Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Poem a Day: Bonus Edition

¡'Sup Folx! The original plan had been to post poems that I'd already written so that I could use the time to finish the long overdue edits on my novel. It worked. Everthing's done save for a few modifications and the ending. The ending is written. As a matter of fact, I have two versions. But I've decided to go with a third ending, a sort of almalgm of the two.

That's not really done though, so I figure, I owe you guys another poem. This one was actually originally written by my baby brother, Joe. He brought it to me as an idea for a rap, and I pimped it out for him. In that sense, it is Our poem:

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Rocked by Ages
You think you had it rough
Well I think I had it rougher
Mommy was a dope fiend
Daddy was a puffer
Five years old and learning how to suffer
watching Mommy jump from one man to another

Daddy disappeared when I turned Seven
He's in jail or hell... know he ain't in heaven
Nine years old, livin' off cheese & Kix
Mommy sold the foodstamps so she could get her next fix
Eleven years old, first time I saw the needle in her arm
Imagine my confusion, imagine my alarm
Just that day, I learned about drugs in school
They said it was for losers, they said it was for fools
Tryin' to get her to stop, I laid down some law
She just laughed in my face, said it was my fault
& I crashed

Thirteen years old, hitting rock bottom
The disadvantages of life, yeah I got 'em
so I hit the bottle and the joint to set me free
Started off slow, but soon nothing could stop me
'til I looked in the mirror, and all I saw was Mommy
Fifteen, time to quit while ahead
Before I was too deep, before I was dead
while at it, I'd get Mommy out too
Get her in rehab, start our lives brand new
But for Mommy things would never be the same
Cuz she'd caught that big disease with the itty bitty name
Sixteen years old, at the hospital to say goodbye
But I couldn't say shit, I just watched Mommy die
& I crashed...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Orange Eye

Inspired by a butterfly bush outside the kitchen window during a vacation on McKay's Cove Beach ion Southern Maryland. Beautiful vacation! First time I saw a bird dive into the water and come out with a fish, in person. Also met a McKay!
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Orange Eye

I don’t have to write
this poem
it writes itself
how could it not?
at ten
the monarchs come to feed
on the purple orange eyes
outside
the kitchen window
as I wash dishes
monarchs & bugs that look
like little hummingbirds
fan tails and all
buzzing bud to bud
to suck on the sweet
nectar

At three
the brothers come
butterflies wearing tiger skins
with iridescent blue
spots for wings
dangling upside down
with their black
winged cousins
to catch
the undersides of the buds
that previous bug
gourmands have missed
The tigers patiently probe
each bud
with their probosci
while the jet
butterflies flutter
frenetically before moving
on, looking for the easy meal
I could wash this dish
for days

I don’t have to write
this poem
The Universe wrote it
for me
long ago

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Poem for Alan Turing

I posted this poem today for entirely different reasons. Then I saw today's google doodle & realized it was Alan Turing's birthday. He would have been 100.
For those who may not know, Alan Turing is considered to be the father of Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence. I learned of him because I was into codes & codebreaking. He was the Grandmaster. Alan Turing was also gay. When this became public, he was given the choice between jail or therapy. He chose suicide.

I may not be gay, but I certainly understand what it is to constantly have my manhood questioned. The difference between us? I don't give a fuck. I'm rededicating this poem to Alan Turing, in honor of the passing of his century.

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memory
memory
A young boy watching
through frosted glass
an icicle in pain
an insensitive sun
tiny tear after tiny tear
men don't cry
an icicle is not a man
memory
A young man staring
at broken glass
that 'lost love' pain
"You're too sensitive son
She's not worth your tiny tears
Men don't cry"
I am not a man
memory
A young male watching
though a fresh pair of glasses
so-called men feel no pain
millions of insensitive sons
haven't shed a tear in years
men don't cry
I'm glad I am not a man

(1992)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Poem a Day: Day Three

So here we are. Day three. The editing is going well enough. I've noticed, however, that the poems I've posted so far have been, shall I say, a bit on the dark side. ¿What can I say? I am the kid that sees the things most refuse to see—the dark cloud to every silver lining.
But just to show I'm not just a harbinger of gloom, I trawled through my hard drive to find something a bit more uplifting. The poem I had in mind wasn't there. I'll have to dig through my hard copies and post it another time. I did find an unfinished poem with potential. I polished it up a bit, but methinks it still has the patina of rawness to it. It'll have to do.

