Deconstructing the Angry Black Woman: Shacondria Unchained

First off let’s place  Anger in it’s proper context. Anger is a vital element and essential stop off point in the journey of self realization. And the journey self realization begins at the subway station where it becomes clear by the merest suspicion that something is wrong – not just in one’s own personal world but in the world  at large that includes all souls. Self realization moves thru many stages no different from  Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s stages of grief. In fact the journey travels  through all of those stages, but has the potential to end with a peaceful and even happy acceptance. But let’s be real: long travels and extended journeys — especially in the economy cabin — are tiring and stressful. Who doesn’t feel some intense emotion on a journey? That’s just human. So let’s first contextualize this discussion by noting that Angry Black Women, so-called, are on a journey and they are in that particular leg of the trip where the travel has become hardest and most unbearable. And that woman who is the strongest of women just can’t  take it anymore.

I was watching Chris Rock’s concert Bigger and Blacker recently on Youtube and reviewing the extreme variety of comments so idiosyncratic of that site when I read the top voted post under one of his routines: “Yes black women have such big ego problems.” This comment  only proved that the commenter totally misunderstood Chris Rock’s routine frankly, but it  seemed to me indicative of  a  common judgement of black women by white Americans who are chief recipients of privilege and entitlement in society. That disdain and dismissal of the black female’s worth and humanity by reducing her personality to a Psychology Lite diagnosis of  “ego problems” is hurtful. Those same judges tend to consistently overlook the fact that black women have historically functioned as the lowest rung of social entities on that ladder of rank and privilege.

According to the social scale of white supremacy a black man will always be beneath all whites, and everyone sits atop the black female. So, yes, in that sense one could say that black women encounter ego problems.

This is communicated in numerous ways and means but black women are never left in the dark regarding the very specific judgements of white counterparts because we are told ever so clearly and succinctly that we do not measure up. Black women in America are non-conformist in their very being. Every black female I know in my generation  (EVERY ONE, ALL) at some point has been told by a white person  “You know you do your job well but some people think you have a chip on your shoulder sweetie”.

Shacondria: Really? Is that what people think? Can you give me their names so I can beat the shit out of them?

*Politrixie stares mournfully across the room at the speaker*

Okay. I didn’t say that nor did anyone else I know. But that is Shacondria over there who just said that, um, violent thing. She doesn’t mean it.

S: Oh yes!! I mean it!! Don’t tell me what I mean to say!!

*le sigh*

Let’s talk about Shacondria. You won’t know about her because I don’t see her so often anymore. But there was a time when Shacondria and I were really tight.  I mean, I know her as well as I know myself–

S: You are a simple, silly bitch. I am yourself, idiot!!

Shacondria is my evilene ego-trippin Angry Black Woman self. My other personality. I knew if I tried to discuss this subject that she might hear me …but I thought she was sleep and maybe I’d get away with it. And I admit that she – um, we  have some legitimate issues. It’s cool. I’m open. I know there’s work that me and Shacondria need.

But the bottom line is that  she doesn’t need is to be continually told by entitled white male kingpins of our society about how she could more effectively go about slinking beneath the oppressive weight of every superior individual’s criticisms in order to conform to the black female Miss Celie- stereotype. I mean maybe one day the time will come when we can have that conversation as whites and blacks but right now we’re still in the stage where folks need to do some seriously listening and learning and understanding.

And, lord, let’s don’t even get on the topic about how the paler nation transmits its disapproval of her name. Respectable Negro types too. People don’t even pretend to try to address her courteously.

Leave it to the black woman’s oracle Alice Walker to discuss the truth in her seminal essay “In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens” in which she identifies the stereotypical roles of black women from  the “mule of the world” to Sapphira to Evilene. Is there any other race that is granted so many rich, complex but negative stereotypes? I don’t know. I think black women have a serious lead in the race. Black women are maybe just coming into their own where they can be seen as individuals of high capability and promise. We’re maybe beginning to stop being mules in the eyes of the Man. But not quite.

