What Contentment tastes like (poem)

 

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I can hear a dove sing
in the tree outside my window
with sore muscles and tired eyes
I listen to the sound of my husband
shuffling through books he’d brought from home
muttering to himself about the wisdom of they
who’d left part of themselves for the world
to learn from.
My belly is full of lunch that I made
with no thoughts other than to fill a hungry space
happy to listen to the world outside my window
Last night, a storm blew through our town
with thunder the sound of cannon fire
and flashes of white, dangerous, and angry lightning
that illuminated the shadows of the witching hour
The rain sloshed heavy against the windows
and I – knowing he loved it – woke him to listen
and listen he did; grabbing a pillow and a blanket
he turned from my bed and laid down on the couch before two living room windows with the blinds drawn back
and I on the floor beneath him
Happily- he watched until his breath slowed
warm and protected in the midst of the gale
I waited
until at last the reigns were pulled back and the tempest
eased and shifted – I returned to my bed
Now, today, the sun warm once again I sit in the quiet
with the leftover taste of coffee on my tongue
my husband thumbing through tomes muttering to himself
I smile, knowing this is what contentment tastes like.

Check your words three times (Poem)

 

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(Photo by Imani Clovis)

 

check one
check two
check three
sit and ponder – is this me?
pick it apart, tear it asunder
flip it over and look at it under
a microscope, throw it up in the air
a telescope, wondering where
the words they say stop and where I begin
Is it normal to be living in sin
and what is sin? What is this thing
is it still constant even with my wedding ring
and is it still real if I don’t believe everything
that comes rolling out of the mouths of they
who’s sin is wrapped up in the modesty of Sears Clothing?

But there’s no softer side here
no pastel feelings no warmth do they bring
Sat up before us like kings and like queens
of banana pudding and too much hair spray
hair jacked to Jesus – as drag queens often say
who are they? Who are they?
who use rhetorical flourish – who use a book to beat people
when it was origionally created to nourish and bring life
now its a weapon used against a wife
who wants to leave because her man is abusive
the comfort of The Holy Spirit who was supposed to be constant
has now become elusive, obtuse and
M.I.A.
What Can I say?

Tear down that statue, iis what I say, rip down that flag
But they reply , “Don’t say nothin’ boy, you’s nothin but a fag”
those black men, they don’t like you
it’s all gang-bangers and do-rags, its inbred in their race

But those same people who try to sew division
on Sunday they’re the loudest when they sing
Amazing Grace – hands stretched to God
tears rolling down their face
My God, don’t they know?
That John Newton was The Captain of a Slave Ship
Who – back when those men’s backs learned the anger
of the master’s bull whip
said “STOP!” Wait. What have I done?
How can I claim The Father and the Son
How do I try to plea the blood
when I’m the one who failed to read the book of Exodus
So, here, let me fix this – let me become the worlds first Abolitionist and pen a song now that I’m blind
and feeble in my bereavement let me work to do God’s work
and live to free men to see them
so mine eyes can see the glory of the coming of the Lord

Check one
Check two
Check three
sit and ponder – is this me?
Or is this them who be talkin’
talkin’ talkin’ yet they don’t do no walkin’
Their faith has become static – like that statue in N’awlins
lost in time they don’t realize
the differences in mankind aint about them
but this poem is, my flow is, the words often spoken
in hate, and fear, and malice -they’ve used that that I toss back at them
us ‘others’ we ain’t in it
talk about sin
their sin – they sit in it – and are proud of it
and repeat it, and believe it, and wonder why they’re all alone
sittin’ on a throne of bones, tombs, and headstones
When you say you’re saved – ain’t nobody believes it
The God you speak of – yeah he probably still loves
but it’s in spite of and not because of
those words that should make any man hesitate
and say, “Wait a minute, is this me?”
Let me stop, drop, let me see
and before I speak – are these words anointed
in the love I so needed , from God up above
or has my philosophy been informed solely by my geography
and grandaddy’s broke down theology
so’s I’m out creating disciples twice as fit for hell as I was?

Check one
Check two
Check three
Check your words three times before you speak.

