UNTITLED 4

Miscellaneous Minds
Pick at my persona –
while I watch.
Absorbing as much detail as
the sound bite caught
while flicking through television channels.
As much as the transient markings of a page thumbed through.
Why open a book you know you won’t read?

UNTITLED 3

“The slave went free;
stood a brief moment in the sun;
then moved back again toward slavery.”
– W.E.B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction in America


 

You tell me to be calm
These chains are an unfamiliar feeling
Jump down, turn around
The Atlantic must’ve rocked me to sleep
When will I wake up?

You tell me to be calm
They might not see the fire in my eyes
Hear the pain in my whine
As you sell human flesh for $4.99

You tell me to be calm
As if last time I relaxed, a whip was not laid
across my back
“Back to work, boy!”
I only wanted to rest in the cool dirt.

You tell me to be calm
Be still, lower your head for this noose
Don’t you see all these fine folks come
from miles away
To see you die?

You tell me to be calm
Now smile!
Turn right, turn left, look up
Next inmate please.

You tell me to be calm
Waving that pistol around in my face, you
idea of a prescription depressant
I can’t get any lower than I already am.

You tell me to be calm
Calm as unmoving clouds overhead
I wonder, if it rained a while
would they wring themselves dry?

UNTITLED 1

I wonder, if these trees could talk –
some having observed 5,000 years of history
What stories would they tell?

Would they tell a story of simpler times?
Or a story of pagan savagery?

A story of exploration and bravery?
Or of invasion and genocide?

A story of capitalism and industry?
Or of slavery?
[One can imagine they would expel the memories of black
bodies swinging from their arms altogether, though slavery
comes in many forms]

A story of technology’s rise?
Or of the human soul’s demise?

A story of prevailing Justice?
Or of war and devastation?

Would they tell the story of progress?
Or the one of regression?

Or would they say
“I grew and grew
And the wind blew
And I’m trying not to fall.”

 

MILLENNIAL QUEEN

My millennial queen –
with an iris of blue and white
reflecting Facebook news feeds

Awkward silences broken by inquisitions of
acquisitions of beauty –
“which filter should I use?”

My millennial queen –
All passions having left her life
Replaced by … scroll scroll scroll tap
“Hahahaha!”
Repost
Hours wasted away
Beauty and youth fading into a screen
Exchanged for megabytes of data

If only she could see how beautiful the world is –
of course it is beautiful, her being part of it.

Instead, she is stuck in a shadow of photoshopped, perfected Instagram fame.
But no shadow can be cast from the shade –
“Sun don’t shine in the shade!”
Light is not born in darkness.

Without a shadow,
and maintained a forward gaze,
we see:
No proof of existence, just a scanning set of eyes.

Instead:
A glance at the mirror before leaving the bathroom.
A selfie snapped in perfect lighting.
A tally of likes on the latest image.

Because how else can she know she exists?

UNTITLED 2

How can I succeed, being drunk on Dream –
when my dreams thrust themselves before baby steps?
But baby steps exist in one outcome of Dream –
A dream manifested before my first breath.

How can I succeed, being drunk on Dream –
when more benefit would come being high on Plan?
I think, I eat, I try to get sleep –
While struggling to exist as a much better man.

 

A TRIBUTE TO DR. MAYA ANGELOU


“The wolf howled under the leaves
And spit out the prettiest feathers
Of his meal of fowl:
Like him I consume myself.”

                      – Arthur Rimbaud


 A TRIBUTE TO DR. MAYA ANGELOU

 

A black-headed heron flies high above the Horn of Africa,
sailing through the autumn air.
He glares down at what was, is, but will not be.

his wings are slick with oil

He is free, not caged. A caged bird might say:

The free bird dies.
He flies too high-
and eventually reaches the sun.

A scarlet macaw sits in a large cage,
strutting across his wooden perch.
He looks up at what was not, is not, but will be.

his feathers are magnificent, unruffled

He is caged, not free. A free bird might say:

The caged bird dies.
He folds his wings-
and gives up living.

 

What a Time to Be Alive


For the injustices being committed across this country


 

 

What a Time to Be Alive
And be Young, Gifted, and Black

 

Sometimes people ask me:
“What does it feel like to be black?”

I:
“What do you mean?”

They:
“How does it feel to deal with prejudice in America?”

“Well,”
I pause and pretend to think, as if my answer takes thought.
As if
I’m able to ignore the issues unless asked.
it cripples me
As if
I don’t see the headlines.
“white policeman kills unarmed black teen”
As if
I don’t see you clutch your purse when you spot my skin.
you don’t think I’m scared too?

