It was forever ago, it must be.
The younger days, the angst,
the energy and the deep wells of tomorrow
which flowed so deeply and freely
enough that you’d swear
there’d always be enough time for later –
We had more to fight in us back then.
We fought harder and with more reason
and more earth to our souls.
we could go on for days
without ever needing a break.
We could march for hours
and dance for nights.
We were less likely to adhere or to conform
and more likely to rebel or dispute the claims
which say hey, you can’t stay young forever.
“To hell, you say!”
And to hell with the world.
To hell with the powers that be.
To hell with your politics
and your political identities
and to hell with your standardized testing
and your socially biased bullshit
To hell with the world
because I . . .
I could show you what strength is.
I could show you rage. I knew rage personally.
Me and outrage used to hang out every weekend
Sometimes on weekdays too
I could show you rebellion
or what it means to have angst,
or to have heart
and to be part of a movement
developed out of contempt
and pure adrenaline.
We had more “get-up-and-go” back then.
We understood the secrets of endurance.
We had no safe places or time-outs.
Either you put up or shut up.
That was all.
We had no protection, aside from our chins,
which were held up in the air,
high too, to defy the lights
as if to dare the world, go ahead . . .
make my day, bitch!
We certainly had more of the so-called “do-overs”
We could call a “Do-over” like we used to say
when we’d play games at the park.
And who knows?
Maybe we kept score or maybe we didn’t
Maybe the notches in my belt
were only put there for sport
Maybe the games we played were different
or maybe we didn’t care what we played,
so long as we could play hard, long,
fast and be wild
because otherwise, what’s the point?
Why live at all
if you’re not living fast enough
to see the speed of light?
we traded the games for jobs.
Somewhere, somehow, we traded the dawns
for early wakeups and time-clock tragedies
with bosses and supervisors
and managers who, at one point,
we used to kick the shit of people like them.
But not anymore.
No, now . . .
we get up before the sunrise and get in line
to make our daily commute.|
But hey, we used to come home
when the sun came up.
Now, this just means it’s time to go to work
I think of the music.
I think of the lies we believed
and the lies we told ourselves,
such as I swear, I’m never drinking again.
Ever say that?
I know I did.
I certainly promised this to the porcelain gods
I personally swore to them
that I would never drink again
only, never seemed last a very long time.
I swore to the foxhole gods
in foxholes prayers, please God,
just get me out of this one.
Get me out of this and I swear,
I’ll be a good boy from now on.
My lies were funny
My thoughts were conflicted yet
clarity comes with maturity;
in which case, I can see it now.
I can understand why people used to tell me,
“You’ll understand when you get older,”
because now that I am older and looking backwards,
I also look forwards
at the youth of today.
I see them and their brilliant ignorance.
I think about their ideas
and their hopefulness.
I think about their systems of denial
and their abilities to rebel at what I say
because no matter what I say –
the one thing I have learned about kids is this:
The hardest part of convincing a kid
is proving that they don’t know everything.
By the way though –
the hardest part of convincing an adult
to change their ways . . .
is proving to them
that they don’t know every-fucking-thing too
I swear there
was a time
when you couldn’t tell me anything.
I would sooner spit at you than listen
Don’t tell me.
Besides, what do you know?
I used to hear people tell me
what do you know, you’re just a kid.
I used to fight back.
What the hell do you know?
It’s been a long time since you were a kid.
Ever think of that?
I never wanted to grow up,
let alone grow old.
I never wanted to walk the line
or find myself thinking about things like
the price of gas at different gas stations
or what it costs
to find good insurance these days.
My youth was a movement.
And true, my wars were not like the ones today
and my battlefields were different than
what they are like now.
We lacked the threats of today’s technology,
which is a good thing, if you ask me
because the one thing I can say is in spite of all I’ve done,
fortunately, there is no photo or video evidence
of what I’ve done . . .
(except for that time they caught me on video surveillance).
Therefore, due to the nature of my youthful craziness,
I can neither confirm nor deny
any of the said allegations against me.
Any questions thereafter
must be solely directed to my attorney
and answered thusly by him – and yes,
this was something I have said
(in my past) to which I laugh about now
with a smile because, at some point,
I thought this was cute.
I thought my riots were genius,
brilliant, and as for my rebellions,
I took them personally.
I had more earth to my soul and more skin to lose.
I had the ability to heal
and get back up, once more,
or even at minimum, when I was young, somehow,
I could go out all night
and still be able to make it to work the next day.
I miss that part. I miss the feeling of angst.
I miss the ability to heal and endure.
I miss the ability to blow things off
and be carefree about what happens
or what comes next because tomorrow
is just around the corner
I miss the ability to confront the controversy.
I miss the resilience to lose and to fight again,
once more, one more round
or one more time until the bell rings;
because of all things, you can bet your ass
I won’t leave anything to the judges.
Either knock me out or kill me
because no matter what,
I’m getting back up.
Ah the stupid resilience of youth
Do you know what I miss the most?
I miss the movies. I miss the music.
I miss the themes that spoke out for our generation.
I miss the feeling of showing up someplace
and goddammit, everyone you knew was there
and everyone was wild, crazy,
like young little hooligans
eager to take on the world
I miss the adrenaline of lust and love
and the fearlessness that comes
when you don’t care enough
to send the very best.
No one could stop me.
No one could slow me down –
well, almost nobody. . .
I had a word with a childhood friend last night.
We were talking about the teenage tragedies
and laughing about what we did
as opposed to what it would be like
if our kids did half of the same thing
How the hell are any of us still alive?
Or is this just life?
Is this just what it means
to grow up and live?
To be honest, if you went back
to the 19 or 20 year old version of me and told him,
“this is who you’re going to be one day,”
I think I’d have shook my head.
I think I’d probably doubt
that I’d have made it out alive
or that I could do any of the things
that I do today
If you could go back and tell that version of me,
“You’re going to help kids like you one day”
or that someday,
“You’re going to stop someone
from stringing themselves up,”
I’d have probably stopped in my tracks.
I’d have probably asked,
“Lord, keep me safe until then
because God knows
I never had anyone like that to help me.”
I once asked the group in one of my jail sessions:
“If you could go back to yourself at any age
and tell yourself something,
what age would it be
and what would you have said?”
I can still see the face of this man –
He said, I’d go back to that time when I was 12.
“I’d say ‘listen to your Mother’ and get back in the house.”
The Crips don’t need you . . .
I was then asked by this man, “What about you?”
It’s probably be the same age.
“And what would you tell yourself.”
I’d have said, “it’s not true son.
Don’t listen to them.
You are better than you will ever realize.
I am fortunate.
I am lucky.
Or, maybe this is just the walk of life.
Some choose one way.
But me –
I chose another