Erica Caines’ “All In Love Is Fair” :: A Critique Of Sorts

Erica Ryan Caines


Words reside in my spirit, entangle my mind and captivate my imagination…I live for words. I live through words.

 


 

Every now and again a body of work comes across the Desk of Asylum that reminds me of those written works that initially sparked my own word wielding. What I liked most about this particular bit of inspiration is that it dealt with love. And yes, romantic love, eros. And I think the brilliance of Ms. Caines’ work is that she embodies it in such a fashion as it does not feel overly saturated and oozing with awkward sentiment. It does not read like a book of poems about a love I have never felt. The words reflect a love and an infatuation with a person like the ones I have felt. For that reason Erica’s writing stands out.

 

I do not want to cover every piece in her 71 paged book, you should do that for yourself! However, I do wish to highlight three of her poems. The book is divided into three sections of work. The first section is entitled,”Amor Incipit”, and here are the words of one the pieces from that section that stand out to me:

 

Erica Ryan Caines


A hidden interest only shared with the stale pages of a
long kept notebook
Desires I can’t ever seem to be able to overlook
My pen knows my thoughts all too well
Gossipping on yellow tinted pages, anxious to tell.

 

Details about the makings of you.
Your structured suits and silk ties in vast shades of
blue.
Your eyes; the clearest shade of brown

 

How my world seems to stop motion whenever you
come around
My pen and I tell those pages things we wouldn’t dare
share with anyone else
Those surreptitious moments I try to keep to myself.
Like the bit of joy I get from our everyday exchanges
and smile
Followed by a silent prayer for you to stay awhile
I could never let you know any of this, you see
So instead, this is a well kept secret between myself, my
pen and my diary

 


 

I enjoyed the wording here. Mainly the line,”the clearest shade of brown.” As a Black man, it is one of those details you don’t get to read often. Not too many people in my life have described my eyes as having a clear anything!!! I also was moved to draw a line under the words,”Gossiping on yellow tinted pages…”, which for me was just a great usage of framing in a space more prone to sentimental musings. I have never read or heard anyone considering their private writings in books dedicated to private writings as “gossiping”. But the notion is not lost on me either! It is a rich detail that I have grown fond of while reading Erica’s work.

 

Erica Ryan Caines


At the edge of a cliff staring at what’s awaiting not
scared of the results terrified of the journey vowing to
wait for me vowing to stay with me
I trust in your word.
A true feat.
I leap…
I fly against the breeze Arms stretched out, free-falling
Fear escapes me
Thoughts surround me Wondering if at this very
moment
I feel what you feel.
Vowing to wait for me
Vowing to stay with me
I take comfort in your words
A true feat.
Finally
Only you, I agree to fall for No longer suspended in air
Suspended in this moment
No more anxiety
Safe…within love

 


 

Found in the second section of her book, entitled, “FreeFall,” is one of those poems I enjoyed due to the topic it dealt with and the manner in which it was dealt. In much of the poetry I have been exposed to, the issue of love, especially romantic love is such a binary. Here is a piece that deals with the middle ground, that flux, the initial stages of being vulnerable enough to let go. It is aptly titled by the metaphor and imagery of a free-fall. The risks of sacrificing one’s emotional space are depicted as the edge of a cliff, or at least that which one might meet staring down, anyway! And it resonates. I enjoy her logic here. The idea that love, yes, romantic love, can also be a choice. The poem’s clear statement through the vivid images is that the speaker is making a dedicated and conscious choice to trust someone(“I trust in your word”) and to release themselves, so to speak, into that trust. Which as the phrase “fall in love” is typically used to state the opposite. Normally, the idea of “falling in love” is this unconscious and overly emotional sentiment; yet, Erica invites us to view it as a choice, still a leap and “a true feat”, but a choice, nonetheless.

