youth of thirteen

*note – this was written upon hearing of the murder of
Tyree King, of Columbus, Ohio which took place last night.

 

beer swillers
who invoke the name of football Jesus
tithing with assorted barbecue
and pray to a flat screen

those who cry patriotism
like trivia answers to game show hosts
who can’t hear them
do not give one care to why Black mothers tend to scream

they tell you racism is done
because they can quote your dead leaders to you
wondering why we march
why we speak out loud and yell – what does it mean?

we turn to you
eyes weary from mourning heart weary from evenings
where we bite cop bullets for fitting a description
mirroring systemic evil unseen

and ask:

what use is standing to pointlessly cherish a flag
when you use that flag
to insist we don’t belong – though we do, more than you
to even slaughter a youth of thirteen?

Creating While Emotionally Crippled

Photo Feb 17, 1 04 16 PM

I find myself, on this afternoon thinking hard about the subject
and the title of this post. I find myself wondering who will read this,
and wondering slightly too much about who won’t. My finger hovers
over the delete function button every 15 seconds or so. I realize that
this is going to be a post where one or two people might read it, and
be hurt by it or by the implications. More so as I work on a fourth book
of poetry that pushes the envelope more than what some have come
to expect from me.

I breathe. I realize that healing, hurts. And that is the fear that makes
many of us hurt, hold on to hurt no matter how little or huge. And so,
I’m writing this out to you, dear readers. For whoever needs it, especially
my fellow creative types.

I came to a certain truth a few years ago. I’ve touched on it in previous
blog entries. That truth was, that we sometimes emotionally cripple
ourselves because we think that’s what life demands of us. It’s even more
of a truth when it comes to doing something creative that we love. And
even if we do wind up making the conscious choice to do something
creative to bring light to the world, we will encounter others who are doing
the same but still holding onto certain patterns and behaviors that are
emotionally crippling. Things that can basically mess with you, even if
you have shielded yourself. I don’t care who you are: no one is totally
immune to the surreptitious impact of emotionally crippling behavior.
And when you’re someone on a creative journey, it becomes even more
apparent. And you may feel the effects more strongly than others, more
because you may not be doing the work to repair your own self-inflicted
wounds and you’re now suffering wounds and slights from others.

So what do I mean by creating while emotionally crippled?

For me, I’ve been writing since I was younger. When I made the decision
to go after making writing a career a few years ago, I knew the risks that
would be present. I had to confront a lot of things over the course of that
time. I had to admit that I was damaging myself, crippling myself in an
emotional way because I didn’t like sudden and dramatic change. I had to
admit I was bowing to timidity set within me from when I was small. I had
to admit that I let the stress of working at a job where certain people
either disliked me for certain reasons, or flat out devalued me, get to me.
I had to confess that I allowed the small-minded and one-dimensional
folks who offered opinions ranging from the sarcastic to the indifferent
get to me. All of that shit weighs you down more than you realize, like the
way your abdomen feels after a meal where you pushed your luck a little
too much on the side of rice. It eats at you. So you confront it. You work
on it, and in the process, you find yourself more free to create. More free
to express that inner voice.

In that state, I find myself feeling like no one gives a damn about me or
my writing. I ask myself what it’s all for. I find myself getting pissed
and then withdrawing from the world. I wind up worrying people because
of it. I wind up looking like an asshole because I have to step back in
order to deal with all the emotions instead of stuffing them down within
me like dirty clothes in a hamper straining at its seams. Then, I breathe.
I start the unraveling. Identifying the triggers. Then working through it.
I realize that this is the process I need to stick to, in order to live and
create in a healthy way. I remember having a conversation with an elder
head once, and he said one thing that stuck with me: “artists, no matter
what, have to create. if we get cut up, we take those scars and make them
art. we get broken, we build something out of it so others can flock to it.”

I know that there’s one or two people who may read this and feel a way.
I’ve had a couple of talks with people who I’ve had to be real with in terms
of how they view me and treat me. I’m not so naive to think that there
won’t be more talks needed with others. I’m also not so naive to think
that there are some who’ll even care where I’m coming from. But, they’ve
saved me the trouble of kicking them the hell out of the cipher. Sometimes
the trash does take itself out. But you have to be mindful enough to tell the
difference.

