Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Glue That Binds, pt II: REAL Forgiveness

I really need to add an important subtopic to yesterday’s article. I started to just edit and add the piece in, but I thought it needed it’s own article.

The key element in the whole Mistake + Apology + Forgiveness + Penance = Stronger Relationship is “Forgiveness”. In the same way an apology can be only in words and very superficial, one can commit the same disservice to your mate by offering a thinly-veiled plan to get revenge by accepting the apology. Just saying the words “I forgive you” can be as meaningless as the apology if there is no intention to truly forgive your mate. The offending party has duties, and so does the offended party.

When you forgive your mate, you do so with the hope of salvaging a relationship and wanting to make your bond stronger. This will not happen if you are holding a grudge, still angry and wanting to punish your loved one for committing the offense. When you forgive, forgive. Don’t hold the grudge. Don’t try and punish your mate. And don’t hold him or her hostage at finger-point. The feelings that linger will fester like a sore on your love for each other–both ways, in fact–and when it crusts over and seems to heal, it will leave a nasty blemish. Honestly, if you don’t have it in you to truly forgive, then do so. But if you will just badger your mate with reminders of where he/she went wrong, taking revenge (“Well, since you stepped out, I’m going out every chance I get!”) on your mate, and bringing up those old salty feelings every time you think of it–you show that you are still resentful and you are ensuring that your mate’s apology will eventually be taken back.

Think of our justice system, in which those who are convicted of crimes supposedly pay their dues to society, get out, and then can’t get a job because every direction they turn they are discriminated against. Why? Because although the penal system has “forgiven” them (by letting them out), society holds their crime over their heads and won’t allow them to enjoy the benefits of being truly forgiven. And what happens to him then? Society forces him back into the life he led that caused his imprisonment in the first place, he has no choice. Because he was told that he was forgiven, but he wasn’t.

When you are benevolent enough to keep your relationship together by allowing your loved one to get a second chance, give them that chance. Don’t cripple his or her efforts to make it right by not letting go of the pain. If you have a good man or good woman, believe me the guilt alone is tormenting them. Last thing needed to help in the healing process is for him to regret being given the second chance, and for you to stay diseased with resentment. Give it a chance.

In addition to this process is the process of healing. So you were wronged. The anger or hurt is there, and it won’t go away overnight. You may have to discuss it often over time in order for the pain to subside. You might need extra reassurance. It may help to take a trip somewhere and escape the stress of the world around you, and just envelope yourself in your mate’s presence. Do what you need to do in order to heal. Because if you don’t heal, you won’t be able to fully forgive your lover and get past the pain. Most of the time you are able to heal and regain strength with the assistance of your loved one. Sometimes, you must do it alone.

I am sitting next to a gentleman (edit:  His name is “Raymond”. Good luck brother!) here in this coffee shop, whose estranged wife lives in Atlanta, and he is here in California. He loves her. I heard him on the phone with her, telling her what he was up to (she called him), hoping she was okay. And just when they were about to hang up, he rushes to tell her how much he loves her, how important she is to him, and that he thinks of her all the time. I hear in this brother’s voice the sound of pain, but overpowering the pain is the presence of love–and that heals all. I don’t know their situation, but all of us men have been there at some point in our lives. No doubt this woman loves him, as he does her, and her scent is all over his soul… to the point that he talked to a complete stranger about the woman he loves, who is 3000 miles away from here. And not a single good-looking woman who walked into this crowded cafe even drew a glance from his eyes while he spoke.

If that isn’t the makings of a good reason to salvage a relationship, I don’t know what is.

Regardless of what you and your man, you and your woman are going through, if you both love each other, you can get past it. But it will take some serious work and reflection to make it happen.

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Spaghetti Sauce Blasphemy

I recently came across this article on “The Easiest(and Best) Tomato Sauce Recipe“. Yuck. I normally enjoy Yahoo’s articles, but who the hell comes up with some of this stuff? Sorry, Yahoo, but that didn’t even sound appetizing. And yes, I won’t waste good tomatoes trying-it-before-knocking-it.

