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Challenge Accepted

The following is a poem I wrote in response to a friend’s (Mia Wright) challenge on FB to write a poem about love that doesn’t have similes or the word “love” in it.  Here’s what I submitted…

I feel you.

You saturate my being

And cleanse me of my fears…even though sometimes I’m afraid of you.

I breathe you.

I inhale you each time my lungs fill

And you nourish every cell of my being…even when you take my breath away.

I dream of you.

You dance through my mind

And occupy my thoughts constantly…and yet allowing myself to experience you is probably the most mindless thing I’ve ever done.

I long for you constantly.

Because when you’re with me, everything else makes sense.

And the stuff that doesn’t…doesn’t matter.


I’m Sayin’ It

I never felt the need to “carry the cross” for racial equality because I, like many who were lulled to sleep by placating political gestures and distracted by “shiny” things like the American Dream and the right to pursue happiness, I thought “they” (the leaders who led the FIRST round of demands for civil rights) handled it already and that we were “past that”.  But more and more I find myself fighting the overwhelming urge toward indignation because shit is absolutely NOT okay and I don’t feel BLACK voices are being heard. My poise thus far is not because I feel like I need to continue to pacify and “stay in my place”…but rather because once I come out of the box, Pandora won’t have JACK on me. So I’m studying balance…and learning when and how to strategically tip the scales.

But today is not a “study” day.

And I will admit that I was tempted to “qualify” the BLACK voices that “should” be heard. You know, the educated, non-criminal, articulate, “plays well with White folks” voices. The ones that aren’t intimidating, know how to scout out “when to speak” and when to “…remain silent”, what dialect they need to adopt in order to “relate”, and voices dressed in smiles, suits, straightened or neatly curled and coiffed hair, and “tastefully” jeweled. But DAMN THAT.

The BLACK voices that ALSO need to be heard are the ones who, because of pulled funding and pornographically underpaid educator pay, might not put sentences together “good”. The ones whose pants may indeed fall off their ass, or whose skirts may look painted on. The ones who may even have upwards of 3, 4, or 5 children with different “baby mamas” or “baby daddies” and show no evidence of having been introduced to a condom or birth control method. The ones who have a “record”…and I ain’t talking about on iTunes. Why? BECAUSE THEY STILL MATTER! And if you actually listen to what they may not be so-called “articulate” enough to say, you MAY learn about the conditions (and conditionING) that brought them to where and how they are.  Who are YOU, person who is content to perpetuate an overtly racist system masquerading as opportunity, to “qualify” which BLACK life “deserves” to have a voice or “matter”? PLEASE go sit down and take whatever justification you feel you have with you.

Generation after generation of degradation, disrespect, disregard, belittlement, humiliation, second-guessing, and systematically imposed poverty…and you want to tell me that if my brother just pulls his pants up, he’ll “stand a CHANCE” of being heard? So you’re telling me that aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall of this is about some damn PANTS??? Aw okay…

Listen. I’m not saying burn the shits down. BUT it’s hella hard to stand by and watch the frozen molasses of justice make its way down to us. BLACK LIVES MATTER. Period. No laws which can ever be passed will remove racism from the hearts and minds of people. We know this. But still…BLACK LIVES MATTER. This doesn’t take away from any other people group, because YES “ALL lives matter”…but “ALL lives” aren’t being profiled. “ALL lives” aren’t being killed without indictment or prosecution. “ALL lives” aren’t in communities that are self-imploding because more liquor stores and payday loan stores are being erected than schools. “ALL lives” aren’t still haunted by the ghost of slavery, which brought BLACK lives to this stolen nation.

So I’m saying it again… BLACK LIVES MATTER. We are not the “animals” that we were (and, in many cases, still are) labeled. BLACK LIVES MATTER. And I shouldn’t have to build a case to justify why my life matters. Or why my brother’s life matters. Or my sister’s. Or my father’s. Or my mother’s. Or my niece’s. Or my nephew’s. Or my son’s. Or my daughter’s. Or my aunt’s. Or my uncle’s. Or my grandfather’s. Or my grandmother’s. Or…you get the point.

