Spring Closet Cleaning via Poem

DISCLAIMER: I did not write this free-verse poem to prompt immediate out-pouring of support or love via facebook comments, reposts, twitter likes, or anything like that. While I do greatly appreciate it, this free-verse, barely edited, written-right-now poem is a form of catharsis; it serve as an update and outpouring from my heart as to how I’m feeling right now.

Spring Closet Cleaning: Not Fair

This poem is not fair, but I guess if life isn’t fair, and really how can life be fair, then it makes sense that this poem is fair.

It is not fair that I will never be able to share how angry and frustrated I am at and with my mom, she is slightly doing better, she put on too much weight, has been moved to Boston, which makes those trips to her shorter, but that shorter distance has only equated to my shorter patience with her.

It is not fair that her decisions and actions brought on some type of dementia that put me in the position I was not ready for. I am not ready. How can any person be ready to be a parent?

It is not fair that my sister is carrying such a heavy burden that she is questioning herself, her existence, who she is, what she does, she is not doing so well right now, she has not been doing well right then.

If this was twitter I would type “mothers dementia + absentee family = sister’s depression #unbalancethisequation”

If this was a meme I would have a picture of a rabbit racing a turtle because we all want progress to be fast, but slow and steady wins the race, and no doctor, no pill, no PHD can physically get you to take each step towards the finish-line.

Mom, I am sorry that I can not see you as much as you want and that I sometimes use your short-term memory lose as my comforted excuse not to see you.

Sister, I am sorry that I get so frustrated and annoyed by consistently waiting for you, to go to school, to meet me somewhere, to get dress, to talk to me, to respond to me, to express what you want from me.

Self, I am sorry that you are struggling to be a parent who did not get the opportunity to perform mess-up-parenting for the prior 14 years before a 15 year old was placed in your care. You are so unaware of what tone, word, actions, supports, repeat, tone, word, actions, supports, repeat, tone, word, actions, supports are needed to raise a child in distress.

It is not fair that my closest friend is a co-worker who is leaving.

It is not fair that my closest friend is a co-worker instead of being someone whom I grew-up with in this city, this city of transplants who stay rooted in mobile flower beds, but my roots run deep.

It is not fair that instead of telling all this to my family face-to-face it has to happen upper-to-lower case.

It is not fair that you may need to read my previous blog entries to get the full story of why I might be writing this poem in the first place.

It is not fair that I haven’t told you when we were texting each other yesterday.

It is not fair that we are not checking-in with each other weekly.

How is your mom? Is you dad doing okay? Did you sibling figure out their life? Did you know such’a-such’a is getting married? Did you know such’a-such’a got divorced? Who had a kid!?… Did you stop cutting yourself? Is he no longer beating you? Are you still unemployed? I’m sorry for your lose.

It is not fair that I was the first to write all these words making you possibly feel guilty when you have just as much going on.

Fact is, the world is not fair, how could this world be fair, so of course this poem is not fair.

pour-ones-heart-out-

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This Be (Poem)

This Be
This be an opportunity to speak freely,
To combine words and movement with sound
This be 3D
Punching circular fist into you mental sheet of paper like Braille,
If you can feel me then you can read me.
This be a break from the mainstream pollution,
A dilution of your problems,
This be a solution!
A focus on being humanistic, hell,
This be Confucian!
This be too big to fit,
So poets, I can’t go in!
When was the last time you jumped up and down,
Mixed your mental around and allowed your mind to bust?!
If you don’t release your mental pressures you will be left
concussed.
This be going down you green pipe dreams,
This ‘B’ is held down so you can run faster, stomping goombas,
Trying to make it to Star Road.
This be untold, like using the skeletons in your closets as hangers
Hoping nobody sees them.
If you need courage, then
This be Freedom.
A three minute blitz with no glitz or glam
This be “Dayum! Did you hear that shit?”
This be not for quitters,
If you bat left then speak right,
This be for switch hitters!
This be the bottom of the ninth,
Two men on,
Packing heat like Lara Croft,
This be a swing of a vernacular bat, “knock” a Walk-Off!
This be first class thoughts flying coach.
It’s uncomfortable to initiate a topic most don’t want broached.
Like, “Nigger”.
This word triggers my double consciousness.
This be counting on some to count me out,
So when I make it, there is no doubting this!
Raising a black fist clutching my master’s degree.
This be a struggle, the process of paying your dues,
This be an expired subscription worth a renew,
The chance to make the Red, White, and Blue,
Safer for the L.G.B.T.Q.,
Safer for the me and you.
Safer… because some statements don’t come with
air bags.
This be a free verse Ferrari with the missing roof,
A vehicle for the youth to speak their truth.
Mr. President.
This be a pre-emptive strike and an exit-strategy,
This be that catharsis when things are going badly
The space needed to recharge your battery
This be my appreciation for you listening to me,
This be, Poetry.

