silence. fear. shame. reflection. patriarchy and other #hashtags to give this.

if you follow this blog close enough- then there is certain things about me that you know. 

one of the most prominently talked about things being my HIV status. I am positive. Have been for a little over a year now

and i don’t believe in hiding that. and i don’t believe in not holding that.

this has been probably one of the roughest years of my life- just trying to exist. i am black. i am positive. i am a recovering drug addict. i am male. i am queer. i am poor. i am a rape survivor. i am an artist. i am single. i am what i have allowed my self to be- what the world has made me- and what it has labelled me. And i am told that it is important for me to continue. And i am told that i matter. And i am told that this is not what it was 20 years ago but still … it hurts to the point of immobility.

And there are times like now when i spend the entire day biking around this damn city trying to find peace and i cant. i still feel like everything is closing in and i don’t want this life anymore. And there are times like now when i wake up in the middle of the night and i feel very alone and cold. And i really want someone to hold me because i feel abandoned by so much and so many.  

And i know i need to do that for myself. Because ultimately i just have myself to be with and depend on. And i need to find a way to hold myself throughout this life. Doesn’t make that any less difficult. Doesn’t make the reality of my thoughts stop. 

there are exercises that i use: i remind myself of three beautiful things for every negative thing i see or think. i write. i draw. i bike. i observe the negative or unfortunate for what it is- hold it and then try to move on. i remember that i have teeth and a mouth to smile with and i find something to cause that sensation- cause despite being depressed, i do like to laugh. 

and these work- sometimes. they stop me from using drugs or sex as a means of escape- sometimes. 

this is tough. and i am scared. and there is no point to this piece of writing other than to say that.

and be ok with saying that: i am scared and tired and most days do not want to be here. and for right now i believe that it is ok to say that because it is honesty and because those feelings do need to be acknowledged. 

part of the patriarchy- the ways in which people are taught their social/ gender roles (in this particular case- male bodied people) is a particular silence. 

another is the shame of emotions and of sex.

admitting these very personal struggles is apart of my work in trying to undo what the patriarchy has taught me. 

writing these things makes them real. materializes them so that not even i can escape. 

Stones.

“They been hurtin’ for some months now, doc.” He said talking outside of himself the way that folks can sometimes do when pain and time force us to be away from our bodies. Red didn’t like this- none of it- not the pain, not the possible problem, not the god awful lights that seemed to burn away any conviction held, not the doctor and her cold tongue. That’s why he smoked before coming.

“Your kidneys?”

“Is that what’s back here? I never knew where they was or what they did for real. I just knew that they was somewhere in myself- doing something.” He smiled out of nervousness. In the past it had been a ticket to bliss- someone’s bedroom, a cheat out of penalties, a free pass to lie- something, but now it was a plea for mercy. I spell he wish to cast over reality and make what he desired happen. He wanted to be free of the constant problems.

“Your kidneys help to clean out the waste in your system, like a filter.” The doctor continued almost unmoved by whatever Red was attempting. “If we are experiencing pain or problems there it could mean several things, including stones or failure, which is important to monitor because of the vital work that they do. A lot of times disease or poison can sit for years and finally appear, very suddenly, attacking both kidneys and their capacity to help your body. “

He heard about all of half of the warning and tried repeating it to himself while he pissed in a cup the doctor gave. Red hoped this didn’t end in more pills. Something particular did flash back brightly in his head- something bout how men in the United States had higher rates of kidney failure than almost anyone else and how African American men who were on medication were likely to suffer this problem more that most because of the fact that pills taken over time actually weakened kidney strength.

“People under constant medication have to be very conscious of their kidneys. Meds taken over long periods of time may cause kidney stones or failure. Black men taking HIV medication are especially vulnerable which is why I as you to pee in this cup every time we have a check up. I want to make sure you’re doing alright in there.”

“shit” he sighed while holding his softening sex. He held onto the wall and exhaled the stress once more. In these moments, bad memories, from all over, found theyselves flooding all over and his body felt pulled down by its own heaviness. Parts of his fleshy self began to fall off shelves he put them for safe keepin’ – he was loosin’ it. And he cried.

