Hurricane outside, Maelstrom within (poem)

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Flickering lights and uncertainty rolled out in front of us
myself, my family
the wind crashed whistling through the eaves of the house
like an errant train in the dead of night
lightning danced 
Death had come ashore and ghosts were marching to martial music
thundering heels against the coal black night

the telephone rang
in foolish compassion I answered
and a voice from the grave spoke to me
suddenly I felt thirsty, ravenously hungry
and though the conversation was pleasant
my veins began to ache
and my body began to ache
to be possessed by old habits of a foolish youth
spent locked in torment

after we said goodbye
to fight against the desire of anonymity
I flung the doors open to the storm
wind, leaves, and rain rolled inward
when the threat between my ears
became greater than the one that ran screaming through the night

I pulled up shades
threw open windows and breathed in chance
in giant cleansing gulps
hoping against hope that I could exorcise my dutiful mistake
between The Father, and The Son, and three glasses of red wine – the blood
This I did in remembrance
I all of a sudden felt needy
to be possessed by creatures of the veil not far beyond my touch

I watched the storm blow the rest of the night
between flashes of lightning and gusts of wind
the fourth horseman I knew galloped close by
I waited for upon my cross of bones and childrens toys
for the sound of his thundering hooves
my gaze locked in on the shadows beyond the trees

At some point I fell asleep
only to awaken at dawns first light with my mouth
tasting like yesterdays news
and my clothes just barely damp
I rose from my leaf littered bed
my solace sleeping soundly next to me
my protection asleep soundly on the floor

I rose and peered into the stillness with a heavy head
a tongue that cleaved to the roof of my mouth
I noticed the lightening of the sky with the rising of the sun
now that the storm had blown itself away
and though there be no track marks, no bottles laying strewn on the floor
even though I knew the name of the man next to me in my bed
I still felt the shame of a misspent night
and the lingering feeling of poison in my veins

I’m an addict without a habit
no that isn’t true – no, there’s a habit there
and it isn’t in recklessness or immoral lack of judgement
it was in a simple act of compassion
that now, today burns a hole in the center of me
that wracks my body with a guilt even though I never did anything wrong

In the stillness of that morning
I slowly rose up from my sleep as a hangover
thudded mercifully between my ears
and before the rest of the house woke
I stripped down and walked naked into a cold shower
humming, “Precious Lord, take my hand.”
as shakily, shivering from the cold, I washed away my shame
and I climbed back on the wagon

Violence and Scars ( a call for passive resistance)

 

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Photo by Gerrie van der Walt on Unsplash

