Finding Voice

I walked outside and screamed at the bottom of my driveway,

only because I knew no one would notice,

well, they did, and their doors shut,

I stood in my neighborhood and felt completely alone.

 

The manicured lawns,

similarly styled rose gardens,

the roof repair and invisible fences,

street signs that suggested we all slow down.

 

I glanced around and decided to scream outloud again,

more doors shut,

the street seemed to empty in a silence

more apparent than I’d noticed before my unravel.

 

I stood there for a long time

watched kids on their bicycles take the corner before

having to coast past the man at the end of the driveway,

I realized for the first time I might have been noticed.

 

I walked back up to my garage,

played some music while drilling some wood,

the sweat on my brow, I wiped with my forearm,

I glanced at the street, a squad rode by … I waved.

Conservative Happiness

I wonder sometimes if they all think,

process, imagine, find futile,

an effort to push a boulder aside.

I feel the clammy stone of a permanence,

both hands taking grip on a monstrous image,

finding the will,

and yet realizing it is not about strength

at all.

 

When forgiveness occurs, we do find a way,

to lean, to count upon, the girth

of our boulders will

hold us up, give us strength,

allow our hearts and mind to know

that though it will never go away,

sometimes the offer

is meant only to be stability.

 

I was walking along the beach the other day,

noticed,

the footprints in the sand,

I could tell by their depth and lift,

a certain happiness in the owner’s gait.

Perhaps a burden lifted

the illusion of the rock,

set aside for now to appreciate another day.

 

Rather than move or alter or deface,

I will continue to cleanse the porous response

the rock reminds us all,

there is a constant reminder,

in our eternity,

to live by a mistake,

is to recognize the beauty of our

humanity.

 

 

To Know The Right Way

Oh, to go beyond the grasp,

the tangles that keep reminders alive,

there is the mystery of the mind,

what to turn off, what to feed, what to settle in,

so that moving forward seems a reliable

resolve to the repudiating repulsion of time.

 

Yes, without speaking in tangible terms,

leave it to the eyes to interpret,

disclose, determine in words,

what shall be thought to reserve judgment.

 

When standing on the street,

look into a man’s eyes,

is he relaxed, skeptical, terrible

in this seeming expression on a hot summer day.

 

While sitting in a local cafe,

she buried her face in paperwork,

a bomb goes off nearby and she doesn’t twitch,

for in our world we don’t feel explosions,

we only create war inside our brain,

that is the place we store the fuse, the powder keg,

the nuclear option to saving grace.

 

Oh, the notions of moving forward,

to know the right words,

to recognize complete action,

beyond simple presumptuous fiction.

How can a world determine,

peace,

when locked into the tenets of this

seemingly societal scrutiny,

makes allowances,

to suggest the human condition,

is flawed.

Philando Castile

castile

NY Daily photo credit

I recently told a friend of mine I have sometime wished I was black, and as the words left my mouth, the expression on his face indicated to me he was immediately offended. I knew I’d made a horrific presumption, and felt compelled to find him a little later on to continue our dialogue.  I wasn’t really sure what I was asking, but he sat me down and asked me a question.

He said, ‘as you sit in that chair, do you feel like you would be where you are, as a black man, including your personality and everything you are today?’

I had to think about the question. I had to get past trying to find the right answer and really think about how I was going to respond. I did not know what my answer could possibly be because I have never been a person of color. I have always been white.

This afternoon, when I first heard the news of the verdict in the shooting of Philando Castile, I felt immediately sick to my stomach. For a year I have replayed that viral video in my mind, imagining only one outcome. I believed the officer would be found guilty of manslaughter. I thought it was an easily defined case. I felt like I had come to know Philando through all the news reports and the expose’s of his life and the stories his community had expressed of who he was in our society. But I forgot one simple truth. He was a black man pulled over for a routine traffic stop. He was suspected of being involved in a robbery based upon his description. The only solid evidence that suggested he had been involved in the burglary was the color of his skin.

If that had been me, a white guy, with a gun pointed at my body by a peace officer, I am willing to bet, I could have said everything Philando expressed in the final minutes of his life, and I could have reached with my right arm and found my I.D. without the officer feeling compelled to discharge seven bullets into my body. This officer didn’t simply fire a couple of rounds, He fired seven times at point blank range. And there in that moment, while his girlfriend recorded the whole incident, Philando Castile died.

Justice seemed evident in this case, I didn’t even imagine the jury would take as long as they did to come back with a verdict. I only imagined it would be an open and shut case. That was until I saw the jury selection. I knew that when we had a jury of over 20 white people and two people of color, the case for Philando had taken a dangerous turn. I knew that when the officer was coached to cry in the witness stand, Philando’s integrity was in trouble.

I also knew I couldn’t get out of my car as a white man and express my sorrow and rage to any person of color without coming off patronizing. So instead, I called another friend, and told him he was the first person that came to my mind. Now this friend asked me if I was surprised by the verdict. I think I waffled my answer and said something like, “Well, yeah, I guess, well no, well I’m just sad.”

He agreed with my sentiments, and then began to speak of the systemic failure of our society to recognize the inherent discrimination of the African- American culture. Interestingly, he didn’t blame the cop that gunned down an innocent man. Instead he talked about how our society (his African-American culture) has to become proactive in changing the mindset of how we cope with our discrimination. He immediately prayed that there would be no acting out and a peaceful protest might occur.

I agreed with him and thanked him for letting me listen to his ideals, those of which I have always respected and believed. I finished the call, and sat in my car, and thought about what I would do next. All I could think about was how sad I was with the outcome of the day’s events. All I could do was feel like a white guy trying to wrap my head around this horrific tragedy. I still don’t have any answers, except only to say I’m sorry Philando, I am truly sorry this happened to you.

When We Pause

Step off the line, for if only in a moment,

we can pause and watch time pass,

we might then know we are not ever alone,

for look in the eyes,

the people around us,

scrambling for a position,

sliding past the damp graffiti run concrete,

the long and winding passageways that teem

with life in only short intervals,

until finally,

one day,

we all stop and listen,

the jazz licks nearby,

the passion in his breathing,

the delight in her arms while she winds the band

upon her violin.

 

Stop and listen for a moment,

and realize we are all alone

only if we choose,

to pretend our eyes belong to ourselves.

Rainy Days In Real Form

When walking alone by the naked shore,

Small pebbles hurt the bottom of my soul,

while finding balance in ocean floor whole

I did discover real becomes much more

When standing in the rain to feel soft tease

I wandered further in the sea line edge

wanting somehow to find a proverbial ledge

a place to stand, to hope, to view life at ease.

When contemplating the gray upon my day,

I wondered about still seeking some answer

to the question does remain, when whether

the waves surreal, gather the rains this way.

Oh, to understand the reason a cleanse release

Oh, to recognize nature form a simple peace.