waiting on the new year to rise.

no poems on this day, the last of 2012. figured i’d take this
time out to say a few things.

this past year has opened me up as if someone took a serrated
knife to my flesh. i’ve let go of so much, yet got back a lot
of blessings. i found myself not only fighting back fear but
going a few rounds with it bare-knuckle. winning bit by bit.
i learned a new level of being serious with my craft, and also
being light enough to forgive my missteps. got deeper into
family. survived a hurricane and a re-election. had some deep
interactions. got to trade words with some notable people.
break bread with good people. 2012 has allowed me to be better
than i was. and i resolve to only rise with 2013.

so, for all of you who read this blog, i want to say that i
sincerely thank you and i appreciate you taking time out of
your lives to read what i write here. part of why i share my
words here is because i have this funny little feeling that
it helps you. maybe it lightened your mood a bit. maybe
something i said made you think about your own situation, what
you were or weren’t doing. maybe you came here as an afterthought
but stuck around and felt glad you did. for whatever reason,
you’re here. and i appreciate every one of you. may you all
have a new year of renewed hope, strong will and stronger
purpose, and better blessings. be the good you want, for
yourself and others. don’t deal with people who cant give you
what you need and especially those who cant give themselves
what they need. value reciprocity. cherish those who care.
grab sunshine wherever you find it. remember that if you act
hard to get, no one will get you and you’ll get misery.

have a happy and safe new year!! don’t get TOO crazy out there…
until the next time. walk good.

rustic ochre (for wati)

and when you cast off
that last old skin
that holds no more acidic water
that carried schoolgirl fears
from your stare conceived
from bodega flasks, bak kut teh
and whatever promise America makes
to colored girls laid bare in concrete cribs;

let that be the leaf that grows you
better from within.

approaching winter’s arms (for sagal)

wounds i’ve walked with
that bear your name at the edges
greet the oncoming cold
like an old relative
eager to turn away from the impending dark.

as afternoon fades too quickly
you let my words hang in front of you
like quick bursts of warmth
as down payments to breathe in love.

maybe the coldness
you can sometimes wield
is to hide a heart that you told the world
was pristine steel
but was found to be sugared crystal that i tasted.

winter’s arms
would never be the way i remember your embrace
nor the staccato of your own heart beneath cocoa silk
the chill upon these wound means healing
the imprint of your lips stitching forgiveness,

and perhaps, more.

contusions and choices

someone didn’t tell you
revolutions begin
when excuses end

that ooh-long with your morning tea
made a smoothie of your self-respect
hope it goes down better than you did

there’s no sacred text, conspiracy theory
that will decipher your bad decisions
or write over your shame held secret,
that will wipe the memories of mama being abused
from the eyes of a young lion whose teeth are forming
and speaks to an oppression we don’t fight:
the fear of being alone with someone you don’t love


two moods on Newton, Connecticut

been a few days coming, but…in the aftermath of the horrific
tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, what i feel and have borne
witness to can be summed up in 2 words:

selflessness & selfishness.

i’m going to go back to these two words throughout this piece,
and with good reason. because both veins of expression can be
seen in the Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy and in the days
after until now. let’s be frank here; what Adam Lanza did in
killing his mother, and subsequently killing 26 after breaking
into the school, most of them children, was selfish. this dude
cut many lives short, ripped a chunk of heart out of the bodies
of their families and the town. did so wearing a bulletproof
vest. as if first graders have become Spetnaz shock troops all
of a sudden. killed them all while rocking 2 handguns, several
hundred rounds of ammunition and a Bushmaster AR-15 .223 assault
rifle. and he killed his own mother in her bed. Lanza, then hearing
the police make their way towards him, shot himself. Selfishness
bred from some cold bowl of apathy.

for the past seven days, i’ve tried to steer clear of the damn
near orgiastic coverage put forth by news media under the term
‘breaking information’. only to find that the story changes almost
daily. we got the shooter’s name wrong (myself included) when it
Was discovered that Adam used his brother’s ID to throw people
off. we thought his mother worked at the school, and that was
proven false. the news outlets even interviewed CHILDREN AT THE
SCENE hours after the massacre. all in a selfish need to be the
first with exclusives rather than truth. as a result, the pubilc
is even more disdainful of them. and yet, it also denotes a true
fear, one of many to be exposed: we are becoming so reliant on
being first, getting any kind of word that we are more open to
misinformation and carry that along to others. that fear leaves
us cynical, because it is the bandage of feeling tricked.

i came across a lot of people offering opinions on social media.
funny how we’re getting more anti-social as a result of not even
understanding how to debate, let alone have efficient discourse.
it all became just noise after a while. even from some of my friends,
who i’m sure felt they were just trying to affect dialogue but
ran past one rule. there’s a time to firmly speak, a time to
speak kindly, and a time to kindly shut the hell up. the ‘Net and
television became a morass of people trying to out-talk their
fears. one person on Twitter who follows me basically took people
to task for saying that they were sending prayers out to those
folks affected, saying they were selfish for it. and in that instant,
she became a boorish example of what the hell has gone wrong with
us here. there are those of us who are so jaded that we have lost
value for every damn thing in the book. we feed our ego even in
the midst of everything else we need going hungry.