 

Erica Ryan Caines


He tried to be something he wasn’t
I tried to be something he wanted
Entrapped in lust,
Disheveled by love.
Love, such an awkward multifaceted term
A magic fix, something earned
Battered by the effort
Hypnotized by the comfort
Strangers dressed up as lovers
Raw emotion surfaces under covers
Passions streaming towards each other
Drawn to each other
Magnetic forces camouflaged as fate
A straining hardship to keep the faith
Nothing more than a lie…

 


 

In the last and final section of Erica’s “All In Love Is Fair”, “Amor Desinit”,she escorts us through the finality of a relationship, the bitterness, and the more than philosophical ruminations of exactly what “love” in its romantic notions–and possibly the romance itself– should be or might be. One of my favorite pieces in this section(I actually had a hard time picking one from this section–go figure), is entitled,”Fabrication”. In it, Erica’s opening lines work their way like a sharp glass clawing through my mental membranes.

 

“He tried to be something he wasn’t/I tried to be something he wanted”

 

It is a haunting depiction of a romantic entanglement, but like much of her writing in this book, it is aided by the comfort of resonance. The idea that I am attempting to stress about her work is just how blatant the economy of it is. After reading that first line, I wanted to say,”ouch” for the brother! No overly dramatic metaphor was needed there. Just an acute, candid, and well phrased insight. Her vulnerability is extended through this one as she admits to a romance based more on physical compatibility than that “awkward multifaceted term”. The title of the poem is given its double entendre quality by the expression,”Raw emotion surfaces under covers”. Fabric-ation indeed.

 

Erica Caine’s “Love” is not the fantasy romance poetry. It is not quasars and lofty metaphors built on space ships. It is the real thought process coded in the verbal economy of poetry of a Black Woman intentionally inviting a Black Man into her exclusive and protected emotional space. Even as a budding poet, this being her first collection of poetry to meet print, I still was put in the mind of Lucille Clifton while reading her work. Erica Caine is a witty, edgy, honest, and serious poet. I have thoroughly enjoy interacting with her words in this collection.

Interview With Slam Champion and Poet: B. Sharise Moore

Yesterday, Slam champion and poet, B. Sharise Moore and I discussed her career as a poet and her thoughts on poetry, slam, and rap. Here is the transcription of that interaction.

Owl: Who is B. Sharise Moore?
B. Sharise: First and foremost, I am a Black Woman. I am a product of New Jersey. I’m a dreamer, an educator, a writer, and a thinker.

Owl: What is poetry?
B. Sharise: Poetry is subjective. To some it is sunrise, to others, a sunset. I hope my poems are thoughtful, searching, gritty, and fresh.

Owl: How did you get started in poetry and spoken word poetry?
B. Sharise: I started writing poetry when I was 13. I was inspired by Countee Cullen’s poem “Yet Do I Marvel” and never looked back.I wasn’t REALLY inspired to do performance poetry until I was a Junior at Rutgers University. Twice a year, there was an event on campus called Poethic. It was an open mic in the Paul Robeson Cultural Center. Each event had an amazing feature. In 1998, Jessica Caremoor was the feature. I was amazed. She inspired me to perform my poetry. From there, I started competing in slams throughout the state of NJ and in NYC.

Owl: What is the difference between poetry and spoken word?
B. Sharise: Poetry & spokenword can be interchangeable. Poems meant for the page CAN be performed. Spokenword oftentimes doesn’t read well. This is why I tend to refer to myself as a performance poet. I am a poet who performs.

Owl: What is the difference between poetry and rap?
B. Sharise: Rap is an offshoot or byproduct of poetry, but it is influenced by oratory. Rap is also much more confined than poetry. Rap is dependent upon cadence, rhythm, and rhyme. Poetry can employ these devices, but it isn’t dependent upon them.

Owl: You have a poem in your new Chapbook, “How To Love”, can you discuss the impetus for writing that?
B. Sharise: My poem “How to Love” is a persona poem in the voice of Mamie Till Mobley, the mother of Emmitt Till. In the poem, she gives Lil Wayne a history lesson on her pain as a result of having to bury her murdered & disfigured son. I wrote it bc it was the only way I could accurately respond to Wayne’s deplorable lyrics comparing sex w/ Till’s lynching. Those lyrics really made me pause…they made me sick, they embarrassed me, and alarmed me. I wrote it in Ms. Mobley’s voice as I would have imagined her reaction if she were alive.