I continue:

“When I was a kid, I liked to play on my swing set in the backyard.
One day, a rabbit appeared in the distance.
It positioned itself a stretch of grass away from me.
I had never seen such a creature in the flesh.
what white fur it has
what tall ears
The rabbit interested me.
“what a good friend that rabbit would make,” I thought.
I prepared to dismount the swing set to approach the rabbit.
I wanted to introduce myself.
Upon my first movement, it hopped several feet in the other direction.
By the time I had taken a few steps, it had disappeared into the bushes.
The rabbit was afraid of anything unlike it.
The rabbit had been trained to fear me,
because it had been trained to fear anyone like me.
As a little boy, it broke my heart.
I was confused.
I was sad.
I wept.”

Then:

“As I grew older, I got stronger.
My legs got longer.
My shoulders broader and my voice, deeper.
I would see other rabbits and knowing of their mistrust,
I would run after them.
I wanted to run like the rabbit.

As I grew older, I got stronger.
My legs got longer.
My shoulders broader and my voice, deeper.
My admiration for the rabbit turned into angst.
I had my own skills, but did not yet realize them.
I was a strong boy, but the rabbit was so quick, so sly.
It stopped becoming about admiration or amicability and more about catching up.
I became envious of the rabbit’s advantage-
I wanted to run as fast as the rabbit.

As I grew older, I got stronger.
My legs got longer.
My shoulders broader and my voice, deeper.
But still, I could not catch the rabbit,
and I began to harbor anger for the rabbit.
Why does this rabbit hate me?”

But:

“As I grew older, I got stronger.
My legs got longer.
My shoulders broader and my voice, deeper.
One day, after having learned the rabbit’s cunning ways and misdirection,
I took chase.
And I caught the rabbit.
But as I stand there with my hand wrapped around its ears,
disappointment and dissatisfaction took a hold of me.

All those years of trying to catch up to the rabbit
had put me in the rabbit’s world.
When I would chase the rabbit, it would do what it wanted to do
go in any direction it pleased.
It had freedom.
I had none.
I had spent a part of my life to trying to catch the rabbit,
going where it took me.
I had spent a part of my life trying to become LIKE the rabbit.
During this time, I had began to harbor distrust,
I had become cunning, sly.

And I realized that I didn’t want to be like the rabbit, because it was fearful
and full of hate.
And I realized I had become less human than that little boy I once was.
So I wept.”

But:

“This realization had made me too powerful.
Once I realized that I didn’t have to be like the rabbit,
once I realized I was different than the rabbit,
once I realized that I was admirable in my own respect,
I became angry.
I became angry at the rabbit for changing me.
And I decided that I was going to become a human again.
So the rabbit put 16 shots through my flesh.

And I weep.”

What a Time to Be Alive
And be Young, Gifted, and Black

A GUIDE TO BECOMING THE WORLD’S MOST POWERFUL PERSON

A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing,
and leaves the sleeper where he lay down,
but I wish you to know that you inspired it.” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities


Sometimes I sit up all night,

and stay awake all day

not out of angst or dread,

but due to the fact that I am the WORLD’S MOST POWERFUL MAN.

That’s right, the

WORLD’S MOST POWERFUL MAN. I

am the most self-aware, functional, man to ever exist.

You ask,

“Why? How? …

… What? Prove it! …

Teach me! You’re arrogant!”

“WELL,” I SAY,

as the crowd moves in closer,

I am the WORLD’S MOST POWERFUL MAN because

I do not SLEEP.

The crowd hushes

”                                 ”

That’s right!,

I say,

While you lay defenseless in your beds, I

sit up and watch over the streets I own, sometimes

taking into my POWERFUL body natural supplements which I use as tools to maintain power,

caffeine is my Bible,

while I sit up and speak to God himself.

The bags under my eyes are medals of my Supreme Understanding.

The slouch in my step is a sign of my commitment to excellence, my

twisted perception, a more pure view of the world.

You speed around in your luxury automobile during the day, taking calls, feeling big

but when night falls and you lie down in bed, defenseless, unconscious, unaware, unknowing, unseen and unseeing,

small.

Some of you may laugh at me.

You say I will die of exhaustion.

You call me a gimmick, a joke, a fake, a poser, naive, cocky,

but tonight I will sit up and watch over my side of the earth –

during the day, I will watch over the Eastern peoples.

