Thursday, November 29, 2012

songs made of hollow shells, or how one deals with sudden BS.

i've been better about triggers these days.

no, not triggers on guns. but there is another aspect to
guns that falls in with what i'm sharing here. and that is,
hollow shell casings. if you've ever seen one up close, you
may understand what i mean. they have that foreboding air to
them, and rightly so. there was one time that i was on my
travels somewhere uptown, not too far from Sugar Hill. i
happened to see something flash in front of me on the gritty
pavement, rolling slightly. i stopped short and picked it
up and discovered that it was a shell casing. more than
likely someone was letting off a shot or two from the roof
as a way of horsing around. as i picked it up, there was a
breeze that began to wind its way under my arm and it made
a breathy but crisp note that lasted a couple of seconds.
it had a melody all its own.

it struck me funny that i could hear something like that
from something that is an insignia of conflict. you see
hollow shells, something bad went down. someone got hurt
or lost their life. and one thing we say whenever a situation
like that happens? 'wish we could have seen it coming.' in
ancient days, the cultures relied on arrows to wage war
from a distance. the Japanese in particular used an arrow
called a kabura-ya. this arrow, made with perforated deer
horn or wood at the tip, was used to signal the enemy that
the battle would soon commence. they also were used to
chase away evil spirits and call divinities to aid them.
now, they're sold at Shinto shrines as relics of a bygone
era and as spiritual totems.

over the past couple of days, i've been fighting off the
adverse effect of moods brought on by different triggers.
there was a time that i had no idea what brought all of
it on. i'd feel down about one thing, and then other things
i hadn't even thought of swooped right in. it was like
getting jumped afterschool, that feeling. what i've now found
is that i can identify how and why i get into that tailspin.
for me, my trigger is all about internalization and how
i burst at the seams when i see i've let down one of my
family or one of the good folks i care about. and it's
been me jumping the gun, and that pulls the trigger over
and over to the point where i have occasionally gotten
headaches because me feeling like i let them down gets
joined by the feeling of helplessness on things ranging
from who i am to worldly issues. i realize that that is
how i'm built. i care deeply, and i am actively mindful.
after this recent episode (caught a cold and a bit of a
headache), i'm learning to listen for the warning song. to
me, it sounds much like what i heard that day holding that
shell casing in the breeze. if more people did that, i'd
wager we'd see real progress in how we deal with each
other on these streets and in our own homes. and we would
all know how to let our inner divinity grow as it's supposed
to and let that other mess fall by the wayside.

thanks for reading, until the next time...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

haiku 11.28.12

the silence between
where fucks are given and are
not, speaks loud today

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

haiku 1.25.12

her hair fell like waves
along my cheek when we kissed;
undertow in her eyes

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

shooting troubles and turkeys. (thanksgiving riffs)

'add your light to the sum of light.'

"The Year of Living Dangerously" (1982)

this time of year is when i find time to enter a third gear.
where days fit into one another as if they were cramming into
a pair of jeans they just can't seem to give up even though
the fit isn't the same. and Thanksgiving makes things muddled
but also more clear when you really take time to slow down and
think on it.

here in the leaf-strewn streets of New York City, some are
trying to get back to normal. and for some, normal is full of
the disdain, the need to separate themselves from the 'urban',
the 'ghetto'. that is, if they don't live there and/or are
trying to mold it in their own image. city living a la 'Seinfeld'
if you catch my drift. it's that same mood that adds tarnish
out here, even to the point of someone dying over cars in a
luxury condo's garage because they were just another working
immigrant stiff. the same mood that fuels rabid consumerism
that doesn't even wait for you to finish the last bites of
your Thanksgiving dinner. i never felt comfortable with that
mood, and i suppose i never will.

perhaps part of it is that i know how this day can be bittersweet.
my uncle Delroy made his transition around this time in 1996
in a sudden way. i like to think that he's that extra glint
around the halfway muted sun on Thanksgiving morning. and
then there are those who are still stuck without power after
Sandy. those who have no homes. the Wampanoag people view
this as a day of mourning, since the settlers waged war on
them and this country since their arrival. maybe nature has
seen fit to see that we all understand their pain, pain we
put off for various reasons. there's also a minor part that
irritates me, and that lies with the part-time cynics. those
that will throw quips on the social media outlet of their
choice about the true history of Thanksgiving to satisfy
themselves with another ego stroking session, but won't go
the extra mile above being Facebook/Twitter revolutionaries.