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the Bigger the Bang

You
walked
in from the next store
& I was happy
it was you having
eyed
you myself earlier
that day—that day
I noticed I didn't know
you but wanted to
that day I tried to catch your eye
& caught nothing but your crown

That moment you
stepped
through that door I was sure
that our atoms had once
brushed
against each other during
the birth of the Cosmos
my electrons momentarily
pulled
into your outermost shell
our quivering quarks trying
to touch
our strings trying
to bind

I had been waiting to feel
you again ever since

Our near miss at the record
store-separated from you by nothing
more than pressboard, veneer
& 12 inches of new order
true faith
(the morning sun)
closer to you than I
had been since we first
poured
forth from the stars
too far to see you
too soon to matter
too lost to care

It should be no surprise
that once we finally did
collide
the sparks spread like raw rice
at our feet, the power
of the impact shaking
the roots of the universe
with enough force left
to unseat the world and have it
succumb to Our gravity

Could we expect anything
less once Destiny
set
our orbits on
converging trajectories?
The Universe should
count
its lucky stars
that our power
didn't mar Creation
but only
tested Its
fluidity & flexibility

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Poem a Day: Day Two

If you caught yesterday's post, you know I won't be writing anything new until I finish editing The Novel. This one I wrote for a class at the University of Baltimore when I was studying under the marvelous Kendra Kopelke. If I remember correctly, she didn't much like the "reptile belly" part, but I was too enamored of the internal alliteraton to revise it. What do you think?
By the way, if you like this poem, or poetry in general, I encourage you to read and comment on the small catalog of poems I've posted here thus far. I will be focusing on poetry during my next workshop, and I'd appreciate your input.

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Ceremony

Winter slithers its ice-blooded
reptile belly over my feet
slices at my toes - I do a little
dance, my Ritual: tight fists balled
around my thumbs, thrust
deep in my pockets, shuffle
left, shuffle right, shuffle left
throwing my face at the
drizzling spittle
of a malevolent sky.

The sky has a grey soul
today. No mercy.
I understand the winter
sky for I too have been separated
from my sun; I know her pain
her fury, burning frigid. I too
have spit on the world.

It is a bone brittle
winter day on a bus
stop in SoWeBo
and I wish I could feel
my toes again. I wish
there was snow on the ground
to calm me. I wish
I were blanketed
in someone's embrace.
But I do not wish that
the sky would cease.
The sky has her rites
& I have mine.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Poem a Day Keeps the Darkness at Bay

Okay folx, I'll be spending the week attempting to finish the edit on my novel, Forever, Lilith. But I realize I've been on a bit of a roll here, and not wanting to neglect what little bit of audience I've accumulated I've decided to use this opportunity to post some of my catalog of poems. Since I've been feeling so socially conscious lately, this seems like a good place to start. ¡See ya'll with a new poem maƱana!

