Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Price

Eyes break
like waves
and a blanket of insecurities
suffocating
- the search for air
a reminder
And we don't know
if it's gonna last
if it should
like a tide
Everything that belongs to you
has already been someone else's
even your favorite t-shirt
you paid for it
you bought it from someone
everything has a price
- how much
for your water?

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Friday, August 27, 2004

Finding poetry

I'm learning about love and about not putting every last thing to paper. I'm learning about ceasing my dissecting habits.

Because sometimes you just can't write about what it's like. The words are not enough.

I'm able to narrate, describe, paint a mental picture by laying out all the details. But I don't know how to talk about it. Not in a manner that hints understanding. Because I don't.

I've spoken before about the dangers of dissecting that which we love. Dissection leads to understanding and understanding is scientific in nature and unnaturally against all that which is emotion based. Understanding, then, is finding the truth and love is far from truth; more like a dream.

So I don't write about it and, what is perhaps more curious, I don't feel the need to write about it. Not just in relation to me, but in relation to others. I'm more than content to observe the world otherwise, without alluding to love, without even considering it. I'm still mapping out the details. Showing people the hidden corners of life. But I'm doing it differently. I'm showing them different corners, some that are perhaps even more hidden than the others since I have only seldom written of it.

I find that often I learn to understand things by writing about them. And I think I like writing in part because I get to learn. I feel more complete. And yet by not writing about this I feel just as complete.

Poetry isn't just written, you know.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Watching

I can't stop watching the Olympics. They're fucken addictive. If I'm home, I'm watching NBC. Period. Except for when Pardon the Interruption is on, because Kornheiser is god.

I can't stop watching the Olympics. I'm a sucker for the underdog. I revel every time Rulon Gardner comes on TV. This man lost a frostbitten toe. Then he broke his arm in a motorcycle accident. He is currently wrestling with pins in his dislocated wrist. It's inspiring. It truly is.

When he lost today, it's almost like hearing news that a friend lost something that important. You relate to these athletes.

The silver-medal winner in the men's 100m reportedly lived in a shipping container with drug feens and prostitutes. He worked construction and used his first paycheck to buy clothes for his brothers. And now he is recognized as the second fastest man in the world.

Now that's a story. That's love of sport.

I play basketball because I love it. I know I'll never get paid for it. I know I even run the risk of injury. But I play it because I get the itch. I feel it coming up and I need to dribble a ball. I want to do a reverse and nail a three to win it all.

The Olympics are a great way to forget the ways in which commercialized sports work in this country. It's true love of sport and nation. Representing your colors, hearing your national anthem play. No money; despite future endorsements, it's a love of sport.

Not that American athletes in the NFL and NBA don't love what they do, but it's different here because it's all about selling jerseys. Unfortunately, that comes first in that business.

So when I watch the Olympics, I watch the guys I play ball with at the gym. I see gym rats who spend entire days at the park playing pick-up games.

I love the Olympics because it reminds me of all the things I love and do for free.

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Thursday, August 19, 2004

Holy

Some people find God at the end of a line of coke.

A friend once told me that and he is absolutely right. People find fulfillment in all types of places, some better than others, but random nonetheless. God can be found anywhere because He is everywhere, right?

And yet people will argue against this. They'll tell you about how you should be spiritual, trying to control your religion as if they have some magical method of achieving salvation. People will argue with you, trying to change your mind, thinking they can make it so that you agree with them. Conversion through conversation, if you will.

But I don't think human beings are capable of teaching religion. I don't think human beings are meant to teach it. Human beings are meant to seek out God. But how can one, in all our lack of understanding, amid all the confusion, think that we have found God? How can a human being honestly think that he, or she, has come to understand God?

That is foolery.

We fight wars, we kill, we murder, because we think we found God and the rest of the world hasn't. Isn't that the biggest joke you've ever heard? Is that what Heaven is all about?

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Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Naturally speaking

Some people are given everything, and some people are dealt a shitty hand. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. Sometimes we get lucky, sometimes we don't.

There's no rhyme or reason, you can be a great person or a major league asshole, a genius or the village idiot, it bears no influence on where you're born. To whom you're born.

You're a certain way when you're born. And then you experience things and emotions, you go through situations, and you change. You grow. But you never stay the same. You can't.