You ought to thank me.

Because all night I sit and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait wait and wait and and …

Sticks and Stones

In case you didn’t hear (everyone did, shoutout to social media), something happened the other night. I don’t know exactly what it’s called – I’ve heard a lot of names used to reference it. I’m also not an astrologist, and I could very well be wrong, but I believe it was a “supermoon lunar eclipse”, which is to say that the moon was larger due to the fact that it was at its closest point to earth in its orbit and was also entirely blocked off from the sun due to the earth being in the way. A combination which produces a beautiful sight. I was sitting on my back porch, looking up at the sky and thinking.


“Do I dare / Disturb the universe?”
—T. S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”


I once explained, to a friend, my philosophy regarding life. It took a couple of minutes, but that was because it took me a while to find a set of rocks and patch of sand well-suited for the task at hand.

“Wake up, I can’t be late again!”, my mom yelled from the hallway, pushing my door open. She grabbed onto my blanket and snatched it off of me. “Come on now, hurry up!”

I feigned cooperation until she turned around and walked out the door. Then I dove face first back into my bed.

There was a large rock on one side of the patch of sand and-..

“I’m not playing with you, GET UP!” She had really swung the door open aggressively this time. I decided to get out of bed, as an act of self-preservation. It was on mornings like these that I regretted my late-night behavior – scrolling up and down my news feed until there was nothing else to read. Even when there was nothing else to read, I would refresh and read the same things again. It wasn’t as if I were doing anything, I was just trying to keep myself from falling asleep. I don’t like sleep. On a conceptual level. This morning, I was paying for my moral objection in the worst way.

When I got out of bed, my legs bent back and forth like noodles, my eyes were full of crust, and my dog had peed all over the floor again. Details that would normally have no bearing on each other, that morning, they combined together in one pigeon-towed, vision-obstructed leap from my bed which ended with myself face up in a puddle of dog piss. I didn’t have enough energy to express anger, just disappointment. I decided I would take that loss and continue undaunted. I grabbed a set of towels and hopped into the shower.

I drew a large rectangle in the sand, placing the largest of the rocks at one edge and holding the other rocks in my right hand. I used my other hand to slide the rock across the surface of the sand, while using the smaller rocks to take it off of its course and pinball it around the rectangle. Eventually, the rock reached the other side and the demonstration ended.

‘That’s it?’, she asked.

‘That’s it.’

“You KNOW you don’t have time to take a 30-minute shower! Get out!”

I stayed in the shower for 30 more seconds as an act of defiance, before climbing out and onto the cold, clammy bathroom floor. I shuffled to the bathroom mirror, using the larger towel to first dry myself and then wipe the mirror off. I leaned into the mirror, eyes lowered in focus.

Any facial hair coming in? Nope? Alright.

I figured that if I got ready as quickly as possible, I’d have a few minutes to sit down and listen to music before I had to leave for school. I like listening to music whenever possible. The physical feeling brought on by the rhythm combined with the mental activity brought on by the lyrics can be a moving experience. Even if it’s Young Thug.

I decided, that morning, that I would have some time to relax. I walked into my room and threw on a pair of cargo shorts, a baseball cap, and a matching short-sleeve button-up. Altogether, I had exactly 9 pockets. It was the last week of school. I had nothing to lose. I sat down on the couch and plugged my headphones in.

‘But what does it mean?’, she asked.

‘We’re the big rock. Life is the rectangle. We start off at one end and the universe, God, whoever you believe in, puts little rocks in the way that knock us off course for a while. But they don’t just sit there – they move and get in our way and each others’ ways. It’s kinda like how molecules bounce around in a container in free, random motion. Nobody can predict which direction they’ll go, but eventually they hit the wall of the container they’re in. We all make it to the end eventually.”

She cast her eyes on the ground.

‘Interesting,’ she said.

My alone time that morning was particularly short-lived when my mom snatched my headphones out and told me she was headed to the car. I grabbed my backpack, slipped a pair of low-tops onto my bare feet, and followed suit. Luckily, the trip to school wasn’t particularly long, because my mom was in a bad mood today. She was cranky and frantic to get to work, which was not uncommon. As soon as we got there, I got out of the car and walked toward the main entrance, giving her a friendly wave goodbye as I strode across the sidewalk.

As usual, I was one of the first people at school. When I got inside, I spotted Mr. Hastings, one of the school’s security guards, near the cafeteria doors. I walked past and gave him a firm nod. He basked in the perceived respect and fear that students had for him, despite the fact that half of the student body was bigger than him, and, in fact, no one was scared of him.

