Challenge Accepted

The following is a poem I wrote in response to a friend’s (Mia Wright) challenge on FB to write a poem about love that doesn’t have similes or the word “love” in it.  Here’s what I submitted…

I feel you.

You saturate my being

And cleanse me of my fears…even though sometimes I’m afraid of you.

I breathe you.

I inhale you each time my lungs fill

And you nourish every cell of my being…even when you take my breath away.

I dream of you.

You dance through my mind

And occupy my thoughts constantly…and yet allowing myself to experience you is probably the most mindless thing I’ve ever done.

I long for you constantly.

Because when you’re with me, everything else makes sense.

And the stuff that doesn’t…doesn’t matter.

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I’m Sayin’ It

I never felt the need to “carry the cross” for racial equality because I, like many who were lulled to sleep by placating political gestures and distracted by “shiny” things like the American Dream and the right to pursue happiness, I thought “they” (the leaders who led the FIRST round of demands for civil rights) handled it already and that we were “past that”.  But more and more I find myself fighting the overwhelming urge toward indignation because shit is absolutely NOT okay and I don’t feel BLACK voices are being heard. My poise thus far is not because I feel like I need to continue to pacify and “stay in my place”…but rather because once I come out of the box, Pandora won’t have JACK on me. So I’m studying balance…and learning when and how to strategically tip the scales.

But today is not a “study” day.

And I will admit that I was tempted to “qualify” the BLACK voices that “should” be heard. You know, the educated, non-criminal, articulate, “plays well with White folks” voices. The ones that aren’t intimidating, know how to scout out “when to speak” and when to “…remain silent”, what dialect they need to adopt in order to “relate”, and voices dressed in smiles, suits, straightened or neatly curled and coiffed hair, and “tastefully” jeweled. But DAMN THAT.

The BLACK voices that ALSO need to be heard are the ones who, because of pulled funding and pornographically underpaid educator pay, might not put sentences together “good”. The ones whose pants may indeed fall off their ass, or whose skirts may look painted on. The ones who may even have upwards of 3, 4, or 5 children with different “baby mamas” or “baby daddies” and show no evidence of having been introduced to a condom or birth control method. The ones who have a “record”…and I ain’t talking about on iTunes. Why? BECAUSE THEY STILL MATTER! And if you actually listen to what they may not be so-called “articulate” enough to say, you MAY learn about the conditions (and conditionING) that brought them to where and how they are.  Who are YOU, person who is content to perpetuate an overtly racist system masquerading as opportunity, to “qualify” which BLACK life “deserves” to have a voice or “matter”? PLEASE go sit down and take whatever justification you feel you have with you.

Generation after generation of degradation, disrespect, disregard, belittlement, humiliation, second-guessing, and systematically imposed poverty…and you want to tell me that if my brother just pulls his pants up, he’ll “stand a CHANCE” of being heard? So you’re telling me that aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall of this is about some damn PANTS??? Aw okay…

Listen. I’m not saying burn the shits down. BUT it’s hella hard to stand by and watch the frozen molasses of justice make its way down to us. BLACK LIVES MATTER. Period. No laws which can ever be passed will remove racism from the hearts and minds of people. We know this. But still…BLACK LIVES MATTER. This doesn’t take away from any other people group, because YES “ALL lives matter”…but “ALL lives” aren’t being profiled. “ALL lives” aren’t being killed without indictment or prosecution. “ALL lives” aren’t in communities that are self-imploding because more liquor stores and payday loan stores are being erected than schools. “ALL lives” aren’t still haunted by the ghost of slavery, which brought BLACK lives to this stolen nation.

So I’m saying it again… BLACK LIVES MATTER. We are not the “animals” that we were (and, in many cases, still are) labeled. BLACK LIVES MATTER. And I shouldn’t have to build a case to justify why my life matters. Or why my brother’s life matters. Or my sister’s. Or my father’s. Or my mother’s. Or my niece’s. Or my nephew’s. Or my son’s. Or my daughter’s. Or my aunt’s. Or my uncle’s. Or my grandfather’s. Or my grandmother’s. Or…you get the point.

