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Story Time: New Beginnings

Months ago, I was in a very unpleasant place. I was living in a hotel after waking up alone to find the kitchen on fire. My father was getting sicker. I had lost hope and couldn’t see anything as positive, or good for myself because so much had fallen apart. One night, with my hotel suite full of friends, all I could do was lay in the dark and cry. Then he came in the room, laid next to me, and offered his
company. I don’t remember him saying much; whether I asked or if he offered, but he held me while I cried. That wasn’t the Not Giving Upfirst time that he was exactly what I needed when I needed it most, but I count that time as one of several turning points that brought me to where I am today. He’ll probably never know how much what he did that night meant to me or why, but I am grateful to him every day.

I’m sitting in a place I feel comfortable calling home. I’m in a new city, a new state, and living a new life that is all mine. A year ago today, I could barely see how I was in to get here, only that I needed to get here. Of course there were other steps and epiphanies; turning points and points of no return. You might find yourself feeling lost, insecure, or all manner of done. Doors will seem to close, and you might think that you’re all out of options and opportunities. Your mind might tell you all kinds of untruths that could cause you to act against your best interests; the kinds that make you think you can’t. I am here to Require you to Do More and Better for yourself. Ask for help. Talk to a friend. Open yourself up and let someone in.  Stop standing in the way of your own new beginning. Doing More and Requiring Better isn’t just about how you interact with the world around you, it’s about Doing More of whatever you can to make everything about your world Better.

So this is it: Do More & Require Better.
Not just because I said so, but because knowing that your life has new meaning, new focus, new purpose, new drive is worth the effort.

Ruthless Review: Marcus Terell and The Serenades

“Far above the distant landscape. Stands our Ruskin High. With its walls of strength and beauty Lifted toward the sky. Symbol of our aspirations. Thou wilt ever be. Guiding us through life to victory. Thou shalt keep us free. Dear old Ruskin, how we love thee! We will e,er be true. To our colors high above thee – Gold and Royal Blue.”

Yeah you missed it

Yeah you missed it

That line is what we’ll call my disclosure. Despite my various issues with school, something we’ll address in a more, normal, of my columns, I do still have an attachment to my fellow classmates. And when it comes to this social media driven world there are few I follow like today’s subject. So yes, I’m a fan of the guy I’m talking about. But because I get it. Because we came from the same section of the middle of map. And because we both work our asses off to be dope people who do dope things. Though obviously he gets TV time. NOW! Let’s get to it.

Back To Reality

show poster

Fringe Festival in Kansas City is a great chance to see all kinds of great performances. And this appearance by Marcus and the Serenades fits in seamlessly. The show opens with the number that got him on your tv screens. And there are few things that singing heartbreak hotel dressed as Elvis and being a black man, that you shouldn’t be automatically a winner for. While we get treated to the clip, we are then treated to the full song IN THE ORIGINAL ELVIS OUTFIT! You don’t beat that on a Saturday night. But the thing is this. I know Marcus can sing. You’d be hard pressed find someone who knows him that would say otherwise. And if they do, they are a hater to the highest degree. So no need on that. The thing to look at with the show really is the song choices. Obviously I’m not a reviewer normally, so of course I can’t remember every song. But between Heartbreak hotel, Georgia on my mind, What’d I say, Hit the road jack, Baby love, Proud Mary, My girl, Papa was a rolling stone, Mustang Sally, Kansas City, I Feel Good, Feelin’ Good, his own version of Forget You, and of course his encore was his own song Get UP!

 

For a show that was over about 70 to 75 minutes later, you for sure get your money’s worth. But you may notice some of those tracks are from female singers. And this is why I have to take a moment and say something important about the Serenades. Look, I’m HYPER critical in my personal life about singers. Conversations about music tend to be in-depth analysis of whatever genre I’m discussing. I still have to deal with someone’s anger because I said Aaliyah was alive most black singers including Beyonce wouldn’t have a job right now. And there may have been an incident where I likened most of today’s R&B singers to the drunks at karaoke you cheer for BECAUSE they are doing it so bad. I swear the constant resharing of videos with Jhene Aiko saying eat the booty like groceries may make me go full Mad Max soon.(I will never speak ill of The Weeknd though. XO till I overdose)

So where I knew all about Marcus’ voice, and his talent, I had no idea what the case was for this set of Serenades. And these two ladies the lovely Amber Mercomes and Leah Stewart(go hunt them down on social media and become a fan) were in no uncertain terms stellar. You could get glimpses during the Marcus focused numbers. And then the 3 of them do Nina Simone’s Feelin’ Good. WOW! I’m sure they’ll announce their next set of dates for performances. That one rendition is worth the price of admission. And more than once the ladies get the stage to themselves(a great way to handle costume changes honestly), which just makes the point that this is not Marcus and some randoms. This is a show with some powerhouses. Hit the road jack acapella? Yes please. If I could I’d just have them follow me around all day as a live soundtrack to my life(Cause I’m dope and I think of dope ideas. lol)

That of course brings us to the show itself. How does it hold up? Well as a concept “Back to Reality” is a great mix of comedy, music, and audience interaction. So many times I go to shows, musicals, musical theater, or straight up concerts, and you can tell the set list was just, “My cd is in this order please buy it.” Here we have a show told from Marcus’ perspective on his journey through reality television, told along side musical numbers from Motown, Rock history, and of course with a bit of soul and pop thrown in to be well-rounded. And it works because of it. You are never really waiting for something to happen. And you most certainly aren’t getting bored. Hearing about how things happened. How he meets Leah and Amber specifically. And of course how he feels about the way things have happened for him on American Idol as well as America’s Got Talent. All of it gives you a narrative you can latch on to that gives the songs more depth than just “here’s the music I like so like that I like to sing it.” His response the judges ironically, is his own version of CeeLo Green’s Forget You, where he outright skewers the sap story first talent second approach to the competitions. I forgot how much I loved that song. This version is better in my opinion.

