Ode to a Black Woman

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(Photo by William Stitt)

When you speak

it can be light and playful and full of

“Guuuurl.”

and with a flip of your hair, and the narrowing of your eyes

you can turn lighthearted banter into a sermon and summon the wisdom of all the ages.

The spirits – they flock to you when you walk.

The eyes – they turn to you when you talk.

And when you dance – Lord, when you dance. Thunder knows no better competitor.

And for this white boy, you were a safe haven

granting me mercy and grace – when you yourself had little to spare sometimes from white people sometimes from your men in your own race.

You showed me how to cook – Ms. Brenda, I see you there.

And when you called me ‘baby’ -“Whew, lord…” why, I melted into the floor.

Straight through – all the way to China.

Seriously, “Where’s the body ma’am. No one will ever ever know. “

I’ll set my watch and salvation and my money in the bank on it.

You come in all shapes and sizes and tones

sometimes you come with an accent like Creole, or African,

or trailing the speech of whatever time zone you happen to occupy.

Sometime it’s Spanish and sometimes it’s French

and sometimes it’s ‘hood’ when your angry, something you can turn off and on like a light switch.

But where ever you are or where ever you’ve been.

On the stage, on the floor of government,

or in the grocery store or at church

people watch you

sometimes those eyes aint no good

sometimes those eyes are just wide with awe

if you want to know for whatever reason gazes are cast upon you

its because you are something to behold

whether you’re young or whether you’re old

people know when a black woman is in the room

So in this world, with it’s dizzy distractions and dissatisfactions

of lazy minds and backwood ignorant interactions

where white means right and everyone else is left

feeling tired and worn and see through

there’s a black woman, arms folded under her bosom

rollin’ her eyes the way we all wished we could

So whether you’re a Whitney, a Maya, an Oprah, or just you

Just you is enough – overwhelmingly enough

to find, and be, and speak the truth

and the truth is this, it’s always been this

And I know it hasn’t been said enough

and I know saying so will make some sorry ass throw a fit

but our world has been made better simply because you’re in it.

Yes, our world, my world, this world has been made better

simply because you are in it.

Mother Mary (Poem)

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(Photo by Alina Sofia)

Mother,

My consciousness wanders in the cool of the evening
When the sound of the air conditioning unit hums it’s perpetual song
After the rains have swept heaven free of sticky summer air

A Marlboro red burns between my fingers as I linger in my chair
The smoke climbing blue grey tendrils upward and out of sight
My lovely slow death, when I think about life
As my wind chime tinkles away in the breeze

My lover is fast asleep mumbling in his dreams
About his worries, and grinds his teeth and apologizes for not being the best of the best of the best
To phantom faces of his industry
A race never ending to simply live in this world

But he is the best
And he is who I think of
My Jesus at five foot eight inches tall
My Atlas, my St. Michael
Beloved, enchanting my immortal soul, and giving rest to my weary mind
And pleasure to my wanton body
He stands guard at the doorway of my heart

I’ve never known love like this
Sweet Mary, sweet mother please hear my truth
I fear the cup of my heart is filled with holes,
While my mind is filled with razors
Understand that his love keeps me hungry
And the wine has yet to be bitter on my tongue

Even though he slumbers, in mumbling shifting sleep
And as minutes tick by, shifting sands, in the cool night air
Let the day’s last cigarette burns slowly down
Let me love him, and keep him, and I’ll love you
With the love of a long lost lonely child
Until the oceans and my words run dry

My husband
Mine

Amen

Persona Non Grata (poem? Lyric?)

