haiku for brief anxious moments at 5:57 a.m.

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i wish fear did not
take me unawares; the birds
tell me, sing through it

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4/30 6:01 P.M., April 4th, 1968

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they say that before the doors were opened
to the church before the home-going for brother Martin,
that there was concern
over the lump of clay left upon his face
and the mortician stated it was all he could do
since his jaw was blown off

but his words still persist

fifty years from an April afternoon and America
is still searching for its soul like old men
reliving past glories to distract from empty walls and cupboards
subsisting only on the junk food of jingoism, drinking oil like water
choking their arteries with the racism’s raw meat

but his words still persist

“tell the truth and shame the devil”
only works if the devils are willing to admit shame
and that day they decided to take brother Martin’s life to hide theirs
since heĀ made broken pieces of the American dream
into an eternal mirror filling their palatial estates and condos

and his words still persist

fifty years later
and we remember brother Martin like all who gave their lives for us
as radical, reverent and renewal
his voice still reverberates louder than the lies
and soars higher than balconies and rooftops

and his words still persist

even as tyrants stroll in the capital
even as the cruel in suits and ties snatch lives and crumbs
they as the powers that be look on this day
and see the people swelling up to meet evil with love and anger
quoting his voice despite the death and fear dealt out

bullets in certain cases
can and have been

amplifiers

 

evening autumn jog 11.23.17

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the tug felt beneath the shoulder blades
rivulets past the eyes
that sting and told me of the last round of shots
i had the night before
as i clutch the grey fabric at my knees
sunset shows you how the skies can bleed
to give birth to nights where promise, pain and paradise
all share the same dance floor
i jog home
and let the aches go back to singing

Life at 40.

Artwork by ESPO, Brooklyn Museum September 2017

Forty years old. That will come into fruition for me this coming Saturday.
It’s slowly sinking in as it approaches, and now I find myself in a state of
reflection.

I’m not the least bit sad about this milestone. I know some folks have gone
all to pieces about it, as if it’s a death sentence. But to be frank, being a young
Black person in these United States comes with certain realities and situations
that make reaching this age something to treasure and celebrate. There’s a
few people I know who hadn’t even gotten to be 21, let alone get through
their 30’s. If it’s not the speed traps one encounters in high school, then
there’s dealing with the preconceived notions that systemic racism has
embedded in the fabric of this nation represented in ways both overt and
covert. Add to that personal health situations and family crises. For me,
getting to be 40 means I survived the fucking gauntlet. I got past a couple
of the major level bosses without too much hit point damage. It’s a true
and honest blessing.

There is a tendency in these moments to feel down, like you might not
measure up to others’ achievements. Right now, I’m happy to say that’s
not the space I’m in. It’s partially due to faith, but it is primarily due to
one key point – I cut right through the heart of things and don’t get too
caught up anymore in past hurts and regrets. Even when I find that they
crop back up when I recall situations(they never really go away they just
subside), I basically work to dispel their effects. I start looking at the lives
of other family members who had a hard road to get to where they are.
I see how they get through it. The narratives of others fuel me to push
through those negative clouds. And most importantly, the body of my
own works and how it’s affected people in a good way. I have lived,
LIVED, I tell you. And I plan to do more of it.

So your next question may be, what about the party?

Well, for starters, I had intended on celebrating in another city or even
another country. But other forces within and without kind of guided me
to modify that goal. I was supposed to be in Las Vegas last week, but I
didn’t book because of conflicts with one of my clients and their work
demands. And as we all bore witness to unfortunately, a heinous individual
became a domestic terrorist and took the lives of 58 people who were
just out having a good time at a country music festival. It may be cliche,
but things do happen for a reason. I changed things up and instead made
a resolution to myself to celebrate until next October in different ways.
How so? First thing, I want to volunteer in some form or fashion each
month with different groups and charities. Another aspect is to hit up
at least one artistic event or any event that’s going to further open up
my mind and my worldview. As for the trips, I want to make short jaunts
and work up to longer trips. It doesn’t have to be to places I’ve been
before – I’m actually planning a day trip into upstate New York along
the Hudson River to take in the fall foliage. I want to write more – not
just my creative writing, but more letters and cards to my day ones and
others in my life.

I know that as you move forward in life, you lose things. I know that this
next decade could see me pass through some dark moments. Hell, my 30’s
were a roller coaster which you’ve no doubt gleaned some insight into by
reading this blog. But I clawed my way through and came to grips with a
few things that I needed to and found myself better for it. I want this
milestone of being 40 about honoring what still remains and what was
lost in a golden and timeless way.

I’m content. And dammit, isn’t that what it’s supposed to be about? Being
able to embrace and be content with this new stage of life? Especially if
you do it with mimosas?

Thank you for reading, walk good.

grey morning over caguas

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(note: this goes out to those who are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane
Maria in Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands, Dominica and elsewhere. PleaseĀ 
do what you can to help them.)

