There is dirt, dross and mire and sand, and There are trick bags , and trap doors and painted corners and none of those are here escaped,
and there are ghosts
and those ghosts pull you into, or drop you through , or box you in
and they cannot be escaped.
And there are realizations in waiting for you
and having realized again that it"s been done again,
there comes again an understanding of in what new way another of your lives has been taken ,
with what new eccentric prison,
or there is an understanding of how that new death has been clarified,
of how respect and dignity are in some inexcusable way placed outside the appropriate grammar of this place.
Think about it how you will!
But disciplining the figments seen haunting the streets from an armchair of experience, real or imagined,
meerly requires waiting out another spasm of riot porn.
the figments press or rather they pour into you ,
they get caught in you,
damning up As if they were a cache of ill temper stored by
undisciplined ungrateful unwilling underachievers.
I was looking for a guiding metaphor and thought I need more than one;
I need a few words able to travel the significances of the particular that result in the acknowledgement of acquisition.
“Ghosts that walk this world, fill bodies, that have been sucked dry.”
I need a guided clarity .
There is nothing metaphoric about the repatriation of the dead into the body,
into the what’s to come.
They go about the work of memory,
That cannot be devoured with a sip.
( Suck It)
There will always be more,
life inclined toward the old knowledge,
new spirits brought back.
I was drained or not fast enough or dismissive or so outraged or it was the wrong place and time.
I let it pass.
That passing starts when tired in public, when I brake rule number whatever thru whichever in the Black_Man’s digest of
“don’t up that with which you fuck”,
The first rule of which is “never get tired in public.”
Rule number two is “be an example not the next martyr”. I up fucked, in the worst way.
I got tired, lost track of myself, and why, when under fire a dodge is better than a weave, to what end I swung, and slung shit, and why I might go down for it.
All that got twisted up, in what I lost,
with loose remembrance:
reopened hydrants, chalk on the street, brown legs in shredded shorts, stoop sitting,
people people watching as meditation
When I think about what I have lost in that context…
I up fucked
And I think
“how would you, the unfounded, be qualified to determine the quality or scope of the injury. “
As I bled
And it came to me that I might as well
Rather than playing along
Watch the children play in traffic with their parents
And I came back to myself
Good lord am I really doing this again, am I really going to chase down and terrorize every impulse that pushes against my heart
why, when I know in that charm in the sway of rage, we've sorted skin and found it wanting way.
What this costs
And I step away from myself
And I think.
This is how to make time to think: break yourself into pieces, scatter them, label them anything other than a name, toss to others and their offspring in the road
so they might stand and describe you
And I think
This is how you dodge
This is how you come to recognize yourself in the bits, in that, “chip on your shoulder”,
in what’s left of you there,
on yours and other’s.
And then I come to myself
think there has to be more to than avoiding danger than navigation, more than an understanding of how to parse and share a nutted anger at grown people playing in traffic,
in that moment when…
The largest organ, my skin Is glanced and silenced
in the same moment.
that’s hard to consider when walking into a room is like playing in traffic.
I am prompted to speak at the offer of another survey of pain, used as a prop painted into a freakish, aged corner, called broken, unable to seek to the nuance of a life, painted there in perspective, by skilled strokes of prescribe opportunity, a story teller trapped in his own tale, with to much regard for the lines crossed by so many, lines as bright as the yellow lines walked by which ever black child is lying the middle of the street before,
in time with,
the shot or phone capture, itself a perverted work of time lapsed art. I skirt my next turn, my son’s turn to walk the line, that wire.
Take my life and
there has to be more than avoidance of hate by navigation.
Fuck the talk
I have not disowned my anger; I understand it. and it is attractive, and it has matured, it holds more authority because of its age.
But rage does not age well.
It doesn’t respond to every dangled/ darted provocation, cause “ Every bite ain’t worth the chewing”. that’s why we lean on guided metaphors, images, words that weld the understood, knowledge the innate, to the inarticulate.
Those short cuts too self preservation that prove the value of a side step in the presence of the billeted uninitiated.
Aphorism’s insights are defense and offense and a share kind of knowledge understood before we are as aware of ourselves as the other wants us to be. The insights are how we get the “more” before we get “it” or or gotten by “it”. whether “It” is disdain, dismissal or a life of peonage sharecropping in your mind.