Dreams from my Mother: One Year Later

Next week will mark one year since I’ve lost my mother. My mother is not dead, but it is the type of lose that accompanies an individual who suffers from dementia. My background as an educator pushes me to look at my mother’s dementia (specifically Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome) from a strengths-based position; as a set of circumstances that causes her to interact and learn differently from others. But even with that, it is not easy. As I reflect on the last year of my life, I’ve learned so much about my strengths, limitations, goals, and needs. I write this blog entry without fear and from an open heart. I share with you the three most important lessons I have learned over the last year, and three personal goals I have for the next year.

 

The Three Most Important Lessons I’ve Learned

(1) I AM STRONG

selfappreciation

I must take a special strong type of someone to be a loving boyfriend, loving son, loving brother, loving parent, loving teacher, loving friend, loving colleague, and a loving learner while facing uncharted territory that no average 28-year-old would even be prepared for. Being a parent is a tough and evolving responsibility, especially when you match that with being the care-taker of one of your parents. On the night of my 10-year highschool reunion, a good friend of mine said, “Not to get all religious and stuff, but bro, the lord only gives you what you can handle.” That sentiment was later echoed by one of my mentor’s when she told me, “If you were given it, then you must have been able to take it.” So when I look back at my successes: planned my 10-year highschool reunion, restarted and relaunched the Alumni Association for that highschool, earned my teaching SEI Retell Endorsement for Massachusetts, co-coached my job’s Slam Poetry team to a State Championship, supported my girlfriend and sister with love, encouragement, tears, laughs, hugs, and so much more, I realize how strong I am. I did not learn of nor gained my strength by-myself; it took love, support, and listening ears to get me there. I don’t intend to stroke my ego with what I have stated, rather I am trying to connect to the second most important lesson I have learned. I need to love myself.

(2) I NEED TO LOVE MYSELF

I have beaten myself up a lot over the last year. When my mother first got sick I jumped right-into ‘logistical-management-mode’. I spent so much time balancing obligations and time-sensitive tasks that I forgot to equally, if not more, balance socio-emotional obligations. It wasn’t until the beginning of summer that I started to authentically reflect on my lack of socio-emotional supports for my sister, my mother, my girlfriend, my father, and most importantly myself. Whenever you board a plane and you’re about to take-off, the flight attendant instructs you that in the case of an emergency, that you place the air mask on yourself before helping others. In my case, I placed the air mask on only cover my nose and that did not allow me to take the deep-breaths needed to relax. I reached my emotional breaking-point on a few occasions and I still have the scars from beating myself up afterwards. It is only now that I am using those same hands to apply ointment to those scars. By loving myself, I can forgive myself, and by forgiving myself, I can help myself. Now my air mask covers my full face. I’ve been breathing deeply the last couple of weeks.

(3) MY TRUE FAMILY IS WHAT I MAKE IT TO BE

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My family has always been small: my mother, my sister, my father, and a cat. Due to the age difference between my sister and myself, I haven’t had the chance to develop a strong brother-to-sister relationship. My sister was born when I started highschool, my sister was entering kindergarten when I started undergrad at Boston University, and by the time my sister was entering 7th grade I began my master’s program at Harvard Graduate School of Education. There was no middle (buffer) child, and my family (both mother and father’s side) did not get involved (unless they wanted something). As for my sister’s father (we have different fathers because my parents divorced when I was 7) and his family, they also did not get involved. So how was I suppose to feel when my sister’s father didn’t ‘step-up’ when my mother was hospitalized? How was I suppose to feel when my grandmother (my lone-living grandparent) decides to visit for nearly two months and refuses to see my sister, myself, and her own daughter during the Christmas and New Years? How was I suppose to feel when no family member reached-out to invite my sister and I over for Thanksgiving? If my family was already small, it became that much smaller when my mother was removed.

