Sunday, June 15, 2008

Back in the Game - Part 1 of 3

In the words of Kanye West, "Feels good to be home, Baby!"

I recently embarked on a whirlwind two week trip back to the US. It's amazing how your life can gain perspective in such a short window of time, but when you surround yourself with people who love and challenge you, growth can only come as a result of your interactions. The trip began with a 16 hour flight from Sao Paulo to L.A. by way of Houston.

I landed around 10 a.m. at LAX and proceeded to Avis where I learned I would be receiving an upgrade to a Cadillac CTS.

So here's how I was rolling in the city of angels, looking like a big dog, feeling like I had already arrived!

I used Starwood points to reserve a room for two days at the Westin Pasadena - nice place.

Upon checking in, I immediately began running through my volumes of poetry, trying to decide which poem I would rip later that evening at Da Poetri Lounge in Hollywood. I have been performing spoken word poetry since 2001 when I joined the black on black rhyme family in Tallahassee, FL, while in college. After deciding on an older piece of mine, entitled Workshit, I headed to lunch with one of my best friends in the world. He worked right down the street from my hotel, so I dropped by his job and scooped him up.

After reconnecting and making plans to attend the Lakers vs. Spurs game six matchup later in the week, I finally was able to get some z's.

I awoke some four hours later feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. I got in the CTS and put my location into the GPS (I love those by the way!) and headed out.

My good friend and fellow Kindred spirit in writing, Stephanie Casher met me at the venue and we headed in.

Here's how it works: if you are a poet and want to get your chance to shine, you have to get your name on the list - usually a wrinkled ripped out notebook page. I was the last person in line, so it was not looking good. The last time I was in L.A., a few months ago, I missed the list, but luckily got to perform anyway. This time I got my name down and then the waiting began.

The poets brought their A-game that night. I thoroughly enjoyed most of what I heard, especially Marc Marcel's piece about whether Jesus would even be a Christian were he alive today. Just brilliant stuff.

I went up after the intermission and did my thing. Here's the poem for the curious:

work shit

my brains fried
tired of this computer screen
this working waking dream makes me want to scream
i need a new screen saver
better yet a screen savior
white collar labor is my excuse for bad behavior
can’t see the forest for the trees
i have no clue why the caged bird sings
maybe he just likes his job
but i don’t like mine
will this day ever end
i can’t even fake a grin when these silly ass corporate cretins
come knocking on my office door
they probably think i’m a bore
but to me there’s just so much more to live for
than working forty or ninety hours a week
putting money down some white man’s jeans
i sometimes daydream that one day
i’ll be like that white man
driving a white luxury sedan
to a beach with white sands
demanding to speak to the white manager of the resort
because i need extra white towels
to wipe my ass with
i need to lay down on a great white king size bed
and wear white satin sheets on my head
while drinking white star champagne
i forget about my black pain and my black name
cuz i’m sinking my white fangs
into this white american pie
every day we got people tryin and dyin to live like this
because where i come from
my people live in slum-like conditions
and some like the conditions they live in
because a concrete jungle is still better than living in prison
isn’t it
interesting what people will put up with
things like racism and stereotypes
they gripe and complain but remain relatively calm
you’d probably need a bomb to light a fire under their asses
but then you’d just blow them off
like we do everyday
such as weather or gunshots or war
good god what are we fighting for
blacks don’t even fight for our own rights anymore
i thought we gave that up in the sixties like meat for lent
what is the relevance of my last statement
to the whole of this master work
we used to do our massas work
and now i’ve got my masters and i still work for the massa
ain’t shit changed
but now there’s more of it down the drain
clogging up the pipes
and ain’t enough drano in the world to break through it
bit by bit sanity’s slipping away
like sand in the ocean’s hand getting dragged out to sea
finally seeing that there’s nothing more to see
nothing more to believe in anymore
the poor are gonna die poor
and the rich are gonna choke to death on bits of caviar
because ain’t no heimleck for the homeless
and economic desperation got us all hopeless
pressed to make a dollar wherever and however we can
that’s why i’m stuck in this damn dead end job
that’s why niggas grab the gat and try to rob somebody
all for the love of money
and because i love makin money
and i got bills and shit
i shut up smile and take it
until it’s time to hit the showers and wash off the grime and dirt
from another miserable day at work
can’t wait to take off this soiled white collar shirt and monkey suit
in my pursuit of this white american fantasy
that’s giving me ulcers and hemorrhoids
but still not filling the void
there’s got to be more than this
just got to be something better than this

The audience was very receptive and I left the stage with the boyant feeling I always get after performing. Public speakig for me is torture before I speak and heaven while I'm doing it. A very interesting confluence of emotions.

So I finished up and we rolled out. I headed back to Pasadena to get some Z's because the next day was the Book Expo America wiriter's conference starting bright and early at 8:30 am...