BLACK LIVES MATTER.   I make absolutely NO apology for my indignation. I make no apology for how many times I inserted BLACK LIVES MATTER into this writing. Because “BLACK LIVES MATTER” makes waaaaayyy more sense than “get out of the car!”, “fuck your breath!”, “we found her that way”, slamming a 14-year-old BLACK girl in a bikini to the ground with a knee in her back, killing a child for playing with a TOY gun, evicting a 90-year-old Navy VETERAN from his 60-year-old home (no, not all injustices perpetuated against BLACK people are violent), or COUNTLESS other monstrosities. BLACK LIVES MATTER.  I’m saying it, and will continue to say it…for myself and every other BLACK person who feels the need to be “taught” how to live in BLACK skin without becoming a fatality.  BLACK LIVES MATTER.

I’m not writing this to make anyone uncomfortable. On the same count, I refuse NOT to write it because it does. BLACK LIVES MATTER. This is not a marketing campaign to “convince” the masses…BLACK LIVE DO MATTER!!! I don’t care what the circumstance, what the living condition, what the mindset, what the challenge, what the “attitude”, what the…whatever. BLACK LIVES MATTER.

There…I said it.


Tribute

You are ever so smooth in how you move
In commanding authority you walk—or should I say “groove”
Everything you do has a purpose, a reason, a goal
I can see it in your eyes—your deep, enchanting eyes
For they witness of your soul

Which bears the scars and bruises and fears of a heart,
broken and disappointed several times over
And because you rarely, if ever, allow this part of you to be seen
Your face, often, is expressionless in an all-too-successful attempt to cover
Your feelings, your emotions, your true thoughts
About your past, your future and today

Oh, and dare I say…love…it’s okay

To be in love with life, with Love, with yourself, and…me
Please don’t forget about me

Your scent, your walk, your way of talking
Your hug, your smile, your style of dressing
Your charm, your laugh, your vibe, your groove, your soul, your love…
That’s what draws me to you

Nothing particular, nothing specific
But everything spectacular, everything unique, everything special, everything—
“You”

You are a man, living in your own world
Often misunderstood by those of us who don’t come from there

Your life tells a story
Of Joy and sorrow…Strength and weakness…
Triumph and defeat
You are an Overcomer

Driven by Determination, destined for Greatness,
created for Dominion
You are a Prince

A knight in imperfect armor
You are Father, Brother, Husband, Friend…and Love.
You are…you
And I thank you.


WHAT DOGGED DETERMINATION WILL DO

What would happen if you “forgot” to be limited…?

Don Miskel

I’m proud of, just got off the phone with, and am big-upping my brother, Chris Miskel. Though he’s younger, he lost the “little brother” moniker years ago, when we both became dads. I am mentioning this very talented individual because he is a maverick that decided to break the rules and live his dream.

Chris is a professional musician, a self-taught drummer who has been doing it since he could pick up sticks. When we were little, it was the oven door, pots, pans, oatmeal boxes, and any anything else that could produce a sound that got beaten. He’s gone from using pencils and chopsticks to being promoted by Pearl (those are the folks who make drums, y’all).

He also hails from the same impoverished Chicago South Side neighborhood that I do, currently nicknamed Chi-raq due to all the violent crime that goes on there. A young man who was…

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The Power Within

The Power Within

I was fumbling around at my desk at home, trying to find the cord to my speakers so I could plug it in to my computer. There was the cord that went to the external hard drive, then there was the cord that went to my phone charger, then there was the one that went to the charger for my “other” usb devices, as well as the cord for yet another device. Didn’t have to worry about the cord that charges my laptop, because it was already plugged in. ALAS! I finally found the cord for the speakers, but when I did the strangest thing happened. As I reached for the different cords, I noticed the occasional “buzz” or “pop” from the ends touching each other…because everything was plugged into the main power strip so it was all live. [I know, I know…not the best setup, but this particular gangly mess wasn’t a usual occurrence.]

