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New & Retro


Dear Readers and Contributors,


We are grateful and honored to present a selection of the words and works of The JBS community past (since 2012) and present in this virtual, new and retro edition of BOLD VOX.  These are vital, critical times and these voices matter.  We hope you enjoy and are inspired by these pieces of truth, reflection, rebellion, resistance, creation and emotion crystallized in word and image.


In Peace, Justice, and Art,

Vox Editorial Board: Stephanie Blanch-Byer, Marie Lewis, Jamie Munkatchy,  Rob Reyes, Tamra Plotnick,  Nia Potter, Stacey Sullivan, Fallyn Vega, David Ward 


June 2020


PS Given the circularity of time, we have avoided most references to dates of publication.

dedicated to

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery 

and “The Fire Next Time” that they inspired.

VOX Editorial Board

Stephanie Blanch-Byer, Marie Lewis, Jamie Munkatchy, Rob Reyes, Tamra Plotnick, Nia Potter, Stacey Sullivan, Fallyn Vega, David Ward

Special Thanks

CAMBA and The LTW Program, The JBS English Department, New York City Outward Bound, EL Education, The New York State Performance Standards Consortium, New York Live Arts, Akim Funk Buddha, Bianca Bailey, Dave Archuleta, Ilka Scobie and Pam Laskin of the City College Poetry Outreach Center, The Pajama Program, Jamie Munkatchy and The JBS Morning Team MakerSpace and Lukas Bauer, Liz Lazarus (art teacher in residence)


Myriam Alegria, Isaiah Alford, Qushawn Allen, Breanni Alvarez, Michell Angamarca, Anonymous, Jose Aquiahuatl, Alexis Arias, Emmanuel Batista, Stephanie Blanch-Byer, Michael Brito, BT, Liz Cabrera, Joel Camilo, Nayely “Potato” Campbell, Joel Camilo, Justin Cervantes, Edgar “Slim” Cintron Jr., Alexander Cisneros, Devo Conde, Grasiela Coyotl, Rafael Curet, Bianca Dachoute, Alam de la Cruz, Enmanuel de la Nuez, Adriana Malaysia Del Valle , Shariah Dickerson, Voshon Delbridge, Heaven Dennis, Angelica Dutan, Robert Eliezer, Jayce Embry, Luis Espinal, Veronica Fernandez, Jasmine Foroughi, Essence Fort, Nadine Garvin, Abdoulaye Gassama, Leeza Gadsden, Abdoulaye Gassama, Rachelle Gibson, Crystal Gonzalez, Dennis Gonzalez, Victor Gonzalez,  Artianna Graham, Amira Gundel, Angeliq Hammie, Rokeya Hossain, Emily Heras, Alexis Hernandez, Danny Hewitt, Rokeya Hossain, Gabriel Ibarra, Jenna, Spirit Jones, Ariana Jordan, Kashante Kiese, Katana Kinebrew, Diselys Liranzo, Egypt Lopez, Oscar Matias, Mariel Martinez, Antonio McCaskill Jr, Noah Martuccio. Mecca Mshaka-Morris. Yailyn Montes de Oca, Jamie Munkatchy, Allee Niang, Jalitza Nieves, Zeshan Noor, Emily Ojeda, Sonia Oquendo, David Ortega, Leila Ousmane, Yvette Pabon, Mack Paradise, Shaniyah Pedrero, Rachel Peralta, Darvin Perez, Brad Pion, Brauly Plier,  Tamra Plotnick, Daneiry Polanco, Luiggi Ramos, Hawa Sakho, Mya Shaw, Shellz, Faith Sheppard, Christian Simplice, Reshawn Smith, Travis Smoker, Matilda Suli, Stacey Sullivan, Eddiemarc Torres, Yarimar Torres, Barabara Vasquez, d. alan ward, Malala Waseme, Diovianne White, Lanasia White, Ashley Zapata


For your undying love, support, teaching, care, counseling, solidarity, innovation, and inspiration, Bold VOX deeply thanks the faculty and staff of The James Baldwin School and The LTW Program: 


