water no get enemy

It’s hard to find the words with which to begin. Words, I’m afraid, scarcely hold the information required to tell his story. Here we go, though, whatever my lack of eloquence.

I have known few men or women in my life I can say I truly respected. There have been many I liked well enough, and of course, many more whom I thoroughly detested – but precious few, loved or otherwise, about which it can be said I respected them.

This was such a man.

I sat, uncomfortable, shifting fore and aft in the pew, looking around at the beautiful sea of black faces surrounding me. Some I recognized from my undergraduate days on the second floor of Childer’s, some I only knew from books or the occasional PBS documentary, and more still were unknown to me completely. Still, all these were somehow familiar to me – as a long lost cousin’s high cheek bones and oblong head and bulbous nose fit ever so well in the long progression from one’s great grandfather, grandfather, and uncles; we all belonged that day, all one family, in mourning and celebration of a great man now gone.

He was a man for whom “category” and “boundary” were terms as useless as monopoly money – and confronting him with either would have been equally futile. He was, as eloquently as I can put it, unfuckingstoppable. A giant juggernaut of the art world. It was his way, or would stomp you into the highway. Ribald, regal, real; passionate and playful; confrontational, curious, and courageous; kind, giving, honest, and ALIVE. It was in this fashion that he led a movement of artists from the Chicago hinterlands to the motherland. As one artist from Nigeria put it, “Because of him, we came to America, to find Africa.” Co-creator of the “Wall of Respect,” co-founder of AfriCOBRA, leading light of the Black Arts Movement, Dean of the Howard University College of Fine Arts, and all around bad ass muthafucka.

He tried to teach us how to fight with unrepentant fury.
And how to paint even harder.

We said our goodbyes…cheered for him and cried for ourselves. We laughed at Jameelah’s jokes. Donald Byrd played. Haki Madhubuti read. And all the while, I tried to make sense of him, to fit his absence into my new reality. only just now did I finally give up on all that bullshit. He hasn’t left us at all. He is us. If only as we one day wish to be.

Here is to our mighty emperor of blackness. I hope you are giving them hell up in heaven. These sorry ass words could not do you justice.

Dr. Jeff R. Donaldson
December 15, 1932 – February 29, 2004

in re solitude

brainstorm, take me away from the norm
I’ve got to tell you something
this phenomenon
I had to put it in a song
and it goes like…

typing. slowly the arduous process of unfolding my self onto the new page, of opening up my unmarked surfaces to the sky to be filled and scribbled upon begins anew.

together we were a sight. A miscegenation explosion of beautiful benetton body parts akimbo and on display, as we embraced madly in the urgency of the all too short time we shared.

but if sharing is what we deign to call it, then its best it ends. now before we revile each other all the more.

our hatred of one another is and should have been no surprise, because what we dislike so intensely in one another is what we fear most in ourselves…she detests her own tendencies towards laziness and abusiveness and promiscuity, and I my own vacuous self-absorption, self-criticism, and self-gratification above all else. we are our darker sides, each other’s antimatters, and the violent reaction between the opposites was something quantum physicists had up till now only hypothesized. anima and animus.

and still. though all of this is unquestioned and without challenge, and still. I love her intensely with white hot pain and bone chilling depth. I love her enough to want her near me no matter how much it hurts, and enough to never see her again if she requires it in order to avoid hurting her any more than I already have.

I have crushed many a heart before. I have broken many a promise. but this is by far the worst, as the heart I have torn in two is as much mine as hers.

goodbye, sad eyes. goodbye my magnificent hair beast. goodbye.

don’t give up your independence
unless it feels so right
nothing good comes easily
sometimes you’ve got to fight…

nakachi

and if you were at any moment unaware, you, for us, are what we are to you…a steadying hand, a welcome smile in a sea of unfriendly hearts, a word of wisdom amidst the tempest of despair it seems far too many of us with our personal web publishing empires seem to wallow in…oh, we are a sensitive, ornery lot indeed. and yet, our souls reach out to one another…a million and 2 individuals, separated by distance and introversion, standing up to scream out. “I am here. I need to be heard. I need to be free. I need to illustrate my hatred and my fears and my love and my hope and my pain for others. I need to illuminate them all for myself.”

our freedom is not in the solutions to the tribulations, you see. our freedom is in exposing our torments to the sun. because angst is allergic to light.

ornithology

the rain fell so steadily today, and I raced back and forth from my office to the parking meter standing watch over my car all damn day, collecting raindrops all along the run.

melancholy is my mood, my magic, and my melody.

she is the root of all my art and the foundation of most of my understanding. my compassion, too, is all too well-connected to the quiet, dark place in my soul.

Continue reading

What Is Past

two, sitting. me in the chair now fairly coated in the earthly and earthy sacrament of our lasciviousness and sexual creativity. you in its gorgeous, timeworn, five-dollar, multi-slatted cousin, across the hardwood floors adored by nakachi. scribbling furiously in our respective symbolic notebooks (the 800 lb gorilla in redmond calls them, collectively, “notepad.”) fucking frantically sans fighting fanatically? phenomenal, filthy, fun, and fantastic. turkey & provolone on panini? well, sadly, only passable. coffee? bitter, at best. tag-team flirting? enjoyable, to be sure, though I am afraid diane wasn’t quite my type. better epilogue? how ’bout the smile on your face, teeth bared shown clean to the world, as we absorb the melodies escaping the ruby red sony on top of the dvd rack? or the spontaneous hand-dancing session that erupted during smooth grooves 4: a sensual collection‘s selection of betty wright’s “tonight is the night?” no, far, far better was the harmony of our voices in duet.

“…there will still be music left to write…”

so having shared our bodies so hungrily, completely, and furiously, we shared, together tonight, our hearts, with equal vigor, for the first time in many months. i missed the completeness of what we have to offer each other. and it hurts that our stresses and tests often obscure the miracle of what we are and should be to one another.

I had intended, in all seriousness, to write this with great beauty, poise, discipline, and wit…but instead, now I am choking back tears, and like a beautiful woman, the words with which to end this appropriately remain just beyond my extended hands. so with resignation, I surrender to the slumber that calls me, and to the woman just beyond my reach.

On 27 Years and Polite Company

I envied him most especially. the little african boy with the charcoal gray and fuschia trimmed two piece starter™ sweatsuit, hopping about madly on the metro’s tiled floor, little dreadlocks flapping along to the rhythm. he couldn’t have been older than 4 (couldn’t have been), and I? damn near 7 times his age, now that this date had made it official. he screamed and gestured wildly as the greenline, bound for shaw-howard and points beyond, finally arrived, to carry my tardy ass to the birthday party being prepared (with alacrity) in my absence.

I hurriedly trekked home to love and an evening of friendly faces. home being a funny word for it, being that my bed is elsewhere, and my birthplace another, but my heart, well, that’s where it resides.

so I hurried. and the evening, well, wonderful is only one word, and the up and down, from no people for the first few hours, to two for another 60 minutes, to the sudden swell of 30 close friends and friends of friends, is probably best described with several. maddening. depressing, at first. elation. rapture. joy. cool. delightful. exciting. comfortable. and most importantly (and for the benefit of anthony’s favorite reader), sexy.

thank you. thanks to my friends, for coming, getting along with each other, and only making a little bit of fun of the massive number of white candles that oppressed my chocolate cake. thanks to my parents, for giving me this day to call my own. my sisters for always being there to remind me how glad I am that I left home. my boss for not coming to the party. and finally, thank you, baby. you made my day.

happy belated birthday to me.

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