Tag Archives: journey

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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Filed under Just Living, Non Poetic Blogs

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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Filed under Random Poetics

Teenage Dream (4RW)

We were apples in fields of Perry,

Our exercise books were the gallery and shade where we ripened.

Your gallant smile garnished my appetite as my heart galloped.

At a chance glance you stirred the meat and the juices, I couldn’t decide between hunger and thirst.

I would have licked your lips for starters, chewed on your garter.

Every note was a recipe and I wanted you to cook my parsnip

Yet I was just fishing and you were already parsley.

We were like onion and garlic when English and Geography brought us together

 

Fondling the fringe of our fantasies in front of our future was a natural hazard.

Playing with the shape of you was the intention but, maybe I killed us thinking out loud.

Forethought and hindsight were toll roads asking us if we had enough change.

How deep were our pockets? Was I ready for yours in mine?

What’s a perfect 10 when you’re in year 9?

We never….so I guess I’ll never…..never mind

It was real at the time.

 

Maybe you were the first brick in a very long road

Maybe we would have found the lost city of gold

Now you’re living on the other side of a rainbow.

My flag is nowhere to be seen.

You’re the pear in a Perry field because I didn’t have the bottle.

I’m not a whine seller, simply a painter of paths.

Our moments on Fleet Street… thanks.

 

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My Adidas

 

Sometimes your stride pattern is just as important as your shoes. The worn soul of mine meant all I had was my stride. All I had were stops and starts, long presses and short taps, perhaps they were Morse code to the universe, calling out for a new pair.

From the miles I have walked, the only thing I would wish upon anyone is the beauty of acquaintances providing rest from the intense heat.

Having made many strides, in recent times I found a formidable adversary that challenged me to dance down treacle-filled streets with concrete blocks strapped to my feet.

Even with two shoes as two sides to a story, my truth in all of this was that I had to Get Out. Clearings that energised me to walk a certain way were blocked or simply no longer existed.

I’d been here about 14 years ago yet I’d forgotten what the storm felt like. I forgot the scar caused by the lightning, I forgot the days of darkness and how I would have to keep my eyes open, fighting with the same fingertips I was holding onto my sanity with.

Every now and then my eyes would mistake a candle for the sun, yeah… I’d been here before. How many more strides could I get through?

Ask a friend, ask an adversary?

She sipped tea like Miss Piggy proved Kermit was cheating.

Stirred it now and then to keep me in a hopeless place.

My records laid before her showed my performance was ace

12-and-a-half years a slave, I took my calls and beatings.

When Liberty shook her bell I ran away, to freedom

The universe stopped re-healing my shoes and sent me several new pairs. The equilibrium has changed, I drive instead of walk, I have new scenery to take in and understand.

Even though lightning left a deeper scar from the second strike, I know that the path I am on is one that is made for me.

New shoes, my strides, in the words of Nas….”Whose world is this?”

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Filed under Non Poetic Blogs

Sailing

FreeGreatPicture.com-1203-sailing-high-definition-material

The ship has sailed, but the sea lingers

Her fingers still fondle my timbers

The spine kindles like tinder.

Blocks shading the so-called rub of the green, my heart beats turn to cinders

When I look into the future and remember I kiss my present with the question.

Why does the sea linger?

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Filed under Just Living, Relationships

Blooming Marvellous

This week has been an inspiring one, full of themes and quotes that I could build poetry from. My favourite quote has been “Follow the contour of the road”.

The context was a driving lesson where my mind was over-thinking and I took a straight line through a couple of lanes.

Many times we embark on a path only to crash or come to a dead end because we want it to be a straight line. If we want to go into a different room of our house we have to turn a corner at some point.

It’s like life is a colouring book given to us with every colour Crayola could offer, yet we choose one and use it on every page. Not only that, when that colour runs out we try to re-create that colour and feel stressed because the other colours aren’t it. Let your beach scenes be just that!

For me following the contour of the road, like my perception of my writing, acknowledges that which is behind me whilst concentrating on that ahead.

I was moved to anger and sadness having recently learned, through a documentary, that my surname was given by British slave masters in Jamaica. That said, Positive Reflection has sandwiched the joy of my birthday and other accomplishments the last 7 days.

Confession time…I rarely use the word happy in conversations about myself. Perhaps it is a blessing and a curse at times that like my father, I’m a perfectionist at heart. Yet from passing my driving theory test to the surprises from my wife, my side of my family, and even from my team at work have made feel happy. I cried tears of joy a few times on my birthday, having felt a forceful combination of joy and contentment. I was happy.

A brownie cake baked by one of my team.

A brownie cake baked by one of my team.

Maybe you’ve lived your whole life to the fullest using every part of your brain’s capacity, or maybe like me, you’re steadily realising where you’re at and beginning to make it better than it’s ever been.

The words Attitude and Commitment sum up my last 12 months and will be the backbone of the next 12, and the 12 beyond that. I left 32 knowing with an outline of the scenes I want to add colour to throughout my 33rd year.  Perhaps the biggest challenge and change in this part of my life is committing to commitment.

If it helps, write down the new places you’ve been, things you’ve done that you didn’t do before. You might realise very quickly how much you have lived, learned or even want to do!

I love rhythm, find yours and Smile!

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Filed under Just Living, Non Poetic Blogs

The Journey (52/ 2)

With one hand I can count my roots.
What have I left? Who is right?
It seems day’s dressed as night
Isn’t the sun meant to be, The Christ?
Like an atheist crusade in Saudia Arabia, a cloud switched off the light
Where am I going?

If every paths been beaten, by walking them, am I adding to the torture?
These taut virtues taste like battery acid
It burns to speak in tongues in the temple of my thoughts.
So I make melodies from metatarsals and meditations
Striding alongside the reservoir of motivations
I bear my cross along side man made war
To weigh stone cold silences mistaken for peace
My ears swallow to make a sum of my failures
Where am I going?

From the mourning comes englightening
If hades is broad statements, paradise seems narrow minded
I drink the colours from the sky and define me.
Is it called insight when you’re blinded?
I know, If I turn left, I’ll find right again,
I know I’ll find my fight just when I write without aversion
Without purpose, two feats don’t make a legend
It says walk with me

Sure as some steps forward feel like blessings full of curses
Perseverance is more than a purse of verses
Sometimes I want to turn every cyclist into the Icarus of the Trent and Mersey
Disperse them to permanent immersion with a note that says, Today you received mercy
Yet smiles and saluations from strangers dispense these urges
The grass is only greener when my circuits start e-merging
Although I stumble dividing colour because this trip it seems so purple
I AM Going
To work

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