In particular, I noticed the cord to my speakers because the volume was up a little. What I noticed was that when my hand touched the plug, the speakers would hum or buzz. The first time it happened, I thought it might have accidentally touched one of the other live cords. But when I tried to use my hand to try to “protect” the end until I got it plugged in…it got LOUDER! What the…HUH??? So I dropped the cord to make sure I didn’t electrocute myself […”again” (but that’s a story for another day)].   But what had just happened? Why did it make that sound? I took inventory and once I made sure everything else was back to its intended setup, I picked up the speaker cord by the base…and deliberately touched the tip to my hand. It did it again…but I didn’t feel a current.

I did this a few times, and like a curious and fascinated child was AMAZED! So then I explored… Holding the cord by the base, I touched my desk…nothing happened.   So I touched my hand again, just to be sure…the buzz was still there. I touched a book…nothing. Touched my bare leg…buzzzzzz. Touched the desk lamp…nothing. Touched my neck…buzzzzzzz. FASCINATING! I marveled for a little longer, and then decided to go ahead and plug the cord back into the computer.   When I did, I noticed a pop and the SAME BUZZ until it was fully inserted and securely in place.

I’d heard a number of times that our bodies have enough energy in them to light an entire city, were we to learn how to harness its unique power – but I honestly thought that was just something people were saying to inspire and motivate others and make them feel good about themselves and their potential. But NOW…? I kinda believe it! Granted, my bootleg home experiment was not a sophisticated setup, and could quite possibly just be happenstance. You know, this particular brand of speakers, the type of power strip they’re plugged into, a combination of the energy of the other items also in the space…but I doubt it.

This got me thinking about the literal THOUSANDS of thoughts and ideas that pass through my consciousness on a regular basis. I also thought about the different pains and discomforts I’ve experienced…possibly due to NOT properly protecting and/or directing the power that IS ME. How many times have I doubted my ability to do/say something, or to otherwise act, thinking there was something outside of myself and the power with and in which I was born into this realm? Way too many! And how many times have YOU?

What power-packed ideas and activities have you kept unjustly and improperly shelved, waiting for something outside of your divine mandate to give you unnecessary permission to do? What have you denied yourself and the world by not realizing the incredible power that lives in you NOT because you activated it, but BECAUSE YOU ARE?!?!!! Your breath, beating heart, and even your doubts are evidence that you ALREADY have and ARE the power you need. Now, it’s only a matter of moving from curiosity and exploration on to intentional creation.

Yes, you’ll continue to face things that may cause you to doubt who you really are, and the power you actually DO have to create. But your magnificence and brilliance are really not EVER legitimately up for debate or challenge…E.V.E.R. You don’t even have to believe it to make it so. IT. JUST. IS. But in order to MASTER your ability to manifest your true desires – I mean the “real” ones, not the “it would be really nice IF…” ones – you DO need to learn your power and how to be responsible with it.

Watch any movie or read any book about superheroes “stumbling” onto their power and yes, there is the period of discovery or of fun exploration where they do dumb stuff just because they’ve discovered they can. [Think about puberty, and the realization millions of hormonal young folks have that they “can” have sex…and that they can even create another life. Great power…not always wisely exercised upon initial discovery.] Ideally, there is some trusted voice of reason that commends them for finally discovering the power that lives within them…and cautions them on being prudent with their new discovery.

I don’t know what your “superpower” is…YOU may not even know what it is yet. But I DO KNOW – without ANY shadow of doubt – that you have it. Hopefully your life is structured in such a way that you’re allowed to sit and just “be”…even if for a few deliberate minutes each day. It doesn’t have to be a long time, but having this time of quiet connection to yourself and the Power that courses through you is important. Your life will take shape and form based on how connected you remain to this understanding. It goes beyond description, labels, titles and identification. What you call it doesn’t matter. But your ability to shape your life – as well as affect the lives of others – is directly related to this power and your ability to effectively direct it.

