Man Up! How?

I’ve spent the weekend in the presence of up to 30 men. An environment where masculinity and mental health within men were explored with a view to an eventual performance. It gave scope for bonding, conversing, unlocking doors to experiences that have brought joy, pain and indifference. It allowed creatives to create and every voice to be heard.

At the end of the first day, my niggling thought was, can I separate masculinity from race? I ignored the thought because I didn’t have a place in this sphere.  At the end of the second day, it returned. The truth is I don’t know if I can make a definitive separation.

Whereas some groups have to an extent, found a voice to articulate their struggles and versions of their humanity, I cannot say that my voice has the capacity to capture hearts in the same way. Some go as far as labelling other groups as “the new black” as they draw parallels with being a minority group, and discriminatory attitudes towards them. This is not to say that I am jealous of the shift towards social acceptance, or seek to dismiss their voices. Rather, being within earshot of this has been a trigger, a point of reference from which I begin another journey of understanding.

When I entered the room ahead of the session, I entered as a creative. I entered simply seeking inspiration and hoping that I might write something I could show off. That was the way I would get by.

My masculinity has been heavily influenced by cultural expectations, traditions and race-based perceptions. They have been compounded by faith based interpretations of manhood.  I don’t get to see myself as just a man. I am black man and whisper it….I’m a Christian. To the world around me, to the world inside of me.

I am not socially acceptable in my real form in as many spaces as others are afforded.

In seeking to stay on topic I kept my mention of race down to one conversation to provide context for my story. I didn’t want to as people say….play the race card. Was this men’s space a white space?

In the black community, we are pretty expressive, yet Mental Health is something we collectively seem to be quieter on. My mother was a mental health nurse so she was and still is aware of the signs when particularly I have encountered struggles with mine. In wanting the best, tough love was a method of dealing with it. Yet even in that I was never just a man. Always a black man.

“You are a black man…..you cannot afford to let yourself slip. You cannot afford to….”

I have always had to be aware of how I speak, how I act so that someone else feels better about themselves. At times it feels like as a black man, I don’t really get to have a safe space because I am going to be a threat to someone. I am going to be lumped with some part of society. I am part of something that will be invaded by well-meaning trend seekers who will sell a version of me back to me as though they were Christopher Columbus.

If I show I’m intelligent, I’m a threat so I’m getting passed on for promotions and meaningful career development activity.  If I wear certain clothes, I’m a threat. If I show that I’m angry I’m a threat. Then there’s the projections of promiscuity and prowess. I self-edit constantly to ensure that everyone feels comfortable.

Should I seek black spaces?

Again….do I get to have shared experiences? After all I am male, I was once a child that has become a man.

However, as a child in primary school, my white headmistress sent for me during lunch time. She told me that a black kid has to work 100 times harder than a white kid. I wasn’t given any reasons as to why she chose that moment to give me “the fact of life” that many black kids have drummed into them from birth. Yet, it eroded my self-confidence as a child.

Through the years, versions of this were re-iterated in order to keep me on the straight and narrow. I was even told that if I was a white guy, I’d be ten-a-penny. That I should be fortunate that black people are a minority, as it’s the only way I would stand out.

Shared experiences where being black doesn’t have a say in proceedings seem few and far between. Celebrity deaths get more reaction than folks arrested for waiting at Starbucks. Maybe that’s a different issue. Somehow, somewhere, between principles and expectations, nature and preference, I exist

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Home Is A Diving Board

diving board

Trapped between the sound of splashing and touching water

Wearing fanfares to allay fear

Fostering first finishes from ticks glimmering

They say…

Stand within ear shot of the gun to know your target

Is clapping the fruit of the harvest?

Drown, and become a compass from a floating carcass.

Another one who did the math only to make up the numbers

Saddled with sackcloth, shame and numbness

Straddling feint margins, seeking waves as markers.

Struggling to strum the melody of the barking.

Seeking to beat this with heartstrings.

A war-torn dome is only enlightened by stillness.

Choose your weapon before tumbleweed kills you.

Strike with every breath, release gold or reach home.

Time the trapeze, then reach and step.

Let your soul know this was a good body to rent.

 

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Cloud Control

handling1

I thought I could handle it.
This is my 99 final
I’m writing a manuscript.
I’m a royal male
Stamping my authority on the situation enveloping.
I hit the post, and caught a P45 for arrested development
Had to face the music but couldn’t sell a tape.
Feeling 21 again except
I’ve gained a lot of responsibilities and different education.
Job applications, eat n sleep them , play station.
Go to church, be grateful, remix, repeat, template it.
Don’t leave the screen, or time waste.
Just, keep your head up and eyes straight.
What’s patience when you’re gaining weight?
Wait on God for your phone call, an interview.
They say, a head on your shoulders is a stage for greatness.
The inner you, is pained but heal and grow bro.
I’m left wondering how the gravy train became an engine less stage coach.