BLACK LIVES MATTER.   I make absolutely NO apology for my indignation. I make no apology for how many times I inserted BLACK LIVES MATTER into this writing. Because “BLACK LIVES MATTER” makes waaaaayyy more sense than “get out of the car!”, “fuck your breath!”, “we found her that way”, slamming a 14-year-old BLACK girl in a bikini to the ground with a knee in her back, killing a child for playing with a TOY gun, evicting a 90-year-old Navy VETERAN from his 60-year-old home (no, not all injustices perpetuated against BLACK people are violent), or COUNTLESS other monstrosities. BLACK LIVES MATTER.  I’m saying it, and will continue to say it…for myself and every other BLACK person who feels the need to be “taught” how to live in BLACK skin without becoming a fatality.  BLACK LIVES MATTER.

I’m not writing this to make anyone uncomfortable. On the same count, I refuse NOT to write it because it does. BLACK LIVES MATTER. This is not a marketing campaign to “convince” the masses…BLACK LIVE DO MATTER!!! I don’t care what the circumstance, what the living condition, what the mindset, what the challenge, what the “attitude”, what the…whatever. BLACK LIVES MATTER.

There…I said it.


Tribute

You are ever so smooth in how you move
In commanding authority you walk—or should I say “groove”
Everything you do has a purpose, a reason, a goal
I can see it in your eyes—your deep, enchanting eyes
For they witness of your soul

Which bears the scars and bruises and fears of a heart,
broken and disappointed several times over
And because you rarely, if ever, allow this part of you to be seen
Your face, often, is expressionless in an all-too-successful attempt to cover
Your feelings, your emotions, your true thoughts
About your past, your future and today

Oh, and dare I say…love…it’s okay

To be in love with life, with Love, with yourself, and…me
Please don’t forget about me

Your scent, your walk, your way of talking
Your hug, your smile, your style of dressing
Your charm, your laugh, your vibe, your groove, your soul, your love…
That’s what draws me to you

Nothing particular, nothing specific
But everything spectacular, everything unique, everything special, everything—
“You”

You are a man, living in your own world
Often misunderstood by those of us who don’t come from there

Your life tells a story
Of Joy and sorrow…Strength and weakness…
Triumph and defeat
You are an Overcomer

Driven by Determination, destined for Greatness,
created for Dominion
You are a Prince

A knight in imperfect armor
You are Father, Brother, Husband, Friend…and Love.
You are…you
And I thank you.


WHAT DOGGED DETERMINATION WILL DO

What would happen if you “forgot” to be limited…?

Don Miskel

I’m proud of, just got off the phone with, and am big-upping my brother, Chris Miskel. Though he’s younger, he lost the “little brother” moniker years ago, when we both became dads. I am mentioning this very talented individual because he is a maverick that decided to break the rules and live his dream.

Chris is a professional musician, a self-taught drummer who has been doing it since he could pick up sticks. When we were little, it was the oven door, pots, pans, oatmeal boxes, and any anything else that could produce a sound that got beaten. He’s gone from using pencils and chopsticks to being promoted by Pearl (those are the folks who make drums, y’all).

He also hails from the same impoverished Chicago South Side neighborhood that I do, currently nicknamed Chi-raq due to all the violent crime that goes on there. A young man who was…

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Back to the Future: A Letter to the Past

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It’s so interesting how the universe responds to us. I’ve recently found myself saying on a number of occasions that I wish I could “go back and give [a younger version of myself] a hug’. I say it whenever I remember behaviors that were mindlessly prominent, stemming from a number of perceived deficiencies or flaws…efforts to get others to notice or “see” me and perceive or (even worse) ascribe my value. Then I stumbled across a challenge to– no… I was presented with an opportunity to do a writing assignment about advice I would give to my younger self. Serendipity in play, for sure. Well, actually the time frame that I was referring to was only about 4 years ago, but what follows is a letter to myself at around age 10, which is when things really were still in the middle of heavy twists and turns that were shaping the way I saw myself and the world…

Hello, Beautiful!

