No Standard Miracles Here

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Deauville, Rehoboth Beach DE

There is space between each grain of sand that holds me up…
Each lapping midnight wave unlike any other a cohesion of subatomic history
The peach light of the moon is a trick of the trade in swoon
And this breath I’m taking, divined air of salt and murk, a plentiful oratory.
Ordinary isn’t a word, there are no standard miracles here,
This, the thin veil of skin and blood that is the birthplace of ancestors unnamed
Ten minutes of return to my childhood beach dissuades the I;
Experiences collectively forming my perception, the Universe’s imagination untamed.
We are flickers of light, the darkness in between, and all that jazz…
The reflection kneeling, summoning the sea to wash over the hands, becomes placidly small
Pronouns dissolve into the accepting tide- me, we, you, all returned
Even as lungs heave the time to go, the child within kicks sand, in the dark of the ocean all becomes all.

 

Stop The World

636031542435573841-DSC-8549Amid fireworks, they shot a black man down my street last night-

Nobody knows the trouble between the first heartbeat of wrong

And the last breath as he was knocked on his feet in plain sight

Of kids in the projects playground, seen enough of this, first person shooter,

Bang bang you’re dead motherfucker was once a game now an angry song.

This brutal world stops for a moment to remember, till the next headline

Throttles us into indignation but the ivory towers know we’re content

To feed on scraps of justice thrown from on high, the sorrow sidelined

Distractions of Caesars and Brutuses reenacting ad nauseam the takedown

As we spin seemingly helplessly, lowered shades too dark to grasp the portent.

A night later, the percussive eve of Independence Day explodes over this part of town

The bombs bursting in air proving through the night that turned backs were still there

The projects locked down tight, and as boots scrape asphalt eyes cast awkwardly down

Nobody knows the trouble of living on the edge of knives and bullets from a comfortable distance

Yet when faced with a mirror, our fist is thrust to stop the world, only to see ourselves in the raining shards of our town.

 

 

Andy and Charlie

Andy and Charlie

Two homeless guys, sheltering under the awning of an urban church

They don’t complain

The streetlights oversaturate their weathered bodies, harsh shadows of scant rest.

Andy and Charlie

Don’t ask for much, I don’t know if they are “good” or “bad,” but they are alive that is chore enough.

The streets are cruel

Rich kids throw soda at them, people walk in wide arcs, yet we’re all justiced up with causes celèbre

Andy and Charlie

Are American refugees- ignored, because we own the conditions that make their beds cardboard

No cups for change

Too dignified to beg, just looking for a place to sleep; will those doors open unto weathered men,

Andy and Charlie,

Perish the thought that the last shall be first if we have mantle to muster more than just this,

They are not the least of these,

Andy and Charlie are us, bereft of the American dream, under streetlight glare, holding out for hope.

Pulse

Bang to the beat of the drum

Bang to the beat of the drum

Bang to the beat of the drum, we’re gonna

Bang… to… the… beat… of… the… drum.

Bass notes have floated countless times through this body

Vibration on the cabinet speakers, boom, boom, boom, boom,

Taking headtrips to ancient lands where the dancers around me

Jumped and leapt and intoned magic through fire, the pounding

Driving us all on, thriving together into a mass where no one’s looking,

Some crazy iteration of one flesh in the heat, a single surrounding, resounding,

Beat- a heart beat- a pulse that runs deep, beyond even blood, lost in the dance.

And yet our blood gets spilled, our pulse is stilled… I’ve lost the beat.

The lights in the club go out, the music is off, all is dark,

Bring that beat back.

Naturally we cower when overpowered,

Yet our music from those towers is too damn sweet

Bring that beat back.

Fire up even a single candle, because when you have the light,

It’s the darkness that becomes afraid of you

Bring that beat back.

On with your fabulousness, on with your glitter, on with your strut,

This family is so big we are all the glue

Bring that beat back.

God I’ve been struck down, my pulse shaken- someone always found the beat.

 

People we gonna illuminate da house, show the world that love’s got no last call

One thing we heed and timeless is its creed- we take care of not one, but all,

I have risen from the broken glass ceilings reeling yet feeling not my fall

A strong flight of resistance, the unfurling of spine, not back to wall

Dash the flames with newfound feathers the sky is your birthright

Wings upon the crimson sunset, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh,

Take up thy body to dance celestial, shimmer over the city

While we…

Bang to the beat of the drum

Bang to the beat of the drum

Bang to the beat of the drum, we’re gonna

Bang… to… the… beat… of… the… drum.