Forget the Hype train. Marcus has Hype SHIPS!

Forget the Hype train. Marcus has Hype SHIPS!

And now let’s deal with a couple of issues. First up is the stuff that couldn’t have been his fault. The mics in the venue had at times some feedback issues. Even when they would back off the mic for much more powerful and higher notes, much less the runs they would do at times, there was some screeching and skretching in the mics. Particularly noted when they’d move towards the front facing audience section. The other major issue that I picked up on is the natural end to the show, even with the encore feels short. You almost expect one more song, because you’re wondering if this is all. Is short bad? Of course not. But it did make me pause and wonder if there was going to be more after an intermission. Does he need a four hour show? No but maybe 20 to 30 more minutes. 90 minutes including an encore sounds right-ish. But obviously these aren’t major things. I’d also love him to float in from the ceiling, as the Serenades appear out of cloud of fog as they do Atlantic Star’s Am I Dreaming. A man can dream.

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So in the end should you see this? Absolutely. That shouldn’t even be a question. But I’m giving this a review because rather alarmingly, people who could have gotten tickets on me didn’t come along. Look you might not want to do a movie with me. I see a lot of odd films. You might not want to go to a ballet or theater play with me. As you know all about my Vacationship motto(Sound Cloud people). But one thing you need to trust is when I offer to PAY for you to come to something. That means I value it. And you know better than to think because Marcus is an old friend I wouldn’t tear into him for a bad performance, or shred a bad show concept. This just isn’t possible here. I watched 3 amazing musicians, put on a show that made me laugh while impressing me. I almost shed a tear. I had guest blogger and podcast producer Princess Devy, who came along with me, in stitches when it was over and I yelled “THAT BOY GOOD!” Maybe that is the last thing Marcus needs to make his performances perfect. He needs to stomp the floor and yell “SEXUAL CHOCOLATE!” lol. But seriously, this isn’t a great show. This is THE GREATEST SHOW. There is a new hardest working man in show business people. And his secret weapon is The Serenades hit just as hard. I could say so much more, like I really want Heart is a house of love from 5 heartbeats somewhere in there, or Otis Redding I’ve been loving you. But really, WORDS DON’T DO IT JUSTICE!

I mean pictures do say a thousand words.

I mean pictures do say a thousand words.

– THE Ruthless Wonder

 

p.s. Haven’t seen one challenge email. I’m guessing y’all are all bark no bite. Or you are afraid. Either way I’m still here. Come at me.

The Letter Series: Dear Racists, Bigots, and all other Hate-filled power players of society

I’ve been in a weird place this week. If you’ve been following me these last few weeks, I’ve been getting my spiritual house in order; listening to gurus and yogis, mostly Sadhguru with sprinkles of other teachers. I’m taking control of my bliss and choosing my happiness making sure that I focus on the positive experiences I’m having and not so much on the negative influences of the world. Then I listened to this, and now I have questions. You see, even if what he’s saying is only partially true, it still means that all of my efforts toward increasing pleasantness in my life are being actively trampled upon. Sadhguru says that unless someone is causing you physical harm, your displeasure is of your own making. Does that mean that as long as I’m not personally being beaten or shot at in the streets, that the jobs I haven’t gotten that would improve my ability to increase pleasantness or neighborhoods I can’t walk in simply because I was born Black and female… you probably see where I’m going with this.

3D TruthI don’t have to question the truth of any of what either Sadhguru or Dr. Claude Anderson have said. Even if there are half truths weaved in with the whole realities, my experiences creating my own joy as a human being and my experiences navigating through society as a Black person have proven both to be true. Crazy right? If I choose to ignore the injustices of the world, ignore the efforts of the racist, bigoted, hate-filled power players of society; accept my current position as my lot, I can create a world of endless joy for myself. All I have to do is give up on all of my hopes, my dreams, my aspirations… Just be happy to be alive and grateful that the sun came up on time today.

