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Monday, November 29, 2010

At Least Ten Things To Be Thankful For...


During this time of the year, we, at least those of us with an interior life, tend to become very reflective of the things that life continues to show us. Personally, I've meditating upon the changes, the challenges and the Blessings that have been visited upon me and those I hold dear. This short entry is to acknowledge the 10 Things I’m Most Thankful For:

I am thankful for my health, and my general state of well-being. Without these, life would be this huge theatrical play in which I never got a chance to perform.

I am thankful that my mom’s most recent mammogram showed no signs of cancer.

I am thankful for the roof over my head (no matter the STOMPS & BUMPS I endure along with it).

I am thankful that no forces of nature, no hellish hurricane nor earthquake, or terrible tsunami has wrecked havoc upon my life, its quality, or its being.

I am thankful for the handful of people I can genuinely call “My Friends.”

I am thankful and grateful for the bravery of our soldiers overseas fighting in two wars to protect our freedom.

I am thankful that none of the recent terrorist plots and conspiracies against this Country have proven successful.

I am thankful for the gift of self-expression and for the healing it sometimes brings.

I am thankful for the existence of music and that it is a Living Thing which continues to feed my spirit.

I am thankful for my life, no matter its joys, recent disappointments and strife, it has not destroyed, defeated or left me stranded in the scenery of depression or failure.

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday.

Snatch JOY!



Monday, November 22, 2010

Cigarette Poem? (Maybe, then again Maybe Not)

I have breathed you in…
Inhaled you in
Drifts and drafts
And mad dizzying spins.

And I have
Sucked you
Deeply into my lungs
Like some nicotine dream
Or herbal retreat…
An opiate from
A madness
That dare not speak
Its name.

I have breathed you in
Inhaled you so deeply
You became
My wind… became
The song
That plays in my brain
And repeats
And repeats
Its soft,
Sly refrain.

I have breathed you in
Like a fine Italian
Wine, and felt
My viscera sigh and
From the giddiness of
The high. I have
Breathed you in
With both lewd
And angelic

I have felt my
Corpuscles race and
And glided with
The flutter of
Sightless butterflies, as I
Imagined gardens of
Earthly delights.

Yes, I have breathed you in
Like carbon monoxide
And frankincense
Like roses and toxins
Never knowing if
Your fragrance
Will awaken or kill me
Slowly. I have breathed you

Into my system… and
Made you a part of my
Blood stream's story
And then
Until you became
My prick

Of heroin…
Sliding thru my arteries
And taking me on wings to
The Heights of Heaven. You are

My insanity and my
Adrenaline, personified.
And I have become
A junkie...

Nodding to The High…
Purring to The High
Smiling to The High
While dancing inside
Each time, I close my eyes
To slowly


copyright © 2010 by L.M. Ross

Sunday, November 14, 2010

When a Poet Brings The FIYAH!

Last night, I went back to my roots, my origin, my native, the place where my words first caught that fire of attention and the promise of ambition. Last night, I returned to my primal mission: POETRY.

Readings are something I once did frequently, before little magazines, publication and noveldom intervened and became a part of my immediate scene. Readings can be extremely cool when you get into the head-groove of them.

For this event, I wanted to give my drummer some... but my drummer was giving me nothing, but drama. I called. No word. I left messages. No reply. It was looking like I'd be reading all by my lonesome.

See, my drummer, Abdul, can truly play. This cat slaps skins and takes you back to those days of Nubian warriors being welcomed home to their villages. I mean, when this cat plays, he takes you away on the wings of a rhythm.

But Abdul was busy playing the cool mute who was not computing my messages.

So, I rolled, stag, Metro style, got on my train, and tried to breathe in smoooove easy waves, going over my lines, mentally clocking my timing, as the train soon made its next stop... and… BAM! The last cat who boarded was lugging a huge conga. Ah yes! The Drama's over. That last cat's my bwoi, Abdul! Now, I feel as if I can spit! We give each other dab. We riff and we rap, and we’re ready to make our poetic attack, and get that party started correctly.

The place, the spot, the den, the boite was this joint in lower Connecticut. It was done up in cool retro café-style, where along the brick walls lay black and white snaps and posters of cats, chicks and poetic deities like: Ginsberg, Kerouac, The Beats and dem, Amiri Baraka, Maya Angelou, Jayne Cortez and Nikki Giovanni, just to name a few.

Like always, I‘m a bit fritzed, a bit frazzled with frenetic nerves and energy. Abdul? He was just maxin and relaxin with a cool-azz lounge.

The show began, precisely at 8:30PM. And like, Whoa! From the jump, I was stoked, I was hooked.

That stage was the breeding ground of some fiercely hot mad talented spoken word artists, all finessing and flowing, all verbing and vibing with ratta-tat-tat ballistic styles, poeting on serious issues and kickin' this mad powerful shit.

I sit and I listen, and soon become an enthralled and enthusiastic member of this poetic marathon.