Owl: What do you see as your purpose for your poetry?
B. Sharise: This may sound strange, but it has always been very difficult for me to take ownership of my poetry. It doesn’t come from me. Not really anyway…I don’t write a lot of “positive” or “uplifting” poetry because I don’t see the world through that lens. I have seen and experienced injustice and that is what I write about. I try to write poetry that makes readers uncomfortable. If I’m not making my readers/listeners uncomfortable, I’m not doing my job as a poet. My poetry is very political. I question the system. I question my own choices. I question our collective reactions to oppression/adversity & I ask my readers to think. I hope my poems are vehicles for thought. We need to think about the ugly things and the magic we need to make them beautiful.

Owl: How has social media advanced your brand?
B. Sharise: Social Media has enhanced my brand by making me more accessible to networking with other like minds. I’ve booked shows, sold product, and discovered alternate avenues to publishing through social media. I’m grateful for it.

Owl: What is your advice to those that have not yet done what you have but would like to follow or emulate?
B. Sharise: I always tell writers to read. Great writers, read a lot. I also have a list of poets and books I can give them to research. If they are interested in performing, I’d say practice and observe. Look up different performance poets. Observe their styles. There are so many performance poets and no 2 are alike. Develop your style. Study your craft and start performing!

Owl: and what is the new chapbook about and how can people access it?
B. Sharise: The new chapbook is called “A Haunted House In Summer”. It can be purchased on B. Sharise Moore’s Haunted [Website].

Committed to the Asylum – An Intro to Peace

i’m the type to align words with war when the world don’t seem right
asked the Father for the right to use my writing as a way to make a way in this place
traded the faces of Jackson and Benjamin for scripts, leaving scripture to be washed by tears from my pen
the sin of trading a gift for gold left my present depleted
so I began to seek
wanted to return to the way of the ink
the Sun Tzu of the former link
click the Bic and see what web it weaved
left my thoughts like a blot on loose leaf
blogs never seen me cuz Mead owned me
I was a slave to the art
turned my words into a sword and slayed the naysayers who dared to say something
kept pumpin until I got dumped by employers
well more like I jumped ship cuz it was never my mission
they say you work for pay well it was easier to pray for work
that way I knew it was from God
took no time for me to go stupid, went on a true flip from corporate climbing to being a flight risk from city to city
nickel and diming, selling icies while trying to make it in that glittery limelight where musicians sell their craft to witches and stick their dicks in prostitutes for praise/
went about my way and made it home
once again, the rolling stone trespassed the gates of hell hoping to make a deal with Satan just to keep him at bay
no not sell my soul but separate my fate from the fantasy of making it in the land of “can we get free, will I grow old as a slave?”

took two years to see what liberty means/

consider this submission my voluntary imprisonment/

committed to the asylum for the sake of seeking peace/

the return to papyrus sheets and quills dipped in blood to make it real/

watch how trill it gets with the thoughts that I spill/

shouts to Owl for making the deal with a mental criminal who knows no subliminals/

literally speaking, I’m figuratively leaking/nothing bleak shall inherit the earth cuz worth after birth is like placenta, just girth/

push that weight out with every word I let out/

asking the Father for a breath as I died a long time ago when I sold my gifts for a bit of bread/

the rats took my cheese after a particular tax season so instead I cash my checks and keep my dough in the oven for a reason/

I’mma leave this, but blessed be the ones who read this cuz after all the ego, being schizo is a relief/

i’m committed to the asylum in an effort to seek peace but if destruction comes before I’m healed then pray the Lord, my soul, He keeps.

 

Amen.

Video: Miss Little Lunch Lady(Do You Know What Your Children Ate For School Lunch Today?)

