Rob "Ratpack Slim" Sturma

Rob "Ratpack Slim" Sturma

BandSpoken Word

Performance Poetry with a Pop Culture Twist, Marinated in Poignant, Funny, and Romantic.


ROB STURMA has been getting open on mics since 2000, when a sweet California lass brought him to the Los Angeles open mic Da Poetry Lounge, and where he subsequently fell in love with the art of performance poetry and spoken word. He performed for a number of years under the monicker Ratpack Slim, and during those years, he was on the Los Feliz Slam Team two years running (2003-2004), made it to the finals stage with Team Hollywood in 2005, and as slammaster of Western Regional slam team Gang Green, took three teams to Big Sur, rocking nationally ranked teams outta their seats. He was the host of the seminal Los Angeles open mic Green from 2003-2007 with DJ Jedi (Digable Planets) and Joshua Silverstein. He was the poetry editor for and Kotori Magazine, did a series of webstories called "Children of Slam" for, was seen in the documentary Sp!t, and on the BET show "The Way We Do It". David Alan Grier gave him a 9.5 in a Comedy Central slam pilot, Snakes On A Plane/ Wolverine producer Jeff Katz called Rob's poetry "outstanding", and Hardcore Legend Mick Foley said Rob's poem about him "gave him goosebumps". His new full-length book of poems will be available on Write Bloody Press in Fall 2009, and you can see him performing on TNA Wrestling's "Spin Cycle" exclusive web show, the first poet to do so!



Written By: Rob Sturma

He didn't want
to be made of razors.

He hadn't been touched in years.

Every so often, some girl would
look at him longingly
lick her lips
but it wasn't because she loved him.
It was because she hated herself.

His house was littered
with shredded love letters
and scratched up beer bottles.

He watched "Edward Scissorhands" on loop,
knocked whiskey down his silver gullet,
and tried to dull.

Then he met the girl
who could heal herself instantly.
She looked at him differently.

Asked him to sing to her.
Said his voice was a baritone miracle.

He couldn't be more wary.

She broke him down like rust.
Trusted him like no one had before.
He loved shaving her legs.

One night, he was wrapped around her,
watching her cuts close up
as quickly as they opened.
He asked, "Why me? I hurt you every day."

She smiled and said,
"Who doesn't?"
Made some joke about how sharp he was.

He carved hearts into her thighs,
over and over.

My Secret Life

Written By: Rob Sturma

In my secret life,
I swallow a breathing capsule
and spend my nights at ocean's end
training the Atlantean rebels
all the proud warrior ways that toxic waste absconded with.
We are cleaning out Davy Jones' locker
and practicing our tidal waves.

In my secret life, I have gotten mad revenge.
It felt so good everytime.

In my secret life, I am a master chameleon.
I have swept into your bedroom
wearing the skin of your current lover.
I will not do it again;
I can never know if you were arching yourself
towards his touch or mine
and I have never felt smaller in the concussion of it all.

In my secret life,
all of my doubt is kept in a large hermetically sealed room
that I have lost the key to.
Actually, it's not lost.
It's dangling from the shock collar of a pissed-off howler monkey.
If you think I'm going for that key,
you're fucking nuts.

In my secret life, I have forgiven her.
I have forgiven him too.
In my secret life, I have forgiven myself.

Once in my secret life,
I told the President "no".
I don't know that it was the right decision,
as many died that day, but I cannot second-guess myself.
See also the howler monkey with the shock collar.

I have no special powers in my secret life,
save maybe the ability to make pens stay flush with ink
right when my best thoughts are dribbling out of my brain.
I am trying hard to marry my secret life
more closely to my public life. I think
I could knock out some really good poems this way.

In the inbetweentime,
these are all my cards.
The map to all my hideouts starts at the base of my spine
and travels north.

And even if you find every trapdoor,
every tripwire,
every palm frond camouflaged pitfall,
know that I still covet the nectar of mystery and retreat.

In my secret life, no matter how well you know me,
there will always be a few closed doors.
There will always be shadows to hide in.

Alison's Reply to Elvis Costello

Written By: Rob Sturma

1. I wouldn't say it is funny to be seeing you,
and neither does the restraining order.
I wasn't impressed by your usual attempts
to be a cold calculator.

I was terrified of how naked I felt.
I had recently been hollowed out,
not that you asked,
and the ghost of you was
still haunting my womb.

So maybe I did let Jeremy fuck me in the guest bedroom,
I didn’t know he was your friend,
and I hated every minute of it.
The way he pushed my party dress above my waist,
little triggers scrambling all over my ass,
leaving sticky valentines on my thighs,
holding on for dear infidelity.

This is where I have learned your tricks to choke the life
out of sentiment. This is where I learned that when you
saw me like a body and treated me like a body,
I could become one.

2. Yes, I am seeing someone now.
We have only talked about marriage.
He is mad about me, and I am happy to be loved.
But know that when you speak to me that way,
like I was seven and you were a filthy teacher,
I will never forgive you into my life.
The day that my pretty fingers are covered in wedding cake
is a day that you will not know about
until you hear it through whispers and empty house echoes.
It's funny; I can't stand to see you this way, either:
jealous, smug, reductive. I think somebody better
turn off your mic for a few minutes. So you can listen
to the sound of me never coming back.

This world was never in danger of killing me.
You were.
And your aim was true.


First full length collection of poems, Miles of Hallelujah, available on Write Bloody Press on October 8, 2009.

Set List

Always ready to rock a show anywhere from 15-45 minutes. Poems vary, but a sample might be:

Mick Foley
Overall Girl
For Black Girls Who Considered Tori Amos...
Zombie Love Poem
My Slow Hell
My Secret Life
Untitled Poem #47
Ignore This Poem
Swoon, Meet Impetus
Unbearable Lightness of Swagger
Dinosaur Lessons