Category Archives: essays

The Poet and the People

Excerpt From New Notebook

“The Poet and the People” 5/13/17

“The poet cannot be afraid of the people” – Pablo Neruda, Memoirs pg. 81

What is the relation between the poet at the people? A poet a weaver of tales and truths, a stanza and soliloquy serenading individual, a wizard of words, an artist and a creator; they invoke the power of words (written and spoken) to express some principle or experience. They rely on the understood, yet mysterious, magic of rhythm and emotion to tell a story. Even now, my words happen to conjure flighty images within the imagination of my own mind. Why though? For whom do I craft these words in such a way? Is it solely for me? If that were honest, then I am truly a selfish individual to hold such statements in, refusing to share with others.

These ideas, these sentences full of power, suffering, passion, and intellect germinated from my mind and yet, as a poet, I feel compelled to share. With The People. The people, or those who aren’t necessarily able to weave a story in a similar manner (entertaining, informative, possessive, and emotional). Those individuals who march through life following only a few pursuits,  spending a fleeting second within their own subconscious. They are everywhere, and there is no escape from the people. They are the collective. And they can be intimidating.

Both strangers and dear friends can be the people; one day their search for truth will bring them to the poet’s path. What happens then when these two fundamentally different groups intercept each other at the crossroads? Classifying myself as the poet, I will speak from my experiences (solely my own opinions). I was too, at an earlier point in my life, one of the people…before coming to know my own personal truth.

When assuming the role of a poet, as a poet should do at all times if considered as such-both by the world and self-one exists in a reality separate from the people. A poet creates a world: they form the foundation, decorate it with their favorite foliages, and even destroy some aspects of their previous world-the realm of the people. Once this world has been established and validated by the poet, they have two options: to grant entry to others, or keep their gates closed.

If one chooses the latter option then they have little fear for their world will not be tainted by outsiders; it will remain pure, completely untouched by the opinions, criticism, laughs, or cries from something other than the poet. There are those who relish in this isolation-there is nothing like having an escape from reality that is positive and progressive. However, they are also selfish and this directly conflicts with the nature of the poet.

“It is the business of the poet to communicate to others the pleasures and enthusiasm arising out of these images…within their own mind.” – Percy Blythe Shelley

The poet is tasked with communicating emotions to others- the “others” being The People. To live up to the title of poet, a being must be willing to extend entry to their world to the others. There are additional steps to take, but this is the initial one. A true poet (if there is such thing) will not only invite an individual, they will also impress their reality, their world, their universal truth, upon them. This is the duty of the poet.

Then, there can be no fear in the poet when it comes to engaging and interacting with the people, and yet, fear inherently exists within the poet (and within all of us). It’s buried in the depths of our being, pollinating thoughts, and manifesting when the words escape-whether liberation was granted from a ballpoint pen or a lubricated tongue. It is fear that will cause a poet to become selfish, and close their gates-preventing any entry into the eternal Eden within us.

There is an external factor that one must be cautious of when dealing with the people, because they are intimidating. Not as intimidating as the internal struggle of inspiration and suffering in relation to the creation of art, but a fear factor that stems from the “Unknown”. The “Unknown” is the entity that exists in our lives, and it will always exist as long as we do. It applies to people, that’s why people are so unpredictable; no matter how well we believe we know them, there is a percentage of uncertainty that rattles the spirit of the poet.

Imagine the child who is having a birthday party. They are excited to share this moment with others, but to do so they must send out invitations. Now, the invitations may be to their party, but the words originate from elsewhere-even though they say exactly what the host wants them to say. In contrast, the poet has no “real” control over their words (or ideas) that synaptically spark into their head.

First, they must make sure the invitation is correct. It has to list the truth surrounding the party; the poet must modify and complete their poems before sharing them. Then, the people to invite must be identified. Who will I give these invitations to? Who will read these lines? Who will listen to my cries, will anybody listen to my cries, is it even worth crying anymore if there is nobody to listen? These are the questions that will plague the mind of the poet (at least me) before they are introduced to their “party people”. Lastly, and possibly the most terrifying, the child must host the party. On the day of the performance, a poet will be asked to open their home to those who responded to the invitation. Bumblebee yellow balloons floating above freshly iced cupcakes, and there are snow-white streamers that catch the eyes of those who are not already mesmerized by the candle flames flickering on the cake. The world of the child will be filled with others; and together, just like the host and their guests, the poet and the people will have an experience. They will share sensations that spark individual thoughts within each of them.