When Anthony was here he at least had another pot to put his misery in – another to blame for the infinite wrongs happening. And part of him knew that wasn’t right, but it felt nice- to just for a small bit of time loose any personal accountability in the matter.  Blame and notions of bein’ a victim washed over him and found all the feelin’s that was hurt and stepped on or left for dead on the stand next to unused condoms.

His throat closed up, as it did before and he shook all over. Red saw mortality and the thousands of lives he hadn’t a chance to live. He rolled through sheets and stood at the mouth of Golgotha. You must come in at the door. There were witches living on sad times and doctors casting death with their instruments. He’d been infected and used. It all fell away- all the innocence held in high places and he felt used- pulling himself back into his pants, and collecting what could be .

Only when there was a knock at the door did he realize how much time had passed.

“Give me a sec.” he called, not even listening for a response, over the sound of flushing water and moving paper.

The quiet came in more new and menacing than it ever had.  He saw his mother standing over an empty bed and she was crying and carrying a Bible. He has made a home for me over there. Jesus has prepared for me a home over there. She sang something blue for them and Red knew what she meant. So he went to her- his hands like the very cup of trembling.

“I tried mama. So hard.” he spoke low into her breast.

“Dance with me please, Emmanuel.”

Their hands held one another, one over another, for the first time in a long while. Music played and it was as if the river welling inside of him was held at the gates of his eyes. There was another knock.

“She ain’t really here, Emmanuel. Its just us, lets finish this dance. You and me like when you was small.”

“mama…”

“shhh. Step up on the stool.”

He was small again- in a suit and standing on the stool mama used to let him climb when she taught him how to move. And there was warmth.

Like when you was small.

And there was a low hum that brought him round to himself in that cramped room of beginnings.

“You are a child of God. Just like me and all other moving things. He make the sun move on us and blesses us with its kisses. At night when the moon makes out to see the world, he holds us close and sings something sweet to us. Sometimes I can feel you doubt that. But please know this now, more than anything else that was ever true. I love you.”

The final knock ejected imagination and Red stood in front of his wet face in the washroom mirror again- this time smiling.

And we get up bit slower and lot more deadly. 

Not Fade Away

 

His name was Ujima. And he was something beautiful. My first thoughts of him sat somewhere between heartache and jubilee. Had our fates not been decided, and the world been a bit kinder- he’d have been a known face. There was light in that smile, enough to charm millions and lead them off into somewhere dangerous, or maybe some place magical. It would be known everywhere because of how it held you and made you believe. I saw him sitting there and I believed- I believed enough to dream up big promises for us- like hope and forever. But I couldn’t believe in truth enough to save him so I made weightless promises on that autumn bench.

“My friends call me ‘Jima’ for short even though it’s just one letter off.” He smiled. “I let it go- folks is all over the place these days and as long as they calling me ‘friend’ im pretty much cool with whatever. I used to stay in these projects before my ma kicked me out.”

“She kicked you out?! Boy how old is you?”

“I’ll be 17 in two months, maybe. October coming in two months right?”

“How long you been out here?”

“This bench or just outside, period?” he teased. “close to a year.” And then after a violent cough. “She put me out close to a year ago. It was round my birthday. I remember not really celebrating it.”

I couldn’t tell the difference between his weak laughing and the wheezing that was coming from his throat. A more genuine laugh came about after clearing what was caught in there, but I couldn’t tell what he found funny. Something in it was dark and made me think he was amused by his own misery. The smile confused it and then he shook. I took a moment to exhale worry, compose my thoughts and decide what was in proceeding with this boy.

The breeze was becoming cool. That summer had started with us begging for rain and a month later I felt like Noah, beseeched with forty days and forty nights- a flood was damn near upon us. I had been sick twice- took an awful amount of time to get well and the thought was coming in that this boy may have not had the chance to recover from the storms had he really been on the street.

