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.

The Art of Ghosting

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Photo by Jesse Bowser on Unsplash

The Art of Ghosting

It requires a deft feel of
space, atmosphere,
my place within it.

Shrinking is the easy part;
few notice my contortions
to accommodate.

Conversations flow in torrents;
my awkward trickle dries,
I silently observe.

By the time anyone pauses
to notice my absence,
I’m long gone.

Disappearing one’s self
from physical social functions
call for skill and patience.

Social media ghosting only requires
resolve to never logon again;
no one looks for you there.

Voiding verbal social contracts
with friends and loved ones
can be a bit trickier.

But total mastery of this art
necessitates majestic dexterity
and stately self-loathing.

It is mastered only when
you never leave your bed
no longer seeking connection,
and no one ever again seeks
comfort within your touch.

Ghosting is easy with practice,
but living with the aftermath,
not so much.

It’s doubtful you even noticed
that I left this poem.
***

Inspired by dVerse Poetics: Your Majesty, hosted by Gospel Isosceles. Other poets contributed to the prompt here.

We were supposed to implement some type of majestic vibe into this prompt, but as you can see, I predictably went the other way with it.

Cosmic Indifference and Crisis of Meh

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Photo by Tomas Sobek on Unsplash

Cosmic Indifference and Crisis of Meh

One day
the sun
will rise
alone,

radiating light
on not a single tree
nor even a blade of grass,
warming a barren earth for no reptile,
nor bird,

nor even a single bipedal mammal
to bend a knee
in humble worship of Ra’s
once life-bringing magnitudes.

I won’t try to tell you how to feel about that
nor will I implore you to stand up and
do something to slow the inevitability,
for even if we collaborate to stem the tide,
it will happen inevitably.

One day the sun will rise alone,
scorching an already sterilized planet,
eradicating every gaudy man-made
monument to ourselves, and we
just may knowingly accelerate
this unavoidable fate
exponentially.

I won’t tell you to save a world that is
well beyond our combined will to save,

for it seems like hubris to even
entertain the notion of saving a world
from the cosmic nature of its
unavoidable demise;

saving our planet, to me, sounds
as ludicrous as saving our lonely sun
from burning though its
finite supply of hydrogen,
and then its helium,
collapsing into a
cooling carbon cinder
of its once majestic brilliance.

But why won’t you think of saving the sun?
We’re wasting its resources, you know.

Why not warm your house with clean coal
and save some of those precious
hydrogen-fused released photons?

I won’t ask you to do that
because that would be utterly ridiculous
and just speed things along and
I greatly prefer slowing things
as much as those
sensible conservationists,

though I won’t ask you to recycle either,
even though it would be rather kind of you
to join me in doing so.

I won’t tell you
to protest Big Oil
and petroleum products

because the cabinet full of pharmaceuticals
extending my lifespan, health and comfort
would compel me to mock my own hypocrisy.

But our planet is dying and
one day the sun will rise alone.

That was always going to be the case,
though we are helping to speed the process
significantly, and with cosmic indifference
bordering perverse zeal.

I won’t sit here and tell you to
get up and go do something about it.

But do get up
and go do something
for me; stand up

and take inventory
of the beauty and wonders
we’ve all taken for granted
from time to time.

If you’re fortunate enough
to experience the ongoing miracle
of waking tomorrow,

go stand outside and listen
to morning wipe the sleep from her eyes,
unfolding her wings, singing all around you.

If luck favors you with a summer rain shower,
let it soak you to your pores
and breathe deeply,
inhaling her perfume.

Observe regal, billowing,
wispy clouds march overhead
towards the horizon,
dissolving from view,
but still existing in both
mystery and memory.

I’m willing to wager that what you see
may cause you to gasp as you tenuously
grasp at your own insignificance,

and maybe, just maybe,
you may find yourself compelled
to preserve some of these moments
a few moments longer.

It’s not much;
perhaps even too insignificant
to make a sliver of a blip
of a microbe of a difference.

But one day the sun will rise alone.
What will you do until then?
***

Written for dVerse Poetics: On Climate Crisis, hosted by anmol(alias HA). Read other poets’ prompt contributions here.

