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Archive for the ‘poetry’ Category

i want to write

something beautiful
something slow
something careful

as wide as this space

something soft
something calm
something you won’t forget

a secret you’ve known
a phrase that means enough
something between its lines

more than just clues
answers
better chances

more than i should tell you

but this pen won’t move.
and i can’t
won’t
can’t
won’t make it.

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Gimme an F: “F!”
That’s right an R and then two E’s.
I need a Verse: “Verse!”
Just soul clap and sing with me:
“We want it Friday! ‘Cuz Friday the Verse is Free!”
Welcome back, ya’ll, to the Change I Wish to See.

_____________________

So, I probably should’ve posted this weeks ago; you know, somewhere around Mother’s Day.  I wrote it years ago, with my mom in mind, though I realized later that it wasn’t exactly her story.

It’s about a child watching his mother stand on a porch and struggle with the decision to walk away from her husband.  The kid is concerned about her fear but encouraged by her strength, and so he pushes her to be a little selfish.

Happy Friday and thanks for stopping by.

heroine

you say you’re running away
that you won’t look back
and you won’t be afraid.
but he, knows
you’d be gone by now,
if you meant it.
he says, “come inside,
it’s the wreck of the day
and you can’t save nothin
til the stars slip away.”
you pull your hope to your heart
and lift your head to the sky.

don’t dry your eyes,
let it go.
there’s so much more than this to life.
don’t become his sacrifice.
live another day to fight.
it’s okay to cry,
let it go.
but there’s a world outside this porch, you know,
and if you leapt into the depths of it,
you would be my heroine.

you remember the days,
when your eyes bled tears
down the sides of your face.
but you vowed “better or worse”
and he vowed “never again.”
he begs, “come inside”
and he calls you by name;
and it sounds so sweet
when he calls you his babe.
you drop your head in your hands,
trying to hide all the fear.

don’t dry your eyes,
let it go.
there’s so much more than this to life.
don’t become his sacrifice.
live another day to fight.
it’s okay to cry,
let it go.
but there’s a world outside this porch, you know,
and if you leapt into the depths of it,
you would be my heroine.

it’ll be okay –
you’re stronger than he knows.
you’re gonna be ok –
the road won’t wind for long.
it’ll be okay –
you’re so scared of what may come,
but just push those fears aside,
there’s nothing left to risk alone.
and if you fall,
my heart was made for two,
and i’d gladly give up half of me
when you’ve given all of you…

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Gimme an F: “F!”
That’s right an R and then two E’s.
I need a Verse: “Verse!”
Just soul clap and sing with me:
“We want it Friday! ‘Cuz Friday the Verse is Free!”
Welcome back, ya’ll, to the Change I Wish to See.
_____

breakup

It’s gorgeous out, at least in DC.  So let’s just get to the goods, shall we?

Today’s FVF is just a story about a breakup (see picture above).  There’s a guy, and there’s a girl.  Below the story, there are three videos completely unrelated to this post because I wanted to laugh.  The first?  I can’t be sure, but I think it’s the part of Coming to America that featured Adam Lambert from Idol on vocals.  The second is a pretty good example of how I’m going to leave the bar tonight.  And the third, well, just see for yourself.

Happy Friday.  Thanks for stopping by.

_____

science fiction

she cries
from behind a smile to comfort me
as she says, “you know we’ve got no chemistry
it’s just science fiction
it’s just science fiction”

her hand
is warm but won’t stop shaking
and she stares
at the cup, the floor, just anything
to keep from falling in again,
a place there’s no escaping;
or so she promises
but here we are
as she starts vanishing

and this time
the only surprise waiting
is for her
she won’t find me begging
i’ve seen this play before
she treats us like we’re staging
and she honestly
don’t know i know she’s faking

so she smiles
like a smile right now could comfort me
as she says, “you know we’ve got no chemistry
it’s just science fiction
it’s just science fiction”

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Gimme an F: “F!”
That’s right an R and then two E’s.
I need a Verse: “Verse!”
Just soul clap and sing with me:
“We want it Fri, day! ‘Cuz Friday the Verse is Free!”
Welcome back, ya’ll, to the Change I Wish to See.