The Children of Manchester (poem)

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Gather, Children
the ghosts of years long passed have come to bear witness
to the tragedy in Manchester
those who’ve been struck from the earth when hate and fear and anger took them
in war, and famine, and with fear’s iron hand
now stand side by side in a silent Reveille

Gather, Children
and bear witness to the pale faced human wraiths whom
by the millions are flooding the streets of your fair city
who’ve risen from the graveyards of history
who stare forward with eyes filled with sympathy, empathy, and compassion
for those who yet live
and gather unto themselves those who do not

Gather, Children
and let your eyes bear witness to what happens
when dangerously simple and prejudiced filled minds try to address the worlds ills
the results of which are drawn out to their terrible conclusion
this great example of what hate, fear, and confusion
wrought forth
when it seeps out of the cracks in our heart’s
shadowed places

Gather, Children
and turn the tide of inevitability
hold back the swift hand of death – this spectre and respecter of none
Regardless of rank, and station, and life long ambition
Who comes for us all – in the form of a friend
or in the shape of our enemy

Gather, Children
be ye young, middle aged, or with more days behind you than before you
and cast your heart, and your tears, and your fears, and your faith, and your eyes downward
and take a long hard look at what hate and malice, and malcontent, and fear, and retribution does when it infests the soul of a person
who then causes the innocent to lay silent at your feet
What a tragedy, What a waste

Gather, Children
and see when the spirits of the other side of mankind’s legacy
walk your future back down those narrow streets
only to disappear with the breaking of the sun of a new day
and while you mourn for those who are gone from this earth
Remember to weep for those who yet remain

 

Authors note: Pope Francis was quoted as saying, “You pray for the hungry, then you feed them, that’s how prayer works.” Manchester, my prayers, and grief, and hope, and love are with you just as they once belonged to France after the mindless terror in the Bataclan, as they were with those in Orlando at the disco.

I don’t know what that equivalent of Francis’ words are, here. But whatever it is, however it is, it has to be better than what we’ve been doing.

Love me loving myself (Poem)

 

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(Photo Yoanne Boyer)

Of course I want you to love me
For who i am! Not for what you think I should be
This isn’t Ralph Lauren you don’t get to choose
I’d rather sing rock and roll, than sing the blues
I want you to love me because quite frankly
I’m just like you

I’m as needy as you are needy
I’m as boring and frightfully dull
I can laugh till my side aches
And cry when my heart breaks
And I love moments when I’m the king of it all.

I’m as delightful as you are delightful
And I grow sad and so morose about the passing of time
I count gray hairs and crows feet lines
I groan when I see that’s a quarter til five
And I haven’t been to sleep, not a wink, not at all

But of course, I want you to love me
For who I am, I’ll let you know who that is when I know
Cause right now I’m as lost as you are lost
Stumbling forward, crashing, smashing onward ever forward
As Queen once sang, ‘…on with the show.’

I’m as wretched as you are wretched
And I grow more discontent by the day
As i grow older my patience grows thinner
My eyes grow dimmer, Everything grows slimmer
Yet someone forgot to tell my waist

I’m as sweet as you are precious
But my sweetness is reserved for those who deserve it
Not for those who I simply pass by
Nor for those who’ve made a habit of making me cry
I’m getting too old for other people’s bullshit

So, yes, Yes! Please, by all means love me!
But understand if I won’t wear a mask for you
I won’t trade myself, place who I am on a shelf
If that means you have to leave
Well, you have to do what’s best for you

For I am as worthy as you are worthy
And there is history behind my voice
But my voice is my own, my opinions full grown
Loving one’s self is a toast to your health
And loving myself is my choice

Heaven underneath the sound (poem)

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I am jagged fears
and raw emotion
nerve endings exposed to the chilly air
wanting to go back, wanting to go back
to a time when the pain wasn’t as painful

But was it better then?
or has time erased the worst of it?
Perception is never to be trusted
so much lust, turned to rust, the wine has all been poured

What I want?
Do you know? Can you fathom?
I want warmth and the smell of a fire burning
I want arms around me – but not a lover’s touch
that’s not what I’m hungry for at the moment
although I often hunger for that

I want comfort of a family, familiar
those I love surrounding me in gentle moments
where nothing has to be explained
where nothin’ has to be maintained
except only by showing up

With people who don’t see the words I write
with people who don’t see my back bent over as I work
Where I am not the writer, poet,
I’m just me. A little fucked up but worth loving anyway

Is this age that I’m feeling?
Is this the begging of what the aged and sick beg for
when to live is too much?
when they yearn for something higher?

I want your company and I don’t know
how to beg you for it
or make the distance close between us
or make time stop so when we are together we can stay
what do I want?