this is a time where i look out my window over 228th street,
and see how the light always illuminates the block so well.
sometimes more than anywhere else in the world. it makes me
think of everybody i came up with, and how they all moved on
but never left. they, just like me, add their own light to
the luminescence that makes this blue marble we call Earth
shine. i think of my family, that nurtures and sustains me
from ancestors to the little ones that are just starting out.
i think of all those who volunteer, not just for Hurricane
Sandy alone but every chance they get. i think of all those
who give without expectation, and help without condemnation.
those souls who we need to give thanks for every day. it may
be simplistic, but i look at tomorrow as a day not to be just
thankful. it's to be mindful for be mindful
of the light we can sometimes forget we and the world possess.
feed that light, feed your heart and soul, feed that of the
people you love. and remember, the leftovers are the best
part. enjoy your holiday, and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

music break: Karriem Riggins

i've been listening to this over the past couple
of days, a very mellow groove..indulge, and enjoy!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

whispered treasure

*for aviva*

you and late autumn afternoons
share treasures
whispered gifts that twirl
following the lead of leaves
ochre golden and spun
by the language of winds
that bring a chill
before they allow for comfort
with just a few specks of crimson
that announces itself
with the slash of that cutting feature of your grin
you have become
a whispered treasure
the road to you more clear
in the light from your lips

Saturday, November 17, 2012

hurricane sandy haiku #5

the red hook houses
without power;new horror
movie in writing

Thursday, November 15, 2012

stuck on Sackett

in the midst of it
he stands out like an empty wallet
in the middle of millionaires
his eyes mariners of misery
tinged with sea salt & glycerin
those Pall Malls only bought him
seconds of peace
stuck on Sackett
in a city where bread is scarce
if your past is long
and your pants aren't hip
this cat feels that the best way
to fight the gnaw of cold stares
is to keep moving
and let his cigarette light his way
into an unknown future

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

hurricane sandy haiku #4

the sea spits them up
along Rockaway; toy boats
beneath nature's play

that wound without you (for sagal)

part of you
hated me over dry months
and mornings where wet eyes
fed you like oats cut with steel
that you wish to portray
i have asked myself
if words i've woven for you
were burned on a pyre
made with those fingers
as delicate as a peacock's tail
would there be that part of you
that consigns me to a punishment
of partial neglect
for turning away
still do look upon that wound without you
healed but burning
like one's joints upon the fall of rain
or by a secret name
remembered only on mornings that burn
with wet eyes
as flags of your caring

Monday, November 12, 2012

what water brings when it's angry.

the sun is shining brilliantly. the sky is blue frost, clear
and crisp. and i've let go of the quilt of fatigue long enough
to finally get these words out about these past few days dealing
with Hurricane Sandy. granted, my experience was and is vastly
different from many others in this city. but i'm compelled to
write about it just the same.

looking back, i think the hurricane proved to illustrate some
things about people here, and the way some of us live - and
try to live. i remember those few hours on Monday before the
Storm hit were just preparation, and anticipation. both sides
of my family are from Jamaica, and they've been through many
a hurricane and tropical storm before. once the power went out,
it was just a waiting game.

having no power forces you to do either one of two things. get
frantic in the face of darkness or embrace it. i spent a lot
of the evening time listening to radio reports, sleeping and
writing. i won't soon forget the absolute calm i felt writing
under the light of a pregnant moon the day after the storm. it
was so full that it lit up my entire block. for that brief bit
of time, i felt like i lived inside a couplet by Pablo Neruda.
i found myself getting used to not being locked in with tech,
that need to be updated constantly via social media and email.
whether we believe it or not, today we are more digitally
dependent than ever. dealing without power also made me look
at the community i live in, and others outside of it.luckily,
i live in a part of Queens that is removed from the shore and
has a slightly higher elevation. (another benefit from the storm?
better knowledge of topography.) all we dealt with was scattered
power outages and fallen trees, which are dangerous in their
own right. a couple of people died due to downed power lines.
there's still one right up the road from me. and two of them
snapped from a main line and caused a parked van to catch on
fire right at a busy intersection. trees wrecked windshields,
fell into houses. but when you consider the devastation seen
in the Rockaways, the Jersey Shore, Long Island and Staten
Island, i think we got off lucky.

