on through.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Starry Night

"Starry Night"

Like a swirling star,
love fell in me
from van Gogh skies.
Cupid was jarred
and compellingly
shot 2 angels in the eyes.

I got drunk off a pot of gold.
Now I’m throwing up leprechaun
laughter and fiery rainbows.
Inside my undoused mouth,
a drumstick tongue. My t-t-teeth
rattle like cymbals when silver syllables come.

The midnight moon croons as the stars rock.
Daylight presses SNOOZE on her alarm clock.


Friday, April 1, 2011

April 1st.

And when March
marches away
the days of April
come to stay.

-R. Gibsun

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Railroad Eyes"

“Railroad eyes”

It’s noon. I am riding on a train for the first time.
I pull out a pen and pad from my bag
And soon, I’ll be writing on a train for the first time.

Out of the window, my railroad eyes peer.
My train steers over steel through valleys of ruined trees;
their splintered hearts probably art in heaven, hollowed be
thy wooden communities. Empathy comes truthfully
because I look at my skin and find their hues in me.

I place my pen on the pad
and give the muse some room to breathe

The conductor speaks “We are currently moving..”
Twenty-five miles per hour glass hot tornado sands spilling
Filling the half empty alleys of my brain is a sponge
absorbing sound waves ebb and fade ebb and fade

Tonight, the moon will be
the closest she’s ever been to me—or not to me.
I strap on my headphones and rock in peace.
Then I hear her lullaby and rock to sleep.

Wake Up!
I am the— Amtrak insomniac, heed my ding-dong-dinging
But don’t stop, join me at the railroad crossing song singing
I am the horn and the flute that the Moon’s blues blew through!
Get up and groove to this! Lose your cool like a lunatic!
Move your hips, to this Music!

But my muse is sick; I feel lunar eclipsed.
I’m a writer sentenced to a mental cage
Barred behind barbed wire, I stare for days
and dream of black unicorns and night mares that graze
on green in terror because I pluck their hairs
not to confiscate their DNA, but
for the sake of making a paint brush
to pull words from the dark wells of creation.
And my ability to feel is trapped in tin plated steel,
But I think I can, I think I can, so I think and can-open my mind.

And words stream like hot steam
from my Coltrane of thought,
Trailing back, Wailing Jazz.

I wake up and follow the path of my ink,
my hand floating down the page like a falling leave.
And the poem wrote itself as I slept to the beat
of Blue O’clock and night-colored calligraphy.

Ides of March

The Ides of March

The Ides of March
are eyeballing me.
From my highest arch
to my crawling feet.
I see the silent march
of sky scrawling seas.
Is it Caesar’s spine
or the bloody knife calling me?

Monday, March 28, 2011


Be on the look/listenout for my good friend and a master violinist, Eric Stanley.
Here is the artwork I created for his upcoming project, "The Eric Stanley Project".

Check out his music!

Peace [in your inner east].

Friday, March 25, 2011

I know why the caged quetzal sings...

* These pieces I created last year after my spring break trip to Guatemala. The Mayans and Guatemalans that spoke to my class really emphasized the importance of honoring ancient Mayan culture and keeping that culture alive through educating the youth. Known for its rarity and stunning colors, the Quetzal bird became a Mayan symbol of freedom soon after the Spanish Colonization in the 1500s. Since then, the older generations believe that educating their children will bring unity within the Mayan people as well as free the people from the cookie cutter dependency that globalization has brought Guatemala; thus, the poem and the painting. Enjoy!

"I know why the caged Quetzal sings"

I know why the caged Quetzal sings
Its feathered helmet is a crown of Kings.
A blood breasted bird with wondrous wings
Those brilliant blues and gracious greens;
its elegant tail feather is long and sleek.
The caged Quetzal sings to be free.

© 2011 R.Gibsun

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Bassist Sings

The Bassist Sings
for Esperanza

Catch the groove.
Her tongue tickles the top tooth
and scat slithers out smooth
like unsullied sooth.

Her voice harbors the harmony
as the bass melds the melody.
Strings translate the finger's speech;
her hands are thinking wild and free.

© 2011 R.Gibsun

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Contradiction in ME

I wake up.
To a dream of liberty.
In Libya and the Middle East.

mercenaries kill.

the protesters die.
To live free.

© 2011 R.Gibsun

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

main chick...mistress...

Visual Art is my main chick.
Poetry is my mistress.
Been with "P" for a while.
'Bout time to pay "Vis" a visit.


My thoughts've incubated long enough
My body’s ready to go; I am strong enough.
And the world can’t pass me by—
I’m living ahead of my time.

© 2011 R.Gibsun

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Break-up

The Break-up

When you said
“Our love is made of lead”
a brainstorm formed in my head.

Thoughts thundered—the rumble
tumbled down my throat
and lightning lyrics left my lungs.

I wish its strike
could’ve shocked the life
back into your Lazarus heart…

© 2011 Robalu Gibsun

Soul at Sunrise Video

Monday, February 7, 2011

Soul at Sunrise

* I wrote this poem in the Winter of 2009 in my bed surrounded by two dictionaries, a raggedy thesaurus, and an anthology of Black poetry. In so many words, my computer died so it was the first time I literally wrote and revised a poem on paper in a while.

Soul at Sunrise

Seek solace in silence.
Learn the music of your past:

Listen as the genius jargon of Jazz scats
like baaalooo ayeeeeee ya diggy diggy—
for the dames and gents keep jonzin’ for a hit
of horns and drumkicks, guitars and trumpets
just Miles and ‘Trane and Monk and Getz

The muffled buzz of Bossa Nova skips
on vinyl like some smooth stone skimming
the lips of a swooning sea—
for the needle keeps grooving
into grains of thought; the downbeat
conversation of crackling fire

Warm and worn as a back-pocket poem
nestled in darkness but brilliantly scored.
And God says “Let there be spotlights,
and audience and stage and poet and mic!”
The air rips into a rhythmic rift,
rapid runnin’ rapture rushin’
Revolution is coming! Revolution is coming!

Word is Born goddammit
And even God can’t damn it;
He’s too busy jammin’ to the jive of June,
jiggin’ wit the gems and jewels
dreamin’ to a dissonant tune— the Cool:

the bullied Blues of Billie and Hughes
buried above trombones and tombs.
It’s the heavy hues of Suthun’ strange fruit
beaten to a pulp, lying in its own juice,
life fresh-squeezed out, freedom bleedin’ from the mouth
hangin’ like heartache, bro ken ‘til heart break.

The Art of snapping a spirit flips— into Soul:
A virgin-eyed, nostrils wide, mouth pried open tone
A funky cold, solid-gold, mocha Motown moan.
Velvet voices unravel like curls through a hot comb,
not vengeful, just strong

like tired old black ladies on Sunday mornin’,
old bones bumpin’, just clappin’ and stompin’ and loud
giving praise and shouting over somebody’s grave (Yes Lord Jehovah!)
in no shoes, no cares, and no pain— well, at least not until service is over
Four-hundred years of struggle on your back and shoulders ain’t light.

This music—is the fluttering feeling
of finally finding your fire
then letting your lips
revolt against each other
and loosening out one long, impossible note—
a sound so shaky and bleak,
so uncorrupted and sweet,
so powerful and meek,
that you will stand face-to-face
with the dark raspy, rib-rooted truth
only you know so well.

And you will rise
from the madness of this age,
a rare beacon of beauty,
with your head held to the heavens
howling your hymn—in the hem
of tomorrow’s history.