On the other hand, Sadhguru also says that pursuing pleasantness is a necessary element of being human. He explains that while internal pleasantness is completely within our control, that our external pleasantness depends on the cooperation of people and circumstance. This brings me to the point of today’s piece…

 

Dear Racists, Bigots, and all other Hate-filled power players of society; 

I don’t care about your quotas. I don’t care about your preconceived notions. I don’t care about your having a Black best friend. I don’t care that your third cousin’s half brother’s ex-wife’s uncle’s stepdaughter was a quarter Black on her grandfather’s side. What I do care about is that you, people like you, and your racially oblivious friends are killing my vibe. I want inner and outer pleasantness. I refuse to give up on my everything just so you can continue feeling superior. I refuse to support your status quo. I’m not asking for the 40 acres and a mule that was promised to the freed slaves of olde: that day has long passed. I’m not asking for the reparations that was given to the Jews after suffering the atrocities of Hitler’s Holocaust: that wouldn’t cover it anyway. I’m not asking for affirmative action: as of late it has been used as a tool to divide people and diminish our achievements. I’m not asking for welfare or anything you and yours might want to consider a hand out or a hand up: your so-called gifts tend to be laced with things like small pox and poison.

What I’m asking for is that you shut up, and get out of our way. More than that, I’m demanding it. Keep your media propaganda. Break your glass ceilings. Level your playing fields… better yet step out of the game. You’ve spent the last almost 16 years ruining a country that was once the greatest in the world over what? Maintaining a status quo that’s not even relevant anymore? Here’s the thing: you want pleasantness too. Wouldn’t your lives be a lot more pleasant if you could use all that negative energy doing something like… I don’t know, finding more creative ways to avoid taxes or keeping your recent stint in rehab a secret? You know you love appropriating all things Black as your own: wouldn’t it be easier to just let yourselves love us completely? See, I want you to find love, bliss, and happiness too. I don’t want to get in the way of your joy as long as it doesn’t involve you being in the way of mine. So, you stop impeding or in any way blocking my road to success and overall external pleasantness, and you can continue snorting cocaine off your favorite hooker’s ass while blasting your favorite Rick Ross remix. We all get to Do More & Require Better. Everyone wins.

Sincerely,
Reign

(Part 2) Note From Your Favorite Super Villain: Harsh Truth is more than a hastag

Part 2

Obviously yesterday was focused on a couple of subjects that I felt pressing enough to be first up. And while I could spend today talking about Joss Wheadon, Jeremy Renner, and the amount of idiots on twitter I’m not. Besides you probably know how I feel about them and Eddie Huang already. But Twitter and internet actions are definitely not escaping today’s part of our multi-part note.

The only recognition you deserve is the recognition you get

Before the internet, and indeed before CNN’s 24 hour news channel, it was commonplace for a lot of interesting and cool stories to get glossed over. There were only so many new stations that could do puff pieces after all. But in 2015 the idea of you deserving recognition is absurd. Why? Because you can either make people pay attention to your achievement or get someone to do it. Let’s hone in on our buddy Twitter really briefly. And in the interest of being somewhat transparent(Amazingly so for a Super Villain), we’ll use my personal twitter as the focus. When I was studying for the bar I had a twitter, and basically didn’t use it. Having set the account up some time before I basically only used it to keep track of funny quotes from certain comedians, and reposting blog posts when WDDIJ opened. I didn’t care. I didn’t have a reason to. And I would go for months not posting anything or even checking it.

So what changed? Well I made a tweet via my facebook link to twitter about @Wrekonize‘s then yet to be released album The War Within. I had been up for some crazy hours studying for the bar exam, and his single Anxiety Attacks had been on repeat. It was just that day’s perfect groove to get the law in my head. But I’ve tweeted about stuff like that before. When Wrek responded I realized how instant the recognition can be. When I brought it up at a show while we got a pic and he remembered, well I figured out something that will b brought up later.

The other big instant AH-HA has been with The Young Turks’ Jayar Jackson(@JayarJackson) in a far more serious moment. Let’s not mince words here. I’m at 1800 followers I’m talking about people who start at 10k. I’m the most vicious pirana, but I’m still jUST a pirana. For all my teeth, one of me is just an annoyance not a threat. But did I pester Jayar, and everyone else at TYT about how lax their Ferguson coverage was? Of course. And the second AH-HA was because Jayar responded. Hell Ana Kasparian who has absolutely no reason to responded(No Cenk though, I’m just a baby pirana). And while I’m not going to say the reason Jayar stepped in to talk the next day on the show was me related, I take some pride knowing he at least maybe thought about it. And the coverage was overall better. Now months later, in prime position to, did he bring it up on Twitter and remind me who has the bigger account? yep. Was it like that moment Jay-Z “I’m all about dollars who the fuck is 50 Cent?” I wish I was that big. But close enough for a metaphor.

The reality of this social media, internet media, modern society of ours is you will only be praised by people if they know to do it. And you will only be recognized by them if you do something. For good or ill we don’t have the quiet pride of melancholy anymore. At various points before you folks have truly shown me that you like us and want more I’ve had our writers and myself submit pieces to bigger places. Why? Because if they or I do it would have made this place bigger regardless of whether or not the person could stay on here. This of course translates to everything in life. Despite people knowing full well how I’m likely to react or respond I’m still subjected to the whims of certain kinds of stupidity. “You should cover __________” is often brought up. Some expected me to talk about Mayweather and take a stand because of his domestic violence issues. Why? Because I’m the blogger they know. Which leads us to harsh truth 3.

You can either engage with people or not. But positive or negative the consequences are your fault.

