Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Youth Male Book Update

Just one sample of the illustrations I'll be adding in my upcoming male youth book...Thanks again, Ije.

I Died

with exagerated hands
faceless intentions
borrowed time
address obscure
but members
in the know
make the gang sign
this way
we don't burn alone
collector of souls
has fangs for pockets
dig a code name into them
and hear your private moans

etched on walls
that mimic the prisons
we create
in and around us
act as faithful addictions
a shutting down of sorts
is necessary
if you want the walls to be still

but not getting
to the core of the matter
the original dis-ease
before we learned
what a dark,
high-rise alleyway
looked like
what an underbelly
feels like
when you cut into it
see your twisted intestines
how they dangle
promises of spiritual ecstacy
and then implode

Shadows, he said
loud yet voiceless
grabbing, maybe
but never sticking
tho secret handshakes
kept him on the list to nowhere
yet somewhere
between the tangible
and the forgotten
before the early morning rise
and the burdening void
he remembered his name
until he let the fangs
turn it into some unrecognizable

night comes around
and again the hands
and faceless intentions
until the surrender
when his god took his twisted
back inside in
from the one
who didn't expect
he'd find his way

I asked him how
he got to be
how he went from over there
to there
to here
and here
he turned away from his thoughts
to look directly in his mirror
and said,
I died.

From my next book of poems, Throw.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Male youth book status: Interviews!

I finally finished editing the main text, and I can tell you I'm exhausted from it! Altogether there're 44 chapters to the book. Though 44 short chapters, it's still a relief to have finally put the last dot to the last sentence! Some of my writer-friends actually enjoy editing, but I see it as the more mundane part of the writing process. The mechanics of finding the natural flow. It's an essential part of self-publishing, especially since you're on your own in the many roles you have to play. From writer to proofreader, editor to printer, book designer to marketing wizard. The other roles actually aren't as intimidating, to me. It's having to delete this and add that, change this around, move it over there, don't say this way, say it that way that test me. It just takes away from forward movement, though it's all forward movement. I guess part of the frustration is my impatience. I'm so ready to share my message, when Spirit says not so fast. One more thing... 'Matterfact, the last chapter is called 'One more thing'.

Nevertheless, it feels good to finally get to the life stories of these young males. The real meat of the book, to me. Their voices not only enhance the text, but remind me of why I decided to write the book, in the first place. I've basically chosen seven youths ranging from ex-gangbanger to intellectual, with each young man sharing their personal struggles, how they went about overcoming them, who and what inspired them to stay focused on their goals, what lessons they learned, what the words 'black', 'nigga', 'African', 'father', 'emotional wellness' and 'education' mean to them, and what we the parents, educators, counselors and law enforcement officials can learn from their interpretations, if not definitions?

I also plan on asking each of them what they want their legacy to be? Because as young as they may be, it's important to encourage our young men to begin thinking about what that means so their actions can match their intentions.

Already, some of them are letting me know they're ready to talk; and you can feel their sincerity. That's it's not their ego trying to jump the line, but a need to release their burdens and perhaps find some kind of understanding to their struggles, along with the fact that many of them don't have a platform to lend their voices. Their names will be changed, for obvious reasons, except mine. Can't write a book on marginalized Black males and not see myself in it!

Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

One of ours

One of ours had her book launch Friday for her first book, "Etched". Though it was a closed reception, it was a great turnout. It's always nice to see a fellow writer get their well-deserved nods after such hard work. One reader put it best, for me-- "I knew annette since childhood and it's wonderful to see that she fulfilled her dream!" This is why we're all here, my friends. To inform, enlighten, inspire, tell our personal life stories. Or in annette's case, the stories of our ancestors. We applaud Annete for her first of what I expect to be many more literary projects. Congrats again!For those of you who may be interested in joining our writers group, we meet once a month and our focus is self-publishing and promoting our work. Peace n gratitude.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

One Drop of Blood

What if we considered our prez 'White' instead of the first 'Black' U.S. President? What if we considered one drop of 'white' blood as the reason to call Obama their own instead of ours? Cos every time I hear us claiming him as one of us, I can't help thinking how we're dismissing his mother and her heritage as part of the whole story, his and ours. Every time you, I and news reporters call him 'the first', aren't we actually saying the first dark-complexioned American President? Those of us who considered Bill Clinton as the first, weren't we thinking more in terms of attitude than skin complexion? The way he seemed to relate to regular 'Black' folk, unlike obama? I'm just sayin. Are we playing ourselves by waiting for something that's not gonna happen? This notion of a 'Black' President pushing for 'Black' causes. Three years in Office (so far) and he's yet to respond to the Congressional Black Caucus call to address issues that directly affect 'Black' people, about setting up that African American agenda. My guess is he doesn't want to appear as tho he favors those who share his skin tone. Plus, he wants to win another term. Can't act like you're going for reparations, even on the low, if you wanna do a second term. Now, maybe the plan is for him to win the 2012 and then get real 'Black' on folk. You know, the way New York's Gov. Patterson did when he accepted the reality of not being re-elected. He said, 'iight then. Fuk it! And his tie turned from red, white and blue to red, black and green starting with the dismantling of laws that specifically targeted NYC young poor Black males as the necessary oil to keep the penal system engine running. No doubt, pissing off NYPD heads but man, what a way to exit! Clearing your office with a legacy of nothing but love for yours. Can you see Obama doing something about gentrification, miseducation and employment incentives for young brothas, specifically, since our unemployment rate is high as a standard? But that one drop of blood keeps us in hope mode, tho this hope and change thing might just be politics as usual. Young people--young 'White' people--who helped hope come to the White House are just as disappointed. Don't get it twisted. They're just as frustrated with the System (and their parents). My fear is they won't go to the voting booths, having lost the feeling. And we won't go either, since we need them to tell us what's more important than cool.When I see obama, I don't see 'Black'. I see Hawaii, an international upbringing every child should have and a kid who must've caused fire alarms every time he and his maternal family went shopping together. I see Harvard, a professorial approach to addressing conflict which is to avoid until you're forced to. I see our preoccupation with skin color and how one drop of African continues to be perceived as a negative-- He's muslim. He's from Kenya. He's behind the Arab Revolution! So it's the realities of skin shade politics that I find irritating and how Republicans are exploiting fear and ignorance. But that's America for you. Wanna be perceived as great when we're actually very small in mindset.

I'm not gonna make this the message of the day cos it's an on-going message. Nothing new about using one drop of blood to label a man while ignoring his self altogether. Or maybe it's the fact that he married a dark-skinned sista (emphasis on sista), unlike Tiger woo who opted for the traditional safe route-- get you a blond and avoid any connection to brothalove. More doors open for you that way. Makes you less threatening, until you stop making holes.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Painted On the Inside of My Eyelids

"Painted on the inside of my eyelids is a moving picture of the big sky - blue then grey, clouds to clear, sun in/sun out, changing changing always changing, hills & mountains rising/defining the periphery - as viewed floating in circles on my back in the middle of THE LAKE - what I see if I need to when I close my eyes."-- Eliza Beghe

...The best poems come from people who don't know they're poets.