Peace of Mind

[2003 was a big year for my poetry ~ DR]

Why is peace of mind
Such an integral piece of the pursuit of happiness
so elusive?
Peace of mind requires safety
Consider that many of the people around may not feel safe most of the time,
And often have to leave part of themselves at the door
To feel safe upon entering
Imagine the pain when the being inside is only the skeleton,
All the skin, flesh, organs, blood had to be ripped off for them to safe
All things they love about themselves,
The beautiful, witty, hopeful, fun, happy, goofy, silly things
That are the best of themselves
Needs to be checked in at the door.
Consider that each time they pack these things up and check them at the door,
They risk losing pieces of the best things about themselves

Consider that some people never feel safe from the affects of racism, sexism, homophobia, and other ways that humans divide each other
and choose consciously or accept unconsciously to exercise their privilege.

Consider that the most dangerous of you to someone different is
the self-described liberal person
who thinks they are immune to this aspect of humanity
who has no idea they ways that their discriminatory behavior lowers the quality of life for others and for themselves.

We can come together in the pain.
We can share stories
However it is unacceptable for you
To minimize, diminish my story, my hurt, and my feelings
Oh you’re being too sensitive
You’re looking for problems
You’re wrong
You’ve got to walk with me into the pain
Of not being safe
Of not being able to trust others
Of not being able to be our most loving self
Welcome to the pain
Welcome to the pain
If you can’t get here with me
Than I don’t feel safe

Or you can open up yourself
And bring out into the open any weapons
You’re carrying
Full disclosure yo
The jagged piece of your past in your back pocket
That is not pretty
That is not acceptable
That is part of your experience
Share your indiscretion, your discrimination, your racism, your complacency
Then I can breathe a breath of fresh air
Gingerly place it in the ground
And walk away from it
Then I know that you get it
Then I can be safe

I don’t want to have to open up
To share my pain, my hurt
For me to be real
I am real now
And I do not want to have to come together as human beings
I want to come together as myself,
Acknowledging our commonalities and differences.

Water

[I used to love to read this circa 2000 ~ DR]

Haunted by Dutch dikes,
a poignant image
conjured in the mind of a child,
somehow related
to the origin of my adopted name.
Been holding back for so long,
suppressing desire
suppressing inclination
suppressing action
born in me.
Yet the flow of love within
threatens to break the dam.
Sandbags in my eyes
and exhausted,
the fingers of a man-child hand
plug points of vulnerability
in the dike.
But I only have ten.

And its already past eleven.
My emotional alarm clock
is about to go off.
Its quarter to twelve
and at midnight,
Prince Charming is ready for a crown
and a queen
and a baby.
My stream of consciousness
feeds water falls of wisdom.
Romantic visions,
devoted visions,
paternal visions
gush out of my mind,
only to evaporate,
essence dissipating in waves
through the cracks of my existence.

Desert dwellers dance,
faces painted in various hues,
undulating sensually,
hoping to inspire the heavens
to open up and shower them
with my life giving,
life sustaining
flow of love.
Thirsty and thirsting for a deluge,
yet receiving dew and drizzle,
which somehow temporarily
justifies their hope
of growing an oasis,
something sustainable
something beautiful
something magnificent
from parched roots
buried in sand dunes.
A storm is brewing
and my love
is poised to rain down
on fertile soil.
Confident,
I shall find true love,
dancing
at the end of the rainbow.

Part I: Conception

[This piece is dedicated to my daughter Melia Gabrielle, a dream on July 4th, 1997 that five years later became my sweetest reality on October 11, 2002. ~ DR]

In my drop top,
stars as a backdrop,
bombs burst in the air
above the parking lot.
Elevated in consciousness
and purposely alone.
Turn off my phone.
Full grown in a zone,
composing,
conceiving you,
my child-to-be,
first of three.
Sprouting from possibility
in the richest soil
of my fertile mind.
Heaven sent baby
you are divine,

Unbeknownst to me
you were lounging about
in between my ears,
above my tears,
to the right of time,
on my mind.