“How long you been on this bench?”

“ . . . long enough. I figured she’d see me and let me in if she saw me here.”

“Your mother?”

“Yea she stay up there.” He lifted a thin arm to the air and pointed at one of the windows on the tenth floor of the building in front of us. The Sursum Corda projects stood like a monument of times spent screaming and better left forgotten about. I was ten when my family moved in there and was eighteen when I managed to escape. By that time the security guards had begun to rob residents and the bodies in the laundry room were appearing more and more by the day. The halls were a foul green and the whole building brought an awful chill to the most sanctified. The walls were almost giving in on themselves and the memory of crack pipes threatened to overshadow any good. I didn’t want to think of what depths he grew in while he stayed there.

But it was in his eyes- every disappointment- every day spent running up the walls was present. The lines that outlined his frail face seemed to be trails where tears had continuously moved, like rivers and he began to look more tired to me.

“She kicked me out when I got sick. She said she didn’t have anything for me- that the world had spit on me and used me like a whore and that whatever son she had died in the streets. She didn’t want to know me anymore.” He began to himself. “She was screaming and crying at the same time.- speaking in some voice that id never heard before and when I didn’t move she picked up a knife- called me a ‘sad creature’.”

 

He choked on his own sadness and began to cough again- his small body shaking all over. The boy’s whole body looked in pain and he doubled over, resting his head on my lap. I removed my coat and wrapped it around him- partially to keep him warm and partially to try to ease him into any kind of comfort. He was in several places of pain. Around us the breeze began to kick up all the filth people had left. The leaves danced and all of it made a bizarre symphony. It all moved around us, occasionally crashing violently against skin- reminding us of what the world was.

“I thought you was a John at first.” He laughed, this time looking at me and not down at the shifting garbage.

“You get that a lot in this park?”

“ . . . enough to eat.”

“Does she see you sometimes?”

“Yeah. That’s part of the reason I do it here. She looks long enough to see me walk off with them and then she goes back into her world to do whatever will make her comfortable, I suppose.” He stopped to cough and wipe his face.

“I want her to see me.” That sweet voice now hardening under the weight of anger- like coal pressed- becoming a diamond of hard bitterness. “I want her to see what kind of faggot I am, let the bitch be really ashamed. I’m dying anyway.” his gaze now cold and focused on the window. He was looking for her.

“She kicked you out cause you were gay?”

“Nah, I have AIDS. You listening, pa? I would’ve liked to take a moment to understand all of what was being dropped on me more fully but he continued, despite his own tears. “They all saw. The whole Corda- saw the faggot get chased into the courtyard.”

I wrapped my arm around him more deliberately. It seemed to be the closest thing I could do to healing the boy.

“Is this ok?” I asked.

He smiled towards me. “They don’t usually ask about touching . . . I should be asking you that. You sure you want to be seen holding a whore?”

“I grew up here too. I don’t stunt none of what these folk might have to say or think. If it is anything fowl then its cause they are too small themselves to have any humanity. That’s the conclusion I came to a while back.”

“Yeah? You got out of the Corda? Why you come back?”

“My sister and her kids stay here. I come to visit them.”

I felt Jima sink a bit deeper. My lap was becoming more wet- tears, sweat and spit. I thought about this gem I found an about how the world had thrown him out before he had had a chance to find light and really shine. He was left to be forgotten and I thought about how easily that could have been me or my nephews who stayed in this nightmare. The ceiling was built low above us off of expectations not had and we all sand blue notes to one another through the thin Corda walls. This place ain’t one where Black boys can spread they-selves. Act like this. walk like this. fuck harder. cry over there. . .

I wanted to tell him about my leaving and how that felt. That freedom was somewhere. I found my place, a man to love on real hard and a life to fight for, but I couldn’t find a way to place that words that didn’t sound too cruel or insulting. He needed comfort, not mockery.

“Ujima”

He shook awake and it was then that I realized how deeply I feel into my own thoughts. He coughed for minutes in place of answering so I continued. “Im sorry that this has not been fair for you. I wish it had.” Now my face was wet. “I want to help.”