The sun is beaming in as I head into the home stretch, so I’ll close with this.
Creating while emotionally crippled is not something that should be aspired
to. I don’t know anyone who thinks it’s cool to “suffer for their art.”
And as someone who’s a Black male writer, even more so when it comes to
other artistic creators of color. But there are those of us who do it, and do it
so well that you won’t realize it. I say to you, if you know someone like that
or suspect that they’re there and will front for the ‘Gram or anywhere else –
be supportive. Even if it’s a random hello. Even if you just share how their
work impacted yours every once in a while. Because art is healing, and while
healing hurts, it doesn’t have to continue to be painful.

As always, walk good.

Reclaiming What It Is to Be Carefree And Black. For Me.

Photo Nov 26, 3 17 52 PMHello all you happy people…

It’s been a minute since the last posting here…that’s mainly due to the
fact that I needed to detox and recharge a bit. Given that there are only
24 days left in this year, it’s a prime time for me to do so. I wanted to
take some time to offer up a few words on what I’ve taken time to work
on.

You’re probably wondering about the picture above. That was taken this
past Thanksgiving, as I was on the beach with an old friend and a mentor in writing & spirituality while vacationing with family in Atlantic City.
To give you a quick backstory, my family decided that instead of dealing with trying to figure out who’s cooking and who’s bringing what to a dinner, it would be easier for us to all get away. I welcomed the idea – for
me, Atlantic City is more than just a gambling spot. And since it was supposed to be warm, that was a plus. So off we went, beating a mad rush
of traffic on the highway to hit AC as the sun set. My friend and I made plans to meet up on that Thursday to celebrate my birthday finally(since
we hadn’t been able to meet in October). I got up early that morning, showered and dressed all before 9:30 and went downstairs.

The casino floor is different in the morning. Scattered about were those
just getting in from all points across the country, stragglers from the bouts of late night revelry complete with the accessories of sunglasses and shoes in their hand and those old-time gamblers. From that point on, as I
sipped my coffee I knew it would be a good day ahead. The relative calm was soothing. Time didn’t stop, but it slowed down enough to give me a chance to actually soak up all of the surroundings.

The highlight of course, was the beach. The weather turned out to be better than I expected – 62 degrees. My friend and I walked out onto the
velvet-like sand, and in another bit of luck, made use of one of her jackets
(like me, she had slightly overdressed thinking it would be cold out) as a
blanket to sit on. From that point on, we talked. We laughed. We prayed
for healing, not only for ourselves but for our loved ones and friends and
our community as well as the world. It wasn’t only the sun washing over
us that afternoon, it was a feeling of serenity. Unfiltered, unbridled. Now
I know that to one or two of you, this may come off as something New Age-y and corny. Which would prompt you to crack a joke. But before you
do, let me ask you this: when was the last time YOU felt like that? Or allowed yourself to feel like that? Because that day, the idea of what the holiday is supposed to be grew dramatically. It wasn’t about food. It wasn’t about having a day off from work, or getting bent and watching sports. Looking out at the ocean and the constant music of the waves coming in, reminded me that underneath all of the rush that is created by the way life is being conducted that the life that is within us can be stifled.
Underappreciated. In the name of almost anything except our own freedom. I felt carefree. And that energy has stuck with me since then.

It is powerful, revolutionary to be a person of color and have a carefree
element to your spirit. Being Black in America almost demands that you
lay your carefree air on the altar to be sacrificed just so you can do what you have to do unfettered for a time. Or so the powers that be want you to think. I mean, look at the common phrase that comes to mind: “they can’t let us have NOTHIN’.” This is why I don’t mind folks, my folks, expressing
themselves. That celebration of those moments we can be carefree is so
damn necessary. Even more so now. That’s what I gave thanks for – I had
finally gotten to that place again. It had been returning in pieces, stripped away from bad work experiences, rocky relationships, frayed bonds. But this moment in the sun, was a blessing.

Being carefree as a Black man, to me, doesn’t mean being irresponsible or not accountable. In fact, it’s taking pride in knowing that I’m doing what I need to do that bolsters it. It means doing right by people. It means holding up my own personal code of honor that is good intention but most importantly, better action. It means not beating myself up if I stumble, and knowing that I can stumble but that I can also get back up and move forward. It means less overthinking, and more acceptance of self. And the richness that brings. This will be different for each and every one of us. But it’s important to reclaim that.

If you’ve read this far, I hope that the remaining part of this year sees that
you are reclaiming that carefree part of your spirit. I hope that you are making it a point to sit in the serenity you’ve earned to this point and be thankful for it. I hope that you take the time to be thankful every day for what has gotten to you, in small breaths and loud statements.

Until the next time, thanks for reading and walk good.