Day 29: Lark (Blue Side of Pale Series)

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Photo by Andrew Le on Unsplash

Lark (Blue Side of Pale Series)

A blue side of pale winter sky
A false promise of warmth
Mocking lie leaves frostbite
We learn to live without feeling
Breath before death leaves us warmer
Beyond all comprehension of touch

A blue side of grey spring and sleet
A note passed across the order
It reads as up is down and I am worthy
I compound why nots ‘till I forgot
We would never be, yet I felt warmer
Lark or not, I envisioned her touch

A blue side of bluest midsummer dream
Her declaration under scalding eyes
A fragile fondness that could never be
I lash-out, shredding her baby-bird song
I wound her before she could burn me
Sense of touch long beyond the pale

A blue side of amber autumn gale
Earnest harvest of unmindful fullness
Ripened want withered on bough
Unseen by us, insulated from life
Preparing for death has iced our light
Beyond all comprehension of touch
***

Written for dVerse Poetic: Theories of Everything and Anything, hosted by merrildsmith. Other poets contributed here. 

Also written for NaPoWriMo’s day 29 prompt: write “a poem that meditates, from a position of tranquility, on an emotion you have felt powerfully.”

In sixth grade, I was pranked by a girl who pretended to have a crush on me. Once the prank was revealed, I was the laughing stock of my class. Prior to that, I’ve always had poor self-esteem.

That prank confirmed every awful thing I thought of myself and informed my actions in the future whenever I found myself connecting with someone who claimed to be into me. I just wanted to explore those feelings again as an old man.

Anyway, I’m pleased to be the last person to complete #NaPoWriMo2019 #GloPoWriMo2019. Phew! Sorry I’ve been away for a bit. Life has been quite challenging these days.

I have a few more entries this month, but soon I’ll be on another extended break. I’m due for a sabbatical from writing as I spend more time reading all the wonderful poetry of my fellow online poets.

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Day 23: Jackal

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Photo by Colin Watts on Unsplash

Jackal

He was made to live on the borders of
life and death, on the margins of more

powerful predators, lurking
to tempt fate and steal scraps.

Ever the crafty devil,
his ancestors scavenged
commoner corpses,

provoking ancient Egyptians to create
Anubis, a god in his image, patrolling

the border between
the living and the dead.

But the jackal’s ancestry
was far too strong, too cunning,
outliving a civilization of
primitive wonders along with

Anubis’ relevancy,
and eventually,
even the old male lion

who repeatedly chases him from
a fresh kill, threatening him with

certain death, for

the shadow of death
means little more than looming
specter of life to

Anubis, the lowly Jackal,
made death-god by man.
***

Written for dVerse Poetics: On Myths & Legends, hosted by anmol(alias HA). Read other poet’s contributions here.

Also written for NaPoWriMo’s day 23 prompt: “write a poem about an animal”.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m running out of gas. I still welcome the challenge, but I’m practically limping to the barn these days.

Tao of Demon Feeding

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Image by Klaus Hausmann from Pixabay 

Tao of Demon Feeding

Your demon needs you to yield to yin
Yoni expands, she ripens, giving
Yang overflows before you begin

Ingest to ingress and press to skin
She’ll guide your hand to feel her living
Your demon needs you to yield to yin

Yearning blurs taboo, blending blade-thin
Pierce her lines, brazen, unforgiving
Yang overflows before you begin

She drinks your light, making your head spin
Meld with her ache without misgiving
Your demon needs you to yield to yin

Sticky, warm, and sweet, she drips from chin
Melt mingling, streaming, beyond sieving
Yang overflows before you begin

Surrender to salvation within
Some little-deaths merit reliving
Your demon needs you to yield to yin
Yang overflows before you begin
***

Written for dVerse Forms for all – the Villanelle, hosted by sarahsouthwest. Other poets contributed to this prompt here.

She Reminded Me of That Night

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Photo by Joshua Newton on Unsplash

She Reminded Me of That Night

The deckplates pitch,
dive, and roll
beneath my feet,
denying any firm sense
of place.

Darkness pours into sight,
lenses straining for substance,
pupils expanding to
engulf any semblance
of light in moonless night.