I came across this quote, “Blood makes you related. Loyalty makes you family,” and only now can I grasp the weight of what it means. For a few years I reflected on the natural process of becoming an adult and beginning to know and understand family members as ‘people’ and not titles. I’ve only began to understand and truly appreciate the man my father is through our discussions man-to-man. Discussions that are not limited by topic or content. Discussions that have helped my father and I build a bond deeper than father and son, a bond of friendship. Friendship is the bond that I have come to value to the most in my life. My girlfriend and I have a relationship built from friendship. When you call someone your friend, you do so by choosing that relationship, by trusting that relationship, and by maintaining that relationship. That effort, trust, and hopeful reciprocity, is not always present in a blood-family. This same phenomenon is experienced when an individual breaks away from their family’s ‘history.’ Think of ‘first-generationers’: those who first break the poverty cycle in their family, those first to marry outside their race, those first to marry someone of the same sex, those who first enter college, those who first move away from their home state, and those who first break-away from the ‘family-business’. It is possible to grow-away from your family, and to maintain the relationship, one must find value in it. Just like some friendships I have had, their are no relatives that I do not find value in maintaining a relationship with. That previous statement not only weights on me, but it places me in a vulnerable position.

This lesson has given me the insight to value and put the effort forward to maintain and develop friendships that I can then call a ‘family-relation.’ A few years ago a close friend of mine from B.U. and I got into an argument. We both allowed it to escalate and let our ego’s get the best of us. We would go beyond just losing a friendship, but we would lost a brotherhood; a brotherhood that is ever more important given the current situation in America when it comes to Black Lives. We have since started repairing our friendship and are on mends. I did not ever think it would be possible for us to reconcile our differences. It has been such a relief and fruitful for both of us to have each other in our lives. When I think about the future for my girlfriend and myself, I look forward to making my small family a bit larger.

My Three Personal Goals for the Next (school) Year

beauty_goals

Although I only shared three lessons in this blog-entry, I have learned many lessons this last year. It is through my collective lessons that I present these three personal goals I have for the next school year. These goals are not only attainable, but they are also fulfilling and scratch an inch I’ve had for some time.

(1) BE A MENTOR

I’ve wanted to be a mentor for quite some time. It goes back to my time working a Year Up when I was tasked with matching my students with mentors. Ever since I left Year Up I wanted to become a mentor for a Year Up student, but my schedule and profession made that a difficult venture. I have two mentors and call both of them my friend. I appreciate them for their guidance, support, love, listening-ear, and friendship.

One professional goal of mine is to support, mentor, and nurture new teachers. I have a more years of teaching and experience to go before I feel like I can do that adequately. However, I have enough experience to mentor a highschooler. This brings me to how I will become a mentor. I’m working with the John D. O’Bryant Boston Technical Alumni Association to establish a mentoring program that will connect alumni with current highschoolers. Through this effort, I will soon have my mentee.

(2) WRITE MORE POETRY

Poetry is life! I found my most effective and honest mode of expression when I became a spoken-word artist. Since my time at B.U., I have self-published two chapbooks, performed for many many crowds and venues, and attended many spoken-word and slam poetry events. I’ve been planning on releasing a third chapbook for the last four years and have not delivered. I have written some poems, now I haven’t exactly completed each one, but I do have material to work with. I’ve read and edited more poems for my friends and students over the last two and a half years than writing my own poems. While that is not entirely a bad thing, I want to deliver on my goal of producing my third chapbook. More importantly, I want to continue to express myself in the most powerful way I know, poetically. These blogs have been my replacement from writing poems, but my artistic edge is not expressed in these blogs.

Expect your copy to be available by Christmas, on a sliding monetary scale of $0 to $5.

(3) BE ACTIVE ABOUT WHO AND WHAT I LOVE

My third goal loops back into the first two [did you just see what I did]. Over this last year I put forth the effort to reconnect with a friend and I got myself a bike. I’ve come to the realization that my actions must reflect what I need, want, and/or love to do. It’s not about making decision solely based on being right, wrong, or wronged, it’s about being genuine to my heart and what I need, want, and/or love to do.

What entices me the most about this goal is how adaptable it is. I enjoy playing tennis, so I will try to play more. I enjoy bike riding, so I will ride my new bike longer and further than ever before. I love to travel with people I love, so I will plan to do so. One short coming of this goal is the lack of accountability. Perhaps this is where you come in. YEAH, YOU THE READER! You can hold me accountable by commenting on this entry, asking me if I have achieved my goals.

As I enter the next year of my life, I hope that my next entries are more of the ‘poetic’ nature. I don’t see a way to wrap a bow on this blog entry. The truth is, I don’t want to. What I am going through is a process; of understanding, of healing, of progression. My mother’s dream for me was to be healthy and happy with what I do in life. It is hard to accept that my mother will not be the same, but I try to remind myself of the mom I had. The friendship I’ve built and continue to build with my dad will not happen to the safe effect with my mom. However, her dreams for myself and my sister will carry on.

