Saturday, May 15, 2010


i must balance a thing/person's flaws with it's redeeming qualities.
disney never made me feel bad about myself. i can love disney movies and hate cookie-cutter images at the same time. i can see the stereotypes and the plot problems and love the music and the morals.
a story is still good even if i don't approve of the ending.

i looove country music.
perhaps it's because i live in oklahoma and my family is from texas, but i most appreciate songs about the real life stuff that people try to ignore. "it's a quarter after one, i'm a little drunk, and i need you now." classic.

i think facebook and twitter are the best things to be invented since personal computers.
via facebook, i can get glimpses into the lives of people i have "grown out with" (yes, grown out, not grown up. to "grow up with" is to experience life with while growing. it's a time and proximity thing. to "grow out of" or "outgrow" is to leave something behind. it has a connotation of being better or smarter or more evolved than the thing that was outgrown. to "grow out with" someone is to grow apart from them, as in not in the same proximity, but not in a way that is removed as if you are leaving them behind). several of the people i used to know are wonderful people whose lives make perfect sense for them. we cannot be close because our lives are so different. but we are not far away because i think i'm better. our paths no longer cross, but i still think they're wonderful. via twitter, i can let out all of my random thoughts and comments and they can be taken or left off at will. no pressure.

i want to write a movie script.
my world is too aesthetically beautiful to exist completely in the written word. it's also too complicated to be a song or poem. a photo collage is too extensive. plus the writing would be good exercise. i'm a story-teller struggling to find a medium.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What If? A New Spin on Dead Rhetoric - NaPoWriMo #10

Dan Brown once asked, what if the greatest story ever told was a lie?
Contradictory to Milton, what if the Paradise you think you have to die
To find was never lost and is all in your mind?
What if the Greatest Sacrifice ever made is less about being saved
Than it is about modeling selfless behavior?
Robin Meyers and I wonder whether Jesus is wishing
you’d get off your high horse and make some changes
instead of sitting pretty doing lip-service to the idea of a Savior.

What if our disgust at Sally Kern’s villainization of the entire world
Outside of her is the way God looks at the members of the church?
Hate mongers so busy throwing Bible verses like daggers
That they have no real concept of the parts of law and Christianity that matter.
What if two men kissing each other in public
Is a reminder that we’ve forgotten the inherent risk in love?
What if the people throwing things and protesting
Is a modern-day image of crucifixion?
What if we’ve gotten so far from the state of mind called Heaven
That we can’t see God’s arm pointing, reaching?
What if all the rhetoric has drowned out the still, small voice
Of a Holy Spirit teaching?
What if, like Cuban said, we can no longer hear God over the cappuccino machine?
What if purity is buried so deep in the dark creases
Of our designer hobo bags that we can’t hear it scream?
What if the size of our cars and houses is so offensive to the Spirit of generosity,
And the right way of being is driven so far to the outskirts,
That we can no longer see the need?

What if your prophet is wrong?
Not because he’s malicious or he meant to do harm,
But simply because the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

What if none of these questions matter
Because you are what you eat,
People don’t really listen when you speak,
We can’t really conceptualize the after-life
Because we are not dead,
And absolutely none of us were around to hear what Jesus really said?

What if the only thing we have is this moment in time?
Just like RENT, there’s only now, only this
Here I can choose to use rhyme to revitalize or to break.
You can choose to listen and take in,
Or to ignore and walk away.
And five minutes from now,
Which ever decision we made will be gone
And another opportunity will take its place.

So right now, I’m going to use the only meaningful things I have –
These three minutes, this mic, my voice, this stage –
And I’m going to tell you you’re beautiful,
Even if you never change.

Head/Heart Reason/Passion - NaPoWriMo

Sometimes our hearts
or our guts
commit us to a course of action that our brains refuse to follow up with

I think our hearts are the indestructible parts of our beings.
When we sustain wounds,
it's our psyches and our memories that show bruising,
not our hearts.
Our hearts recover quickly.