Between nature and nurture we end up where we are. We begin as a semi-defined clump of clay and mold with the bumps. We're constantly changing. We're ever-evolving, even if we end up being worse off than how we began.

Had I been born in need, would I steal? Would I rob and deal? Would I still feel the craving to write? Would I be anything at all but myself, the self I have come to know?

I immigrated to this country at the age of ten. I had two different childhoods, one there and one here. But if I had never come over, who and how would I be?

I ask myself this question because I think that in finding out the characteristics about myself that would not have changed, no matter where I ended up, I will find out the part of me that is natural. I will know just how much of me is nature. Everything else is nurture. Everything else is the product of the pressures, good and bad, of the world.

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Monday, August 16, 2004

Deaf Poetry

I always think of writing. I think of what makes good writing, I try to break down authors I enjoy and respect in the hopes of finding the secret; the one ingredient that makes their words stand out from the rest.

I think of my own writing. I analyze it for content. I compare it to what I've written in the past in the constant fear that I'm repeating myself. And I think that is the fear that drives me to keep writing. The fear that I'll go to my grave with the ghosts of the poems I should have written haunting me for eternity.

The poetry drives me forth.

Every time I watch HBO's Def Poetry I am torn. I don't know whether to love it or hate it. There's no in-between, this is not the type of program to dabble in soft emotions. I don't know as of yet how I currently feel about it but I continue to tolerate it because there's hope I might fall in love with it. I continue to tune in because I fear if I don't I'll miss out on something special. A poet that can lead the way. A poem that can change the world.

The positive aspects of the show include the notoriety it brings to the art. Def Poetry brings a crowd to a poetry reading, which, if you've ever attended one, you understand is a big deal. The show also showcases young talent, people who want to speak and be heard. That should be commended. For all its shortcomings the show appears to mean well.

But it does come up short, and where it matters most; poetry-wise. In regards to the talent level, there is no denying that there is talent, but it isn't necessarily the type of talent that adds poetry to our days. The performers perform, yes, but is it poetry? There are plenty of 'homies' who want to be down. Being a poet is now considered cool. Reciting rhyming lines to the barely audible beat of their days, they describe what they've seen and what they wish their world were like. They are (seemingly) honest and true and that, I must say, is the ultimate redeeming factor of the show. For better or worse it does have a defined voice.

Yet, for all the guest appearances by noted poets and authors such as Rita Dove and, to a lesser extent, Nikki Giovanni, just to name two, the show seems empty at times. It's often devoid of true poetry. The kind that leaves you gasping for air. The best moment this season was the guest-appearance by Kanye West, who performed a piece about making child support and alimony payments. It wasn't even a poem, but rather a performance driven by the artist's obvious charisma and stage presence.

With all that is going on in the world, with truly meaningful poetry being written everyday, Def Poetry features poetry about nothing and while nothing can make for great subject matter, the show suffers for it. An infatuation with Krispy Kreme donuts doesn't impact me as much as much as some of the pieces I hear at local open-mikes. Rhyming couplets don't necessarily equate poetry. For all their sincerity, the performers are locked into the streets and manage to speak about little else. The poems suffer from tunnel-vision and the show tends to become monotonous.

Unless it evolves, Def Poetry's downfall will be its intense focus on the streets. Yes, it's important to talk about that aspect of American life, but not at the cost of EVERYTHING ELSE that matters. There is too much going on in the world today. Like all creatures, by becoming too specialized the show will create its own downfall. It has begun to lose its power already, as this season is proving to be the weakest yet since the start of the show.

It's a shame that Def Poetry can't speak to the audience like it once did. It can't evoke those feelings anymore. I once heard a man say, "No piece of steel will ever go through me with as much force as a period in the right place." For all the change a show like Def Poetry could make, for all it could mean to a culture, it's sadly coming up very short.

I wonder if it does so because it has stopped thinking about its writing. Perhaps it's stopped comparing itself to what it was.

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Thursday, August 12, 2004

Fighting the boogey man

I understand having to worry about the safety of my country. I don't enjoy it, but I understand the circumstances that brought us where we are. There are people all around the world in worse positions; people who can't give their children enough to eat. Right now, as my fat, lazy ass sits here typing, a child is suffering hunger pains and a parent is suffering from a broken heart for knowing it.