So, until my next entry and/or adventure with you…

joke

Loving’s Understanding PART 1

In case you are unfamiliar with the Loving V Virginia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loving_v._Virginia 

This topic has been on mind for a while and will continue to be. This is the beginning of my unpacking of feelings via a poem.

(courtesy of BU’s “Hug Don’t Hate”)

Image

 

“Loving’s Understanding PART 1″

 

Although we may influence whom we love, we can never control it.

I understand what it is like to be blindsided by someone you were not looking for

But has everything you are looking four:

A spark, shared values, inner and outer beauty.

I understand what it is like to love someone secretly.

When you feel your cultural upbringing pushing against your cultural reality.

When you feel armor-piercing eyes against your Kevlar heart and you start to wonder,

How can we as a people become more open-minded about what we love, yet still close-minded about whom we love.

 

When I look into her eye’s I see stereoscopic galaxies with vulnerability at their centers.

I enter her heart when I hold her hand.

 

I understand what it can look like,

When my white girlfriend and me go out for the night.

Quite a many black ladies have cut me side eye

As if to say “that” guy must be “self-hating”

 

Since when did whom I was dating start relating to how I feel about being black.

When did this start threatening my credibility?

If lost, how do I get it back?

 

I understand being in that moment

When you’re deciding whether to keep your love a secret or to publicly owe it.

To face your opponents with an open ear.

 

I still hear the fears that echo

Even if my love has not been forbidden since 1967.

In 2011 The Honorable Louis Farrahkhan on TV One

Said he believed interracial dating could not last once it begun.

Because we always go back to black.

 

But that is something I will never lack.

 

The fact that “Scandal” gets no eyebrows raised,

But a thirty-one second commercial from Cheerio’s get voices.

If love is vast how can we confine it to a few choices?

 

It is so easy to love manmade things: Sports, Fashion, Money, and Race.

Why is it so hard to accept nature’s love: instinctual and face-to-face?

Sleepless in Cambridge

It was one of those nights. Those nights when you can’t sleep, those nights when all the thoughts in your head are on the verge of creating a headache. It was one of those nights.

So I pick up the cigar I bought to celebrate my graduation and attainment of my masters. I walked out the door, over to the Charles River and I was greeted with this…

Image

A view of a city, my city. A city that has been the source of much joy, pain, struggles, accomplishments, and reflection. I light my cigar.

***

The first drag is long and full of fire. I notice how the night river serves as the best tool of reflection. Self-reflection. The questions all begin to rush out of my mind.

“Where do I go from here?” “How will I pay my June rent? July?”

“How do I process the greatest costs of attaining my masters… losing a friend.”

Not just any friend, but a friend who was apart of my phalanx.

Think about the friend you and your family have broken bread with at two Thanksgiving meals. A friend you now have everything to talk about with, but nothing to discuss. A friend who you should speak with in person, but has no desire to be in the same breathable space as you… Not even to salvage the phalanx.

“How do I process talking to a grandmother, the only grandparent I have left, who calls me her ‘special baby’, yet has not acted on her verbalized desires to attend my graduations… both undergrad and graduate?”

“How does a person, who is considered the most honest and open person around, share that he needs a few probing questions to share his heart?”

“How does a person speak of needs when all he can do is feel them… there are little words to express that.”

***

The cigar is about half-way done when I notice the duck walking along the dock. With one magical flap of her wings, the duck takes off down the river. I wonder what that duck was thinking? Could she be feeling the same way?

Words are so hard to find, yet each component of my lexicon is bursting from my mind. I do not share these words to seek any sympathy, but to subdue the headache that has been itching to come forth.

The sun is beginning to kiss the horizon, making it blush from surprised affection. I stare in awe.

***

This cigar was meant to be shared with the boys, but it was best to have it alone. This is the beginning of the longed reflection needed upon achieving a milestone. The miles are many, so I begin walking knowing I am not alone. I want to shout so many things, I want to feel fewer. This may be the true burden of wisdom: The more we know, the easier it is to look back, yet the harder it is to accept.

***

The cigar is down to it’s last enjoyment. I taste fire and breath out relief. Relief in knowing that each step I take, I have the love of my life holding my hand to help me make each one. I have my parents and sister to reinforce the faith I must live by. I have my close friends to give me that reassuring hand on my shoulders.

The walk back is unbalanced yet purposeful. I feel my home calling me.

I start writing this so I can lay next to her.

Then I post