Your gut told you I was beautiful
and for a brief moment you overrode your inhibitions to tell me so.
Your gut continuously invited me
to what my heart and head could only logically perceive
as a beginning to something.

Our hearts are the home of our imaginations
and our bravery -
our willingness to desire things and take risks.
We often use the protective part of our minds
to manipulate our hearts into believing
that the bravery is frivolous
and that growth and maturity are more careful with emotion.
William Blake wrote that tameable passion is weak,
implying - at least to me - that passion should be
strong and unruly.

Your head told you that my untamed ways -
my lack of inhibition, my free emotion, my willingness -
could quickly and easily bring you pain...

...perhaps the same way hers had.

And I cannot promise that you are wrong.
I cannot be certain
that my willingness to jump head first, heart open
into friendship, intimacy, and love
will not some day cause one of us
to sustain another memory wound.
But I do know this:
Whether it's the naivete of youth
or faith in a Divine type of Universal Truth,
my heart has only grown stronger and braver because of the mental scars.

...that other man's hands pushing a bit too hard,
too far,
despite protests...

…yet another man’s complete inability to see
lips as the gates that freed or withheld knowledge,
his eyes only saw a vessel through which to slake his thirst…

…yet another man who claims to be a friend
but will use and be used
for the type of more-than-friendly benefit
that gives a mind pause before
and emptiness after each time…

I’ve been hurt too.
I get scared too.
But for better or for worse,
This young heart cannot help loving around the scars.

Your gut told you I was beautiful
And reached past your mind to tell me so.
Your protective armor told me no,
And my head can hear you,
But my gut tells me that someday
Your heart will tell your head what it already knows,
That real life requires a willingness
To view the scars as a new tattoo
Depicting the nonverbal elements of you

Written November 12, 2009

I am growing over
Returning myself to my state of nature
I don’t feel beautiful like flowers are beautiful,
But I feel real and honest like trees
With broken or naked branches
I am big, strong, sheltering, useful,
But not always pretty

My sex is drying up
Pleasure comes between covers made of paper
Not between sheets or on computer screens.
Please is moments of peace and quiet
In the middle of a chaotic world,
Not moments of bundled nerves stimulated by artificial vibrations
For the first time in months
I don’t want your arousal
I want your mental attention.
I want to partner (Ashtanga) yoga with you –
Engage our bodies through the efforts of our minds
And the strength of our hearts

So often a man is just a life sized representation of his sex,
A big penis with a voice
And we women stay disappointed because men
Are so often flaccid, at rest.
We always want them to be poised for action,
At attention, ready to perform.
I get so frustrated with the processing of arousing a man to action.

A constant arousal, readiness, would be exhausting
And would more often than not lend itself to disappointment.
Better to only come alive when you know the arousal will accomplish something

But women are in a state of constant, latent arousal.
We are walking wombs,
ready at any moment to be receptacles of men’s accomplishments,
to be impregnated with the future.
And, yes, it is exhausting!
But I find it near impossible to only act when aroused.
Sometimes, someone needs to me act
And I’m glad I don’t have to ask them to wait until I can rise to the occasion

Kids These Days - NaPoWriMo

Kids these days

It’s funny how the students who are considered “advanced”
Enough to go to a school separate from almost any other in the district
Are the students who have best learned how to read deep
Enough into the question to find the right answer

These kids are bright
They understand metaphor and simile, symbolism and irony
They know how to read between lines
And analyze even when things are written plainly
But they say they hate poetry
I laugh
And remember that I would have said the same thing
At sixteen when I was asked.
Adolescence is such a time for questions.

Who am I really?
What do I believe?
Where are my boundaries?
How much can I achieve?
How much should I give away?
And what demand to receive?
How do I care about the world while holding onto pieces of me?

