we do not live in a post-truth world

the truth belongs to all of us.  no one entity holds monopoly on reality.  that means no one person, no one religion, no one movement, no one belief-system, gets to dictate the truth.

& if you’ve bought into something that gives the power to define truth over to some false authority– stop— look around — use your phone to find yourself a library or a bookstore.

you’ll find bound volumes there of truth seekers who have pitched in to buy you out.

i am deliberately lifting language here from the work of Saul Williams who i believe is among the greatest living poets.

“what have you bought into/how much will it cost to buy you out?/ what have you bought into/how much will it cost to buy you out?”

i found his work when i was a young teenager & deeply unsatisfied with the educational system.  i was hungry for truth.  & so i used all the tools i had to find it.  i had already been exposed to the muslim mystic poet rumi, & the american queerness of walt whitman’s leaves of grass, so i knew poetry was a good place to look for unfiltered access to eloquent truths.

& fuck, Saul Williams speaks some big truths.

2003.  i had just turned 14.  i bought a copy of ,said the shotgun to the head. read it straight through.  crying.  it was as if i’d been waiting for permission to see what i felt & thought as truth for much longer than just those 14 years.  & that book gave me permission to feel & to think differently.  it shook me.  it shaped me. (i biked to the bookstore & special ordered his book s√he, but was never able to track down a copy of the seventh octave.)

after each re-read i would stare at the photo in the back of the book of the dark  man who wrote those truths in the form of a poem & thank him.

2006.  when the dead emcee scolls was released, i bought it in the first week. i was 16.  always hungry for truth. & Saul delivered.

i return to his published & recorded works again & again, knowing that i only grasp a portion of it’s full meaning. i return to his work to listen, to learn, to be reminded that i am not alone.  truth seekers are part of a bigger tribe.  & i felt myself in the call, the foot stomp, the embrace of outsider status, the return, the desire for a better world.

in my well worn, dog-eared copy of the dead emcee scrolls there is only one page that has my marks added to it.  it’s the portion of coded language where he lists the names.  i love that list.  there are names that i’ve underlined in black pen, those are the names i knew at 16.  but see, i used that list.   i took it to the library.  i searched the internet.  every time i was exposed to a new artist or writer or thinker, i would run their name–mentally–through the list.  check back.  see if they had truth for me.  the names underlined in pencil are the ones i had learned about in the time between 16 and 23.  when i first read James Baldwin’s essay “Letter from a Region in my Mind” a spark went up– aha!  so this was Baldwin, of the list!

we do not live in a post-truth world.

i know this because the precarious stacks of books in my room did not vanish overnight.

if you have ever sought truth from the mouths of those in power (or those wanting power from you) you have been looking for bread at the hardware store & you gotta cut that shit out or you will starve.

the lies are loud.

& they’re constant.

& i’m terrified by the growing roar this wall of lies is building between us, around us, through us.

but, the truth will always be available to those willing to seek it. & know that when you are a seeker on a quest for truth you are part of a larger tribe than your nation or your race or your religion because we are larger than all those human-made categories.

so when you find that truth, be brave.  hold it up to the light so we can all see it’s facets and flaws and filaments.

make that list of names of those who have taught you, those who have inspired you, those who have lifted you up. share them.  say their names.  speak your thanks.

 

let those of us who follow carry their names with us into that future we’re building together.

 

Advertisements

for gathering our truth & our strength

I woke up this morning & struggled to get out of bed.

So, i made myself a small playlist for gathering (our) truth & (our) strength, and after listening to these four songs through a few times i was able to get up & face another day in this twisted cultural moment.

First– a post-rock wail of hope & grief

“when the world is sick can no one all be well?  but i dreamt we was all beautiful & strong.”

every breath-like movement of this song is so honest & raw & expertly crafted that fear is left very little space when the voices of other strong feelings rise up to join.  it’s a long song, but stick through the movements, because the choral end part is a rare form of human perfection: the merging of hope & grief.

