Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Big Deal

The following poem appears in The Beat Museum Poetry Anthology, Volume 1 (2009), and is in response to the first $700billion Wall Street bailout in October 2008. It was written the evening before Congress voted in favor of the bailout.

"The Big Deal"

-Valerie Ibarra 10/03/08

buh-buh-buh billions 'n billions

go billowing out

well-funded measures

held only by clout

go whizzing away

as the printer press sticks

- remnants of abandoned industry -

but the grease is stuck onto the palms,

as we go begging alms.

"buh-buh-buh-buy me out!"

they scream and they shout

purveyors of crooked accounting

accredited with creating credit

- just so someone else can be indebted -

ditches dug & mudded out

steamy swamp

whose stench's time has come

let's now invert the 'ayes'

that have gone too far.

Unmatched blumbering

equivocal, but more pronounced stumbling

into treasure traps

and further laundering

power grasping its tail between its legs

so they can go on pestering & festering

slime on the walls confessing

to a hollowed face of Justice,

which must remind us

that it's time to take our vitamins

and redefine us!

buh-buh-buh-buh-bring back the color!

to the cheeks of Principle

spread good ideas without becoming criminal

purge the arteries

of this gluttonous construct

rise above the Placebo

the curtain is drawn

it's as clear as the fence on the

White House Lawn,

green as the eye hidden in fog

on the back of your $1 bill.

buh-buh-buh Black Tuesdays

looming up above

the tale's shaky

and I clearly felt a shove

somebody's pulling at the wool above

our eyes

- sheepishly sidestepping wolves in disguise -

tip-toeing to tip the scales

one more time

before the fix is in,

but the jig is up.

-VI 10/03/08

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"I READ THE NEWS TODAY, OH BOY!" _ A Poetry and Art Collaboration

Poets and Visual Artists Respond the News in a Creative Collaboration of New Works

A Unique Media Exhibit
The Benicia Public Library/Marilyn O'Rourke Gallery
June 22-July 29 2011

Twenty-eight poets and visual artists (including myself) were selceted from a national competition by Benicia Poet Laureate, Ronna Leon, to colllaborate in a creative response to the news.

I am paired with Photographer, Rebecca Martinez, and we are responding to a news story on the topic of Politics and Immigration. We are responding to a NY Times story from March 29, 2011, titled "Arriving as Pregnant Tourists, Leaving With American Babies"

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Doing the Math on a Disservice

Former San Francisco Giant, Barry Bonds, has been in the public eye for nearly two decades: first as a power slugger, then as a home run record breaker, and most recently as a defendant in a federal investigation for purportedly lying to a Grand Jury about his use or non-use of performance enhancing drugs. In April 2011, he was convicted on obstruction of justice, with more court action to follow.

In the latest case, the federal government spent $55million dollars trying to convict Bonds of purjury by gathering scandalous heresay evidence that failed to convict him of that offense. Thanks to the media spending so much of their valuable time on this - instead of other relevant topics - we will all recall not only Bonds's glorious days as a baseball phenom, but also as a parking lot womanizer who may or may not have had testicular shrinkage. Bonus!

Incidentally, a new mark can be made in the Book of Barry, and this one reveals a more friendly human side to his public persona.

Most people in California have heard about the tragic story of Brian Stowe, an S.F. Giants' fan who fell victim to a physical altercation with an Dodgers' fan at a home-state game in L.A. Stowe, a local father of two, is still in a coma as a result of the severe incident.

It was just announcded that Barry Bonds has offered to pay for Stowe's children to go to college. This is a gesture that will directly affect Stowe's family in the long run, and won't hurt Bonds's public image to boot. In sum, we salute you, Barry.

Now, let's do the math. Let's consider that an undergraduate education at UC (in 2011) could cost about $100,000 for four years. So, the federal government essentially wasted $55million trying to convict Bonds of purjury. Divide that by $100,000, a generous amount that Bonds is likely to pay twice over out of his own coffer. What's the result? Five hundred and fifty.

That is: $55,000,000.00 / $100,000.00 = 550

Thus, instead of the government wasting $55 million on lawyers and court fees that failed to serve its entitlement to truth, justice and the American way, OUR government could have sent 550 people to college for four years. That would have been a major investment in the future of our country, our economy, and the potential success of a 550 American families. Instead, we have nothing to show for it but a calloused finger of shame.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Bay Area People"

“Bay Area People”

Conscious connectivity
Bay Areability
grooving & maneuvering
to the crowd-pleasing sounds
of revving up
evolutionary agility,
where the idea of conquest
is a contest
& we strive
to rise
~ eyes of the hawk
hearts of the dove ~
Getting down & dirty,
but keepin’ it real
We reflect
on bygones
& the upsets
Restless & yet nesting
in our Bayside aviary
no fence too high over which to carry
the throngs of our songs
salty, sweet, & sour
we don’t allow time
to define our hours
Yours & mine
year round
& chiming in to:
& rethink
all we’ve been given
to celebrate & recalibrate
Always willing to:
make the next move
this situational misuse
of moments that are best used
to remove
the barriers,
we Bay Areaers relinquish nothing
but the stale energy
that, occasionally, builds up
like walls in which to cage us
But we are timeless & priceless
& so you will not cage us!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Public Transportation in Crisis_Save the Paper FastPass and Don't Trust Clipper!

