Blackness, As Meditation

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Image by bella67 from Pixabay

Blackness, As Meditation

What can I tell you about being black?

I honestly haven’t the slightest idea.

Sure, whenever I complete a form
that’s nosey enough to ask,
I check the corresponding square,

but I’m just some random guy
born into a reddish-brown shell, and
there’s no option for human doing his best,
given the tattered incomplete playbook
passed down for generations.

Everything I learned about being black
I learned from others, from momma’s
early-warning games that life’s not fair,
the playing field isn’t level,
and the rules are different for folks
who look and sound like us; that the
difficulty settings are disproportionately

skewed; that there are folks who hate me
at first sight, before I could even begin
to hope to win them over
with a smile and a silly joke.

Being black can be tricky, but

what can I definitively
tell you about being black?

You’re better off asking one of my
blood relatives who are black and proud;

I don’t know if I’m not black enough
or not proud enough, but by all accounts,
and my admission, it’s probably both.

I’m amused by the idea of claiming pride
in something I had no control over;
it’s not like I achieved anything; it’s not
like I’m one of the best blacks like Barack
or Beyoncé or K-Dot; I’m just some dude
who popped out of his momma with
reddish-brown skin, a fear of
creepy-crawlies, and a love of words.

Being black can be bemusing, but what
can I honestly tell you about being black?

To be honest, I don’t think about it
very much these days, not unless
circumstances compel me to.

I’m certainly not doing it right,

just ask anybody with the
privilege of voicing opinion;

I don’t speak the language well enough
for anyone; if I’m confident, I’m too uppity;
if I’m insecure, I need to be saved
from my own ignorance; if I’m silent,
I’m one of the sneaky ones; if I’m loud,
I’m one of the angry ones; if I’m

actually angry, I’m a threat
that needs to be stopped by any means
that will most likely withstand
judicial scrutiny.

Being black can be maddening, but

what can I unequivocally
tell you about being black?

It would seem that I’m unqualified
to say for absolute certain.

My chest rises and falls to its own cadence.
I smile big smiles, laugh belly-laughs, and
dream dreams like any other common human.

Tears well in my eyes, and I weep
openly during sappy love stories,
or when a vigilante is acquitted

by his peers for murdering one of my peers.

(Granted, we’re all peers, but my neglecting
to use first-person singular possessive here
could be perceived as not black enough.
Refer to “being black can be tricky” above.)

I have irrational fears of spiders and zombies,
and a hyper-rational fear of meeting
the wrong policeman in a dark alley
after fitting the description.

You know the description;
it’s always the same description.

Being black can be terrifying.

But what can I fearlessly
tell you about being black?

It can be tricky, bemusing,
maddening, terrifying,
all these things at once,

and sometimes, when I’m alone,
staring at the stars above
on the blackest night,

as starlight takes eons to reach
where blackness has already been,
waiting indifferently for it,

it is an absence of all these things,

for when the cosmos
overpowers my brown eyes
with overwhelming proof
of my own individual insignificance,

that is when the truth speaks to me,
that being black is human,
and is but one of many facets
of our collective humanity.
***

Trigger warning: The video below contains satirical graphic gun violence.

Inspired by dVerse dVerse Poetics: On Shades of Black, hosted by anmol(alias HA). Other writers contributed to the prompt here. I know this one’s in dire need of editing, but I may leave it as is, as it came from an honest thread of thought.

On Grudges and Conservation of Energy

On Grudges and Conservation of Energy

Holding grudges is a young man’s game.

Grasp that lightning if you must;
harvest it, gorge yourself upon it,
repurpose it to power your safe haven,
getaway vehicle, or doomsday device,

whichever you choose;
I’m not qualified to judge.

Ask my mother.
She knows. She knew

way back when I was 16 years old
that I wasn’t shit

and my grudge-fueled quest
to prove her wrong succeeded
at proving her both absolutely wrong
and unequivocally right like an
accidental Schrodinger’s cat experiment.

Inability to forgive
converted my potential into kinetic,
driving my momentum
into achievements I never imagined for myself,

and it also left me lifeless,
dead-eyed,
inside an unremarkable box,
waiting to be discovered by wiser forces.

Forgiveness is for old folks
who no longer have the energy for grudges;

many of whom are gathering
their remaining momentum
in a last-ditch effort of
getting into heaven.