 

 

Bridget(B. Sharise Moore{ @BshariseMoore follow her on Twitter} wrote a piece some years back that resonates with many of the conversations surrounding education, public schooling specifically, and the layered connections of poverty, prison sentences, and publicly provided education, as well as the food industry. The audio production was done by David (DWest) West of the Indiana Pacers and Zeke, and I provided the visuals. The poem is rich with discussion worthy lines, and I do expect that you will leave a comment.

 

 




 

 

This poem, (as well as B. Sharise Moore’s “Violins & Bullies”), is featured on B. Sharise Moore’s “Peacocks Feathers & Ruby Slippered Souls” which can be purchased via Paypal by clicking the image above.

Women Who Raised Each Other

There are no men in my family
Makes them foreign creatures to me
Exotic in their beauty
Sisterhood is far more familiar to me

 

No granddaddy to sit me on his knee
My father was too mean to my mama and too docile with the second wife
So what is a husband?
She who pays the bills runs the household
So what does it mean to rely on someone else?

 

We are the women who raised each other
Aunt Mable kept a shotgun
We defend our own honor
That nigga hit her so I’m knocking on his door
My mouth thinks I have more testosterone than my muscles could ever deliver
But who else gone do it?
We have no one to hide behind
We walk down dark alleys alone prepared to bear whatever might happen
We absorb the pain; we keep it movin
All we got is us

 

What would it mean to have two parents in a house who loved each other?
Who will we be buried next to?
And what of these little boys?
Can we ever make them men?
No; we coddle them
Shield them from accepting responsibility and never set them free
Baby boy might be the only man who never leaves me

 

I want to be like that nuclear family on TV
but my guts’ been nagging me
Saying “baby girl, that’s a pipe dream”

 

I study old couples like a foreign language
Teach me a tongue in which I can trust
Translate for me shared responsibility
We are the girls who chase boys away
Or maybe pick ones never worthy of entering this convent
They are lacking in piety

 

All I’ve ever learned is ‘niggas ain’t shit’
And it’s not from pontification; this is what I’ve witnessed
So how can I ever believe a promise of forever?
That idea is as fantastic as the Star Wars trilogy
Science fiction

 

Yes there’s some logic there but where is the live evidence?

 

So what do we do with these little boys?
Not one raised to be better than his predecessor
Have we failed these men?
Taught them to fail their women?
Breast fed for too long so they learn to be parasites

 

I bought my own house
No one to work that yard or take the trash out
So I keep a job that pays enough that I can hire someone to do man things
I can only depend on me; folk too easily take off those rings
We are the women who raised each other

 

We become mothers not knowing our fathers
How do you teach a daughter to be nothing like you?
We repeat mistakes
Pat on the back if you reached 18 without pregnancy
We are the girls who raised each other

 

We pick each other up when men drop us like belt buckles hitting the floor with a clank
He moves on; it’s moving time
Hot summer days in ponytails we load the truck
Men become our nemeses
Enemies
Pain givers; pleasure seekers
Our expectations fall lower and still they can’t deliver
And yet we love them
Keep buying those dreams
And paying for them
We are the women who raised each other

 

We hold each other closely
We love each other fiercely
We guard each other nobly
We are the women who raised each other

Everlasting Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They say that anything worth having is worth sweating for
Maybe even worth dying for
Attacking more character defects than a cartoonist’s eraser
Just so that what was causing grief can finally become deceased
Dedicating endless hours to undoing the power that had caused the planes that crashed into the twin towers; the mind and the heart
Reminded by art that perfection can be captured in a moment
Holding on to every moment like integers and exponents
An ex won’t win, when it comes to forever capturing my feelings
Not even sexual healings can suffice when it comes to the payment of the ultimate price
To the point where rattling the dice no longer gives that sensational rush
Lust can’t even be it’s usually abrupt manner
Enough manners to pass the mother-father test
Yes, upon this quest, one must apologetically confess;
For that Everlasting Love, anything is possible

