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Dirty Window


An hour after I named my blessings
will, determination, and aint gone take but so much shit
I got up, opened my mind and the curtains
and sat with my pen looking out a dirty window
hoping for a muse
who could whisper purpose so eloquently
I saw a playground called
what big momma birthed
where 3 children played
like aint nobody profiling
like aint no sad songs on the tongues of
choirs dressed in shadows
like the sky been the only trusted blue
like the sun been spotlight
like that earth be stage
I saw those babies put on a show
with faces more animated than television
and smiles dancing between check bones
3 hearts, 2 bodies, 1 spirit
2 sets of footprints in the mud
and I knew a blessing was there
present where time ticks too fast
and yesterday can’t remember anyone’s phone numbers
and I prayed
prayed that insincerity would never wash my window clean
or I might lose my understanding of each beautiful smudge
might forget each dusty promise
each speck of why
that lets us know what tomorrow is worth
because this world makes us believe that a wash
is better than transformation but
I know only in the midst of darkness can you understand light
so only covered in dirt can your soul be cleansed
see these 2 young souls were playing free
with a friend teaching them to build with imagination
preparing them for when we tear this all apart
and I was thankful that guardians
come from up above with degrees in
engineering and innocence

I looked out a dirty window
and saw a couple holding hands
tears down his face
because what he held onto
couldn’t hold his heart together any longer
See he was tired
Tired of hoping strength would come tomorrow
Wishing he could shed the weight
of everything gone wrong before
The unwanted goodbyes that found
refuge in his gut feeling that the next
would be like that last
So he decided to workout
the hesitation he had been grappling with
Because faith without works
is a lonely affirmation that the dead of night
aint got no room for saints and sanctuaries,
only lies and lust
So as grace held his heart
and looked him in his eyes
He got down on one knee & asked
for the now and forever he planned 3 days ago
once he hung his worry on the star crossed love
God gave this lonely forgotten son
with only the blessed belief in his spirit
that the rock he moved along her finger
would resurrect the revelation
that happiness exists
As her tears joined his
I thanked the Lord for this miracle of sight because
It’s hard to see love when your blind to yourself
and he seemed to find the answer
in the reflection from the wet
along her cheeks
so cry y’all, cry

I was looking out a dirty window
and saw wings spread
saw the sun smile, the clouds blow kisses
and the wind clear the way
for a flight path to heaven
I saw eyes look towards me
and hands wave goodbye
felt joy deep and full
exhaled I miss you
holding fingertips to window panes
wishing to reach you once again
can’t we just talk for a moment
can’t you tell me what to put on this page
aint it supposed to get easier
aint the weather report supposed to love me
what I am supposed to do with these storms
Don’t just leave with me the words
I want you to read these stories to me
and put my insecurities to rest
so I can reach my dreams
see angels rise with the dawn
God’s arms welcome them
and it’s a wonder
to see his presence
where we need it most
in the midst of hard times,
where peace is waiting,
insight is available, and breakthrough is inevitable
I know it’s true now, tangible and within reach
but would have never been ready
to receive it
If I didn’t sit down
and look through my dirty window

Alchemy

the-alchemist

we are two alchemists
you and I
trying to purify, mature,
and perfect our lives
trying to turn dust
into wisdom
turn bruises
into rain forests
turn sidewalks
into flower beds

we managers of elixirs and emotions
paper and words
we blessed dreamers
adept at making miracles out of trash
ready to smile at those who believe
that we belong amongst the heap
we make breakthroughs
out of the roads less traveled,
pave trials and tribulations with asphalt,
and believe our destiny is
never the destination
but what we learn to bear
between the shoulders of the road

I have tried everything
to help you recognize
that there is glory in your presence
and not just your practice
that you can be seen for more
than what you do
and appreciated for more
than what you give
so now I sit amidst these sands
with elements in hand
trying to mix you a new horizon
and when dawn turns to dusk
I will paint the words of others
across the night sky
and hope that you read your belonging
in relative constellations