So before those of you related to the Man go to judging maybe try a little compassion first. Here let me help–

The thing that takes Shacondria all the way there is the arbitrary method that white folks go about identifying their bete noir, the Angry Black Woman. It makes no damn sense. Because first and foremost they go after her face.  Everyone has a face and every face has its  expressions. For some reason that I have never understood a black woman’s blank straight-mouth face is always interpreted as a mean face or a sad face. I mean, maybe inside that woman does feel that way but Bitchy Resting Face is a thing now as I have heard but that doesn’t mean that one should treat a woman bitchily. That’s not nice, now is it?

People get in your face and say dumb shit like “SMILE!!” It’s startling to be thinking about your laundry when some stranger foists their own unfamiliar visage in yours and shouts something so inane. It is such a harsh and deeply unfair criticism to be picked on for how you look, and black women are always being told their hair is too nappy, their asses too big,  lips too full. We have never been able to conform to bodily stereotypes and then you go and tell me my face is unsatisfactory?

Sometimes people are sincerely  inquiring  if you’re alright, sure, I know. But  I’ve never understood the perception. Why is the straight face, the I’m-just-minding-my own-business-face on black women so threatening to some whites?

Don’t you think it’s hurtful to be told so in so many different and vividly expressive ways?

Perhaps black women just don’t tend to look dewy, doe eyed as a rule. I don’t know. But nothing makes one more self conscious than to be told that your Minding-My-Own-Business Face is intimidating. How would you feel if that continually happened to you?

Because it’s happened countless times to Shacondria. I know she feels self-conscious. Because she’s so often told that she just doesn’t conform; she can never quite pull off the trick of invisibility – and she tries so hard.

S: So don’t fucking look at my face. Fuck you.

ME: SHACONDRIA!! STOP IT!!!

S: Don’t tell me to stop, you silly-ass bitch!! I’m not stopping nuthin!! Fuck them people!! I do my work. Pay me and let me go the fuck home. I hate them crazy ass white people!!

ME: Okay but you’re not helping this situation and I’m trying to explain why–

S: Fuck helping!! I don’t feel like helping nobody!! Somebody need to help me!! Help me pay this goddamn rent and —

ME: Okay see that’s exactly what people don’t understand. You’re shouting and cursing. You’re way up in my face, girl. Back up. And why are you so mean ALL THE TIME. Nobody can say a damn word to you without you rolling your eyes and–

S: See!! That ain’t even true. I don’t act that way. Why do people get to lie on me and when I say something to defend myself I get called a hater and shit?

It ain’t fair! Those white people who say that shit are crazy. Crazy and mean because that’s essentially what racism and sexism is about at the end of the day! But I’m the one with a problem?!Excuse me for living! OOH!! Makes me so mad!

I don’t act that way because my mother raised me with manners! So why don’t I deserve to be treated with manners?! Them white people got your head fucked up, girl. I do my job. I do my job well. I don’t bother nobody. I mind my own business and do what I’m told.

Then people get in my face and talk about “You got a CHIP on your shoulder” What the fuck does that even mean? How about this you white muthaf—

ME: Whoa!! whoa!! CHILL OUT!! SHACONDRIA!! You need to calm down!!

S: I need to whup your ass is what!! Up taking up for the Man are you? Why don’t you and Don Lemon hook up!!

*dead silence, hateful glare from Shacondria to Politrixie, heat radiating in increasing temperature. Danger!! Danger!!*

*looking warily at Shacondria, moving far away, looks at audience*

Anyway. Look here’s what you’ve got to understand: Shacondria is angry. She is alright? You don’t know her life but she’s had a hard time. Yes that’s no excuse to be mean and angry. But what you’re not considering is that Shacondria has no one but herself. She is alone in the world. She can’t lean on anyone. There’s no one there to lean on. She pays her own bills – on time.  She works hard and responsibly.

But she is naked and vulnerable in the world to all the worst hates and judgments, and these are powerful forces that work upon our souls. We are shaped by the worlds we live in: if Shacondria is so intimidating yet she is the least powerful of all those who number the social classes, what does that say about how we treat those who most need protection?

So do a lot of people but they don’t act that way. You’re right. But you know Shacondria isn’t STUPID. Calling her names and judging her and refusing to try to get to know the person in that brown skin behind Bitchy Resting Face only means that you have already invalidated her and demeaned her as a human being. You made an assumption about her without knowing. She’s smart. I mean, deeply intelligent. She’s not  the “mule of the world” but she isn’t unaware of that her condition in this life amounts to that at times. Shacondria  knows what you think about her. She knows that you are judging her. That you feel threatened enough to not bother to try to humanize her by understanding her.

