Ridiculousness

That one’s value is measured in excellences. In aptitude. In the capacity to stand out enough to be counted. To be visible. To be seen as an indispensable. To warrant a care, to merit an inclusive action. To be just inside the border of us versus them.

How holy must one be? How sinful? How vulgar or demure? How ordinary or talented? How singular or prolific must we be? How sincere? How comedic?

Which traits must we spotlight as we wander from one conversation to another? From one first to last impression? Which attributes must we peddle when our peers are forced to sit still for 2 minutes, blatantly choosing to meet our gaze or stare around us just to hold on to a bit of loose change?

What should we hide in our tell-all podcasts? What should we reveal in our autobiographical memoirs? Who is ghost-directing our biopics, fear or courage?

When being unhinged and free-tongued isn’t a hot item in the buyer’s market, not for you. When speaking honestly doesn’t afford you a sold out amphitheater, and a tax break. When laughing, full-bellied, at the wrong time finds you in search of a new career. When your truth does not inspire a loving stranger’s hand in yours. How do we continue? When that excellence we accept as normal is too normal or not quite normal enough. When normal is last week’s trend. But not your normal. Not your extraordinary. When you know, instinctively, that you are not them. When you know, coincidentally, that you cannot sit with us without an invitation. When you don’t even really care to be invited, yet you crave a moment to be you with them. When you have dreamed of being you with everyone and feeling that you matter, that you are visible and valued. Even if your existence is an unrealeased biopic.

~Rahk.

#rahks-blog, #raw, #thoughts

Before 30 (a poem from “Water”)

Looking back
the questions I had
were more a proclamation
of autonomous
maleness

More affirmative
than outcries of “Punk!”

More nurturing than
“Hold it in. You bet’ not cry”
when you withstand hit after hit
when your body
is a faucet and an 
unsuspecting wall
built to withstand hit after hit

My questions were less interrogative
than sexual inquiries
and voyeuristic requests 
to witness bedroom theatrics 

Less deviant than conquest
Not as fearful as religion
Inconsequential to pink polos
and Mariah Carey in headphones

Innocence does not master sports
nor does it demand a wide stride
or pants that give in to gravity

Self-awareness counts
the notches in chastity belts

Looking forward
the answer is far more curious
than wandering eyes – 
Here be the island
which nurtures life
I’ll build here
with questions shifting my shore

~Rahk.

#art-therapy, #black-art-matters, #black-stories, #journal, #life, #manhood, #masculinity, #poem, #poetry

The Text Read: “I need u to write me a poem…”

When the text came in, I was overjoyed. As an avid advocator of self-expression, I insisted that she was perfectly capable of writing it herself–she, of course, begged to differ but sent her thoughts anyway. She would not let me convince her that her thoughts, as they stood, qualified as a poem. She laughed me off and insisted that I take the wheel. Using her original poem/thoughts as a guide, I composed a new poem. It was as exhilarating as always! Here is her original:

Happy,
I don’t want your so-called happiness
I don’t want to be so happy
that I strain my physical astigmatism
To adjust my minds eye to the blindness
of my deceitful figurative heart
I don’t want to be happy anymore,
knowing that when I turn the corner
I’ll be blindsided by a breathtaking blow
I don’t want to be happy anymore
ignoring the push of your pain
and the pain of your push
I don’t want to be happy anymore
when u ask for I do
but show me you don’t
until you do again
I don’t want to be happy anymore
if it means extreme highs and bottomed out lows
I don’t want to be happy anymore w/ you…

~Anonymous

Poetry, for me, has always been conversation. A conversation between the heart and the mind, or between the writer and the subject, or with no one in particular. The next poem is my side of the conversation, my response, which I see as a sort of translation.

Your so-called happy
don’t spell itself out for me
for us
for this we I faithed
into existence
This happy you preached
to my congregational heart
This happy you requested offering for
only to frown at my 2 cents

You are not familiar with kneeling
You do not understand altars
Your happy knows nothing of repentance

I don’t want no happy
that requires a sermon
before I can eat
I can’t rejoice over no happy
that disturbs my astigmatism,
changing how I see myself
I can’t use no happy
that hurts to smile through
for us
for this we
I feared into existence

You can no longer sway me
with charismatic words
and open arms
I’m keeping my last 2 cents
You’d misplace ’em anyway

~Rahk

Ahh. The joys of collaborative expression. Who’s next?