There is something to be said for the nature of recognition, but you can’t complain about being under the public or your target’s eyes once you put yourself out there. It is why it is important to do things intentionally or not at all. Because the act of “I never wanted this attention” is hollow in modern society. Everyone is everyone not just big brother. So don’t be surprised when people come after you. It is why I often give out a nice warning about deletes from my personal facebook. Anyone can get deleted, at any time for any reason. That’s the price for getting me to pay attention. Negative or positive you engage and you are responsible. Celebrity, average person, or Super Villain blogger Deal with it. And while we’re on responsibility…

Being and idiot is not the default setting

You might say this particular part is all internet focused. But really it is about modern conventions versus the by-gone issues of yesteryear. I say that because the things that we look at now are all about the instant effect on us and society at large. That being the case it is extraordinarily silly that so much is missed by so many. Because even as late as the 80s you had some kind of excuse. Most folks know that the internet made information, both credible and not, more available. What you might not know is that as late as the 80s it could take months for a book not at your local library to be gotten to you from another on loan. Even now, library based learning is difficult. Not so with the web. What does that mean?

It means that there are universities with the entire catalog of their classes online to be taken. It means places like MIT can give away all the information used in every class on the web. It means you don’t have a reason to not know about many things. Let’s talk about a few of them. While most use the web for social purposes, you can easily learn the truth about all the crazy supposed science claims you see. And not by visiting Snopes. A quick google search by highlighting the claim, or the supposed source is there. A good test for more scientific studies is whether or not the person has made it available online. Most studies are in a journal easily accessible. In fact, if you can’t find the journal or study online, it is either brand new, not finished, or hilariously not credible. Why science journals are more credible than Jenny McCarthy’s insane ramblings is the process of peer review. That’s why you hear smart people blast psuedo-science all the time. It can devalue their work, and also without review you wouldn’t be able to trust other information.

I went with science first because for some reason we have been in the midst of a decline for trust in science for the last 15 years instead of increase. And I have a theory, internet bias. You hear enough times about crazy men inhabiting the abandoned gas station on the corner and you are going to at least assume that might have at one point been the case. Well you hear about enough scientists getting paid to come up with crazy results and you’re going to think more are than you are getting told about. Neil Degrasse Tyson recent had a bunch of people get mad all over again about his comment that whether or not you believe in science it is still true. The reason this can be true for science is that the point of science is to constantly attempt to understand the world around us by analyzing it.

But let’s talk about the less fluid. I am subjected to a lot of people who don’t get basic things about society. It is one thing when you have errant grammar. Obviously, I have the problem from time to time as well. But it is another thing entirely when “Who cares about x? You should care about y!” is responded to with “I have no idea what you are talking about.” Recently someone actively tried to avoid losing their position in a discussion by not knowing what “dearth” means. The person was so unwilling to look a word up that they assumed it meant the exact and entire opposite. Apparently reading comprehension is gone from all schools, and basic google searches are beyond people. And yes, while I do believe that having a wonderful book collection is a sign of class, and refuse to date women who don’t have a healthy reading habit as an adult, I don’t say you need to as steep in book tradition. the internet has literally every book to survive into the modern era available in digital format for a fraction of the original cost. There should be no excuse for at least catching the basic reference to things.

It is often like the person who reponds to you talking about a popular tv show or movie by smuggly saying that have better things to do instead of keep up. The last week I don’t care what you are into you knew Avengers Age Of Ultron was a thing that was likely to happen soon. Much of the information in the world is the same way. You may not know about Floyd Mayweather’s track record with women, but you can look it up. You may not know Joss Wheadon proudly calls himself a feminist, but it is easy to look it up. And the same goes for things like police brutality, the effect of abstinence-only education, and of course if there are statistics to back up the claims of the people you repost statuses and tweets from. Not knowing because you haven’t gotten to it yet isn’t bad, but claiming ignorance in discussions is. Which of course gets us to Harsh truth 4.

If you haven’t taken the effort to gain wisdom from all the places we have available, you’re an idiot. And if you get called it on the internet unless you have facts they’re right and you’re wrong.

Long and short, defending yourself from an onslaught in a facebook group or a twitter conversation is daunting, but you have to go get the data. If all you have is emotion and position to argue your point the other person has already won. Think I’m secretly atheist like a couple of weird emailers? Please have more than my clear ability to attack all groups I think are wrong about something at a given time. Think I’m parroting someone else’s work? Go get the piece you think I’m aping, and prove it. I’ve hit the home base communities of friends and fellow WDDIJ writers. You think Ronin likes when I hit his MGTOW buddies for their stupidity? How about Reign and the feminists and or liberals? Revanchist and soldiers or geo-political conflicts? I’m not just a villain I’m a Super Villain. I’m not just anti one group or another. I hate idiots, OPENLY! I go after anyone who is off. No one is safe because of their affiliation. I just don’t spend lots of time on some topics because why should I? Regardless today’s part has been focused on slower topics. And we’re done. Tomorrow is part 3. Because really you know the phrase already. Words Don’t Do It Justice!

-THE Ruthless Wonder

Life Goes On… So Run.

You’ll have to forgive me as I’ve been pretty single-minded lately… and by single-minded, I mean all over the place, emotional, unhinged, and showing several signs of insanity. Run! Escape! Flee!I’ve started this so many times and written about life, death, the future, the past, my love for white cheddar with Club crackers… when really, the only thing my mind is consistently on: Run.