@GraffitiDC :: Another Asylum Outing…

Perhaps there is no better form of artistic expression than that of music to demonstrate the peculiar dynamics of the European aesthetic. The European mind responded to music in precisely the same way as it responded to every kind of phenomenon with which it was presented. Music was analyzed, dissected, “studied” and translated into the language of mathematics. It was written down, and then it could be “read” as one would read a mathematical equation. And true to the pattern of European development, the intellectuals who created this new music were successful in introducing it into the culture as a whole because the culture itself was predisposed to value such an approach. – Marimba Ani, “Yurugu”, pg. 210

Recently, it was submitted in passing that I don’t often show outward support for the leading actress of my love life, B. Sharise Moore, as she is known on the spoken word scene–on the poetry scene. For those that don’t know me, my mother birthed me with my arse gently placed on my backside and pepperly prepared for the kisses of them who believe I owe them what only she deserves and hasn’t even gotten since her relocation. But, since my Brie wiped the floor(I have always loved that saying) at last night’s slam competition, I figured I’d do what I always do: analyze Afkan cultural influences.

Graffiti DC for what I could gather from the host and hosting parties is a poetry slam event organized originally by Beny Blaq in Washington, DC. His efforts extended beyond him Self to include spoken word artists Rasheed, Pages, Ya Ya and Drew Law. As Benny so repetitiously announced throughout the evening, the event was sponsored by Fuze food and beverages — although, Mr. Blaq(I can only assume this monicker alludes to the brother’s crisp skin hue) was donning a Coors t-shirt…never you mind that, however. For those that do not know what a slam is, a poetry slam is a competitive poetry event. Although most polished hosts will pay tribute to the idea that poetry is subjective by having the crowd “boo” the judges and applaud the poet, there is typically a pot at stake. Thusly, five crowd participants are tasked with objectifying the subjective as the poetry performers shoot dice with their vulnerabilities verbalized in measured vibrations and voted from zero to thirty.

Granted, that last paragraph was fully loaded with Owl’s subtle yet not so much point of view on poetry slams as I’ve gotten to know them(as if the pieces leading quote couldn’t let on that I would be swaying the writing a tad bit). The event’s “sackgoat”, or the poet who performs a poem in order to allow the audience to see how the judging will occur was a poet named G. After his performance, the judges scattered in random places throughout the venue held up small whiteboards with numbers on them displaying their overall critique on the piece quantified(see what I did there?).

After his gauging performance was complete, the first contestant was ShellySaysSo. Now, I can always tell when Baltimore is in the building because Ra, Slangston Hughes and Rebecca aren’t too far away. I am always delighted to see them and the support they show their fellow poets is commendable. Shelly would deliver a piece discussing the double standards of male and female sexuality entitled,”I’m a Freak”. The topic was presented in a fresh manner: a first person female perspective explaining why she feels the need for a courting process when she enjoys sex possibly more than the men the poem narrates to. I was relieved that the piece didn’t present it Self as a scathing attack, but a practical and insightful handling of an oft disputed condition. Shelly would receive a 23 even for the piece.

As I have been told, the contestants are grouped in four person teams that compete against each other for the right to move to the final round of two spoken word artists. Shelly would be the first contestant in her group of four forming the first round. The second performer, Mike, would recite a romantic piece, using Shelly as a focal. I don’t mind the romantic pieces flowing from the mouths of Black males, I feel as though the audience wanted something more edgy or “deep”; let’s say, they want Dead Prez’s “Mind Sex” as opposed to, I don’t know, LL’s “I Need Love”. I could see the eye rolls and furled lips from the audience as Mike recited. He would leave the stage with Benny reading his scores “from most disrespectful to highest”. And no that is not a common statement for these affairs. He scored a 15.

IEmpress, did her thing, as usual. Politics aside, I was moved by her humility through out the night(that means she took it upon her Self to speak to me, and yes, many don’t pass a second glance over me, but the true and loyal followers of Asylum know just how acclimated Owl has become to that treatment). I was also enamored by the piece. She represented the righteously cynical(sure, you can always win o’l Owl over with justified cynicism) with a piece discussing her policy dealing with female friends and male suitors. She was given a 25.7 for the piece.

