A Reflection on Juneteenth

Crimes unimaginable

Sins unfathomable

Wrongs not righted

With an apology,

A soft word,

Or the stroke of a pen.

Pain to the deepest parts

Of the heart and soul,

The very fiber of one’s being,

A wound that doesn’t heal,

But rather cuts deeper

With every smile,

Every handshake,

On every pay day,

Every trip to the grocery store,

Every night at mealtime,

When they look at their children,

When they look at ours.

Privilege continues

Despite the lip service,

Despite the promises,

Amidst the meager gifts,

The dregs of easy charity

From the tatters of a bursting purse,

The guilt trip laid on thick

To the middle class and even

The working poor.

Those that lack for food,

Clothing or shelter,

Living barely day to day,

Not knowing where one’s next

Meal will come from.

And at the church the preacher

Says try harder, pray more,

Save your dollars

So you can send your little ones

To a good college,

Make them study,

Keep them out of trouble,

Tell them you love them,

That you’re proud of them

For that report card.

What do you say

When the white kid

Calls them the n-word?

What do you say

When you don’t have a job

Because you refused

To kiss your supervisor’s butt

When he would talk to you

Like you were nothin’,

Just a cog in his machine,

A disposable, replaceable,

Optional, neglectable,

Insultable, disrespected,

Used, abused, tossed out

To the street

Like so much garbage,

Black man?

Power

Wrong meets right.

The fight is strong.

Laugh, they will.

Cry out, they must.

Shout, at the top of their lungs—

Justice must prevail.

So many innocent lives

Have been crushed by the fist

Of the oppressor!

So many suffer

Because of the greed

And the arrogance

Of the powerful.

The powerful?

Who is powerful?

What is power?

Don’t you know that

The wind has changed course

On this hot, dry day.

The wind! The water!

The earth! The animals!

The birds! The insects!

The trees! Yes, even the trees!

Look at an old oak tree,

And tell me about power!

Look at a rushing stream,

And tell me about power!

Watch a lion kill its prey,

And tell me about power!

Is a gun, power?

In the hands of a six year old, a gun is just as powerful as in the hands of a grown man!

A gun is just a tool.

It’s what you do with a tool

That makes it useful.

It’s what you do with a tool

That makes it powerful.

And when a thousand voices scream,

That’s power!

When the people speak as one,

That’s power!

Don’t be afraid.

Be excited!

Be joyful!

Be glad!

For power has come to the people,

And they will not be denied this moment.

They have prayed,

And they have worked,

And they have suffered

For this moment.

Listen to the wind blow

Through the trees!

Justice has come like a mighty rush of wind,

And anything that’s old, anything that’s weak,

Anything that’s not tied down tight,

Is gonna blow away!

Those old tricks, old ways,

Cowardly words, weak attitudes,

Straw men beware!

The wind of justice has come to blow you…

Away!

Loving Yourself Through Expressing Your Needs


(“Fear”, 1995, Watercolor)

 

When I spend time doing artwork, it is usually because I am in pain, very upset or both, but I am attempting to express my pain or strong emotion, and thus release it. One, I devised intuitively, back in September of 2015. (See below) It is a meditative, very pure and easy method. You start by drawing a combination of intersecting lines, lots of them, up close to and in between the edges of all four sides of the paper (all this is just the basics, feel free and empowered to improvise!). Make sure all these lines cross over each other, and, if you’re up to it, make the spaces between the lines relatively small. This allows for a large amount options for the next step, coloring.So, then you start filling in each area with different colors, if possible. If you don’t have many colors, just spread out each instance of color, but make them appear as randomly chosen as possible. Then, begin to fill in each area with a variety of color.


(“Tribal”, 2015, marker drawing)

The second method is drawing a vortex.  My art therapist says these can work as a soothing mechanism. Often I like to combine a number of different sized vortexes in each drawing, giving the sense of emotional strain in life.


(“Moving outside”, 2015, marker drawing)

The third method is using a combination of the two previous methods, intersecting and overlapping, which creates even smaller spaces, because of all the many spaces, and then continuing to fill in random colors. I’ve never done one yet that looks just like any other, and it tends to display a beautiful, centering, or, because of the tension, a display of extremely complex possibly mixed portrayal of a conflict, inner or outer, mental, emotional, psychological, etc., combined with a soothing method of relaxation, distraction, focus, and A meditative state, which once you can learn how to balance your feelings. We just need to learn to balance in a healthy way.


(Compartmentalizing Your Breakage”, 2015, marker drawing)


(“Pushed and Pulled”, 2015, marker drawing)


(Coming Apart  at the Seams, 2015, marker drawing)

Then, there’s the poetry, which I have been doing for a long, long time. I began consistently, when I was in high school, I had spent a lot of time listening to rock music, hard rock, and I had been in several years of chorus in school, then in rock and roll bands, as the lead singer. In high school, I started out trying to sort of mimic the typical teen love/angst/anger/yearning to be understood/to find my own identity/ and to dream of bigger things, situations, states of being, that I believed would be a better state of existence, both for me, and for the world.

Then, that got put on the back burner, but I continued to write. Poetry became my big thing, but I didn’t show it to anyone until years later, after I had dropped out of church and school. All this anger was coming up, and there was no stopping it. I let a friend of mine borrow my printed stuff, then my word processor died, so all I had were the hard discs. No telling where they might be. I might have even thrown the discs away. Hundreds of poems. Never got the hard copies back, rather.

 Later I came up with my own form of poetry called Unpoetry, which breaks every rule. I still do it to this day. When I started painting abstract expressionist water colors, I was asked by my teacher if I’d like to take part in an exhibit in the Student Union Art Gallery. I had a ton of paintings, some huge, wall sized, and some much smaller. My exhibit was called “Abstract Splattings: Shredded Views. A series of my poetry was displayed beneath the paintings, in print and in Braille. I showed a few in a coffee shop, submitted a couple to a local arts and literary journal, and that’s about it. The journal printed two paintings, one, on the front cover, and the other upside down in the interior. Also, I showed a few in a long gone coffee shop, Epitome, whom never returned them and I think they hung them incorrectly, too.

Fast forward twenty years. No more painting, only poetry. Then, I was introduced to adult coloring books, then came up with my own style. I’ve been doing mostly marker drawings for about 5 months, now. I saw an art therapist for a while, showed her my book, then we discussed the Unpoetry. She saw me as trying to show lack of meaning through a medium full of meaning. We did a few pieces of art, but mostly talked.

Now, my focus is in nonfiction writing. I’ve become more aware of the world around me, the pros and cons of it all. I want to help change things. I used to be asked, “what would you want on your tombstone?” My answer was “He made a difference.” For so long I abandoned that thought. Now I’ve come full circle, and I’ve had new experiences that have shaped my determination and inspiration about certain topics, specifically related to mental illness. I want to advocate and be an activist. Maybe then, I can make a difference.