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

Rahk on Jussie Smollet Allegations

if it is true
an old rope chokes the American Flag
once again
Free bodies travel fearfully underground
once again

if it is true
Ida’s tenacity has pounded on locked doors
once again
Malcolm’s scowl has deepened in revolution
once again

Americans hang their heads
and clutch their hopes like holy bibles
once again
once again

Harriet, shotgun at the ready,
reminds her people:
“The way to freedom is Northward.
We’ve passed too many Pillars of Salt–
caught between moving forward and looking back.
Keep marchin forward like you ought–
I gots the strength you lack.”

“Not again
Not again”
Emmett mutters a prayer
“Not again
Lord, not again.”
Emmett can only stare
if it is true

Maya frowns,
“shoulders falling down
like tear drops,
weakened by her soulful cries”

once again
we’re forced to fear the truth
as much as we fear the lies


-Rahk. (R. Person),

Original post read, “Civil Rights travel underground”. All posts are subject to revision. Some posts will become unavailable as “Rahk’s Water’ continues to form into a final work.

#grief, #jussie-smollet, #poem, #poetry, #raw

“Grief (When a Poem Can’t Fix It)” -raw audio

When you can’t write a poem.

When a poem can’t fix it.

When a flick of the lighter

and a pull of the cigar

and a lashing out at loved ones

can’t fix it

When sporadic sobs of faith

ripping from bellies

like plagues of moths

can’t fix it

When a prayer skips

“Don’t let it be true, Jesus”

And another prayer skips

“Don’t let it be true, Jesus”

And the prayers skip

And voices crack

like whips across Christ’s back

and questions linger

on the napes of our necks

and lifting our heads to the sky

does not loosen their hooks

And you don’t ask them

because you know the silence

resounds like his last breath

Because you know he should not have taken his last breath

And a rage storms

through the blood of kinship

And a rage storms

below the clouds of scriptures

And a question clasps hold of your eyelids

And a gaze falters at the casket

And a sweeping of the crowd jettisons a spray of questions

like bullets

like bullets

like bullets

that wail like they just lost their child

like bullets

like bullets

like bullets

that wail as if their prayers were answered incorrectly

like bullets

like bullets

burdened by too many unanswered questions

like bullets

like bullets

Who is responsible for these tears?Tears dammed by so many quesions

Tears desperate to escape the dam to prevent the flood

And a poem can’t fix it

And a prayer didn’t make it not so

And questions still haven’t been answered

And we have heard that weeping endures for a night,

But why is it that we have been forced into mourning?

#grief, #poetry, #raw, #spoken-words, #water