As if favor, is comprehension,
We are incidentally accurate case studies, applicable only in the moment we arrive at non repeatable outcomes
Your life matters
Don’t Suck it
So, there you are, interrupted, pushed or pulled from this or that thought by the something outside genuine struggle, metaphor in hand, hand on the latch ready to enter the room, corral the provocation of “this is where that thought was born”
The Paradox exhausts
What if I traded pain for pain what if I traded nigger for pussy
Manhood for survival
Because Dead skin does not conduct heat.
What if self copulation was healing procreation while in the room playing in traffic with this Chip on my shoulder,
Maybe this is the way out
So let’s start by calling any resentment, recalcitrance or anger,
not a chip on the shoulder to be easily brushed off or a card that could change the game,
Kindling is more apt than a chip on the shoulder.
Think of that fuel as being representative of an anecdote, a personal , cultural, historical energy bound, ready and stood in wait of the catalysts of pride, or dignity, or self respect or transgression.
( I will allow you to think of the triggers, as the chips for now )
balanced on shoulders inexhaustible
They consume/power lives. Exhaust-able fuel used to get us through the day!
They say you have a Chip and treat it as if it were a cache of Ill temper stored by an undisciplined ungrateful underachiever unwilling to trade up.
We think to ourselves “Trust your experience ” but the idea of our being ill-tempered seeps in begins to feel like our lives,
Suck it out it is poison
we think fuel,
paranoia drives away reason, your reason.
because reason is of course what you say it is.
Admonishing figments have more power in your life than that spit in your face or your disappointment in yourself that you have at the comment you let slide.
So you find yourself in the position of disciplining figments. You struggle against them ( the figments) in iconically inspiring ways with a body fueled by nurturing the soil of propertied historIes, and you can call the coercion grown on this historical ground a rot, terror, call it slavery , racism , privilege, call it a softer gentler form of mind fuck commerce, an aberration , a kind of self destruction, a kind of re-creation, what falls from your body from your narrowing shoulders, once we come to see the figment for what it is , the silt of the chips we have burned.
only to find yourself in one non specific situation trapped by another, living in a house of cards on this Rube Goldberg machine of a world and judged by a nervous system, that understands any possible choice is not only aimed at the absurd but planned failure.
Navigate that maze.
The testing grounds of, arrogance in the face of authority, irresponsibility as a method of retreat, displays of intelligence in the service of truth and power… are not open in the same way to our children
When I say I know you are coming to kill my son, I mean I am waiting until i realize that you've done it again, that I've come again to understand in what new way you've taken his life ,again, understand with what new concept and or eccentric prison his death has been clarified , the manner in which he is allowed to die, how his self esteem is in some new other way outside the appropriate grammar of this place.
"Did you just say ask or ax?
” ax or ask?!
What new way to challenge his intelligence,.
When I ask when are you going to kill my son I really am asking not how or not why, I am asking how much time I have to teach him to spend endless moments in his life second guessing , avoiding , being in the right place and unable to convert. When will you kill his trust
cripple, with words and tests on traditions never claimed
and the feigned interest of misdirection that tricks the deer into the road
onto the double yellow lines,
the headlights, traffic, trick bags, painted corners and trapdoors.
What will be left for my children if I walk into that room and get run over, again?
What prompts this note is the constant drone, the insistent buzz that whispers of the absence of real men that they are non existent and in our lives they are gone. I am being forced to right this note,
Yet another boy,
or just turned man has died and after death is in the process of being slaughtered by the same kind of real and character assassination.
the truth is closer to being allowed a little less rope each time bones bounce after the first tug at the end of a noose,
as if, in the time between each bob you might have the time to rethink your position.
“look what I’ve done for you”
The following text is from Notebook #1:
This practical swipe at the setting down of a creative log of my inspired fumbling through my body and mind, and through the bodies and minds of others - is also - a log of questions that dog artistic lives poisoned by race/ lives pilfered, at the edges by experts / a log of lives surrendered knotted, gnawed at and co-opted. It is a register of unsatisfactorily constituted questions forced into the soft sack of creative resistance, that I recognize as my work by race. It is the confession of those questions, of that “work”, spoken from my mind in the voice of those questions, as if they, ( those questions, those works) were inquisitors that have, at last, elicited assent to an ignorance wrung from exhaustion. They/Those questions tell as much about the work and how they think as any experience they gift. They may not even be my questions but since they come, as far as I can tell, from my mouth, I sometimes confuse their use of my body, and mind with my use of my body, and mind; I have a need to find out if these questions belong to, or even with me. So, I decided to record these things. I decided at the very least, in the service of candor, I’ll share what I can of myself, my state of disarray, rather than letting secrets intentionally slip from the million unfrozen frames of a dance because they are precious to me and I know that hidden in the unkempt mind blown orders that register, are attempts to recover the spirit of what I love. And I've found in those orders scattershot truths filtered through the bodies I’ve known, the sweat I’ve shorn, language I’ve forced and I understand now I’ve come to a partial armistice with the untidiness in those orders. The first of those terms is a bow to the compulsive need to share. So here I am with my intention to turn your eyes to the urges that drag my heart through my throat into my head and a hope that you can follow as I put them to this page.