And these questions won’t be answered
Some not for years to come, and others not at all
These kids will learn the hard way that the first
Answer to life’s questions is usually wrong.
So they learn to hate questions they can’t answer definitively
Rather than being in awe of the infinite possibilities.
I sigh
Because the answer to life is not one thing, but many
It’s the balancing act of reality and possibility
The very beauty of indefinability
The pleasure in knowing beyond doubt that no matter
How long it takes, life can be figured out
The peace that comes from seeing the relativity of possible outcomes
The melding together of days as significant,
But all so similar revolutions of the sun

But nothing feels like that at sixteen
Plays, games, first loves and first dates are the important things
And they should be
So I don’t try to change the students’ minds
About the questions in poetry
I am content to wait and see which ones
Will grow up to know firsthand that they were wrong
The way I did
The words are written definitively
But it’s all about the questions and the possibility

Training a Warrior Woman - under construction

Dear Heart,

You remind me so much of myself that it hurts.
Your readiness to laugh,
The over-frequency of your words,
The way I can tell what you're thinking by the way your face contorts.
You are so beautiful,
Precious to anyone who takes the time to see beyond the image in their mind of what a young girl should be.

But be careful.
At fifteen, boys don't know what they need.
They think they know what they want,
And you think you can see through them,
But in the spirit of practicality
But take my advice
You are both wrong.
I know that you are loving, accepting,
Open, patient, and know the importance of the team,
But despite his best intentions,
He is not grown up enough to give you any stability,
Certainty, encouragement, or direction
And those are the things you need.
I know you want to be brave.
We are warrior women and bravery is at the core of our being.
But for now, please,
Just be careful.

Be strong.
If you are as much like me as I think
You spend a lot of time wishing you weren't alone.
Take the time you have with yourself;
Do something that makes you feel important.
I sang and wrote poetry.
Maybe you dance or paint or plant things.
Whatever it is do it whole-heartedly.
It won't stay the tears or stop the pain
But listen to the voice of the future telling you it's a pleasant way to train for battle.
Cry your tears into the soil of your garden;
Let them nourish the plants to first light.
Mix your acrylics with salt water from your eyes,
Paint rivers, streams, and pituitaries.
Stretch so far that you can be silent while your muscles scream.
Learn to turn pain into beauty,
Because beauty is strength,
And a warrior's strength is her everything.

The most important advice I can give:
Never lose your laugh.
When the world comes crashing down on your shoulders -
And I'm sorry, Dear Heart, but it will -
Your mirth will be the only thing you have.
There will come a time,
Likely many,
When there is no comfort in lessons learned,
Not in his arms, or through her words,
And the ONLY thing that will bring relief
Is laughing.
So take yourself to comedies,
Hold the fun memories so tightly to your chest that their remembrance makes you smile.
Giggle incessantly.
Guffaw uproariously
Even when it wasn't that funny.
When someone tells you it's annoying -
And they will -
Tell them you're practicing for later.

I am nervous because
I see so much of myself in you.
Underneath of your skin pale, hair straight, eyes blue,
And that will make it simpler,
But you were still born into the spirit of warrior.
You are still a woman fighting a system run by men -
Not because they overpower us,
But because we give everything to them.
You are still vulnerable,
Like a sheep in the lion's den of high school.
Despite what the little girl in my past says,
There's nothing I can or would hope to do
To interfere in your process.
But you must believe the voice you hear on the wind
When it whispers the word patience.

Dreams Like Water - NaPoWriMo #12

"It's easy for someone to say they'd be lost without you, but I would gladly be lost with you and relish it, drink in every wrong turn..." - Colin Gilbert, "Invent Me a Word" - today's NaPoWriMo prompt (sorry if you don't see the connection)

Dreams have the consistency of water.
They can be dived into, floated upon, waded through, splashed at, drunk in,
and they can drown.

"I want to be a star"
is a dream you'll have to marathon swim through
everyday until it comes true.
and the effort won't stop once notoriety is attained.
You'll have to keep swimming, hard, fast, constantly in order to maintain.

"I want to make a change"
is a deeper pool in which to dive,
but a more rewarding one because once you touch the surface with a purpose
the water has no choice but to ripple to make way for you.
Beware of the tide.
It will try its best to wash you away
but if you can just get to the place where the river bends
you can redirect it.

