have matched our talks
they now drip with the sultry air
of humidity and stifled heat
that trades languages and flavors
like merchants in desert mezzanines
and one wonders
as you share a story of leather worn around your neck
as part of your personal rock ballad
if that was a way to stave off
the inferno of desire that adds hue to your cheeks
or was it meant to tell the unworthy
only the secret and the sensual
can be unlocked by the daring?
man sells Final Call
no one pays attention since
last call is at four
here’s a classic track from a classic hip hop duo, Guru
and DJ Premier better known as Gang Starr. this was
taken from the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s ‘Mo Betta
i’ve been reflecting lately on something, so bear with me if you will…
some of you out there may remember the movie ‘Fresh’ from 1993.
it was a powerful flick, one that chronicled a young boy who’s a
chess prodigy using that skill and his mind to maneuver his way
through the mean streets of Brooklyn to a better life for him and
his sister. there’s a scene with his dad in Washington Square Park
who’s an alcoholic chess hustler. his dad says to him, ‘you’re just
watching the world pass you by. figure as long as you aint
drownin’, you’ll be all right.’ watching that scene now, it hits hard.
because to a degree, that’s what passes for normalcy among us
these days. and that’s as crippling as anything else.
it took me some time to come to grips with the fact that getting
and living that kind of indifferent complacency, just trying to
‘get by’ in a way that closes you off to others is the wrong way.
i go back to growing up in my neighborhood a lot these days,
and so do other cats i came up with. we realize that we were
raised by a village, even if it didn’t seem like it at the time.
the neighbors looked out for us, took note if we were acting
up. today, there’s barely traces of that left. we’re all focused
on getting by rather than getting right with ourselves and
getting along. and it’s hurting us in different ways. you see
it out on the street depending where you are. it’s ingrained
in the mind, in culture. ‘do you.’ how many times have you
heard that as advice? and we’ve been doing ourselves a
bunch of wrong for far too long.
i’m not going to sit there and act as if we all need to be some
monolithic group that thinks and acts the same. that’s a
sociological fairy tale that sells movies and action figures.
what i’m saying is, we need to shed the notion that getting
by means we have to get along with out caring and looking
out for each other. get rid of the idea that we only have
our own circle to look after. because what we do in that
circle has an impact. even if it’s a circle of one. i used to
hear my Grandma Smith tell me from time to time, ‘the
world works on love. if you don’t give it, you can’t see it
or receive it. care about something.’ i see her words
bloom everyday. and i try to live them. if you know me
well enough, you know every once in a while, i’ll call or
email or text someone. there are those times when it’s
not returned right away. and then there are those times
when it’s not returned at all. over time, i’ve accepted that
for what it is and kept pushing. but i’m doing that with
open eyes and an open heart. even if i sometimes don’t
want to look. even if it hurts to hear. because if i can’t
give my sight, my ear, i can’t receive anything in terms
of blessings nor give back more for those blessings.
i guess the whole point of this, is, don’t just try to get by.
get out of that indifferent self-importance. take away
the veneer of token positivity if you’re steadily drawing
into a bubble to not deal with life and its intersections.
you’ll feel much better for it, trust me.
belongs in rainy streets
where we carry sunshine in pockets
and apply it to our faces
with sentences that dab like loose brushes that sit
in warm water
waiting for color to rise
for me you would hold open doors
and pave roads with past concerns
all the better
as we wind down these roads of desire
not needing any maps
except those signs carved at the corners of our lips
it’s a pretty busy junction at the intersection of Nostrand and
Fulton Avenues in Brooklyn. and as a main artery of a vibrant
borough should, it has all sorts of folks pumping through at
various speeds. and then, there are those at a standstill. those
men and women clogged in their travel through life. you can
see one elder sister hunched on the steps of the dilapidated
bodega where you swear the entrance is leaning windward.
she’s well known even to the beat patrolmen. another man
staggers, bringing a leg more lame than a Wall Street banker
in a techno club. they all wear the hard look of life choices
kicking them first in the face, then in the ass.
but every once in a while, one of them will make their
misery point of momentary sun. like today. as i left the
bistro known as Melanie’s, i find this one cat in my path.
he was lanky, seemingly cut from rain soaked redwood.
he hadn’t shaved for a day or two. his hair was unkempt
like Method Man circa 1994. his clothes were ragged and
his boots looked as if he’d been moonwalking on broken
cans. as he saw me, he began to croon holding out his
hand. ‘escape is just…another name for perfume…i need
some change..to get me a room…’ it was manic, but it
caught a couple of other people’s attention that he got
a few coins. and i threw in a quarter.
i chuckled slightly at the improvised ditty he still sang
as he stood in front of the liquor store that sat next to
Melanie’s while i walked away. what brought me back
to being sober was one thought…how far he may fall
before he wishes he really could escape.