Blessed Be The Music Makers

This poem was written and performed for the benefit of the Rosser family in Asheville, NC

Long before a people could sing

There were winds

Long before the first harmony plucked a string

Gusts resounded through canyons

Before there were ears to hear it, Earthsong was such a thing.

 

Can you imagine the first band jamming a million years ago?

Music exuding from fossil throats now studied under glass

Feathery folktunes, gorilla gospel, amphibian ambient

The rhythm, the movement, begat our bloodlines, down to the first vibrato.
Along we come, toe tappin’, vocal chord rattlin’,

Hollowing gourds for drums, primordial shouts and hoots,

Finding… our… VOICES! Refining reeds for flutes-

Circle dances around fires, lutes and lyres, sacred village incantations,

Orchestras, wandering minstrels, choirs.

 

Even now, the music still finds itself in everything-

And the musician found in everyone,

Even with the hand quavering over the eager piano key;

With the throat quivering with the permission to sing FREE!

 

“I got the music in me, I got the music in me, I got the music in me…”*

 

Here’s to those who uplift music from the heart;

To those who summon up vibrations for this art;

To those who struggle so others may upon this path, start;

To those whose hearts feel broken, the love they reflect surrounds;

With many hands, broken hearts are mended, sweet music forever abounds.

 

*”I’ve got the music in me” (c) 1974 Bias Boshell, performed by Kiki Dee

Liberate versus Discriminate

“We do not discriminate.”

We do not discriminate against gender, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, physical ability, mental illness, history of addiction, criminal background-

Except when we do.

We do not discriminate against looks and body types, expressions of self in the Universe, those who’ve earned their way up, those who’ve lost everything going down, accumulations of merit, karma, or doing the right thing-

Except when to do so isn’t good optics.

Pat me on the back, what you touch isn’t a demographic

A life not lived as a statistic to take back to the team and gauge the metrics-

We all sort and strategize, this we know-

Reduce me to characteristics most beneficial to power broker eyes and
I’m a number lost in a sea of tactics

When I’ve really always been a single word flying a sky made intergalactic
in letting all these classifications pass by,

Needless distractions need not ask why in the horizon they fade as we glide
to an expanse of wordless, label-free, beingness to boundlessly be.

See, these worlds we parallel here aren’t interchangeable

Filtration down to the most valuable iota,
or uplifting to the most universal quanta

The only gray area we have ‘tween these two is the one from which they emerged.

Discriminate against this cloud of atoms so I can freely be.

I’d rather you not choose me so I can be free and pass it on…

The fuck has been discriminated out of everything- drained of any passion,
stripped to bits of productivity and actionables for the higher ups. Fuck that.

My only no is to the naysayers-

So that I may participate in loving charges to translate restrictive words into one single YES and every passing moment seized to liberate.

Stand beside, walk astride, come inside-

No signs hang on the doors of this heart.

I Am- Myself- Enough

Written and performed as a component of “My Intimate Companion, My Body” by Community Choreography Projects, Barrie Barton, Artistic Director
Presented as delivered verbatim, 15 May ’16,

 

You man enough?” 13041415_866460496796949_593443273963548002_o

There’s a box to check, M or F, the crossing of chromosomes X and Y,

And of my time, how to measure that?

All those rites of passage, and the wrongs left behind?

Categorically I am male, Caucasian, American by persuasion

I prefer Earthling-

 

I’ve been many things in this lifetime…

I’ve been tadpoles, black holes, bottle rockets, holes in pockets,

Birdfeather, turbulent weather, purple flowers, passionate hours,

“How much adds up to make me man enough?”

 

The answer, I think, is more in the soul’s eye and the mind’s dreaming than in a

Banner’s star spangling or whatever’s anatomically dangling,

It’s your own meaning, your own re-birth panging.

 

My feet are tree roots that pulse to the heart of the Mother-

My guts: clusters of garnets and rubies, my lungs:

Sails of ancient ships plying deep waters-

My head is in the stars, from whence it came.

I am just like everyone else.

 

Listen.

Men, Women, Trans, Genderqueer,

The time is now to forsake duality, and flush the fear.

Let not your body be concealed by a shroud of should-be,

Be unbound, fly the sky infinite, beyond the what, where and why

Of the ordinary to classify, to have the power to say

“Spirit is the gender that I identify.”
Listen.

Receive these words as an invitation, an exhalation… [exhale]

Spirit is the gender that I identify.

Find a box to check- for that.

 

QFC (A Very Short Story)

(Inspired by the Write Or Else Literary Bootcamp Group of 7)

“What’s all this about stem cell therapy?” she shouted from the sidecar of the 1962 499cc Velocette Venom motorcycle I suddenly found myself driving, my teeth clenching a cigarillo, the smoke blowing across my face just as the veil of fog that was my memory fell away. What in the flying fuck is this about I thought to myself? Another thought retorted, you know damn well what this is about, shut up and drive.