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soular eclipse

can your eyes not see the tragedy that my eyes see or are they too caught up in your tv's, your dvd's, your psp's, your myspaceys & your i-phoneys that they are blind to what surrounds you, or are you just too afraid of the truth you'll see: our metropolis dreams turned necropolis screams where the dead prowl the streets scavenging for bits of eat, blowing gravel off our half-chewed gutter discards, drinking that flat backwash contaminated splash of tepid pisswater we tossed into that trashcan, numbing their minds with that poison they buy with the few pennies we provide if only they will hide again from our sullied sights, retreat to their cardboard palaces, their city heated steam vents, their billboard park benches coated in newspaper they can't even read; where the dying left behind child runs wild on our meanest streets spying for his dope and gun slinging paper heroes, fouling out on concrete coated rock courts, holy grail blazing a path he hopes leads to our white castles that ignore his plight, not knowing that he is in a labyrinth leading only into the walls that separate the dying from the dead he will join in his ghetto mausoleum without our hands to pull him free; where the falling fall for the freedom they sought for themselves, freedom now forced & foisted upon foreigners too afraid to fight for or find for themselves, our young falling for lies of free rides to higher education & higher living when their only guarantee is a free ride as air freight in flag-draped corpse boxes back home where they can be forever free to rot under our feet? can your eyes not see? or are you too afraid to stare at the eclipse too long, afraid that your eyes will melt in the bright white hot glowing pain shining through our soul shadows, blocking our sons, our daughters, our fathers & mothers, sisters & brothers, dead & dying as we reap & eat the fruit that grows from the slow flowing clots of their blood?
Look!
Open your eyes & see.
If you do go blind, you go blind with me.
Otherwise, ignore the plight;
& in the end
we
all
lose
sight.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

¿Who Aborted The Spirit of Compromise?

This posting was originally published on my MySpace blog on March, 2008 and was inspired by a blog entry posted by Jon Platner, managing editor of plannedparenthood.org. I decided to dig it up and repost it since it's an issue relevent to the Presidential Campaign.
http://media-files.gather.com/images/d319/d202/d745/d224/d96/f3/full.jpgFirst off, let me start by saying that I'm generally against the act of abortion. In my experience (as limited as it may be), it's usually a grisly form of birth control for young ladies that either don't know or don't care enough about effective, non-invasive, birth control; or for those who accidentally get pregnant when their birth control of choice fails. I think we can all agree, ProChoice or ProLife, that abortions offer a sad look at the state of contemporary society. I do, however, believe in the right of women to choose an abortion if they deem it necessary.

That said, I also recognize that banning abortions at this point in history would be an utter and unmitigated disaster. Returning to the a time when women have to travel to states where they were legal, where doctors have to break the law to help a girl in need, or where abortions are performed by potential quacks in underground operating rooms is unwarranted and cruel. Fortunately, even with today's more conservative makeup of the Supreme Court, the majority of justices currently seated would not strike down Roe v. Wade.

(Cute joke:
Q: What did Bush say when asked what his feelings were on Roe versus Wade?
A: Well ummm
I don't care whether people row OR wade to get out of New Orleans, as long as they get out safely. )

The real question is, what can we do about abortion that can be effective in reducing the sheer numbers while not criminalizing an act that is so personal and, in many cases, traumatic for the woman having one? There are some simple answers.

First, the government has to promote an age appropriate Sex Education program that teaches the big picture, both birth control and abstinence. Our children need to understand that they do not have to give in to the pressures of having sex at an early age, but they need to know that if they do they should be armed with the knowledge of what birth control is available to them and its effectiveness.

Second, the government has to guarantee that ALL women have access to ALL forms of birth control. That means the morning after pill. That means RU486. And if that means passing laws stating that Walmart or whatever pharmacy CAN NOT turn away any female requesting birth control, so be it.

Ultimately however, reducing abortions in this country really comes down to a joining of minds from both sides of the issue. Lifers have to realize that abortion is a reality that may never be deemed immoral by all aspects of society. Choicers have to realize that the reduction in the number of abortions, still a risky procedure, is a more noble cause than the protection of such a sad right. Imagine the progress that could be made if we put our signs down and lift our voices, in unison, for a better way.

The Word Pimp Speaks Freely

http://media-files.gather.com/images/d521/d201/d745/d224/d96/f3/full.jpgSo last night (This was supposed to go up yesterday, but I had problems posting.) was the big night. I mean, it's not like I haven't done it before. I was all into the coffeehouse circuit during the 90s resurgence in Baltimore and cut my teeth during open mic nights. Lately, I've had opportunities to read in support of the writing workshops I've participated in with the Creative Alliance; and most recently, I've been featured in readings promoting the Freshly Squeezed anthology which published the first chapter of my novel-in-edit, Forever, Lilith.