I know what you’re thinking. “Run where, Reign?” Simple: Away. I want away from everything and everyone that reminds of this life. That’s the funny thing about having lost the first man in my life: nothing seems right without him, so why bother trying to act like it is? Why? That bring us to the title of this story… because life goes on.

One day in the recent past, I woke up feeling almost normal. I inhaled deeply and my chest didn’t feel like it was going to explode. My face wasn’t already moist with tears I cried in my sleep. My head wasn’t pounding. My eyes weren’t burning. The growl in my stomach didn’t trigger memories of meals with my dad sitting on the other side of the table asking me when I was going to go for my Master’s. I thought I had gotten through the grieving process.

When I finished readying myself for the day, I sat with my laptop and started going through emails, scrolling through Facebook, and trying to plan my next moves because Life Goes On. I was going to plan, budget, strategize… everything I normally do when making life changes. The days I spent at my daddy’s side hoping he’d wake up just long enough to say my name in that way he always did–he didn’t–taught me that life was for the living, and that I owed it to myself to live mine. I was determined to show him if he could see me that I’d be fine. That he didn’t have to worry about me. That I’d move on, move forward, and get ahead.

I had to have been at it for 3 hours before someone called, texted, or sent an FB message asking me what has become my least favorite combination of words in the English language: “How you holding up?” In that moment, smacked in the face by confusion and conflicted emotions, I responded with the most sarcastic and snarlyTable Flip response I could muster before the tears took over my ability to think at all: “I don’t know, you tell me.” Trust and believe folks, on a good day my snarky and sarcastic comebacks are trophy worthy; scathing even. So naturally, I got mad at myself too. How dare I fail so horribly at making someone feel like a complete ass for asking such an obviously horrible question?!? I’m pretty sure I excused myself from that conversation before whoever it was (I honestly can’t remember who) had a chance to make me feel guilty for pointing out their thoughtlessness with such a scornful tone.

Needless to say, reality came crashing in on the fantasy land I woke up in and pretty much killed that day for me. Reality check received: life goes on, but you ain’t ready. The struggle continues. Do More. Require Better. Get ahead… Run.

National Poetry Month

Today is a rather stark break from tradition. As you know I tend to keep my life writing fiction, poetry, and other things separate from my law career, and even more separate from my life here as your favorite Super Villain. Today though, I’ll be breaking with that in honor of National Poetry Month. Below I’m reprinting 1 of my own pieces, as well as a few of my personal favorites from the authors who often influenced me. I include my own as an odd, self depricating failure to keep up with the masters of the art form. But also because poets write poems folks, sometimes we gotta share them too. So for once(Are you happy now superfan who keeps asking about my writing?) here’s one from me and then here’s a few by the Masters who’s writing taught me. And if you want anything related to this stuff check out my artist page, because I will not be bringing it up here again. Maxus on Facebook<- click to go down the rabbit hole. I have a bunch of writer and former writer friends, as well as active, semi, and inactive poet friends(Shout out to Raffeal Sears, I am still hungry for food. Not food food, but food for thought.) who I would be glad to pub their work as well, I just haven’t been getting submissions from them(HINT HINT).

The poem I’m going to share from my own collection is one that is set to be part of a small book called Stories I told myself. And it is unique in that it is one of few with a direct introduction to just the poem. It is also unique in that it is one of few times I am actually talking about myself when the poem uses me, or I. While I have tons of poem protagonists and narrators for that matter. I don’t often make my real self them. People of course, assume stuff, but meh. Anyway, here it is complete with the actual introduction used in the book.

Prayer to the Pantheon

Not a lot of the poems have a bit of a story or introduction, but this poem in particular I felt needed a bit of one. At one point I was in a poetry workshop and someone who was a atheist crafted a poem that sort of explained the she had the same kind of devotion to poetry and poets that some people had to their various religious beliefs. I think possibly she thought I might be offended by the idea of a poem that praised and often spoke of praying and worshipping the heavyweights of poetry. I wasn’t offended in the slightest. One of the many things I had learned in previous years when I went through what some call a crisis of faith, was that the nature of belief by itself is a product of our humanity. Only the subject of belief changes from person to person.

A few years later when I was reawakening this desire to write I found myself making a few too many poems on the particular subject of love. Love’s great and all, but I knew that I had yearned for and hungered after poetry for much more than to just be some hacky love poet trying to pick up girls with honeyed words. It was at that moment I thought back to her poem and the idea that all of these teachers and the lessons that their writing had taught me were being tossed aside. And as someone who strives to not forget things like that I wanted a creative way of expressing my frustration. I’ve long since forgotten that classmate’s name, but it was her poem, and a lot of ego that crafted this into what it is. Myself, I’ve found that it is very interesting when my friends and family who are deeply traditionally religious read it. I’ll only say that it is a poem, not a personal statement.