What do I want?
Heaven?
I think so. I think this is what this is.
I want heaven.
If just for a moment.
I can almost hear it underneath the sound of the world

Hashtag: Likesarebetterthanlove (poem)

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Love is bleeding to death
body on the ground
crimson drops flow from his/her wrist
no words from pale white lips
eyes as blue as the sky

People step over
liberal and not
conservative and not
too stuck inside themselves to look down
too angry to see what could easily be found

For every missed opportunity
another cut is made as the sky opens up
fast fingers replying harsh words
tap, tap, tapping out the sound of his/her cry

“Gotcha, bitch
“Told ya, fool”
how about them republicunts?
All Racist, got nothing else going on”

“Yeah, well
I would be like you
but I don’t require triggers for days that end in Y
speaking of cunt, tell your mom I said, ‘hi’, son.”

Words lodge in the skin

each blow taking his/her life a little closer
to the edge
the lady/man in white begins to match their robe
face changing with each missed opportunity
as their life fades away

One stops looks down
see’s his/her sad state of affairs
the glow from their phone lighting their face
and is horrified to see her own on the victim

She sees her hair fanned out on the concrete

The figure is a mirror image now
‘Save Aleppo’ written on the shirt she wears
she sees her conservative father’s eyes
and bites her lip

yet, instead of kneeling
praying, begging, pleading
she leans over and with a flash of white light, whispering
“I just instagramed the shit out of you,”

Caption this, she types
hashtag lost, hashtag forgotten
hashtag allthefeels
hastag toobusytho
as she stands back up and steps over

One like, two like, three like four
She smirks and walks on,

Hashtag:Likeisbetterthanlove these days

The man by the river (poem)

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(Photo by Farrel Noble)
Three a.m and the wind blows heavy across the night
I’ve been writing about a man I once was
A love story about a man I once knew
Who loved me years ago
In that city by a river
He was a good man
Deserving of so much better than I
But I was selfish and in pain
When I sang karaoke at ‘Somewhere
Bar and no Grill.’
I was a refugee – an Anne Frank
Hiding above in a little apartment
For the world below was frightful and filled with teeth
And by that point, i too had learned to bite
And some nights I would leave
My lovers bed and drive to that city on the river
Let myself in only to fall asleep on a mattress
On the floor
When I would wake in the morning
His head rested on the mattress
And he hugged himself
To keep off the chill
All in an effort to be close to me
I didn’t know it then
But that was what love looked like
And I didn’t know it then
But that was a safe house
And while I didn’t know it then
I knew a man loved me in his little apartment in the city by the river
And now that I know what love is
To him, I say thank you
You were my Memphis in that tiny little apartment in that city by the river

16 personal affirmations (all subject to change as I am growing).

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(Photo by the brilliant Ben White)

 

You know, I talk a great deal often times about things that I don’t like or things that upset me. Yet, I am not always vocal about the things that I believe.
Today is Sunday – and when I was a kid we went to church on this day as an appeasement to God of our faith in him as well as an affirmation of what we as a family believed. So, since I woke up this morning and started my day, with music playing in my head as always – I started thinking about who I am and what it is I believe.
I think a person has all the right to establish these things for themselves. I also think it’s surprising – when you sit down and take time to think about things – just exactly what it is you believe.
Often times we like to insert ourselves in other people’s lives, most the time without their permission, and start a running commentary not just on what it is they believe but who they are as people. It’s a really peculiar thing – as I see people who demand perfection from those who’s lives they invade and refuse to accept anything less when they themselves lack this sort of perfection in their own lives. It makes them hypocrites.
Yet I think – in the long run – just saying that makes me one because we all are.