I’ll start here
With a kind of history
I was in my head getting my ass kicked by every errant thought that staggered in, I was locked in a back and forth, with “possibility” as it masqueraded as an idea , while I watched from another room in my head as a hackneyed but honest thought occurred to me: I might never finish anything;
But I am telling you, the beat down ends here and now; in front of you; and with your help of course.
So to that end, please walk with me through the Judas Hole that I call my mind; that space in which the sparring takes place, please watch and you will see there is more at stake here than the ground and pound bloodsport of conceptual alignment with its demand of clarity, more at stake than my love of a free thought attempt at an articulated unchained fidelity tied to my knot in the wood contentions. There is no glory in this and very little grace, but please, please stay with me as I misplace scars, layer and peel them, lay them at your feet, in a bid to prove what's up here belongs out there.
But there is nothing harder to control than ideas that have a sense of self worth. This is the way the struggle starts, self centered ideas at war, refugees from those wars hobbling forward with no place to rest , their intended homes taken and salted by those others, those first to arrive. Tonight those abused rootless migrants will put down roots, here, now in front of you. If I can leave them be and you can leave them be I might have a chance of finishing something!
I’ll start in the middle
think of the balance point of a leveraged idea as a moment, as arrested. Cuffed or not, able to bear its weight or not, the balance point moments are fly in amber examples that last generations ( think the Edmund Petitis bridge or the Leaning tower of Pisa). The apprehended moment can change minds, leave us, mystify, shift comprehension, but the one thing any balance point does poorly is support lies. Their strength is in uniqueness, their truth.
We arrest time and spirit, hold them as seed, or replant them as a pity rather than only an affection, drop into our hearts, or barter portions of our grasp in order to hold something of what’s passed from our awareness. With those acts we testify to the possible, to impossible histories, to the struggles of those fallen ideas. We leverage their deaths and stack their bodies but be careful of shifting ground. Do not mistake what they can bare, by overburdening them.
You see if an artist has any skill that artist is a fascist who understands ideas are poor citizens, knows how ideas interact, that the artist fascists determines what you should see, when and why, when and why ideas should die and how to use a martyr. But ideas are hard to kill. They repeat.
The constant collision of our assumptions act as incitements, ideas draw borders by force of vocabulary, style, inclination and more. The choreographer thinks the physical tone in the sixties was both calmer and freer so: “they might move like this” and “I might lean on that”; The Choreographer might think: “The genocide in Rwanda left so many bodies that in order to go home a ghost must walk over the bodies to go home”. Those borders, the vocabulary, inclination and the more provide a perspective clear enough to signal the need to shift boundaries, and when that happens the lines of conflict and solidarity within the work reset and brace for a clash, a clash where in the Artist Fascist says: “they certainly would never like that rather than this” or “ ghost float they don’t walk”. That conflict builds the art, as we watch from a corner in our mind and our rose colored glasses shatter on those borders. They, the ideas are both concrete forgery and abstraction of conflict, of all of these landscapes referencing hard fought wars, they, the ideas take glancing swipes at the intangible drawn in broad swaths, rent and offered as resonant image.
My thoughts, when they manage to wriggle out of my mind, are recklessly slaughtered in pitched battle with that butcher, “Order,”. It somehow manages to detail and dress the formally feral ideas, slaughtered pigs. But something always slips away. Always, something refuses to be restrained, always, something resits. So, here I am, in this yet another attempt to loose the greased while “Order” attempts to bind and deliver whatever beasts, in whatever condition, these keystrokes will hold. There is however a problem on my side of the pen: what I am trying to do can’t be done, not fully; to explain a performance art in a literary form, ( or any other for that matter) is, if not impossible, a personal betrayal of an artist by the artist. But if I don’t make the attempt to speak plainly, someone else may put words into my dance/mouth that aren’t mine , or worse they may not, and I will have betrayed myself with silence. “Order’s” problem is simpler: No matter how well prepped, the parts are not the whole. Order provides an elephant trunk and pigs tale on the same scale and says this is one creature. So there’s no way out, this is a trick bag and I am forced to tell secrets, share ideas, reveal feelings and More . The More (like the distance between my beautiful bleeding beasts and “Orders” prepared meals”) acts as a bridge from my work to your understanding, from the basics of empathy to your understanding, from creation through to understanding to revelation. The dances are real, my feelings are real, and the ideas are sons of bitches that become living, breathing lovers you need to, but can’t face when their staring you in the eye. So this is betrayal as much as memoir, in it I try once again to give myself over to the pigs.