The following is an excerpt of a letter that I wrote to the S.F. Board of Supervisors, the City Attorney, and even Governor Brown. I have gotten a response from my supervisor, who put me in contact with someone from teh SFMTA, but I have yet to receive a follow-up response after my initial contact with the SFMTA.


As a native San Franciscan who has relied on public transportation for the near entirety of my life, I am writing to inform you that the push into the Clipper system and the elimination of the paper Fast Pass has more than a few serious flaws.

1. Eliminating the paper FastPass would be wasteful, useless, and discriminatory. The paper Fast Pass is the sign of a responsible rider. You show the driver, it is the proof of purchase, and it allows smooth transfers. They are durable if you keep them in a safe place, reduce delays when boarding vehicles, and require no financial accountability from a central company. They are already designed to slide through the new gate “readers” and so there is no need to remove them from the market.

2. Clipper creates noise pollution. For a small City who tries to pride itself on being “green” and accessible, the chip activated by the Clipper card readers are a menace to those who rely on Muni every day. Not only do we have to sit there and listen to people beep themselves in like items at a grocery store, but also the machines are too sensitive and often require patrons to try again. It’s bad enough the streetcars were designed to host a screeching siren sound when the doors can’t close on time, but now patrons are being subjected to aggressive and headache-inducing beeps for every person who enters a Muni vehicle. This does not promote a healthy lifestyle and makes taking the bus even more taxing than it already is. Although I don’t use my Clipper card anymore, I have been carrying it with my FastPass… and it’s quite disturbing that I can set off the card reader from my pocket.

3. Clipper makes travel by Muni LESS efficient. Long lines at machines downtown create a hassle for patrons. (Not to mention that you can’t just add $1, but you can add $2 or $5.) Furthermore, since trains and busses often only run at long intervals, it makes it harder to catch the train on time because you have to stand in line at the machine. Why not just load a month’s worth of credit onto your Clipper card? Read on…

4. Clipper creates paper waste. I know it sounds ironic – how could a reloadable plastic card create paper waste? Well, the answer is that the thick-coated one-way and round trip passes sold out of the machines are more wasteful than the original paper transfers; and because people do not trust the Clipper accounting system, almost everyone prints a receipt for each purchase.

5. Clipper accounting system is unreliable and untrustworthy. In my personal experience, a receipt does little good, as Clipper was unable to access my records for a cash fare purchase I made that was never credited to my account. I called three times and was finally asked to fax my receipt to them, as if having a card number and receipt in my possession was insufficient. They were unwilling to refund me for the cost of the fax, so I declined to follow through. Since then, I have not used Clipper at all. Why would I give my financial information – in the form of a credit or debit card – to a company that cannot look up a simple receipt number in its own system? I barely trust Muni as is, let alone an outsider company like Clipper who has botched up an already weakened transportation system.

6. Clipper gates can be hazardous. The fact that people are now being subjected to Sensors at the abdominal level is alarming enough, but I have been crushed by rapidly closing doors. Luckily, I’m a young, healthy person…but it was painful. Now, imagine an elderly person who moves slowly. They could be seriously injured. This would not only be a terrible ordeal for them, but also has the potential to cost the City if they were to sue the MTA or the City itself.

Pirate Radio_A New Incarnation

Greetings from the underground!

The artists formerly known as "Pirate Cat Radio" have recently had the captain abandon ship! So, we've been working together to stay afloat. Thanks to the supreme skills and dedication of some wonderful individuals, our new collective is experiencing smooth sailing ~


Check out all the shows and evolution at: www. - and -

The "Common Thread Collective" with myself, Diamond Dave, and Dj Douglas streams LIVE on Fridays 3-6pm, and can be accessed via Podcast. You can also look for Mutiny Radio on iTunes under "Eclectic".

*Come be a part at the corner of 21st & Florida in the Mission District.
Politics.Art.Community_Discussions 3-4pm
Open Mic_Music & Poetry _ in the Cafe/Studio 4-6pm

"Cast a wide net, find the common thread, let life flourish, and don't panic, keep it organic!" - Diamond Dave Whitaker