Tuesday, June 21, 2011


And the memory calls back. You saying-

"If I come in while you're sleeping, don't get up on my account."

But it was inevitable. You are so like the sun,

And I, a mere man, diurnal to the last.

Dying to earn.

So I rise up when your face sets it's light on my side of the globe.

And I will only rest once it's gone.

All through the week, the light you give me- I work it away,

Only enjoying it at weeks end.

When you come, and quicken me, then once again,

My week begins,

Until I'm weak again.

Work is an art, and mine imitates death,

Because life does.

So many little deaths,

Trying to get it right with nightly practice.

My own was wordless and without motion,

Under a warmth of blankets pressed down like hair,

The layers echo patterns outward from my body,

Tartan, Paisley, Kente, and a patchwork that tells the story I'm to dream that night.

They cover my head,

So I close my eyes.

In that moment I know nothing but the darkness,

And it is peace.

After Thought

They were a mass, milling about on a marked, plotted field of green.
This mass, black, surrounded by fashioned stones- some polished- large enough to take notice of,
They are still no Stonehenge.

But we fool ourselves into believing the lie of our immortality.

The black mass, a Black mass,
Celebrating a Black life.
All this black on Black, for a life that was Black,
And there's nothing wrong with that.

It was a full life, colorful-
But mostly Black. It wasn't choice.
It was circumstance.

Movements through that life,
So tied to a color,
Possibilities for that life,
Limited by an 'other'.

That life made a mark,
So they do, in the green.
And like those before, they choose stone for this commemoration.

They say 'This will last,"
While I think 'Maybe longer than you.'
I've seen stones crushed to powder.
What does that do for a legacy?

To build a rock on death.
To mark that instead of life.
I don't want to see her gravestone.
I want to see the birth stone.

And I want it to be...

Note from me: I often find myself thinking about the disparate views on what it means to be Black. Not in an introspective way. I'm almost positive it has no meaning, not in any inherent sense. It only means something once someone like myself interacts with another person. Reactions will differ infinitely given an infinite amount of subjective experiences. It's something I'd like to term 'Black Relativity.' I propose that 'Blackness' only has meaning relative to the degree of reaction from the individual(s) with whom a Black person is interacting.
If I don't respond in a way that renders what someone's sense of 'Blackness' is as null, then I've had to either confirm or deny that sense. That is to say, 'Blackness' needs a *viewer, someone who- cued by a person's complection- is ready to make judgments ranging from an abstract idea like What it means to be inside black/brown skin to a specific idea like What her/his favorite music genre is. If we must interact for that sense to have worth, then when we are not interacting that sense is rendered null. Brings a new meaning the Black Death, doesn't it?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Osama Bin Laid to Rest

I was watching the news with my man Amon last night, when he asked me "Is this who we are, as a country?" He asked in response to videos of Americans celebrating Osama Bin Laden's death. I'm curious to know what my friends think about these feelings sweeping the country. I've seen celebrations on T.V. Singing in front of the White House, cheering in stadiums. You'd think we won a war. But can you blame anyone for feeling satisfied about our government delivering on a promise to take down a known terrorist. Hell, I'm still waiting for some folks to die. If I waited for their minds to change I'd be dead myself before that happened.

I'm not a huge proponent of war, but I've benefited from it. Though, someone always does. But in a larger, historical sense, the Revolutionary War resulted in the the formation of the United States. The Civil War allowed my ancestors greater freedoms. World War II took the Nazis to task, and I don't know anyone who thinks that was a bad decision. Surely we can be happy Hitler's dead, right? So what is the distancing from relief about Bin Laden's demise?

Oh. The 'What/Who comes next' effect. Yea, I'm wondering too. I felt the same way after Mubarak resigned. But I recall Egyptians being pretty hopeful. Perhaps against the Arab world's muted response, our American exuberance seems out of place. Is the fear then that we'll be looked on poorly as a nation? Perhaps. But if so...whats new?

So...what is the big deal? How are we at war this long yet upset for feeling better through someones death? I'm sure no one was thinking that taking out Al Quaeda was going to involve 'time out' corners and handshakes. People say "Support the troops!" all the time. You know the troops are killing people, right? And sometimes- get this- they accidentally kill civilians! But they're saluted! Veterans can't get taken care of when they're back in the USA, but damnit, we thank them when they're dressed up at the airport! It's the American way.

And so is war.

Let's not mix our emotions any more than we already do. This was a big goal. Maybe the ten year gap in goal setting and achievement has caused some to forget. There is nothing wrong with placing this in the proper historical framework and feeling good about this. I'm not saying go out and have a theme party! And by no means should MARCHING BANDS be involved, Glen Beck! But can't we breathe a sigh of relief that this man is gone. For goodness sake, after ten years, haven't we been waiting to exhale?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Moment of Reflection

I have done what I am born to do;

Love and be loved.

I sent it out.

I got it back.

I sang a song of Power,

And its melody was Energy.