Prayer to the Pantheon

I’m guilty as sin,
Cause I do it too,
Let my poetic license take me into
The whining and perverse conclusions of hacks.
Dear sweet merciful Jesus forgive me,
For perverting my lessons at Langston’s Feet.
For tossing away the philosophy of Frost.
I got wrapped up in my own ego,
Got twisted in the perfection of linguistic erections.
See I’m doing it again.
Nikki G and Maya forgive me for turning phrases,
Into little more than come on lines and lewd advances.
I don’t know where this started,
Well maybe I do,
See I saw myself on stage filled with indigo blues,
Saw rappers attempt to take over the art,
Tried to show them that poems were Shakespearean love
Torn apart,
Seams broken like dreams unspoken,
Nightmares of rejections, and chances never taken.
But then I saw H.E.R. image,
And then the next and the next,
And my grin that hides the sly machinations of a
Mad poet filled with verbal gymnastics and
Vocabulary flexing of my biggest muscle,
Damnit I can’t escape it Ginsberg,
I want to howl about those angel headed hipsters
Who left the starry dynamo for hedge funds and oil slicks.
But all I can find is my old stage name’s ravings
About rejection and desperation for love,
About the figure of a future dalliance,
I know I know Silvia,
I pray I don’t offend,
But these sexual thoughts that bleed into my pen
I simply don’t know how to end.
Even Whitman had a heart sometimes,
Even Poe could love in a stanza.
William taught us Love could be blind and
Let Benedick die in his lover’s lap,
But if I use their linguistics I’m in a bind
Or this crowd will call me a sap.
I want to twist verbs around
And show them this legal genius is a verbal Dom,
But when I look down at these sweat drenched palms,
It just seems easier to draw up that odd emotion,
Call on late night heroics instead of a measure of devotion,
To this art you all taught me through the pain of my circumstance,
Helped me raise up my lowered head in the face of my depression,
Showed me the beauty of trumpet players and ravens,
Made me question if a waltz was a beating,
And force men to lightly tread on the dreams I had laid under their feet.
But I can’t shake this self-satisfying smugness,
My down and out dreams to drops of dank dreariness,
My acid trip of psychedelic sexual splendor,
Bleeding brash bangs of busty beauties into black ball point pens,
And I feel I’ve failed your faultless pantheon,
Let my corruption coat and crush completely the countless conclusions
The sum total of the sonnetary summations a student calls success.
I’m sorry I stopped fighting for your art,
For the Warrior Poet I was supposed to be.
Forgive me and show me that light again,
But allow me a random digression if nothing more than a chance to vent,
And sometimes express my hidden emotions, so someone out there might get the hint.

And for the audio inclined.

This post could literally have been 20 Langston Hughes poems. Langston Hughes was read to me as a child. He was fed to me by every English teacher, and church elder, and most of my relatives whenever I talked about poetry. I knew Langston Hughes was from Joplin, Missouri before I knew George Brett was playing for the Royals(And my first baseball game was during the world series in 1985) I could do The Negro Speaks of Rivers from Memory before I could do multiplication tables from memory. The Trumpet Player though, is the culmination of my love of Langston’s work. evocative, direct, but full of hidden complexity which never really hits every reader the same their first time. I love it. And I think, you’ll love it too.

Trumpet Player

Written by Langston Hughes

James Langston Hughes [1902-1967]

Trumpet Player

The Negro
With the trumpet at his lips
Has dark moons of weariness
Beneath his eyes
where the smoldering memory
of slave ships
Blazed to the crack of whips
about thighsThe negro
with the trumpet at his lips
has a head of vibrant hair
tamed down,
patent-leathered now
until it gleams
like jet—
were jet a crown

the music
from the trumpet at his lips
is honey
mixed with liquid fire
the rhythm
from the trumpet at his lips
is ecstasy
distilled from old desire—

Desire
that is longing for the moon
where the moonlight’s but a spotlight
in his eyes,
desire
that is longing for the sea
where the sea’s a bar-glass
sucker size

The Negro
with the trumpet at his lips
whose jacket
Has a fine one-button roll,
does not know
upon what riff the music slips

It’s hypodermic needle
to his soul
but softly
as the tune comes from his throat
trouble
mellows to a golden note.

This is not the shortest poem I consider influential. I read a lot of Haiku, both original Japanese Haiku, and modern artist’s attempts. This poem though is one I’d say does everything you want in a few lines. You don’t need more. So while this intro to W.B. Yeats is just about as long as the poem itself, I’m done. Read the poem people.

He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven

By William Butler Yeats

HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

 

I include Howl as the last piece because I remember it first confusing me. It was a reference in the film Hackers, and I immediately had to look it up based on a brief piecemeal usage during a classroom scene. Something made me attach to it. And so I read it. I found myself partially scrawling it places, losing myself in the seediness of the scene. And my ability to talk about the sleaze scapes of some of my settings are often birthed from Howl and way too many hardboiled and noir films.

