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Archive for July, 2011

Past Lives

Past Lives

I was once a parent killed at assembly speaking out for the fair education of my children.

I was once a soldier who learned to stand against the tyranny on his uniform.

I was a doctor facing ruin from treating the poor during dinner hour.

I was once a sister pushing classmates off her brother at school.

I was a surgeon helping violated and underprivileged women.

I was once a cellar door marked as the Underground Railroad.

I was once an anti-Saddam pamphlet circulated in Iraq.

I was once a secret Internet server in China.

I once warned freedmen when an assault was planned.

I once hired women for fair pay before I had to. 

I always opened the door for my neighbor’s children because I know what went on there.

I was once born to a tribe that made blankets for lepers instead of warring with their brothers.

I kept my Chinese daughter.

I was the first slave ready to fight for his country.

I once nailed science experiments to the doors of cathedrals.

I used to picket tobacco growers because our crop produced better smoke and oil and paper and rope.

I was the first to break bread with my enemy so we might better learn about ourselves.

I once made a machine that eased tortured bodies from their pain.

I was the flicker of a million silent candles in Laramie, Wyoming.

I was the first Nazi who changed his mind.

I was once a prophet unafraid of speaking out in a sinful world.

I was once a spokesperson for freedom.

I was once a candidate for truth.

I was once a valid life given for a cause they hold most dear.

 

 

I was once a child abandoned by a parent capable of raising me.

I once argued with an officer.

I was a Central Park visitor robbed for his jacket.

I once was a teacher found guilty for teaching.

I was once a minority group leader suffocated in a burning house one Sunday morning.

I was a Mexican immigrant who did hard, honest work.

I was once a chief urging peace with the settlers.

I was once the target of a media ploy.

I was an interracial couple uncomfortable at a new church.

I went to an urban elementary school where I was hesitant to succeed.

I once set sail on an unsinkable ship.

I almost stopped for breakfast on September 11th.

I once was a sapling bulldozed in a rain forest.

I was going to hatch at one point.

I once won the popular vote.

I became the most famous man trampled by a tank that day.

I was once the largest glacier in the North Sea.

I always got to high school on time at Columbine.

I was once a soldier acting for a cause they believed in.

I was once right in a world that was wrong.

I once had relentless virtue.

I now have the inability to be silent.

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I’m really looking forward to this weekend. My girlfriend is coming home after being away for 4 days again and it might by the third time recently we see the same friends who we tend to go for periods without catching up to. The Obon festival will be fun if we can make it but it depends on if her flights go as planned or not. She’s had a number of delays and cancellations on most of them lately. Another friend whom I really enjoy is in from Bakersfield,CA and I welcome the chance to catch up to him for a minute if possible. If it all falls down my girlfriend and I will still at least get some quality time at home and get to spend time with each other even if it’s just sitting on the couch, drinking wine in between naps and fast forwarding commercials on the DVR. I love these people who make me feel this way.

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The day after.

Today was spent walking around work everyone else who was just unexplainably worn out from the 4th of July weekend, whether we stayed in and rested or went out and partied hard. It was so good to get home and have the day be over. I like my job fine but it’s always good to come back home and be on my own time. The day wasn’t very demanding physically nor mentally, and getting off work to come home and write and draw doesn’t take any more energy than it did to get through the day but being able to take your time and do what you feel is always such a great reward for getting up on time and giving it your all during the workday.

This 4th of July was in many ways as good a holiday as I’ve ever had. I’ve always liked the Fourth because it’s never been a day you had to prepare for or commit yourself to any demanding plans. The most I’ve ever had to do typically is buy enough burgers and buns for the people I may be having over for a cookout. Other years it’s just been me and one friend hanging out deciding if we want to dig up something to do or just go and watch a movie where the theatre is dark and cool. This year my girlfriend and I met up in the morning with a couple of our friends at Robious Landing which is a park near the James River with access to the water where people can boat, or jet ski, or swim, tube, whatever. Stand-up paddle boarding was the event of this year. My friends became highly interested in this somewhat new water activity that’s really gaining momentum in nowhere places like Richmond and is coming into its own in a lot of ways. Their regular trips to Hawaii introduced them to the placid, peaceful sport and over a short amount of time they’ve become involved in a more competitive version of it where they may race other paddlers as far as 10 miles up the river. Thankfully for us we can benefit not only from them sharing their boards with us but also taking a few minutes each time to give us some pointers and show us how it’s done so we can quickly get comfortable on the big boards and start having fun with them on the river. I think it’s the enjoyment we get out of spending time with these two particular people that really brings it home, but none-the-less the paddling around itself is a pretty neat thing to be doing on any given day or weekend. After a number of hours on the James we hit up one of my favorite places to have lunch from back when I worked in BonAir. Chicken Fiesta is the name of this little dive that I miss just a little each month being out of proximity to its charcoal rotisserie TexMex style cuisine. It wasn’t the best example of their food that I’ve ever had but I think everyone liked it alright.