As you can by now tell, I’m sure, I have my own feelings about the poetry slams. I attended the poetry slam in Alexandria, Virginia hosted by the beautiful and eloquent, ShellyBell, and I also watched a youth poetry slam at the 5th and K Busboys and Poets hosted by the broke baller, Droopy. What I dislike is that my favorite pieces that don’t fall from the lips of Brie hardly ever win because of things like:

The Poet isn’t popular with that crowd.

The Poet isn’t discussing something that is heartfelt amongst that crowd.

The Poet isn’t groomed efficiently for public recitation.

The Poet doesn’t seem to be in agreement with aggressive female homosexuality.

I’ll stop with my list of poetry slam pet peeves for now, but the gist of my concerns is that, although Graffiti DC is extremely polished in its assessment of performance poetry, poetry slam audiences, and thus the judges surrounded by them, aren’t created equal. This isn’t a new argument. Talaam Acey, spoken word phenom, also dedicates a few paragraphs to the murky waters of poetry slams in an essay on “Gay” poetry in his book, “Excellent Exposure”.

In many ways, I believe, and I’ve expressed this elsewhere, I will always be the preferred outcast. I don’t partake of my words without due consideration. An outcast is one that has been cast out from a group. The out cast of a genus is typically that animal born first of a necessary mutation for natural selection to select accordingly. The casting out is actually a blessing, as it was when mutant white people where born of melanin secreting people. For that last thought, please consult Dr. Francis Cress Welsing, the notion isn’t mine alone. Poetry is supposed to be the expressed thoughts of the out casted. One of the first documented spoken poetry pieces of history is a Kemetian(ancient, ancient Egypt) that discusses a poor man soliciting a bureau of law proscribers and explaining class and the right by which even the poor have to proper Ma’at. But hey, these are only my thoughts…what other thoughts would you expect Owl to be able to best write about?

The second half of the competition began with a poem about a male’s perspective of having an aborted child. It was performed by a poet named Hoffa, and he used a technique of speaking about his daughter as if she had been here on earth and he missed her. An interesting piece, to say the least. He would walk away with a 27.1.

The second poet of the second round was the ever so devasting, the one and only, her muthafucking Asylum-ness…B. Sharise Moore(yes, niggaz, clap from your cubicle #shyt). Since my staff pays the bills around here, I don’t mind being biased. She took a rusty broken industrial sized, kitchen mixer leg sharpened from fear of being fucked in prison style shank and worked the crowd over. She did her personage piece of the meeting between Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye’s father that you can listen to here, and purchase on the album “”. She would drip blood from the microphone back to where I was standing with a 29.8 from the judges.

Yeah, of course, your favorite ex-convict slash ex-drug addict slash and plus ex-homeless writer felt all standing ovation for the queen inside but didn’t have to show it. I sort of understand now what inspired Jay-Z’s verse on “That’s My Bitch”.

But, hey, the story doesn’t stop there…

The last competitor of the round was a Jonie that spoke something towards her fearlessness for being in love with a woman. Automatic crowd pleaser. The only way to beat that was to be an Asian with southern swagger in an Afkan(Afrikan Amerikkkan) mounted venue discussing how hard it was to grow up Asian around Whites. She would walk off the chopping block with a 29 even.

The round was ended with a few more jokes for Beny The Dark, and a round of poems from Drew Law, Pages, YaYa, and Rasheed. Pages and Drew went head up with pieces discussing what they would do to the females of the audience sexually, then Pages broke off to do a piece about how he would wish to be a cigarette since that would get his father’s attention. Rasheed and Yaya would both do pieces together and separately. I was in deep combat with my part-time atheism and full time “Fuck Christianity” as Rasheed waxed poetically about the fear Jesus would have in actually coming back to earth. The section was wrapped up with Drew law.