But last evening was different. I wasn't limited to something I wrote in workshop, nor to Lilith which, quite honestly, I'm a bit tired of by now. For the first time in a long time I had the freedom to read what I wanted. More than that, the atmosphere was different. This was a crowd that was there to hear literature, not just to support a family member's hobby or ambition. The energy was different too. The electricity in the air was palpable.

I opted to be a bit thematic. I read Bus Stop
followed by a version of my blog entry What I Hope For highlighting my issues with America's Drug Policy. I followed that up with my poem, A Woman's Kiss so as not to leave the crowd on a down note. I must say, it went over quite well. Not only was the applause generous, but many members of the audience came up to me to offer a hug or a handshake and thanked me for sharing. The four other featured readers were great too, offering a wide diversity of styles and genres

After the featured readers, we opened the mic to all comers, and even that was fabulous, from a wonderful rendition of Summertime from Porgy and Bess to my friend Ron Williams' poem Emmett Till, wher he passionately relives the last five minutes of the doomed teenager's life (¡Some members of the audience were openly sobbing!). We even had a stand-up comic who just happened to be walking past, came in to see what all the fuss was about, and ended up doing a routine for the audience.

Maybe it was all the wine flowing freely throughout the evening, or the general camaraderie of the standing room only crowd, but for the two hours we were all together there was certainly a feeling over everything that I can only describe as religious. Okay, maybe sublime is a better term. Better yet—seraphic. Regardless of what term you prefer, there is no doubt in my mind that, for me, the experience was like going back to church after a long absence.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

¡Money, Money, Money!

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed” Mahatma Gandhi
http://ndn.newsweek.com/media/25/71014_MoneyHappiness_vl-vertical.jpgNow, I’ve never claimed to be an economist. To be honest, I’ve never claimed to be much of anything except a debatably talented writer. I am, however, an ardent observer of all things—a trait necessary to become, I believe, a great writer, which I do hope to become someday. So I understand that writing about Our economy is wrought with potential pitfalls for me. Nevertheless, I feel it’s part of my responsibility to share my ideas about what's going on. After all, while many may not see me as qualified enough to write about these things, as I’ve recently lost my job, and my family’s retirement is tied directly to the stock market, I feel obliged to offer my perspective.

From what I’ve gathered, a lot of what has been occurring lately is a direct result of years of Conservative led deregulation. For those of you incapable or unwilling to check out the Wikipedia link I provided, in short, deregulation has been a trend taking place since the 1970s whereby the rules, regulations and laws controlling various markets have been stripped away with the idea that markets need little to no regulation as they will eventually correct themselves. I’ve always doubted how effective deregulation would be because while markets as a whole will eventually regain their balance (i.e. the tech market, which collapsed in the 90s and has since rebounded), deregulation does not take into account the collateral damage that occurs in its wake—and by collateral damage, I mean Our jobs and savings.

Let me begin with the easiest example I can think of: energy. Many of you may remember a time when energy utilities were ALL government run. It guaranteed that all those who required energy (ALL of Us) would have access to it, and that delivery and pricing would be consistent and fair. The ideas behind deregulating the Energy Utilities Market were solid. Private companies could run these utilities better and more efficiently, and it would open the market to competition, eventually leading to lower rates.

If you, like me, keep up with the news then you remember what happened with Enron, particularly when it comes to California’s Energy Crisis which, as it turns out, was more a result of the greed of companies like Enron and Reliant than it was about any real energy shortage. Even in markets like mine the competition has never arisen or is still overpriced, and prices continue to go up (about 70% in MD over the last five years).

So, what does energy deregulation have to do with today’s economic crisis? Well, the trend to deregulate all markets at all costs, the idea that markets could provide better oversight than government agencies, has led to the recent atmosphere of oversight so lax that we now find the country in crisis, not just where the real estate market is concerned, but in just about every American financial market. Every report I’ve encountered says that it will take at least another 18 months to finally see the light at the end of this tunnel. My wife called me today to let me know that her bosses IRA lost $8000 in value IN ONE DAY.