maybe Adam Lanza was the newest incarnation of our own conjoined
selfishness. maybe, he raged at being different enough that he
felt so angry at his mother, the world. i mean, he was home-schooled
at a young age. his parents divorced. he hadn’t seen his brother
in a couple of years. his mom may have been smothering in her
protection of him. he was painfully shy, so it may have been hard
for him to connect with people, especially girls his age. all this
at an age where you’re supposed to be out and about enjoying your
vitality. Lanza may just have said, ‘screw it. if i can’t live how
i want, if there’s no hope for me, i’ll take hope away from others.’
mass shootings like this stem from the shooter wanting others to feel
their pain. maybe all Adam was doing was reflecting our dark side
back at us. because the questions we have ducked as a country came
back up. why do gun owners feel the need to have assault rifles in
their homes? why, when we speak of gun control, are we ignoring ALL
the ways these guns get to the public? why, when we discuss mental
health in these situations, do we not speak of the underlying tones
of sexual connotation, dysfunction and frustration? when people cite
the Second Amendment, why do they not cite it in its entirety?

perhaps our own selfishness post-9/11 lies at fault here. we can
totally put full body scanners in airports over a few fools with
bombs in shoes and underwear, but we ignore our own growing
terrorism. because that’s what it is, or is it only when brown people
are involved? i forget. because the other side to Sandy Hook is, we
suddenly hear the voices of the dead on the streets of Chicago, which
has had a brutally hot summer full of shootings and deaths. we now
hear the cries of mourners in St.Louis, and many other cities. not
too far from me in Queens, near one of my sister’s homes, a car got
lit up with an assault rifle. yet, it barely registers. maybe because
they feel that as long as it’s urban, it’s not a dilemma. anything
far enough from Main Street U.S.A. is not a concern. of course, that
would mean that we’d have to give a damn. and we just haven’t been
good at giving a damn like that about people of color in this nation
on a whole, have we? there are those who’ll say, ‘the race issue
doesn’t belong in the discussion about Sandy Hook.’ i disagree only
for this reason. the fear that was stirred up by the NRA, stirred
up by ultra-conservatives and extreme right-wingers as well as those
extremists on the left and other misguided misanthropes led to all
of these guns being made and purchased. fear of a Black president
‘who’s gonna take your guns away!!’ (although i always wondered,
doesn’t a nuclear arsenal & drones one-up one gun enthusiast with
a basement of rifles?) this has been an issue, rampant gun crime
since the 1970’s. blame the War on Drugs as well; police militarization
went hand in hand. blame commerce. you can walk into gun shops in
the South and get hand grenades. Kmart and Wal-Mart sell guns.
i’m in favor of sensible gun control, not gun abolition. so you
can miss me with quoting Hitler, referencing Mao or other ruses of
the curbside pedantic who’s nothing more than a sheep in
fake shearling.

yes, a lot of selfishness led to those deaths in Sandy Hook. and
there is even selfishness in thinking that there is one factor that
led to all of it. selfishness in Mike Huckabee thinking prayer in
schools would lead to this not happening. selfishness in Charlotte
Allen of the National Review by suggesting feminism was the cause of
the tragedy. selfishness even in aggressively referring to those dead
by drone strikes and thus losing the effectiveness of equivalency for
the sake of moral posturing. selfishness in trying to pinpoint
Asperger’s as a cause for Lanza’s act and in turn criminalizing
mental health as a way of paying attention to an issue ignored too
long since the Reagan cuts. we have to look at all of this, and see
how wrong we are. i mean, if you don’t see anything wrong with
Newton being home to the second biggest gun lobby in the country,
yet being listed as the 5th safest city in the country, if you don’t
ask if something’s wrong…

but there is that ringing tone of selflessness in all of this that
cuts the bitter taste of truth and asks us back to do what we need to
do. principal Dawn Hochsprung and psychologist Mary Sherlach
who rushed the shooter before being killed. Victoria Soto, who died
protecting her students. Kaitlin Roig and Abbey Clements who hid
their students and allayed their fears. the first responders. that
is the face of selflessness. and in the days and months ahead, we
need that to be the dominant mood. we have to think of this next
wave behind us, children who are already having to deal with so
much that we didn’t. we need to be wise. we need to have honest,
open dialogue. we need effective legislation on gun control, mental
health, ideas of American masculinity tied to guns, rampant illegal
gun sales, why we’re not addressing all gun crimes the same
with regards to race & environment. and many other issues in
between. but let us do it with selflessness and love.

until the next time, walk good…

iowa avenue, 8:42 a.m.

streets groan
as if waking from a hangover
repetitive, tubercular
slick with its own tears and remorse.
blind staggers come after
hours of dazed enchantment
as one arm bandits entice you
to play chicken with your scratch.
the church sign
tells you all ‘christ died for your sins’
above an alley where they thank him
before that next blow.
and the fog finally lifts
like dead skin from the edges of a wound
iowa avenue begins another day
living while intoxicated by fantasy.