We came home for a little repose and she ended up falling deep asleep on the couch. I nearly did myself but had just enough mental energy not to give in to the endorphins spilling over my brain and later on went over to another buddy’s for a little cookout and get-together while I left her uninhibited in her rest. I came back to a person ready to knock out some of the things on her “to do” list that had been weighing on her brain while we were spending the actual weekend part of the holiday resting up and taking turns sleeping on the couch. All in all it was a nice weekend and I wouldn’t trade any minute of it for that which anyone else was doing. Spending time with friends and living with a person like her continuously keeps my bar well-elevated and often reminds me of how lucky I am.

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To Nanny

My leaves thin as if I’m one day to be a freestanding pathway of veins. The channels pass freely though the skin that they serve can retain only a fleeting gasp of breath. My frame trembles and posture becomes poorer yet.

How can this be.

Perhaps if still water could explain why they once ran as swift then lay their hurry to rest at river’s edge. Why the scripture written by the silken curvature no longer engraves its wisdom along the outskirts of sprawling fields with enough post script and commentary to fill the space above with substance and grace, feeding its extended body with strength enough to blossom seeds as if the entire area were a hymn to the world of continuous breath and perpetual growth.

Maybe it could explain the whispers that were once the after breath of day and how I can no longer hear a sound but a thread-bare vocalic decent from want to weary.

Perhaps the great swell that allowed these waters to rise from out this Earth has descended and retrieved its substance once-bestowed.

The only light that nourished my abrasive stem, textured and chaffing, nearly penetrates every layer from the cradle where seed and germ adhere to my rooted network that delves beyond sight and reach.

I feel the weakness of structure only recognizable by the presence of others.

Those around me know nothing of this, yet I can only observe this by our co-existence. Recognized only through co-inhabitance. Though it is obvious we are guided on separate paths, no less in opposition than in divergence, we are contrasting vectors of maturation, as if I am the last key to an old world.

My connection to this Earth it eternal, though transient.

My leaves thin as if they are to one day fall like snow from heaven.

Softly.

Permanently.

A one way avenue whose currents are steered by more than the gravity of the world. A declination of minimal impact though an epic within my circle.

My growth had always been a product of cyclical forces encircling my frame from within an invisible enclosure.

I peer at the ground and see remnants of myself. My blooms lose their connection to drift flaccidly and rest so delicately they appear to never touch the soil. Yet they are one. Comprised of the same material that was me, once was clay, once was rock, once was fruit.

My leaves thin as though the very air to whom they used to pay fragrant homage has reclaimed them as their own.

My very being begins to scatter itself throughout the wind to sparsely inhabit all states of matter. Spreading itself the way starlight grows dim with distance. My body wears along its assigned chronology away from its escaping origin.

The moisture at my footing loosens the fundamental grasp I have to this place and with patience, stillness infiltrates a firm scaffold.

With the world’s sweet honey clinging to my roots like a fertile blessing of wax around a vital wick, running deep within a pillar of transformation, comprised of past and future, additional pieces of me join the Earth’s lymphatic movement and souvenirs are given out for all things to remember.

I forget what I was and become all things.

The bowing of my legacy as represented in this withering stalk meets no resistance.

My color has become faint and with no palette from which it can regain its boldness my expression is saturated with exhaustion, not vibrance.

I kneel into the shadow of those whom are to follow and deprive them of no further opportunity to reap the best of what I have received. Tomorrow a new soul doth rest.

I hang my key with beauty renewed.