"I want to love"
is the most unpredictable swell in which to jump.
On the floor there are rocks waiting for you to stumble
and eels waiting to sting your ankles.
The water is stagnant here because we have forgotten how to keep love moving past the infatuation stage.
We have forgotten how to love with a constancy like the ocean tide,
coming in and receding with the same attitude as always.
We have forgotten how to fall into love like a swimmer with no place else to be:
arms thrown wide, submitting to everything.
We're so afraid of getting water in our nose that we refuse to be submerged.
We've all been reverted back to little children dipping our toes in,
straining to keep our heads above,
But love won't tolerate a lack of dedication.
The waters rise to take you under when you fight them.
Love, unlike fame or progress, does not want to be wrestled with,
and it does no good to pick a fight with him
because love always wins.

I treat my dreams like shower water
letting them flow over me and make me clean.
I sometimes wonder what they mean,
if there's something they know that I can't see,
but I never lose myself in interpreting
because dreams are such beautiful things that I'd rather let them be abstract,
let them fall from the sky, making puddles in my life,
and reminding me of flux and fluidity.

To House Church - NaPoWriMo #13

I've never hated you.
I've never screamed at you in rage,
or said to you the things that I knew would make your heart break.
I've never wanted you to hurt.
In fact, I walked away because I could no longer look on
while you placed yourself in the intersection between pain and defeat.
You are victory.
You are light.
But no one knows this other than me.
None of the tear-stained bottles
or previously punctured veins can see
that underneath the pages of dead tomes are real hearts
not for yourselves
but for those who go home to wash off the smell of latex and sweat.
I know that you weep for those who haven't overcome yet.

And I know you long to laugh.
But I cry because somewhere it was written,
and you believed,
that your laughter was impropriety,
that your rabbi kept his feet dirty and his eyes cast down.

Your words do not come out like love.
The word "follower" is tattooed on your skin.
The real world looks at you and misinterprets Them.
And I hate this.
And you don't understand
why you've sacrificed your education and your friends
for a life spent in service
and we still don't get it.

This world cannot read Greek.
Hebrew is too far removed from American for us to understand when you speak.
The cause you're willing to live and die for
is stifled by the yellowed pages of history.
I wish you could see
that all we're trying to do is breathe new life
into a system that could catalyze change.
The revolution is not on the page.
It just might be televised,
but the broadcast will be late,
because the movement you seek
flows through the bodies and out of the mouths
of those you can't hear over the sound
of an army holding on, crying out,
claiming they won't be moved.
Your revolt is in the way.
Evolution is fluid.

And I beat my fist at the futility of this argument.
Your passion is valid.
Your words are not undermined by the way you live.
And for this, I commend you.
For this, I drop my knees to the pavement and respect the posture you don't know you're not bound in.
And then I stand,
stretch back into the posture I am free to assume,
and I reach back to you,
begging with my eyes that you'll stand up in grace too.
You shake your head no
and I go on praying that someday you'll know
commitment doesn't have to always be painful.

EastWest - NaPoWriMo #14

teach me to speak a language we both understand
textbook terms and invitations won't be enough
my jokes are born in the way i handle a language about which most fancy dance or tiptoe
i wear these words from my head to my soles
and yet i don't know how to weave them in a way that will make you laugh in your bones
but you know my name
you spoke into flame an ember that had been glowing in this chest
ever since the muslim who named me packed his things and left...

teach me how girls flirt in the east
do they bat their lashes? eyes peeking at you from a sea of fabric
or is it altogether bold enough to simply meet your gaze?
i will not hide behind a veil or long sleeves
but if it pleases you, i will talk as if i know nothing of bedroom scenes

does the pressure of your eyes on mine indicate
that girls who wear red lipstick, white tank tops, and blue jeans
are the kind you find intriguing?
and are you more than a little scandalized by the obvious line of thigh under denim?
were you shocked by the prevalence of half-bared breasts
on the sidewalks at the university?
did we make you think of all the things
you hoped your sisters would never let a stranger see?