#art-therapy, #gender-norms, #hard-conversations, #heart-break, #life, #love, #love-poems, #poetry, #raw, #relationships

And Then Trump “Suggested” Military and Stronger Police Action Against Protesters

You try to protect yourself. You play it smart. You listen, 5 years old again, to mama as she explains what to do if someone hits you first. You listen, 5 years old again, as she reminds you, for the hundredth time to ask permission before sudden movement. You wonder why it matters. Until you are stopped. Until memories of white hands hovering nervously near official firearm looms over your shoulder. You dodge Instagram. You dodge the Facebook stories of raging activists. You dodge the hashtags. You watch reruns of Insecure. You talk to God, tentatively, trying not to question too much, but God knows the questions quicken your heart. So you check on family, you check on friends. You click off of the Sensitive Content Ahead warning just in time. You try to release the anxiety in a tweet, there’s only so many characters to containt your neurosis. You log off for the sixteenth time, stepping gracefully onto front porch unaccosted. You embrace the bird song as you stand, distantly staring into a cloud-filled blue sky. You sit down. It hits you. You’re Black in America. You’re Black in your home, in your yard. You’re Black on and off social media. The tears fall. They still do not understand. You still have to explain. You still pray. You still worry. You still wonder if you’re next.

#art-therapy, #black-lives-matter, #grief, #raw

Our Screams Have Not Been Loud Enough for Centuries

#black-lives-matter, #raw, #spoken-words, #stop-killing-us

Grandpa, Does This Mean Civil War? (Possible Addition to “Hard Conversations”)

I see stained glass families

Smashed to the ground by presidential decree

Then separated shard by shard

Shredding the American flag

I see impatient rivers of blood
Wandering wildly from brown rainbows
Gunned down in neighboring homes

I don’t see no whips
I don’t see no rope
I don’t see no canines
Just soldiers cradling rifles
In inner city malls like land mines

And I see civilians teargassed
In social media posts,
Not yet riddled with bullets
But uniformed handprints on brown throats
Live recordings of homicide notes
Claiming no foul play exists

The Whites Only signs
Camouflage as red lines
Around neighboring hoods
Brown faces appear as viable goods
And we’re still marching
for colored lives
Still deemed uncivil and disobedient

I see war cries against voter suppression
I gape at documentaries by white people
Discussing their privilege

But still
I see people snatched from the front lines
I see obituaries for innocent women and men
I see Jim Crow puppeteering all the party lines
I see warnings of white hoods again
And new Columbines
And the Charleston 9
And the Pulse of 49

I don’t see no whips
I don’t see no ropes
But I see presidential tweets
Threatening military force against black lives

In 2020, the most malevolent mobs
masquerade as ardent allies

#art-therapy, #black-lives-matter, #hard-conversations, #poem, #poetry, #stop-killing-us

2020 Preview: Introducing “Hard Conversations”

These Are The Facts:

  • Writing the poems for this collection healed me from a major heartbreak.
  • I discovered a desire to rekindle my relationship with my father.
  • I stopped working on this collection because I didn’t believe I had enough people who’d take the time to experience it.
  • This collection of poetry can inspire you to start some hard, but necessary, conversations with your loved ones.

Stay tuned for excerpts from my first collection of love poems [in the works].

Confession 1: Poem Against Terror (Excerpt from “The Pulse in the Pews”)

Originally published in print August 2018, “The Pulse in the Pews” is a knee jerk reaction to the terrorist attack at Pulse Nightclub and a particular church’s response to it. It expounds upon a pivotol period in my spiritual journey. One that sought to mediate religious doctrine with personal revelation and tragedy. One that sought to distinguish God’s voice in a sea of loquacious voices. The following is the first entry in “The Pulse in the Pews”, originally entitled “For Gay Christians Who Consider God When the Church is Not Enough” as an homage to Ntozake Shange. Comments are welcome. You can also message me through my Contact page. Enjoy.

Poetry enables us to speak the truths we may not readily communicate in common, everyday language. Because of it’s nature, poetry empowers the individual who harnesses it to discover insights ordinarily hidden in everyday language. As a spoken word artist and published poet, I had performed poetry on numerous occasions in bars and nightclubs, schools, parks, etc.. But one particular venue used to terrify me because I felt as though that place would not receive who I am as I am.

