Tuesday, February 28, 2012

haiku 2.28.12

just like dice on felt
i tumble to futures not
known; betting on will.

the backstory behind 'being young and seeing through the eyes of a needle. '

*taken from the MySpace blog*

there's a piece i wrote, 'being young and seeing through the
eyes of a needle.'people wonder about the emotion and imagery of
that piece. i'd like to say it was all fiction. but that's not
the case.

see, i was about 15 years old. i was mainly a sheltered child
of sorts so being in high school allowed me a greater freedom.
even if i was in catholic school. so one day, i was near a corner
store in the backstreets famous for illegal fireworks and cold
beer sold to minors. there was something on the fence of the
open lot next to the store. as i walked closer, it was a woman.
couldn't have been no more than 22. her lips were the first thing
i noticed, dried apricot slices that wore a milky crust. she was
mumbling something, some silent incantation to whatever gods she
believed in. she wore a dirty pea coat over a faded housedress with
sneakers. one arm clung to the iron fence. the other hung at her
side, with an open hole. my heart started beating fast, even more
so as she stared at me with the eyes of corpses i had seen in
michael jackson's thriller movie. and the only thing i could think of,
that still gets me to this day was, 'who stole your dream?'

and i kept on walking. and never saw her again.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

cowardice of circumstance (a thought)

i want to begin by saying first off, i'm not intending this
to be a shot across anyone's bow or a way to dig in on people.
it's me being open and honest about my own feelings and how
i think others should be inclined to operate. disclaimer out
of the way, moving along...

over the past week, i've been thinking a lot about how i
view myself and my work at this point in my life. i've had
my ups and downs over the past couple of years while both
freelancing, trying to find work and to make my writing
work. it's been slow and painful, but rewarding for a couple
of reasons. it's also been illuminating because i've had
the chance to fully understand how being in a certain
circumstance can change your thinking and approach to others,
even those around you that you think you know. there's
some people who tend to emphasize positivity in speech..but
fall short in action. some on purpose, others unintentionally.
and their reason for doing it stems from a perception that
if you're not doing something similar to what they're doing,
or if you're making moves discreetly or if you're struggling
and honest about it, they can see it as a failure. it's an
insulting position to take up. one, we can never truly know
another person's struggles unless we take the time to find
out with sincerity and care. and then we have to be trusted
to understand that struggle. that's the heart of empathy. it
isn't anything you can go to a Barnes & Noble aisle and just
pick up in the time it takes to drink a latte. and sometimes
we have to check ourselves if we're not extending that to

i've had people place me in a category because i'm actively
trying to balance my desire to make my writing popular and
successful with work. in some cases, it lies in statements.
'oh, you don't have a real job...' 'you're so artsy, but
how will you subsist?' even those close to you can have their
airs about what you're doing or not doing. this here is what
i call 'cowardice of circumstance.' i say that because to a
degree, what they're doing is dumping on your dreams, throwing
shade to your forward progress no matter how it is being enacted.
and we hide it behind catchphrases. 'oh, i'm keeping it real.'
no, you're keeping it stupid and petty. keeping it real means
keeping it consistent. those who aren't consistent with their
love for you and what you do in all forms need to agitate the
gravel so you can move how you need to. and you have to make
sure you don't do the same to others. be mindful, be supportive
and if you need to be, be tough. but always be honest and
consistent. you shouldn't look down on others, or yourself
for that matter. don't let you being better off make you become
a worse person.

until the next time...

Friday, February 24, 2012

when the vultures come

after the vultures
comes silence
and the company of your own cries
there's the soreness that lies
just above your heart
to remind you you're alive.
beaten down by granite fists
of perception and venom
stabbed by the daggers of your own doubts.
and those vultures?
mean-spirited beasts who love misery
better than the sun
waiting for your pain to be a feast for their kingdom.
tell them
what your heart whispers
with its eyes on a golden horizon
singing to you of your own hidden freedom:

'pain is necessary for the birth of wisdom.'

haiku 2.24.12

trees outstretch their hands
for spring to kiss so love can
bloom in green and gold.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Music Break: Willie Hutch

here's a little selection from that cool cat famous
for the 'Foxy Brown' and 'The Mack' soundtracks,
Willie Hutch. Enjoy!

cutting grin

you made your lips
a crescent moon
cutting conservatism from your cheeks
as night caught us
comfortable in our flaws
like old souls sharing a bottle
you've told me i cross your mind
trailing promising pictures of shared dreams
like a wagon full of stars
and sitting across from you
watching the crescent moon
adjust itself in the lemon skies
of your face
i can't help but wonder
if you think your smile brings me pain
and where those touchstones of pain
you'd like me to wash away

