First Week of Classes | Updates that Suck

The first week of classes is officially complete … and, holy shit, am I tired.

My first class with Cornel West was on Tuesday, and his presence is… stunning. He holds forth in the classroom, and like the best of Baptist preachers knows how to move his body and use his voice to draw you in, raise the energy in the room and hold that energy for three hours. He is intellectually powerful, and his spirit is Titan. Coincidentally, I met him on the street after class. I was smoking a cigarette while speaking with another student when he stopped to have a chat. I was amazed by the change in him; he was gentle, and very, very PRESENT WITH YOU IN THAT MOMENT.  And I don’t mean present with you like you feel you’re under a microscope – I mean that he is THERE. The only time I’ve felt that way is a few years ago when I was running from soldiers with a group of teenage boys in one of the conflict zones I work in — we were running, and I felt totally in my body but at the same time to totally present with these boys…. we were TOGETHER.

These brief interactions with him gave me a lot of food for thought as I rode the train to my room that night. I was thinking about how so many of my seminarian friends perceive me —  as the loud mouth that makes them giggle in delight. I never particularly understood that last part – why my sassy mouth would bring such glee. As the train was cutting through the city I thought about the contents of what I say – that my “loud mouth” is often a product of my frustration. You can say I have a particularly low tolerance for bullshit – and you know some shit is about to go down when I say something along the lines of, “let’s call a spade a spade,” which is always followed by me calling it how I see it.

And then it hit me; my goal in coming to this particular seminary was to “find my prophetic voice.” Prophets, as Heschel described them, are the scream in the night. Over the last year I’ve gotten less and less patient, which has caused me to become louder and louder in the classroom and elsewhere. Paralleling that, I’ve noticed that my care for offending people, pleasing them, comforting them, their judgement or their discomfort has plummeted to zero. I just don’t give a FUCK. I have no hesitation in calling someone or something out on their bullshit. I’m done.

And that’s when I realized that I’ve found my Prophetic voice. That I’ve become so deeply rooted in my own work and message, that everything else has burned away – that I can see clearly and move forward.

Now what?

Camping Trip | Poems that Suck

Camping Trip
I was once convinced
by an ex to go with him
to a music festival.

Three days of speed metal
during the daylight hours and
techno and trance at night.

We spent two days high
on acid, laughing ourselves
silly at random shit.

When we were finally
able to fall asleep, I was
woken up hours later by

the sound of rushing
water and when I opened
my eyes I saw my purse

float by. I turned over
to find him standing at
the mouth of the tent

and pissing into it,
rather than out of it;
understandable, really.

“Friend,” I asked in my
gentlest tone, “is this
prudent? Do you think,

maybe, this is a bad
decision?” He looked
at me, a mixture of

confusion and defiance,
and without hesitation
aimed his dick at me

and pissed between my
eyes. That day I learned
you don’t ask questions

in these situations, and
you can’t argue with
a pissed off pisser.

Seize & Desist | Prose that Sucks

‘God, I hope she doesn’t shit on me.’

That was the stray thought that flitted through my mind like an alley cat as I held Calva’s head off of the tiled floor.

I was the first to see her eyes roll and her face contort into the ghoulish carnival mask that foretold of the oncoming seizure – facial muscles jerking, mouth sucking at the air like a fish out of water – but a blockade of chairs and anxious lookers-on prevented me from being swift enough to stop her head from slamming onto the cheap tile floor with a crack that echoed through the room.

It was by luck of the draw that Nancy – another Worker’s girlfriend who was an RN – was visiting at that time, and that she was the first to Calva’s side. I hovered dumbly over the both of them, never having seen someone seize before I had no idea what to do.

“Go get something to cover her bottom half,” Nancy’s voice snapped me out of my useless fretting, and gave me a task to focus on. Calva had been wearing a dress, and was now familiarizing half of the shelter with the exact shape and texture of her genitals.

“Now what?” I asked once I ended the peep show.

“There’s really nothing you can do for someone having a seizure. You just turn them on their side and let them go,” she replied with a glance to her watch.

I held Calva’s head in my hands, her course buzz cut tickling my palms as I willed my comfort into her flesh. The seconds crept into minutes as her body continued to jolt until, bit by bit, her body relaxed and her breathing became steady.

Of course that’s when the ambulance came.

The slamming of the stretcher caused Calva’s eyes to snap open, and whip wildly around the room.

“It’s ok,you’re at the shelter,” I cooed as they roughly hoisted her body on to the stretcher.

“I’m clean! I’ve been clean for years! Don’t let them put my in jail!”

“Calva… CALVA!! You’re not going to jail – you’re going to the hospital, you had a seizure.”

“Shit, that’s all? Well, let’s go!”

Dead Dogs | Reviews that Suck

1Like almost all the other authors I’ve written about on this blog, Manny and I met on Twitter.  I think we were following each other before I sent out the call for book recommendations – but he did respond to my call with his own book, Dead Dogs. 

Book Details

  • Moonshine Cove Press
  • 151 Pages
  • 6×9 dimensions
  • $14 price point
  • Matte cover with glue binding.

Summary

“There are bodies to be disposed of and all the local dumpsters are full. There are armed terrorists in the backseat … and they’re all smoking sherm. Yuppies have taken over East Atlanta, and the drug dealers are at war…

Read the misadventures of two Atlanta misfits involved with a circus of outlaws and revolutionaries, coerced into various criminal activities.”