It was while deep in my concerned thoughts about what a frail, unarmed security guard could do to protect the student body, that I saw the girl of my dreams. She was sitting in the same spot as she did every morning, at the same time she did every morning, with the same cup of coffee and her newest literary interest in her hands. I hid behind one of the doors and stared at her for a while. She was sitting cross-legged on one of the cafeteria benches, propped up with her elbows on the table. She was fine as hell and she read. What more could I ask for? I didn’t know anything about her, but I figured eventually I’d go and talk to her and we’d hit it off and somewhere down the road we’d get married and have kids. I was sure of it.

‘You don’t believe in fate, then?’

‘Fate? No. It’s an excuse to be lazy,’ I replied.

‘But haven’t you ever had something fall into place so perfectly that you couldn’t help but feel it was meant to be?,’ she asked.

I picked up one of the small rocks and waved it in front of her face.

‘Coincidence.’

I was about to go talk to her. I really was gonna go do it. However, just at that moment, I recalled my lack of manhood. Instead, I walked into the cafeteria like I do every day and sat several tables behind her. I looked down and pretended not to notice her. I also pretended she was pretending not to notice me.

‘Everything is a coincidence to you, then,’ she said.

‘Not everything, just most things. The most beautiful things.’

I couldn’t help but feel extremely childish that morning – I had been doing the same thing, day in, and day out. I’d wake up, get dressed, get dropped off at school, stare at the back of this girl’s head, go to class, and go home. My life was arranged in linear fashion and there was no deviation.

‘So the most beautiful things can’t be planned? What about like-.. love?’

‘You don’t choose who you love. The thing about people,’ I said, ‘is that we’re predisposed to see things in close proximity as being in a line. If we see three balls on the floor, we naturally create a line from one to another and then from that one to the other one. It’s not just a visual thing either. We assume that if something is aesthetically or emotionally pleasing, that it was set up that way for a reason. We give too much credit to the universe for setting things up. In fact, the most beautiful things in this world are random coincidences.’

‘So it’s impossible to plan something beautiful?,’ she asked.

‘It’s entirely possible. But whatever you planned will always be outshone by the spontaneity that is the world. We can plan some great things, but nature always wins. You can plan to get into your dream school – and it might make you happy – but you can’t plan to meet that person in your sophomore physics class who claims your heart and makes you even happier. It’s a random union. You can plan to have a child, but you can’t plan which baby pops out nine months later. It’s a random, blind, race to life. But when you get that baby in your arms, it’s the most beautiful thing ever. The random creation of life.’

I slung my backpack around my shoulder and stood up, breaking out in full stride toward her. I made my way around the table and sat across from her, looking at her directly. She looked up at me through unassuming eyes. The ends of her mouth naturally curled up into a smile. I could see her sinewy finger resting next to a word in the middle of the page. We both stared at each other for a while, until she spoke.

“Hello.”

‘Even something like a lunar eclipse. When we see the sun, moon, and earth line up, we view the straight line orientation as a default position. We picture it as something that happened because it was supposed to happen. In fact, it is a complete coincidence and matter of timing. I think the most beautiful things in this world are coincidence. No planned prom, graduation, or wedding will ever be as magnificent as volcanic lightning reaching out and placing the tips of its fingers upon the earth.

“Hey. I’ve seen you in here for a while and I told myself I’d come and talk to you today. What are you reading?”

“Leaves of Grass.”

“Walt Whitman, right?”

“Yeah.”

She offered a warm smile, looking around briefly before refocusing on me.

“I’ve read a lot of his stuff,” I said, “maybe we can sit down over coffee and talk about it sometime.”

“I have a boyfriend,” she said.

I looked at her for a long while, maintaining a forced smile.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

I gathered my things, cast her a firm nod, and walked out of the cafeteria.

‘That’s it?’ she asked.

‘That’s it.’

 

Deep, Deep Down

“I went down to the river,
I set down on the bank.
I tried to think but couldn’t,
So I jumped in and sank.” – Langston Hughes


The four of us were sitting in a row, our toes buried in the warm sand and our minds buried in thought. The silence broke.

“The sunset is so beautiful here, I have to make this my story,” Olivia noted.