i know nothing of the desert that birthed you,
the Red Sea that nourished your youth.
teach me what it means to live in the seat of everything the West considers ancient and holy
teach me how to hold tradition in my left hand and progress in my right,
teach me to balance progressivism with hindsight.
teach what an Arab man sounds like when he cries...

you are standing within arms reach
looking boldly at these eyes that still can't see
and i feel like there's still an ocean between us.
the olive tone of your skin
eclipsed by the soothing and wholly masculine timbre of your accent
are nothing when put up against the depth of your eyes.
perhaps you were drawn to me because your eyes and my skin understand the intrinsic, earthy, beauty of the color brown.
your lips...
so delicate, forming each word deliberately,
curving with a grace abstractly akin to femininity.
i admire the raven waves that crown you,
lose my gaze in their shimmer and fall,
wish to run fingertips through them because I know they are feather-soft.

you are Adonis;
i am afraid and in awe of your mystery.
i fear the coyness of the goddess in me
who sometimes hides and sometimes presents herself
with a startling display of passion and fury.
perhaps you should not teach me anything
lest your lesson wash away the smoke screen between us
and leave only a thunderous cavern of cultural inability in its wake.

Reach for the Stars - NaPoWriMo #16

You told me I could be whatever I wanted
You told me to reach for the stars
You told me, “No matter what happens, girl,
You had better follow your heart”

And I believed you
But you didn’t say why.
That phrase sounded so beautiful, so ethereal, so right
But you didn’t say then that what I wanted
Would be so very hard to get
You didn’t say that I’d have to struggle and fight for it everyday.

And I gotta tell ya, mama, I’m kinda scared.

In first grade when I quit soccer because I couldn’t play goalie,
You told me it was okay, because I had to do what made me happy.
Five years later when I cried at the piano and told you to throw it away
Because I wasn’t getting better, you said,
Baby, someday you’re gonna have to learn to push past the hard place.
Someday you’re gonna have to fight through the pain.
But I said no.
And a couple years later I quit cheer because I didn’t like the coach.
I changed schools when the kids said they didn’t like me anymore.
Despite your words, I learned a long time ago
That you can’t lose at something if you walk away from it first.

And then I went to college in the far far away land of Dreams Come True
Everyone there believed the only obstacle in the way of the future is you.
They gave their money, time, ankles, and appetites because they knew
That with determination you could do anything you put your mind to.

These are the kids who really do become president,
The ones who are not lying when they say they danced on Broadway,
And they amaze me, mama.
They are so driven…
They actually finish what they start.
These kids know what it means to follow your heart.
And I wish I was more like them.
They are even crazy beautiful that once in a blue moon
When one of their brave hearts gets broken.

But I’ll tell you…
At those moments, I am absolutely speechless.
When a damn good dancer gets arthritis in her knees…
When a dad loses his job and an honor student has to leave…
When a family casualty causes a loss of focus and decline in grades
And the best little actor has to leave far far away
And re-enter that ugly place that we call the Real World…
When that happens, what do you say?

And the only thing I can say as I hold a crying friend in my arms is:
Baby, you better keep reaching for the stars.
Don’t let this keep you from following your heart…

Monday, May 3, 2010

Things I'm Looking Into

Reading more: The Autobiography of Malcolm X, something about Marcus Garvey, maybe Roots, and some fun stuff too.

Lupe Fiasco's Lasers thing. It looks like it wants to be a movement, but for now it's just Twitter and Lupe's music leaks. I want to move it.

Hip hop: Lupe, dead prez, Talib Kweli, Public Enemy, NWA, T.I.

Doing MY OWN thing. I want Jari Askins to be Governor, but I need to stop trying to intern in her office, because the movement of my people is bigger that her campaign office. I want to volunteer for her campaign, but I don't want to be responsible to them.

Go natural again?
My friend Vineasa chopped off all of her hair, and she is beautiful. Maybe when I lose 30 pounds.
I've been saying that for a while, but I am going to the gym right now, so it might happen this time.

Forward movement.
Check this out: