Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Poem: 12/22/09 (Untilted)

Here stands
a 14-year-old boy
first souljacked into wonder
at the waterfall's pool
and spent 30 years
trying to translate the unspeakable
unlikely fusion of joy and terror
that kept his soul spinning
after everyone else around him
put their souls in Park,
in hock to a system
that revved their engines to the breaking
point, pointed
to a horizon they'd never reach,
and convinced them they were going
somewhere. here,
there is no quest to create a following,
the folly of a flock of sycophants
who really only want a slice
to fit into their pie-shaped
pinwheel grafts,
that would make the Mystery
a piecemeal thing, exchangeable
for something extra in the bank.
here stands
a culture, one foot in the cradle,
one foot in the grave,
pissing on everything in between,
libertyandjustice4all who
fall safely between its brackets,
pigeons so comfortable
in their pigeon holes
that falling outside the lines of the design
becomes a crime.
i want to be dangerous.
i want to be Grendel to the status quo.
i want what that 14-year-old edition of me
saw and heard so clearly,
an outsider invited to the inside
of a feast surpassing
anything the elite can create as a distraction.
tell me of this "real world"
tethered tightly to the mentronomes
and claustromethodical chronometers
where i can happily exist as "eccentric"
as long as i am "harmless,"
as long as i play by its rules;
telll me
that only fools believe there's
anything else,
that i'm jeopardizing my livelihood
by refusing to play the game . . .
i'll tell you of a wonder beyond myth
that mocks the feeble mathemanics
of monetary rule,
that "harmless eccentrics"
are like museum exhibits, animatronic wannabes
that only amuse,
that only fools would sacrifice
their liveliness
for something that cannot live at all . . .
yes, it makes one dangerous
to those who think they have it all
when they've never knelt
at t he waterfall
and found more joy
than their cupped hands could hold,
more Mystery than words
have ever told.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

New Poem: Breaking Day

Breaking Day
poised, walking the ragged edges of the world
like a man standing in the bow of a ship
riding into a stormbrewed night.
calamity's hand strokes my forehead damply, feverishly;
dangers amply apply their pressure.
ever-present, the desire--like Simon Peter--
to boldly stride across the waters;
like him, my steps falter
when i look at the storm
and lose sight of my Father.

i could cry myself to sleep at night,
curled in my curdled blankets,
huddled against the haunted dawnlight
afraid to walk the streets in the face
of what's hunting me, terrified
of hurling feeble words in the face
of what's haunting me, unable
to describe in plain language the face
of what's hurting me . . . .

what use am i to God, to humanity,
scared to death in my tattered jeans,
clutching with desperation to ragged dreams,
ribbed as sails to tug my boat
from the grip of the undertow?

around me, jackals bow to a sacred cow,
a bull they both worship and hope to feast on,
the ancient golden calf given a different cast . . .
though scores of them have been torn
on the horns of their Master Dilemma,
the sight of blood only excites them,
delights them, whets their appetites, and
ushers in the next atrocity.

the towers i wander among are already doomed,
ever civilization ultimately ends up in ruins--
but that's a poor excuse for speeding up the process
and it may look like they're building an empire
but it will only amount to a funeral pyre . . .
aspirations and transitory glories lined up for their graves
followed shortly by fools who were their slaves . . .
we've plundered the Heavens, sundered the Earth,
measuring down to the molecules for material worth.

and, confronted by this,
i'm expected to speak the oracular in the vernacular,
to engrave the turbid air with measured beauty,
to blow away the smong, even briefly,
long enough to provide a glimpse of the Divine
that works often behind the scenes,
beyond the screens of tawdry mortal schemes--
put this into words? better words?
these thoughts, translated, would
tear the air itself to shreds,
and though i maintain it's a necessary art,
a survival skill,
i can make a map of my scars and show you
where words kill!
pray to God every drop of blood i spill
will be to deface the iconic mortal dreads
that the Master Manipulators maneuver like chesspieces
to keep their pawns in line.