______

Mornings, mornings.

A few administrative items before we get started:

1. That good-for-nothing, scoundrel bird was back yesterday! It thinks my house is an aviary. Next time I catch it, there’s gonna be a misunderstanding. Whatever it’s running from outside this house has nothing on me. Me thinks it should pick its battles more wisely.
2. Yet a new phrase has brought someone to this blog. This one is worse than the last one I pointed out. So, again, follow this footnote at your own risk.¹

But we’ve got more important business…

It’s FVF.

pic-0008

Politics as Usual is my baby.  It’s something I wrote and performed as spoken word not too long after 9/11: long enough for the veil of politically convenient straw-Americanism to drop, but not long enough for enough people to notice.  It’s not specifically geared for our current political climate and I’d lose more credibility than I even have if I suggested nothing has changed since.

But with this era’s lifted veil being that which made Wall Street the Oz to the government’s wizard, I figured the words still apply.  Here’s some excerpts.

Happy Friday!


some of it’s betrayal.
i’ve never been very trusting;
quick to see promises as lies with good intentions.
so it should go without mention,
that to break the modicum of trust i lease
requires an acute sense of indecency.

nonetheless, i stand here in a web of deceit
i didn’t weave, but never broke;
like in a third-party supervisor role.
i didn’t start the fire
but as i saw the flames rise,
i never cried out, afraid to cry “fire”
in this over-crowded theatre
where stage right there’s water,
and a blanket stage left,
but i plant myself in the middle,
stagefront, immobile, inept.
trying to put Iraq, Iran, Korea and the Syrians,
Israelis, Palestinians, Somalians, Liberians,
Cubans, Afghanis, Indians and Pakistanis,
South African, Haitian and West European conflagration
into the background for now;
trying to focus on us;
trying to break this cycle.

it’s been 200 years
and still we haven’t changed.
instead of answering Cornell’s questions about race,
we write about how the big millennium move
is from the Land Rover to the Range.
nobody changes the rules,
so we’re playing the same old game.
nobody dares to move,
so we’re stuck in the same old place.
and while everyone knows the truth,
we tell the lies just to save face.

we create associations for advancement,
but never administrations;
throw Puerto Rican Day parades,
but try to Americanize their nation.
we push free trade with Asia
only to shrink-wrap its culture into novelty souvenirs.
we strive to correct those quick to synonymize
“Islam” with “terror,”
but legalize the “random” searching of young men
with olive complexions and beards.

because, as usual,
we’re quick to set parameters
and slow to understand
that the only things boundaries define,
are the cracks through which exceptions slip.

but we’re stuck in a groove:
one step forward, two steps back.
every generation hoping the next one picks up the slack.
every child blaming his or her future on the past.
every visionary wondering if they’ll be the last.

it’s crucial
that in these unusually familiar times
we do everything but politics as usual.

let’s write the history our ancestors dreamed.

_____

¹Ready? “Handjob cum killing.” Not kidding. What kind of real-life Rocky Horror Picture Show madness is going on around here? I said the guy should’ve been a handjob; not that he should die from drowning in the result. For god’s sake, man.  Get a hold on your self interwebs.

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Gimme an F: “F!”
That’s right an R and then two E’s.
I need a Verse: “Verse!”
Just soul clap and sing with me:
“We want it Fri, day! ‘Cuz Friday the Verse is Free!”
Welcome back, ya’ll, to the Change I Wish to See.
______

Mornings.

It’s Friday which means I try a little harder than usual and share something from a notebook of mine, in an effort to remember I actually have notebooks and journals and stacks of loose-leaf paper filled with stuff.

My brother’s in town this week. He’s in town for work. The NPO he works for has sponsored a sightseeing/community service spring break for the students they advise. Most of that mentoring is school-related – not strictly academic, but school-based nonetheless. And, so, inspired by the conversations we’ve had about how hard non-profit educational work is and the fact that both of our parents were teachers at one point in their careers, this week’s FVF is excerpts from Classroom Ramblings. I actually wrote it in class, hence the name. The professor in front of the room of maybe 15 students was actually managing to make a class called “Religions Wage Peace” boring. It was written to be spoken word, something I miss doing and how I finally found my stride in college.