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Ahh a freshly paved walkway

The hard rubbery asphalt nearly Springs me forward towards my next step

Feeling young with an abundance of energy thinking that I could never get tired of this

A beautiful new world spreads out in front of me just waiting for the massage of nimble toes and soft steps and the occasional tripping over my own feet

So let’s walk

Let’s walk until the new pavement reaches the worn sidewalk and keep going from there

Watching the cracks pass under me every two or three steps noticing the accumulation of all walks of life caught in between them

Making me think this sidewalk isn’t as much “worn” as it is just “warmed up

Strolling over frame after frame like the filmstrip of life

Trying to wipe away old stains from a child’s series of chalk drawing that knew the fame of making their statement long enough to really get down deep into the concrete before the Summer rain could wash it from memory

My terrain no longer pushes me in that effortless stride but with a little bit of work I keep myself moving forward, bouncing along to an imaginary pule in natural unison with my heels and toes

So let’s walk

and keep walking even when we get to that part of the sidewalk showing a little more wear and tear

Not necessarily any misuse or abuse but just the wrinkles of existence that have to manifest themselves eventually

No matter if it was barefoot or boots that made their mark

The semi-crumbled and crushed segments, once solid and strong, now require a little bit more kick if one is to continue moving past them

Stepping overtop with a little more caution

not wanting to trip these feet that are starting to tire and ache from the march but moving right along

because walking is what I do

Let’s walk

Not for the love of it but let’s walk because I’ve been waiting to get up here to stumble across these cobbles

A little tricky so I take things slower which also gives me an extra moment to look around and enjoy the colors of each individual cobblestone

While the Fall leaves speckle the trees with harmonic multicolor the stones cover the path as a pixilated blanket of spectral unity

My tiring feet show the scuffs of the concrete sidewalk now long behind me

The more predictable and difficult parts of the walk yield appreciation for this now-classic and abstract topography

and as my weary legs remind me of the journey I’ve just made

I feel joy just to be here

and I’m still walking

I have to take a knee every now and then but that just gives me a chance to set my gaze at where I am and turn my eyes back to where I was

I’m pleased with this walk

What I’ve done and where I’ve taken myself since I started

But I’m not going to stop now

So let’s walk

Let’s walk this increasingly tattered path

As these legs grow tired I am happy to see that my route starts to slope downhill

Not providing more strength but removing some of the energy needed to go from step to step

The appearance of my walking sick helps me keep a steady gate while these wobbly feet and shaky ankles keep me moving

The stones keep coming

Some are broken

A few remind me of past moments I’ve had

or previous steps I’ve taken while on this great walk

As the ground quietly begins to mix in smaller rocks and debris

The cobbles have lost some of their tightness and secure setting realizing I’m not on the perfectly smooth pavement where I once walked

I start to take things one step at a time

Still moving

This walk isn’t finished until this course is entirely broken down

And then I’ll take my last stride

with both feet together

Planted in the dust

Resting my souls

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For the second time in my life I’m claiming the 4th of July as a personal independence day, a day where I have decided to be free from the worries that have slowly come to haunt me. Whether these be real, merely possible, or entirely self-inflicted, I claim an internal victory over how these things will be interpreted. A few years ago while walking around Belle Isle this idea of letting go of the troubles I was toting around came to me and this secondary meaning for the 4th of July was born, in my world at least. That day I had my iPod on playing The Underground Sound of DC and I kept my camera in my hand. Despite having lived in or around Richmond my whole life, this was my first real day around Belle Isle and so I really took my time walking around, taking pictures of everything around me  from different angles and enjoying this icon of Richmond city living. It was a beautiful day. Over a few hours I delved deeper into my commitment to be free of the needless energy spent on the things that had started to be a part of my every day.

It made me think of The Jazz Poet’s Society’s song Sugar where they’re saying “people living in my head, but they ain’t paying rent”, which is a way to describe the people who cause you to keep them on your mind all day, worried about what they’re doing, or what they’re saying, what they might or might not do that might cause you pain. The events of that day were monumental to the Me. 

Happy 4th of July, Happy Independence Day, to the whole of America. Me included.

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I had wanted to write more for some time now. Not to give myself “another thing” to keep up with, but as an outlet for all the pent up energy and thoughts that seem to take on an existence of their own and just want to get out. I’ve kept a journal for years following the same philosophy. I relate it to taking pictures. You can look at a picture and have it bring back a heap of memories. It’s like standing at “now” and having a magical look into “then”. Writing has always been that to me, but to a greater extent. I could always read something I had written and remember not just a general sense of the time but also down to the detail of things such as what was going on inside me at that time, what joys and worries I had, what songs I was listening to, and how I felt about life itself. That’s what interests me to keep some sort of chain of words and stories that follows along my life.