Poem Against Terror

And I’m afraid to perform in church.
In my truth. In my As I Am.
In my burdened and heavy laden
Which weighs more like angel dust and
defeating Satan-
As I Am
I’m AFRAID to perform in CHURCH
Because I am with Pulse
Because I am without my rib and
C R E A T E D
Because my faith has challenged mountains
Because my faith has challenged me
Because my love is created by God
I am with PULSE
And sometimes I CAN’T BREATHE
And sometimes I BELIEVE
that God is so GOD that even ME
Even me
He doth LOVE as I AM
As we are created
As we are hated by the love of god
As we are berated for the will of God
As we are related to the children of GOD
As we are
As we are
As we are
I am no longer afraid to perform in church
I speak those things that be not
as if they be
I am NO LONGER afraid
to perform in church
As I am
I am beloved by God
I am with Pulse
I CAN breathe
And I must breathe whispers
Into the soul
Because whispers are seeds that grow
Because I am a seed I know
Can move mountains
And walk in the valley of the shadow of churches
Because He leads me beside still bodies
that should not be without pulse
They should not be still
We should not be still
We should not be afraid
to seek God in church AS WE ARE
We, too, are BELOVED by God.

#black-lives-matter, #death, #excerpt, #faith, #gender-norms, #grief, #history, #hope, #journal, #lgbtqa, #love, #memories, #poem, #poetry, #raw, #spoken-words

MoonShine (Poem from “Raising Suns”)

-Rahk.

#hope, #love, #poem, #poetry

Celebrating One Year of Rahk’s Water

Re-presenting “The Art Inside”, a 2016 mashup of multiple poems that expressed a series of truths for your favorite bald poet. It’s 5 minutes long, but I think it’s worth it.

#hope, #journal, #life, #love, #memories, #poetry, #raw, #scenes, #spoken-words

Soilman

When the seed
burst its shell
as I held it to my chest
the tree cramped in the sapling
took root

I braced myself
familiar with the intrusion
of nature’s feet
taking liberty with my
sedimentary flesh
familiar with strange roots
coiling through me

searching?
for water?

reaching?
for clay?
that they can mold?

hoping?
for rock?
holding water?

I make room?
accommodating?
nature’s quiet advance?

I am ever solid,
supporting forests
I am also soft
when pushed
and pressed
and prodded
by roots that
keep their intentions
to themselves

-Rahk.

#journal, #poem, #poetry, #relationships

Overthinking, For Lack of a Better Word

I have the tendency to become caught up in the intricacies of things, titles, for instance. Commas are another. I get caught up in a buffet of thoughts and how to decide which thoughts should darken a page. I get caught up in things like pages, and how this glowy white backdrop is actually not a page. I get caught up in the names of things, how inaccurate words can be. How a name can summon more than identification. How a name, or more accurately, a label, can conjure expectations as well as visual references.

Clearly, I do not find it overwhelming to filter through all of these thoughts, and both their implications and their representations in a judgmental culture. Perhaps all cultures are plagued with a bit of judgment.

Perhaps the title should be…I almost had it. Then I thought that maybe you wouldn’t find the title attractive. Then I thought, perhaps I’m too tired from adulting to wield creativity as I did in my college-aged youth.

Overthinking…it’s a bit generic, maybe, but it fits. Although, I do find the term a bit oxymoronic. How does one measure the appropriate amount of inner-dialogue, self-reflection, or simple ponderings that run free in our minds? Overthinking…there has to be a more accurate word, but the thought hasn’t come to me yet. There are so many other thoughts crowding the way.

What Did Jesus Teach About Prayer, I Wondered.

I could take time to offer a cute little anecdote about how in a conscious effort to get even closer to my mom, I had us start this thing called Word Up Wednesday. I know the title isn’t very original, but the action of it is.

On Wednesdays, my mom and I simply send a scripture to each other and put #WordUp in front of it. Sometimes, it’s race to see which one of us sends the first #WordUp. After several weeks, I’ve noticed that this mom-son thing does three things: 1) it makes sure that, no matter what, on Wednesday my mom and I are going to be in touch, 2) it ensures that I continue to practice self-discipline by sticking with it, and 3) it also enriches my understanding of the bible in real time.

See, there’s no need to share that little anecdote because today is Monday and I had some down time. I ended up in Matthew 5 because I had a question about prayer and that question was: What did Jesus teach about prayer?

After a quick google search, I came across Matthew 5:23-24. To get a better understanding of the context, I went ahead and started at verse 1. Before we get to Matthew 5:23, Jesus begins teaching his disciples what we know as The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12). Next, he uses the metaphors of salt and light to describe his disciples (Matthew 5:13-16). Then Jesus expounds upon the Law, that which the pharisees and other religious leaders all but claimed to practice to the letter (Matthew 5:17-20).

Now, in Matthew 5:21 (NIV), Jesus refers to what the Law said about murderers: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.