I used to be her. She used to be really un-self aware. But now she isn’t and that’s why she’s angry. She knows that there are so many things wrong in the world and that in a wrong world no one is more vulnerable to mistreatment than the least of these, of whom black women prominently number. You think that because Oprah has a network and Michelle wears pretty dresses in the White House that discrimination is dead.

See that’s what I’m trying to tell you.

Shacondria knows that isn’t true.

She knows that for every beloved mainstream token that white America chooses to adopt, it merely hides the millions of unnoticed, unloved, unheard black women like her. And while the favored black representative lives well and parties well and becomes the face of the Black Woman, she is breaking her back everyday. The Special Ones merely distract from and obscure the condition of the Dispossessed classes who struggle daily without making the damnedest stride ahead. And no one cares.

Shacondria knows a lot of things. She’s probably the most insightful individual in American culture among the myriad vegetables in the Salad Bowl. Cuz that’s another thing this ain’t no Melting Pot. Unless you want to say that maybe other folk melt and blend in the cauldron and Shacondria and women like her are the charcoal. Do you see what I’m saying?  Bet you never thought about where the fire came from to make the heat for that chemical melting process.

Well it’s us in the fire, and for sure the Native Americans can’t even give off enough proper fuel anymore there’s so few of them left.  Poor folks of all colors. The Dispossessed classes defy color and they provide the fuel, and do the burning in the fire beneath the Melting Pot.  Shacondria belongs to the Dispossessed, and she knows it.

No, it is not cynicism. She knows that in her lifetime this will not change. Deep intuitive analysis that penetrates the very soul of our nation is located in the Dispossessed which you would know had you ever truly listened and tried to understand. It is a heavy load, a heavy burden to know that you can attend the barbecue as long as you burn and don’t eat. It’s a heavy load  on her back, that knowledge, and it is painful. And there just ain’t no medicine for that kind of pain, outside of freedom. Freedom from the chains that bind the Dispossessed to the burden. And there isn’t going to be any freedom for Shacondria until we listen and learn and change.

You remember that tale of the Lion with the thorn in his paw? Yeah. Pain makes you angry. Sure does. Shacondria wants to know when someone plans to come along and take the thorn out of her paw. The load from her back. She’s been waiting a long time. She tried to call out for help and no one listens. The doctor is not in. He has left the building.

She’s not so bad at all when she’s not hurting. You’d be surprised if you got to know her. She’s funny!! And so smart!! She can sing and dance and Paula Deen wish she could cook like Shacondria. She–

S: Fuck that bitch!! I can make my own Soul Food.

ME: Girl I’m not telling you again!!  And  stop with the cursing! Damn! They already think all of us are ghetto trash as it is and you are making it worse.
*mumbles* Crazy bitch.
*loudly*   I ain’t afraid of you so stop acting up.  I will put you out!! Now shut up.

*Shacondria begins taking off her jewelry, pulling her hair back. Grabs the vaseline to grease her face. Cracks her knuckles. She’s preparing to fight Politrixie. *

*Politrixie looks on warily as Shacondria performs the necessary reverse toilet. Prepares to bolt*

ME: Look I got to deal with something just now.I’ll be back later. This girl is trippin…

*sets out at a dead run*

                                 **************************************
TEXT: Um, check it out. I can’t talk just now because Shacondria knocked me in my mouth for calling her a bitch. But I didn’t finish what I was saying. I’ll come finish our talk — you know, like, after my face unswells. But don’t be mad at her. I love her. She is me.  I know her heart. But I mean, straight up, she needs some counseling for real. 
~Politrixie :@ mwa! 

