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Home | Episode #37
April 26, 2019 | Student Producer:

Lily Yates
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Gill Sotu, San Diego spoken word artist, waxes poetic on the meaning of "family." (5 minutes)
Gill Sotu

But what I really wanted to talk about was family and coming into situations like Thanksgiving and Christmas where sometimes you can feel in the family but not of the family or vice versa, and feel like a outcast even with people that look just like you. And so I wrote this piece called "Family" and I hope you enjoy it.

So my grandfather's pancreas had poems in them. Passed it onto my father who professed he had no passion to become a page or a prophet. He presented the proposition to me. Now I went on a pilgrimage to the Middle East. I came back so black, I was damn near purple, pass through the sun and out pops a poet. I'm probably not what you expected. Perhaps if I had a pimp's tongue, I could pull the appreciation out you. Yeah, I may have a bit of an attitude. I may be quiet when you're here, but I ain't afraid of you, USD, when you leave, I be talking again.

Now my grandmother on my mother's side, she used to laugh when no one was looking. She was a thug for Jesus when church folks gathered and she always carried a purse full of candy and condoms. I'm lying about the last part, one thing my grandma knew how to do was make beautiful babies. You know what I'm saying? You know what I'm saying, right? Hey, that's my grandma you're talking about. All about her children when my aunt, her daughter, it's a true story, died of a broken heart. She also allowed herself to pass through the ether stating, and I quote, she didn't need to be all alone up there in heaven as if God's cheese, eggs, and grits wasn't as good as hers as if nobody, not even sweet baby Jesus could love my auntie the way that she could. See, her love was hard, like skin pulled on drums would beat, beat, beat, beat that ass if not moving to her rhythm.

Believe me, I was a bad kid. I felt it a lot. Her other daughter, my mother, loves fierce like wind through horns in organized chaos like jazz. My love, my love, y'all is loud, young, requesting service, needing of attention. I don't know how to love that hard or that fierce yet. On holidays, I find myself reaching for my phone, but I'm more concerned with your status. My status. I keep my family at arms' length with my heart high upon my sleeves, so my heart becomes something that my family could see, but I never let them quite reach it. Just trying to learn how to play this game and 30 plus years in life, the same question still remains. I mean, you guys are all educated and educators in here, so maybe you could figure this out for me. How much do you have to love someone just because they bear your same last name?

This is not a poem of answers. Shoot, I don't even know if I have the right questions. You ask the same person on a different day and they will tell you family is either a curse or a blessing, right? Sometimes I see people introduce their family through the filter of failures. Have you ever seen that before? Like, oh, that's my cousin Tony over there. He just got out of jail. So hide your purses to hide your purse. Oh, and then that's victor. He got a six month chip. We prayin' for him, the blood of Jesus. We prayin' for him. Oh, and then Vanessa's bad-ass kids running around. They don't know who they daddy is. In this, our urban village surrounded by a concrete jungle, family trees get ripped apart in the name of progression. It's like a sacrifice to the god of possessions.Tell me what leaf is so arrogant to call another leaf damaged, when we're all held from the same limb, right? We're all kissed from the same sun, right? We're all coming from the same roots. Eventually we all fail, all fall. That's family, a mosaic. You guys know what a mosaic is, it's jagged, broken pieces that are only beautiful when you put them together and they're exposed by light. So I call up my mother unexpectedly and she lights up. I attend one of my sister's events and she shines, and I'm proud as a poet, as a playwright, as a DJ, I try so hard to be a star, to illuminate. When I learned that sometimes I just need to shut the hell up and be someone else's light switch. I wish... I wish that love was given easily like jealousy and resentment, right? I wish every time I was jealous or resentful after watching someone else's Youtube or Instagram, I understood that it was only out of a lack of my own self-love, but this is not a poem of answers. Like I said, USD, I don't even know if I have the right questions. All I know y'all, all I know is that I have a family and the pain that comes with them and the love that comes from them, be it ever so dysfunctional, there is no place like home.

Thank you, guys.