Jesus’ mentioning of judgment resonated with me because my best friend and I had been discussing the oft quoted Matthew 7:1 (KJV), ” Judge not, that ye be not judged. We also discussed the less often quoted verse 2, which reads: For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

The King James Version can be a little confusing so the New International Version translates both verses to:  “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

So, back to Matthew 5:21. Jesus compares someone being judged (presumably by God) for murder to one who simply carries anger against a loved one (“brother or sister”). By extending judgment beyond the murderer, Jesus leveled the playing field, so to speak. Judgment doesn’t just belong to the murderer, judgement also belongs to anyone who holds anger in their heart towards another, notably a brother or sister. Does anger not ofttimes lead to murder? Hmmm…I’ll explore that thought another time.

Additionally, in Matthew 5:22 (NIV), Jesus goes on to say: Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. Now, I am honestly unfamiliar with the term ‘Raca’, as I’m sure most people are as it is not a phrase native to our time period or culture. But I am familiar with ‘You fool!’ and even those who utter this phrase will “be in danger of the fire of hell”, according to Jesus. Again, Jesus levels the playing field in my opinion. Meaning none of us should be quick to exalt our ‘righteousness’ over another’s. Likewise, none of us should be quick to put another’s sins over ours. But that’s human nature isn’t it? Perhaps that’s why Jesus said: “Judge not, lest ye be judged”?

If you continue to read Matthew 5, Jesus continues teaching his disciples the fullness of the law similarly to how he taught them about murders and those who harbor anger. He dropped further divine knowledge about adultery, oath breakers, justice, and more. He also advised them on matters they would encounter going forward as his disciples.

Coming across this passage reassured me somehow. Perhaps I understand how Jesus was teaching his disciples that appearances don’t matter to God, that simply adhering to the dos and don’ts of the law does not guarantee righteousness. That though one may not be a murderer in the literal sense, hating your sister is not righteous either. Jesus taught them to be wary of deeming others fools, because by doing so we subject ourselves to judgment. In other words, we are all imperfect. We all have our faults, if we’re being honest. We’re all equal.

And to think, my initial question that led to all this was: “What did Jesus teach about prayer?”

On Turning 30

Despite my efforts to the contrary, I’ve been thinking about death a lot. (Not the celebratory start you were looking for, huh.) Make no mistake, I am thankful to see these 30 years and a day. Very thankful– 2019 has been a great year career-wise, I’ve made monumental steps in strengthening relationships, and I am here. But my cousin is not, he was murdered in his own home. From my understanding, this was some haphazard robbery–the details are still foggy. Then, several days before my birthday, I find out my brother, my lil bruh, had cancer and even his hours were numbered. God answered my prayer and I was able to see him the day before he transitioned.

Passed.

Died.

That I’d have death on my mind makes sense now, huh?

Both of these passings were completely unexpected. But let’s be real, who truly expects death to come to the family reunion? Who actually expects death to sit at the bar with the crew? Death runs in a different crowd, at least, that’s how we live. And who can judge that? Who wants to always be aware of the possibility of death? Of loss? Of pain?

This year, death invited himself into my safe places. And quite frankly, not just this year. The last few years, funerals have gathered the living more than birthday celebrations and weddings. More than baby showers.

And here I am, 30 years old, and I can’t help but wonder why. Now this ain’t no survivors guilt, or maybe it is…nevertheless, why is my brother not letting me know what he’s doing for his 29th birthday? Why is my cousin not chilling at home and watching the game with his dad? How can they suddenly not be here, on this earth, where I am?

Every loss, every death, doesn’t hurt the same. And maybe that is a blessing. Just like being here to ponder about inevitable things like missing the deceased is indeed a blessing. Life is a blessing. But that doesn’t mean you can’t feel cheated. (The things we tell ourselves, right?)

In my 30 years, I have learned that plurality exists. That a man can be both grateful and unsettled. That a person can be at peace and in turmoil. That I can still laugh and smile and converse despite less than shiny thoughts. That I can live while fears of death kick back in the family room with my loved ones.

I would apologize for the solemn nature of this entry, especially due to the title, but it would be a dishonest apology. Why do we feel the compulsion to pretend like everything is alright? Why do we celebrate when we aren’t even quite sure how to grieve? So, I do apologize for the title, especially if this content put you in your feelings, as they say. I understand how it could be misleading, but I’m choosing not to change it. Sometimes we forget that a major part of living is feeling, and feeling honestly. We owe ourselves that.

#cancer, #grief, #life, #loss, #mourning

It’s not that I presumed…

It’s not that I presumed greatness before its time, demanding accolades for works yet unwritten.
There’s a reason, I must believe according to faith, that rejection has stood stone-faced behind opportunity’s many doors.
As I must believe, according to that same faith, that more often, and when it counts, acceptance will greet me at those doors with open arms.

I must believe that purpose cannot be ignored forever.
That hard work pays off.
That little boys can grow up to be the heroes they wished they’d encountered.