The finalist, as you must have calculated already were B. Sharise Moore and Jonie. They would have to compete against one another without an edge from their previous score. B. Sharise Moore would perform her critique of the Education System in USA and Jonie would do a love piece. I slept with the winner who walked away with a clean 30(Highest score one can receive).

*Smiles*

I could have left you there, but I will not. I totally appreciate the work and effort of all named artists and those that appeared that night. It is difficult to write about people that are loved by the person you love without being overly offensive, or dick riding to the point of nausea. No matter how much money is on the table and how many bills will get paid with said money…no matter how much sex will be received by poets by poetry appreciatists…the bottom line should be about expression, and to all those new to these digital parts, I pray ye understand my expression is necessary for me to sleep without fighting. Not a metaphor there.

*Smiles*

Black Mother By Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter

“Black Mother” is a poem written by slain West Coast Black Panther Party organizer, and founder of the Southern California office of the Black Panther Party that attracted members Elaine Brown and Geronimo Pratt, Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter. An uplifting and inspiring piece, reminding me of certain tenets within Black Media Trust that encourage art reflective of desired visions for US Black culture.

 

In the poem, “Bunchy” addresses the pain of being aware of the history of the treatment of Black Mothers which also works to symbolize Black Women in the United States of America. “Black Mother” conjures apologia to all Black Mothers and Black Women through what could be not only the pen and words of “Bunchy”, but also as a representative voice for all Black Men becoming aware of the atrocious oppressions suffered through the vessel of the Black and Woman body.

 

“Bunchy” Carter was murdered along with John Huggins on the campus of UCLA at the campus’ Campbell Hall on January 17, 1969, by members of Ron Karenga’s US organization. A dire and gravely unfortunate cautionary lesson that our blind fealty to race-based fictive kinship must always be questioned.

 

Black Mother By Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter

 

i must confess that i still breathe
though you are not yet free
what could justify my crying start
forgive my cowards heart
–but blame me not the sheepish me
for i have just awakened from a deep, deep, sleep
and i be hazed, and dazed, and scared
and vipers fester in my hair
BLACK MOTHER i curse your drudging years
the rapes, and heart-breaks, sweat and tears
–but this cannot redeem the fact–
you cried in pain, i turned my back
and ran into the myers fog
and watched while you were dogged
and died a thousand deaths
but i swear on siege night dark and gloom
a rose i’ll wear to honor you, and when i fall
    the rose in hand
    you’ll be free and i a man
for a slave of natural death who dies
can’t balance out to two dead flies
i’d rather be without the shame
a bullet lodged within my brain
if i were not to reach our goal
let bleeding cancer torment my soul.

Violins And Bullies By B Sharise Moore

Brie(B. Sharise Moore) crafted this for Tyler Clementi and others that faced oppressive bullying. The piece is one selection of many from her cd, Peacock Feathers & Ruby Slippered Souls(you can purchase here).

 

Violins And Bullies

 

 

 

the boy was born a violin.
cheeks like rosewood hills
overlooking staggered breaths
of symphony
pudgy legs were
wish bones wrapped
in 6/8 time
21 inches of whole note.
arms like expertly strung bows
and a tiny chest cavity alive
with the thumping of
finely tuned heartstrings.
an orchestra of synapse and spine.

but somewhere between boyhood
adolescence and sheet music
began the bullying.
made him
rubber tongued
and tired.
swollen with a shrunken esteem
free only when he climbed
inside himself.

the bullied
are the homeless, the hitchhikers
the easy to ignore
they are hemophiliacs left to bleed
through their book bags
while waiting on the support
we never give them
so they continue the long walk
backward through life.

but beyond the shit and urine stench
of humiliation streamed live
on computer screens
I’m sure our silence had to hurt more
burned like the sizzling brand on a slave’s hand
twisted like a finger nearly dislodged
in a rust-hinged door.
for their suffering
we give them our nothings…
our outdated adages of
sticks and stones breaking

bones but names never
hurting. treating 2010
as if it were 1970.
we give him Brady Bunch advice:
“He has to learn to ignore them. He’ll live…”

But what then when he doesn’t
what then when he chooses ash
over orchestra. suicide over symphony.
when he chooses an old leather belt
a pistol or a suspension bridge
to confide in. perhaps there is a warmth
in the butt of the gun, the belt, the bridge.
maybe they provide the promise
that the homophobic jeers will end infinitely.

since we offer no such solutions
we are handcuffed and
hands off helpless
reactionary and unreasonable
when martyrdom has no viable cause
we weep over what ifs and inaction
but who will stand?