A Lyrical Ballad: Journey and Endurance

I cannot go on, she says
in the night
it hurts I’m afraid, and I’m too tired to fight

I have been cut by the dull edge of the blade
Wounded by the quiet rip of the knife

Inside I am alive
but the fear is so bright
that I stumble
in spite of the mourning star’s light

I fall and I rise

I am a daughter of Night
Covered in the dust of the trek
the dew washes my wretchedness
So I stand bare before my love:
I am betrothed to  Kismet

Walk with me,
mine lover,
We shall cut the morrow
like a veil
to protect us
from dispossession
despair and
travail

And our children shall never
be undone
nor shall any blade
rend them apart

then I shall be free
to repent and atone
the nights I nearly gave
my life too wantonly
from fear of being alone

Because I nearly succumbed
to that serpent,
the King of Loneliness,
the Prince of Despair.
From the likes of the sorrowful
he hears each and every anti-prayer

but the night I cried
without understanding
still, I was guided away

And I tell you, the heart-riven,
that moonlight is enough
to guide even tear-blinded strays
thru stones of turmoil
thru the thorns and the brush

Undiminished Memories II

These are undiminished memories
of recklessness in disguise
activities cloaked
as love
as lust
always in the language of desire
exquisitely expressed by the eyes
that heat
that burning elixir feeding
that throb twixt the legs
longing for
hardness
wetness
and delight
Do you believe in love at first sight?
So beautiful while it lasted
an infinitesimal
stroke of time
one distinct moment
in the vastness of life
And it freezes me
warms me
recurs endlessly, eternally
inside my mind

Undiminished Memories of Recklessness in Disguise

Artwork by Daniel Johnson

It is intensity that scorches the heart (not sorrow)

And pitch which measures our pain
alas, quite without the intention
through devotion
we fucked (over)
each other again
It was not the love
that was wrong,
but the need
was not right
as we danced
to a discordant melody
our dance steps cloaked
doubt
and abject fears of flight
while the lover’s
embrace dissimulated
a fairy tale frivolity
of purest delight
Claustrophobia was
our sanctuary
memory begets
only tears
for secrets
undiminished
un-embalmed
inviolable
in spite of the years

Bankruptcy

you lost your love
it got re-possessed
cuz you couldn’t afford
the interest,the credit
the fees in the debit.
then you discovered

the quality of the lover
was far less than advertised.
unlike that Clearance
chicken fryer
bad love burns hotter
than hot sauce, grease and water
the scars sear like
tar on the heart.
the damage and pain

done in the name of 
what’s gone, unreclaimed
shows on your face
like messy tear stains

the melancholy remains
long after the love departs
and your credit report
still reflects the score 

Zero, nada
you lost yo shit

An unsettled debt
in red it says
Emotionally Bankrupt

Of Incense, Herb and Smoky New York Nostalgia: A Memoir of the Great Weed Drought of 1998

Okay I probably should have more shame than to post about how enjoyable the newest Hot Pockets commercial is with Snoop Lion  and Bow Wow especially since I would never eat Hot Pockets ever but the truth it is mad funny!! Now I never have had a Hot Pocket and what’s more I never want one. In my youth I baked for jovial companionship’s sake and surely with as much frequency as my peers and there was gorging upon junk food before during and afterward of course but–

Well, allow me to amend that statement for clarity and fact.

I cannot make the claim that I baked with as much frequency as my jovial companions because my peers, who were primarily my two house mates in the apartment we shared off-campus, stayed lit ALL DAY, ERRY DAY without fail. They managed a continuity of herb induced mellowness, a state of being that required rigorous discipline upon their part which worked according to a strict schedule and brooked no deviation from its religious practice. That is, until the Great Herb Drought of ’97…ah, I tell you young uns out here you don’t know nothin’ until you survive a Drought, dear god. But I shan’t think those bad ole days….

Our apartment was smoky basement den of herb and incense though we kept a very neat home that also benefited from excellent fresh air cross currents of the open windows and fans. If you were a fellow traveler, a Smoker-Toker-Stoner of similar religious devotion then the atmosphere was quite pleasant. But we could be driven to a furious panic and maniacal fits of house cleansing over drive for days prior to parental visits, attempting to make the quarters look and smell less…. HERBAL …..and incense overwhelmed.