I remember the day 9/11 happened. It’s something that is seared into my memory.
The whole day I was in shock.
I fell asleep to CNN and woke up to it still playing on the television with picture after picture, replay after replay of the hijacked airliners and the damage they’d done.
The body count.
People standing outside of The World Trade Center weeping, begging God and passerby’s to deliver them their loved ones.
The next the numbness of it all wore off and there I was, nineteen years old, weeping into the arms of my sister.
I was scared.
Knowing all those people died, it broke my heart.
I remember asking my mom if she thought there were ‘saved’ people in those buildings.
The other day, with Charlottesville I sat down and cried again. I’m thirty six years old and later on as I prayed the ‘Our Father’ with my husband – clinging for some kind of comfort – when I got to ‘Thy Will Be Done’ I choked it out.
I’ve lived a long life.
Not in years but in experiences.
I am a survivor of fundamentalism.
I was raised in the belief that I had no inherent ‘good.’
That the world had no inherent good.
I was beaten. Often. The religion was rigorous and I often rebelled against it.
I knew as a kid there was something inherently wrong with them.
I couldn’t put my finger on it – I mean, the people we talked to were polite, they dressed nice, the churches were nice, they drove nice cars….and in a lot of ways, it wasn’t the worst of circumstances.
Until it was.
And when it was, baby, it was a honey.
I’ve seen and been through things too bizarre to put in 9 books let alone one.
My sisters, can even top my experiences.
Those experiences have put a scar in me, on my heart, so deep it cuts into my very being into the foundation of who I am as a person.
And if I am not careful, those scars, get infected.
I have to be vigilant.
There is an old Sunday School song that goes, “Oh be careful little ears what you hear. Oh be careful little ears what you hear. For the Lord above is looking down – in love – oh be careful little ears what you hear.
It’s in what I hear – that requires the most vigilance.
Like someone who’s had a weather related injury, such as heatstroke, or frostbite or someone who’s come in contact with poison ivy – I’ll always be susceptible to the tone of a message than the actual message itself.
Passion, rhetorical flourish, and charisma are the cornerstone of any good speaker. It’s not really in what they say, that makes us listen, it’s all in the delivery.
Think of your favorite speaker, preacher, politician, or public persona.
Don’t listen to what they say, give that a rest, listen to how they say it.
There’s a lot of umph to their message, a schtick they use, they’re just like you….but they’re not. If they are public speaking, have their starched white shirts rolled up, can deliver a speech without any reservation or nervousness, they haven’t been one of you for a very long time. Most people I know HATE public speaking.
Right now, there is a lot of talk about Nazis and their alter ego – Antifa.
There’s a lot of passionate rhetoric being tossed around by both sides. Promises of violence. Actual acts of violence and confrontations.
A whole lot of passion.
We should always stand against fascism. Always. There’s no room in a free society for authoritarianism. Period. White supremacy and it’s ugly older brother antisemitism and ugly older sister bigotry – ruin and destroy – and have never once created a thing.
It’s led nations into ruins and took its people along for the ride.
And while there is something in the idea of standing up to a Nazi and ‘giving them their just desserts’ violence never creates anything. Like racism and bigotry – violence only begets more violence.
I’ve seen so many people on social media talking about ‘getting ready ‘ for some kind of showdown with the evil that is Nazi’s and no doubt – they are evil.
Yet these same people are unaware, or maybe they are aware, that they are slowly becoming being pushed into the very thing they’re trying to fight against. They become the other side to the same coin.
I feel like a fool when I quote this man, because everyone does who try to drive home a point. Bigots have used this guy, which isn’t too far a stretch since a racist will use Jesus and the Bible to justify their deep rooted hate. But Dr. Martin Luther King stood against much worse, so much worse, and was far more effective in his methodology of passive resistance than any armed conflict can ever accomplish.
War is not about success no matter what General stands up and delivers his speech ‘to the boys’.
War is about failure.
It’s about people failing to come together and work out their issues.
It becomes mindless.
To commit an act of violence against another human being, you have to work yourself up into a state of mindless rage and once that line is crossed – there’s no coming back.
Ask the vets who’ve come back from Iraq and Afghanistan how they feel.
I am not telling you to march. I am not telling you not to resist. I am not telling you to just let them hit you or hurt you. No. You have a right to defend yourself from bodily harm.
All I am asking you to do – is listen not to what your side says – listen to how they’re saying it. Listen to the words they use, not in a way that convinces you to join their cause, but what they are calling for.
The French know about this.
While their revolution was probably 100 percent just. It became a mindless stream of violence and death because people couldn’t back out of the frenzy they found themselves in.
There were so many different factions inside of that event that when someone starts to talk about the French Revolution – you are 100 percent justified in asking, “Which one?”
Are we facing some dark times? Yes. No doubt.
‘ The other’ regardless of where they fit, are in dire straights.
But ladies and gentlemen, there is power in numbers.
Passive resistance like Dr. Kings wasn’t very popular in America. He was murdered for it. Like Christ, he used to the parts of the society in which he lived to shame the wise. He held a mirror up to this country and let it get a good look at itself.
Sure you may face violence and worse when you stand up for what you believe in in any capacity.
But there is one sure fire way you’ll be unable to avoid it and that is by being violent yourself.
A man that lives by the sword will die by it each and every time.
Whoever got a hold of those 15 hijackers used passion to convince them 100 percent of their righteousness. The man who plowed into the crowd of protesters was 100 percent convinced of his righteousness.
The man who sucker punched his little boy, and bounced his head off a tile floor in the kitchen because they were angry, was 100 percent sure – in the heat of the moment – he was right.
Curtail your passions. Or they will destroy everything around you and trust me, there are some fates that are worse than death.