The poet must not only be the commander of another’s experience, but also allow the people to dictate their diction. This dual duty is where fear strikes because of unpredictability. Some may not want an experience, they may want a different one, maybe they expected a majestic world and you offered them a frigid one where you shouldered your grief, or there is the possibility that they enjoy your world so much that they decide to stay for awhile. The best option, personally, is if the people try to make their own world after being invited to the poet’s world.

What is my greatest fear as a poet: the fear that my words will lack the impression of inspiration. But, to conquer that fear, I am dedicating my life to the crafting of a world, no, a universe where all receive an invitation, because I can no longer be afraid of my people.

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P.E. Class

Excerpt from “Chapman’s Codex”

“P.E. Class” (Unknown)

Why is it that after centuries and millennia of intelligent life, humanity can still not answer any scientific inquiries regarding art?

Simple, art is the product of an essence.

When an individual has tapped into a wellspring of pure love (love for the soul, and life), then art will be created. It began with techniques being refined, individuals daring to perfect a craft, while, simultaneously, discovering the self that exists underneath both the logic and instinct. Art germinated from the universe that the soul occupies, and, just as we will never know the vastness of space, we must accept the reality that art will always yield unanswered questions.

That is the true beauty of it; humanity is incessantly seeking answers (hence the creation of science), and yet, there are some individuals brave enough to propose a question without punctuation. A sculpture with polished eyes, a watercolor painting of a London fishing wharf, a duet for a six stringed violin and piano; these are not simply creations, but conclusions. They are the final product of an artist’s mind, seeking a truth-maybe within themselves, within the world, or within the moment. It remains elusive, like the shimmering waves of an oasis, lost in a desert of dry bones, tyrannical heat, and endless grains of sand.

Art will inevitably save humanity from itself; without art, man would’ve died out centuries ago. However, now, the culture is depraved. Men and women are mere followers, and art has been tainted. It has degenerated, and instead of a select few providing us with their developed conclusions, we, as a society full of impatient students and consumers, have closed our hearts to them. We all wish to produce a magnum opus without the life lessons from The Master.

Art is not dying, however, it is suffering. Hanging onto it’s last breath as we attempt to exist without it. How foolish we really are.

Tired of Talking

Excerpt from “The Black Book”

“Untitled” (8/19/16)

“We need to have more conversations like this…”

This is a lie, and we should learn to spot it. Those conversations never happen, they are imaginary, like world peace and the end of racism. When you hear someone say this, you must apply the appropriate pressure:

When will we have this conversation?

Who will partake in this conversation?

Why are we having this conversation?

If they can’t answer this, then they don’t plan to talk. Those who do can become allies. This phrase is our way of verbally ignoring the truth. How many times must we talk about the same subject, before action is taken? The situation hasn’t changed since the last time we talked, so why are we still talking?

We discuss so we can learn, and eventually, act. Words that do not create actions are wasted gasps and empty promises. If we are to fight oppression, we must learn the language of the oppressor. The key phrases they carefully develop when they have no desire to answer. This is when we must use wisdom, and choose our own words carefully.

 

Thoughts on Education

Excerpt from “The Black Book”

“Untitled” (8/19/16)

Does anybody else feel stupider after listening to Trump?

Anyways, I’m en route to Morehead City with my dad. It’s a bumpy ride (literally), but the trip has been smooth. We’ve conversed, a lot. Something that doesn’t happen that often, not because he’s absent or anything, but because we’re usually on different wavelengths. Today, we happened to be on the same, and our discussion led to significant discoveries. Firstly, I should take the time to write my own thoughts down in a way that is authentic; if you happen to share this, I want it to be original. Tonight, I’m writing about me, something that I don’t do often. Not directly, at least. Let’s start with my thoughts on healthcare.

I think when I return to healthcare I will be involved in the public health area. We’ve slacked away from seeing patients as people, reducing them to lifeless digits and diagnoses on a chart. I think this stems from what it takes to be a healthcare provider.

