the backstory behind ‘being young and seeing through the eyes of a needle. ‘

*taken from the MySpace blog*

there’s a piece i wrote, ‘being young and seeing through the
eyes of a needle.’people wonder about the emotion and imagery of
that piece. i’d like to say it was all fiction. but that’s not
the case.

see, i was about 15 years old. i was mainly a sheltered child
of sorts so being in high school allowed me a greater freedom.
even if i was in catholic school. so one day, i was near a corner
store in the backstreets famous for illegal fireworks and cold
beer sold to minors. there was something on the fence of the
open lot next to the store. as i walked closer, it was a woman.
couldn’t have been no more than 22. her lips were the first thing
i noticed, dried apricot slices that wore a milky crust. she was
mumbling something, some silent incantation to whatever gods she
believed in. she wore a dirty pea coat over a faded housedress with
sneakers. one arm clung to the iron fence. the other hung at her
side, with an open hole. my heart started beating fast, even more
so as she stared at me with the eyes of corpses i had seen in
michael jackson’s thriller movie. and the only thing i could think of,
that still gets me to this day was, ‘who stole your dream?’

and i kept on walking. and never saw her again.

cowardice of circumstance (a thought)

i want to begin by saying first off, i’m not intending this
to be a shot across anyone’s bow or a way to dig in on people.
it’s me being open and honest about my own feelings and how
i think others should be inclined to operate. disclaimer out
of the way, moving along…

over the past week, i’ve been thinking a lot about how i
view myself and my work at this point in my life. i’ve had
my ups and downs over the past couple of years while both
freelancing, trying to find work and to make my writing
work. it’s been slow and painful, but rewarding for a couple
of reasons. it’s also been illuminating because i’ve had
the chance to fully understand how being in a certain
circumstance can change your thinking and approach to others,
even those around you that you think you know. there’s
some people who tend to emphasize positivity in speech..but
fall short in action. some on purpose, others unintentionally.
and their reason for doing it stems from a perception that
if you’re not doing something similar to what they’re doing,
or if you’re making moves discreetly or if you’re struggling
and honest about it, they can see it as a failure. it’s an
insulting position to take up. one, we can never truly know
another person’s struggles unless we take the time to find
out with sincerity and care. and then we have to be trusted
to understand that struggle. that’s the heart of empathy. it
isn’t anything you can go to a Barnes & Noble aisle and just
pick up in the time it takes to drink a latte. and sometimes
we have to check ourselves if we’re not extending that to

i’ve had people place me in a category because i’m actively
trying to balance my desire to make my writing popular and
successful with work. in some cases, it lies in statements.
‘oh, you don’t have a real job…’ ‘you’re so artsy, but
how will you subsist?’ even those close to you can have their
airs about what you’re doing or not doing. this here is what
i call ‘cowardice of circumstance.’ i say that because to a
degree, what they’re doing is dumping on your dreams, throwing
shade to your forward progress no matter how it is being enacted.
and we hide it behind catchphrases. ‘oh, i’m keeping it real.’
no, you’re keeping it stupid and petty. keeping it real means
keeping it consistent. those who aren’t consistent with their
love for you and what you do in all forms need to agitate the
gravel so you can move how you need to. and you have to make
sure you don’t do the same to others. be mindful, be supportive
and if you need to be, be tough. but always be honest and
consistent. you shouldn’t look down on others, or yourself
for that matter. don’t let you being better off make you become
a worse person.

until the next time…

when the vultures come

after the vultures
comes silence
and the company of your own cries
there’s the soreness that lies
just above your heart
to remind you you’re alive.
beaten down by granite fists
of perception and venom
stabbed by the daggers of your own doubts.
and those vultures?
mean-spirited beasts who love misery
better than the sun
waiting for your pain to be a feast for their kingdom.
tell them
what your heart whispers
with its eyes on a golden horizon
singing to you of your own hidden freedom:

‘pain is necessary for the birth of wisdom.’