And contrary to the popular notion that it’s more important to know your purpose, or else risk not fulfilling it, it is more important that you recognize and relate to the Power that you are. Because as you become more attuned to all of who you are, the purpose will both reveal and protect itself….and it cannot be destroyed.

Think about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Dream”. He is who pronounced it, but his beautiful crafting of the words that related to the hearts of millions didn’t “make” the dream. The dream’s time had come…and he was simply the man who recognized its universal cry and harnessed his own powers of words, passion, and unwavering commitment to propel it forward. And the dream did not die when his body was no more. But because he lived a life in recognition of his power, that dream “crowned” during his lifetime…even though it has YET to be fully realized…but it still continues.

And yours will, too…


Good morning, 2015! (UNBLOCK)

What do you do when you’re blocked? Great question. I had all these INCREDIBLE ideas floating around at the end of the year, and it feels as though that “inspired” person went back to whatever universe they were visiting from, and left me here to deal with THEIR idea skeletons. Where’s the inspiration? Where’s the magic? Where are the damn ideas??? I feel like the ideas I have are broken records of “dreams past” (that never came to pass, so they’re not really “past”…but they haven’t shown me how to free them, either). So now…I’m just writing. Writing for the sake of exercising my fingers and hearing the keys on my laptop tap. Something about the SOUND of producing something…even when that “something” is completely non-descript…is mildly satisfying. And seems to summon up other words to come. Now whether they make sense or not is another story altogether, but at least I hear tapping…

When I awaken from this blank coma, I’m hoping that something of substance will have appeared once I get all the creative “eye buggers” out. It may not be THIS particular post, but something that comes forth…maybe the 3rd or 4th time I choose to exercise my fingers and take them for a stroll around the keyboard track. Who knows? But I DO know I feel my chest swelling, as if something has stimulated my ideas to come alive again. I actually FEEL the neurons in my brain firing off in the same manner that an onlooker summons others spectators of a bar fight or car accident. You know, that “OMG! I don’t know what happened, but LOOK! Words are starting to appear on the page…and they keep coming!” kinda thing.   So who knows who’ll “win” this round…? But I feel myself waking up. Even though I’m kinda stumbling around like when I wake up from sleeping in real life… It’s actually kinda funny and pathetic, because I will LITERALLY pace and walk aimlessly from room to room in my home until my body is fully awake and able to make reasonable choices on what to do. And I mean even on the everyday stuff like brushing my teeth, getting in the shower, picking my outfit, styling my hair, and whether or not I feel like doing anything to my face. I am a MESS in the morning! And this post puts me in remembrance of that same kinda “waking up” confusion.

No real insightful words, or inspiring thoughts…just getting out of the proverbial writing bed. (So don’t hold any grammatical or spelling errors against me…my foot is not even really on the floor good yet!) BUT I’m “coming to”…and thank you for being a part of my transition from sleep to awake, just by being here with me and reading this. If you want to help me even more, feel free to suggest some topics or scenarios on which I may comment, to help give my ramblings some direction while my writing vision becomes a bit clearer. In the meantime, I’m going to call this year ONE writing day…so I’ll just say “Good morning” for now and prepare for a good one.


What’s Your Address?

Live the life you LOVE

What’s keeping you where you are? Whether it be your home, your school, your job/business/career, your marriage, or your religion/church…examine and be conscious of the power of the glue that binds you to it. Love is far more powerful than fear. If you are there because you are afraid that it’ll be a mistake if you leave, that your soul will be tormented, what others will think of you or your decision, or even that nothing better exists for you and separating would make life hell for you…it is already on the verge of ending in calamity and no amount of “trying” will make it work. If you are there because your heart is content and you light up and are filled with joy and gratitude at the thought of being there, and wondering how in the world to create more things like it in your life…more is already on the way and any challenges will only increase the strength of your original “yes” to it.