Violence is NEVER the answer. All it does is create a whole myriad and painful questions. Questions like, “Why me?”

What’s worse, is some questions then, have no good answer and because of that – there is are scars that never heal right.

9 published works (poem)

jilbert-ebrahimi-33575

Jilbert Ebrahimi

walking on shattered glass
all that remained of my life..
I stood in the midst of my turmoil
storms had come
and all around me chaos 
reigned in fragments
of my sanctuary

I stood there
hands shoved in my pockets
afraid to take another step
for fear of cutting my feet
all that I was and would be
had exploded into unrecognizable
shards

I didn’t know what to do
I cried for a bit, called out for help
but no answer came
and as the wind swept the curtains
inside the hollowed out home
I’d never felt so lonely

I dried my eyes with my sleeve
cold from the wind and the rain
I found a red tape recorder
I’d been given for Christmas
laying at my feet

kneeling down I cleared a spot
until I had a place to sit
then, with recorder in my lap
I recounted the wolf like
screaming of the wind
and pounding of fists
of thunder and rain

there alone and in the dark
I told my story
nine times
Over and over
adding detail to some
removing names from others
but each time telling the truth

I fell asleep at some point
My head resting on my right arm
the left clutching the recorder
i curled up inside myself
with my truth pressed against my heart

When the dawn woke me
and voices calling out my name
jolted me from a fitful night
filled with nightmare images and ghosts
who’d leaned in to whisper
in my ears
stories children shouldn’t hear
but ones this one knew by heart
I yelled out for God

When I was swept up
I’d realized in horror
that my recorder had been handed
off
and someone had pressed play
in silence of those who’d come
I heard an old man
telling my nine truths back to me

It was motionless in the ruins
No one moved
I couldn’t even hear myself breathe
The world should hear this
The one who held me whispered softly
when the tape ended
I turned to my head to look my husband in the eyes

They did.
Where do you think the storm came from?
He gathered me to him
and in silent reverie
walked me out into the morning sun

Author’s Triumph (poem)

joshua-earle-117661

 

 Joshua Earle

 

 

 

I feel worn out
the words have run dry
disappearing into the air
the finish line behind me
on this mountain I built myself
that once rose out before me

On shaky burning legs
gasping for breath, stitch in my side
I lean over and take in
the ice cold air
somewhere above the clouds
with the sun on my face

The thunder rolls
somewhere beneath me
the rain I’d run through
mixed with my sweat
clinging to my heaving chests
but its silent here

Sixty thousand four hundred
steps I’ve taken
lost my place and slid
on broken pieces of other’s
shattered dreams
I cut my hands
when I skinned my knees
and packed my mouth
with snow

But now, here
atop my mountain
made by me
the sun shines bright
casting my shadow long
behind me
I bask sinking to
my knees
refusing to feel the sting

I’ll float down
it’s always the same
I’ll sink and slide
laughing
down is always easier
than going up
grace, my help, in
the rear-view mirror
and i’ll sleep

then one day
my fingers will itch
and my mind will grow
restless as wanderlust
sets in again
and like some forgotten diety
I’ll summon the rock
from the earth’s deep core
and thrust it twice as high
once again

but for now I’ll stay
in the sunlight above me
surrounded by friends, my husband
my God
casting long shadows back
on the mountain face
clutching the finish line ribbon
as it flutters, broken, in my hand

Dear God (Poem)

 

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Photo By: Lisheng Chang

 

God can you hear me?
Even though my faith has waned?
Even though I’ve abandoned my father’s religion?
I feel empty.
Poured out. 
I can no longer lean on man’s truth anymore
even that wavers and crumbles under my feet
What was, what should have been remembered, is lost.
Truth seems inverted. Relative.
There’s so much gray.
I feel lost.

