1.19 – The Invitation

He says “they don’t know who we are,”
like his petty acts of delinquency will stand in high regard
But I’ll shun that stupidity
because I’m not impressed
by  fake or real
thugs.
Now don’t be mistaken
it’s not about a walk or a look or a color
it’s a mentality
one lost in reason.
But he laughs
like I’m missing out
because I won’t engage in this tired ass tirade
of who’s big and who’s bad
and what makes you hard…
but no one is laughing harder than I
as he brags of lighting a blunt with his boys
as he drives away in his moms Prius.

Now…that…is just priceless.

And just like that
you’re gone.
Pushed aside for lack of interest
on my part.
Attempting to hold back judgement
but how could I not
simple boys from simple beginnings
could only wish for the life you’ve been given
and you waste it away
on pills and booze
stuck in the disdain of your failures
to live up to the stigma
of your block
And I’ll send you an invitation

image

Come to my block
where poor was upper class
where the bodega knew colored money versus greenbacks.
Come to my block
where the sound of sirens and claps of gunshots
echoed the night
while you listened to the sound of thunder and dreamed sweetly.
Where neighbors heard and saw no evil
but spoke about your dirt the next day.
Come to my block
where the drug trade was a family affair
and the junkies flocked the streets like roaches
VCR’s in hand
begging for a fix.
Leave that pristine neighborhood
with the picket fences and the clean streets
and find the mean ones
where fathers did not exist and mothers worked
the nine to five job
of hustling.
Come to my block and watch
best friends get taken away by SRS
while children weep
through barred windows.
Come to my block and feel the intensity of trying to hide two runaways
around every corner and under dumpsters
where crack vials lay.
Come to my block
where so-and-so got shot or stabbed
or sentenced to life for beating a guy with a bat
after stabbing the youngin’
Come to my block where kids get hit by cars and no one stops
where the cops WONT come
if not to bust some small gamed ring
Come to my block
where he died in that apartment
and all they could do was stare
because AIDS on the floor is much easier to watch
than to clean up.
Leave suburbia
and smell the rot of failed dreams and lost tomorrows
caught in abuse and addiction and uncertainty
Come to my block
where the kids picked through dumpsters to find a bike to ride
and walked to 94 for lunch
because no one was cooking at home
nothing worth eating.
Come to my block and hear the stories
of kids smashing their faces into air conditioning units
fleeing death
only to kiss it with split lips.
Step out of your movie and watch mine
live ours
taste the tears in the air
feel the need to run
watch the concrete crumble as the girls want to be dancers
and the boys want to be men
ending up stripping in gentlemen’s clubs
for a buck
Come to my block
and ask about the purity lost on rooftops and stairwells
as college money is spent on Timbs and dope and dope and Rims.
Exist in a bubble where you may justify
the slip of a pill and the swig of a bottle and the puff of a spliff
in an untouchable world
where no one knows your game
while boys are dying over pride
and girls are fucking for lack of a hug.
Come to my block
buy a dime and smoke away your worries
falling deeper into that vast ocean of persona non grata
Join the city of zombies
of no ones
and relinquish your safety and entitlement to someone deserving.
Your silver spoon will create the fluid just the same
heated with a crack lighter
flames abroad
because I didn’t need to travel the world to fuck up my life
it just was.
and you have gulped down your opportunity to inspire
spewed it out into lies and moments of back handed compliments
because its easy to think you’re perfect when you live in pleasantville.
Come to my block
where wives jump six stories to a death
and good men get caught up in the game
only to die while walking a dog.
Walking a fucking dog.
Preach to the choir
but stormy nights could have been blue skies had it not been for…influence
the desire to lead
the strength to deter from a path so brutality beaten
souls laid down like carpet.
Come to my block
where beating a stranger is just an activity for the moment
and signs and names and titles mean you get family
family that engulfs your very being
Where a ride in a cop car doesn’t end with a slap on the wrist
because mommy and daddy love you so
This is not about race.
This is about class.
Striving for one step higher
with no effort
but a self proclaimed entitlement
because of your street address
because of who you could have been
because of nothing at all
nothing worth knowing
nothing worth understanding
Come to my block
Travel away from the streets of perfection
unto streets of tattered skin
shattered irises
clobbered knuckles
demolished chins
come to my block and smell blood stained concrete
next to piles of shit upon shit upon shit.
Flee safety and visit reality.
Visit someones reality
as the dream you live
the nightmare you have created
swells with toxic fumes into rivers
of hope.

This piece, originally titled “Maybe I Don’t,” was written as a response to the rationalization of a former friend encased in his addictions. Although I can now separate myself from the situation, as time has passed, I find that I couldn’t alter much of this piece. Addiction touches all walks of life, rich and poor, and yet…I admit I was disgusted by his continuous display of pushing away the opportunities he was given to drown in a bottle and hide behind an ocean of pills. I was angry, then, because I couldn’t understand how someone who had a genuine chance…a clean slate right out of the gates, could go and toss it aside – believing that status (his families or his own, I’m still not sure) would extinguish the wrong he was doing. Now, I have to admit, I don’t have much emotion about it. And yet, I must since I decided to revisit this piece. In hindsight, I can see where writing this sounds bitter. But I do not regret my life and the things I have seen. I would not wish some of the things I’ve witnessed or experienced on anyone. An invitation to my block is my way of saying…there is no reason we have to fall down that rabbit hole. No matter how bad our beginnings, our futures are ours to create. I hope he is doing it. One day at a time. 

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