You may not be frightened. Maybe you’ve got more than enough to retire on. Maybe you’re doing well enough that you don’t need a retirement fund. I’m happy for you. But most of Us in this country will be feeling the ripple effects of this economic quagmire for at least the next year. And I’m not implying that we should go back to the 60s and re-regulate everything. However, we do need to examine what regulations are going to be needed to prevent the greedy who want to heat up their $10,000,000 salaries into $100,000,000 salaries even if the rest of Us are the ones getting burned—something else to consider when you make your choice at the polls

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

¿What's God Got to Do With It?

http://www.peacemonger.org/images/CoexistMeaning.jpg I know I haven't been posting much about this year's contest for POTUS lately, but as most of you know I'm in the tank, as they say, for Obama. There's really not much I can say without the risk of sounding like a little schoolgirl who just made it onto the cheerleading team. That's not to say I'm not perturbed by some of the goings-on during our most recent attempt at picking the Face & Voice of Our nation.

Take religion. Really, take religion. I'm not using it. Seriously though, I've seen some frightening things going on in our country where religion is involved. I'm talking about now, not the good old days where people died daily for their beliefs. Wait. That's still happening. I meant the good old days when untold numbers of our fellow human beings were brutalized for their faith. It still astounds me some of the foul things done in the name of a deity.

I hesitate to even bring this up. Religion's one of those things you're not supposed to discuss as the discussion usually breaks down to a pissing contest about who is "closer" to God. However, certain things about this campaign have gotten caught in my craw so deep that I fear I risk a stroke if I don't get them out. Besides, it might be nice to hear from a recovering Christian who's evolved into agnosticism (my version of agnosticism: in short, I believe in something but don't give it a face or a name, nor do I make up a personality, nor do I believe It conciously controls Us.) Nevrtheless, I apologize in advance if anything I say offends anyone.

The muslim thing bothers me. Not that so many people actually believe Obama’s a muslim, but that if he were, that it would make a difference. How can a country that was founded on the guiding principle of Freedom—Freedom of religion above all else—allow itself to care whether any candidate is a muslim or not. I'm ashamed.

I don't behoove anyone their right to worship as they like, as long as they respect my right of doing likewise. However, If anyone out their genuinely believes they couldn't vote for someone because they don't pray to the right god, then that individual vehemently opposes what America stands for.

I was a devout, if meandering christian until I was 17 or so. At one time or another I've attended church with Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses and Baptists. I was less than a year away from my mission when I escaped the Mormons. I've also worshipped at a couple of synagogues, have been to my fair share of Passover Seders and have even been present at some Wiccan rituals. My father-in-law is muslim. And I haven't even mentioned the Santeria rituals I've personally performed (and I won't mention more since that's a topic I'll be tackling in my second novel, Chango Crying).

A result of my religious travails was my ultimate decision that choosing any specific religion was tantamount to damning a good deal of my Friends & Family to some kind of painful afterlife they didn't deserve. That was one of the reasons I had chosen mormonism in my teens. They always seemed to have the answer for every question, and as a precocious fourteen year-old, I had lots of questions.

When I questioned the idea that only by faith in God through Jesus could one earn the much vaunted paradisical afterlife, the mormon missionary drew a star in his little book of potential converts and proceeded to let me in on the ritual known as Baptism for the Dead. Everybody would have the option of getting to heaven if they simply accepted this ritual initiation posthumously. It is a beautiful ritual that I’ve had the honor of participating in on a few occasions, but I'm a sucker for rituals. I even cried at the hours long Good Friday Procession that paraded through the streets of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico during last spring break.

When personal problems with the mormon church led to little action besides continual pronouncements that while the members were not perfect, the religion itself was, I took it upon myself to see it as a challenge to prove or disprove the veracity of that statement. It didn't take long for me to discover that the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints did not allow blacks full membership until 1978. I heard plenty of excuses, from the idea that black folk just were not ready until then to bear the full responsibilities of mormonism to doctrine stating that blacks of African descent were descended from Cain therefore blacks were unworthy of "full" worship. I could never accept a religion that excluded folks based simply on the color of their skin as "perfect." It was enough to put me off organized religion for good.