You are an amazing and strong young lady! You have come through some really hard things already, and you’re still smiling…that is a beautiful thing! I know at this point you are having a hard time understanding that people who really love you do not hurt you, but it’s true. The truth is those who hurt you did not love you at all, and only told you lies to get you to think they did…so they could have the chance to do harmful things to you. This is NOT LOVE, SWEETHEART. Love is not selfish and doesn’t willfully hurt or mistreat others. This is something that is REALLY important for you to learn, so that you know how to recognize the difference between when someone genuinely cares for you, and when someone is trying to trick you so they can be selfish with you. It’s also important for you to realize this so that you don’t grow up believing that it’s okay to do or say harmful things to people you say you love…because that’s not okay, either.

Love is a wonderful and miraculous thing, and I know you feel it strongly when it happens. You feel this way with your dad’s mom and your mom’s dad the most. They REALLY love you! They show you this by sharing healthy embraces and kisses with you… You know how when you’re in their arms or near them, you feel safe? Like nothing and no one can hurt you? That’s how true love is supposed to feel. You know how when you’re with them, they speak kindly to you…even when they’re angry, upset, or disappointed? That’s called respect. It is okay to be upset with someone, but you can still let them know how you feel without yelling or saying mean things to hurt them…even though you may want to do that. It won’t always feel natural, but as you grow older, you’ll learn that one of the most important things you can have is good relationships. And learning how to speak respectfully to everyone you encounter is a very big part of making sure you hold on to those good relationships.

Speaking of relationships… You are a sweet, kind and attractive young lady who has been exposed to relationships that you should have been introduced to only several years from now, when you are old enough to better understand what they mean. So, first, let me tell you that is not your fault. Second, although many who love you and will eventually learn of what happened will be upset and try to help you direct blame for what happened, that hear me when I share with you that that will not change who or where you are today…but beginning to practice blame and acting like a victim CAN affect or even change your future. You are a powerful young lady, who has the ability to do and become anything you can imagine…and you have an amazing imagination! It is very important that you remember the awesome power that you have within you to create and to choose. And to choose to create. Everything that makes you feel good about that gorgeous chocolate skin that God dipped you in, and those thick thighs that protect your sacred space, and that ivory smile that lights up your face…find ways to do more of those things, which help you celebrate the glorious daughter of Love that you are. (And although your hair is still being relaxed now, you’ll eventually learn that even those unruly kinks and coils that sprout from your scalp are to be celebrated and CAN be naturally tended to and honored.) Do not be ashamed of the wonderfully unique creation that YOU are! The more YOU know this, the more intentional your life will be. You don’t have to go through life apologizing for other people being uncomfortable with who you are in your natural state…you are not the reason for their discomfort – THEY have not learned the truth about themselves, and so they feel uncomfortable seeing you walk so freely in yours.

I tell you all this because it will give you something to hold onto when the world feels mean and cold. Because there WILL be days when things will hurt. People you love very much and who you thought would be with you forever will die and leave your life. So it is very important that when you get to share time with people you love that you make each time very special. If you want to hug them, hug them. If you want to tell them you love them, say it. These are special times that you can never get back.

Learn who your brothers and sisters are…on the inside. Pay attention to what makes them smile, and what makes them sad. Pay attention to how you feel when they do certain things – whether good or bad. And it’s okay to tell them, because this helps them get to know who you are on the inside. Remember me telling you about relationships? Your relationships with them can be among the most special relationships that you have. And when you grow up and all live apart from each other, you’ll still have your relationships to keep you close.

From where I sit now, we’ve been through a lot, babygirl. So you will have plenty of opportunities to share love and speak respectfully, with others and with yourself. I know that sounds weird, but as you get older you’ll understand. You’ll experience a few more very disappointing and hurtful people even before getting out of grade school and on to high school…as well as throughout the rest of your life, but remember who YOU are. Be proud of who you are becoming. Love yourself. Other angels will show up along with way to help you safely arrive to where we are now.