I have been reading the wonder in your smile
for some time now
held book clubs in recognition
of the amazing in God’s penmanship
I’ve given him a head’s up
for the good work
his nod back
is to the baseline of beauty
paced by the steps
you take into a room
style and grace perfectly placed
on beat
turning any floor
into a well versed runway

because of your past
you seem to think you are
disconnected from the dynamic
destiny colored your skin
not long after you were born
so I continue to think of ways
to remind you
that what you have dealt with
was never intended to be
your burden
it was intended to be affirmation
that you are so much more

It’s hard work
when this man’s world
puts so much effort in trying to
remind you rib
rather than value you magic
but you are so deserving beloved
so here I sit
with will and determination
hoping each additive
blends perfectly
like how your eyes, lips,
courage, resilience
insight, and compassion
blend perfectly

I chose these sands
to craft this revelation
because it is here that my tears
and desire for your happiness
can turn this into a paradise
of glass
where you will never stop
being reminded of
the wonder you are
for it seems my eyes
have not been enough

we are two alchemists
you and I
trying to purify, mature,
and perfect our lives
trying to turn wind
into affirmation
turn mistakes
into water falls
turn parking lots
into embraces

but what good is this ability
if all I can do
is watch this world
make you question
how powerful
of a blessing
you’ve become

“Before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which most people give up. It’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the dessert, ‘one dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.’” – Paulo Coelho, “The Alchemist”

Pengatory

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I remember looking into the eyes of the woman I was prepared to give my heart to as she explained to me how I might not be the one for her. I was searching for something there to give me hope that this wasn’t going to be the end. All I found was a perception of me that wasn’t going to change any time soon. It broke my heart. But what hurt even worse was what she said next. She told me that it was going to make for great poems.

I have heard this often since then. I might have heard it many times before but after that fateful goodbye I hear it differently. It is well know that poets are inspired by life. That means that both the ups and downs call to the poet to put pen to paper. Those who get to read or hear the poems crafted love them. We see ourselves in them, we hear our stories, and we celebrate the perspective presented. We can’t wait for more.

The thing is, that beautiful eloquence is sometimes tied to hurt. Hurt that we have to revisit to write the next powerful recollection. You love that Mary album and cant wait for the next one? That requires Mary to trudge through the landfill one mo gin to have you in your feelings singing at the top of your lungs on your next drive to work. It touches your spirit. It tears hers apart.

“That’s going to make a great poem!”

So…errr…um…Who said I wanted a great poem instead? I might’ve wanted the situation to work out.

“That’s going to make a great poem!”

I’m bleeding. I think I might want surgery, stitches, and some pain medicine. Oh, and some ice cream.

“That’s going to….” *grabs they’re face with each palm* DON’T DO IT…DON’T YOU DARE DO IT!!!

For many poetry is catharsis. It is a release. It is intended to bring relief. It is a way to process, grow, and move on. It is not a consolation prize at the carnival of jacked all to hell situations. Walk out of the state fair with a big plastic bag of stuffed animals and you look like a god. Walk out of the last 6 months of soul crushing heartache with a journal full of poems and you look like the Joker. And I mean Heath Ledger’s joker. Some of you look like Jared Leto’s joker.

Purgatory is the intermediate state after death where souls await purification so that they can enter heaven. Pengatory is where you are stuck in the great poem state of Real Hurt hoping the roaring applause for your pain helps you purify yourself for happiness after. But if the affirmation of the applause becomes the prize, then when do you feel comfortable letting go? When do you move on?

But hey, what do I know. See that woman who sent me packing with low self esteem and the well wishes of future poems inspired a few dope poems, and a couple songs, and a book project. So I know that good can come from pain. But I would rather it didn’t. Ultimately, I just don’t want to be Mary’s dancing at the Bad Boy reunion concert.

 

 

Glass Cases

usher box

We are the children of glass blowers.
Hands clasped together.
Knees touching the earth
That taught them how
To birth things that grow,
beat fruit, and give to others,
until they die.
Glass blowers whose wishes
to the Carpenter
that sits on high
become part and parcel promises,
pieces to glass cases
covering us in grace.

We pieces of wonder,
memories of times past
longing for tomorrow to come.
We be knick knack,
trophy,
admirable qualities draped
on mannequins.
We be fine china,
snapshots of happy and unsure,
things none has had
or that others have had but
no longer want.