Now, I didn't exclude Romney, today's most famous mormon next to Donny & Marie, from those I felt might make a decent POTUS because he was a mormon. I do have a problem with a leader who's continued membership in his church implies that his church was justified in curtailing anyone's ability to worship for decades, but mostly it was his republican affiliation that I found repelling, not his faith. Mormon or not, if I felt Mitt was the best choice to lead Our country, I would have endorsed him regardless of his ontological choices.

I can sense I'm starting to lose some of you, so let me get back to the gritty of the nitty, so to speak. I suppose what bothers me the most about where Our religious beliefs have led us as a Nation is the idea that Christianity holds some kind of trump over other faiths here. First off, it's bunk. Our wise founding fathers, many of which eschewed Christianity for more universal Deist beliefs, recognized the fact that pushing any faith as Our National Faith was a dangerous proposition. They used all the blood uselessly spilled in the European struggle of catholicism against protestantism and the tragedy of the Salem witch trials as proof positive that religion should be left up to the individual, not government.

This ideal stuck for a while. At least until the Christian Revival movements that arose in the mid 19th and early 20th centuries. Now things have devolved to the point that many Christians believe that we were founded as a Christian Nation. The Communist scare of the 40s & 50s prompted the government to insert "God" into various aspects of Our lives like our Pledge of Allegiance, sadly, without ever realizing how it infringed on the rights of Our fellow citizen Atheists. Now we're at a point where there seems to be a religious test for the office of president, and you CANNOT pass said test unless Christ is in your equation.

And now there’s talk about Sarah Palin being a Dominionist /Kingdom Now follower , one of the neo-charismatic sects whose goal it is to turn Our nation into a Christian theocracy. You may be familiar with the movement if you’ve ever seen the movie Jesus Camp. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a Islamic POTUS who respects diversity than one who believes Christianity should be Our official religion and approves of training our children for some upcoming spiritual war.

Now anyone who has trolled my profile should know that Jesus of Nazareth is one of my personal heroes. I view him as one of history's most benevolent iconoclasts, opening the best of Judaism's principles for all to follow while railing against some of the faith's most antiquated and hypocritical tenets. He opened up the belief that we could all be chosen, if we make the right choices, and that no one is lesser than anyone else.

Unfortunately, Jesus was assassinated before truly realizing his vision, and as typically happens after such a tragedy, his followers chose to venerate the Man over his Message. Like Buddha, Jesus was elevated by his followers to the point where living by his ideals of Love of ALL and that belief in God need not be bound by region or nationality meant nothing unless one also added Jesus to one’s pantheon. I believe this is antithetical to Jesus' teachings, and continues to corrupt Christianity to this day.

So not only is it troubling that we question Obama's faith, but more troubling is the fact that being Christian has become a litmus test for Our highest office. It's not just imperative that a viable candidate be Christian, but We've now gotten to the point where it's important how "good" and "devout" of a christian one is. Not only is this antithetical to Jesus' teachings, but it runs counter to Our nation’s ideals. If you don't believe me, look at the recent study that shows an overwhelming percentage of Our fellow Americans no longer believe there is only one path to salvation.

Sadly, I can do little but watch as a very vocal minority (those who adhere strictly to the idea that the U.S. is or should be a Christian nation) continues to push its agenda and denigrate those who oppose them or may stand in their path. Worse, they perpetually prod Our nation frighteningly closer to theocracy.

Even with all that, I continue to hold on to the hope that, as usual, common sense will eventually prevail in our fine nation. Then I can look forward to the day when even a simple agnostic like myself, one who truly respects Everyone's right to worship as They see fit, can successfully run for Our highest office.

KEEP HOPE ALIVE
(that means donate)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

What I Hope For

http://www.w5pie.net/images/hope.jpgWhen discussing issues the media usually refer to the more popular ones—the meat, as they say. And sure, I get why everyone’s always talking about the economy. Things are still rough out there. I was one of the new numbers on the recently released unemployment figures. Then there’s Iraq, and National Security which, of course, is very important—something We can get back to when our Boys (& Girls!) come back from Iraq. However, you shouldn’t forget that even seemingly smaller issues can mean a lot to many of us.