Sunday, February 19, 2012

sweetness remains.

yesterday was a draining day. more than expected.

i attended a memorial service yesterday morning. yes, it was the
same day as Whitney Houston's funeral. i'll speak on that in a
bit. it was for my Aunt Nan, who was my mom's dear friend and
co-worker. they were very, very close. and when she left this
world last year suddenly, it really shook everyone. yesterday
marked the anniversary of her passing. and so, mom and i went
to the temple to pay our respects. yes, i said, 'temple' 'cause
Aunt Nan was from Guyana, and she was of the Hindu faith.

entering the temple, nestled off the hectic strip of Jamaica
Avenue, you got this overwhelming sense of peace. after removing
our shoes, we got to sit and hear the family and friends talk
about Aunt Nan and how much she meant to them. and in between
there were devotional songs like the one above and love songs;
one of which was sung by her husband. at moments, you could feel
the tears tug at the bottom of your eyes. but then someone would
tell a funny story and the whole room would burst into laughter.
it was good to feel that love. it seemed as if with each memory,
each laugh, the sun pumped itself up to match the energy as it
streamed through the windows. we made our way downstairs and
were served a great meal of dhal puri, curried potatoes, chickpeas
and spiced pumpkin. and my mind went back to whenever they had a
family gathering or temple function and how Aunt Nan made sure
that we got heaping plates and trays of food. love, laughter and
life. that's who she was. you could hear all of that in her
voice whenever she called, feel it in the hugs she gave. as a
parting gift, we were given a bag of homemade sweets with her
picture on it and a poem from Rabindranath Tagore, the famous
Bengali writer. it was so fitting.

so we wound up getting home just in time to catch Marvin Winans'
sermon at Whitney Houston's funeral and the end of the proceedings.
and whatever energy i had in me, evaporated. but in catching up
on the ceremony, i saw the same recurring theme: love, laughter,
life. someone on FB said that this was the first time a good deal
of America bore witness to praise and worship in a Black Baptist
Church. i'm sure it opened a lot of eyes. and what i hope they
saw is, at the end, when it is the final tally, you want your
legacy to leave a good taste on people's palate. yes, Whitney
had her issues. there were one or two people who wondered why
no mention was made of it. but there's nothing wrong with choosing
to focus on the good moments overall. and if her family chose
to do so, more power to them. i couldn't help but notice the
similarities between the two services(i wound up getting a chance
to see the rest of the funeral later)and one dominant theme.
that there will be a great deal of sadness when people we love
and cherish leave, and that's natural. but if you hold onto all
they've taught you, and all of those good memories, the sweetness
of their lives always lives on. that's a legacy worth having.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

melting frost(for sagal)

winter has begun to fade between us
as a season of forgiveness
dabs the skies with hope
the trees awaken
and the melting frost
leaves lands of forgetfulness
it isn't only love
that's stronger than pride
it's the heart
polished and free of tears
that connects us both
and lets us create sparks again
that can sting more
that snowflakes upon skin

this elegant bridge

*for brownin'*

my heart
if asked with conviction
would say to you,
'let you and i walk along
this elegant bridge before us
let's not think about the steel wool
of the clouds of doubt that have scraped us both
until we became raw.
let us laugh at each other
laugh at the darkness
laugh at all of those past regrets
as we walk side by side
let us make troubled waters
our liquor and drink it from each other's hands
and cool the afterburn with caring words
let us walk
along this elegant bridge
to an ocean we call ours
where we will let ourselves
float in a love that doesn't let us drown.'

Monday, February 13, 2012

looking for nicole robinson (from the archives)

every cat, at least once in their life, has had the experience of
being with a woman like nicole robinson.

it was the second semester in my junior year of high school.
summer was hovering like a stick-up kid around the corner.
class was the last thing on my mind. mostly it was all about
hanging out, getting lifted and having fun. then we went to
catch the bus to jamaica avenue to get home. and to do it all
over again.

to catch the bus, we had to walk under the long island
expressway one block up. imagine at least sixty black kids
walking in a predominately white neighborhood....in sweltering
heat at 2 in the afternoon. on this day, a friday, i was just
looking to get home and play some ball. luckily, i got a seat
before it was too crowded. it was a good one too, that lone seat
next to the back door where you had extra leg room. so i sat there
while my partners went to the back. most of the girls had on the
requisite summer outfit.....tight jeans, 54'11's and tight t-shirts.
there were some who wore those dresses(you know the ones), the
brown ones with the slits up the thighs. i sat and took it all in.

enter nicole robinson.