One Friday evening my housemate Jackson warned me that he was going to pick up his sister, who was visiting for the weekend, and that he’d be returning in 20 to 30 minutes. Being more than lightly toasted already from God’s greatest and grandest plant I seated myself down at the kitchen table to sort out the seeds and stems from the dime bags I had purchased earlier that day. I was peaceably sorting — alas, forgetting Jackson’smarihuanagirl3 warning that he was returning directly with his older sister. Thus, I was caught out in the shameful act as I sat at the old, beat down wooden kitchen table cutting up a large fragrant pile of herb with a credit card. Oh! Naturally I had enough class to feel embarrassed but also felt the special  resentment a host feels   against non-toker guests: take your delicate sensibilities to somebody else’s sober house for the weekend!!

That kind of stress only causes a stoner to feel greater reliance on the holy nerve easing weedplant; after all no one wants to feel uncomfortable in their own home. It was merely the True Plant of the Lord that I was tending but I felt at that moment like Tony Montana when he was face full in the pile of  coca. All I needed was to stand and an say “Ju wanna fuck wit me?! Hey! Ju fucking wit the best okay? You fucking cock-a-roaches!”  

But that would have been a lie which would only have poorly concealed my mortification and disgrace. We were stoners but we entertained frequently and tried to present a true cozy, homely homeyness to our humble abode. Yet the truth remained that I was a weakling and poorly respected among my friends of higher tolerance and more manly consumption. While still but an innocent my dear friends pressed blunts upon me despite my feeble refusals (“Smoke this shit girl!!”) only to repay their generosity/peer pressure (?) nearly instantly with my snores; inevitably in those early months following  my herbal initiation I could be relied upon to pass out after only a few puffs off a blunt.

The Bronx has changed certainly since I was there but during my hay-days (high-daze?) in the 90s  we were cursed to have to put up with a foul low quality weed sold in our neighborhood that blessed you with a wicked burn in the throat which was increased ten fold by blunts which are harsh at the best of times. It was without doubt or competition the crappiest weed in New York City. It was poor, poor, wack ass weed however, I allow that it did get you high, I must say.

Visitors from other boroughs – let alone out of towners – were consistently appalled at our Bronx herb. It wasn’t that we were too stupid to know good quality from shit but we were prisoners of our borough, loyal to our hood. We were college kids sure, but if it was good enough for the fine residents of the Bronx and our neighbors who surrounded us, then we chose to accept it as good enough for ourselves. Yet  these babyish, spoiled guests had the nerve and ill-manners to complain.  One can only smoke what can be procured, is this not so? And for the gargantuan and constant supply required to keep me and my housemates blunted it was simply an impracticality to go vision-questing and tromping, daily or even weekly, into other distant, unknown boroughs for such a household necessity and staple every bit as critical as bread or milk. 

Henceforth, we became strong as a result of the trials endured by smoking the Bronx weed. We were soldiers living side by side with the People of the Bronx as People of the Bronx, and we smoked what they smoked, what smoke our hometown provided. Yes this is THE BRONX, fool!! Don’t come up in our house, in our hood, talking bout our shitty weed!! We knew it was shitty weed, and we acknowledged the inferiority of the seedy, stemmy, bullshit throat burning, headache causing, crusty poor ass buds we smoked.  Nonetheless, we felt that it was ill befitting the manners and etiquette of guest-friendship to criticize our hospitality. since naturally hospitality demanded that we offer guests a share of  smoke if we ourselves chose to partake in front of them.

 However, as time passed, a certain Realness settled over the household presently and we three determined that hospitality did not, in fact, demand that we share with each and every guest during each and every visit. Lo, we did discern with startling clarity that some visitors verily abused our kindliness, hospitality and spirit of generosity. Thence, we became wise from that which we did smoke, and so, shared no longer. 

Truly the Herb blesses its true and faithful adherents with powerful wisdom and keen saavy. Blessed be the name of that Plant.

Furthermore, it was just plain insulting to have our cordial generosity disrespected so arrogantly by moochers. Yes, the herb was shitty, but it was our herb and only we had right to  insult its quality here in our home. Indeed, do get thyself the fuck away from our bong and out of our house!!

Some guests, foul folk ill-deserving of the guestly manner by which we assiduously treated them, invariably departed with certain of our most cherished and important belongings. Thieves. Our joint roller was stolen about three different times. Three different joint rollers. People are so trifling. Once, we had a party and naturally uninvited guests from our rival clique showed up. Unknown Assailants managed to find their way into one of the bedrooms and rifled through our belongings precisely in order to rob our joint roller. We never understood that. A joint roller costs like seven dollars including taxes. Go to the head-shop and get your own you thieving bastards!

