Jarvis Subia

Three Poems


Born and raised in the San José’s 7 trees neighborhood, Jarvis Subia's work delves into his relationship with his communities, sexuality, masculinity, national/global politics, lineage, race, gardening, mental health, personal growth, love, love, and love. 

Jarvis is a 2019 Poetry Foundation Incubator Fellow for community-engaged poets, 2019 Silicon Valley Creates and Content Magazines Emerging Artist Laureate honoree, and San José Poetry Slam’s 2018 Grand Slam Champion. He has been apart of 5 national poetry slam teams and has coached 3 national poetry slam teams representing his college and city, placing 2nd in the nation for (group piece) multi-voice poems in 2015 with the Palo Alto slam team. He has participated in the masters writing workshop at the Las Dos Brujas writers conference and the 2019 Winter Tangerine NYC Writers Workshops. Jarvis is currently a freelance teaching artist in the Bay Area and had worked with organizations such as SFJAZZ’s Jazz In the Middle program, Youth Speaks’ Emerging Poet Mentors, Digital Media & Culture (DMC) Studio at MACLA in San Jose, Bay Area Creative, and Performing Arts Workshop

Jarvis is a firm believer that things covered in cheese have improved in flavor 100% more than things not covered in cheese.

For more information about Jarvis, his poetry, upcoming shows, or taste in food items check out his website flowerboywrites.com 

Instagram: @Words_and_facialhair

Twitter: JarvisDSubia


               after Janae Johnson 

Ay ay ay, cómo me duele
Ay ay ay, cómo me duele


Selena gone and made a cumbia

Your abuela can dance to

Selena prayer of the 1 gen,

ni aqui ni alla,

Queen of Tejano.


Selena went and learned Spanish

Then made Tex-Mex music
You forgot was born in America.

Selena gone birthed a movie which

In turn, birthed a J-Lo.


Selena went and got your man

Weeping on the couch

And the latinidad ain't cried so hard

During a movie since Richie

Caught a plane into the sunrise

And the country only mourned

The white men.


Selena went and put 5 albums

On the Billboard charts

¡No mames! at the same damn time.

Selena sang her own funeral/love song

Because celebrating life after death

Is about as Mexican as it gets.

Selena went and became a history

Of remembering brown excellence

And thriving glory & longing potential,

And swelling cultural pride.

Feel that glistening

in the corner of your eye

See, Selena left you that.



Ode To The Guadalupe River

After Langston Huges


I've known rivers

Deep as they flow

From the Nazal

To the Guadalupe

An aquaphor for

A people's movement

Drifting the seeds of my

Tepehuán ancestors

To Deanza’s stolen

Ohlone land.


Yet, we are still


Waded through
convention and

Enslavement, trashing

In the wake

Of new oceans.


But you cannot conquer

The water,

Watch a wave

Of Immigration

Continue to seep

Into this country.


Before they try to bury us,

Know we were

The nourishment

The sun and the rain,

We are both faith and fight,

The fruit and fruition of tomorrow.


We’re a runoff

Of our mother's canal,

The River bursting forth

Carrying us to the corners

Of San Jose,

The same water

That my mother

And her mother settled near,

The same river

That will always carry us









Notes from the Garden


The first year I really took notice

of the seasons affect on my mood

A friend of mine told me a story

About his undergrad in Oregon,

A place sky’s weeps on it citizens

most days of the year, he said


the school had built a therapy room

Equipped with glowing heat lamps

and fluorescent white lights meant

to represent the California Rays.

“Sun-rooms” they were obviously called.



I trimmed the tomatoes,

Seeded the cucumbers,

Fertilized the roses,

I am preparing

for the growth

A summer brings.


During the cold months

I am mostly composting

Between sleep cycles,

Depression robs the body

Of its energy nutrition.


Most days,

I forget to eat

and wither by 4pm

Refuse to leave my bed

For anything less than warming

The irony is, as an educator, to plant

a garden and never tend to yourself,

Teach the youth a workshop

On self-care and neglect

to hydrate myself.


Fact: plants will gain more foliage

during the winter, they will not flower or

fruit, it's okay to spend seasons

in preparation instead of growth,

To spend years buried under a rock

Before you have a name for this illness

Before anxiety serves your friendships

And the panic attack find you,

In a car / during a party / at an art show.


Fact: some trees won’t experience

any growth for the first few years

I am coming on my first anniversary

of being in committed therapy

Because my government-funded Insurance

allows me. It took that long for me to accept

Health is greater than

the reach of burning kush.


It’s taken me even longer

to begin treating the sadness

With things that don't grow

from the soil. My psychiatrist

tells me to swallow two small seeds

per day and watch what takes root


inside me. Mental health is an alchemy

between medicine and remedy

Between the good company and

My tongue hesitating over

the consents of the stigma label,

My therapist tells me I don't need

to be able to pronounce the name

just swallow and I do.


I don't tell people I grow organic,

Mostly because I use Miracle Grow,

But mostly because I've been taught

to believe, I don't know how to use

the tools that have been gifted to me

well enough but have learned to bury

Some of bad habits,

Put them into the garden,

hope it doesn't grow back,

and when it doesn't

I consider that miracle.

Notes from the Garden II


Today I trimmed the tomatoes

Watered the strawberries

Pickled the cucumbers

Salted the vinegar

Today I am preparing for a bounty

We planted a garden here

Where there was only clay

And rock and weed and dirt

As a child

My family was so poor

I never frolicked in the grass

But instead rolled in the mud

A seed will always do better

In the wet earth

How my need to sprout through

Is what always motivated me forward

Pass my peers lounging on a gifted lawn

Oh hair, how the income bracket is a tortoise

Of time, and I will keep running

Until all my bones and inherited bones

Become a shield. We bury our dead

Full well knowing one day

They will become a garden

Knowing full well that dug my hands

And became my ancestor's wildest dream.

I build plant containers and buy my compost

My grandfather & his father & his father &

His father all cut the sugarcane

In Hawaii, they forgot the Caribbean

Island they buried their fathers’ bones in.

While my 6-year-old niece tells me

She does not own a memory

Without foliage

And somewhere today

I pour the blue miracle

Grow into a watering can

And prepare for spring.

© The Acentos Review 2019