Paul S. Flores is a celebrated author, performance artist, playwright, and well known spoken word artist and HBO Def Poetry Jam veteran. He was raised in Chula Vista, CA and spent much of his youth in Tijuana, Mexico. Flores’ PEN Award winning novel Along the Border Lies reflects this experience. Flores's work explores the intersection of urban culture, hip-hop and transnational identity. His spoken word poem “Brown Dreams” from Def Poetry Jam on HBO continues to inform and influence hundreds of thousands of young people across the United States.


CLICK HERE to see Paul perform the piece below for COG.

We Still Be

Paul S. Flores


My empire of fog crowned hills

Through webs of electric Muni lines

That tang of Philz roasted coffee grinds

Scorched breath of San Francisco poets

Transmits passion of Ginsburg, Kaufman and DiPrima

Legacy of Juana Alicia, Roberto Vargas

and Juan Felipe Herrera

Devotion to its exotics, its unions

Its rituals and gangster politics


Where a dancer can steal your heart

and hold it for ransom in a gallery named

Crucible Steel

This muse

This muse is not just an obsession

It’s a blood oath to embrace carnaval

Where even the most straight-laced

            will cross dress

                        for the sake of adventure 


This is San Francisco’s heartbeat

This is San Francisco’s heartbeat


My homie’s house burned down

and we read poetry in the ashes

We raised some cash and his spirits

With bottles of tequila and Coronas

Salted tears to quench harsh throats

We told jokes and Marcus played hard be-bop

My homie wailed for his dog

lost in the smoke of a broken

pilot light induced inferno


Poetry heals, the be-bop revives

Poetry heals and the be-bop revives

We never, we never, we never go softly

into that dark night


This is San Francisco’s heartbeat

This is San Francisco’s heartbeat


They say Blacks and Mexicans

don’t belong anymore

Can’t afford to keep a family

in a decent size home, anymore

But the Muni drivers are Black

And Latino teachers got white kids speaking Spanish

At least until Chicano becomes

a four letter word


If you peel the flyers from the telephone poles

you’ll find broadsides protesting

gentrification of the guayabera

19 twenty-one year olds, or twenty 19 year olds

My broadsides were bilingual when it was illegal


They don’t know how to stop this flow

A poetry evangelist with contraband

Mexican cigarettes by the pound

Yo soy Delicado.

We liberated public space con queso

Con el tambor y el chekere

Con bass y saxophone

Con Jimmy Biala y David Molina

Con Howard Wiley and Marcus Shelby

Genny Lim and Rhodessa Jones

Rho Dessa Jones

with bourbon and rum

and smoke and drum

With bourbon and rum

and smoke and drum


We took mani crudo to the tool shed

And we made relámpago negro

That’s black lightning

Enrique Quique Padilla

Relampago Negro!


This is San Francisco’s heartbeat

This is San Francisco’s heartbeat


People always want to know

What’s so good about San Francisco?

It’s the poets

It’s the poets

It’s the poets

It’s the crazy drunk

loud ass

poets from the Mission

The Fillmore

The Bayview

North Beach

Hunter’s Point

I wasn’t born here, but I ain’t no tourist

I wasn’t born here, but I ain’t no tourist

And I know my way around


Broke so many hearts

But keep coming back for more

We speakeasy at Bruno’s in the corner of the bar

Her style is Latin swing

with strapless dress and high heels

She brown skin so beautiful

Want her to wear my ring

Represent her swagger

with Mestizo babies in the sling

We Jazz Fest in North Beach

with tapas on the grass

We festival in Stern Grove

We Carnival

We Baker Beach

Our babies growing so fast

And we like to show them off

on Facebook and Twitter

LinkedIn and Google Plus

The Bay Area got them all.


San Francisco is our heart

Many have come to claim her throne

Many have moved to Oakland

Home is where I’m loved the most


So rise San Francisco

Like a trolley train over Pacific Heights

We look to you for inspiration

when life is about struggle

You make it possible to desire something different

You make it possible to believe

Because we still believe

We still believe

We still believe

Yes we still believe

Yes we still be

We still be

The heartbeat of San Francisco