“Stem cell therapy was the worst possible choice they could’ve made for you. It’s bullshit,” I found myself yelling over the motor’s incessant growl. “Where we’re going will reverse the damage, then reset your bios to an earlier timewave.” Jesus, the night before I knew I had whiskey straight no chaser, not on the rocks, and it was the good stuff. I didn’t expect to lose my grip and slide this far away from the relatively comfortable me in my little bunker. I think I’m going to swear off soul hopping until they get the technology down.

“How much younger do I get to be this time, Duke? How much are they paying you for me? I’m not a goddamn guinea pig, if you didn’t notice. I went from 44 to 85 in six years. Technodyne and your competitor don’t know shit about subatomic medicine.” No. What did “I” do to this lady? Her raspy voice emerges from a frame garishly and gaudily wrapped in kerchiefs and scarves to conceal everything that seems to be wrong. I can barely see her eyes, but I’ve gotta keep my eyes on the road. This me never rode cycles- ancient tech. I must be way in the Outskirts. “Duke” seems to have everything under control, all I can do is sit back and watch, until the hop ends.

“Ma’am, this is a public service, quality fucking control. Your only job is not to worry and keep covered, sunlight and cameras. My job is over in about two miles, and the shirts in the lab will restore you. Maybe for free. Good for us. Good for you.” The rest of the drive was quiet, until the roanorm-grabowski-corvair-motorcycle-sidecardway led to an underground entrance. Gunners asked Duke if anyone else was on the road- no, just them for the last 50 miles. A hum prevailed over all other sound. The shirts helped the old lady out of the sidecar, eager to rush her to the collider lab.

“Do I get a goddamn cigarette first? They give ‘em to all the sad shits that get the firing squad.” A tech tried to reassure her, perhaps patronizingly; “Mrs. Mezvinski, we can’t allow contaminants here.” She began to undrape herself, and with a laugh said “You let him in here… seriously Duke, thank you. This is my last best chance.” Duke tipped his hat, as her elderly unstable face surfaced in the orange glow of the lights. “I” recoiled as I heard Duke think ‘It’s what you get for too many bio-mods.’ Indeed, her rapidly aging face seemed to be falling apart, and her third eye only stared blankly ahead- dead. Her sixth fingers were curled in paralysis. She was her own guinea pig.

“You’re done here, Duke. Your deposit will appear within 24 hours. We’ll signal you if this reversal goes well, then we’ll expect at least to re-mod three retrievals a week per our deal.” Duke spat the long extinguished cigarillo at the feet of the head honcho.

“Stop making them then. Get that deposit through in 12.” Duke wheeled his Velocette back out toward the sunlight. “And another thing- you get those vaccines ready yet? Some jerk’s hopped my soul for the past few hours, I hear his nervous little thoughts. At least, filter out the dudes. Organic females only need apply.” He squealed out as the engine roared. He thought loudly, ‘YOU HEAR THAT, HOPPER?!’

I snapped out of it- back in the bunker. I grabbed my keyboard and entered the code to cancel my soul hopping subscription. It is unfair, I thought, that the hopped person can’t say no. Such is the way of our time. I flexed my fingers, and the sixth one was only just a little tight, all my mods are guaranteed anyway.

Going out for a whiskey on the rocks.

 

Life Matters

[Crossposted from the blog of the program which I’m honored to direct, FirebirdTransformations.com]

Many people avoid the news because it’s become such a repetitious carnival of the same old, same old. Some politician said this crazy thing, a celebrity was photographed in some scandalous way, and then there’s the things we don’t like to see; terrorism, gun violence, diseases spreading. Even worse, we’re inundated with a THIS versus THAT way of viewing situations. Just like looking at a coin, you can only see the heads side- you have to turn it, alter perspective, to see the tails side. Then, you might just notice the edge separating the two- the “third” way. Part of what we do is train our Members and ourselves to focus on the edge, the gray between the white and black, getting comfortable with the “maybe?” between the yes and no. What a service the media would do for the world if it offered just the slightest bit of looking for the “other” between the THIS and THAT!

We’re endured heart breaking arguments about certain lives mattering less than others, and seen pitiful examples of some lives obviously mattering more (wealthy celebrities with great lawyers walking away from crimes download (5)that would make felons out of everyday people, etc). However, there’s been shifts. Among them, the media is finally pushing through celebrity schmutz and the poo-litical mudslinging to shine a light on this genuine epidemic, in the truest sense of the word. Whether you like him or not our President has put evidenced based treatment of Opioid Addiction at the forefront of his agenda for his final year in office. You can say “too little, too late,” but the fact is this initiative is going to save lives. Any life that can be saved matters.