Suddenly
the meaning of The Lord’s Prayer
crystallizes before them,
and they’re angling for a slice of salvation pie.

I don’t know much about forgiveness,
but I do know how it feels to run out of steam,
finding myself alone with regret. Nowadays,

I find both grudges and forgiveness
equally inert.

All that matters now lie within
taking accurate readings
and observing what is.
***

Inspired by Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Forgiveness, hosted by Sumana Roy.

Missing, Presumed Lost

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By SpaceX – Falcon Heavy Demo Mission, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66235869

Missing, Presumed Lost

Floating behind me,
a sea of blue, an immense sphere
comprising all that I know,
adore and despise,
breathe and asphyxiate,
drink and drown.

Ahead, you glisten, in quiet peril
reflecting light, juxtaposed in endless black,
after reporting a problem, drifting away,
brave smile in your voice
unintelligible
at this growing distance.

“You’re too late,” you said,
while still in range,
the warmth in your voice
transcending the void,
inexplicably soothing
my chilly fingers
and frosty extremities.

“Oh shit,” I said,
profanely breaking protocol
as the aspect of you
slowly shrank to a point of light.

“I’m sorry,” I offered to the magnets
within the transmitter mic,
a vain effort to overrule
our physical plane.

“It’s ok,” you said tenderly,
reassuring neither of us,
us both ignoring the
depleting oxygen alarms.

“I’m on to my next waypoint.
We’ll have to rendezvous
at the next target window,”
you declare as if our time were not
fleeting, finite,
our fates fixed.

You disappeared beyond the thin blue line,
leaving me to contend with the enormity
of the pale blue light and
an hour of radio silence,
floating above our northern hemisphere,
tilting away, towards winter.

“You free?” your voice vibrated
into my anxious receiver
after a maddeningly long silence
as your glimmer emerged
from the far-side,
rising to rival Venus-glow
and moondust.

“Yes,” I replied quickly,
maneuvering towards a
rendezvous altitude.
“I’m listening. I’m here.”

Then everything went null,
no heat, no cold,
not even light or shadow or grey,
leaving us clasping onto nothing.
***

Shared at Poetry Pantry #496

The Real Truth (Or Why Nobody Asks Me to Deliver Toasts at Weddings or Family Feasts)

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Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

The Real Truth (Or Why Nobody Asks Me to Deliver Toasts at Weddings or Family Feasts)

And what
do any of you
know of Truth?

None of you would know it
not even if it rose in the east,
set in the west,

and pelted you with harmful UV rays
as you lean into his warmth,
grinning like a slow-cooked idiot.

Slowly he rises,
bringing light, warmth,
and terminal cancer,

the indifferent promise
of life and death.

We’ll sing in praise of the former
screening the latter
with sweetly scented chemicals
that lead to a sweeter-scented
terminal cancer.

Life, like the sun
which nourishes and imperils us,
is a massively limited,
egregiously finite
string of things that don’t matter,

and the only constant is
its inevitable return to the lifeless void;

this inevitability is not to be
praised nor condemned, for
to try is to embrace the lie,

not that it matters how infinity is received,
for it will be visited upon you inevitably
and nothing you leave behind,

not even progeny, not even monuments,
not even this truthful tribute will matter,
for none of it will outlast the inevitability.

Life is a lie, death is the Truth,
and I know of no one, good or evil,
who has faced this Truth
with grace and equanimity
who has ever lived to tell the tale.

Now stop wasting everyone’s time
and let us enjoy this bountiful harvest
grown in the light of Truth.
***

Written for Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Truth (in honor of Gandhi’s birthday), posted by Susan.

Garden Rival

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A Steller’s jay. Photo by Michael Anfang on Unsplash

Garden Rival

I called to the Steller’s jay
rooting for seeds in my shabby garden,
but he didn’t answer; he

just kept flittering hither and thither,
loudly shacking his territory with
a harsh “SHACK-Sheck-sheck-sheck-sheck!”

sifting the choicest bits
ahead of the luckless wrens and finches.

I didn’t think he was listening,
but I couldn’t help myself.

I asked him if it was true
that in order to love another,
you must love yourself first,

for I observed that I’ve loved some
like my life was forfeit, and yet others
forced love from lungs in violent spasms,

spilling onto pages and surfaces,
surging to fill every crevice and valley.