To the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
I’ve told my story
I grew as still as a sharp intake of breath
before bleeding myself dry over bare bits of parchment
till every drop has been squeezed out of me
I’ve confessed
and yet I feel weak
like I’ve wandered the wilderness for forty years
telling the truth over and over
and yet the shadows still grow long and the sky turns red
and the bread I’ve eaten has turned to stone

Is this what was meant by the tree of knowledge?
is the act of knowing so burdensome that truth alone
can lead a man to die?
that the weight of it can bring sorrow and pain
powerful enough to cripple the heart
and make one doubt even his own mind
was that the fruit so forbidden
that cast man into the void – not the knowledge of sin
but the understanding of it? The wisdom it provides?
is sin simply the essence of our humanity and the hatred
of it our own self destruct button?

I don’t know
and that is the worst of it. It’s like wine
that never slakes the thirst. The more I learn the less
I know and the more I want.
But to learn is to breathe and to cease is to die
While great world religions were all erected in this merry go round of knives
hating absolutely what it cannot cease doing unless they cease to be
but cannot cease to be by their own hand lest they cast themselves into eternal uncertainty
which is more uncertain than this …this…whatever it is this is.

Is it balance? Is that it?
Acceptance of it all? The light in the dark and the male in the female? is it this that would bring me comfort?
Were the easterners right when they uttered
Namyoho Renge Kyo?
Was Buddha, like Moses, a prophet telling everyone just to calm down?
That even in the muck and mire of who we are
we are still the beauty that manages somehow to emerge triumphant?
Should I fill myself with that?

Dear God, am I going to be okay?

Thy Will be Done –
but you have some explaining to do.

Okay, Teen Vogue, Let’s talk Sex. But let’s talk about all of it.

First off, I’m Gay.
Secondly, I’m a little weirded out by this whole thing. I think having gay sex in a sex ed course is important.
That being said I’m not so sure about Teen Vogue posting a ‘how to guide’ when it comes to anal sex.
For a couple of reasons:
A) Anal Sex isn’t for everyone. I know a lot of gay men who don’t do it. This has been somehow turned into ‘all the way’ in the gay romance m/m version of Paradise by the Dashboard Light. It isn’t. Cut the crap. 
C) I know teenagers have sex. I’m not stupid. Abstinence only education doesn’t work. I grew up evangelical baptist – it didn’t work there either. Trust me. That’s how you end up with the aforementioned HIV stats and that isn’t factoring teen pregnancy. 
So far we’ve just talked mechanics.
But sex is far more complicated than just the act itself. I wish there was an open and honest conversation about ALL of the things that come with sex – stuff adults have a hard time wading through let alone some kid who’s bodies and brain aren’t fully developed. Who’s emotions aren’t fully developed.
Basically, I wished I had someone to talked to me about sex in the same fashion that say women get talked to about sex. With a firm understanding that sex =/= love and love doesn’t always require having to be naked. That there was a worth to me more than what I can do with my body. Young gay men need to hear this and they never do. As a matter of fact, they spend their whole lives being told their less or worse.
When I first had sex I was twenty and it was with a woman.
I was ugly. I was overweight. I had bad skin. I was my own birth control.
But then I lost a lot of weight and got really really cute. And that got me a lot of attention.
When I did have sex with a man, a couple of years later, I wasn’t emotionally ready.
I was reckless, careless, and stupid. I never used a condom. Ever. And while I didn’t end up HIV positive by some miracle, I’d fucked my heart up and become so jaded that when real love showed up, actually showed up, I was bitter. I couldn’t see it. I almost destroyed my relationship with my husband before it ever really started.
Because like it or not – sex does something to you. Inside. Mentally and emotionally.
Maybe that’s not the way it will be for them, but God, shouldn’t we spend a couple of years emotionally reinforcing these kids before we throw them out into the world of Kama Sutra?
D) While I understand the article said to use a condom – there are adults who won’t. Who use Prep as if it’s a cure all pill and don’t consider HIV’s older siblings that can be just as deadly if left untreated or just as permanent. 
E) While the right is dedicated to being socially retarded, and their bigotry is an emotional investment in ignorance, I think the far left is becoming just as reckless and irresponsible in their short sightedness. Don’t be so ready in your efforts to declare love is love if you won’t come out and say sex isn’t love. It isn’t the same. And while you’ve been getting heat from ding bat people for this article, you have a responsibility to teenagers to give them the whole truth about what it is your selling to them. 
F) I know the second leading cause of death for people ages 10 – 24, is suicide. Bullying is at an epic level in our country. These kids need emotional reinforcement. They need positive role models. They need space to just be kids. Some of them have shitty parents. Some of them have shitty religious figures, bad school lives, a flood of negative things said about them. Horrible Politicians. Hell, Michelle Bachmann couldn’t keep kids alive in the district she was head of, as a matter of fact, according to this article it seemed like certain people there were actively trying to get these kids to kill themselves or were turning a blind eye because they thought these kids were better off dead than gay,  http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/07/michele-bachmann-teen-suicide/
http://www.thetrevorproject.org/pages/facts-about-suicide
In this political climate, Jesus, especially in THIS POLITICAL CLIMATE ….come on.
G) Some people might roll their eyes calling this ‘slut shaming’ or ‘Don’t do as I did, Do as I say.” To the first people, go to hell. You know the way kids can be, you know the way some ADULTS can be, don’t set these people up for failure. This doesn’t concern you .
To the second, to some young adult that might read this,  You’re right. I sound like a hypocrite. I wish I could go back and undo what I’d been through now that I know what love is.  And it isn’t because ‘I got a man’, either. Love was with me the whole time. I just didn’t have a mom and dad who cared enough about me to let me know that in the beginning. So I went looking for it in other ways that, looking back, took from me instead of gave me anything. There’s so much being thrown at you now. It’s so confusing and overwhelming. I am not saying don’t do it. I am just saying, “You don’t have to.” No one would ever think less of you. And if they did, then they don’t respect you. You deserve respect.
Can I give you one more piece of advice? Be a kid as long as you can. The adult stuff isn’t much fun. We don’t ‘have it down’ any better than you do.  Except now we have the added bonus of paying taxes. It’s bullshit. Take all the time you need. You’re so worth it.
And if you’re a young adult who may have had sex but you’re not so sure if you want to again – there’s no shame in saying, “I want to focus on school. SAT’s are coming up. ACT’s are coming up. Prom. College Applications.”  Just know you’re worth waiting for.
H) If I were a parent and my kid brought this home. I’d be pissed.
I) This was the best sex talk I’d wished I had. If you don’t believe me, Listen to ‘Kurt’s Dad’ from ‘Glee’. 