Who will stand and say:
you will not distort his image within glass
offer him to carnival freak shows
and funhouses. you will not make him
frivolous entertainment.

Who will stand and say:
you will not mince his thoughts
into fright making him perpetual gloom.
you will not butcher his freedom
with cleaver. force him to wear his lungs
like long john’s. chase him into tunnels
where his innards are slaughtered in shadow.
you will not kill him because he is skinny or
awkward or overweight or gay
nor will you drive him to kill himself

I don’t give a damn about the
religion that made you raise a monster
and neither does your God
because whomever that God may be
I’m sure He or She believes in a tolerance and
a mercy and a love that you have yet to understand.

the boy was born a violin

cheeks like rosewood hills
overlooking the staggered breaths
of symphony
but somewhere between boyhood
adolescence and sheet music
began the bullying.
he knew he’d only be free
when he climbed
back inside himself. hoped
to live his next life as a whole note
in an orchestra of synapse and spine
and yes, he will live…

Tyler Clementi, age 18, you will live.
Eric Mohat, age 17, you will live
Justin Aaberg, age 15, you will live
Billy Lucas, age 15, you will live
Asher Brown, age 13, you will live
Seth Walsh, age 13, you will live
Carl Joseph Walker Hoover, age 11, you will live
Jaheem Hererra, age 11, you will live

You will live because
I will stand and make it so…

© 2010, B. Sharise Moore

I Am Me By Universal Law…

There is a guy who played with hot wheels and tonka trunks during his childhood. He only had a couple and had to trade other children for theirs in order to possess more. He spent a considerable amount of time playing “that’s my car” while growing up. He didn’t study Neitchze like myself, or ponder the ideas of Elijah Muhammad like me, but he studied the make and model of all of the lines of Mustang and Impala. He can tell you which types of exhaust pipes you should purchase, just as fast I can tell you which speech a particular quote of Malcolm came from.

And when I went out and got a degree, he went to work and bought a real car. He put as much work into that car as I have put into this blog and my literary career. He put those big rims on his car, like I’m putting all of these big thoughts into your head. That guy is one of my best friends.

My interests don’t have to be the interests of every member of the black race. That should not be a consideration, actually. The customs and cultures of every people on the face of the earth at some point converge the material. Is the Mexican any less a contributor to his community because he has mastered the art of car design? Is the white guy who has been practicing his pitch since he was in the backyard throwing wiffle balls at his father’s hands any less a contributor to his race because he plays baseball?

My “blackness” is not a limit, it is not a “scope”. There is no range of expression. I am black. The apple is an apple because it is. We as a people who have been forced to unite under very trying conditions should still not be forced to have to act and like the same things. As a political group, sure, there are things that I expect…being able to dance isn’t one of them. Sorry.

There is this dichotomy within the American Black community that has to be addressed. My background doesn’t infringe on my foreground, the universe is the greatest artist and writer. My story is perfect for the universe. My degree, my educated-ness doesn’t stop me from walking through the projects and my family waving at me.

Sure, I can write in syncopated seconds, and enunciate every syllable with a crispness that would make Frederick Douglas proud. I can also cook crack and bring it back with at least a two third measure extra on it. Now what?

My political ties to the Black peoples of the US do not infringe my habits, or hobbies. I define Black. I add to and take from that definition by my presence and activity. I create the new paradigms that others will CHOOSE to conform to. I borrow from other cultures what I feel like, and remix them with a Mile Davis cut, and give them to you in my Malcolm X voice.

I am Black by social conditions, I am ME by universal law.