So trust me, we're not victims. Not in the large scope of things. Not in the grand scheme of the universe.

People who died in the towers, on those planes, and at the Pentagon were victims. Not us. Having to wait in line at the airport while passengers are screened before boarding the plane does not classify as a major life disappointment.

What does bother me is to hear children worrying about it. To hear a five-year-old ask his mom if he really has to go on the trip because he's afraid "the plane will fall." What does bother me is that our kids don't get to be kids anymore. That's a scary thing.

That's why we're losing the war on terrorism. Not because we can't control uprisings in Iraq. Not because we can't ensure that elections will run smoothly in Afghanistan. But because our children aren't safe and know it. Because our children want to be held extra-tight. The boogey man came out of the closet, and we have no clue how to get him back in there.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

The unexpected things we see

The unexpected is the ultimate impetus for an idle mind. It kicks it into gear. It gives things shape that otherwise we would not bother molding. It's the unexpected, because it storms out of the unseen, that manages to break us free of the shackles of everyday thought.

The unexpected can be as minute and meaningless in nature as you can imagine; and it is, perhaps, in that, its size relative to our ever-expanding universe, that it holds all the power to change us. It is a universe unto itself. It creates the possibility of infinite worlds. These small unexpected things and events are, in and of themselves, infinity.

Sometimes, a movie can change you. It can, in the very least, open your eyes. It should, if it's worth anything at all.

But how can a blind girl open your eyes?

By showing you all she sees. By showing you that there exists a universe in every crack of the sidewalk your superstitious feet avoid. By leading you through a journey by trusting the sounds of the forest, and feeling her way through the trees. By seeing the possibility of infinite worlds in the places our eyes won't go.

Writers have written about this sort of thing before. Nobel Prize winner José Saramago utilized a similar tool in his book, "Blindness." In it, everyone loses their sight except a girl. She leads them through the journey they must take and it is only later in the book that the reader is made aware of just why she hasn't lost her sight; because she is pure of heart and intent.

In M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village," the protagonist is the one who is blind. Or is she? In her 'blindness' she sees things no one else can see, such as the aura around her beloved. She moves around the village with relative ease, waving her walking stick before her as one might use a flashlight in complete darkness. So it's not as if she can't see. Rather, she sees the world differently. She is not hindered by the blindness, but almost blessed with it. She is strong, compassionate, brave.

When she comes to the outside of the woods, when she reaches her destination, something that should appear very wrong to her doesn't because of her blindness. For all her strength and intelligence she is still limited in an all too human way. She can't see what is around her. She is like an innocent child who hears a dirty joke, she can't grasp what is really going on. She lacks the eyes for it.

As scared as she is throughout her journey she understands that she must go on. The man she loves is fighting for his life. She is brave for him.

There is a love story underneath the M. Night style of dark films. And there is a moral; or the questioning of morals in the very least. There's also a twist. But like all things, it works best because it is never forced down the audience's throat. There are many facets to the plot, but they are not fighting for control of the story. Rather, they just exist - much as such things would in real life.

For all that goes on in "The Village," and we know there is much we are not privy to since it is a M. Night film, most of the population is also blind. The much-advertised creatures from the woods are never named, there is no time or location established as a setting, and the list goes on and on. People fear what they don't know and in that the audience is much like the population of the village; we are on the edge of our seats because we truly don't know what's coming next much as they know only not to go in the woods.

But that is where the similarities end. The village is controlled by a fear of the unknown whereas the audience is ushered along to discover the truth. By the end the audience is more informed than the village. We know more; we are aware of the context of every last detail because the director takes great care in laying everything out. But are we better for it? The village retains its innocence; can the same be said of us?

We, too, live in fear, and we don't even have innocence to boast of.

Through the sacrifice of the one who can't see, hope lives on. The ideals the village stands for, whether right or wrong, continue to exist. What the future holds is not certain. Will love survive in the face of physical limitations? Can a miracle prolong love? Can the blind really see so much more than those who are allowed to see? The answer would surprise you. The answer is unexpected. Just like what we encounter when we leave the theater. Our world has not changed and that, given what we just watched, is truly unexpected. We are like the blind girl coming home from the monster-ridden forest. Her return is unexpected.

But for us, who return to our repetitive existence, what is more unexpected than tomorrow?

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