Brady Smith (principal co-director), Athena Leonardo (teacher co-director), Rehana Ali, Laura Alvarez, Jeanette Aybar, Na-tasha Baldwin, Emily Blanca Zapata, Stephanie Blanch-Byer, Kelly Brown, Ashley Davison, Harrison Delfin, Marwa El-Turky, Hanna Gartland, Josh Heisler, Shana Elizabeth Henry, Sharon Holden, Abby Kirchman, Liz Lazarus, Marie Leblanc, Marie Lewis, Joe Martone, Lynda McFarlan, TJ McFarlan, Anya Meier, Michelle Miao (student teacher), Thomas Mullane, Jamie Munkatchy, Shelly October, Christine Olson, Tamra Plotnick, Ashley Polanco, Luiggi Ramos, Seth Rader, Rob Reyes, Sherry Sarioglu, Kayla Stephenson, Stacey Sullivan, Thereisa Robinson, Hilary Rosenfield (EL School Designer), Natalie Yasmin Soto, Catherine Tosado, Caity Tully, Steven Velez, David Ward

by Anonymous 

Just because you have a gun 

On your waist doesn't 

Mean you have to use it

Killing young Black teens 

Cause you have a number 

On your chest 

Stopping me cause I have a hoodie

On my head 

Damn, I can see all the anger in your face

by Rachelle Gibson

My tears ran down so smooth.  

by Alle Niang

Who makes up history.

Probably can’t be seen

could be the reason.

Your building doesn’t lean.

The reason you see.

Apps on your screen.

Aren’t you even curious?

Right now I’m serious.

I’ve never been delirious.

Just think it’s mysterious.

Tired of all the pawns

taking all the credit.

It’s time you realized

Don’t wait another second.

The silence hurts worse

than speaking the truth.

Better say something now

Got nothing to lose.


Photo by Daniel Bergerson

“Trust life, and it will teach you, in joy and sorrow, all you need to know.”

--James Baldwin

(and others affected by police brutality)*
by Leila Ousmane

When you left this planet

we flooded the streets

The way stardust floods the sky

after a supernova has burst


When you left this planet

we knew life, like a child,

shakes its rattle of death

as it runs.


For 600 years we believed

those little white lies about pain

that our beautiful skin

was nothing but shame


But when I saw the bullets

go through countless of my brothers and sisters

our beautiful skin became more of a threat

than a shame

*Won Honorable Mention in City College of New York Citywide Poetry Contest 2019

by Shellz


you shoot

                when I’m exercising


you bash my head

to the ground

                when I sell loosies


you aim at me

                when I’m playing in the park


you pull me over

                           and then

I’m hung with a plastic bag in a cell


I’m in the passenger seat

with my family

                           and then

                                          I’m lying in blood on Facebook live


I’m in the neighborhood

with candy

                         and then 

                                         I’m gone


I’m 6’7”

                       and it’s enough

for you









I’m reduced






by Mya Shaw

Being a Black female in today’s society is far from easy. Every day I wake up, I feel less and less wanted by society. I look at the newstand and see how they’ve been plastering the faces of Parkland shooting victims all over the magazines and newspapers. They were invited on the Ellen show and one of them gave a whole speech in Washington D.C., our country’s capital. And the Florida shooting suspect? He wasn’t shot once. Not one time did they dare to pull the trigger on a mentally unstable male that walked into a high school and killed seventeen people. A Caucasian young man in Austin was bombing people’s homes. He wasn’t shot or killed. 


Meanwhile, brown-skinned Patrick Dorismond possessed no drugs and was waiting for a taxi with a friend when an undercover officer shot him once in the chest from close range. 


Amadou Diallo, an African immigrant, holding a wallet, was shot forty-one times by four police officers in the doorway of his Bronx apartment building. 

Michael Brown, an African American brother, was unarmed; he was shot and killed by a police officer. 

Philando Castile, a Black man, had a permit for his gun and the officer shot him seven times. 

Tamir Rice, a Black youth, was shot twice by an officer at close range as he held a toy gun. 

John Crawford the Third, another Black man, simply handled a toy in the toy aisle and was shot twice by an officer in quick succession. 

Alton Sterling was pinned to the ground and shot several times at close range. 

Freddie Gray was just riding his bike when officers loaded him into the back of a police van on his stomach and head first ignoring his pleas for medical attention.  


While Miriam Carey’s baby was in the car, she was shot five times and killed in front of her one-year-old daughter. I’m not saying that what happened to the Parkland shooting victims wasn’t wrong, but where is our justice? Where is the justice for the Black community? All of these tragic, wrongful killings have happened to us and still, we have no closure. They didn’t give us the same media coverage; they made us seem like wild animals trying to be violent during peaceful protests and marches. But I guess being born Black is a crime all in itself, ain’t it? They say all lives matter, but I guess that doesn't include us. It's been said once, but I’ll say it again: America better be grateful that the Black community only wants equality and not revenge.