A spaghetti sauce with only tomatoes, and onion and BUTTER (yes, you read that right:  butter) is freaking blasphemy! I know this and I’m not even Eye-talian!

Today, you can call me a “Negro-talian-pino”, because I am going to share my world-famous recipe, minus a few steps because asking me for my real recipes is like asking to see me take a shower. But I guarantee if you tweak it here and there, you will never use the canned/jarred crap again. And you might drive all the way to your momma’s house and slapping her because my version is going to be so much more superior.

Take notes, and Chef Boyardee, eat your heart out.

Mustafa Akamo’s World-Famous Spaghetti Sauce

  1. chop 2 – 3 lbs of tomatoes and simmer for 3 – 4 hours
  2. add OLIVE OIL, not butter. you choose the amount
  3. dice a large onion into very small pieces
  4. dice 1 each:  green pepper, red pepper, and yellow pepper
  5. dice 1 eggplant about the size of your hand
  6. chop a handful of garlic
  7. 2 cubes of vegetable bouillon
  8. oregano
  9. bay leaf
  10. black pepper
  11. during the 3rd hour, add one well-drained, chopped tomato, one chopped green pepper, and mushroom and meatballs, if you want them. Add salt if you need to (you probably won’t)
  12. The sauce is done when very thick and very little water collects at the top

The end. Now after grubbing, you have my permission to slap yo momma. LOL

Next time I make a batch, I’ll post pictures. Trust me, your local restaurant doesn’t have anything on this! Readers, if you do try it and love my recipe, please post a comment!

Thanks for visiting my blog.

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The Glue That Binds

There are many of us–mostly men–who try and use the words “I’m sorry” as glue to mend a broken heart. It doesn’t work very well if you lack sincerity, or the character to make that apology a real, lasting change. Cheaters, those of us who neglect our duties, liars, abusers… Apology is often undeservedly accepted, over and over. And each time we abuse our mate’s indulgence, we weaken the words “I’m sorry” until it no longer has meaning.

Apologies, repentance, and forgiveness are the glue that binds relationships together. And like a bone that breaks and heals, a relationship that has undergone stress and near-disasters–and overcome–will always bounce back stronger and stronger. The important word here is “bounce back”; when a couple decides to stay together, one apologizes and the other forgives, they have made the decision to stick it out where others would flee. A relationship that has not experienced this is as unstable as a prizefighter’s untested chin–no one knows if your ship will withstand the storm if you’ve never seen and survived rough waters.

We are imperfect beings. God did not make us perfect. He allows man to have free will and make mistakes, and this is why we have a heaven and hell, good and bad. Sometimes we forget that our lovers make mistakes. No, sometimes we forget that WE make mistakes. And regardless of how “perfect” we try to be in relationships, we are all carrying some type of baggage. Some of us carry anger, some carry suspicion, some carry the worry that what the last one did to us will appear in this new mate. People mess up, and even if one cheats, it can all be overcome if both of you want to give it a shot. The anger or disappointment in relationships that end them is often due to the realization that this woman or this man isn’t perfect. When we see that mistake, we are so upset that our mate is not as stain-free as we’d hoped, some of us move on not realizing that we had just missed an opportunity to see this person grow into the kind of person we need. Understand and expect there to be these conflicts, but also know which kind of conflicts you will work through and which ones you won’t.

When we mess up, we must approach our mates with complete humility. We have to. The Prophet Muhammad likened humility in asking forgiveness as a worker would approach his boss after being caught not doing his job. You don’t approach with an argumentative demeanor; you do it with the real worry that you will lose your position if your boss chooses not to keep you. Often when we violate our relationship’s rules, we have too much pride to be truly humble when we apologize. And in this case, it is no longer an apology, is it? Understand that when your mate decides to accept–or not–the choice is his or hers, and if you want this relationship strongly enough you must be willing to do whatever it takes to keep it.