swords of Spoken Word, warriors of the Last Frontier,
ragged kings in rugged garb
carrying white fire in Numenorean hearts,
we bear the brunt
of contemptuous tongues
who would silence us while we breathe,
and only speak well of us when we're gone,
safely in our graves, our words enslaved
in backwards-masking to sell blue jeans
and tennis shoes.

the gifts we carry are perilous fire,
tools to dismantle the status quo:
neglect them, and they become lead weights,
deadwood, hindering our steps,
dragging us down to the depths.
arm yourselves.
don't let your minds lie fallow.
don't quench the white flame.
not with fists thrust into the air,
not with guns, bullets, that are ignorant
of causes or purpose . . .
linked arm in arm, forge an unbreakable bond,
unshakeable faith, and march . . .
march . . .
march . . .
towards the dawn.
the breaking day will show clearly
which side we're standing on.

Monday, December 14, 2009

New Poem & Dedication: Stolen Property

This poem was written partially in response to the arrest (under false charges) for "receiving stolen property" of Elysee Thomas, a good friend and respected poet in NJ. For more information on this, please go to www.slamglobal.com and click on the "Free Elysee Thomas" link. This poem is dedicated to him.

Stolen Property
it's 2009, and New Jersey's finest strikes again,
in an empire embattled by evils, but
one wonders why the master perpretrators
aren't being pursued or prosecuted, so
to prove that "THE SYSTEM WORKS,"
they've got to persecute somebody, and
surely society at large
will condone the removal
of a young, black poet . . .
"receiving stolen property," as long as it's
worded properly
will suffice as a charge . . .

but society at large
is guilty
of receiving stolen property . . .
most of this great nation
having sprung from the loins
of illegal immigrants,
geographic dunderheads who
mostly died of syphillis,
never once asking the natives
if they were particularly troubled
by our taking over of their land
writing treaties we planned
to break, and when wholesale slaughter
and firewater
didn't break their will,
smallpox blankets smothered it,
a "kinder, gentler" biowarfare genocide . . .
the very land under our feet
is stolen property
that our great-great-great-ancestors
took unlawful possession of.

we wear clothes and fashions
with fabrics sweatshopped into designs
stolen from street-kid innovators
and set at a price that the laborers
could never afford . . .
and this country would never even exist
if we hadn't stolen living men and women
from their homelands,
tried to beat them into shapes
we could use,
but to admit that much of our nation
was built on the backs of the blacks
would be tantamount to an admission of guilt,
so we cover the track-marks of our greed
with politically correct foundation,
pretending that segregation doesn't still exist
and that racism is a thing of the past; but, like
buried used reactor core rods
our radioactive past can't be ignored.

hip-hop was stolen from the streets
and imprisoned behind the bars of a UPC;
delicacies and recipes from a thousand lands
wind up at celebrity dinners, a thousand a plate,
"for the benefit of the poor;"
every fifth of April, Uncle Sam picks our pockets,
uses the money to by guns, bombs, limos, and blow,
and complains about the "heathen nations"
and their godless ways;
and even God's name is pimped by politicians,
a holy name stolen so it could be
stamped on our money,
and the very dollars in your pocket
could very likely have passed, unknown,
from bloody men who used it to do
things that God would never condone!

and now they've stolen a voice from the streets
just to prove the justice system is still viable,
but whether through oversight or just plain lying
there's a Higher Justice that will hold us accountable . . .
and poets continually provide an uncomfortable reminder
that everything we have is stolen property,
and even the breath we use to speak
is just the stolen breath from somebody else's last gasp . . .
those "things" you clutch will slide out of your grasp,
and stolen voices will be strong enough
to cause your walls to break.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pseudo-Rant: Paper Talks

Paper Talks
how many trees died
so you could send Valentines
to people you're romancing
this year, while
last year's garbage contains
the remains
of the cards you've discarded?
makes better paper, and
grows back faster
than a clear-cut forest
shipped to a paper mill--
but, back in the McCarthy Daze,
playing on "Reefer Madness," hemp
was made illegal,
and now the War on Drugs continues
the chant that cannabis is bad,
so we can't allow hemp to be grown.
if a tree falls in a forest
with lumberjacks, chainsaws, chippers,
and paper mills all around,
who knows if it makes a sound?
if walls could talk, imagine what paper
would say? the very pages
of my notebooks, crammed full, margin-to-margin,
so another tree doesn't have to fall
for my sake . . .
p.s.--human skin
makes good parchment (and lampshades),
and what remains
makes Soylent Green,
a rather extreme way of "going green."