I thought I could handle it.
First in last out, I thought I’d get the hang of it.
That’s the way I planned for things.
To be, shunted, that’s the manure script.
No more banter filled, days that raise you from the grave workload your facing.
No secret santas, random nights out or days to stuff your face with
Sugar laced platitudes are crack when you need a fix.
Unkempt nuns aren’t the only ones with bad habits.
Things fall apart when you’re barely playing a part.
Would wisdom have seen my false start?
I thought I could handle it

Name changed from Adrian to bastion.
An analyst in a battalion banking on being valiant.
The canon changed so much I was a candidate for valium.
Alarm bells were haranguing me.
Ropes disguised as ribbons were asking to hang with me.
I saw through the eyes of the needle.
That year I’d, had more hits than Ed Sheeran.
More scars than Killmonger.
Some firsts were longer and the endings sweeter.
As the facts started to pan, hopes started to Peter.
Blip, blip, blip, bleeeep

Now my last wage has to stay past my birthday.
That’s months away and there’s bills to pay.
Everyone’s a sage and their advice is playing on one of 5 multiplex screens.
I’m praying I’m not brought to my knees.
Telling myself I’m a man, I’ve got to handle this
Don’t prolong the shame on your family.
You’re not penniless with Jesus sandals begging in the city centre (Hanley) yet.
You’re not a father so it could be a lot harder.
Yes, darkness smothers the brightest of days.
Create your own karma.
Replace that window pain with thankfulness.
Let your actions anchor it.
Be a man in this

I am not my father, I am more than his son.
I can’t wait to announce that Karmas pregnant because I’ve overcome.
Until then I shall feed my vision with knowing the mission is cooperative.
The new world I desire will take more than thoughts and prayers to populate.
Because I am built to handle it.

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Down Day

Image result for feeling down

 

They say men are made from stuff women aren’t.

Stronger hands, harder hearts

You can take a beating and dare not flinch

The measure of man’s tiers found in grit not ink.

 

He’s made of wildest dreams and infinite schemes

A man is built to last.

He can plot a tree and chop down forests.

Just women’s ages he dare not ask.

 

A man should have money, a man should have style.

A man commands the stage.

Men have no fear, knows lust not love.

Being a MAN is all the rage.

 

So why do good ones fall and bad ones rise?

Is it safe to even ask?

Is it weak to cry, will he be despised?

Is it wise to be about that?

 

I’m drowning in supposed to be.

What I’m not has been my yoke.

If I’m a man or so I claim will my man card be revoked?

 

I guess I’ll hang from ropes you beat me with.

My failures and dented pride.

When love is lost we count the cost.

No hope and suicide.

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FROM

Image result for journey

Snap chat masking me

What is Masculinity?

His story is mine.

Wheels of the divine?

Magnolia tears screeching

Preaching can’t reach in

Chat rooms and emails

Soul ties and habits

Are they devils or detail?

Masculinity

On the ropes and off the rails

All is vanity

All I’ve got is me

Hands low chin tucked backing up.

Trying to give a

Swing for upper crust

Walk on to the uppercut

Dying to give a

Mourning a mauling

Stabbing at stepping forward

Falling without love.

Ballads and parables

Man of cool to manacles

Just a wailing wall

 

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Shaking the block

Writers block writing stop
Fighting what fires flocks
Painting luscious lions, locks
Ignited align with minds that won’t malign your crops.
You won’t see diamonds stop.
Shining when clouds climb on top.
The rush of the ride will drop.
Sometimes you’ve got to be a minotaur to get behind the door.
Frames change games, meanings names.
Blame remains that same iceberg lettuce.
This ain’t your average Tetris.
We shift gears because our vehicle lets us.
Watch your steps sun, don’t be caught in plain tiffs and vain rifts.
Your gift deserves more than memes and gifs.
I chop it up through writers block to give a soul a lift

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Lament of a Psalmist

lament

You can feel intimate with a militant. 

They seem so real, yet when you touch them, you feel silicone. 

But God said! So their thus said is legitimate. 

Ignorant innocents are impudent kites

Hold on or be hung by string theory

Holy rollers become weed smokers.

Unnoticed, Moses became the Joker

Deleting pixels for their picture a bat symbol, not magnum opus

Hopeful loyalists practice upper lip stiffness as wisdom

Won’t take a knee or comb the heir to the family business.

Live in a dragons den whispering their knowledge of the litmus.

This divine monopoly’s a comedy of vapours and groupthink.

Where the audience is clowned for pointing out it stinks.

Rub sticks and create fire or feel the sword like molar of holy rollers

Code masters unmask the mode of most high and create players to sacrifice.

Who am I?

A born sinner, a dinner, a lost soul to a soul winner that won’t vary the bait.

Space invaders, snipers, rangers marshal the momentum of the naysayer.

Demon days filled with gorillas, gargoyles and goblins are a Lord’s Prayer.

Whose frames do you wear? Do you die or dare? Be a black life, matter?

I see red tape masters speak tongues in monotones like heaven’s got their name on the deed.

With all of these gang signs and storms seen I’m falling through my flaws.

My moorings are unsure and I’m dying to breathe, searching for answers.

If the real God we can’t see, is it because of us or gospel gangsters?

 

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