All of the men in our sober living program have lost friends or family to this disease. It’s personal for me too: I’ve lost two cousins to overdoses, a stepmother to alcoholism, and other family members where substance abuse contributed to their decline- not to mention the many friends who are gone forever because of lethally addicting chemicals. The “War on Drugs” really was a war on people, and solved nothing. We know that now. We know that because of hard science, not the blustery opinions of Congresscritters or expert-shaped Bobbleheads who get airtime to spout words without supporting data. People using the scientific method, from clinicians on the front lines to researchers behind the scenes have dedicated their lives to finding truly effective methods to break the cycle of addiction, and these are emerging. We must unite behind these, putting aside the insistence that we only see one way. People living with addiction for too long, living without hope and social investment, know of three outcomes of one-sided thinking: “jails, institutions, and death.”

One of our mottoes here is “Recovery is a necessary social movement to reclaim the value of life.” This isn’t just meant to be a catchy slogan, it’s a call to action. The only way we can create a change in this polarized environment is to be the “other,” to replace the “versus” with insistent and authentic recitation of verses for the creation of justice where it hasn’t yet grown. Our people need justice- in this case, access to affordable and effective evidence based treatment of addiction- not jail, which merely isolates the disease and allows it to fester. There is a hugely disproportionate number of African-Americans who are sent to jail for non-violent, drug related crimes than Caucasians- fact. Same goes with poor people of any ethnic background. Once FIREBIRD has fully established itself as a stable and sustainable company, my next project will be to reach out to the needs of these underserved populations, including the LGBTQ community, where there are few to no viable aftercare choices after treatment.

I ask you, whoever you are, to support the President’s bi-partisan initiative to make the drastic changes in the Opioid Addiction field needed to begin to not just lower the death rate, but to change the dialogue about substance abuse. Let’s start talking about why addiction manifests so we can have a broader range of preventative and intervention options in place- not just institutionally, but in our way of thinking and understanding. Let’s recognize addicts- such a stained word- as people just like anyone else who have a curable disease, not as people who we automatically don’t trust. At FIREBIRD, we begin with trust. We hold fast to the ethic that each human being is entitled to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect, equal to and above the full potential of the dignity and respect that’s repaired in the recovery process. We think of this as a small part of the paradigm shift that a new way of approaching addiction requires. As they say, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. We are very much prepared to be a loud voice in addiction advocacy and also to be a good listener as new data comes forward as to best practices.

We recently got our first batch of T-Shirts with words adapted from Gandhi’s ethos for social change. They say “I am the the change I’ve been wanting to see in the world.” That’s what this shift is about; to be unabashedly honest and authentic perspective shifters in a world so intent on only seeing- and believing- the coin has one side. As Staff, Members, and Families, being that change means that we’re willing to flip the coin, reveal the other side, and most importantly, the edge.

 

 

Weep For Brussels, Wail for the World

Today, Brussels and the world are reeling in the news of yet another bloody spasm of hate-blinded ideologies trying to make a point.  The pictures are painful to look at. For some us, those places are familiar, our heartstrings are yanked, and as with France and Great Britain we in the United States feel a very strong sense of solidarity and compassion in the wake of these barbarous attacks. Yet there is an even sadder footnote: every day, around the world, the bloody spasm of hate-blinded ideologies tears new wounds into innocent flesh, and what will make the news are the numbers dead, if that. Much goes on without our awareness- selective media, selective attention, selective tolerance to reality. Surrounding every continent, there are grave humanitarian crises which daily claim scores of lives, some days hundreds.

Brussels joins the sad chorus of 2016’s wake up calls with Mogadishu, Eel-Adde, and Baidoa, Somalia; Panathkot, India; Camp Speicher , Baghdad, Ramadi, Mosul, and Muqdadiya, Iraq; Zleiten, Libya; Istanbul, Diyarbakır, and Ankara, Turkey; Quetta, Peshawar and Charsada, Pakistan; Koupaye,  Bodo, and Meme, Cameroon;  Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Deir ez-Zor, Aleppo, Homs, Damascus, and Sayyidah Zaynab, Syria; Jalalabad and Kabul, Afghanistan; Dalori, Dikwa, Yashari, and Maiduguri Nigeria; Ntombi, Democratic Republic of Congo; Aden, Yemen; Grand-Bassam, Ivory Coast; Arish, Egypt.

 

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