I turned my thoughts to joy and goodness,

And my thoughts turned my life around.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Potent Quotables

"I'm amazed at the instruments of Fate. Some people will never realize that though they may wound, they may also heal. The same bee that stings also pollinates."
-January 18th

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Potent Quotables

I thought it would be good to use my blog to sometimes record quotes I make or thoughts I have. I hesitated doing this for a while because I felt like my blogs should have a certain length. But in truth, they should only have substance. And if I can serve that up in one sentence, I'll share it.
So, here goes [something]!

"The world seems acceptable at any one moment in time. Hold it for an instant and all the madness and beauty can be explained away. Take into account its history, with and without our presence, and the effect is dizzying. You'll grow sick before you grow wiser."- Dec 9th

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Reel Talk: For Colored Girls

*Contains Spoilers*

This weekend I ventured to see For Colored Girls, Tyler Perry's audacious adaptation of Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. Having seen the extended 'choreo-poem' on stage some years ago, I was drawn in by the prospect of witnessing these great monologues come to life on the big screen, and being performed by some larger than life actresses.

And the actresses really are the draw of this film. Ignorant of the story, as the stage production has no linear narrative, that wasn't there to pull me in. Nor was there the lure of a director who's work I respect or admire. This movie, for me, was all about the cast and how they would portray the 'colored girls' the title refers to.

The casting is truly inspired in many respects. Loretta Devine is pitch perfect as the vocal, conflicted Juanita Sims. Struggling with living the life she preaches to women at her clinic. The young Tessa Thompson is captivating from her first scene as Nyla. All eyes on her in a dance studio as she recounts her first time, listing the names of boys off effortlessly. And again as she lay in a hospital bed, post-back-alley abortion, describing what she remembers of the event. And Phylicia Rashad can do no wrong as Gilda, whether delivering a hard truth to Crystal (Kimberly Elise) or as she cradles Tangie (Thandie Newton) and slips into another of Shange's spellbinding monologues. It makes me wonder how much better that would have been were Lisa Bonet cast as Tangie. Hmmm.

But it's not all good. Janet Jackson was pretty dull throughout as Jo. She's really more a set piece in most scenes, as Perry felt it necessary to lift the character of Miranda strait from The Devil Wears Prada and have Janet do an imitation. And speaking of imitations, her fictional magazine even uses the same font as VOGUE for its cover! The flat Anna Wintour/Miranda caricature did not bring me into the story the same way the others did. Nor did Whoopie Goldberg's Alice, a religious fanatic that sometimes feels like a ripoff of the mother from Carrie.

Perry makes Alice a hoarder, which is a small detail that adds to her character and gives audiences something current to relate her craziness too. It was unnecessary, but not as unnecessary as Jo's cheating husband who she contracts HIV from, thanks to his infidelity with other men. The husbands ambiguous sexuality was, again, a stab at being contemporary, but it really just shows the filmaker's lack of understanding about the issue he's dealing with.

SIDE NOTE: The film has moderate parts for men, as the 'play' has none at all. One scene that feels like an approach at a male monologue finds the character struggling to say "I'm not gay. I'm just a man who likes to have sex with men." One can't help but hear the directors voice there, since that line- like the character- is an invention of Perry himself.

Much of the film suffers from a "lack of understanding" on the part of the director. Do rapists usually get buck naked before they go for it from behind? I don't know, but that terribly mis-scored scene with Yasmine (Anika Noni Rose) and Bill (Khalil Kane) will no doubt get several homo-erotic readings. Mostly thanks to Perry's preoccupation with the male form and the type of penetration.

The original production is bold in it's simplicity. The women have no connections, excepting the ones the audience makes for them. Their journeys are different, but their outlooks are colored by their experiences. The film version feels in part like half-hearted homage to The Women of Brewster Place, finding many of the characters sharing the same apartment complex. Why not keep them separated, and let their experiences link them? Even with all of the characters in the same city, the story is still all over the place.

I can't recall discerning a 'message' when I saw the original, but the film seems pretty explicit: Avoid men at all costs!!!

The beauty and the struggle of these lives is corrupted in a way, into a tale of how terrible men are. Feminism is not about hating men, it's about empowering women. You get both with this film, and it's simply too much.

And that shouldn't suggest a black woman should have directed this, or would have done a better job. One of the best film adaptations of a story about blackness, femininity, and hardship, that incorporates song, deals with rape, forgiveness, and maintains it's literary origin was made by a *white man. I'm just suggesting it shouldn't have been, or at least didn't have to be, Tyler Perry.

Improvements in style aside, it's more of the same from Perry. Overblown drama, a gloss of subject matter, and a profound love of 'the diva'- complete with her sharp looks, clever dialog, and scenes of 'going off.' The film is worth seeing for the performances alone. Even Macy Gray is haunting as, Rose, the abortionist from the aforementioned back-alley, who's speech rambles on in a nightmarish way as she sanitizes her tools in liquor. But overall, the film suffers from it's contrived nature at Perry's hand.

Is this movie really for colored girls? Not if those colored girls aren't also critical of what comes off the screen. I wonder how other men felt leaving the theater. Did they feel 'eyes crawling up' on them? It would have been hard not to. Love for women is present without question, but as a male, I felt Perry has colored me 'bad.'

*Thanks Stephen Spielberg. I still quote lines from The Color Purple.