Question: why is Organic Chemistry a requirement, and not Sociology? I’d rather my doctor understand me more than my biochemical make-up (at least at the molecular level). After being played a fool by the application process, I realize it’s shortcomings (I understand this may come off as bitter, but I am purged of such mundane feelings; this is critical thought).

Question: why do we have standardized tests if we preach of individuality? These archaic tools for classifying the successful, and stragglers, are only testing our probability skills. Questions are roughly thirty words, answers are ten, and yet, a single textbook page can hold thousands of words. Education failed to evolve along with technology. A student can learn an entire semester of U.S. History in a week on their computer; yet, why do we have children who can’t read aloud in class?

Education has to incorporate the free knowledge bank-the internet-that we can easily access. My brief stints with teaching have taught me that student success begins with student motivation. The term “success” must also be redefined. We have cleverly disguised “motivation” as “passion”, and our generation adores that phrase. We all imagine a flame burning in our core, reminiscent of a distant star, however, we must also come to accept that “passion” stems from suffering. Does that mean tribulations have the power to elicit triumph?

Absolutely. It ultimately depends on how the individual utilizes the elements of his or her own circumstance. The college student who works two jobs and takes care of their siblings will appreciate their rewards, just as much as the one who is in school thanks to their parents checkbook.

We must do more than push students towards success, we must also pull them out of their struggle. By doing both, I believe we will be able to see the education level, and desire for knowledge, increase over the years.

Color-coded Curses

I’ve been cursed,

A hex placed on my soul,

Without knowledge.

I was forced to learn in school

That slavery was real, and that blood

Still flows through these melanated cells

How an entire organization of one mindset,

So brainwashed in their beliefs,

Are playing “who can pop a nigga and get away with it?”

My children, my unborn children

Whom I shouldn’t be imagining with my immature mind,

I already see shakles and rattles,

Food stamps and baby bottles,

Or dirty diapers and blood stained tees.

Our shirts have been the canvases for your painted hatred.

You power-hungry demons,

How you have cast the spell of fear

Now I can’t even look forward while driving,

Without staring in the rearview;

To look at those sirens,

The things that could be of nightmares

But they resound too loudly throughout the nights

For me to fall asleep.

 

I wander in my trance,

Not yet able to escape this illusion,

Mind too far stuck in the dream that we black have been in limbo

All these years

With our totem stolen so we don’t know the difference.

But, the thing about curses…is that they can be lifted.

It takes wise words, one preferebly found in an old book,

And an un-natrual expression,

*Pauses to let the police officer pass…*

Be still my heart, be still my heart,

I SAID BE STILL!

This reaction scheme we’re stuck in isn’t working,

Instead, we must respond

With calm minds and steeled hearts

What they don’t know is when the spell is lifted

And we catch a glimpse of the light

-Not like those above the abandoned homes,

Strained streets

And those upon the stage.

That light will be your bane,

The devil’s power has no hold over one who walks with God,

Don’t be afraid to believe

You will know the real you,

The one before the hex,

Before the branding,

Before the innocent blood was spilled,

For we are beautiful.

Eyes on the Prize

Excerpt from “The Black Book”

“Untitled” (9/24/16)

Cecil told me that he’s never been more scared at a protest. I initially thought of the unpredictable violence and how it could affect one, but that wasn’t the case. He was afraid because we were “not moving”. We united and took to the streets, but who were we following? “We looked like sheep, it looked like the perfect plan.”

I wanted to act shocked at this revelation, but that thought filled my head as well. It’s just as Ayn Rand stated, “the mob has no value, because there is no man (or woman) in the mob.” That’s what we were today, a mob of people, with no goal. Yesterday, I led the mob, today, I stood apart from it. At no point was I in the mob, I do not see myself capable of blending into the crowd. I must be my own man, and stand for my own values, not just the collective.  I admit that, within my heart, I felt nothing; we did nothing.

We didn’t disrupt the system, we didn’t halt the dollar; we peacefully marched through the streets of Charlotte on designated paths. We didn’t even go where we wanted to go! Instead, we were paraded by the pigs, or led by a sheepdog like lost lambs .