Even if you don’t read, though, skip to the bottom to watch the video. Classic, classic soul.

we’ve cried, “No child left behind!
but even I’ve been left behind
a bunch too many times.
and I didn’t even grow up with roaches and rats,
ant lines on walls, asbestos in cracks.
so imagine what it’s like when your textbooks are yellow –
not the binding, the pages have turned –
and the government detracts funds,
it won’t add sums,
’cause your standardized math sums
are half the highest ones.
professors spit doctrine with no true credentials
the only profession with so few professionals.
might-as-well teachers get long-term contracts
while real communicators get pink-slips in cutbacks.

at recess, brothers used to push sisters on swings
but now they push rocks to rock rocks that bling;
kindergartners rock kicks that kick rocks at kids
’cause Schoolhouse Rock don’t rock like it did.
kids think the Shot Heard ‘Round the World
is when 50 and Ja wound up verbs and hurled.

new kids on the block don’t learn the right stuff
all you hear from teens is “dude, life sucks.”
and what about the kid whose mind is dyslexic?
he just learns to rhyme so he can drive this Lexus.
no one gives a damn about the problems at hand.
we plan the future like the present has a chance.
we tell our youth to dream and dream big,
but if you can’t spell “dream”
how you gonna know what one is?

tell me why we violate basic scholastic rights;
why kids entitled to bike rides lie victim to gunfights.
we assign varsity letters for athletic efforts
to kids who can’t write one
but sure can serve a sentence…
______

This song by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes is what always pops into my head whenever I think about education and the imperative that it becomes progressive education. It’s called “Wake Up Everybody” and it’s timeless.*

______

*In the second half of the first verse, it should be “Wake up all you teachers, time to teach a new way, maybe then they’ll listen to what you have to say…”  Normally I wouldn’t correct an artist on his own song, but the difference is important.

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¡Bienvenidos a Free Verse Friday!  It’s the day when I share something different than banter and prose and hope it reads wherever you are as it sounds when I hear it, here, on my side of the interwebs.

But before we get to the content…

You know those moments in which you expect noise and so it’s the silence that’s alarming?  That pretty much describes why I took down last Friday’s post (temporarily).  It’s ironic, actually.  I took it down because of something I thought, not because of anything that was said; certainly nothing on this blog.  It’s out of context here, and I don’t want to simply rehash the issue, but the text itself read: “…my roommate and I were black.”

Quite obviously, being black is something not subject to change.  And since I’m of the belief that being black is also not learnable behavior or a style capable of emulation, I thought the irrefutably factual nature of the statement would be funny.  I stand by that.  But as with any life’s path, there are things on mine I’m constantly trying to outrun, even if they be spirits some think I concoct out of madness.  And one of those things is the constant sensation that many of the people I’ve met don’t find me black “enough.”

It breaks my heart, but I’m not paranoid about this.  This isn’t systematized delusion.  I’ve been told this, quite frankly, by many people shockingly unafraid to admit they thought so.  And so any, and every, time I step out my front door – literally at home, figuratively on this blog – I wonder how I’ll be perceived by my own.  Because it’s stupidly unfortunate, but I don’t consider it a fair choice to choose to ignore it.  It certainly isn’t that I consciously try to respond to situations “blackly;” again, that’s a fallacy: it can’t be done.  But I do measure observations of my self in the eyes of people.  I take notes.  And so this feeling reared its head last Friday, and I panicked that someone would consider that line I wrote indicative of everything they had come to believe about me: a guy uninterested in being in line with his race.

I took it down because the silence was maddening.  I had posted the link on clandestine-stalker-haven Facebook.  Those of you who read this blog regularly know my advocacy.  But what were other people thinking?  Who read it?  Had I just solidified a reputation I’d never be able to escape?  I still don’t know those answers.  Nonetheless, I soon decided I like my reputation as someone willing to honestly present his self as he sees himself, even in the face of challenge, just fine.