Doing “whatever is takes to keep it” is not just for semantics. This means we may have to give up some freedom and privacy, if that’s what it takes to keep her. We may have to agree to lose a friend or two. We might have to change our routine, give up something we like to do–whatever it takes. In my marriage to my 4th wife, who was seriously insecure, I was performing at local poetry events and among the most requested poems were my erotic poems. When I recited them, the ladies in the audience reacted in a way that made her feel uncomfortable. Regardless of what kind of marriage she and I had, she was my wife. So of course, it was requested–and I obliged–to stop doing those kinds of poems, and eventually, stopped performing. Whether or not this request was unreasonable (it seemed unreasonable to me) was immaterial. You can’t leave your woman feeling insecure if you love her. Remember that when you have been forgiven, the work is not over. You will be asked not only to not do the ill deed again–you’ll be asked to change something. The fact that you were forgiven was a mercy from your mate, and you must be willing to do whatever it takes to make it work or you might as well not apologize at all. Baby take me back, and I will X, Y, Z. I promise. Make sure you mean it.

On the other side of this is the forgiveness part. God does not expect you to reconcile with a cheater. However, there is an extra blessing and protection given to those who will. See, as imperfect beings, we aren’t like God; He will forgive a murderer. One of the main differences is that He has the power to punish eternally. We don’t. The only thing we can do is break up, cuss em out, and make their life hell. Or we can forgive. When you forgive your mate, and your mate is a good man or good woman, you now have a few extra points on them because you extended this to them when you didn’t. If they are a good woman/man, they are indebted to you to make things right, to pay penance for the hurtful act. I am convinced that when you forgive your mate, and they truly want to regain your trust and restore your edification of them, you end up with a better husband or wife than before. A man who is truly remorseful for lying to his woman or cheating on her, will do all he can to: 1. Show her that he is trustworthy, and 2. Make up for the pain her caused her by being more of a better spouse to her than before. It pays to forgive where others have not, because of the change that comes with being the forgiven on:. One who received the merciful blessing of finding a mate who loves them so much they have forgiven us.

And there is no penalty for not accepting your mate’s apology. The only benefit is that you get to “get them back” by breaking up with them, and that you get to have the wonderful experience of going through this crap with someone new. Because, believe me–the next guy or gal will. Everybody will mess up sooner or later. We aren’t perfect. Some people discard relationships over and over because of forgivable acts, thinking the next one won’t make any mistakes at all.

The million dollar question is this:  Do you love him or her enough to allow the words “I’m sorry” to glue a broken heart back together? Only you know.

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Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence

I don’t know if I’ve shared before, but I am somewhat of a “conspiracy theorist”. So, after some conversation with friends online about my theory that Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were executed for changing from their original positions–MLK became more resistant to the powers that be while Malcolm X became softer–and those changes would result in their movements becoming stronger.

Oh, don’t put it past this government to kill people that get in their way. I could give you a list. But you know some of them. Every time you see a news article about drones and missles killing “suspected Al Qaeda operatives”, ask yourself something. Why are we killing someone unless we are 100% sure they are who they say they are? Isn’t the American way to take them alive, and try them in a court of law and PROVE to the American people and the world that we are a just and fair people and government? Why wasn’t Osama bin Laden tried in court? Why wasn’t Saddam Hussein tried in America? Something is fishy when you don’t want the supposedly guilty party to have their say or be heard.

Anyway, the governments that killed Malcolm and Martin were evil at that time. These were the same people who allowed the murderers of Four Little Girls in Birmingham and Emmitt Till to go free. The same government who turned police dogs and fire hoses on nonviolent protesters. This was a lost, evil people, so don’t hand me no shit about “the times”. It was a time when Satan ran this country. Elijah Muhammad was right about some things, and when he called this country a country of devils–our actions as a nation proved it true. I still acknowledge that people change, but this was the climate that Martin and Malcolm had to live in.

Martin Luther King was allowed to exist in the media (and in history books today) because he was non-threatening. He was never angry, and told the masses of oppressed people not to fight back. Perfect. Malcolm X, on the other hand, was villified. He told them to obey the law, but when the law is unjust or a person in authority puts his hand on you–do what you must to put that man down. They didn’t like him too much. And even today, history books (unless you are reading a Black-written Black History book) act as if Malcolm had no influence on Black Americans at the time. No one wants to remember that.