New Poem: A Measure of Insignificance

A Measure of Insignificance
time pauses, perhaps no longer
than it takes for a dust speck
to trek the space between
your forefinger and thumb held apart
to signify
a measure of insignificance.
there's a chance you might miss this
if your blind spot widens enough
to block your third eye, or
your tunnel vision narrows your focus
on the mirage you call success
will visionaries call your attention
to the Green Flash, the halo of the eclipse,
and meteors that fell like the Lion's tears
while you were busy with your mundane missions;
these missionaries are visiting you, offering a revision
you won't find on television,
an undiscovered country not shown
on the Discovery channel . . .
panels of experts will argue
so they don't have to agree,
and all their degrees are forgeries
doctored by people who believe that
the alphabet begins with PhD.
don't you know the Mystery exists to twist
your feeble rationality into question marks?
don't you know that beyond the fall of dark
are terrors that beggar description?
don't you know there are places where
time pauses, causing your watches to lie?
don't you know that angels and demons wait
with bated breath
to see what you will make of this,
while men with narrow minds
gather around wide tables
and count deaths like deutschmarks
and print labels for "acceptable losses?"
what you call "history" is barely
an ellipsis in the sentence, the
infinite second that God can measure
with the space between
His forefinger and thumb,
before He points at you, calls your bluff,
and says, "Time's up."
then, infinity
will open its books
and bid you to look within
and read the backwards story
of the fallen history
of these awkward creatures
called men.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Putting the X in Xmas: The Blasphemy of Mammon-Worship

Well, it's that time of year again. Time for us to be once again bombarded by advertisements tricked out in tinsel, offering layaway programs, special "deals" if you come into the store at the ass-crack of dawn, and various Christmas carols cunningly recalibrated into musical mantras for what Christmas is REALLY about in America . . . money. Mammon. You know, that thing that Jesus said you couldn't serve if you served God? I know some of you remember this. Maybe it's a good time of year to take a step back and see just how much we pay lip-service to this creed while many of us are sitting in the amen pew of Mammon's unholy cathedral.

First of all, i don't think there's any problem in giving gifts on Christmas. Especially since, the rest of the year, we're a bunch of penny-pinching cheapskates. Do you really need an excuse to give? Has generosity become so archaic that we're only going to honor it once a year, because it might be embarrassing if people did it all year long? And, of course, TRUE generosity doesn't earn dividends or turn a profit, so it's pretty much useless to your generic WASP suburbian family (it's one of the family values that gets skipped over by the pundits when they're pounding the pulpits to push their particular propaganda). Now, if you're reading this, and your hackles are raising, or you're squirming around a little in your seat, GOOD. I'm about to tell you exactly what is putting the "X" in "Xmas." And it's us.

Christmas, at least in theory, comes from the words "Christ's Mass." We can be relatively sure that Christ wasn't actually born in December . . . the time of year was chosen to coincide with certain pagan rituals (the Winter Solstice, Saturnalia, etc.); theoretically, this was to make it easier for pagans to "transition" into Christian practices (what it produced instead, in many cases, was a synchretism that blended a lot of traditions). Nonetheless, if you're going to celebrate Christ's Mass, celebrate it to Christ's glory! That means, of course, to be more concerned about others, so when you're giving gifts, don't just run out and buy something that the person is apt to exchange as soon as you're out of the house . . . put some thought into the gift! Remember, Christ taught us to figure out what we would want someone else to do for us, and then take the initiative by doing it for them! And don't be overly concerned with the "dollar value" of the gift, whether you're giving it or receiving it. Nothing is uglier than a person receiving a gift who later complains about how "cheap" the giver was.