This is the third major phase of my life where I’ve consciously wanted to begin writing again. Tapping into that part of your soul and giving it a pen (or in this case 26 keys and a space bar) to speak for itself. The first time was in 2002 after finished undergrad. I wrote two pieces from my upstairs alley-facing deck that began “I never knew when it would start again…” and “I love it when my thoughts take tangible form…” and went on for a few pages speaking through allusion but remaining strictly about writing in and of itself. Since then I’ve never really had a creative hiatus from writing. The second was about 6 weeks ago, in May 2011 when I decided I had collected enough thoughts to actually start what I would like to become a book or novel, or series in the end. I’m sure this will come up some other time. “Again” was the operative word in this topic sentence. I spent my undergrad years, high school, and childhood liking writing, incomparably more than reading to be honest. It wasn’t until post-college that I truly found the kinds of books that I enjoy reading. Until then it was a chore.

Thank you, web log, for adding a new interest in what we can do with our thoughts and the creative needs we have as people.

excerpt from one of the above-mentioned:

“If I turn around I’ll feel robbed – and my ideas go back behind the locked knobs where they collect dust as the locks rust.

I’d like to march this staircase – as many steps that it can give me, not expecting a victory but seeing how high it might lift me.

I’m sensing within me every unspoken idea. I see a legion of faded inspirations in ankle-shackled agony that I couldn’t stand to see free.

As I climb higher I’m tired but on an endless mission to be me.

The seeds seem to be living.

I’ll rise until my wings fall or the star dust starts dimming.

Not measuring how close I come to the end but how far from the beginning.”

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This past Friday was pretty rough, emotionally. I had a friend in a very small, but very sweet way attempt to do a little poking around hoping to maybe instigate something that may end up helping. You have to love the people who can make a small gesture that is either going to plant a little seed that is either going to be a trigger to a productive end or, at worse, just be a harmless moment of simple conversation. It was yesterday when I was reflecting over the entire evening that her small moments of concern were spotlighted and my lenses came in to focus. It was after midnight when my brain had relaxed enough to get over what had been bothering me so the previous night and I was fully interested in showing some sort of gratitude towards my friend. I remembered she had a blog that I had always had good intentions to read and follow and, with no better options to make a minor investment in this one particular friendship, thought now was the best time to start reading it.

I went line by line, backwards from the most recent post and eventually stopped at a post that was written about a year ago. I knew most of what you could say the actual content was but it was good to refresh my memory on some of these different moments and events over the prior year. Actually I may have read back to as much as a year and a half, but what I really gained from this was learning what all these different things actually meant to my friend. You really look into the heart of a person like this when they sensitively convey the story of their life first-hand, without any real filter. Similar to how all the universe’s movements and positioning came into balance that brought me to her blog, the moment was also such that I knew it was time to finally start my own blog.

I didn’t know where to start, and I wanted to investigate my options, so I simply typed “blog”  into a Google search and came up with my options. One of the top choices, and the one that caught my eye, was WordPress. It just sounded right. So I followed the link and went to register. You have to pick a username and a blog name that will be your website. I went with WallyJac since that’s been an unexplainable nickname that has stuck for some people over the last 15 or so years but it was taken. It was what I always was scared of, that such a personal and unique nickname would one day be just as personal and unique to someone else. I had also entered “ineverycurve” as my blog address, something taken from a poem of mine from a couple years ago. Like a small portion of poetry and prose I have written in the past, it’s simply a poem about writing a poem. Again, taken. I thought there might be an odd chance that I had registered this name already on this site, which would have been as randomly chosen previously as it was just now, so I clicked on the “forgot my password” link. It took me to a page where I entered WallyJac as my username again and below it wanted you to enter the email you would have used. I was hoping it would just shoot a password reset to whomever it was registered to because any additional field that needed to be satisfied by the user I thought would hurt my chances in getting to the bottom of who had registered this username already. I thought that if I had indeed gone to thei site years ago I would have used my original WallyJac@hotmail.com address. I entered it, clicked “Send Me My Password” and submitted. I checked my hotmail account. Nope.

And then – there it was!

Not only did I not remember ever having used this site, but as far as I knew I had never come this close to starting a blog of my own. At 2 in the morning, in the dark with the TV on mute, the whole thing just felt like the oddest series of coincidences set forth by a past version of “me” that arrived with perfect timing. It ended up being an oddly quirky way to infuse my already mounted interest in starting my blog with more interest and inspiration.

I’m in love with my ineverycurve.com.

I’ve always liked to build things with words.

 

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