Although the City-wide Poetry Contest run by CUNY’s City College of New York’s Poetry Outreach Center was canceled this year due to the pandemic, the anthology will be published and in it, the poems of these five JBS students: Egypt Lopez, Abdoulaye Gassama, Sonia Oquendo, Zeeshan Noor and Danny Hewitt. Congratulations, writers!

by Danny Hewitt

I woke up, I saw, I left I had everything, I lost everything I had cash and now have none Spent on pizza and the food of junk material I remember a city of 8 million I forgot my language I think I once was a child And everything was big Now I am lost in conjunction I have failed to see the light

Subconscious dark as the night sky But

has light on the side What is my purpose

When too young, wise as a serpent When

society is lost could I have been chosen

Spirit truly awoken, soul golden 


Since I see through the lies I'm doctrine I'm

forever going to shine I let my soul keep talking 


No more mind tricks

Too mentally



Too strong on my path Making

sure my steps last Third eye

sharp like broken glass Society

faith, where is your mask 


With more being said

I'm not scared of

death I am too

blessed When I have


by Abdoulaye Gassama
by Egypt Lopez 

It pops up when you least expect it The cost will turn, but not due to respite You rest and rest and it forever persists Like a gosh darn curse that you cannot lift 

The solution isn't sleep or naps or rest It's not a lack of trying or doing your best It's just when the world’s so loud and full of misfortune Sometimes your own world can be a bit distorted 

There's not a sight or sound meant to really cure The loss of the will to find your way, to be sure So if you have interest, it won't lead you astray But you must open your eyes for a another new day

by Sonia Oquendo 

Leave this world behind, my dear New adventures have awaited Keep going with silver spoons Close the eyes to happy lives In wings lives our childhood past Chocolate hearts spilled cherry cheese Lots of bad hatters Queens of true hearts Bunnies allowed of your presence Neverland was not lived Lost boys had no Wendy darling Second star to the right Straight till morning No Captain Hook Empty pixie dust He has been waiting Forever shall you be Hello again Dear Alice Welcome back In Wonderland I will be your guide


If you're black,

you’re mad

You're broke 

And live ratched

If you're black 

You’re gonna go to jail     You're gonna fail

Even get killed

If you're black 

Your mom was on crack

Your father never came back 

These are statistics of the opposition 

Of the opposite race 

Building a case 

And we’re letting them ace 

Letting them thinks it's okay to say 

Because you're black that’s why it’s that 

No it’s because of them and their fear of the major comeback

Creating system after system 

To break your back

If you're black 

Walk with power, strength, and dignity

We've already lost our peace of mind

Find your inner gold mine

Take back the time that was lost

Get in tune with your soul 

It's so much more within 

Within your skin is someone beautiful 

If you're black 

Live life without lack

Lack of strength, power and dignity 

If you’re black 

Love your skin because you can 

Not because of them hating 

If you're black            Get back 

OP ED: The State of Being Black
by Diovianne White 
by Anonymous 

Anger can really take over you 

Anger will have you walking around 

Like nobody loves you

It's hard to find peace when 

You have so much anger in you

by Jenna

Violence brings fear into people

It makes you feel like you have 

To watch every move you make 

Violence makes you wanna

Walk around with a weapon 

To feel safe 

Once you use the weapon 

You feel the guilt 

by Noah Martuccio

I am condensation on a glass of water

Outside looking in

So close, yet so far

It feels like do not belong*

I cannot see, the invisible barrier

Between everything else

   And me.

(It feels like I do not belong)*

by Zeshan Noor

An extraterrestrial being A Milky Way in the sky 

An alien in the corner

Observing a different



A female Phoenix in a summer


My imagination can stretch far

But this is more than I can


Estranged vibe of different


Different beings in the world That is in the process of creation 

Unsettled hands,

An imaginary cold that nips at your bones.

Violent nervousness,

as all your nightmares breathe in your ear.

Sleepless nights

While they’re asleep, you’re alone.

Everything you dread, knocking at the door;

They will keep you company.

Your tears give you solace.
by Nayely Campbell
by Edgar “Slim” Cintron Jr.

I was

In between a world so cruel,

And a world real pleasant if you follow the rules.

In between you get a 9 to 5 and stay in school, 

Or make sales, hit checks and get a car brand new

In between staying strong and getting what I need done,

Or staying hard and getting whatever I want.

In between get money, and hide from my mother now

Or graduate college and make my mother proud 

Now I’m in between

Was I a regular kid?

Or was I a kid in a world corrupted?

But now I’m here

Two years ago I should have graduated 

But at least my main focus is to say, look Ma, I made it. 

by Leeza Gadsden

It's one thing to say you’re disappointed and the shit you’re doing needs to stop,


but how can you curse your kids out and call them a thot?