Awaken by jarring blasts
from etemal bliss
brown baby surges forth
out my subconscious
through the realm of dreams
onto my conscious mind.
On my mind.

You’re not crying.
Is that the sign
for me to mentally
smack your behind.
I apologize my child,
that’s the last time
your daddy ‘s gonna
cross that line.

Are you girl or boy?
I don’t care to know,
I do know though
that I care deeply,
quite concretely,
so completely for you.

Evading pain and strife,
consider you in choices
instrumental in my life,
e.g., selection of a wife,
chosen to be queen bee
of this hive. I shall strive
to shower her with love,
bath her in integrity,
caress her with honesty.
After all it seems to me
prior to the arrival,
through my lady,
I send love to my baby.

Yeah there’s gonna be
a honey-wife in my life.
Don’t fret yet,
I’ma get you a cooool
one helluva a mama.
A real chill karma,
down-to-ride vibe,
and we ain’t even talkin’
I ain’t said nothing
about the upside.

Instinctively,
she will shower you with love,
bath you in integrity,
caress you with honesty.

Trust me, its true
thinking thoughts of you
fills my cup to the brim.
Far from a whim,
I’ma go the distance
to ensure a win.

Trust that I will love
and nurture you
from mental conception
to sexual conception
to birth to child to kid to teen
to young adult to king or queen
to wise adult to my demise
and to earth from heaven.
I will look over you,
before you , after you,
forever always
child-of-mine.

Jazz is…

[Originally written on Jan 7, 1999 ~ DR]

According to Webster, Jazz is…
American music developed esp. from ragtime and blues and characterized by propulsive syncopated rhythms, polyphonic ensemble playing, varying degrees of improvisation, and often deliberate distortions of pitch and timbre.

O Jazz,
aural manifestation of poetry,
animanipea considered,
your rich character defies description
within the bland confines of our language.
If only we could understand scat…
Perhaps then, we could commit your magic to paper,
and lose nothing in the translation,
other than jazz itself.

O Jazz,
your sound waves provide
an emotional venue for soul surfing.
Sonic swells vary in character,
yet the rhythm of the tide
delivers on promises,
leaving hope in its wake.

O Jazz,
saxophone soliloquies send messages,

sometimes in bottles of cheap reds,
Save our souls!

My soul dances….

Jazz is as Jazz does

Jazz is

Parenting

My mind relaxes
on lovely
Melia
welcome respite
to mental drudgery
behind and intertwined with
joyful adoration
my spirit lulls
within the understanding
that in raising
this wondrous eclectic being
we are experiencing
the evolution of
our intersection
in the crib we built
and the world
we pass on

parents
we accept
our responsibility
ensuring that
our embrace ever continues
encouraging vibrancy
and momentary awe
and joy in learning

the glint in her eyes
reflects revelations
the sincerity of her smile
lack of condition
and pure intention

and the yarn of love
binding us together

Manufacturing Hope

I’ve been manufacturing hope for several years now
every evening and sometimes at other times of day
I scout my surroundings for serendipity
consequential song lyrics
rays of light, nostalgic artifacts,
and reasons to deny what seems to be inevitable
while I am not blessed with much in the way of raw materials
I have discovered a radical ingenuity and romantic stick-to-it-ness within me
that enables me to continuing do this work

I manufacture hope
make it from little nothings
from the things that she has not done yet
from longer than usual embraces
from the occasional in-depth conversation
from her unspoken conflictedness
i have to make hope because she never wanted me to have any

from the beginning of the end
she said it was not going to work out
and she was right
she knew what she wanted
emancipation from what had become her slavery
unbeknown to both of us
her ego still wrestles with her decency and her motherhood
all of which have their own perspectives

there’s not much to hope for
so I’ve been making hope
from the unsaid
the undone
from what turns out to be procrastination
from any hint of the positive
yet this artificial hope is wearing as thin as her restraint