Howl

BY ALLEN GINSBERG

For Carl Solomon

I
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall,
who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night
with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls,
incomparable blind streets of shuddering cloud and lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the motionless world of Time between,
Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops, storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brooklyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind,
who chained themselves to subways for the endless ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine until the noise of wheels and children brought them down shuddering mouth-wracked and battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance in the drear light of Zoo,
who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford’s floated out and sat through the stale beer afternoon in desolate Fugazzi’s, listening to the crack of doom on the hydrogen jukebox,
who talked continuously seventy hours from park to pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brooklyn Bridge,
a lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills off Empire State out of the moon,
yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars,
whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the Synagogue cast on the pavement,
who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic City Hall,
suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grindings and migraines of China under junk-withdrawal in Newark’s bleak furnished room,
who wandered around and around at midnight in the railroad yard wondering where to go, and went, leaving no broken hearts,
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing through snow toward lonesome farms in grandfather night,
who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telepathy and bop kabbalah because the cosmos instinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas,
who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking visionary indian angels who were visionary indian angels,
who thought they were only mad when Baltimore gleamed in supernatural ecstasy,
who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Oklahoma on the impulse of winter midnight streetlight smalltown rain,
who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston seeking jazz or sex or soup, and followed the brilliant Spaniard to converse about America and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship to Africa,
who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving behind nothing but the shadow of dungarees and the lava and ash of poetry scattered in fireplace Chicago,
who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the FBI in beards and shorts with big pacifist eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incomprehensible leaflets,
who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism,
who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union Square weeping and undressing while the sirens of Los Alamos wailed them down, and wailed down Wall, and the Staten Island ferry also wailed,
who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked and trembling before the machinery of other skeletons,
who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight in policecars for committing no crime but their own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication,
who howled on their knees in the subway and were dragged off the roof waving genitals and manuscripts,
who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy,
who blew and were blown by those human seraphim, the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean love,
who balled in the morning in the evenings in rosegardens and the grass of public parks and cemeteries scattering their semen freely to whomever come who may,
who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath when the blond & naked angel came to pierce them with a sword,
who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden threads of the craftsman’s loom,
who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of beer a sweetheart a package of cigarettes a candle and fell off the bed, and continued along the floor and down the hall and ended fainting on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness,
who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling in the sunset, and were red eyed in the morning but prepared to sweeten the snatch of the sunrise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked in the lake,
who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad stolen night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver—joy to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses’ rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely petticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too,
who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and picked themselves up out of basements hung-over with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemployment offices,
who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the East River to open to a room full of steam-heat and opium,
who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime blur floodlight of the moon & their heads shall be crowned with laurel in oblivion,
who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of Bowery,
who wept at the romance of the streets with their pushcarts full of onions and bad music,
who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in their lofts,
who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded by orange crates of theology,
who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty incantations which in the yellow morning were stanzas of gibberish,
who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht & tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable kingdom,
who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for an egg,
who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks fell on their heads every day for the next decade,
who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccessfully, gave up and were forced to open antique stores where they thought they were growing old and cried,
who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse & the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinister intelligent editors, or were run down by the drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,
who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alleyways & firetrucks, not even one free beer,
who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of the subway window, jumped in the filthy Passaic, leaped on negroes, cried all over the street, danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed phonograph records of nostalgic European 1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans in their ears and the blast of colossal steamwhistles,
who barreled down the highways of the past journeying to each other’s hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude watch or Birmingham jazz incarnation,
who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had a vision to find out Eternity,
who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came back to Denver & waited in vain, who watched over Denver & brooded & loned in Denver and finally went away to find out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,
who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying for each other’s salvation and light and breasts, until the soul illuminated its hair for a second,
who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for impossible criminals with golden heads and the charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet blues to Alcatraz,
who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the daisychain or grave,
who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hypnotism & were left with their insanity & their hands & a hung jury,
who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism and subsequently presented themselves on the granite steps of the madhouse with shaven heads and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding instantaneous lobotomy,
and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psychotherapy occupational therapy pingpong & amnesia,
who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia,
returning years later truly bald except for a wig of blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible madman doom of the wards of the madtowns of the East,
Pilgrim State’s Rockland’s and Greystone’s foetid halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rocking and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a nightmare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the moon,
with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book flung out of the tenement window, and the last door closed at 4 A.M. and the last telephone slammed at the wall in reply and the last furnished room emptied down to the last piece of mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted on a wire hanger in the closet, and even that imaginary, nothing but a hopeful little bit of hallucination—
ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and now you’re really in the total animal soup of time—
and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use of the ellipsis catalogue a variable measure and the vibrating plane,
who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space through images juxtaposed, and trapped the archangel of the soul between 2 visual images and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun and dash of consciousness together jumping with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus
to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human prose and stand before you speechless and intelligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet confessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm of thought in his naked and endless head,
the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, yet putting down here what might be left to say in time come after death,
and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the suffering of America’s naked mind for love into an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio
with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years.
II
What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?
Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks!
Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy judger of men!
Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment! Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned governments!
Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb!
Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose factories dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose smoke-stacks and antennae crown the cities!
Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen! Moloch whose name is the Mind!
Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream Angels! Crazy in Moloch! Cocksucker in Moloch! Lacklove and manless in Moloch!
Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom I am a consciousness without a body! Moloch who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy! Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch! Light streaming out of the sky!
Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic industries! spectral nations! invincible madhouses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs!
They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pavements, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to Heaven which exists and is everywhere about us!
Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies! gone down the American river!
Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole boatload of sensitive bullshit!
Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions! gone down the flood! Highs! Epiphanies! Despairs! Ten years’ animal screams and suicides! Minds! New loves! Mad generation! down on the rocks of Time!
Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell! They jumped off the roof! to solitude! waving! carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the street!
III
Carl Solomon! I’m with you in Rockland
   where you’re madder than I am
I’m with you in Rockland
   where you must feel very strange
I’m with you in Rockland
   where you imitate the shade of my mother
I’m with you in Rockland
   where you’ve murdered your twelve secretaries
I’m with you in Rockland
   where you laugh at this invisible humor
I’m with you in Rockland
   where we are great writers on the same dreadful typewriter
I’m with you in Rockland
   where your condition has become serious and is reported on the radio
I’m with you in Rockland
   where the faculties of the skull no longer admit the worms of the senses
I’m with you in Rockland
   where you drink the tea of the breasts of the spinsters of Utica
I’m with you in Rockland
   where you pun on the bodies of your nurses the harpies of the Bronx
I’m with you in Rockland
   where you scream in a straightjacket that you’re losing the game of the actual pingpong of the abyss
I’m with you in Rockland
   where you bang on the catatonic piano the soul is innocent and immortal it should never die ungodly in an armed madhouse
I’m with you in Rockland
   where fifty more shocks will never return your soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a cross in the void
I’m with you in Rockland
   where you accuse your doctors of insanity and plot the Hebrew socialist revolution against the fascist national Golgotha
I’m with you in Rockland
   where you will split the heavens of Long Island and resurrect your living human Jesus from the superhuman tomb
I’m with you in Rockland
   where there are twentyfive thousand mad comrades all together singing the final stanzas of the Internationale
I’m with you in Rockland
   where we hug and kiss the United States under our bedsheets the United States that coughs all night and won’t let us sleep
I’m with you in Rockland
   where we wake up electrified out of the coma by our own souls’ airplanes roaring over the roof they’ve come to drop angelic bombs the hospital illuminates itself    imaginary walls collapse    O skinny legions run outside    O starry-spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is here    O victory forget your underwear we’re free
I’m with you in Rockland
   in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea-journey on the highway across America in tears to the door of my cottage in the Western night
San Francisco, 1955—1956