cutting grin

you made your lips
a crescent moon
cutting conservatism from your cheeks
as night caught us
comfortable in our flaws
like old souls sharing a bottle
you’ve told me i cross your mind
trailing promising pictures of shared dreams
like a wagon full of stars
and sitting across from you
watching the crescent moon
adjust itself in the lemon skies
of your face
i can’t help but wonder
if you think your smile brings me pain
and where those touchstones of pain
you’d like me to wash away

sweetness remains.

yesterday was a draining day. more than expected.

i attended a memorial service yesterday morning. yes, it was the
same day as Whitney Houston’s funeral. i’ll speak on that in a
bit. it was for my Aunt Nan, who was my mom’s dear friend and
co-worker. they were very, very close. and when she left this
world last year suddenly, it really shook everyone. yesterday
marked the anniversary of her passing. and so, mom and i went
to the temple to pay our respects. yes, i said, ‘temple’ ’cause
Aunt Nan was from Guyana, and she was of the Hindu faith.

entering the temple, nestled off the hectic strip of Jamaica
Avenue, you got this overwhelming sense of peace. after removing
our shoes, we got to sit and hear the family and friends talk
about Aunt Nan and how much she meant to them. and in between
there were devotional songs like the one above and love songs;
one of which was sung by her husband. at moments, you could feel
the tears tug at the bottom of your eyes. but then someone would
tell a funny story and the whole room would burst into laughter.
it was good to feel that love. it seemed as if with each memory,
each laugh, the sun pumped itself up to match the energy as it
streamed through the windows. we made our way downstairs and
were served a great meal of dhal puri, curried potatoes, chickpeas
and spiced pumpkin. and my mind went back to whenever they had a
family gathering or temple function and how Aunt Nan made sure
that we got heaping plates and trays of food. love, laughter and
life. that’s who she was. you could hear all of that in her
voice whenever she called, feel it in the hugs she gave. as a
parting gift, we were given a bag of homemade sweets with her
picture on it and a poem from Rabindranath Tagore, the famous
Bengali writer. it was so fitting.

so we wound up getting home just in time to catch Marvin Winans’
sermon at Whitney Houston’s funeral and the end of the proceedings.
and whatever energy i had in me, evaporated. but in catching up
on the ceremony, i saw the same recurring theme: love, laughter,
life. someone on FB said that this was the first time a good deal
of America bore witness to praise and worship in a Black Baptist
Church. i’m sure it opened a lot of eyes. and what i hope they
saw is, at the end, when it is the final tally, you want your
legacy to leave a good taste on people’s palate. yes, Whitney
had her issues. there were one or two people who wondered why
no mention was made of it. but there’s nothing wrong with choosing
to focus on the good moments overall. and if her family chose
to do so, more power to them. i couldn’t help but notice the
similarities between the two services(i wound up getting a chance
to see the rest of the funeral later)and one dominant theme.
that there will be a great deal of sadness when people we love
and cherish leave, and that’s natural. but if you hold onto all
they’ve taught you, and all of those good memories, the sweetness
of their lives always lives on. that’s a legacy worth having.

melting frost(for sagal)

winter has begun to fade between us
as a season of forgiveness
dabs the skies with hope
the trees awaken
and the melting frost
leaves lands of forgetfulness
it isn’t only love
that’s stronger than pride
it’s the heart
polished and free of tears
that connects us both
and lets us create sparks again
that can sting more
that snowflakes upon skin

this elegant bridge

*for brownin’*

my heart
if asked with conviction
would say to you,
‘let you and i walk along
this elegant bridge before us
let’s not think about the steel wool
of the clouds of doubt that have scraped us both
until we became raw.
let us laugh at each other
laugh at the darkness
laugh at all of those past regrets
as we walk side by side
let us make troubled waters
our liquor and drink it from each other’s hands
and cool the afterburn with caring words
let us walk
along this elegant bridge
to an ocean we call ours
where we will let ourselves
float in a love that doesn’t let us drown.’