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(Photo Michael Barth)

Verse 1

shove it away, shove it all away
I burn bridges I’m still standin’ on
kerosene can in one hand and a cigarette in another
bridge strung taut , mind strung along, I await the inevitable fall

Chorus

kiss me quick as the flames grow higher
say goodbye after your spent
let me go after you’ve climbed in my head
You gave me your distraction, on your floor, in your bed

Verse 2

persona non grata
you don’t want what i am
twisted terrified demon that sees with my hands unwelcomed
building dreams in the air, building castles in the sand

Repeat Chorus

rattlesnake mean, you can’t get too close
i don’t wanna be just lover I wanna be your host
twisted deadly darling boy – not just for tonight

beware of my poison, beware of my bite

 

Gay For You (GFY) Revisited

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(Photo by Jorge Gonzalez)

A gay friend of mine earlier posted a semi-rant over GFY and the main point he was trying to make was that sexuality – for a lot of people isn’t fluid.
The science is clear that homosexuality is built into the genes and epigenetics of human beings.
GFY does a disservice to people – not because of the trope but because of the easy explanation of so-called sexual fluidity.
Those who’ve taken umbrage to this subset of a subset of a subset of this genre do so because they’re so used to the world outside telling them that they can change or that who they are isn’t natural – that when they see this, this reinforces that mindset.

If sexuality is in fact FLUID – you can CHOOSE to be straight.  Or at the very least be in a straight relationship.
But there is a two-pronged problem here.
The first is the aforementioned.
The second, however, is telling people what they can write and telling readers what they can read.
We run into a constant problem here.
GFY – is high fantasy.
It isn’t real and anecdotal evidence to the contrary is just that. Anecdotal.
And then people – writers- get defensive over their work, readers get mad because they’re being ignored and the entire thing descends into a flame war.
It is irrefutable that a writer can write what he or she wants. That is crystal clear.
But there is often a distance between what one CAN do and what one OUGHT to do.
GFY – as a subset – isn’t going anywhere.

The market eats those books up like cookie monster eats cookies. And to be honest, it’s a cash cow that authors have found and it would be dumb to give it up.
Screaming about that does zilch – other than causing a bunch of stupid drama and then, unintentionally sells a bunch of books people were angry over.
But instead of slapping sexual fluidity in place of actual research and understanding of human sexuality may assuage some people’s feelings about the subset and make them less angry about feeling like not only do they have to watch out for the crazy preacher down the road who thinks they can change and the ignorant author who happens to agree with them in their work.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write about gay people – it simply means that you should fear your subject. And with that trepidation approach it with respect and the dignity they deserve like you would someone of a different race.

Sexuality is as ingrain as skin color, eye color, blood type….
I can guarantee you some straight person doesn’t wake up one day, no matter how much they may like another person of the same gender and think, “I want to have sex with him/her.” Or – if a gay man and a straight man have a very close emotional relationship – doesn’t mean that they’re going to have a sexual one.
Are there sexual fluid people? Yes.

But they are not gay. They have their own special set of circumstances that should be highly respected. As do bisexual people who’ve really been done a disservice by this subset.
None of these things should be flippantly brushed aside to get two hot guys into bed.
GFY – will remain a high fantasy, especially for gay men who fall in love with their best friend. But it’s a fantasy that should be broken. Because there is nothing but heartache and disappointment down that road – unless the gay guy can come to understand that his buddy’s heterosexualness is just as ingrained in him as gayness is ingrained in the gay guy.
After all – he was born that way.
Unconditional Postive Regard dictates that we love people for who they are no matter what. Gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual etc. etc. instead of fighting over the labels and over the words – maybe we should start listening to those who say, “This is my truth,” and accepting that and being compassionate about that when we reflect it in our work.

We can evolve this into something better than it is. 

Catfish (poem)

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(Photo: Tom Butler)

Catfish
I see you out there swimming among the reeds
telling lies, and giving rise
to animosity in our water
the other fishes dart in and out
of the darkness to see
what you’re doing
but you don’t care about those you hurt
because in short – it’s all about you

You’ve been a man but not a man
a hero but not a hero
and made people feel for you
but the feelings you collected you
ingested because in the end that’s all a catfish can do

you bottom feeder
sandy silty shoreline dweller
picking up the litter of what is left behind
being cruel and being crass and
trying to be a part of the world that just doesn’t want you

It’s one thing to pretend
its another to up end the playground where we all swim
but your misogyny and racism and lecherousness isn’t pretty its rather petty
it shows that the water isn’t the only thing shallow where you swim

But with all the lies
and fears and hurt feelings of those who happened to swim by
makes certain to those who have a good soul
the only good catfish is the ones that are battered, salted, and fried

Who protects us from the States and it’s people?