Allen Ginsberg, “Howl” from Collected Poems, 1947-1980. Copyright © 1984 by Allen Ginsberg. Used with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Source: Selected Poems 1947-1995 (HarperPerennial, 2001)

Who are some of your favorite Poets and what are some of your favorite poems? I do hope you enjoyed my contribution and be sure to check out the other poets in your circle of friends, and elsewhere in the world. Because for once Words Do Them Justice!

– The Ruthless Wonder

Nothing Lasts Forever… Because Change.

If you were expecting a depressing post about endings and enjoying things while they last… You and your pessimism are going to be sorely disappointed. Friday, March 21st is the first official day of Spring! The season of new beginnings, change, growth, rebirth and all he stuff we have a bad habit of expecting on January 1st, in the dead of winter while the populous is reeling from meals they shouldn’t have eaten and purchases they shouldn’t have made.

That’s right folks, if I had to pick a favorite season, it would be Spring. Sure, I love Autumn… falling backward on the clock… the return of my favorite TV series…boot season… and my favorite holiday All Hallows Eve… but there’s something about the smell of crisp spring rain on a dewy morning and droplets shimmering on newly sprouted leaves that just makes me feel alive.

So what are we really talking about nothing lasting forever for? because when it comes to change and growth, there is no time like the present. I mean seriously, we just talked about this. Personally, I am all about change right now. Good, bad or indifferent, growth is happening and change looks good on me. No, everything isn’t like skipping through tulips every day. I have moments… ok, hours where all of the voices in my head decide to test my resolve… but I come out and I am still moving forward. Let’s talk metaphysics

We talk about going backward and planning for the future, but the only thing we have is right now. The minute I just spent typing this sentence is a minute I will never get back. I am losing moments of my life one keystroke at a time… with each breath… each blink… every pause to reread, edit, and carefully select my next words, I am losing time that I could spend doing any number of things that could lead the rest of my entire Flutter-bylife in a completely different direction, including to its end. The moments I’m spending putting these words to this page is setting an infinitesimal array of unforeseen events into motion… not just in my life, but in every life, that touches every other life, that touches every other life… like a never ending echo… like a butterfly effect. Think about that. If you had to remember that every moment, every action, every thought you have would definitely change someone else’s world, wouldn’t you make your actions more meaningful? Wouldn’t it be worth it to you to make your life meaningful? I forgot that human are to selfishness as white is to rice. Let’s try this: If you knew that what you chose to do right now could be the reason you do or don’t find $1,000,000,000,000 in your bank account tomorrow, wouldn’t you make whatever you’re doing right now matter? Yeah you would. And you know what, it does. Fortunately, life doesn’t work that way, and since we don’t know which moves we make will cause our success or demise, we should live every moment. Not survive or tolerate it. LIVE it. Live it now, not tomorrow, because we have no idea what is going to happen in the next few moments that will make tomorrow disappear. Nothing, save death, lasts forever…. and we’ve all heard stories and philosophies that suggest even that might not be the case.

The change you regret today, could be the change you needed to get you to where you wanted to go all along. Take chances. Make changes. Remember that forever is an abstract that has neither an beginning nor an end. Change happens whether you accept it, embrace it, or expect it, or not. Make this your time to

Do more. Require Better.