From the Bottom of My Heart

Feliz Navidad played over and over on the demon turntable in my head on a sticky hot August evening – I couldn’t recall just where I’d heard it last, nor why it was stuck so unmercifully on repeat, except to suppose that perhaps it was a safety device my brain had rigged up to drown out the relentless thoughts of her – you know, trading in one form of pointless unyielding torture for another. The train barked out each lonely stop and round and round I went in both mind and muscle, soul and sinew, in undying circles like the silly refrain of Spanish trying in vain to occupy her proper space in my head.

James “Jimmy” Aiken Sr (1953-2005)

james aiken sr.

The creek, it seems, swallowed him up.

He and the river were well known to one another, and as it had been with his father (my great-grand-), they had a long and comfortable arrangement. He respected her, honored her, and she shared with him her gifts and peace and splendor. It’s hard to say whether the deal was somehow broken, or whether this was all part of the bargain. He did his part, and perhaps when it was time to go, he left at her hand. I can’t pretend to know the covenant they came to. All I know is that the creek swallowed him up.

The past few days I’ve avoided the tears, fought them back from rolling down my face like sea island thunderstorms. From time to time I can sense them welling up only to be choked back again by my Taurean unwillingness to give in. I am bound and determined not to deal with my emotions, and I shall not until I am good and goddamn ready. I cannot, regardless, because someone has to stand as the bulwark between chaos and order, between the calm of Thursday morning and the unremitting monsoon of this weekend.

This weekend when the sky fell and only stopped long enough to give us his body back.

I would write more, but the words would do him no justice.

Rest in peace, Uncle Jimmy.

just another poem

amidst tiny tiles and yellow lamps she sat with me
weekends weighed her down and
her sadness the sickness infected me
smiles forced through swollen lymph nodes
in betwixt chamomile sips
our hearts brushed lightly against the other’s and
while waiting quietly we quenched
our thirst for the company of another
who digs like we dig, digs and understands amidst
tiny tables and yellowed eyes.

mojo workin’

We were warriors then, and our tribe was strong like the river.

I’m feeling myself, as it were, feeling the power within exposing itself slowly to the desolation awaiting it in the cold and heartless world.

I’m alive, for once it seems, purely and individually, alive with possibility and anticipation. Alive with arrogance. Alive with fear and alive with fury. I inhale today and spit out tomorrow. And rest assured, you motherfuckers, you’d best not fuck with me.

Fear and loathing being too often aligned, from revelation to cliche, though in their way they describe this moment perfectly, pregnant with potential. At the crossroads of righteous hatred and uncertainty, where old women with cork burnt blackface ride the metropolitan transit systems accompanied by duct tape infested coleman coolers, amid abandoned flip-flops waiting for attention perched between the escalators. Here I am. Look at me.

Something about the southern soul sings out for the surreal. We adorn our days with it and during out late evenings it crunches loudly underfoot. We indulge its wild abandon as one must a petulant monarch. The surreal, as the name itself suggests, lives just beneath our reality – but it is the southerner who lives out this underworld amongst the waking hours. Our embrace of that nether region parallels our understanding of evil and scum and rottenness buried deep within the cold hearts of our neighbors – the bastards, the frauds, the motherfuckers living just across the lawn. We hate minutiae as much as the goddamn Nazis. People who stand too closely, folks who tell the facts and not the story, and those who take unwelcome liberties in their salutations, for those we reserve the Ninth Circle of Hell – the sonofabitch called me by my first name, I shoulda done him in right then and there with a salad fork. And goddamn it, he should have. The essential thing, the beast of it all is that we are right. We are right in our utter disgust of all things improper, and absolutely correct to distrust those we wave to everyday as the very essence of evil. Because the truth at the heart is that words have power, and no one, NO ONE, is to be trusted. Things are not as they seem. If nothing else, believe this.

We are warriors still.

everything in italics is Hunter S. Thompson. the rest is me.

What I Believe.