 

next up— a modern r&b declaration of exhaustion

“my joy takes nothing from you”

because her voice is hauntingly beautiful & there’s a deep satisfaction in being able to declare DONE with such eloquence & grace.

next up, an a capella psalm

“we remember”

because we all already have the tools we need to start.  the tools are simple.  the tools are within us.  we have shaped them.  they have shaped us.  we will reshape this fractured world.  we remember.  we weep. we rise like water.

 

& finally, our poet/philosopher & one of our great living teachers

“we won’t be silenced, no”

because the fact that we need a global movement affirming that BLACK LIVES MATTER says so much about  the type of crisis we face collectively.  we wont be silenced, no, the noise came from here.  bare feet– all our most human vulnerabilities— against the harsh streets where authority wrongly stole a young life.  powerful video to a beautiful song.

 

hope this helps you reader, wherever whenever whoever you are.  we’ve got more days ahead of us where it’s going to be tough to get out & face a world that seems hostile to our existence & seems hellbent on crushing our resistence. do you have any songs you’d like to add to the playlist for gathering our truth & our strength?

Fear Blue Eyes

Looking, I see the

crafted scab buttons you fasten and press

in the unforgiven sun of our salt baked road.

& again, no peace, in this landscape of devouring green

no gods without faces to call you back.

Even the trees have needles here.

Still as the sun,

I have given up on licking your wounds.

Hammered down,

I have given up on buying your pretense with my prayers.

Strangers congratulate me for keeping you alive so long,

I am stopped on the streets

I am hailed savior – just some vehicle for your survival

some girl-child you chose to choose when choice was small.

These homeless crows obey me

& beg me give back their feathers I burned for you

You are not here, I have asked for too much.

It burns to think of you.  Burns to mourn you while you move.

Your smoke is in my eyes.

& the guardians of bitter boys circle

my mistakes in their mouths

scared to lose you

scared you are forgetting to breathe

Will you sing for them?  They want you to sing.  Sing for them.  Be their broken bird.

Later I will ask,

who is this?

In this photograph, in this lake; this bathtub; this mirror

Reflecting me back

to this when where who leaves?

Still I fear blue eyes.  Again I look away.  & you survive.

Pinned

fitting the white dress
falling fifteen feet
failing to reach you
this union, this shattering, this longing

we made something, didn’t we?

pins in the hem
pins in the bones
pins on the map
this magic, this impact, this sickness

we wove something, didn’t we?

our love wasn’t always a passive verb
i loved you
i was loved by you
i was love
somehow we lost the thread

who pulled the pin?

the dress doesn’t fit
the limp is just a shadow
the distance keeps growing

The Outpost: Axis

The Outpost is situated at the axis where space meets time.  It is the only here I know.  After leaving so many theres it is only here that I am home.

Imagine a compass rose.  Imagine North & South to be space.  Imagine East & West to be time.  Imagine a double exposed photograph where a young girl and an old woman are occupying one body.  Imagine this old girl is writing you love letters from the preconception beyond death.  Imagine a pivot point where the needle centers on the compass.  Imagine here.

I am not checking passports.  Every refugee is welcome here.

& when they say “you have nothing”
or when they say “you are no one”

Remember The Outpost.
Imagine it here at the pivot point.
Here at the axis where space & time collide.
We have always been here.
We will always come back.

Brain

the brain is a feral five pound meat maze
where sense-grenades wage war with reason’s meter
it pulls the pins and it counts the syllables–
rearranging it’s fleshy neurochemical electric grid landscape
to suit the non-Euclidean geography of our experience

 

Transmutation

I will not erase you from me — I cannot.  I would not.
I would rather scoop out my eyes– cut off my left hand — do violence against my own atomic structure.

you were my approximate parallel for so long that our roots are entangled.
we nourished each other for so long that I would starve without our history.

in the eternal past there is an always-us
in the eternal present there is no us
in the eternal future there is no  certainty but this:

there will never be a me that does not love you

I will not erase you — I cannot, I would not.