So, I just watched the episode of Glee where there is a school shooter. Or – well, an accidental shooting but of course, the school goes on lockdown and the actors go through the motions.
And I found myself sobbing right along with them.
Our bodies have a natural self-defense system. Our Amygdala sends a message to our pituitary gland and adrenal glands saying, “This is an emergency, give me adrenaline and give me cortisol.”
Our bodies are instantly flooded with these stress hormones and we enter fight or flight.
Now imagine if you were in a high school classroom with twenty other students and suddenly shots ring out down the hallway. The teacher dives for the door, locks it, turns off the lights and lines you along with your classmates up against the wall.
Right now, your body is flooded with these stress response hormones and you’re being told to sit and be very quiet while you hear gunshots and screaming echoing down the hall.
You know, in your head, that people are dying. You know, in your head, that the shooter is not very far from you and there is nowhere to go and nothing to do but for you to sit and wait your turn.
Those kinds of stressors are hard enough for an adult on a battlefield let alone for a teenager who’s just starting life. Who’s biggest concern five minutes earlier was over the test they took in their last class.
Now, imagine you’re a middle school student.
Are you done?
Now, imagine your six.
We drill for this now in schools like we drill tornado warnings and fire alarms. We drill for active shooters.
This is our new normal thanks to Columbine and thanks to Newtown Connecticut among others.
We will try and regulate the hell out of a woman’s reproductive rights (not really, we’re just trying to punish women for having sex), we’ll take ‘stands’ against gay marriage for moral reasons, we’ll even cry over a New Disney film.
We claim morality in these cases – but at the end of the day, it’s a gaslit morality. It’s completely fake.
However, there is something morally dead about a society that will not try and regulate guns and keep them out of the hands of the mentally ill or require background checks.
And of course this all will descend into conversations of mental health and the beloved 2nd Amendment – but this is always where the conversation stops.
I watched this show – and I know it’s just a show – but the idea of my kid or any kid sitting on top of a toilet seat in a stall in a bathroom because that’s where she was caught when the shooting started – terrified for her life, or the idea of a child saying goodbye via text or ‘these are my last words’ videos on a cellphone makes me sick to my stomach and I don’t even have kids.
Going after marriage rights or reproductive rights is already soulless. Taking away people’s automomy is the act of a tyrant. I just never thought our country would sink so low, that in our quest for Liberty or Death – we’d had our children the “Or Death” part of the equation because we’re too fascinated with the wet dream of killing our own government.
You know, just to throw this out there, 9/10ths of the laws we encounter on a day to day basis is not Federal Law. It’s state law.
And as far as I am concerned it’s been the states in the past eight years or so sweeping away people’s rights by so-called moral members of society – when they’re not too busy fucking male prostitutes in motel rooms.
So- at the end of the day the question is this – if the federal government’s role is to protect all of its citizens, why can’t it protect us from the states and it’s people?

Spring (The First of Four Sisters) Poem

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(Photo by: Alexandru Zdrobau)

Raven haired springtime
the color of thunderclouds spiking thirty thousand feet
comes the first and most dynamic of all the sisters
Hell hath no fury, as tempest shouts her arrival
when the warm and cold air collide in a battle high above Terra Firma
She is the regal one, with trumpet blasts and flashes of mortar fire as hot as the surface of the sun
that sends humans fleeing before her

With a flick of her wrist, a tornado touches down
and with its wicked tail writes her signature on the ground announcing her presence
as her armies of southern sweet air clash with Winter’s bitter winds