So after every party hosted for the  winsome enjoyment and pleasure of our guests, still afterwards, we three had to tromp down to the Village – again – to purchase a new joint roller again. The fucking thing never failed to disappear in a crowded house. Who can you trust?! We trusted in only ourselves. Sadness and grief over the beloved joint roller endowed our bond of friendship  with unbreakable fortitude.

That is until Mayor Rudolf Giuliani started to crack down on the street weed dealers in the summer of ’97 or ’98. My memory fails me as to which summer precisely (unsurprisingly) that the Great Drought began– but it is certain that the first act of aggression and hostility began when Giuliani sent his band of thugs and  Brown Shirts – also known as NYPD –  to persecute the street level weed merchants, runners and other peeps of the Plant. This was the beginning of the drought on the streets that eventually became deeply serious in its effects upon my household and in many other New York City households as well.

4110011_3660717_b-1
Artwork by Mcfreshcreates

 

You cannot even understand the severity and the sufferings of this time period. All of New York City was effected. At times I feared for my friends’ sanity as the nightmare of withdrawl began to set in, rear its ugly head and take hold with a ferocity that was unimaginably harsh but especially so upon those like my housemates who had been accustomed to maintaining a continuous high broken with only rare visits to the flat garish surfaces of reality and sobriety during the early days of yore, in which there was plentiful living off the fat of the land . 

As the days stretched out and my housemates’ precious stash became more depleted tempers flared at the slightest annoyances: “Turn that damn Wyclef album down!! I’m fucking tired of hearing “Guantanamera”! Don’t play that shit no more!! I hate Wyclef! I hate Guantanmera!! I hate you!! Arrrghh!” 

The anguished attacks  by my loved ones, my usually mellow friends who were full of cheer and good humor, became standard operating procedure around the house in the days of drought. Ah! the golden days of plenty had wound to a shocking halt. The days of lean and mean had arrived.  And once upon a time “Guantanamera” had been everything. 

There was no weed to be found in the Bronx. Or, anywhere for that matter, and the search to locate a mere dime bag was fraught with paranoia and true danger as well.  Only with much perseverance, frantic worry and dedicated search and seeking did the guys return one day after several hours  of searching the streets of the Bronx for the elusive herb. David and Jackson, my roommates, were deeply effected by the circumstances that forced their lifestyle to become temporarily disrupted. And David, who lived joyfully off Hot Pockets, was becoming despondent. Jackson had become agitated and  aggravation bedeviled him; in this state it was interesting to glimpse the possible motivations for our smoking habits beyond the simple enjoyable escapist possibilities. Finally, after a week of trailing out deep into the Bronx streets, they found a 300-pound dealer ,who went by the name Jello, who could be found lurking in the darkest, most shadowy apartment block doorways beyond Webster Avenue. 

Jello sold huge, fat 20-bags of surprisingly good weed, much better than our usual stuff. Of course his gimmick was to get new clients used to his unusually fat 20 bags, and then to slowly decrease the size and amount after clients became established loyal customers. And, since Jello’s competition was negligible due to NYPDs aggressive street raids , it was up to Jello to set his own price-versus-quantity and quality standards. Nevertheless, Jackson and David cared little  now for the standards of old because this was a Time of Drought.

Drought is a serious time when no laughter is allowed or heard; indeed, nothing is funny at all, ever in drought. There were only serious, hushed talks  to which I was not privy, nor invited to join. Drought shows men  and women what they are made of. Merely the suffering alone , the inability to get what one wants and needs is enough to break the weak down utterly. Because I lived with them I knew how deeply effected my housemates were, and even though my consumption was well below theirs even I began began to feel  anxiety at the lack of our beloved herb as that hot, hot summer wearily drudged on.

Each day they ventured out to hunt during the worst days of the Drought, to seek out some weed, any weed. Looking at me as they exited the house to conduct their dark business  their eyes grimly set and hardened, like menfolk taking up the mantle of Adam’s sin which condemned all mankind to work by the sweat of his brow and to consume  dust forevermore.

