You Were Not Old (Excerpt from “Hard Conversations: Love Poems by Rakeem OneVoice Person”)

Lil bruh, I thought
maybe you’d rise
on the third day
after a releasing of purple and gold balloons
confirmed you had
in fact
died at 28

But you did not rise
You did not rise
from your sick bed
in the certainty of youth

When did you grow old in body?

I did not know.

I could ask why
but what are petty reasons
when you, Lil Bruh, simply did not
have strength to rise
three days after
laughter and normalcy
outhummed the motor
of your oxygen tank

I thought you’d breathe again
on your own
considering
how much we laughed.
I thought:
What is hospice to your little brother soul?

You were not old
We were not old
and even if we were
would hardearned wrinkles
have remedied suspended time?

I do not know
what more solace a silvered crown
would have bestowed.
I am not old
and I remember you clearly.

Sometimes my laugh echoes yours
as if my body is a canyon.
Other times, tears carve fresh streams
toward healing.

I wonder:
What is death to kinship?

You were not old, and your little brother spirit
still blesses the laughter
between my tears

I am not old
Though I fear I have aged
without you

Where do I start?

#art-therapy, #cancer, #death, #faith, #grief, #hard-conversations, #hope, #life, #loss, #love, #love-poems, #mourning, #poem, #poetry, #raw, #relationships

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

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

Mending

Learned at an early age
that words carry weight
only broken bone I’ve had
is being called a fag one time
too many
and there aint no cast
for that kind of injury.
Can’t set spirit the
way you set bone.
They don’t quite mend the same
but no surprise they don’t
quite bend the same either.

#grief, #lgbtqa, #poem, #poetry, #raw, #water

With a Note

In 2012, all I had of yours:
a whisper in the dark
a hug behind closed curtains
the questions you left me with.

They belonged to you:
That fitted-cap whisper
That capricious hug
That polluted reality.
I never wanted your things

You gave me:
mixed whispers,
closed-curtained embraces,
subconscious kisses,
Now in broad daylight,
I lay them on your back porch.

I deserved more than your darkness.


-Rahk

#grief, #letter, #poem, #poetry, #raw, #relationships, #water

Rahk on the Jussie Smollet “Case”

As I wind down from a stressful yet productive week, I began typing the following Facebook status:

I know I am not the only one who is literally befuddled by this Smollet vs MAGA vs Chicago vs Smollet “case”. Like I truly cannot tell you how many times conversations about it result in “…WTF?!” On all sides! Whether I am talking to friends or coworkers or passersby, we just end up exasperated because we fight negativity and distrust every day. We fight the fear that someone will mean us, or someone we love, harm for one reason or another. We fight to support those experiencing hardship publically, even if it’s by sharing a Facebook post. We fight distrust and the very real possibility that there are those who not only conspire against us, but conspire to slay us (both literally and figuratively) for something as harmless as our skin color, or presumptions about our lifestyles because we choose freedom instead of bondage. We choose freedom instead of fear.

It is here that I paused and recognized that this would be the more appropriate medium to manage my anxiety. I will attempt to be as concise and clear as possible, but I make no guarantees. If you have been following the story, or just coasting on any social media platform, you will already know that Jussie Smollet’s 16 or so felony charges have been dropped. DROPPED. All of them. According to trusted news sources like CNN, Fox, and NBC, the “victim”-turned-“villain” and star of Fox’s Empire, Smollet, walked away by forfeiting a $10,000 bond to the City of Chicago and a couple days community service. Why? How? What happened to all the evidence that inspired the shift from investigating a hate crime to investigating the orchestrator of a staged hate crime all to allegedly (you guessed it) get more money.

Yall, I am just stumped. And frustrated. I’m confused. I’m angry. I’m not convinced that Smollet is, in fact, the victim of a hate crime. At the same time, due to the most recent outcome, I’m not convinced that he’s guilty of all 16 felony charges. And now, by some conspiratorial miracle, there will not be a trial. There is merely dismissal of the charges against Smollet. Then, perhaps because I am a Cancer, or maybe due to possessing a contemplative nature in general, tons of questions bounce around my skull such as:

  • But why would an innocent man (who is a known activist and community voice, who was assaulted by MAGA zealots, who was also accused of staging his own hate-inspired assault) accept so much unjust loss: a $10,000 loss, the loss of time, opportunities, credibility, TRUTH, etc.?
  • But why would the Chicago Police Department conspire against Jussie smollet?
  • But what about the two African brothers who said they were paid to assault Jussie and say those divisive statements?
  • But why would any of these people lie with so much at stake?
  • But where is this “Court of Opinion” located and how can I be a judge?
  • But when did I get so invested in this case and why am I so angry with Jussie?
  • Am I being judgmental despite my monumental efforts?
  • Who is the victim here? Is it Jussie? Is it Chicago? Is it Black and Gay America? Is it the present and future victims who will face skepticism when they come forth?

I could just go on and on and– you get the idea. Honestly, I’m almost certain I’d have to write a book to thoroughly articulate this swirling eddy of confusion and hope and frustration. Here, I end where I began: I know I cannot be the only one who is genuinely befuddled and utterly conflicted by this Smollet vs MAGA vs Chicago vs Smollet “case”!

Please forgive any typos. I do not have the energy to thoroughly proofread right now. I know, I know– no cookie for me. I don’t need that cookie tonight anyway (I ate too many yesterday, shhh!).

#grief, #jussie-smollet, #letter, #lgbtqa, #raw, #talking-to-myself

Manhood

God cried into the soil
splattering mud

a little boy refused to grow up
presuming the reach of his roots
fell short of his branches

oh, but he was a seed
swimming in the mud
of God’s coldest tears
determined to take root
in ground not intended
to hold him tight

-Rahk.

#grief, #poem, #poetry, #sons, #storytime