I’ve loved tenderly and scandalously,
I’ve loved dutifully and illicitly,

I’ve withheld from others
and denied myself the respite

and believed fatted luxurious lies in real-time
to preserve rotted acorns of truths long gone,

often hating both who I was, am,
and whatever I have become,

and so I asked him, am I doing it right?

I didn’t wait for his answer,
because he’s just a dumb, greedy bird
hording the good seeds for himself.

The Steller’s jay stopped flittering,
made a loud “skreeka!”
looked me in the eye

and said, “That’s the stupidest thing
I ever heard! Love don’t work that way!
Maybe you’re just too dumb for love!”

I read somewhere that Steller’s jays
often mimic birds of prey
to fool rivals into hiding.
***

Originally shared on Medium.

Also shared on Poetry Pantry #495.

Bound by Three Scientific Methods

Bound by Three Scientific Methods

1.
You are a commonplace being,
bound to one of many wandering orbs,
circling one of countless common
main-sequence stars

–  not unlike the twinkling sequins
pinned overhead to our night sky –

within one of a myriad of galaxies
among the observable universe,

and yet, despite our observations,

there is no evidence among the galaxies
of another galaxy like ours,
for among the trillions upon billions
upon trillions of doppelgangers

– give or take a few trillion,
for this poem is of art, not science,
and numbers that big hold little meaning
to an average poet’s brain –

there is no star like the one star
entrapping our world,
no world like our world,
and no one on that world
who makes me smile like you do.

2.
I wrote about how special you are,
trying to quantify and distil your
essential essence into

an incantation I could call on
to fortify my purgatory
with memories of you,

but my words were too remote,
too chilly, too clinical, and
may as well had been stillborn

as an incomprehensible dead language
when translated from my inner-voice
and gestated into our common tongue.

I click my tongue
in bemused disapproval
of the effort

while still retaining the ability
to smile at the universe, knowing
that its vastness contains a singular you,

a lone me, and a bond
unlike any within our reality.

I smile, knowing
that somewhere, sometime,
I have entered your thoughts

as you often rule mine,
and at that very moment,
I know that you smiled at the thought.

3.
Scientists estimate
that there are at least
one hundred billion galaxies
in our observable universe,

an unimaginable number
which is somehow far less than
my “trillions of billions” of galactic
scientific wild-ass guess,

but not nearly as poetic.

Somehow,
I guess my imagination
exceeds even the
observable universe

when trying to solve for
the commonplace, exquisite
variable of you.
***

Originally posted on Medium.

Fractions

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Photo by Amanda Flavell on Unsplash

Fractions

Even now, forces battle for fractions
of light and dark, air and earth, truths and lies
the spoils, ripened treasures and abstractions
like oil, our foods, as humankind’s soul cries
split to the bone in factions
honed for overreactions

My soul’s not known for overreactions
compressing, sealing night into fractions
of morbid amusement, viewing factions
through porous veneers of their willful lies
unmoved by their biased cries
on currents of abstractions

Our sun will yield to night and abstractions
leaving the void and overreactions
light evening showers won’t drown-out the cries
of justice-seekers sliced into fractions
divided by clever lies
blinded factions fight factions

I welcome rain as night deceives factions
truth is our souls are merely abstractions
these lines dividing us all are sad lies
gains of few, fueled by overreactions
many fight over fractions
immune to his brother’s cries

I remain in-tune with my brother’s cries
but turn a deaf-ear to brother’s factions
I see us whole, and not just the fractions
bellies are filled by more than abstractions
stilled by overreactions
humanity’s fate still lies

I wonder which side will win through the lies
will we have our peace or feast on war-cries?
I still observe the overreactions
blackening hearts into soulless factions
they have killed for abstractions
weighing lives by the fractions

I wonder which lies will fell the factions
silencing the cries; soulless abstractions
overreactions leaving fractions.
***

Written for dVerse  Poetry Form: Sestina, hosted by Victoria C. Slotto. Other poets have contributed to this prompt here. The Sestina is an oily form, super-tricky to pull off, like Jello-wrestling a sexy, nude, female vampire who’s riding a velociraptor. Naturally, I had to give it a go (the poem, not the Jello-wrestling, though I’d probably be game for that too.)