in the face of great uncertainites
any of which could devastate me
none of which will kill me
my hope sits in the balance
perhaps shortlived
yet still shackling me to a whole perspective on life
that is beautiful in its possibilities
yet fragile and increasingly unlikely

i am drowning in hopes
co-created by a middle aged man and three year old
to keep making these hopes
is like being in prison
waiting to be executed
and praying for a pardon
these hopes are an illusion
that keeps me flexible and accomodating and loving
even as I am forced to drink the bitter elixir of new liaisons

i often wonder why I continuing hoping
praying
believing in miracles
i am not sure
perhaps its a reluctance to see the world as it is
to see her in the light of reality
to acknowledge that we failed
but i always come back to the knowing
that this is part of my process
and that no one knows
what may become of this hope i’ve manufactured
this is enough to keep the hope factory open
at least for a while

p.s., I wrote this several years ago after Melia’s mother suddenly ended the marriage and happened to find it yesterday.   With all this talk about hope and change, I thought I’d share it.  Personally, this is a good reminder that I don’t ever want to be back in the business of manufacturing hope.   Hope is the new dope!

To Be A Poet

Pristine paper
confronts me,
as I struggle
to lift a heavy pen.
Weary eyes
are no longer able
to focus on streams of images,
begging to be translated into words.

This scenery
frustrates poetic ambitions,
goading me
to finally realize that creation
requires self-immersion,
I must become
what I communicate.
I need to get deep within it,
beneath the surface of the thought,
inside the core of the purpose.
within the soul of the struggle.

I must be willing to become the actor
not only in the video but in the song.
Living the blues,
the rhythm
and the melody
that keeps on keepin’ on keepin’ on
in the face of emotional adversity.

No matter the discomfort,
no matter the pain,
I must be willing
to venture into the belly of the whale.
And I must be willing to rip, claw, and tear
until I emerge wearier
yet all the wiser,
and then continue tearing down
obstacle after obstacle
until I am liberated from excuses.

I must be willing
to hunt for truth amidst soul smugglers,
whose life purpose is to steal away my lion heart
to my rewrite my lion history,
and to mold my lion mind,
just as they did my ancestors.

I must be willing to don the stage
to address an audience
sprinkled with fake prophets, brain-dead emcees, and hate.
Exposing my essence to ridicule and perhaps worse,
I break the chains of the obvious, the apparent, and the already-said.
I avoid conceptual fads like dichotomies
and well-worn topics such as chocolate love and deadbeat dads.
I stray from senseless and fatiguing metaphors
in the bottom of heart and the depth of my soul.
I distance myself from the boundless materialism
of Rolex watches, German cars, and idle boasting.
I resist no dismiss the temptation to repeat new jack truisms espousing pseudo intellect.
You might overstand me if you could see what I see with my third eye.
I recognize the difference between being profane and profound.
I refuse to paint life black and white.
I refuse to rehash my best sexual episodes in verse.
I refuse to let my insecurities manifest in hate, insults, or threats.
I refuse to advocate solution without resolution and growth.
I refuse to alleviate symptoms without dealing with the root cause.
Despite the allure of fame, glory, money, and their accompaniment gratuitous sex,
I refuse to say what I think you want to hear.
Forgoing the satisfaction of the rhyme,
I release myself from lyrical handcuffs.
Sidestepping the path most traveled,
I expose the ludicrous, the hypocritical, the detrimental.
I must be willing to pull out the braids to expose a nappy-ass head.
I must be willing to peel back the onion even as it makes me cry.
I must be willing to question hollywood, history books, policy, CNN, and ESPN.
I must be willing to look beyond the apparent to understand intention and causation.
I must be willing to forgo government cheese and tax breaks for the wealthy.
I must be willing to turn the other shoulder to propaganda and commercials
like the one that says the other white meat is good for you and
the ones that say any politician will do a great job of representing us.

I must be willing
to venture into a den of thieves,
declaring everything I value,
willing to leave with nothing
save my values,
my beliefs,
my integrity.

I must be willing to be myself.
Perhaps then
I can be honest
insightful
responsible.
Perhaps then I can be a poet.