In this moment of reflection and examination, make note of where your fears cause anxiety versus where your love abides. Once fear is dismissed from its imagined duty of protecting you from harm, if love grows there instead you have saved something precious from unnecessary ruin. If, however, you find that when you release fear, love leads you on another path, graciously release that situation and allow love to manifest and fortify your true heart’s desire. Fear and love cannot occupy the same space. Know the addresses of each and live accordingly.


Truth Hurts: Trayvon Martin Commentary

Trayvon Martin Hoodie

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a very sensitive and passionate person.  But even without that knowledge, it should not be a surprise that my heart is deeply grieving for the outcome of the Zimmerman case.

Unlike many in our country, I wasn’t glued to my t.v. screen nor was I following various feeds online as the case was unfolding.  I don’t watch or follow the news like that…that kind of energy is just too much for me to ingest on a regular basis.  But knowing what I DO know about the situation, I am hurt beyond adequate words about what the Zimmerman verdict implies about the [lack of] sanctity of African-American life in our country.  But, sadly, I’m not shocked.

There has been much talk these days about race and just how “real” racism and/or racial disparity is and continues to persist.  And many of our Caucasian counterparts are challenged by the sudden “in-your-face-ness” of our frustration, disappointment, and even anger in response to the outcome.  And while I’m only going to say this for context (and probably piss off some in the process), I believe that the African-American community now understands the disgust that rose up when the O.J. Simpson verdict came down.  Different situation, but similar context…racial tensions at their height, very emotionally charged cases, and seemingly clear-cut would-be outcomes.  But both were turned on their ears, in shocking upsets.

And while the Zimmerman trial wasn’t as dynamic a circus as the Simpson trial, it is important to note that both outcomes were made possible by the way our justice system is set up…each defendant has a right to a trial by a jury OF HIS/HER PEERS – NOT the peers of the victim(s).  Because in both cases, had the jury consisted of the peers of the deceased, both cases would have produced quite different outcomes.

It’s also important to note that in both cases, it was disgusting and absolutely ridiculous the lengths that the defense went to in order to try to smear the name and character of the deceased in order to “fight” for their client.  And while I’d like to tread very lightly here, I’m going to throw in the possibility that the guilt of the defense attorney of the 1st case led to his ultimate undoing.  I can only imagine how the same (guilt) might carry out for the defense in the 2nd case eventually.  I don’t wish it, but karma is a mother bitch…especially when you KNOW better.  A paycheck or “job” to do doesn’t negate the power of the seed being sown.

Nevertheless, my heart goes out to the family and loved ones of Trayvon Martin, and I can only imagine how disheartened they must feel.  First, they lost their son to a senseless slaying, and THEN to pour salt into that wound OUR justice system pretty much called it a truce…AFTER dragging Trayvon’s name and character through the mud.  It really is shameful.

It’s shameful that our justice system is SO marred that this type of major public travesty can happen at least TWICE without there being SOME kind of revision to such racially tense cases.  I’m not a politician, and have no desire to be one.  Nor am I an attorney or legislator, and what I’m about to suggest may be as “kindergarten” as it comes…  But the issue of race ABSOLUTELY needs to be WRITTEN INTO the way these cases are handled.  It’s not as simple as trying one man for the murder of another…because the man who was killed, in cases such as this, wasn’t even viewed as a man – he was essentially hunted prey.  And I’m not just talking in the case where the deceased is a black man…it works the other way as well.  Once the elements of the case are introduced and the subject of race is broached, everything relating to the case needs to be dealt with through that context as it is now highly probable as a motive.  Again, maybe I’m looking at it too simply.  But all the “technicalities” have allowed MANY a guilty party to walk, and MANY MORE innocent ones to pay for the crimes of those walking free.

Personally, I’m just exhausted of it all.  I really do understand Rodney King’s infamous “can’t we all just get along?” question.  And unfortunately, there is a simple answer immediately available: NO.  As long as different cultures exist, and there are those who come from and are taught (aka “programmed”) by descendants of ignorance, this kind of madness will continue.  We’ll never all “just get along”.  That’s not being pessimistic…that’s acknowledging fact.