if seeing the subways filled with millions of gallons of water
doesn't make you pause, then something is wrong with you. Sandy
spared us. let's face it. Sandy was a Category 1 storm when it
struck Jamaica, a Category 2 when it slammed Cuba and poor
Haiti. we would like to think that we suffered the worst but
it could have been much worse. and with all that, more than
40 people died across the tri-state area. some of those stories
are heartbreaking. and a few were preventable. and there's still
so many without homes. Breezy Point is virtually ashes right
now. the boardwalk in Atlantic City is ripped apart. New Dorp
in Staten Island was wrecked. which leads me to this: there are
still some people in a bad way two weeks later. people in the
projects of Far Rockaway have NO power. imagine living about
8 stories up, no way to get down except the stairs, and when
you do you have to get relief supplies and hope the city gets
your power restored? and the shelters are filled to the brim
to the point where people are turned away. there's some in LI
who won't see power restored until AFTER Thanksgiving, no thanks
to LIPA. and then you have a state emergency official fired
because he diverted a crew to clean up his driveway, a crew
that could have helped others during that time. imbecilic
impulses seemed to rise up here and there, even with the now
canceled New York City marathon and how it was handled by
Mayor Bloomberg. sometimes you need to let people find their
own way to get back to normalcy.

another thing that got me was media reaction. one thing that
gets me is how prevalent Staten Island is whenever you hear of
relief efforts related to Sandy. i know they went through it
badly. i know the borough president was upset about the lack
of response, hence his badmouthing the Red Cross. but part of
me wonders why the media began to cover Staten Island so heavily
at the expense of talking about other areas? i know it troubled
me enough to dash off an email as soon as i was able to a couple
of media outlets and personalities. because while those people
needed help, you can't help but worry about who's NOT getting
those resources. and usually, we know who gets that short end
of the stick. thankfully though, there's some folks who are ON

finally, i think Sandy did two things. one, it reminded us that
we, as human beings, may work it out and run things here on this
blue marble we call Earth, but we don't RUN things. and second,
it allowed us to find our common humanity again, outside of the
PC's, the TV's, the tablets that dominate more of our routine
than we'd like. and it allowed others to give from the heart, no
matter where they were. sometimes i wonder, if there wasn't
sudden disaster and hardship, would some of us exercise the power
to give as often as we do? for as many people that gave and chose
to help, there were others who are clueless(i.e. those standing
on line for Apple's iPad Mini four days after the storm). like
i said on Facebook, 'times of crisis show who gets it done as
opposed to who flaps their gums.' when water arrives full of
anger, actions are a better wall than words.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

hurricane sandy haiku #3

like an elder's teeth,
these boardwalks have become;will
wisdom fix them straight?

Friday, November 9, 2012

faded dixie rags of oxford

tuesday night
saw the white sheets
wriggle loose from the ancient roots
of cypress trees that no longer weep
as racism begins to rise
students burn campaign posters
spit on presidential photos
and chant 'nigger'
as if it will whisk them back
to when Colonel Reb
ran rampant
his standard that 'ol Dixie flag
each of them
forever beggars
pockets filled with hatred
mouths full of bigotry's lustful seed
and Colonel Reb
dies again like those flames
in a shroud of faded Dixie rags
leaving those ghosts
settled in Oxford
feasting on that hate
with morsels of mint

music break: Fela Kuti

in light of all that's happened these past two weeks
(the hurricane, the Presidential election, ANOTHER
storm and my power going out) i felt that Fela would
be a pick-me-up going into the weekend. enjoy!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

impish moon

*for brownin*

this moon
on a night that sees light
absent under its outstretched hands
took pity on me
and took after your face
fully ripened
impish at the edges
wearing a glow that hums hymnal
a beauty that laughs at the world
laughs at far-flung gods & goddesses
laughs at itself
the moon
on a night that sees a city
wait for morning
finds me grateful
that it reminds me of you enough
that i keep my eyes upward

Monday, November 5, 2012

hurricane sandy haiku #2

every zombie show
doesn't beat the horror of
an empty Harlem

hurricane sandy haiku #1

looking at cracked earth
i know the sea just gave back
the hate we showed it

Sunday, November 4, 2012

blackout by the beach

weather-beaten bulbs
in the promised gardens
south of 14th street
crackle with restored light
prompting cheers at the sight

do forgive those poor folk
in the hulking monuments of Bob Moses
that lie in Coney Island and Far Rock
they save their cries of being forgotten
as a way to ward off the wolves
in another of Sandy's lost nights