We sit on thrones,
in tombs,
on cross wood,
in prisons.
The plate at the bottom
holds the names we are given
bur may or may not have earned.
It sits there until replaced
by numbers, a dash, and
remembrances rewritten
by guilt and could have beens.

When you see me
those are not bruises.
They are smudges
I pray the next caretaker
will Windex clean.
What’s here is priceless
but closed off.
They key is in my eyes.
Too many have fiddled
with my lock of a tongue
to never get close enough
to know the inner me.
Some have tried the smash
and grab,
but my mother has
unwavering faith.
She has prayed and cried
until the vision of me is
shatterproof,
bulletproof,
but doesn’t protect
from the trauma of seeing
the attempts come and go.

When your purpose and destiny,
worth and wisdom,
aptitude and ability,
Is on display.
You learn what gaze
Feels like.
You learn that gawkin
is a seductive
dance.
That sometimes presence
isn’t possibility,
it’s momentary possession.
Without the key
it’s just an exhibition.

You and me,
we know these glass cases.
These cursed gifts
of safe distance and deniability.
We know too many living rooms
we never considered home,
too many bedrooms
we never felt completely comfortable in.
We have felt trapped in hallways
where people seem to eager
to pass our pain by.
Know too well that shrines
can be adored or despised
but still left to dust or decay.

We be held on to
for others to enjoy.
We be window shopping fantasy.
We be one day I’ll be able
to get that.
We be look what I captured.
We be look.
Look at that.
Come here look at this.
Look now.
Look later.
Walk past and never look at all.

We be here.
Help up by divinity,
shielded by hope
for all the world
to see

Speaking for a Cure

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A dawn without the sun
A night without the moon
Is a day without the light
A life gone too soon
So I’m gone speak about it
So I’m gone spit about it
With hope in the wind
Tomorrow in the skies
Til the cure is in our grasp
we keep our eyes on the prize
So I’m gone speak about it
So I’m gone spit about it

Leaves turn and fall in autumn
We rake the ground clear
and wait for Mother Nature
to begin the process again
To restore the forest in what was there
But what happens when the trees stay bare
When a winter’s cold
Springs into a summer’s heat
When deficiency in your immune system
keeps the cycle from being complete
Each infection or complication
Takes it’s toll
T cell count lowered
until trees weaken
Decaying at the root
When they touch ground
With no one but their loved ones around
How does the pain sound
Is it jarring enough to face the truth
We need a cure
Support for those dedicated to an answer
Awareness raised
Initiatives backed
Stories heard
Until lives can be saved

A dawn without the sun
A night without the moon
Is a day without the light
A life gone too soon
So I’m gone speak about it
So I’m gone spit about it
With hope in the wind
Tomorrow in the skies
Til the cure is in our grasp
we keep our eyes on the prize
So I’m gone speak about it
So I’m gone spit about it

More than 1 million in the US affected
So many more around the world
Developing nations struggling
for necessary medications
Minority communities here juggling
the rise of new cases
I just see the faces
Heaven made amazing
that will be lost too soon
They are the reason we seek
Optimism held
Berlin, France, Mississipi
It’s the reason to be in these streets
Passion ignited
Courage to persevere and endure
Inspires our search for a cure
Antiretrovirals maintain
Vaccines and topical treatments
being sought to prevent
But those faces
They shed tears for a cure
So we push
we learn
we test
we examine
until we win
restoring the fading light
that make the smiles
on those faces shine bright

A dawn without the sun
A night without the moon
Is a day without the light
A life gone too soon
So I’m gone speak about it
So I’m gone spit about it
With hope in the wind
Tomorrow in the skies
Til the cure is in our grasp
we keep our eyes on the prize
So I’m gone speak about it
So I’m gone spit about it

Piece submitted for the 2BeatHIV’s Innovation Challenge http://www.2beathiv.org

Video submission

Gentrification of Identity

displacement

You don’t tear a person down and rebuild them with intent on something better. That’s what they do to black and brown neighborhoods. Why would you do it to a person?

Talk this way, walk this way, wear these clothes…

Why is there never recognition of the special in each person?