So when Malcolm and Martin began to meet in the middle, they needed to be erased. MLK was beginning to see that his stance on non-violence was not getting results. Then he stepped outside the box of Black leader and White kids started following him. They empathized with him. And he started to speak about things that pertained to them. Manhood. Faith. War. He was no longer just a Black man on the television, White kids wanted to hear what he had to say. They came to his rallies. They invited him to speak. They supported his movement. These kids were your parents’ generation…

Malcolm X, on the other hand, scared many Black people. He spoke to the soul of the Black MAN–the father, the provider, the protector. He said if a man violates your wife, you hurt him. If he strikes you, you strike him back. Whoa. Even many Black people, especially middle class Black folks with jobs and White friends, feared that. They didn’t want to get in the trenches and bite the hand that fed them, so he was always the poor man’s leader. But soon, Malcolm didn’t have any of that blanket anger at all White men. He was invited to speak at Ivy League colleges. He befriended White educators and leaders. And then White kids began to follow him, and question, “Why can’t a Black man compete for the same jobs as me?” When Malcolm came back from touring Africa and the Middle East, he made friends who had friends in the United Nations. America was committing an International crime infringing on the rights of it’s Black citizens. And here in America, his message was being heard.

Then they began to speak against the “operations” (it was never declared a WAR) in Vietnam. A multimillion dollar endeavor that lined the pockets of corporations that provided medical supplies, health insurance, WEAPONS, food, vehicles, clothing, political support–and those corporations felt business was good. And those corporations feed campaign funds. Need I say more? Plus, the CIA and FBI wanted to get rid of the “Black Messiah” (click the link to read a memo from J. Edgar Hoover, dated 3/4/68, item #2).

Enough from me. I want you to read the words of the late leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., yourself. Enjoy, and thanks for visiting my blog.

Beyond Vietnam

By Rev. Martin Luther King 4 April 1967

(Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City)

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.

In the light of such tragic misunderstandings, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church — the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate — leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia.

Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they can play in a successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reason to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides.

Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the NLF, but rather to my fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.

The Importance of Vietnam Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor — both black and white — through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years — especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

For those who ask the question, “Aren’t you a civil rights leader?” and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957 when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: “To save the soul of America.” We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself unless the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:

O, yes, I say it plain, America never was America to me, And yet I swear this oath– America will be!

Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964; and I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission — a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for “the brotherhood of man.” This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men — for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the “Vietcong” or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?

Finally, as I try to delineate for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.

This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

Strange Liberators And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond to compassion my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation, and before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony.
Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not “ready” for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination, and a government that had been established not by China (for whom the Vietnamese have no great love) but by clearly indigenous forces that included some Communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam.
Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of the reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.

After the French were defeated it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva agreements. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators — our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly routed out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords and refused even to discuss reunification with the north. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by U.S. influence and then by increasing numbers of U.S. troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem’s methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real change — especially in terms of their need for land and peace.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy — and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us — not their fellow Vietnamese –the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go — primarily women and children and the aged.
They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one “Vietcong”-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them — mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children, degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation’s only non-Communist revolutionary political force — the unified Buddhist church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. What liberators?

Now there is little left to build on — save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call fortified hamlets. The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these? Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These too are our brothers.

Perhaps the more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as our enemies. What of the National Liberation Front — that strangely anonymous group we call VC or Communists? What must they think of us in America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the south? What do they think of our condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of “aggression from the north” as if there were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent Communist and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will have no part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them — the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again and then shore it up with the power of new violence?
Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.
So, too, with Hanoi. In the north, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in Western words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now. In Hanoi are the men who led the nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and then were persuaded to give up the land they controlled between the thirteenth and seventeenth parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which would have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again.

When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be remembered. Also it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva agreements concerning foreign troops, and they remind us that they did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands.

Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard of the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the north. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor weak nation more than eight thousand miles away from its shores.

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create hell for the poor.

This Madness Must Cease Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words:
“Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.”

If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play.

The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways.

In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war. I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do immediately to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:
End all bombing in North and South Vietnam. Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation. Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos. Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and in any future Vietnam government. Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva agreement.

Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We most provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country if necessary.
Protesting The War Meanwhile we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative means of protest possible.
As we counsel young men concerning military service we must clarify for them our nation’s role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. I am pleased to say that this is the path now being chosen by more than seventy students at my own alma mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one. Moreover I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter the struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy- and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. Such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military “advisors” in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken — the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. n the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and through their misguided passions urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not call everyone a Communist or an appeaser who advocates the seating of Red China in the United Nations and who recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the final answers to the problem of these turbulent days. We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove thosse conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.
The People Are Important These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.” We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgement against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when “every valley shall be exalted, and every moutain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain.”

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.
This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept — so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force — has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:

Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says : “Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.”

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The “tide in the affairs of men” does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out deperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: “Too late.” There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on…” We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.

We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world — a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter — but beautiful — struggle for a new world. This is the callling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:
Once to every man and nation Comes the moment to decide, In the strife of truth and falsehood, For the good or evil side; Some great cause, God’s new Messiah, Off’ring each the bloom or blight, And the choice goes by forever Twixt that darkness and that light.
Though the cause of evil prosper, Yet ’tis truth alone is strong; Though her portion be the scaffold, And upon the throne be wrong: Yet that scaffold sways the future, And behind the dim unknown, Standeth God within the shadow Keeping watch above his own.

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Filed under Politics

Farewell Friend

I am the forgotten family member


suckled on the novelty of adoration


warm and fuzzy feelings


loved all over like a newborn


but what happens to devotion deferred?


does it dry up like a raisin in the Sun?


or does it just get focused on another one?


loneliness spells my days


loving dreams fill my nights


remembering the times when




was the apple of your eye


but it seems these days i am but the bone in your throat


muddy paws replacing little feet






rolled-up frustration serves me


walking papers


as I realize


my standing—


whether on two or four—


Open doors induce my Exodus










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Filed under Poetry

Why I Hate 80s Soft Rock

I know that I said I would focus the love articles on marriage, but I think since I have so many friends who read this blog–as well as women who once claimed or claim to love me now–I am somewhat compelled to address something I am asked frequently: what happened in my love life that made me appear so callous in my relationships.

First, let me give you a song to play while you read. If you’re as old as I am, you might recognize it. I recognize it and it brings up bad memories, so when I heard it while driving this afternoon it led to a chain of thoughts and recollections. One subject and event led to another, from 1985 and the 15-year old me through the next 6 or 7 years; and what happened to make me the way that I am today. First, the song:

I grew up in Chocolate City, Washington, DC. I attended a private high school uptown with the wealthier folks, but had to commute across town from Southeast DC (the hood) to the Dupont Circle neighborhood, where a poor kid of color like me doesn’t belong. Anyone I met was not allowed to come home with me, although I did violate that rule and I paid for it once they saw where I lived. But some things you can’t hide, from the ghetto English I learned to speak living in the neighborhood I’m from, to the choice of clothing that differed from what the kids uptown wore, to the music we listened to. The kids I met around Mackin listened to soft rock; I grew up on DC Go-Go and rap music. The kids from Dupont Circle were warned by their parents not to venture too far down the Orange and Blue lines (away from Northern Virginia), and forget about befriending kids from my part of town.

And dating? Shiiit….

I was sexually active. The girls I met were not. I knew guys who drank, used drugs, committed crimes; the girls I met did not. This was a terrible mismatch. But I was not your average kid-from-the-hood. I was a mixed kid who had lived abroad and grew up reading books, encyclopedias and National Geographic magazines. I spoke several languages, lived in several countries, knew the difference between a British accent and an Australian one, and was a little more worldly than your average DC Black kid. On top of that, I had the hoodie confidence that came with knowing that the world would fear walking the streets I played on. This made me attractive to teenaged girls, despite that I wore old clothes and had never heard of Duran-Duran.

Every teenaged boy who meets a girl (at least in those days) had two goals:  get laid or fall in love. There were girls from my part of town I could sleep with, even at 15 years old, so getting laid wasn’t a big deal for me. I wanted to fall in love, and like most people–I wanted girls who really didn’t want me. In my neighborhood (two from my hood actually read this blog), I was the popular boy. Of the prettiest girls in my age group, only one got to adulthood without spending at least part of her life as a “Miyagi Sweetheart”. But silly old me–I kept falling for grown women and “preppie girls”, as we called them. Problem was, I was a gimmick for them and any interest they had in me was short term.