The age old fight between life and death
what was and what shall be, a clockwork madness that
despite its wrenching pain happens again and again
and unlike the other sisters, her place is seized not given

Astride a lion, whose roar causes trees to bend down in respect
crocus, tulips, daffodils burst forth from the solid ground – resurrected from slumber – triumphant
as the white fades from the landscape and the world stretches and wakes

Once upon her throne, she calms slowly as the earth turns from concrete to clay
as the nights shorten in length to day
she lowers herself to walk among the cradles of the babes with doe-eyed wonder and tender promises

In like a lion, with all the majesty one could muster
she awaits her ebony sister, Summer, with a lamb’s heart
She is spring, wise mother, giver of life abundant.
Her name is Spring and she is the Queen of all she sees.

Why I’ve become a Militant Agnostic

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(Photo by Ben White)

 

What does that mean? To me, it means, very basically, “I don’t know and neither do you.”

I was raised in a Fundamental Baptist (IFB) house and growing up there were a lot of rules and stuff but our lives were built around Biblical literalism and legalism. These people believed they were the ‘saved of the saved’ and everyone else was bound for hell.

My time in these churches was not always bad, sometimes it was okay, but the doctrine often found its way into our home and for reasons that I won’t get into right now – made our lives hell.

But as an adult – who is still learning, who is still growing, who is still alive in the sense that I’ve recognized that asking questions is not a sign of ignorance but intelligence seeking wisdom – I’ve run into some problems.

And mostly, those problems revolved around others feeling that it is their duty to let another person know how it is they are supposed to lead their life. And – like always – it’s according to the scripture.

But what I’ve found out about these well-meaning individuals – as well as the scripture itself – is that people cherry picks out of the great holy texts anything and everything that supports THEIR world view.

If you’ve ever wondered why there are so many sects of Christianity – that’s the reason.

People have put the focus on one particular part of the Bible vs others – and that includes Biblical literalists, who in the end, aren’t really literalists at all.

They’re really really passionate about the parts of the Bible they covet – and dismiss the rest in its entirety.

 

My agnosticism isn’t directed toward God, however.

Just the Church(es).

Number one, I refuse to think God is a jerk. I mean think about it, if we were to ascribe all the horrific ways God is supposed to be and place that on a person. An individual. We wouldn’t have ANYTHING to do with that person. At all. As a matter of fact – hello my atheists out there – you’d get as far away from that person as you could.

Number two, I refuse to believe that after multitudes of retranslations by people (who they themselves lack perfection and who may themselves be politically motivated like King James) that a collection of oral traditions handed down generation to generation, is the 100 percent Word of God in its totality. Refuse. However, I do make a distinction between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law, and even if some things got lost over the years – the spirit of it is alive and well. If you take the ARC of the Bible as a whole – God’s actually a pretty decent deity who wants to help.

Number three, I refuse to join in the cults of personality that organized religion has a really bad habit of creating. And I am not talking about The Catholic Pope. I actually think Francis is a pretty good guy mostly because he pisses off his own people as well as others. *cough Donald Trump cough*.  I am talking about American Protestantism where we don’t have one Pope. We have many. You can probably think of some right off the top of your head and just like ancient feudal lords they amass these huge followings and become idols themselves.

Number four, I refuse to dictate to a person how I think they should live their life. That was one major problem I had with fundamentalism, was the Dionne Warwicks out there who could divine in their heads why a person was who they were or why they did what they did and felt the need to sit in judgment over them. If God was as infallible and omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent as they claimed he was – he knew what he had going on when it came to others. He knew. He didn’t need help, Adam and Eve, he had, has, will have, this. Essentially, you have no idea what a person is going through or has been through – and unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, you should probably shut up because you’re making an ass of yourself. And sure, they’ll point at scripture …but so did the devil when Christ was in the wilderness. Christ was also persecuted according to the old testament (because he broke a plethora of rules of the old testament) and was even, according to the old testament, cursed because he was hung on a tree. So, yep, the Old Testament curses the son of God – let that stew a bit. These people are too busy BEING GOD they’ll never hear God speak to them. Ever.