“You can’t come,” they said, passing me in the kitchen, voices on edge. 

I didn’t argue. Truth was, I had absolutely no intention of rolling out across the Bronx streets with two white boys in a desperate search for reefer: nothing could have ensured failure more absolutely than my presence among theirs. David was the grunge rock guy of our group and Jackson, the neat attractive gay man who easily passed for straight whose manner was chill enough that he still earned mad respect from all the black weed dealers in the neighborhood, some of whom had signaled more than casual  interest in him. 

They’d tramp home each day after  searching in the terrible heat of July that summer, sometimes bringing green gold with them. Sometimes empty handed and hangdog, like men seeking slave-wage day-labor only to be refused, shamefaced and demoralized returning home to the womenfolk empty-handed once again. 

Jackson  was practically a Master Chef by sophomore year and he made incredibly elaborate and delicious meals. And , often  hungry, this arrangement  was more than satisfactory. I probably haven’t eaten so healthy or so deliciously since I moved away from our little off campus household. However David still drew sustenance from herb and Hot Pockets which I just couldn’t understand. Seemingly,  most of the  males who partake of herb swear by the glory of Hot Pockets. I’m not disrespecting  or judging (well, only a little) but I shall continue to abstain (from Hot Pockets, I mean. What good can come from abstaining from herb, I ask you?)

So, you see when I saw the Hot Pockets  commercial it unleashed a treasure trove of vivid memory and nostalgia for the days of my Bronx life during those college years when I fancied myself a grown -up but in reality I know now that we all were merely kids, lucky and blessed enough to be able to attend school away from home in one of the most majestic cities in the world.

I assure you, dear Reader, that I am not presently baked though I cannot deny a wistful fondness that has arisen as I write this; it would not be an unwelcome state, not at all. Still, I merely wished to transcribe a detailed, accurate account of a little known chapter in the history of my merriest days, to create a portrait of those balmy precious summer days in the quaint 1990s. Let this be a memoir of my bohemian years in New York City living a student’s life replete with friendship and occasional study, mellowly drifting afloat on a cloud of incense and herb .

Keep Pushin

Artwork by Jvdas Berra

I came into this world
on some shit that didn’t last
got to know who your friends be
or you will end fast ~
if you don’t understand
I can’t explain
no better than that
you got to roll with them punches baby~
always hit hard
always hit back

Keep pushin baby
You got to keep pushin

Grief Stricken, In Tears, Drunk on the Floor

Artwork by Florian Nicolle

You laid waste to yourself now you’re full arsed bare
but you were afraid, so afraid
he’d leave you
get bored
if you didn’t give it up
you were fearful he wouldn’t care

and he did leave
now you’re heart-less:
you gave that away
you’re soul-less:
you sold that to make him stay
and you’re mind-less:
because you lost that long ago
now you’re home-less as well
because you can’t live on your own
it’s too scary to live
inside yourself
you’re too wary of the silence
and the thoughts that
live there tempting self violence

but darling can’t you at least
find a way to live without a man
for a day or a week
then you may cease the experiment
but if you just tried
you really would find that
there are a thousand loves more permanent

he’s called a “user”
his job is to take what is yours
and that’s why you’re now
grief stricken
in tears
drunk
on the floor

Yes dear heart. You can live without him

The Vestals of Psychalgia

Artwork by Gutav Klimt

I am hungry for pain; it is what I eat
nourishes the brain, sharpens the mind
transforms bloats tricks the passage of time

The opium eaters seek to lessen the ache
while the cutters create wounds to celebrate the pain
each performing holy ritual to make it more true
teasing vague memories of before
once where it un-ends too soon

Could you, Would you…?
trade it, unchoose it, intensify it
in lieu of the suffering
that enlightens the soul journey through it

Pain demands a sanctuary to be worshiped be inside
to exalt the deity, raise it on high
to meditate on silent screams heard
only by the vestals tending the shrine

if the pain were to stop would it pass into mist?

now the holy offices are complete,
see the vestals bleed into myth

Seduction

passion –
 
a precious, caressed agony erotically seduced 
evocative & revelatory
manifesting radical truth 
once possessed, the spirit transcends infatuation:
the Beloved has been mastered: 
mercy is sacred when suffering is sated