Review

So, I want to acknowledge something. One day, while I was reading this, Manny just so happened to tweet that English wasn’t his first language – that he had to learn it as he grew up. That bit of intel forced me to sit back in my chair and blink rapidly.  English is hard enough to learn how to speak, but to write it (and write it well) — the odds are against you.

This dude wrote an entire god-damn novel in a language that he had to learn — and wrote it well enough for me to not even question whether or not he was a native speaker. God DAMN!  Manny, you got the biggest set of brass balls I’ve ever encountered — and I mean that in the best possible of ways.

Moving on to the story —

Dead Dogs is a WILD ride! My head was spinning throughout the entire book, the most common questions being: What the fuck is going on?! Who the fuck is this?! What the fuck just happened?! Where the fuck are we?! What…. the… FUCK?!!! To say this book is dizzying is the understatement of the century. It’s fast-paced, it’s gritty, it’s good.  If you dig pulp, grit lit, transgressive fiction — you’ll love the hell out of this.

I do, however, want to point out a MAJOR miss for me — the editing.

This book jumps backwards and forwards in time – think of a Guy Richie movie – and while there are three parts to the book it NEEDS to have individual chapters to help that transition between time and space be more definitive and obvious to the reader. There were many times I had to flip backward to figure out the timeline of events – which was frustrating because it slowed the pace of the book.

Like I said, this is not a writing problem – the writing is good and solid – this is an editing problem, and that falls at the feet of Moonshine Cove. The editing just fucked this book for me — and I’m pretty pissed about that because it’s a damn good story.

I really look forward to the sequel to this book, which will be published by Outcast Press next year (I believe).  I trust their editors, and know that what comes next in the Dead Dogs series will be amazing!

Now, don’t be a dickhead buy Dead Dogs here.

Eyeliner | Poems that Suck

I watched him - 
as beautiful as
any woman - from
the doorway of 
the bathroom

as he smudged 
eyeliner along
his ice blue
eyes, an artform
more men should learn.

When he glanced 
at me in the 
mirror, I wisecracked
"You want some lipstick
with that?" 

Causing him to
arch his thin
brows in defiance,
"If you weren't
being such a 
smartass about it
maybe I would."

Desert Fantasies | Poems that Suck

I'm dreaming of
rocky deserts;
dehydrated packed
earth and a
blistering sun.

I'm dreaming of
vultures - those
winged friends -
swooping overhead
in slow circles,

as my body
lies still and
prostrate, feeling
the death and
desolace all
around me -

rising up, and
through me,
cleansing
this body
like a
burnt
offering.

Nola | Poems that Suck

I was thinking about New Orleans today. 
My New Orleans, whose streets and alleys
are as personal and intimate to me as
a pussy stroke. 

Far away from the blaze of Bourbon
where the neon children live their
lives that burn bright, flicker, then die. 

Away from the tourist traps where
Black men are forced to shuck and jive
for those who are simultaneously lily 

White and scaly with sunburn, and who
are all too pleased to press a dollar
in a palm that’s butter mellow or 

burnt sienna to ease their consciences
of what their granddaddies did and what
their grandbabies will continue to do. 

Far, far outside the districts where the 
night air is weighted differently; the sound
of the Zydeco creeping on the wind like a

ghost in the alleyways. Where the slow
drawl of, ‘how you doin’ ‘chere?’ is as
satisfying as the crunch of new gravel

under the heel of my boot; good for the
ear and the Soul. Where the familiar
smell of smoke, stale beer and sawdust 
floors feel like home, and I can dance, 
                                   and dance, 
                                        and dance. 

Birthday Blues | Musings that Suck

So…

I turned 38 last Thursday…. and it hit pretty hard.

I’ve been questioning doing my PhD – something that I’ve been adamant about doing since I began going back to school 10 years ago – but in the last year I’ve begun to question it…. and, for me, that indicates something’s “wrong.”

I haven’t thought much about it, not until the night of my birthday when I realized that I’m questioning it because I’ve hit mid life (let’s be real, few people live to 100 so 38 and 40 is about middle aged).

I knew this because of the questions I was asking myself; not whether I am capable of the coursework and research (I very much am) but whether I want to spend another five years of my life in school and whether it will give me any further edge in my field.

I can feel it.. ya know? Feel that I’m in some liminal space. That some huge change is coming because my thoughts are changing …. which indicate that what I want from my life is changing. The thing is… I don’t know what I want, at least not right now.

I’m still applying to the PhD (because I love school, and I love the environment of learning), but I just don’t know what I want anymore. Which means that I have to think about what I want… how do I want to spend the next 40 years of my life?

It’s just a weird and uncomfortable feeling… I don’t love uncertainty.

But… I did hear that women’s sex drives take a moon shot in their 40’s… so that’s a bonus, right?

I Wanna Fee that Free Fall | Poems that Suck

I don't know where I'm at
or where I'm going - 
only that I am standing
at a precipice and the
only way forward is 
                   d
                   o
                   w
                   n
                   .

Instead of feeling anxious
or fearful, I'm fantasizing
about what it will feel like
to finally tip over, head first.

I imagine it will be a relief;
the dropping sensation in my 
stomach - like that second you
crest over the first coaster hill -

and the wind in my hair, 
tangling it all to hell,
as I plummet toward the ground.

What a comfort it'll be to
leave the dust of the old
behind; what a delight to
be carried on the thermal
of a new life.