Number five, I believe that when Christ gave the MANDATE to go outfeed, clothe, and care for the weakest among us he wasn’t talking to hear himself. This wasn’t a suggestion. This was a commandment that – especially in American Christianity – is ignored because it runs counter to this marriage of capitalism and faith. Jesus is not a republican, nor is he a democrat, what I think he’d be : Is Pissed at the money changers who have great big churches and homeless people sleeping on the steps. By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Number six, ignoring Christians is not persecution. At all. Having your head chopped off or stoned to death because of your beliefs – that’s persecution. Needing to control people’s bodies and their thoughts and their lives – that’s being a persecutor. Stop being an intellectual slob, stop justifying your hatred for other people by using God. That is not a sign of great faith. That’s a sign of a LACK OF FAITH.

I’ve met people with deep abiding faith – you know what they’re like? They’re calm.

Do I think all the churches out there are bad? No. Do I believe there is enough badness in those churches to keep them in a state of self-reflection before they go out and try to condemn or save the world? Yep. Because they’re human institutions. And as long as human beings are involved – there will ALWAYS be error and sin and failure. Always.

So in the end, they’re just as lost as the rest of us. They just can’t admit it. What matters, in the end, is what has mattered in the beginning – you do the best you can, however you can, and let God handle the rest. And QUESTION EVERYTHING!

 

My review of first 10 hours of Mass Effect: Andromeda

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(All images owned by the gods at Bioware, EA, The Citadel, and possibly Heaven) …..(thank you)

Novelist…..check

Poet……check

Gamer…..not the super geeked out graphics card doubles as a Romulan cloaking device …EX8734 something something flux capacitor something….please slide my food under the door gamer….but check.

I’ve loved Bioware since I discovered their storytelling abilities (See Novelist). With the Mass Effect Series and Dragon Age Series – I found myself completely immersed in both worlds and happily so.

I found myself invested in both game’s characters – totally amazed as the stories opened up in a way that let us decide the fates of everyone while the games themselves became visually stunning.

And now, like everyone else I bought the game in hopes of returning – while not with Commander Shepard (may he rest in peace) – at least to the capable hands of the Bioware storytellers in Mass Effect: Andromeda. And I played the first ten hours.

While I bitched to my better half about not having an Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator of a graphics card (I am running a Geforce 750i – which runs everything almost in all low settings which pisses me off at Dell and I refuse to buy another card because dammit – what the hell!!! – but that’s another story) I still find the game beautiful.

And freaking huge

I have a feeling that this ten-hour play through – as fast as it went and trust me it went fast – is just a scratch at the surface of how much stuff is going to be out there.

The gameplay is rather simple, although I have had to get familiar with the keyboard, but suddenly a bad guy appears and I am relieved to be able to unload the familiar sounding machine gun into his big dumpy head.

So far we’ve gotten a bunch of old tech – which is never a good thing.

An Asari checking old tech out – because, that’s what they seem to always want to do.

And unlike the beautiful Citadel waiting in the clouds in the first three games – you have a whole bunch of half awake, half asleep, colonists, who’ve jumped (warped, flung, sashayed?) into a crap sandwich.

Essentially, everything that could have gone wrong, has. And there is infighting, and power grabbing, and bad ass Krogan, all of which is very Mass Effect-y.

So, there are those who do have a graphics card that can make the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs who have been noticing some issues with the faces of the characters…

But quite frankly, I am not here for the lips.

(I’m here for your daughter, Chuck)

Kidding, I’m here for the story. The Nostalgia. And the Krogan. Because – duh, literally, duh.

So with a rating scale of 1-10, one being The Last Action Hero and Ten being Aliens 

This is Aliens. (R.I.P Bill Paxton) I am totally stoked for this game.

Bioware, it’s good to be home.

I’ll update this review as the game goes live.