Olivia was the most diffident out of the bunch. I had known her since I was little. She was a sweet girl, but a couple of bouts of unrequited love and family issues had shaken her – turned her into someone who lived to please and impress others. It was myself, Olivia, Malcolm, and Jasmine. The latter two had been dating for as long as I could remember, so everything turned into a pseudo-double-date when we got together. Any time we wanted to recollect good times or needed thought-provoking deep discussion, the appropriate setting seemed to be a hill or beach overlooking the sunset. Although I guess it was more of a generational thing – an escape from distractions. Regardless, there we lie.

“It’s alright,” Malcolm stated, as if it were a fact.

“WHY DO YOU ALWAYS DO THAT?! You never agree with anything I say. You can’t deny that kind of beauty,” she snapped.

We all set our gaze upon the sunset for a while, none of us speaking.

“I didn’t say it wasn’t beautiful. I just don’t like the sunset over the horizon, on a conceptual level,” he said.

“You’re so dramatic. ‘On a conceptual level’? What the fuck does that even mean? Just shut up.”

She seemed annoyed.

“Okay, you’re right,” Malcolm conceded.

I shook my head, knowing what was coming next. I shifted positions on my beach towel, lining my torso up with Malcolm’s in order to be heard more clearly.

“No, I want to hear about your moral objection to the sunset. Explain,” I said.

Jasmine non-verbally agreed by nodding her head and Olivia gained an even deeper look of annoyance. She shifted on her towel as well, lining her body up with ours.

“Okay,” he said.

Malcolm had this way of speaking like a preacher at the old school Baptist and African Methodist churches I had grown up in. He started off very slowly, as if he was still forming his thoughts. He would look around and grab ideas out of the air, molding them together, one-by-one. Then you began to see it.

He cleared his throat.

“Well,” he started.

“Yes?”

“The uh-.. reason you see the horizon is due to the curvature of the earth, right? It’s the furthest point from us that we can see, at the elevation we’re at,” he said. Malcolm scanned across the horizon.

“Right.”

“Which means that as we travel toward the horizon, it’s just going to keep getting further and further, because the world is a sphere and we will never reach the end,” he added.

“Correct.”

Malcolm lowered his brow. “You want to look at the horizon and the sunset because it’s so large and grandiose and it’s the furthest thing the eye can see, and that excites you, to look at something which is so far ahead – even though it is unattainable.” He paused. “What you fail to realize is that there are an infinite number of objects between where we are right now and that horizon. There may be a bird in your plane of sight, or a tree, or a dolphin. There are ten to the nth power atoms between you and the horizon. Remember learning about atoms in chemistry? The chaos which comprises nature? The random spontaneity, yet magnificent order that makes up everything in this world? It’s beauty in itself. Yet the only thing we notice is a ball of fire which is 92 million miles away and not getting any closer.”

Malcolm stopped speaking for a moment. He gestured across the landscape with his right hand, waving his fingers along the horizon.

“Maybe a bird flies across your line of sight. You might dart your eyes to it for a moment, then continue looking at your horizon. I understand why. You saw a hundred birds yesterday, you’ve seen a hundred birds today, and you assume you’ll see a hundred birds tomorrow. But what happens when winter rolls around and those birds make the 3,000 mile trip somewhere warmer? You wake up to silence and cold and some of the beauty that you rarely appreciated is dying – life becomes slightly less fulfilling. But you still have your sunset and your horizon, so you endure until the birds and the plants come back next year – because you know they WILL come back next year.”

He paused to gather his thoughts, then continued.

“But what happens when they don’t come back?”

Silence.

“What do you mean?”, Jasmine asked after a while.

“Well it’s a metaphor for life. Fortunately, we’re still young. There’s so much excitement, beauty, and wonder in this world – for us especially – because everything is relatively new. The horizon represents a time where we will have accomplished the things we want to and will have lived most of our lives. When we get there, it’ll be the most amazing thing one could hope for – I think that’s why we hold such focus on it. My problem with the horizon is that if you stare at it long enough, you won’t see anything else. It’s so big and overwhelming that in pursuit of the ultimate prize that is reaching the horizon, we won’t notice the little gifts that we are able to run, jump, and grab. We shrug them off as insignificant in comparison.”

Malcolm sat up and brushed the sand from his torso.

“People always say you should keep your eyes fixed on the future, not the past. I prefer to keep my eyes fixed on the ground, where I stand. Someone might argue that focusing on the future helps you build a better one, but I’ll compromise security for beauty any day.”

“Damn,” I said.

Silence fell over our group. We exchanged looks for a while. The water before us became still.

“The beauty lies in the space between us and the horizon.”