Who knows…depending on how much of this you remember and hold on to, “where we are now” could look much different the next time around. 😉

You are loved deeply,

40-year-old You (and no, that’s actually not “old”)


The Power Within

The Power Within

I was fumbling around at my desk at home, trying to find the cord to my speakers so I could plug it in to my computer. There was the cord that went to the external hard drive, then there was the cord that went to my phone charger, then there was the one that went to the charger for my “other” usb devices, as well as the cord for yet another device. Didn’t have to worry about the cord that charges my laptop, because it was already plugged in. ALAS! I finally found the cord for the speakers, but when I did the strangest thing happened. As I reached for the different cords, I noticed the occasional “buzz” or “pop” from the ends touching each other…because everything was plugged into the main power strip so it was all live. [I know, I know…not the best setup, but this particular gangly mess wasn’t a usual occurrence.]

In particular, I noticed the cord to my speakers because the volume was up a little. What I noticed was that when my hand touched the plug, the speakers would hum or buzz. The first time it happened, I thought it might have accidentally touched one of the other live cords. But when I tried to use my hand to try to “protect” the end until I got it plugged in…it got LOUDER! What the…HUH??? So I dropped the cord to make sure I didn’t electrocute myself […”again” (but that’s a story for another day)].   But what had just happened? Why did it make that sound? I took inventory and once I made sure everything else was back to its intended setup, I picked up the speaker cord by the base…and deliberately touched the tip to my hand. It did it again…but I didn’t feel a current.

I did this a few times, and like a curious and fascinated child was AMAZED! So then I explored… Holding the cord by the base, I touched my desk…nothing happened.   So I touched my hand again, just to be sure…the buzz was still there. I touched a book…nothing. Touched my bare leg…buzzzzzz. Touched the desk lamp…nothing. Touched my neck…buzzzzzzz. FASCINATING! I marveled for a little longer, and then decided to go ahead and plug the cord back into the computer.   When I did, I noticed a pop and the SAME BUZZ until it was fully inserted and securely in place.

I’d heard a number of times that our bodies have enough energy in them to light an entire city, were we to learn how to harness its unique power – but I honestly thought that was just something people were saying to inspire and motivate others and make them feel good about themselves and their potential. But NOW…? I kinda believe it! Granted, my bootleg home experiment was not a sophisticated setup, and could quite possibly just be happenstance. You know, this particular brand of speakers, the type of power strip they’re plugged into, a combination of the energy of the other items also in the space…but I doubt it.

This got me thinking about the literal THOUSANDS of thoughts and ideas that pass through my consciousness on a regular basis. I also thought about the different pains and discomforts I’ve experienced…possibly due to NOT properly protecting and/or directing the power that IS ME. How many times have I doubted my ability to do/say something, or to otherwise act, thinking there was something outside of myself and the power with and in which I was born into this realm? Way too many! And how many times have YOU?

What power-packed ideas and activities have you kept unjustly and improperly shelved, waiting for something outside of your divine mandate to give you unnecessary permission to do? What have you denied yourself and the world by not realizing the incredible power that lives in you NOT because you activated it, but BECAUSE YOU ARE?!?!!! Your breath, beating heart, and even your doubts are evidence that you ALREADY have and ARE the power you need. Now, it’s only a matter of moving from curiosity and exploration on to intentional creation.

Yes, you’ll continue to face things that may cause you to doubt who you really are, and the power you actually DO have to create. But your magnificence and brilliance are really not EVER legitimately up for debate or challenge…E.V.E.R. You don’t even have to believe it to make it so. IT. JUST. IS. But in order to MASTER your ability to manifest your true desires – I mean the “real” ones, not the “it would be really nice IF…” ones – you DO need to learn your power and how to be responsible with it.