she was a southside jamaica queens girl all the way. sweet
as a pitcher of cherry kool-aid but if you pissed her off......
explosive like m-80's in glass bottles.nicole had a skin tone
that made me think of the lemon meringue filling in my aunt
daphne's pie every thanksgiving in the bronx. hair that was
the color of rich honey and ended just above her shoulders.
eyes that were that shade of night before a riot broke out. she
had a body that made you throw out all of your nudie books
that you were collecting...and a behind that made blue jeans
cry until they were stonewashed out. she was getting on the bus
and heading to the back. i always used to hear LL Cool J's
"pink cookies and a plastic bag"...the remix version...every time
she walked by me. and nicole never really spoke to me...not once.
today, however, would be different.

she stopped in front of me.
and asked to sit down. what could i say?
"yeah, cool."

so nicole sat on my lap and got comfortable. the most-sought
after girl in the school sitting on my lap. and all i could do was
keep cool. because i knew that sooner or later, i would be
standing at attention. she turned to me and asked if she was
heavy. i told her no and she smiled at me. it was part smirk and
part sugar-coated sincerity. it felt as if i was her man...and damn
if i didn't feel like the man too! we talked all the way down to
jamaica avenue. as we left, she gave me a kiss on the cheek.
"be good...i'll see you tomorrow!" another one of those soft
grins and she was gone. my boys were dumbfounded. they couldn't
believe it all. word got around and soon, other girls started
being more and more friendly. nicole and i did speak more and more
after that. i got to know her for the beautiful soul she is. and
i got to learn that i didn't need to be an ass to be liked and
respected. nicole was the person in high school that gave me the
affirmation that i was special. and if i ever bump into her again,
i would thank her.

but i'd also see if she was single........


lover's rock. (or, my thoughts on Valentine's Day)

"Wine comes in at the mouth; love comes in through the eye."
- Henri Matisse

yes, today is Valentine's Day. and i know that coming from
someone like me, one who writes love poems as a part of his
resume, you'd expect something ultra-sappy. Hallmark Channel
style. not entirely.

you see, i notice more and more the growing cynicism and for
some outright hatred of Valentines' Day. there's various reasons
why, from the petty(hating the day because a dude hasn't given
you a compliment on your nail polish is NOT an excuse) to the
more somber. i know one or two people that have had tragedy
strike on that day. so, you may ask, why am i still one of the
number of people that like or at the very least, don't mind
Valentine's Day? it's simple. it lies in my belief in what
love is.

i was like a lot of other folks, smitten with the idea of being
in love just like on TV and in the music videos. but it wasn't
easy feeling like that being an overweight and slightly shy
kid growing up in Southeast Queens during the early 1990's.
i knew girls, talked to girls. but for a few of them, i wasn't
fly. and it did hurt at times. especially as i got into high
school. for a time, i consoled myself by listening to tracks
like Intro's 'Let Me Be The One' and BoyzIIMen's whole first
album. slowly i got out of my shell, and found that not only
could i be attractive to a couple of girls, they could show
it with no shame. (more on that in the next post.) mind you,
it didn't mean that i wasn't immune to the heartaches of it
all. i'm still not immune now.

i've been lied to by a girlfriend. i've been used. been
talked about badly or not talked about at all. i've been a
substitute boyfriend, f**k buddy and a fall-back for a girl
who couldn't get attention from the one she wanted. i've had
my brief share of treating some women bad. i've seen love
fall apart, like it did with my parents. i still remember
the eerily quiet cold the night they split for good. i've
even lost sleep, fell out weeping and helpless. i've had to
counsel others with their heartbreak. but all that aint really
love. love does involve some pain and aches...whenever you
and someone else are together, you're giving birth to a new
world. pain accompanies any childbirth.

my thoughts on love are that this world is full of it, if
you take the time to see it and acknowledge it..and share
it. love brings you closest to your own truth, it brings
you closer to all truths. if you're lucky, you even get to
allow love to help you heal and forgive others - and yourself.
which brings me to the original point of this post. yes, i
wish women a Happy Valentine's Day. i send cards. i get my
mom something. because as much as i hear the phrase, 'oh
Valentine's Day should be EVERY day and not some gimmick
for one day', some of these mofos out here are selling wolf
tickets as far as that goes. they can barely keep in contact
with people who are dearest to them and this is supposed to
be the age of social media. and then there are those who
are mad that no one considers them at all on this day so
they direct that anger at others. i'm not a fan of the overt
commercialism of the day myself. but that's never defined
me anyway. and it shouldn't do so for many of us. if you
choose to partake in it.