“Its alright pa, im guessing that the time I have left to kick it isn’t much. Them folk over at the clinic wanted me to start popping these pills and have all this shit done. That’s too many needles and too much stress for me. I figure, now is a good time to be out. Not many people will miss me, maybe just you.”

I sank into myself. I’d never heard someone come to this much ease with their undoing. It felt odd and mostly sad.

“I’m not going to let you just fade away.” He laughed again which brought on more coughing. His body was becoming heavier- he was going.

“I’m serious, you’re important.”

“To who?” a small mumble.

“To me.” And I heard a small moan. Like a part of him was touched- that small part that was still fighting for consciousness and he shifted his head towards me so that we could slightly see one another. When he coughed this time there was a little blood on my coat. A couple of men near us bawled up their faces and remarked something heavy to one another. They knew he was a trick. And were probably disgusted by both my kindness and his illness

“Maybe you can make me important to her again.” He sighed turning his gaze to the tenth floor. There was a small figure in the window- as small as the space in her heart musta been.

Ujima shook violently and barked more blood- almost purposefully. He was trying to speak. His mother looked on. I laid him gently on the bench and stood to see her more clearly. I searched for what felt like forever- I searched her face for any emotion- coming to find what I hoped to be remorse.

“COME DOWN HERE! BE WITH YOUR SON! HE’S DYING!” I screamed. I could hear the coughing escalate behind me and all that was in me said go back to the boy. “COME ON!” I repeated. The figure n the window disappeared behind blinds and curtains. And I was still- part of me wishing she was tripping over herself to get down those ten damn flights. The darker part of me knew that this wasn’t true- that she like our other on lookers had forever turned her head. Some others observed- most too paralyzed to act or too stuck under the weight of what this moment meant.

I went back to Ujima and held him, let him rest in my lap. Not much else was said, save a few sweet words.

“Maybe faggots is sad creatures. We get born this way and is forced to make something good with it- or try. And that don’t happen for everybody. I spent a lot of time trying to cry all of it out- force it away so I could be a different kind. And I spent a lot of time trying to find somebody who was gonna love and help me become worthy of things. But that ain’t nothing.” He smiled a shaky smile and then. “nothing at all. I ain’t learn much or do much cause I was stuck.”

I cried again, desperately trying to wipe the water from my tears off of his face.

“We ain’t sad, Ujima. We might be stuck but we ain’t got to be sad.” Those were the only words formed with enough honesty that could escape me. He smiled . . . barely, but still . . .

it was beautiful.

I held him until they took what was left out of my hands- throwing it into one of those bags and I thought on how that shroud wasn’t anywhere as magnificent as he. I thought on the shell I found on that bench- used, cried through, beaten, fragile, honest, joyful, and beautiful. I thought on it becoming apart of the earth and fading away into that embrace years after years from now- like we all will, returning to the place we got such wrappings from and I went to a bar. I called my man and cried to him. He came and we had a drink and a dance for Ujima and it was some sad kind of beautiful.

 

peacock poems for my mother and friends (on the anniversary of getting well)

i don’t write much theory on here anymore. mostly prose and poetry- which is a kind of theory, so i will change that thought.

i don’t write much of what i did when this blog got noticed. i want to, and will, but for now i am content in expressing my truth and theory in other ways. Not everything has to be in paragraph format- ready to be read, underlined and critiqued. I believe that the intention and experience of a person can always be found in their labor and art. Damn, what they say. People say all kinds of things but they do and create what they feel.

a year ago i began to get sick- i was infected with HIV and had a severe throat infection. i lay in a bed, unable to eat for close to two weeks and thought about what it would mean to finally leave the life that i had somewhat wanted to be over for so long. i was sad when my mind rested on images of my friends and family because i knew i would be missed- in some form and because i would miss them. i firmly believe that it was their energy that kept me here and that saved me. as i begin to get well, i thought about what this new life was. i didn’t know whether to be angry or excited at my second chance.

this year has been like a burning of things and old-selves. it has been one of rediscoveries, new discoveries and relapses. of new love and strength for myself and my folk.

this poem is a reflection on that. it started out as an open letter to the universe thanking it for my life and friends. it ends as the same. i am thankful for all of these things-

for those who have been there to hold me and hear me, thank you.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

i will always be there

when breath is let out,

old thoughts exhumed- and shade left.

i will be smiling back at you behind thin sheets of glass, wether asked for or not.