 

the dry bones of the forests behind my house
stare back at those looking for answers
there’s no more barking
the neighbor’s cow
pierced by the tops of branches
down the road
where the gas station sees a crowd
praying with old gas cans and new tears
as if
there hadn’t been enough water
as if
there hadn’t been enough water
the air brings hints of death
it brings the rising song of flies who aim to feast
this is a time – perhaps one of the few times
when prayers and curses are wed together
and the morning
gray as it is, clear as it is
seems like a winding sheet
that one hopes can be a sail once again

when poems are keepsakes

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a writer can wonder
if the words they’ve given to someone they once loved
last as long as intended

do they sit on tables
out of close reach, greeted only by sunlight
and maybe, watered by the eyes

are they locked up in
shoeboxes, their vigor held in store
with the memories of so many others

do they come out to play
in the onyx hours
and add their perfume to the breezes they contain

or do they become ink
that stitches itself in the skin
permanent even into the next world

this is why writers don’t give their words lightly

national poetry month: overwrought rails

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so, it’s National Poetry Month. admittedly, while i’ve been writing
poems, it hasn’t been every day as in the past. i’ve had to deal with
growing work piles, a quickie health situation that meant an ER
visit out of precaution and other stuff. but over the past couple of
days, i’ve found that the words were waiting for me. waiting to
step forth into the sunlight. so, here’s one entry. to those taking
part in the festivities, may your pen flow as free as your heart.

8/30

copper and iron
knit electricity above
a doctor once told me to think of
the heart as a railway junction
words that skip rope from a far off room
as i try to sleep
connected to a monitor
that speaks in medical morse code
a woman next to me
cries out the “Our Father”
as nurses try to comfort her
my eyes flicker
and see another train disruption
on the battered TV above
and i think of those words again
and also
some old myth
of dictators making trains run on time
while sowing death and doubt
maybe what’s wrong with us all
is that we tend to forget
trains don’t always run on time
and hearts do earn their cracks and splits
just like overwrought rails

laying down our weapons of hurt

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this is for the brothers mostly. and whenever we feel the
need to instantly dub someone “too sensitive” and how i
came to see that as more of a weapon than some realize.

one of the things that i learned to understand, more so over
these past few years as i was beginning the journey of redefining
my life and my purpose, was how those who weaponize their
hurt come to do so. and do so very easily.

it was in that space that i realized that those lessons often
come at the hands of those who claim to love us. mainly ’cause
it is how they have gotten by.

i say this because one of the things that has dogged me at times
is that i can live in the zone of being tabbed as “sensitive” when
there are situations that i find myself in that rub me the wrong
way or worse, and that i had been expected to overlook it. you
know that three word phrase – “get over it”. or get told to pray
about it.

i had to learn that to some degree, those doing that fell into two
categories – those who were going through or had been through
those same tribulations and saw no other way but to keep on
suffering it without relief, or those who hide their struggles in
the manipulation of the former category.

i had to learn that because, i had to unlearn the idea that being
too sensitive equated to not being manly. when you come up as
a young Black male, there is this push and pull effect that occurs.
for me, it was couched in the fact that i also grew up with three
older sisters and a mother whose love is fierce, and protective
to a high degree. with that, there would be those moments in
my early years that brought with it the usual growing pains. but
as i got older, i realized that value of inner sensitivity allowed me
to understand others. it allowed me to connect, empathize on a
deeper level. to listen more. the final step was to apply all of that
to myself.

i’ve written here before about how one period of time in 2009
led me to basically say ‘fuck it’ and do a reset. since then, and
not without a lot of pain and a lot of reaching out – and mainly
reaching IN – i had to admit that the push and pull took a bigger
toll than i could realize. it had left jagged cuts in my emotional
self. my health had silently gotten bad. with time, honesty and
a hell of a lot of work, i’m here to tell you that it has gotten better.
i’m here to say that it will continue to be better. i learned to
begin to dismantle my own weapons of hurt. weapons crafted
due to needing to fulfill some warped idea of patriarchal order.
weapons crafted so i wouldn’t appear “soft”. weapons crafted
to defend against a world outside that wants to effectively
cannibalize me for parts because it has done so for hundreds of
years. weapons to hide my insecurities that i didn’t want to
even have see daylight, much less work on. weapons to use on
others to make them feel worse than i did.

you sometimes have to sit and look at the record of every foul
thing you’ve done up to this point and ask why you went there.

and choose to fall back.

i noticed that when i started this process, the ones i cared about
the most, those who i didn’t think would hear me or would be
too busy – they stopped what they were doing ’cause they realized
what i was dealing with. my homeboys, my brothers – to hear
them encourage me, to see them shift ’cause they FELT i was in
pain…i count myself damn lucky because if you’re reading this
now, how many do you know that got lost out there? that found
themselves with no other recourse but to petrify to the point of
not ever being at home with themselves? how many of them do
you know that still do this? it’s been eye-opening to have these
moments with my own father, where he can open up gradually
in his later years. realizing that he didn’t fully have an atmosphere
of opening up like this, emigrating here with his family from
Jamaica, having to go into the army at a young age then off to
Canada to study medicine in a time that was in a word, unkind
to Black people. i’ve only begun to get bits and pieces of what
that must’ve been like.

i write these words as a reminder to myself, and a spur for other
brothers who may be dealing with life with this push and pull
doing harm inside of them. as we are in the midst of the confusion
and chaos that’s elevated more than usual in the age of Trump,
it is more vital than ever that we learn to dismantle these weapons
of hurt we find ourselves in possession of whether we realize it
or not. they might’ve been handed down to us by any means.
but we have the means to remove them. for our own good. for
the good of those who love us. for our greater good. i see this
happening more and more for my brothers, and my sisters who
are leading a path for others. let it continue. and if you feel that
you need to be on this path, i hope this helps you.

as always, thanks for reading. walk good.