1) Everyone is capable of everything. A few years ago I run across a statement made by a former slave of a Roman Senator by the name of Terence – homo sum humani nihil a me alienum puto or I am human, nothing human can be alien to me. This was an act of forgiveness toward his former master. It was an “I understand” statement. It was sage wisdom because if you think about it – given the right set of circumstances, pressure, sociopolitical, and social economic status – everyone is capable of anything for good and for evil. I believe that.
2) Everyone is also capable of redemption – I am a Christian. That is the foundation of our faith. Yet, these days I think there can be a great gulf fixed between those who call themselves that and those who are that. The difference between a noun and a verb. One is a title and one is a way of thinking and while the first is easy to label oneself with, and we see the effects of that title going out before them, its much much more difficult to live. Yet regardless of faith – I think people are capable of change, great change, and change for the better. You are not obligated to be the person you were five minutes ago. But that change, or that desire to change must come from within, for you and for no one else God or man.
3) I do not believe religiosity or the lack-thereof is a good indicator of goodness. (SEE Number 1)
4) I also do not believe religiosity or the lack-thereof is inherently bad either. (See number 1 and number 2)
5) Along with booze, drugs, sex, gambling, and social media – there lurks a far more deadly addiction out there and for me that is certainty addiction. Fundamentalists. True believers. Whether they are some crazy preacher, a crossfitter, a vegan, non vegan, atheists. etc. There are people out there who have found something that works for them and because of that – feel that others must be a part of it and if they don’t then they’re the worst of all humanity. There’s a franticness about them – and it makes one wonder if they really believe what they believe and if they have any faith at all in what they say they are. There lingers in them a doubt that they – nor the rest of the world – can shake off. There is virtue in the statement, ” I don’t know.” That’s knowledge seeking wisdom and I think the latter is extremely lacking in the world. No one runs into an abortion clinic to shoot the doctor shouting, ” I don’t know!”
6) I believe before every soul is born, they once existed with Truth, Beauty, Love, Justice, Wisdom, Compassion, in it’s truest form. These ambiguous terms are planted in our being so when we see an example of it – we know it. These things are a reflection of another time and another when. And I think our entire lives are revolved around, whether we are conscious of it or not, trying to reconnect to that in various ways. Whether you call that being God, Allah, Yahweh, the source, the universe -I think we are given glimpses of this ‘when and who’ when we see the beauty of a rose, when we hear the swell of an orchestra, when we feel the touch of a lover etc. That’s why I think drugs, booze, and other addictions are so terrible – because they are a distraction. They simulate but cannot duplicate that pure euphoria often to the detriment of themselves and everything and everyone around them.
7) I believe brilliance or the potential for brilliance exists in all people. I love to write – but there are those people who can take a car apart and put it back together and to me: that’s art, that’s a skill I will never have. But because they can’t sell their product on amazon or won’t be featured in a gallery – we lower them in terms of what they do.They are no less profound than someone who can sing the roof off a stadium. I think we disregard these creators, these laborers, to our own peril.
8) I believe people ought to earn a living wage. I think denying people one based on WHAT they do and not WHAT they need – is selfish. It’s a value judgment placed on people because certain things are deemed as lesser than what we do. It boggles my mind how an ambulance driver or EMT – the first responders, those who are often the difference between life and death for a person are paid so low. The moment they get you into that hospital suddenly the pay spikes happen for the nurses and doctors. Isn’t that a little backward? Or a cook, wait-staff- I mean, you eat what they give you.
9) I believe everyone should have access to the health-care the 21st century is capable of providing. There is no excuse for not allowing this other than greed. I find it ironic that noun Christians often have a problem with this. If you can send mission money to churches to send throughout the world you can take a tax increase in your paycheck to pay for it. And if everyone made a living wage – that wouldn’t be too much to ask for. And Charity – starts at home.
10) I believe if it looks racist or bigoted in anyway – it probably is. Since I became a disciple of sorts to the late Dr. Maya Angelou – I’ve learned to start taking people seriously in the ways they describe themselves. When someone shows you who they are, or tells you who they are, when they try to ‘whitesplain, mansplain, straightsplain, womansplain (See number 1), or cisplain something to you about anything you fundamentally know to be true – they’re a bigot or their words are at the very least. Believe them the first time. Especially in terms of race – people often hate it when race is brought into a subject not because it isn’t true – but because it hits too close to home for them. When the slave ship captains brought slaves to our shores for the first time not only did they bind the African to their skin color and all the grief that buys them, they bound us to our ignorance and if we as a society do not break this – it will break us. There is no inherent superiority in a skin color nor is there an inherent inferiority. Same goes for sexuality and gender. Seriously, watch a documentary, read a book, or at the very minimum keep quiet about it.
11) I believe in the power of love. I think that if love goes out in front of us, if it proceeds us in all we do, people see that. I think they feel it. And therefore I think that perhaps the hippies were right. I think love changes people. And I am not just talking about romantic love – that love is ego centric. I am talking Agape, Storge, Philia, types of love that English has a hard time describing but the Greek (the original language the Bible was written in ironically) understood. But also Self love – I think we often times are willing to be forgiven by a deity or community or family – but we have a hard time forgiving ourselves for our mistakes. We also have a hard time in establishing boundaries in our lives that we keep sacred to ourselves and ourselves alone. That pure place where we go to pray, to be still for a moment, that place set aside for introspection and reflection. That should be cultivated as I believe its necessary for our survival. It allows a person to stand up for themselves. And as such, I believe it comes from that space that allows a person to disregard other’s comments about their lives, faith, and whom they choose to love. Frankly, its no ones business. Furthermore, not everyone has the support of a loving family that can reinforce them in positive ways. I think a lot of ‘bad people’ in the world are that way because they’ve been told all their life that they have no value. So they go out and do things that would reflect that.
12) I believe personal responsibility is a catch phrase too often used as an excuse for people who have none or who lack the fundamental understanding that every action made has an equal yet opposite reaction. All our lives are interconnected as we hurtle through space and time. I believe that while individuality is important – it is also important to understand that you are also a part of a greater whole as a member of a family, community, state, nation, specie. In short – you are your brother’s keeper. Turning a blind eye to suffering, to need, to dire circumstances, or turning away from love – is irresponsible and while it may not affect you now – it will one day. As one Jacob Marley once declared before a trembling Ebenezer Scrooge, “Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!” While the realization of just WHAT we are responsible for may be intimidating – I think there is virtue in understanding that.
13) People in relationships get to establish the parameters of those relationships and its dynamics. Other people’s running commentary on those dynamics are not wanted, butt out and mind your own damn business.
14) Art is an act of compassion not only for the consumer but for the artists as well. People who tell artists to sit down and, shut up and, go and – don’t seem to understand that those people extract their gifts, their words, etc from humanity overall. People often don’t like it when you hold a mirror up to them and say this is you as you’ve presented yourself to me. The artist is a truth speaker and truth often doesn’t take your feelings into consideration. Like it or not, like them or not, making them go away not only robs you of the truth but it also robs you of the chance to change and grow. (See number 2)
15) No man made institution is perfect as mankind itself is incapable of perfection. Demanding perfection from those who are fundamentally imperfect is not only self defeating, it’s irresponsible and flat out ignorant. Change comes slowly to an individual and it comes slower still to an institution. Those who call for revolutions should understand that in times past – these things have killed more revolutionaries than the institutions they attempted to destroy. If you’re really interested in overthrowing ‘the man’ start off with the Man in the Mirror and then take another look at the world before you go off all barricades and future subject matter for musical on Broadway.
16) Identity politics will destroy a country. Ideological purity is the product of over simplification. Human beings are a complex specie. Cultures, societies, etc. are all multifaceted. What works for one, may not work for another especially in the melting pot of our country. Those who champion this – while they may be smart, aren’t very wise as they lack the wherewithal to know compromise is key in solving most of societies problems. One must be willing to give a little to get a little. Anything less is asking for a disaster.