Watch any movie or read any book about superheroes “stumbling” onto their power and yes, there is the period of discovery or of fun exploration where they do dumb stuff just because they’ve discovered they can. [Think about puberty, and the realization millions of hormonal young folks have that they “can” have sex…and that they can even create another life. Great power…not always wisely exercised upon initial discovery.] Ideally, there is some trusted voice of reason that commends them for finally discovering the power that lives within them…and cautions them on being prudent with their new discovery.

I don’t know what your “superpower” is…YOU may not even know what it is yet. But I DO KNOW – without ANY shadow of doubt – that you have it. Hopefully your life is structured in such a way that you’re allowed to sit and just “be”…even if for a few deliberate minutes each day. It doesn’t have to be a long time, but having this time of quiet connection to yourself and the Power that courses through you is important. Your life will take shape and form based on how connected you remain to this understanding. It goes beyond description, labels, titles and identification. What you call it doesn’t matter. But your ability to shape your life – as well as affect the lives of others – is directly related to this power and your ability to effectively direct it.

And contrary to the popular notion that it’s more important to know your purpose, or else risk not fulfilling it, it is more important that you recognize and relate to the Power that you are. Because as you become more attuned to all of who you are, the purpose will both reveal and protect itself….and it cannot be destroyed.

Think about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Dream”. He is who pronounced it, but his beautiful crafting of the words that related to the hearts of millions didn’t “make” the dream. The dream’s time had come…and he was simply the man who recognized its universal cry and harnessed his own powers of words, passion, and unwavering commitment to propel it forward. And the dream did not die when his body was no more. But because he lived a life in recognition of his power, that dream “crowned” during his lifetime…even though it has YET to be fully realized…but it still continues.

And yours will, too…


Good morning, 2015! (UNBLOCK)

What do you do when you’re blocked? Great question. I had all these INCREDIBLE ideas floating around at the end of the year, and it feels as though that “inspired” person went back to whatever universe they were visiting from, and left me here to deal with THEIR idea skeletons. Where’s the inspiration? Where’s the magic? Where are the damn ideas??? I feel like the ideas I have are broken records of “dreams past” (that never came to pass, so they’re not really “past”…but they haven’t shown me how to free them, either). So now…I’m just writing. Writing for the sake of exercising my fingers and hearing the keys on my laptop tap. Something about the SOUND of producing something…even when that “something” is completely non-descript…is mildly satisfying. And seems to summon up other words to come. Now whether they make sense or not is another story altogether, but at least I hear tapping…

When I awaken from this blank coma, I’m hoping that something of substance will have appeared once I get all the creative “eye buggers” out. It may not be THIS particular post, but something that comes forth…maybe the 3rd or 4th time I choose to exercise my fingers and take them for a stroll around the keyboard track. Who knows? But I DO know I feel my chest swelling, as if something has stimulated my ideas to come alive again. I actually FEEL the neurons in my brain firing off in the same manner that an onlooker summons others spectators of a bar fight or car accident. You know, that “OMG! I don’t know what happened, but LOOK! Words are starting to appear on the page…and they keep coming!” kinda thing.   So who knows who’ll “win” this round…? But I feel myself waking up. Even though I’m kinda stumbling around like when I wake up from sleeping in real life… It’s actually kinda funny and pathetic, because I will LITERALLY pace and walk aimlessly from room to room in my home until my body is fully awake and able to make reasonable choices on what to do. And I mean even on the everyday stuff like brushing my teeth, getting in the shower, picking my outfit, styling my hair, and whether or not I feel like doing anything to my face. I am a MESS in the morning! And this post puts me in remembrance of that same kinda “waking up” confusion.

No real insightful words, or inspiring thoughts…just getting out of the proverbial writing bed. (So don’t hold any grammatical or spelling errors against me…my foot is not even really on the floor good yet!) BUT I’m “coming to”…and thank you for being a part of my transition from sleep to awake, just by being here with me and reading this. If you want to help me even more, feel free to suggest some topics or scenarios on which I may comment, to help give my ramblings some direction while my writing vision becomes a bit clearer. In the meantime, I’m going to call this year ONE writing day…so I’ll just say “Good morning” for now and prepare for a good one.