The ship’s hulking,
shadowy silhouette
lurches into view,
slowly shrugging as
I ride her spine,
the sound of her
slicing the ocean
is a choir of
Poseidon’s vanguard,
shushing our advance
through His domain.

The peacefully disquieting scene
is almost bearable until
turning my gaze upward,
facing the weight of the cosmos itself,
the twinkling slivers of each planet,
star, cluster, nebula, galaxy, light
from both minutes and millions of years ago,
all bearing down upon my brittle soul at once,
crushing me with the weight of
my own insignificance…

“Do you remember that sensation?”
she asks, pausing to clean
her multicolored,
dappled feline fur
passively observing
my tormented meditation.

“Stop it!” I gasp,
squeezing my eyes shut
even tighter.

“You became disoriented,
and had to look away
to regain your bearings,”

she continued,
chuckling to herself.

“Remember how the
near-endless
points of light
became the spots
of my fur?”
she pressed on
unhurriedly,
but resolute.

“Just reminiscing about it
makes my head spin,” I whimper.
“Please, Nihirizumu. Enough.”

“But you asked me
about the pulse of your poetry,”

said Nihirizumu
in a mocking tone.

“You wanted to know
where that throbbing vibe came from,
so long ago
or did you not?”

“I remember now,” I concede.
“It’s too much for me. Please stop.”

“Very well then,”
said my poetic pride
with a weary sigh
and dismissive tail-flip.

“But you need not shrink away
in fear of the cosmos.

“You think yourself insignificant
in comparison to its light,
but you are both from it
and of it.

“I hope that one day
you will gaze upon the vastness
secure in knowing
that you gaze upon yourself.”

I opened my eyes,
took a deep cleansing breath, and
began writing this.
***

Written for dVerse Poetics -your poetic hum, hosted by Gina. I missed the prompt, so I’m sharing it at Open Link Night # 239, hosted by kim881. Other dVerse contributors can be found here and here.

While there is virtually no link to my poetry and what I do for a living now (frankly, each entity exists despite the other), there was a link to when I was once a sailor staring into the night sky free from light pollution for the very first time. I don’t recall ever feeling as small as I did that day, but that was only part of it…

With the deck moving beneath my feet and no point of reference, it felt like being everywhere and nowhere simultaneously. It was as thrilling as it was terrifying.

code-switch virtuoso

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Image of author by author. My face doesn’t always look like that. 

code-switch virtuoso

I remember dad
made me say “yes”
with emphasis
upon the stressor

Nevermind
that I was nine
and tryin ta find
a kinder lesson

Cause he knew
that to stay true
the rule of two dialects
was needed

To succeed in greater stages,
I took heed for greater wages

That was the birth
of my first split,
my trunk from earth
and I admit

I never found out
where I fit,
forgot about
which was legit

If I could ask about my place,
Is it my mask or just my face?

I assimilate and then replace
but if it’s fate what gets erased?

Unlike the ballers,
I make myself smaller,
pump-fake for shot-callers,
and I try to hide

They don’t know me,
only what I’m showing,
phoniness controls me,
what I feel inside

I try to fit like 8-bit chipsets,
rely on wit
and slight-of-hand
to make you see
and comprehend
the fantasy

In apogee from what is me,
I hear the chorus and chime-in
a midi-synth vibe,
a remedy
that I prescribe

A suicide by a thousand cuts,
I lack the guts for full erasure
so I white-out, blot-out
the rougher sides

Not Safe For We,
or Not Safe For Me
to just safely be
authentically free

Unlike the ballers,
I make myself smaller,
I fake for shot-callers,
and I try to hide

They don’t know me,
only what I’m showing,
loneliness consoles me,
what I feel inside

Dysfunctionality amazing
when my laziness and cravings
take up space, ranting and raving

All my blemishes diminish
our corporate saving grace

I forfeit the part of me
that blends creativity and yin

Feeding them yang
yields hunger pangs
as I hang by self-inflicted sin

I cover-up
and smile through scars,
give my regards to Wayne Brady

It seems odd
the most successful switchers
go criminally crazy

O.J. Simpson and Bill Cosby
cracked the code and set the bar

I ain’t with them, but let’s always
set the mode for who we are

Unlike the ballers,
I make myself smaller,
breaking for shot-callers,
and I try to hide

They don’t know me,
only what I’m showing,
only just behold me,
who I am inside.
***


(NSFW – cuss words and shit like that there.)