How can you call them all these things and make them feel like nothing inside?

But you don’t get it.

You just see it from your point of view

because your parents did it to you and you’re gonna do it to your children too

Have them feel that hurt that you felt when you was young 

You being the only parent in they life because they dads walked out on them

I know it’s hard,

But just have faith in them 

The same faith you wanted when you was young

by Christian Simplice

What was life like before you?

What was life like before color?

What was life like before our adversities?

Was life simple? 

Was doing the right thing something

you just did?

What was life like before self doubt?

What was life like before 

the cruel world hit you?

by Emily Heras

The color red represents the blood running down my scars.

Sharp, curved, long, short lines.                      

All have different stories.

The obsidian lines have power.

There are some lines that are tall like a tower.

Obsidian lines overlap each other,                  

like the paths we cross with one another.

Life is the obsidian lines                       

Covering the blood of the unknown.


I was born in the Garden State

At the turn of a new century

A time for new beginnings

Mixed blood running through my veins

Born before the Towers crumbled

Youngest in a complicated family

Was born in Jersey

Compete in water, live for the rush


*Awarded Honorable Mention in City College City-wide Poetry Contest 2018

by Rafael Curet

I was born in the Garden State

At the turn of a new century

A time for new beginnings

Mixed blood running through my veins

Born before the Towers crumbled

Youngest in a complicated family

Was born in Jersey

Compete in water, live for the rush


*Awarded Honorable Mention in City College City-wide Poetry Contest 2018

by Rafael Curet
by Hawa Sakho

Listen, you have ears.

Speak, you have a mouth, but don't speak too much. 

Look, you have eyes and look deep.

Do you see, I mean do you really see,

we’re all life’s little spies, using our hair, race, and lies 

as a disguise to get through this world and time 

Some use it to try to get me, not knowing that my mind is also wise.

Even though 16 years isn’t much, I don’t mind, 

all I can tell you is these spies aren't getting a dime.

Listen, speak, look. 

With this in mind, no spy can waste your precious time.

by Dennis Gonzalez 

Don’t mind your friend or foes,
Remember your goals,
Motivate that innerself,
to bring out your undoubtable wealth


by Eddiemarc Torres

Some things that make me feel good in this photo are me in the process of recording music and the chain I'm wearing.

I’m just trying to run,

away from all these guns,

away from all these nuns,

God forgive me for all my sins,

and all the places that I’ve been.

You can’t replace, you can’t retrace

The demons entering my soul,

I ran them off,  I kicked the goal

I have a lot of cookies in the jar,

I know I’m going to get far,

I’m jumping on these bars,

I’m sliding through these cars.

Education gets me far,

And a brick would make me fall

Either ten feet deep or behind those bars.


*Won Honorable Mention in 2016 City College of New York Citywide Poetry Contest

by Dennis Gonzalez

My physical appearance came clear to me
when guys compared me to another female.
Whether or not my butt was big
or my breasts were plumped enough.
It felt like I was in a judgement zone.
Countless mornings staring in the mirror wondering
if I was good enough.
If I put on enough makeup.
Was my lipstick put on just right.
Does my outfit fits just right to show off my curves.
Did my curls drop peaceful.
My inner self is crying out to show herself.
Show how brave and strong she is.
Show her goofy personality
and her mindset of independent woman.
A queen that deserves to be crowned
and not taken advantage of.

by Ashley Zapata
by Katana Kinebrew

This vase is dark as the unknown

It’s made of life’s clay, slowly forming my shape as I grow.

Here in my imaginary room, there is silence.

There is much to be listened and         

little to be said.

But the room is silent, I’m ready to listen.

This pink flower is gentle as my feelings.

Its green stem intertwined in the vase of life.

the dance

the movements of people

through time

through stories told

written in the curves of mountains

written so we may know the beauty behind us

and the history 



the beats of arched backs 


dancing with mountains

reeling in the whispered revolution

the slow beats of 


by Jamie Munkatchy 

by Antonio McCaskill

The purpose of this was to find objects that go from light to dark [grayscale]. I found 10 objects in my room. I changed the way I thought it was going to work. I took the picture in color and then changed it to black and white.

Looking into a mirror I lose myself  

by Anonymous

by Victor Gonzalez  

Heart beating faster & faster

Water rising as my blood rises

Cold water filling my lungs

Losing consciousness 

On a jet ski all alone

A wave hit me, I quickly fell

Deep and deeper as the jet ski disappeared

I landed a sandy beach

All I remember is my body being sore

For about a week 

The day I almost died.

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