Section 1 –
There are so many different versions of me
which, at this point,
I suppose it’s hard to keep up with all of me –
at least for me it is.
There’s the old me and the younger me.
There’s the new me and the me who I want to become. But then,
there’s the professional version of me
and the unprofessional version too
but then there’s the dreamer and the hopeful version.
There’s the inner child, the scapegoat, the hero
the mascot and the adult in me
which is where plans and strategy come from-
the other side or the former is where emotion
takes over, which can be a wild ride –
I promise you this for sure.
There’s the parent in me
and the child in me and then, of course,
there’s the one in me who wants to excel
and the other version of me who finds it hard to believe
especially in the world we live in – and therefore,
I choose to reject the simple masses or the crowds
or the people who deem themselves as better –
or too important or so high on the totem pole
that they (somehow) have the right to declare who wins,
who loses, or who goes or stays.
I have different parts of me.
One part is healthy and strong.
Another part is timid, afraid and weak and
perhaps this is the strongest part of me because
no matter how weak or afraid I might be,
somehow, I still get up. I still get dressed.
I still show up and consecutively, one day at a time,
I still manage to put one foot in front of the other.
by any means necessary.
I am not anything like anyone else.
And to be clear on this,
it has taken me a long time to learn how to celebrate this.
Better yet, it has taken me a long time to claim this and now,
here I am, claiming things I never thought I’d share or tell anyone –
except for you of course – but then again, somehow,
when it’s just you and I,
there’s no worry about what I say or what I do
because, above all,
I know that you know who I am –
so I don’t have to watch what I say or do (here).
I am, however, still evolving.
My voice is still changing because
like a child entering into the next phase of their life.
I am still growing.
But more . . .I’m evolving.
I look around at what I see – and more and more,
I know that no matter what,
there’s love out there for me –
If it were not so, would you be here with me now?
Summer walks in and the world sort of smiles –
like a kid
. . . looking for a little mischief
or a young prankster looking for a thrill
or peeking up a girl’s skirt,
just to get a rise . . .
There’s so much that goes on
in the angst of a young mind.
We can run through walls, so-to-speak,
and break the boundaries
or cross the lines and try the things
we were told not to touch.
We pose and we posture
We both play and pretend.
we position ourselves to stand out in the ranks,
to be wanted, or desired
or seen as “special”
It’s beautiful too
Like youth at its best with no rules,
no responsibilities and no one to answer to,
except the lampposts that dangle over the corner of our city’s mind,
which come on at nightfall
to keep us safe.
We became more relevant to each other.
We could explore one another too
while dancing beneath the long, hot nights
I do . . .
I felt the warmth like a needed form of relevance
which I used to prove that we could break the dawn
and still be valid upon daybreak.
My City . . .
. . . our City
either way . . .
there’s always been something about the heat
or the way summertime comes
and we transform
Layers of clothing shed to give way to skin.
We watch each other uncover from sweaters to hardly nothing
Meanwhile, the sight of flesh heats the blood.
In a word, we became hungry
and you . . . you became my next best meal
Section 3 –
Children run from swing sets to seesaws.
This was us – once
If we think about it
the only rules we had to follow
were to play nice, don’t fight
and be home in time for supper.
Kids . . .
Their little smiles are big and blameless
Like we used to be, once, a long time ago.
Kids . . .
Pure and innocent until they learn about things
and then they divide-up into groups
that destroy their innocence
and transform their truth by the perversions
and teach them the shame about being “different.”
Shame . . .
What a great word to use here
because it is a shame
or is it a sham?
At one point, we all used to play together –
Then we all turned into someone else.
We turned to the different systems of cool
and replaced each other with the need to belong –
I’m telling you, this is when people forfeit who they are,
or wish they were someone different
just because of some socialized construction
of what it means to be cool . . .
This is when people forget who they used to be
or where they come from
because this is when people forget
how they used to laugh with one another
and consider each other friends.
Section 4 –
I always wondered about the angles. . .
I took my shots too. I always wondered about the different perspective
which, of course, to me,
the rush I found was crazy or otherwise unpredictable
you’re smiling because you made a score.
You pulled it off.
Your mind is absent to the ideas of punishment
because you made a move –
you beat the odds.
Suddenly, you’re unstoppable,
like an invincible thrill
that moves through your bloodstream.
I’m not supposed to tell anyone about this though
because if I do,
what does this do for my business?
How does this help me with my corporate climb?
Either way . . .
I used to be “that guy.”
I remember this well too
and how “high” I was on the crest
Until the lights swirl and the cars pull up.
uh-oh . . . .
Next, your face is pressed into the cement
Your arms are chicken-winged behind your back.
The sound from steel bracelets echo
as they clench around your wrist
and the cops, man,
they laugh at you,
like this is all a sick joke.
Somehow, I knew it was coming.
I knew it all along
because no one skates forever.