Putting this back in a contemporary perspective, and having worked in retail sails for the previous 6 Christmas seasons, i'm well aware of the over-eager nature of the sellers to "push" Christmas merchandise. Some of the merchandise will even brandish the appropriate religious references (anything that will convince more people to buy it). This attitude, and everything that participates in it and supports it, is almost a ritual honoring Mammon. I'm reminded of the terrible "accident" not so long ago when a man was trampled to death by a horde of shoppers in Wal-Mart. It was an ugly, hideous thing . . . did not one person in the mass know that they were stepping on a living human? Or was getting inside to get those early-riser deals more important than stopping to help, or at least trying to stem the lemming-like tidal wave? I can hear some of you saying, "Yeah, but if they stopped, they'd have been trampled, too." SO WHAT? Listen, if we're saying that we're Christians (those of you who aren't Christians are excused from this part of the rant, if you haven't already tuned me out), then a Christ-like action in that scenario would be . . .WHAT? Christ, who sacrificed His life for ALL of us, would surely have risked His life to help that man. Surely, there must have been SOME Christians in that herd!

This could be broadened into an indictment of our culture's approach to money in general. Sorry, W. Bush, a bailout for banks and automakers at the taxpayers' expense isn't the answer. Neither is a "stimulus program" loaded down with pork projects, Mr. Obama. MORE MONEY IS NOT PART OF THE SOLUTION . . . and you know what THAT means. On Wall St., there is a bronze image of a rampaging bull, supposedly to represent the "Bull Market" that everyone craves. But, i look at it, and i see the golden calf that the Hebrews made while Moses was up on the mountaintop. THAT is what is being worshipped. Everybody likes money, right? More money means more THINGS, more access, more votes, more bulwarks and barriers to keep the "wrong kind of people" outside. I am currently unemployed . . . not for lack of trying, but right now, the job market is tumbling . . . the "stimulus program" doesn't seem to be helping much in that response. Obama's meeting with a number of industry leaders to "create new jobs" was a joke considering how many of them had been cutting jobs before. You create a horrifying chasm doing this . . . making a bigger lower class, while somehow expecting these people to support an economy that sucks them dry and then demands more. When you look at the disparity of this circumstance, it's a wonder you don't fall down on your knees and pray for mercy, because generating a larger group of "outsiders," of people who are oppressed (and, yes, economic oppression counts) is certainly not going to please God. I'm sure a lot of you tithe 10% . . . and keep a careful record of it so you can get the tax write-off. Is this the future you want to hand to your kids? An enormous tax burden to pay for the mistakes of super-wealthy people who, for the most part, STILL ENJOY THE BENEFITS OF THEIR WEALTH? We teach our kids by example . . . and everything seems to be telling them "More MONEY is the answer to your woes. More MONEY is better STATUS, and therefore you're less likely to get convincted of crimes . . . if you have MONEY, you can get away with ANYTHING. You don't want a job that makes you happy, you want a job that gets you more MONEY, and if you have to swindle, backstab, or mistreat your co-workers and employees to do it, SO BE IT." I don't see any politicians on EITHER side of the whole Coke-vs-Pepsi political stratum volunteering to take pay cuts, to not use limousine services, to brown-bag lunch instead of having a 3-martini-lunch with their cronies . . . perish the thought!