one last thing...i also see Valentine's Day as a chance to
watch the children and see and enjoy how they encounter the
first flames of love. and i also have been known to wish
elder sisters a Valentine's Day as well. why not, they paved
the way for us to know. if you love the right way, and well
enough and with all of your spirit, one day can never hold
you down.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

the whisper of lilacs (for aislin)

i do recall that night
that lilacs began to whisper about
passion that simmered within our eyes
i was able to hear them
once the music around us
grew as soft as your auburn curls
that greeted my cheek as we embraced
clearly now
i can translate their words
and find that they spoke
of your heart
and how it was trapped in a solemn place
with no map as a guide
maybe the lilacs will speak again
if we were ever again side by side.

a brush of crimson and silk

*for brownin'*

the night
has become drunk with you
drunken with a brush of crimson and silk
that your face in full delight becomes
there is no chill to be felt
it cradles a moon full as your figure
and may cast me shade
because i am beside you
evening is a besotted poet
who uses stars and clouds
to describe you best
and i have committed their phrasing
to memory

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

the wound inside your heart. (some thoughts)

so it's late as i write this. those of you who keep up with
this blog know i can be a night owl with the words and thoughts.
i want to take a moment to speak about something in people that
we often don't recognize all the time. and that is, how people
can do things not out of fear of being inadequate, but out of
the fear that we have so much to give...and are afraid no one
will take it and keep it once we do.

we all have our own hurts and wounds. and some of us have let
them fester and linger to where we believe they're beyond repair.
some of us are forthright about it. others try to protect it
with humor and self-deprecation. others still get defensive.
we all share this involved knowledge of our own pain to everyone
in different ways. the world today makes it even more easier
with social media. you can effectively drown your sorrows in
status messages and Tweets if you choose. the flipside to that
is, you can run the risk of no one taking you seriously when
your emotional pain can't be hidden. also, drinking and being
the life of the party. alcohol is a truth serum. and some need
only a few drops. in some cases, being the life of the party
means that you're slowly dying inside. and of course, there
are those who hide this fear of being appreciated they way they
deserve behind indiscretions and accusatory attacks.

all of this behavior comes about in different ways. it can be
learned from parents. they teach us the good and the bad. and
sometimes it's not so stark, and there aren't easily definitive
triggers. you have to fully investigate and identify. and that
can be hurtful in of itself. another way we learn to hide the
emotional wounds is from popular perception. look at what went
down with the passing of Don Cornelius. for a lot of folks in
the Black community, we tend to think that being in that kind
of pain where we're able to take our own life isn't part of our
makeup. no one is impervious to that kind of pain or even the
beginning thresholds of it. but we try to shrug it all off, act
as if we can't be sensitive. and sometimes those who front as
if they're never sensitive at all realize they are but put up
that front for armor.

so...how do we get past the wound and begin to heal enough to
not only give our best all the time but accept that not everyone
will dash it away? it starts with trust. trust in yourself. the
world responds better when it sees that you walk with power and
faith in your spirit. next, figure out why you've been acting
like this...THEN resolve to change it. after that, practice
forgiveness of yourself. sometimes we can do the damnedest things
to other people because we can't forgive ourselves our trespasses.
one thing i try to do daily is say, 'today, i will be better to
myself than i was yesterday.' and lastly, believe that there are
folks out there who have been where you are, reached a point
where they knew their wounds were severely affecting them and
made a point to change. and you can do it too.

i know. it all sounds good in theory. it all sounds like random
stuff that belongs on the Hallmark Channel. but too many of us
don't realize the wound inside our hearts can still grow and put
us at risk. and there's no amount of temporary stitching that
can take the place of healing. i had to do it. and it involved
me asking myself some hard questions. i've had sleepless nights.
and you know what? i'm still here, and better for it. all wounds
sting and cringe when you try to heal them. you'll feel the burn.
but to be the best you can be for yourself and those who you trust
to give that too in any plateau..it is worth it.

until the next time...

haiku 2.7.12

timid lovers are
the teeth of lions that break
before love's own flesh.

lapis lazuli and lamentation

tucked in the folds of your heart
lie words written in lapis lazuli
and lamentation
eager to trade words
in pints like blood
but afraid that the cuts of the past
have grown too big for cross-stitches
and do you holler
thinking that it outlasts the cries
of a heart broken
like mason jars in a cupboard during a tornado
or are you trying
to bury those words deeper
words on the seeds of sunflowers
that say,

'i am ready for this heart to hold someone again'

Thursday, February 2, 2012

for the brothers on the corner haiku #5

an empty pocket
isn't cold man; but your grave
probably will be.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

cold shoulder, warm eyes

we have forgotten it is winter
our eyes make morning frost
part company
in this garden alcove
that your shoulder presents to me
bared in simple beauty
we forget that the cold
lies all around us
as the heat within our eyes
speaks to the soul's nudity
and how it can make the most potent memory