Last night, at the precinct, I met a woman from Ferguson. She told us of her trials, and then made statement that started some unrest. “Now that we’re here [at the station], we don’t need to leave, until they give us what we want.” What we wanted were the tapes (of the officer involved shooting of Keith Lamont Scott). Again, my heart called to me, and I agreed; but, the mob did not. They believed that more marching would bring them closer to their demands (I’m hesitant to classify them as goals, because I am not sure if they have any).

We’re never going to win if we just march. It’s an act that appeases the masses, but it does not change anything. We moved at night, where there was little inconvenience for the city, aside from minor traffic detours; we walked on Saturday, on the weekend, while the citizens stayed indoors and watched us from the comfort of their couches.

WE DIDN’T EVEN OPPOSE THE POLICE!

We didn’t get those tapes released. Just because we had numbers does not mean that we are a force. There is power in unity, but if there is nobody to direct it, then, what is the point of having power? So much wasted potential.  There has to be a more efficient way to stake our claim.

However, there is beauty in this. The protests tore down the dividing lines that the government has erected between its citizens. Out there, on the scorching streets, we realize that we are all one people, God’s children. If it wasn’t for the protest, then we wouldn’t have come together. We wouldn’t be energized and able to uplift the city from this tragedy.

The black fists instill in me a sense of hope. I believe the revolution, and combating the system, begins with black power. Everybody has black power, it is the revolutionary spirit that rages within all of those who have been victimized by the oppressor. That is the power we will use to win, but before that, we must set glorifying goals.

Will I be able to lead when my time comes? I can only pray.

 

New Form of Freedom

One of the most pressing obstacles in our fight for freedom is the amount of observers versus actors. So many are willing to pinpoint problems, yet who is brave enough to solve them? It is because we think the scale of this task is too great, or do we have too little care to embark on a journey towards solutions? The ghetto, it is a cesspool that America has forced our brothers and sister into, deprived them of necessary resources needed to survive, and armed them with the tools of their own destruction. There is no doubt about these places, and the horror within it, yet we must realize that the root of it is intertwined around the root of American society. The ghetto is doing exactly what America wanted it to do, and those observing are seeing the results of a properly working system built on enslavement (both ancient and modern).

In order to combat this we must seek “entirely new and substantially different forms of expression.” How many more years can we sit idle while conditions continue to worsen? The fight for freedom starts with us, and within our own communities.

  • “Black people must organize themselves without regard for what is traditionally acceptable.”

Traditionally, we have fought with methods that have, in the grand scheme of things, been less than effective; what exactly does marching through the streets at night do for us? Besides foster filial bonds with your allies (which is ideal). We are weak because we are divided. The proletariat soon discovered their strength when their numbers grew and they were forced to work with each other. We must do away with this hateful and competitive nature that keeps us, oppressed humans, apart. It is the goal of the oppressor to divide us, for division makes us weaker and we can be easily controlled when isolated. This is the reason we need organizations, ones that are strictly crafted and drafted by our hands. Only we know what our people desire, value, and seek; and it should also be us who bring them together over these shared ideals. It can be done because our struggle is universal, just disguised by the characteristics it takes, ex. threat of deportation=threat of mass incarceration.

  • “We should concentration of forming…and not wasting time on trying to reform”

American politics are too deeply rooted in racism and hatred to be truly reformed. Although risky, we must form our own; it is the only way we can hope to achieve political victory. By creating our own, within our community, we can aid our brothers and sisters. Oppressive America wants to keep us static and it is up to us to remain dynamic and achieve our freedom.

Our movement starts within the mind. If we want change then we must be willing to dedicate our lives to it; the day of change will never come if we do not make strides towards that future now. That begins with sound organization in a way that best represents us. With organizing comes control, and it through these two methods that w can seek change. We should control what affects our community; housing, education, banking, politics. All of these are ways that modern society defines our existence as a citizen so we must do our part and prepare ourselves. The system will not do this for us, for once again, it was built to produce the results we see today.

  • “It is crucial that race be taken into account in determining the policy of this sort.”

Race can either be a divisive factor or it can double as a bond. When I enter a new location for the first time, I unconsciously seek out other people of color.  Imagine if you fond them all at the top of the building? This isolation that we feel would diminish and instill within us a sense of hope; it is with this malleable hope that we can change from observer to activist.

Bibliography

Carmichael, Stokeley; Hamilton, Charles V. Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America. 1967.