No one gets away without a scratch
or unscathed or without a scar
except in movies
Only, in this case,
the only camera crews are the ones that take mug-shots
so the next day,
your photo can end up in the local newspaper.
But to be honest,
almost as hard as the handcuffs around my wrist
was the welcoming committee,
as in the grinning cops who knew me,
smiling at me as if this was their own little perversion –
as if this was enough to arouse them
or get them off.
They said things like, “Hey, look who it is!”
“It’s nice to see ya.”
as if the walk from the car into the precinct
was like a peep-show,
designed to get them going;
as if arresting me was like their own brand of pornography
causing a rise in their shorts.
But . . .
Truth was, I had no one to blame
(and I knew that)
They walked me down a corridor lined with cages.
Inside them were the fellow junkies, crooks,
criminals, drunks and bums.
I recognized the local thieves.
I was scared, little, and suddenly,
after the sound of the caged door closing behind me
I knew there was nothing I could do
I had no way to defend myself.
I looked around to find a safe place.
If there was such a thing
And you can tell who went through this before
You can spot who knows the system
you could tell by the way they carried themselves.
It’s just like the virgins
You can see who’s nervous
and who’s been fucked before.
You can see the fear in the so-called first-timers
You have the repeat offenders and the local knuckleheads
Then you have the rich, upper-class, businessmen
who swore their bribery and name-dropping
would set them free
You see the rich ones
They’re the ones that had a few extra martinis
at the country club
but decided to drive anyway
Maybe they know somebody, like a judge or a senator
Or maybe they don’t –
but they yell from behind the bars like somehow they’re royalty
should mean something
But it doesn’t
So they scream about their rights.
Shouting, “You can’t do this to me!”
You have your wife-beaters
(who no longer feel so tough)
And the few that cry throughout the night
I remember thinking to myself,
“Now you’re stuck.”
Now you’re in a cage, locked in a filthy room
and forced to smell another man’s shit –
It’s amazing the positions we find ourselves in
It’s amazing too when people say, “Never again,”
Until they learn that never is not such a long time at all
Know what I mean?
Section 5 –
The other day,
I watched a kid on the train
brag to his friends about his first ‘pinch.’
Said, “It wasn’t so bad.”
Said he toyed with the cops
until his parents came down to get him out.
He called them “pigs”
and said the station house smelled like bacon.
They thought this was funny.
They thought they were tough.
I was sitting across from them,
so, I couldn’t help but overhear
I looked up from my book,
I smiled at them, a small group of privileged punks,
puny as ever, young, stupid,
and wearing the braveries of Mom and Dad.
In fairness, I was them . . .
. . . once.
I look different now. Certainly much taller
Much bigger and heavily tattooed
I allowed an old version of me to surface to the top.
Somewhat eagerly and somewhat aggressively –
I decided to interrupt the young group,
as if to suggest that they’re conversation
was disrupting my silence
and as their senior, or more to the point,
as a person who could physically impose myself,
I decided that I wanted them to be quiet.
They were laughing about their first trip into the precinct
So, I decided to give them a much different view of life
I spoke through the grit of my teeth and said
“You think that’s funny?
“Just wait until your parents ain’t around to help you out
because that’s when they keep you.
That’s when the real fun starts.”
Their faces froze with concern for their safety
“It’s funny, right?”
For some reason, they didn’t appreciate my brand of humor
I guess this must be why they stopped laughing . . .
. . . and decided to move
Section 6 –
I never wanted to become that old man
who shouted at the neighborhood kids and said
get off my lawn!
And, I’m not saying that’s me
Then again, I’m not saying it’s not either.
I’m grateful for my path now,
which wasn’t always so
Either way, it won’t be long now
The summer will be here soon.
I’m older now and perhaps,
I’m less resilient than
how I was when I was just a kid.
My bedtime is different now
and so are my reasons to be awake at dawn
soon, the sun will come out to warm the skin
and rest assured that in a word,
We’re going to become hungry again
and you, still beautiful as ever . . .
you will become my next best meal –
Section 7 –
There are laws and rules and different levels of ethics;
in which case, we are who we are in this world.
But don’t show anyone your truth because,
rest assured, there are flaws to us all and,
for sure, lo and behold
if anyone sees you differently or
if you’re not a fit with the typical
or the commercialized version of what a person is supposed to be like,
then rest assured
there’s someone out there, quick to judge, and quick to cancel you.
You have be careful
Otherwise, or even better, there’s someone out there
who will be quick to assassinate you
simply because who you are is an insult
to someone they could never be.
I am so many different people.
I’ve stood in jails and in homeless shelters and rehabs,
and flight-decks or should I say psyche wards and
I have also stood in classrooms, in advanced college courses,
in front of law enforcement, and in conference rooms
where global corporations “claim” to be “inclusive.”
I have so many different sides to my story
that it’s hard to keep up with me – even for me.
But I’m trying
I’m trying really hard because someday,
I will face the end and when I look back,
my aim is to say that nobody stopped me –
because I wouldn’t let them.