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feeling your lungs fill, freewrite 10.3.14

I wish I could say
my actions are more than
of a man drowning,
wild-armed, begging forgiveness
of the current — 

of the tide, apologizing
between bob and breech, asking the waves
she seems never to love me
‘til I’m tightroping
a razor line between sea and sky
trying not to call myself capsized;

I wish I could tell you
my lungs aren’t taking on water,

that my stomach
is not filled more with 

ocean than last meal, or
I cannot feel all of my organs

descending into panic, you

once asked me if I could swim, I 

looked at you and told the
that lovers tell, trusting that the
prayers floating inside of our
chests, like clusters of young fireflies
still unsure of their own
light, will come to love
themselves into
and save us from our
dark corners like glowing stars
on childhood ceilings.

I said “for you,
I can learn.

I meant “if I drown,
it will have been
a choice
to chase your reflection.

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freewrite (9.28.14)

and then one day you wake up
and realize that
you’ve spent more of your
light dragging your
sorrows into sunshine —
bought more stock in your
pains, and angers, and
darkness, the relics that you keep
with you each morning, than you’ve invested
into your smile —

one day, you will reach down
to grab your bags before walking
through another threshold, toward another
same-old-new-thing, your hands
will start shaking,
will look up at you,
will grow mouths,
will grow teeth,
will snarl “no,”
will ask
how you could be so stupid; how
you could believe
that the pieces of past you wear
like dog tags
dangled lazily across your breast plate
have ever actually spared or saved you; have ever not
just been your own blood painted like a bullseye around
your soft tissues and fears —

your hands will look
up at you and ask whether you
are better off, or whether you
just acclimated to
breathing angry and pushed-to-fringe as if
it were an altitude shift, and just
learned to find comfort in the places
that light doesn’t go willingly —

when your hands
look up to you, lifelines crying, asking why
you have forsaken them, I’m just begging
that you listen.

they are trying to save you.

Quote Iconplease forgive my quiet.
I’ve been listening to God,
and men, and
trying to live down
each of my
days, my dreams
haven’t come ‘round
as often as nightmares have; it’s scary
when you can’t let go, and you
have more reasons to wake
up tomorrow than to
sleep tonight.
Niles Heron, Freewrite 9.15.14
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Freefragment, 8.29.14

she was like walking
up to the edge of a cliff
and letting your toes dangle
taste freedom; giving them
a chance to plume, or learn
they were always every-only human, she
was a dream on a picket fence
straddling, struggling to name
itself as either flying or
the other thing.

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freewrite 8.26.14

until I watched her at low-tide, I never
she could pull water from the rocks

until I walked to the shore at dawn, and
found her moon-lonely, floating
above the empty remnants of a river once home
to a town-full of

until erosion turned her cheeks to
aqueducts, pouring herself back into

until she looked at me and asked
if I thought they would notice that
from now on the Mississippi would be salt water,

until I looked into her eyes, hollowed and
cored and caved, and
all of the things I had drowned or orbited
in her over the years was looking back
at me

I didn’t know that running
just leads
to caught

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What Kind Of A Name Is That? (freewrite 8.20.14)

Do not be alarmed, Jim,
I know how you feel
about silence, but it’s not
what you think, we have simply
chosen to begin
counting our dead in the words
they lived, and in our own
languages; ones
built with more light
more love, more
than the ones you gave us.

We are tired of watching
pieces of ourselves ascend
to Heaven, only to have their
dispatch demand that we pay for
the opportunity to stand
closer to God.


A Beautiful Night Sky,
With More Stars
Than You Have Bullets.

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What do I tell my children? Which laws are theirs?

So this video has been circulating on facebook of a man (I’m presuming white, but he could be off-white) arguing with the police about his right to bear his firearm as he walks the streets of some city called Portland (could be Maine, or Oregon, or some other land of Ports).

I’ve had a number of discussions (pre-and-post-Ferguson) about the opportunity to interact with Police, specifically as a Black Male, with contempt or combativeness BUT within the law. We are so often taught-and-reminded to prostrate ourselves before the badge in fear of the consequences that a failure to do that will produce – not that compliance with this philosophy will unilaterally produce positive outcomes (see: a list of Black men seemingly shot while laying on the ground on their stomachs).

It’s my feeling that there is a real impact that the threat of being the next Mike Brown/Rodney King/ (or the litany of lesser harassment and violations). The probability that it will happen to us as opposed to them that is an active dissuasive presence in our minds when we deal with the cops. We are never unaware of where any even routine interaction with the law can escalate.