Fucking excuses (poem)

tyler-mcrobert-85470

 

 

I am so tired of the fucking excuses
friendships, relationships, existence excluded
concluded for what?
are we that fragile
is thinking, now, something frowned upon?
staying true to a person now passe?
is it all relative?
Love is not love that turns its back and walks
stop spreading bullshit – this isn’t a garden

9/10ths of the problems of the world
are rooted in the idea that a person has a right to another
I can own you and can therefore do to you what I want
Whether you’re talking about police brutality
or when people let their fandom that much access to their lives – people will move the fuck in and will take up whatever room you allot them.
Are you for real? Still not clicking in to this?
How about when a grown ass woman – not some nasty side hoe
doesn’t reduce herself, her dreams, her ambition so he can feel needed?
Feel me now?
He couldn’t own her, she wasn’t on the auction block, so he left.

And in my case I stood up for some Jews
those are the fucking people you hate when you WANT
to become a bigot. They’re a racist’s training wheels.
I could have said that a lot nicer
But I don’t pretend to be someone I’m not
There was no ‘welcome to my parlor said the spider
to the fly’ sign on my door
I’ll kiss your ass for the same reason I do your laundry
and that’s only because we’re fucking.

I am sure there are people here
who are tired of being hurt because they put a down
payment on the bullshit someone sold them
and when it started to crumble moved heaven
and earth to make the relationship work
only to find the property was in foreclosure to begin with
but goddamn – the things we’ll do just to hear someone say
they love us
What we trade in for just one more night in their bed
or one more phone call, book sale, a nice word
for what? In fifty years I won’t remember their last names
and neither will you
So stop letting people treat you like their side chick.
all or nothing
no more fucking excuses.