If you're a Christian, don't expect a financial payoff because of it. Don't expect the World to be your friend . . . Mammon has no friends, just people it can use, and people it can't . . . and if you're of the latter, you're going to run into all kinds of trouble. Someday in the not-too-distant future, you may be found guilty of "not supporting the economy"--they'll make that a crime about the time they start implanting those microchips in the backs of your hands or under the skin of your foreheads. You're going to have to sacrifice some things, make do with less, and if you follow Christ's teaching in the Parable of the Unjust Steward, use the adversity to stimulate you to creative survival. When you step out of the rat race long enough to take a deep breath and a good look, you'll be thankful for the grace that allows that transition. You won't be a "respectable citizen," you won't be spending your days in "conspicuous consumption," and you're probably going to have a lot of people scratching their heads, wondering why you don't play the game . . . but you'll be LIVING, REALLY LIVING . . . not just complacently getting along because (at least for now) it's easy to claim you're a Christian in America, going to church in what's basically a stained-glass social club, insisting on God's name in the pledge, and going along with whatever political agenda has replaced Faith in your life. If you think that there's a political solution, then THAT'S the problem! When your Faith is in Christ, and you apply your God-given critical intelligence to the situation, you'll see how out-of-joint the whole mess is.

My family has a great many "traditions" that go along with the Christmas season. Christmas cookies, mulled cider, decorating the house, and having other family members who would otherwise be alone join us. My parents were always consistent with regards to remembering Whose birth we were celebrating, and teaching us accordingly. Most of my memories of Christmas are warm and pleasant, and i remember being as young as 11 when i realized i anticipated the joy or happiness that resulted from the gifts i gave rather than what i received.
It made me realize that giving was a blessing in and of itself . . . having something to give, to give FROM, and experiencing the happiness in somebody else's eyes. And, yeah, that might sound sappy and sentimental, but if a cynical curmudgeon like me can feel that, maybe you should try it on for size this Christmas. Maybe a whole bunch of Grinches will be getting bigger hearts this year when they realize the TRUE meaning of Christmas . . . hey, i can dream, can't i?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New Poem: Weltanschauung

this ministry takes place
in a life under giants,
a playground of tyrants
where the usurers insure
the poor will always be with us;
what good is wealth
without someone beneath you?
this is mending the tatters
on the frayed garment of liberty;
if she was naked, these beasts
who wear men's faces
would not only abuse her, but
rape her as well.
this is holding up a map of hell
and showing how well
the outlines connect
those who have the most power
and have the most to fear
from a massive cry of"Unmask!"
this is asking the questions
that make people squirm in their seats,
and hurling a meteor storm of words
that's as like to bring me down
as collateral damage
if i'm even left alive long enough
to sound the attack.
throw it all on the line.
step up your game, or step out.
this is a razor edge
that might cut me off from
and leave me in unfamiliar country . . .
but the One who asks this of me
will apply the Cross-hairs to my vision
and make of me the necessary fusion
of wolf and whirlwind, gunslinger and preacher,
private eye and loudspeaker
that's required by the job.
yes, this dead serious, and yes,
it could be deadly, too.
yes, i am afraid . . . .
but this consumes me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Poem: Stoner Notepad

Stoner Notepad
it's another stoner notepad,
another way of attempting to corral the chaos
in a complex combination of correlated sounds
called "words."
it's another dystopian warning,
another cry of "it's not too late . . .yet,"
it's another attempt at tearing out
the rage that attempts to strangle me,
so that my tongue clings to the bottom of my mouth
or hides behind the lumpin my throat.
it might just
kill me.
it's another manifesto,
another unnecessary proclamation of exactly
why i'm doing this or
why i go on or
why i haven't given up
as if i haven't been wearing my heart on my sleevef
rom the time you stepped into the room, so,
beware when this thing strapped to my wrist
grows thorns.
it's another attempt to cage the quantum tiger
but i'm always missing a substantial portions
of his particles in the attempt, and most of these afford
only a glimpse
of the possibilies.
it's another futile attempt to, through self-disclosure
and an honest understanding of my limitations,try to communicate something so
fundamental in the equation,
because it confounds me that you can't see
the pattern holding things together.
it's another explanation that,
what you see before you is just a loose conglomeration
of molecules and past participles,
a shadow of the possibilities,
each jagged gasp of air a stolen moment in infinity,
as much a slave to my appetites
as any common reptile . . .that God would allow such an unlikely specimen
to breathe poetry,
is beyond my understanding, but a gift
so unrestrained that
resistance is futile
i can do nothing but release.