The beginning of the middle
I was in my head, staggered again, taking low blows from every lowlife that bounced in when up popped a - not again, for Christ’s sake move your ass kind of nard tightening knee jerk fallout of an insight: I might need to try something new. But what. since my heart and spirit were my only options for cover and neither had proved to be shelter in the past I was at a loss. And move to what end, what do I do when the random swing of a “AhHA” moment might take out my most substantial cores at any moment, in addition, rather than being willing to fight, my instinct for self preservation stood in the middle of my heart, mind and soul like a wide eyed fawn. So there I , am, victim and witness, aware and frozen, standing stock still in shock at any notion judgement starved enough to raise its head while inside mine and then the ass whipping starts,
That’s the start, me so busy ducking and weaving and trying to reduce one thought’s, or feelings inhumanity to another to a meaningful skirmish that work on the next masterpiece takes a back seat to the mania’s end.
How is it that I can be both frantic and frozen? Well, I am an artist; a conflicted duality, a walking contradiction. I want to do this on my own but need your help . I need to involve you, as something more than just an observer, ( at the very least as a silent sounding board) but I resent you for that and I need to try something radical, ( you have my apologies) so I need you to place your foot on my bottom and push. In fact that must be how I wound up here on this page in front of you. You pushed, by having the poor judgement to speak your mind while inside mine. Ah so that was you? This is circular and I feel slightly guilty going about it in this way but I need you to provide another shove. I need to pull you in again so that you can push me outside of my head because this mania needs to be managed publicly, in front of as many people as I can get to uncover my mind’s eye. This attempt at openness is, for me, radical and though it is unlikely to result in a lasting mindful peace it might pay off in slackened hostilities. That will be enough for now and since I’ve made you a part of this at least I will have company. Misery loves that. I have already moved and calmed a bit. So, this is already another kind of start for me. One where I get you to admit you exist, and don’t have all the retorts and are at odds with me, and one where I admit I still have a least a few questions and One where I get you to admit that you are not just a poacher but also a brother or sister or fellow citizen of my mind who when locked in a cranial cage match is able come to some sort of armistice. The violence might not stop but let’s begin to set terms for the cessation.
It starts there.
It’s also gone through my head I’ve had every opportunity God affords a Black artist in America: Good liberal, ( that’s code) supporters; a merely sub-standard rather than criminally lacking education, possession of an awareness of the advantages I’ve been afforded, - those friends and that education,- (it’s occurred to me I need to become better at bobbing, weaving and choosing companions) . Still It’s true, that is how it starts, me so busy ducking and weaving and trying to reduce one thought’s inhumanity to another to a meaningful skirmish that work on the next masterpiece takes a back seat to the mania’s end. So there I am witness and witness, aware and frozen, standing stock still in shock at any notion judgement starved enough to raise its head while inside mine so busy avoiding hammer blows that I might never get anything done.
This is also a diary of creative questions that have dogged my life, been eaten by politics / stolen by experts/ poisoned by race/ surrendered to artist/ co-opted by collaborators. Questions I haven’t faced that have gone unanswered by me. It is a confession of those questions spoken from the mouth of those questions as if they were inquisitors that say as much about how they think as the experiences they’ve gift. I have a need to find out if these questions are really mine. So in the service of candor I’ll share what I can of myself. For one thing, I know that hidden in the unkempt mind blown orders that register, are attempts to recover the spirit of what I love. I’ve found in those orders scattershot rundowns filtered through the bodies I’ve known, the sweat I’ve shorn, language, and I’ve come to terms with an untidiness in those orders. I thought I could rid myself of it, but apparently not, so here I am with my intention to turn your eyes to the urges that drag my heart through my throat into my head and a hope that you can follow. Maybe you can relate to this log of my fumbling with and through my own body and mind and that of others, this practical swipe at an inspirational creative record of the death of my artistic life in front of others, in front of you.