Lots of us don’t know the law (I accept that, and more probably don’t than do for a range of reasons), but in this video — a man carrying a gun in public… If he were black, would he have been approached and spoken to calmly? Or would he have been treated as a threat, and would the interaction have been escalated as that.

Comparing anecdotes… Here we have a video of a (we presume) white man brandishing a firearm, who has been reported by the public as being a safety concern. He speaks aggressively to the Police, and is clearly combative – It’s important to note that this is after they have already seemingly peaceably disarmed him of his actual-real-life-shoot-and-kill-people weapon (the video starts after they take his pistol). He is given the opportunity to not be a threat to the police, and to argue his case on the basis of legal right/wrong. He is afforded this opportunity (I’d argue) because he is not perceived as an imminent threat (or however you’d like to describe the way “we” are so often projected/perceived).

Meanwhile, outside of Dayton, Ohio, a young man is walking around Walmart with a not real, not shoot and kill people TOY gun. He is reported as being a threat, and police arrive (to a call I’m going to assume was not a passive, oh by-the-way call, but I recognize this is an assumption influenced by my bias). He is then shot dead while trying to explain to the officers that his gun is not real, and that he is not a threat. He is not given an opportunity to say: “Officer, why is it illegal for me to hold a toy? Why are you harassing me in the country that I live in, where I have the right to proceed about my private business unmolested – I am not a disturbance, please leave me alone.” We don’t/won’t know what he might have said if discussion was an option, and are-too-often-denied-the-opportunity-to defend ourselves with rhetoric.

It is not my argument that these are comparatively the same circumstance (could be tangerines vs. oranges; I would argue the video is probably much more “dangerous” than the Walmart incident), but I think it highlights a probability and perception that influences our (peoples of color, specifically Black Americans) ability to feel as though we are allowed to interact with law enforcement with anything but the fear that anything we do will be perceived as rage and impending assault-to-be-met-with-force.

All of this begs the question. As a Black Man what am I supposed to say to the cops when they catch me with a toy gun in my hand? As a Black Man interested in having sons who will be black-and-not-by-their-choice, what do I tell them to do?

Talk to me. I’d love to know your thoughts?

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Freewrite Prayer 8.12.14

In the end if I remember anything, let
it be everything, but if my memory
of my human life is going to stay here
in my body after I leave it behind,
please help me ease into the when in which I will
remember nothing,

I pray, I ask
let me spend my last moments
not fighting, unless it is for you,
not fighting, unless it’s with you,
not fighting, unless it’s to get to her to kiss her goodnight,
I’m so tired of fighting, Father. I don’t
want to do it anymore
but I will do it forever until I know my sons
and daughters won’t have to
but whenever I lose this here
I don’t want to feel it slipping through my fingers
I don’t want to be scared anymore

I don’t want to leave my last movements as
empty grasps at the memories of their valuation,
swatting at the cold hands gripping the back of my neck,
or resisting wherever they’re trying to guide me

I don’t want to feel empty without my anger at
the silence of my friends who stood
quiet as we bled out in the streets
of the country they. call. home. too.
as they walked by and looked at us turning a color
we should not be able to turn,
and cocked their heads slightly
and said “howdy neighbor” before returning to their
text messages.
and as we hung like tire swings with natural hair from the trees
they let their kids climb like they were their own, and
said: “it’s just a tree,
you didn’t invent it.
nature is for everyone.”

I wonder if they pray like this.

I hope
the last thing I see might be of you,
or of her,
of someone who’s love has not given me pause
of someone who has already given their life to the kind
of love worth dying for.

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freewrite 8.6.14

i don’t know how to
comfort humans, I don’t
always understand them, us, we
don’t find history or truth
to be gentle, respectful of the sweet,
the way we prefer
our medicine; our neighbors don’t
lend out even spoonfuls of sugar like
they used to, and all the gates and triple-locked
doors make the transition from momma’s house
to the warden’s all the easier,

i wouldn’t have known how to
tell him his momma wasn’t coming
she was going to find out about this from
a phone call from a doctor
who wouldn’t pronounce his name
right, no familiar hands were
going to help carry him into his chariot

but when he was laying on
the cement, having been dragged
out of the car that flipped twice
by people who were “basically
paramedics, and knew they
didn’t have to stabilize his spine before
moving him,” who were basically just
used to paramedics not showing up
when they called, when he was
laying on the cement, he never called for his
mother or father or sister or
any one else who might have found a way to leave him, he
just screamed out

and either way, I just kept mumbling