Do you think George Zimmerman would have given Trayvon Martin so much as a second glance had he been regularly exposed to NEUTRAL and UNBIASED experiences with African-Americans growing up?  Do you think it would have entered his mind to shoot and kill that young man had he been taught to have a healthy respect for the urban culture that dressed Trayvon…even if it wasn’t his own personal preference?  Lemme TRULY take it back to kindergarten and ask this…  Do you think he would have been following Trayvon had he learned the simple courtesy of personal space???  (Following a stranger…no, PURSUING a stranger…is a DEFINITE violation of personal space.)  He certainly wouldn’t have gotten to the point of murdering that young man had he learned about the sanctity of life and valuing others who don’t look, act, or live like him.  There’s much more to say here, but you get my point, I hope.

It used to be that African-Americans moved from certain undesirable conditions to try to escape the typical dramas of living in such conditions – namely violent acts.  But this case demonstrates that moving to a “better” community can be just as (if not MORE) dangerous as (than) staying put because if our sons don’t look like they “belong” there and we don’t dress ’em up to “look the part” it’s pretty much okay to gun them down because some ignorant ass is playing neighborhood watch vigilante.  Shame on Trayvon’s parents for not teaching him the “dangers” of BEING a young black man.  Are you SERIOUS???

But as disgusting and frustrating as this all is, we shouldn’t let it end in disgust and frustration…because it only breeds more of the same.  And no, we’re not going to change the world, our county, or even our home overnight.  But we can start.  We can start with truly sitting with whatever we’re feeling surrounding the way things existing as they do right now.  Feeling all of what we feel…then allowing it to pass, so we can move into productive expression and forward movement.  BE pissed off.  BE hurt.  BE angry.  BUT don’t stay there.  Those things are toxic if we let them stay long enough…and they poison our OWN system.  The saying “[harboring negative emotions] is like drinking poison, and expecting the other person to die” is always good to internalize and is a great reminder.

So how do we move forward?  I think it’s important to call a spade a spade, and work within the framework of whatever exists AS it exists today…WHILE working toward what truly IS possible.  And ALL things are possible.  It is TOTALLY possible for us all to live in harmony and peace with one another, in a perfect world.  But, as we all know, our world is not perfect…nor will it ever be.  Again, not being pessimistic…just stating fact.  But, just as our President mentioned in his response to the Zimmerman trial, we can absolutely work toward a “MORE” perfect world…and it starts right here within our own borders.

Working toward a more perfect world means teaching respect, encouraging dialogue, providing a safe space to get understanding, and not taking ourselves so damned seriously.  NONE of us have ALL of the answers.  And we all NEED each other.  Not to sound like an after-school special or corny “world” song, but it’s true.  And we can’t teach it to the world – not even within our borders – if we don’t first teach it at home.

Dr. King’s dream may be in a choke hold right now…but it still lives.  I would even go so far as to say it’s no longer his dream – it should be ours.  We’re still here.  We have been given the divine gift of life, just as those who transitioned before us and who once actively walked and breathed and had the power to “do” in this realm.  We can still make change happen.  We can still impact the generations with whom we’ve been entrusted.  I’ll take it a step further, and say that we shouldn’t give up on ourselves and our own generations (whatever age we are) because life itself is evidence that change is possible…we can always choose a new direction, even if our old habit has been undesirable.  When we know better, we can do better.

When we lose a loved one, we often hear “don’t let their death have been in vain”.  And while that’s a noble idea, unless their death directly and immediately causes a possible change event, those quite honestly are just words said to try to draw a silver lining around a painful situation.  The more accurate encouragement is that we not let our own LIVES be in vain.

I have one friend who was so moved that she started a community page on Facebook that JUST honors and celebrates sons. (http://www.facebook.com/pages/I-Have-a-Son) Others will begin awareness and/or empowerment campaigns within their own communities, or choose to get involved in mentoring programs that already exist.

What will YOU do to begin to be and create the change you want to see in the world…?  Because unless this IS your perfect world, “nothing” is not a viable option.