Lord, why am I telling you all this?

Anyway, let me tell you who they are. Lauren Kelly-Washington, Malaika Smith, Kama Lucas, Violeta Alvarado, Ivy Reyes, Evelinda Acevedo, Terri Stoney (some of these chicks were 15, 20 years older than I was!)…. oh my gosh–I can’t think of the rest of them. And each one of these courtships ended up with lil confident Moe, heartbroken and more and more in resentment of girls from that part of town, hating soft rock more and more, and turning more and more into the kind of guy I grew up with. While I never really listened to this music, I liked it while I dated the girls who did. But just as quickly as I met them and started dreaming of what was next, it was over and I promised myself I would never, ever go down that road again. Anything remotely familiar in a new relationship would turn me off, and by the time I was 17, I was a freshman at University of MD, College Park–and so opposed to the idea of “falling in love” I became the kind of shitty guy every nice girl’s mom warned her of. And you know what happens to an insecure guy pretending to be confident as a defense mechanism? I went overboard with it, and kept this false confidence all the way into adulthood.

Let me say this:  I am in no way blaming me being an asshole on those girls. We were all kids, albeit young adults, but it does explain what is in my past that made me what I became and why I am the way I am today.

Us guys all have our “things”. Some guys screw for sport, some are looking for wives, some are looking for arm candy to make themselves look good. I had become the kind of guy who would pretend not to love the women I really did love, and would break up with a sister I completely was enchanted by if I thought there was a remote chance she might break up with me soon. Better I hurt them than to let them get me first. I adopted the belief that any girl who was of the caliber I could fall head-over-heels for needed to be far away from me. I needed women I could easily walk away from, because it would make my life happier, I thought. At 42 years old I am just starting to get rid of that policy.

I use to threaten my ex-wives with “don’t push the buttons of a brother who had been divorced 2/3/4/5/6 times”. I gave a specific list of “don’t dos” and “better NOT dos”, and if they violated those rules, I was out. Each time I strayed from my philosophy and allowed myself to fall madly in love it always bit me in the butt. So as the pages of my life turned, it became harder and harder to be a normal person. Each of my wives had to threaten me with a break up to get me to marry them, and we entered each marriage with me saying to myself “I’ll try, but you better not fuck up.” The one thing I have never done was to drop on one knee and ask a woman to marry me. I had never married a woman I pledged undying love to. I had never dove head-first into a relationship the way I had done as a teen, because the last time I did I wound up hitting a painful hidden rock. And as a result I ended up hating an entire genre of music and swearing I would never date another Asian/White/Latina/preppie girl. I would swear another pretty girl wouldn’t “get me” again. Talk of damaged goods…

I say all of this because each of us over 30 who is unmarried probably have similar stories. Of course, you’re probably not as psychotic as I seem. But you are all damaged by something in your past, and the bruises of that something is showing on the way you treat your relationships–just like me. I had this bad habit of sabatoging my own relationships if I felt I was not secure enough in a relationship to just take off the training wheels and trust my own balance (or lack thereof). We all have those lovers in our past that we always return to, or someone who reminds us of them–or those lovers we try with all our might to avoid. We all have a certain way we react to heartache too. I used to track down some exes and their new boyfriends to fight; others I avoid and try to never see, speak to or think of again. I don’t even want someone who reminds me of her. And even very recently, I didn’t even want to love anyone with the same intensity and limitless boundaries I once did as a foolish, confident teenager. During my 20s, I even relocated each time my heart was broken in the silly effort to “escape” the experience. I would change my (nick)name, change my appearance, open a new business or get a new job, take a trip or go into seclusion, and when I emerged–I pretended to be some happy new person, and would try to live a completely different life.

I’m no psychiatrist or therapist, but I bet an expert would tell us we have to let go of all our fears and just do it, lest we become hostages of our past. I wish I had someone shake me 20 years ago to keep me from going down this road; I lost a lot of time–but it’s not too late. And it’s not too late for you too. Find out what in your past is being repeated. We have to break the habit.