I believe you can tell everything you need to know about someone based on what type of music and movies and books they like. I believe in America. I believe in myself, almost without question. I believe in a thing called love, in spite of the women I’ve loved. I believe that nobody is perfect, especially me. I believe in the all-encompassing power of art. I believe hip hop will never die. I believe that not all white people are evil. I believe that not all black people are good. I believe too many white people are oblivious to the evil they do. I believe too many black people are unaware of the good they are capable of. I believe Usher did Chilli wrong, then profited from it. I believe love is a motherfucker.

I believe Zuma is the work of Satan. I believe I am addicted to it. I believe OJ is innocent of murder. I believe I chose those specific words very carefully for a reason. I believe Kobe probably is guilty. I also believe he sabotaged my beloved Lakers for his own personal selfishness. I believe this is no way to live. I believe in the innate equality of all mankind. I believe something is seriously wrong with this guy in my class. I believe “The Big Lebowski” is an accurate way to judge if someone is my type or not. I believe Brooklyn’s the borough.

I believe in life. I believe in choice. I definitely believe in contraception. And on that note, I believe Trojans and Durex are far superior to Lifestyles, which will never again touch my wang. I believe I just used the word wang. I believe the Democrats take black folks for granted. I still believe the Republicans are in league with the Antichrist. I believe that leaves us all in limbo. I believe the best Bond was Connery, in a landslide. I believe in the wholesome sweet goodness of White Russians. I believe Janet is just as crazy as Michael, but I likewise believe Jermaine might be the biggest lunatic of them all. I believe Halle Berry is TOTALLY out of line.

I believe law school students tend towards obnoxious, argumentative, arrogant, Type A, asshole personalities. I believe I tend towards the same, minus the Type A thing. I believe Jay Z is overrated. I believe I need help. I believe intellectual property law is one of the most significant venues for civil rights in the 21st century. I believe Westlaw is better than LexisNexis. I believe you already know what I think about your opinion. I believe in kissing as the best and first form of foreplay, and that kissing will tell you almost everything you need to know about how someone is as a lover. I believe Bush stole this election too, on the hush. Clearly, I believe in conspiracies.

I believe in National League baseball and NFC football. I believe in the superiority of the full and half Windsor over the four-in-hand. I believe Rick James is more than a catchphrase and the song “Super Freak.” I believe bitches can’t be trusted, but I also believe this is a gender neutral statement. I believe in karma. I believe in poetry and porn. I believe in creative expression, in whatever form it might take. I believe fucking is a form of creative expression. I believe in the beauty of blackness. I believe in spending money wisely, regardless of whether I act on that belief with any consistency.

I believe in free wi-fi, free education, and free health care for all. I believe the greatest verse in hip-hop history is Nas’s from “Verbal Intercourse.” I believe the four greatest male singers in the history of R&B are Jackie Wilson, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, and Otis Redding, although I believe there’s an argument to be made for my boy Donny Hathaway. I believe I am ready to settle down. I believe my heart is still hurting. I believe Sprint is out to get me. I believe I have the worst luck in human history when it comes to automobiles. I believe I am ready to leave DC.

I believe The Brothers Karamazov, Go Tell It On the Mountain, and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle are 3 of the greatest books in human existence. I believe I am racially, culturally, and gender biased. And homophobic. I believe its important to be honest about this. I actually believe in being honest in as many situations as possible. I believe in principle over personal desires. I believe the ’85 Bears are the greatest team in the history of professional sports. I believe Ditka is the personal emissary of the Lord. I believe I am going to hell in a hand basket for that last statement. I believe I am addicted to IM, Gmail, and Myspace. I sho nuff believe in the Dirty South.

Oh, and I believe you can kiss my ass.


my eyes have seen the tan sand
between marshgrass green blades

and hallelujah singin’ white men
where black bodies lay

overhead flew stars and bars
red and blue they waved

in dixie land where I was born in
bodies molderin’ in the grave

they died for a land that broke their heart
I have seen Him look away

from blue black skins and broken flesh
and no more days to sing God’s praise

their souls go on a’marchin’
one frosty morning on the wave

the inspirations for this poem can be found here:

glory | dixie | john brown’s body | battle hymn of the republic | amazing grace | 54th Mass. Infantry