Life’s Banquet

 

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Who I am here, is who I am in real life
Memes and comments aside
I’m nice to people who are nice to me
and I don’t acknowledge the existence of others who aren’t

It’s not difficult really
its a matter of simply shutting a door
walking away and moving on down the long winding road
to another face, another chance meeting, a conversation
stuck up like a match

There are literally seven and a half billion people on earth
all with varying degrees of wit and humor
surely I’ll find another conversation worthy of my time among them
Maybe a volcanologist in Bali who has an affinity for sharp cheddar

It takes a certain kind of person, really
someone wrapped up inside of who they are
to think that one should starve themselves from sampling
life’s banquet – for a chance taste of you

my odds are better ‘out there’
in this nebulous thing we call the world
and quite frankly although my pallet is easily pleased
I find honesty of character far more to my liking
than pleasantries for pleasantries sake

No, I am no Nobel Prize winner
No Oxford Scholar, Poet Laureate, hell, I barely graduated high school
Yet I have lived a full life, have sipped from the cup of pain and joy
and I speak full throated about the flavors that broke over my tongue

So, if that speech bothers you too much
I’ll take my leave as soon as you think I should
for although my feet are calloused from years of walking
morning will break over the horizon the same as it did before

Not Pretty (poem)

 

filip-mroz-183341

 

It was hard to watch your taillights disappear
as I stood there at two o’clock in the morning
the stale taste of angry words burning the back of my throat
held in and swallowed down
because you cut me off, shut me down, and walked away

For the last week or so I’ve mourned you
but you’re not dead – you’re just gone
the conversations we’d had, the times we laughed, the intimate things I told you
are now gone away from me and I don’t know how to be

It’s not like you were my lover
you didn’t know me that way but that made this more pure
there was just the need to be together
and i showed you more than my body ever could
you were my friend

But you hit me with your drive by goodbye
your words – bullets, shattering my perception of you
and all the angry shit I want to say just stumbles
out of my mouth and onto the floor unused and tired
before they melt into nothingness

I’m hurt and I miss you and I’ve never felt this naked before
you were a constant voice in my head
and now all I can do is hear myself talk
but I can’t do that again – even if your headlights were to wash over me now
since i haven’t moved from the spot I was in
I’m too afraid you’d leave when I am not pretty

Educated Lamentations

 

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It’s weird these thoughts in my head
words spoken to me in the midst
of stacks of books, reams of paper,
and a student load debt I cannot afford

It’s strange this sacrament placed on my tongue
though bitter to the taste and damaging to the bliss
of ignorance and a sheltered life
where I was shrouded in a perpetual state
of nebulous Christo-centric fundibabble

I was liberated into something hard and bright
naked and irreverent to the soft cushion of church pews
no, this place was hard and harsh and loud
for I was delivered out of my ignorance and handed
into the hands of my own responsibility

It is a place of jagged and haggard edges
and where truthes – while constant and vigilant –
were few and further between than the innumerable angels
supposedly adorning the crown of my head
as I lay myself down to sleep

Liberated but not liberalized
the truth doesn’t care what you believe
nor does it care about the slope of your spine
and the drawing down of your smile and the shadows
etched thick and black around your eyes
as the weight of truth rests upon mortal shoulders

While there are pleasures here in abundance
if you’re lucky enough to find a hand to hold
the process isolates men into their own thoughts
the likes of which not even the warmest hand
can pluck us out of when we wander in too far

Who am I to know the thoughts of a King
Sword drawn in utter defiance of the uncertain future?
Why should I know the memory of the slave trod
underneath by the boots of men of my own race
Where do I stand as I visit the Boot Hill
filled with Christians and Jews and Muslims who died
for a God that never spoke aloud to either?

How did we manage to keep from wiping each other out
when the falcon could no longer hear the falconer?
When does the human race break through the surface and come up for air after it’s self inflicted baptism of fire?

To none of these questions do i hold an answer save for the last one.
What happened to me that put lines on my face and gray hair in my beard?
It’s simple a thing, really, no mystery at all I suppose
I partook of the fruit of the tree of good and evil
or as lay people put it – received an education.