Also sharing at Real Toads

Her Scarlet Smeared onto Me

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Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Her Scarlet Smeared onto Me

“Your move, Mr. Bedroom Eyes,”
the words oozed from her coiled rubies,
mingling with her strawberry scent,
joining the rest of my taunted senses.

“She’s made so right
for all the wrong things,”
I think to myself
in her moon-drenched room,

willfully ignoring my own complicities.

Even when she turns away,
concealing her lewd loveliness
in muted midnight shadows,

her elongated shaded nudity
jiggled in ways that seemed
to beckon to a deeper need

transcending the lust and greed
gripping us within this bizarre gravity.

“And don’t you dare pretend that this,”
she added, gesturing generally at the
space between us, “is all one-sided.”

She read me effortlessly, relentlessly
just as she always had, dynamically
consoling, enticing, demanding,

“It’s just us now; be honest.
Don’t act like you don’t want this.
No lies between us tonight.”

She wasn’t made for me,
but her eyes perpetrate the lie;
giving none of the game away,
expecting to be taken,

inviting me to consume
all that I crave to taste,

daring me to meet
where her heat beckons;

the divine junction of where abstraction
melts into sensation, defining touch.

Using only the sight of her
copper-kissed marbled frame,
the ripened flowered goddess’ scent,

and the hot-buttercreamed
sound of her verbal dare,

she deftly sculpted my need
to close the distance,

to thrust my ugly intent
deep inside her beautiful taunt,

to drown her velvet purrs within
undercurrents of my straining grunts,

our bodies rising, falling in unison,
fueled by primal need to occupy
the same finite space simultaneously.

This is what I want
and what she invites.
Of this, I cannot lie.

But it’s also true then, that if we
shackle ourselves to our desires,
indulging ourselves, yielding to them,
we will forever be enslaved by them.

I take a step backwards, fussing with
half the buttons on my shirt that I
don’t recall how they came undone.

Turning towards me, her smile widened
leaning into my gaze, the moonlight falling
upon her contoured sex slowly opening
in my direction, cooing her incantations;

“Even now, you would deny your ache
to possess me, knowing by your pulse
that you were already mine long before,
when we first exchanged glances,

even in that crowded space of fortunes
untold, we saw what we saw in each
other’s eyes, the clarity of potential,
the unspoken intent, and even then,

I knew you were mine,
and that you wished it so,

and while you looked away,
you couldn’t help but to return
to my gaze to see if I was
still looking, and of course I was,

with each time our eyes met,
from you, I stole yet another breath
till now as you stand apart from me,
allowing yourself to breathe

only when I will it;

draw breath now and
tell me, am I wrong?”

I look away, failing spectacularly
in my task to rebutton my shirt.

“Look at me,” she commands.
I comply, my chest becoming tight.

“Breathe,” she says gently, and
I felt my chest relax as I obeyed.

“Now, don’t lie to me,” she demands,
“and don’t lie to yourself, either.
Right here, right now, speak truth.
Tell me what you want.”

“You,” I confess, my chest
once again restricting airflow.

“Who rules your air, your earth,
your body, your soul?” she asks,
knowing the answer.

“You rule me,” I answer,
my unbuttoned shirt now
on the floor behind me,
discarded with my integrity.

“Why are you still dressed then?”
she asked, and then suddenly I wasn’t.

“Still your move, Mr. Bedroom Eyes,”
she taunted again. “I can’t do
everything for you, you know?”

I moved towards her,
overwhelmed by the ache
to feel my skin pressed into hers.

Just as our lips pressed
colors into touch,

just as I tasted her scarlet
smeared onto me,

I smirked at my
illusion of helplessness,

yielding to the power exchange
we demanded the moment
our paths crossed.
***

Originally posted on Medium.

Shared at dVerse Open Link Night #249. Other poets also shared their work here

Bonus song, because I couldn’t get it out of my head after hearing the previous song:

What Fresh Hell, This Retention

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What Fresh Hell, This Retention

Frequently, I
find myself
having to keep
looking up
the word
Incel.

Because I
keep forgetting
what it means.

Its meaning,
and in fact,
its very purpose
for existing
freefalls from
my mind
as soon as it enters,
or to be more precise
as soon as it
reenters.

I am actively angry
at having to retain
the memory of
such an ugly,
pointless word,
just so I can keep
apprised of current
unfortunate events.

They could’ve
saved me the trouble,
pain and suffering,
and gone by their
original name.

Losers.
***