Deadly, the clock on the nail on the wall (Poem)

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(Photo: Eder Pozo Perez)

 

Deadly, the clock on the nail on the wall
a constant reminder of the seconds spent and going fast
the world is trembling underneath the weight
of dissolution antipathy for itself

Murder, is a broken tail light
in the name of Justice men are thrown from rooftops
say her name, say her name, say her name is chanted
However, Destiny is no longer a child – but a wilted bitter old woman
angry that bitch down the street with the four kids
is getting WIC when she can’t get a raise in her stipend
as if it’s the mother’s fault and not the ak47 that took her husband away in some desert far from home

Fear, is the preacher rising like a star
who’s teacher was geography that informed his philosophy
and now power is the lust between his legs
with a wolfish grin and a blade in his eye he ushers the flock of poorer than he
who foolishly pay him to beat them in the face with their own humanity
before he drives away in his Mercedes Benz.

Hate, is the word passing the lips of those
who empower long dead cowards who’d set their grandparents’ world on fire
when people stand up, the exorcists, trying to banish the demons
that try and cast them back to the void, the pits of hell, from whence they came
become the aggressors in the twisted tales told on conservative news.

Armageddon – is the revelation
of self interest, Ayn Randian theology
of me, and mine, and thee, and thine
no money? Well die.
Your problem, not mine

Deadly, the clock on the nail on the wall
a constant reminder of the seconds spent now pounding like a hammers’ blow
suddenly, deftly, drawn out
where anxiety is riddled not in the knowledge of the passing of time
but for when it all comes screaming to an end.