Take Our drug policy. I know, we don’t really have much of one. The number of impoverished crackheads and heroin addicts I see everyday on my way through Lexington Market in the heart of Baltimore hasn’t dwindled much since the beginning of The War on Drugs. (Funny how throwing the word war around has become the standard way to show Us how to solve Our problems.) But Our government has been fighting the same War for a generation now, and other than making a few small dents in the supply and warehousing a lot of people in jails that continue to overcrowd, not much has changed—at least not on the federal level.

At this point I should make it clear why this issue means so much to me—other than the fact that I live three blocks away from Lexington Market. Those of you who might have read My Letter to the Superdelegates, which I wrote when it looked as if things might come down to them, or my flash fiction Bus Stop, or many of the other things I’ve blogged already know that my family has been ravaged by drug addiction. For those of you who don’t know, I lost my mother to AIDS in 1991. Although a loving and courageous woman, a woman who helped new arrivals from Puerto Rico and other Latin American areas settle and adjust to life in Baltimore, she battled with heroin addiction most of her life.

A few years later, I lost my uncle. He was a character, in and out of jail for a lot of his life, hustling when he was out. But sometimes he was the closest thing I had around to a father. He was usually very good to me. Like my mother, he was a heroin addict and ultimately succumbed to AIDS.

My baby brother was barely 17 when my mother died. Although he became a hard worker and a loving father, he suffered greatly after the death of our mother. He also turned to drugs—crack and heroin. On the day after Christmas, 2006, Joe became the latest in my family succumb to AIDS.

The rest of my family has been more fortunate, but I see the ghosts of what my family has been through every day I step out for lunch. And it’s not just the poor. I’ve been privy to the same sad excesses within Our wealthiest families; and other than more and better recovery facilities and less law enforcement scrutiny, their stories are no less tragic than mine.

So when it comes to drug policy, perhaps it’s not as much of a priority as National Security, but certainly should be close behind when you stop to consider how drug abuse continues to destroy Our lives, Our families, Our children, Our schools and Our neighborhoods. What else has to be destroyed before drugs do become a matter of National Security? Bottom line: one of the myriad of reasons I will NEVER vote for them is because that would mean my lunch breaks will never change. The faces will, but the same problems will still haunt me, along with the memories of everything drug addiction has taken away from me.

Maybe a President Obama will not be able to fulfill my dream of a nation where addicts are getting whatever treatment they need, and where we initiate programs to eliminate illegal drug trafficking intelligently instead of with the brute force that has been so ineffective for so long. There’s a lot of work to do and to undo to get there. However, he is the only hope I see of getting Us on that path.

Keep hope alive.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

¿Got Hope?

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2373/2498897122_1fd4f03213.jpg?v=0It's been a while since I've written. I guess I've been living in the afterglow since I realized that Ob had clinched the nomination. But considering I've since lost my job, I figure there's no longer any excuse not to write, especially after peeping in on the folks that have been allowed to run ram shod over Washington for the past eight years.

Personally, my instinct tells me this is a lock. I genuinely feel that folks won't allow another four years of our country in the hands of those who nearly ruined it. However, I also felt we had a lock in '00 & '04. Of course, my instincts weren't THAT far off the mark.

Nevertheless, I refuse to sit idly back while the opposition whittles away the best bit of hope we've found so far during this yet young century. I've done more. I've supported Ob with my words and my wallet. I've taught others of the importance of voting–that not voting is actually a vote for the status quo. I don't know about you, but the status quo hasn't done much for me lately.

And those wily republicans will try to whittle the hope away. They derided community organizing as if it were meaningless. It wasn't meaningless to the children I used to deliver supplies to with the Education Based Latino Outreach(EBLO) before their first week of school–children who would have otherwise been unprepared for learning. And after all this talk about experience they make this about personality. Issues came in 2nd to "lLook at me! I'm ready to be your next Whatever."

This time they won't get away with it. They can't. We can't afford it. I'm committed to do more. I hope you are too.

¡Help me pimp Hope!