Whatever you’re doing is not working; and if we fail to understand our past we are doomed to repeat it. I still proclaim to hate 80s soft rock. But here in this hotel room, where no one is listening to my laptop and my thoughts, I am enjoying Bonnie Tyler, Foreigner, Paul Young, Berlin and Madonna. The next time you all hear from me, I should return back to the trusting and naiive kid who wrecklessly trusted his heart to anyone who promised to care for it.

Thanks for visiting my blog.


Filed under Marriage + Love

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?


But for real, when a drug addict (or alcoholic, or homeless guy… we really don’t know what’s going on with them) asks you for money, do you give it to him? Something my mother once said… Yeah, he might be a drug addict–but how do you know he won’t eat with the money you’re going to give him? Which is worse:  gambling with giving an addict not-enough-money-to-get-high, or letting a hungry man stay hungry when you actually LIE to him about having enough to buy him a sandwich?

Decisions, huh?

Well, I feed the homeless regularly and very often buy someone who is begging a cup of coffee, a sandwich or whatever. God tells me to feed the hungry, he doesn’t tell me to try and figure who’s really hungry and who’s running a hustle. To be honest, that’s his job–not mine.

On top of that, how can we expect our Creator to bless us when we refuse to bless others? There are some basic things that every man must have, and we must count compassion and charity and selflessness among them. You show me a man who refuses to give an insignificant amount of money to the poor, and I will show you one selfish mother fucker. Excuse the language.

I really don’t have a lot to talk about right now, I got to make a run to get some butter pecan ice cream… it’s an emergency. But I did want to share the following poem, it’s a subject that was on my mind last night in conversation so I thought it would be appropriate for a blog entry today. Considering that every holiday in this country we waste money in fast food joints, overeat at barbeques, drink too much, and then complain about getting too fat and needing to work out in a land where people who we pass every day will close out their night hungry. Something to think about.

Enjoy the piece, and thanks for visiting my blog.



can you spare a dime?

Ran outta gas down the way

need ta eat

tired feet

from running all these lines:

got me a job

but i’m stuck in this town

need ta borry $40 to get a Greyhound

back ta Oaktown

i’ll be back tomorrow

same place, same time

forget the dime—

brotha can you spare me a quarter?

baby needs milk

get my stamps lata

some place you could take me

i’ll work if you make me

if I don’t get my sugar up, i’ll die!

baby, look…

you look like you got a job

don’t ask me why

loan me a dollar

so a brother could get high?

Man got his boot on my throat

foot up my behind

tax man robbing me blind

i’m a soldier of the 60s, baby

i’ll NEVER work for the white man

uh, black man,

could you lend a brother a hand?

A leg?

Yo life?

Got this crack on my head

all my sense done leaked out

needle holes closed

bout to freak out

spent my future lying

need to sneak out

lines paint these forearms

like tiger stripes

no, zebra skin

got a death clutch on sin

got me clinging to life


cleverly claiming countless carefree crackcoons

clustered on corners

in our community (click-click)

Nigroe gimme yo money

got to feed my daughter

her name is Greed

last name Jones

got a itchin in my bones

got me pimping my hoes

got me sniffing my nose

twitchin for stones

I represent the meek of the earth

Reverend, let me inherit what you’re worth

white man been feeding me lies

bout being color blind

now i’m paralyzed

been leaning so long on this crutch called racism

can’t feel my legs

so I beg

back broke under the burden

beseeching me to blame behavior

on brutal backgrounds

of this cross I bear

now i’m bending over backwards

the least respected boy on the block

i’m an addict

doomed to shooting up


taught that life is hard, so fake it

taught that I will never make it

taught when I need something i’ll take it

unaware that the glass ceiling

is nothing more than a platform I push

with my mind

as I rise

but I sink to levels

frozen in time with closed eyes

impotent by design

I need to feed my weakness

 with weapons



gotta get the chains of slavery

off my mind

but in the meantime

baby just read the sign:


Can you spare dime?


“brother, can you spare a dime?”

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Filed under Poetry