And so I hope the writing below doesn’t seem like a cop out.  It’s something I wrote during college when a girlfriend said she needed to perform, on behalf of her sorority, a poem honoring black men.  I was her ghostwriter.  Posting it is not an attempt to appease anyone who doubts my “allegiance to the cause,” but instead a chance to pound my chest as affirmation of the person many judge too quickly to see.

It’s not that long; so if you read it, thanks.  But if not, I’d still love to hear from you today.  Help me make this post more than just my own story.  I’d love to know about a group or class of people you’re a part of.  Have you ever felt uninvited despite so clearly wearing the membership card across your chest?  Not feminine enough…  Not masculine enough… What have you done when those like the you you can’t change tell you you aren’t them?

As always, thanks for stopping by.

you waltz the room
from the doorway to your table.
you smile quickly, and then it hits me:
i’ve seen you in my dreams.

you’re that knight
in copper-toned, dark chocolate or caramel armor
from a long line of brown-skinned royalty;
whose most precious jewels aren’t the frost around your neck,
but the heart on your sleeve
and that smile that rescues me,
even if just for a moment…
and i can forgive the world
its indiscretions,
the heartache of its misperceptions
and its inability to honor the beauty in our imperfections.

’cause see, the lesson you teach is redemption:
that no dose of depression cures oppression.
so, you walk.
no.
you saunter, in with a swagger,
and i smile through the tears.

’cause who but you
knocked down for everything –
from the sag in your pants
to the curl of your hair,
the way you make love
and the genius they can’t see –
could rise head held high
and march to the rhythm
of his own pomp and circumstance?

you’re so versatile, you adapt
so well they don’t even know it’s an act.
truth is, you’re like Denzel:
washing tons of pain away
for the audience’s sake.
’cause every time you step out your door,
you’re on stage,
trying to convince them
you won’t steal her purse,
that your backpack really does have books without pictures in it,
that you never even jaywalked, let alone shot a man…

but when the award ceremonies come around,
you’re always overlooked.
so this is your award.
you can’t put it on your mantle,
but you can wear it on your soul.
and you can tell your sons
our daughters will always understand.

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It is Free Verse Friday (FVF), but first I want to thank all of you for yesterday.  It wasn’t my moment, and so it feels selfish to admit how much it mattered to me.  But it did.  And if you plan on being at Marvin tonight around 8, I’ll thank you in person.

 

But the business…  Yesterday, I promised today would be a conclusion to that entry.  And it is.  This is an excerpt of something I wrote about a year ago.  If you want the whole thing, I’d be honored to email it to you.

If you know me, I’m one of the quintessential child of divorce types: I don’t think I’d make a good dad, afraid I’d…  I don’t know.  It’s irrational.  And it works itself out irrationally; like with this excerpt, one of many things I’ve written about what it would be like to be a dad.

These few words are about what I’d have to say to a son to explain to him the world he’s inherited.  Because whenever he’d become real, that would be it.  That would have been the best I could do, as far as making him a better world is concerned.  There’d be no more prep time.  And in light of the cartoon from Wednesday, it’s obvious there’s a lot to be done before I could proudly answer the questions I imagine he’d ask.

Thanks for stopping by.  Looking forward to seeing as many of you as can come tonight.

 

i don’t know god
but i’ve seen her in my dreams,
so i’m writing this open letter
just in case she reads.

but there’s no time,
i need more time,
to change it all
before he comes;
’cause once he comes
then there’s no time,
it’s way too late,
he’ll be my son.

so what do i do?
i can’t lie;
no, wait, no: that’s a lie.
but i can’t lie to kids, i can’t:
there’s something in their eyes.
so if i can’t fix the world
before he comes to question truth,
i’ll answer:
“the best defense against the rain’s
a pair of sturdy boots.

“because there will be many
who smile
to watch you fall from grace;
but there’ll be some not satisfied
unless they pull you down themselves,
who wanting more
than the discourtesy
of stabbing you in the back,
bask in the injustice
of doing it to your face.”

and i pray we’re not so blinded
by hatred and fight
that the DNA we give our kids
fails to give them sight.

because this letter is a poem
and this poem is a plea,
that my son,
the new black man,
knows not the trouble i’ve seen.

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