 

I am one of those Black boys humming Diana to himself, imagining Mahogany

under sun sets

and who finds delight in smiles exchanged

between me and would be lovers on the train.

feeling the tenseness pass

while praying to be hid from the seeing eyes

praying to given the space to speak and be held.

 

Sometimes i am called an old gay.

Mocked because my slippers are as ever ready as my sass

and because cuddling, much like drag queens singing Diana, is supreme.

 

When i am happy, i am a peacock

capable of glitter flames sent flying from underneath my tail.

And I lay satisfied with what I done.

I feel good lovin’ and restin’.

 

Tonight i’m finna dream u dirt roads

leading to the familiar shacks of our beginnings.

where you and i can sit and talk

of spells

of the lives held in each other’s absence

and maybe laugh because crying feels too deep.

Id like my hug to cast off illnesses brought on by this destructive world.

and we can be whole- without pity.

 

mama, i am one of them punks who likes world peace

and dreams of fighting towards it.

through building with you.

i know that revolution, like us, is queer and Black and loud and smiles something fierce, despite it all.

reflection poem.

i think.

i take these pills because i am told they will prolong my life.

stretch 10 to some other number,

hold flesh,

change health,

warm,

create catalyst for more

and set.

 

living

, i think,

is the action of breathing, laughing, making and being.

hold flesh.

myself and i

and you.

we.

Life is the state of human experience, interaction and consciousness.

 

my art sometimes is sad

because my life is also

and i think

that its ok to make decorations with your misery sometimes and craft beauty.

 

i want

to be rid of this virus.

and have something less miserable to cry about.

 

and i am moving closer to that day.

each word being a step away from the dark that enveloped.

 

i write

how i like –

to feel,

to hold

and to know.

each word is a step away from the darkness that enveloped.

 

i want to know how healthy i can be.

Fuck A Pill

Please read the following link before my thoughts:

http://www.latimes.com/health/la-na-fda-hiv-20120511,0,5295464.story

It is my honest belief that if they could, they would have us all on pills- each one more violent than the previous. The movings of medicine and healthcare in our society do not correlate with curing the sick, they do not contribute towards the undoing of our various ills. Quite the contrary, medicine (western medicine) exists to create more profit for those in control of the production- as do all things in Capitalism. The people find themselves caught up in confusion- somewhere between propaganda and independent thought.

The invention of a pill that will reduce the chances of contracting the HIV virus is not a Godsend- it is not a blessing. It is something rather sinister. Our paths towards this virus are varied, and come from multiple origins but it is hardly ever happenstance.  For me, there was a tremendous lack of self-love and sex education. Those two things combined with the great social alienation of queer men- the pressure to love in the dark, to only see one another as objects of flesh- led to my infection. For many (not all) I assume that the case is similar

What can a pill do to counter act that?  What can a pill do to heal the wounds of our alienation? What can a pill do other than generate capital and misery?

Our ancestors did not believe that the body had to be beat into submission to escape sickness. Non-western medicine does not seek to rip apart and destroy our insides in order to remove a disease or virus. These pills continue not only the war path against our selves but enforce the dissonance between our spirits and our bodies by completely removing our ability to be “in” our bodies. We are zombied masses.

And what of the people who do not have the virus who are considering the pill as a viable alternative to self care and protection … It seems that danger and self destruction is being dressed up as science. It saddens me to the core to think of the generations of folk who will look to this “medicine” as a way to side step the hurt and turmoil that makes us engage in reckless sexual behavior…

fuck a pill.