Category Archives: Poems
A video of a performance at MAD Studios of “Sob Stories,” a poem about stories and the tales that bring us closer as a species, the need to share mysteries and explore through poetry the nuance of the human heart.
An extra video of my first poem, “Sacred.”
We’re all hungry for something more
And not just enough jumbo-sized pizza
Or calorie-rich milkshake from McDonald’s
Or another side of cheese-and-bacon fries.
But instead for the light at the end of the tunnel
That was foreclosed in the recession,
for the fingertips that brush our hair back
When we fall asleep in the passenger’s seat,
and for the words no one ever says
That could disrupt the void of silence
Fill the aching pit our stomachs reveal
When we realize we want something else, something more.
They say the whole country’s obese,
So the question is:
For what are we so desperately starving?
But every poem does.
Don’t be fooled by the peach fuzz:
I swear like a sailor,
Still scarred like a failure.
The sacred won’t always do,
But the profane sounds perfect.
Because sometimes life stinks like shiitake mushrooms.
Sometimes, you fudge up.
Guillotine’s pressed against your neck.
Everything’s darned to heck.
Everyone you know is a bloody boat-licker,
Lick-spittled, tarnated butt-kicker.
Language shapes thoughts which forms actions
Which reflect reactions, cause gee wiz
Ain’t those rules just Cheez n’ Crackers?
Egad! The moral pressures of Catholic school
Have us screaming in the streets, wondering
What the Dickens we should say
In polite company, in a polite way,
Around the dinner table.
Sometimes, we’re not able to express ourselves
But by thundering blasted obscenities
At the top of our lungs.
Confound it, I’m done with the doggone bull-hockey!
Nothing you can say will shock me.
Just tell me your stories and your truth,
And it won’t matter what buggered words you use.
“A Savage Yawp” happens to be the first poem I ever published (in the 2011 Poetry Matters anthology). After looking through old poems, I decided to rewrite it in my modern style, a more spoken-word-laden piece concerning the public education system and the notion that tests can determine futures. Listen to both versions and give your thoughts below.
I hope this offers some insight into particularly the philosophy of education expounded by South Carolina public schools.
You are King of the Sea, I said
and I King of the Sky.
Don’t you see me, see my wings?
See how I soar? See how I fly?
See how I launch myself from pedestals,
flapping wings of wax, of ambition and manmade edifice.
See how I can fly?
And he I imagine is an underwater king
though he spends most of the time
gliding across the tide on a battered surfboard.
I imagine him peaceful, innocent, yet fierce
like a sea turtle clutching a trident.
He sits aloft coral reefs, sprints across the backs of Great Whites
and can communicate with sea horses like Aquaman.
It was Sunday, the waves unsure, the sky cold and clear
Later, I could see the stars, and I pretended I could name each one
as if I had named them myself.
He explained, in his childish manner, about the rap industry and then
his theory of art
For a quiet boy from Long Island, a placid surfer dude who wanted to become a doctor,
you do not expect for him to care so deeply for art.
But on that Sunday, we reeled him into our nightly chaos
into our vices, into our storytelling.
And he explained, how art should asymptotically close to nature.
That Art should be a reflection of reality, of one’s perception.
Then we pretended to be great artists too, boldly shaping faces
sketching dinosaurs in top hats in the margins of our biology notes.
I drew an illustration of he and I
He the King of the Sea
Me the King of the Sky
See how I fly? I asked
And you’re in the waves, exploring the deep
as if in dreams, in sleep, you’ve been talking
searching for something to say, whether it be just a word or a sentence
See how I fall? I asked. See how I fall?
I don’t see nothing at all, you said, nothing at all.
And I said, keep searching, just keep seeking.
Sometimes, I feel my soul forgets its immortality
and I try pouring concrete into my chest to make myself whole again.
I’m afraid my veins will abandon me, that I’ll stop seeking the stars,
that I might stop wondering how many licks it will take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop.
My bells must forgive their clappers,
and my trees allow mushrooms to feed on their decay.
Sometimes, I stick out like King Kong clinging to the Empire.
I burn like an angel on fire.
I could snowball similes until they’re sluiced with slush
Or I could mix metaphors mighty as meteorites missing the Earth by a minute margin
I could sandcastle stanzas and repeat a relentless rhyme
But poetry perpetuates only half of the heliocentric equation
Like we’re missing the bigger picture.
My life ain’t just a house to tear down
Give me the hatchet, I’ll cut off all the things holding me down
I’ll strip my walls and paint murals on them with my fingers.
I’ll try wearing my heart around my neck, so I don’t forget it’s there
or that my veins know me better than a lover’s touch.
I don’t tell sob stories, just stories. Sometimes, I can’t tell the difference.
You wake up, your chest bursting open
your ribcage splayed across your bed, bleeding unto the morning
These words will rip you apart, will climb from your heart
there’s been a poet living there all along
This is a video of a performance in Charleston at the East Bay Meeting House. Hopefully, you’ll like these poems “Ode to W.W.” and “A Southern Voice,” and soon, I can upload more videos of my performances. I perform nearly weekly at this venue and others. Keep a look out for further videos.
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Poets tend to have a prodigious talent for producing vaguely philosophical conclusions from the smallest details. Think of the greatest haikus, those crisp images that subtly invoke feelings. Even from the blue jay or the rose bush or the gravy-textured sky, we can derive meaning. At first, this sounds a little crazy, though, doesn’t it?
Your friend comes late to dinner, fixing his hair, clearing his throat—this denotes frustration. When penned down, when life is transcribed into novels, we spend hours analyzing what the text means, what we can learn from what the characters do, from how the author describes the shape of the hills in the distance or the used condoms crumpled by simmering storm drains. During our real-life experiences, however, we rarely analyze actions in such a way.
Pay attention to not just what people do, but what it could mean about them. Don’t boast that you can read minds or understand human interactions, because you can’t—everyone is an amateur philosopher, an amateur theist, an amateur poet. No one can be master in such matters.
Especially if you mean to make art, in my case to write poetry, you must watch how people act, what people say. Try to create poetry that is true to the moment, to life. Sometimes, I will sit among a group of people writing down things they say. Strange things, sometimes profound things. We spend hours hypothesizing in lively debates, changing each others’ minds inexorably, only to forget our enlightenment minutes later, the time it takes for people to leave us.
Alone, however, we should continue to consider our actions and thoughts—why do we think this way? Why do we act this way? Whether you approach this psychologically or religiously or senselessly, it doesn’t much matter, because you perceive things others have never before. Of course learn as much as you can, read as many books as you can read, but remember that only you can decide what is true or untrue for you.
We all hold an immense power to determine truth for ourselves. The only way we avoid being overpowered by the ideas of others is to constantly pay attention—life is a 24-hour lecture. Take notes.