Why do we toss away self determination for impression?

Sanitization has been a thorn in our side for too long. Do we not recognize it’s effects?

Why not add to what is there. Teach value in authentic self and the importance of widening scope. Foster adaptability not assimilation.

Requiem for Change

Rape-Culture-e1392242243997

The words don’t always
seem adequate enough
of my tongue

I’m still choking back tears
after all this time
I guess it’s learning
you can never be good guy oblivious
for too long
You can’t be enough royalty
to not need to keep challenging
yourself
Ain’t no ribbons for books read
and chivalry
This here is a long road traveled

The first shared tears came in high school
She was trying to reconcile what happened
I was trying to use balled fists in revenge
She was telling me she didn’t want that
I never realized I was making her
manage him and me
It took too long to recognize her strength
Good guy said you should have stayed with me
Good guy said let me fix it
Good guy still made it about good guy
I guess I felt
I couldn’t make it about her because
I wasn’t good at tears falling

Daddy liked liquor and women
Liked to swing heavy hands
I never asked to know about
anything else
But I know the dangers of that recipe
Good guy wanted to redeem
him by being the first
good decision he ever made
Wasn’t I the one who had to go
pick up his pride
from houses he was no longer
wanted in?
Good guys learn to fix things early

Good guys ask stranger if he
can walk her to her car
Never wonders why she might refuse
Might get mad at the answer
He be good guy
Good guy ask questions for understanding
Never bother to ask if it is ok
to ask questions first
Might take too much time trying to grasp
the reason for the answer
Good guy wears badges like boy scout
earned by completing deeds and tasks
Good guy don’t ask why the shirt
makes some run
Never realized that he didn’t get
the only badges made
That boy scouts also learned to hunt

The best goodbye
I’ve ever been a part of
was packing good guy’s baggage
and sending him on his way
The search for a new tenant
in this man’s understanding of self
was intensive
Thank God for the caretakers
who saw fit to share
with this fractured dreamer
The only lesson that never
settled home
is the freedom in letting
cheeks wet
I’ve never been good
at tears falling

What I did learn is priceless
I was inspired by the number of
times I was betrayed
by good guy instincts
Confided in by partners who
survived
Didn’t need to be saved
Found comfort in the midst of my eyes
I was challenged by fighters who
gave me books and lessons on
accountability
Pushed by men who were willing
to sit with each other in examination
of our own masculinity
Checked by soothsayers who had
seen where ignorance would lead me
Supported by a defiant band of clumsy
who were finding out how to stumble
but not fall
We had been learning to walk a certain
way for so long
The steps were unfamiliar but liberating

Each experience makes my heart full
Sobbing seems like thank you sometimes
I guess I know the reason I feel I’ve never
shown enough gratitude
I’ve just never been good at tears falling

Good guy sends me postcards
and texts saying he wants to come home
I tell him no
I’ve seen too much
I ain’t the same man no more

I remember leaving a workshop
after talking to a group of young men
feeling heavy
I remember telling the community
organizers that brought us
that there was so much work to do
What a crippling feeling it is
to do all that you know how to do
but still worrying
To fear that an angel’s fall at night
could lead to a devilish dawn
I remember stopping on the side
of the road on the way home
because what wasn’t being said
was deafening
I couldn’t get out the car
fast enough
I remember
the comrade
who held me up
The brother who loved me
band-aid enough to make it home
I remember the tears

The years doing workshops with men
The programs developed
The organizations worked with
The activists I have been trained by
The survivors I have stood by
The conversations
The broken
The determined
The death threats
The resilience
The everyday reflection
The camaraderie
The betrayals
The challenges
The dismissals
The reiterations
The struggle

The beauty of healing
The burden of sustainability
The necessity of the work

The realization that silence
means that nobody ever
considers that you can
hear them
see them

I promise
The tears are never too far away

I read a comment online today
I wanted to go numb
I couldn’t
I wanted to break things
but demolition is too familiar of a fancy
I wanted to cry
But I’ve never been good at falling tears

The water has welled in my chest
One day I will see monsoon
Or one day
I will vomit tidal waves