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

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

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

The Statement Jussie Smollet Did Not Make

Jussie:

I am here, asserting my innocence
The same way my attackers demonstrated that
my black gay life does not matter
That my black
And my gay
Should be washed away in a violent baptism

I am here, before you, my truth having been arrested
But I will not remain silent

For as I bled, as I became intimate
with the state of this union,
My name and my story
continued to be brutalized
on a cold night in Chicago

It is only by God that I am here
So I am here
Before your flashing lights
And heavy glares
Carrying the bloody brown stains
of my public dragging
The hooping and hollering of sirens
mocking my wounds, deeming them self-inflicted
as their ropes scarred my wrists

Because I am Black. Because I am unafraid to love.
Because I am not a nigger to be hung as the birds tweet
about my smell
Because I am not a faggot to be gagged and
consumed by your self-righteous fire

Because I am here
Standing before you
Twice a victim
Twice a survivor
And though it is my right,
I will not remain silent


-Rahk (on the Jussie Smollet disposition)

#jussie-smollet, #letter, #lgbtqa, #poem, #poetry, #raw