Written for dVerse Poetics: On Privilege, hosted by anmol(alias HA). Other contributions to this prompt can be found here.

My dad demanded that I learn to code-switch and speak the corporate lingo so I could “make money in the white man’s world” (his words). Big ups to pops for making sure I could earn a living wage, but yeah, I almost never feel like my authentic self, whoever that may be.

This one hit me where I live, so I just let it flow in one take.

 

 

Sage’s Laughter

Sage’s Laughter

Reaching the summit was of no small feat
Great Sister’s reception felt bittersweet
The young man bowed to her respectfully
The old woman shrugged an indifferent beat

“Great Sister,” he greeted her fretfully,
“I come to you troubled, regretfully.
Life seems meaningless, yet death do I fear.
I pray you change my heart’s trajectory.”

The old woman peered through somber veneer
Her response, sincere, and yet still unclear
“Your fear of death is a fear of pre-birth.
If your life lacks meaning, why are you here?”

The young man searched her words, seeking their worth
He puzzled their weight, finding only dearth
“I climbed this peak seeking your renowned sage
but you made it clear I serve as your mirth.”

Great Sister stood fast in his bleary rage
“My child,” asked she, “recall your pre-birth stage.
You cannot; for none of us know that time.
The same is death; an unreadable page.”

The young man mused over these thoughts sublime
He asked, seeking reason within the rhyme,
“So death is a void and life, but a joke?
If true, does that make existence a crime?”

Great Sister laughed soundly before she spoke.
“The void and joke are both yours to invoke.
We are a part, not apart from the whole.
I am flock and hen; you are shell and yolk.”

The young man bowed as her words took their toll.
his heavy heart lightened by her console
Path to the valley, beyond his control
Its footfalls? Perhaps his own to insole.
***


(NOTE: Audio at the 4:30 mark mildly NSFW.)

Written for Frank’s Rubaiyat Challenge on dVerse.

On Service and Serving

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Photo by Ding LU on Unsplash

On Service and Serving

What a
bizarre perverse
spectacle we must be
to anyone with the gift of
vision.

Contorting our delusions
to fit absurd collective
narrative illusions.

Your happiness is
worthless
to me
and yet

I weigh my worth upon you saying
that you are pleased by my efforts
to bring happiness directly
to your seat with a smile in my voice

fit to claw your eyes out
to minimize eyestrain.

As I strain,

monks go door to door
with empty bowl in hand and
it is filled more often
than not.

If it be a sin
to covet a neighbor’s empty bowl
then I am the foulest
most wretched creature living

if one could subscribe
to the false illusion that
somehow this is life.

But I lie while lying;
it is his heart I covet most.

I would reach into him and
feast right upon it,
right there in his face,
sitting upright, cross-legged

upon the dusty,
nutrient-starved earth, and he
quietly, peacefully

would mourn the fact that
he only had the one
heart to offer,

withholding nothing.

I don’t even count them
as withholds anymore,
for they are nothing to behold;

I place the holy magic beans
inside the divine tabernacle
and watch random gods of diversion
snatch them all away like a

school of piranha
picking clean the bones of my
counterfeit coffers.

Thus, am I served.

It would be cute
to call it being
eaten alive,

but that would play to
the illusion that the beans,
the tabernacle
and my convent with the gods
ever existed and that

somehow,
this is living.

Oh, what a bizarre spectacle I must be
to anyone with the true gift of sight.

But I am ready.

Ready to leave it all behind,
take a leap into the absence of lore,
and see for myself
what this living business is all about.

Perhaps
the best part of
my yet-to-be-told tale
will be when I ended service
and served.

My story begins on the last page.
***

(Video is only loosely related to the poem. I only included it because I really loved the movie, and it makes me feel better about things in my life that kinda suck right now.)

Written for dVerse Poetics: The Art of Confession in Poetry, hosted by  anmol(alias HA).