But suddenly, I feel small and unworthy. I feel all fake and fraudulent. Me... with my frail-azz phonics, seriously considering just vacating that place.

I was sixth in line. This fifth chick was doing her slick linguistically rich mad urban mama drama monologue, complete with high-pitched SCREAMS and shit... and I felt the intensity of this maddening nerve thing, this swerving-in-my-belly thing combined w/ this frog-in-my-throat thing, the semi-freak-out-just-beneath-my-skin thing... mixed with that I don't think I can cope with this whole judgment thing!

Gawd! I hate that feeling!

But it was way too late to do anything-- other than to breathe, yo... just breathe in easy in waves. Breathe baby. Breathe with me!

Then, the MC, Zeke, 'The Vociferous Puerto Reek' cat was back at the mic, and he was loudly introducing ME.

Abdul went on first. He set his mighty congas in place. Then, some invisible hand (God?) pushed, nudging me forth and I followed behind him.

Inside the high-yellow glow of a single bright spot, I stepped to the mic, cleared my throat, hoping something other than a croak, or smoke emits, but I KNOW it's Show-time, dammit!

Nerves, be gone, yo! You on, yo! Madness, begone! Yo Lin! You KNOW you can do this, yo!

And so, I did it. I spit, I riffed, I waxed, I poeted and, yes, I lyricized:

“Actors Acting

We act the mack, the clown, the hack.
We act, we wax, all hip and romantic.
We act as if
Our bullshit
Didn’t stink.

We act coy
We act shy
We act cool
We act fly
We act lies
And half truths
In that quest to
Knock boots

We act happy
When we’re sad
We act calm
When we’re mad
We act slick
& get tricked
By our own
Acting bag. “

And Abdul’s right behind me, keeping his steady rhymic beat. BOOM-CHA-BOP, BOOM-CHA BAM! BOOM-CHA-BOP, BOOM-CHA-BAM. Am I master of this verbal domain? Oh, yes, mos def, I am, mane! I am cool groit… and street-battered soul. Yes, yes, yo! Yes, yes, yo! I am truth-bringer and metaphor slinger. Yes, yes, yo. Check me out, yo!


And the words and drums all merged, so fluidly, so beautifully.

Shoulders moved. The room too became fluid, yes, fluid like me, like he, like us, like we.

And I’m gazing into this amazing sea of faces, eyes all attentive. They are feeding me waves of affirmation!

People are nodding their heads, yo. People were feeling my vibe, my stee-lo. And me? I’m testifying most tenaciously. I am in my zone. I am feeling alive! I am fi-yah and sometimes, I am ice. I am all this unleashed anger and hushed sensitivity. I am a poet, dammit! A poet, in his own rightful element! When a poet's busy poeting, he or she ain’t sweatin’, ain’t stressin’ about shit!

I am on, yo! I am a drum, and a beat. A voice and a flow.

And then… before I knew it, my flow was done. The jig was up. Finis. WTF!? Where had the time gone? Had I riffed too fast, or gone on too long? Had I said too much, or not quite enuff?

But people were clapping—clapping kinda loudly-- and I could feel the love. Zeke, The Vociferous Puerto Rican cat was stepping my way. I guess I was done. I'd read four poems, and it felt like four seconds!

That's the whole trip of this live performance thing. You dread it, up until that very moment, then you're on. Then, once the words come… it seems nothing and no one can stop you. You're a train, zooming, full-speed, a loco locomotive, with one mission, one motive and that is-- to be heard.

And for all the nerves, the highs and lows, I highly recommend it. Take it from one who knows: you'll *never* forget the ride.

Poetry readings can transform me from a reasonably shy and mellow guy into this whole other cat with an arsenal of words, thoughts, actions, verbs, and whole other swerve in my sway. No longer just another cat, stalking the stage in head to toe black, but something dangerous, like a panther, yo! Yes, a panther, in mid-pounce…

Last night, it was big-ups, kisses and embraces, and props of: "you the shit, yo!"

And tonight, it'll be back to work again, back to my lot, back to people placing orders and taking me for granted again. Back to me being this ace-mixologist, this writer wannabe, this part-time poet, with a semi-secret life.

But for one too brief moment, I was fire, baby! FiYAH, I say! Just wish y'all coulda seen me, burn.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Introspection: A Poem For Tyler Perry

After viewing the film For Colored Girls, I was moved. The film, for the most part, is very good. It contains many of the things a great film should aspire to be: compelling, poetic, moving, didactic, stunning, beautiful... and sadly, ugly too. Ntozake Shange created a gem of living, breathing theatrical art. Director/screenwriter Tyler Perry attempted to follow suit by creating a moving piece of cinema. I believe he did so. I believe, in some ways he succeeded, at least to the best of his (current) abilities.

However, in keeping it real, I was also personally hurt, disturbed and offended that a black male director saw fit to continue the Hollywood tradition of cranking out a fleet of stereotypical Black Male Monsters; characters in black face with no redeeming qualities, no life-affirming purpose and ultimately no reason to exist other than to cause harm, shame, hurt, and to wreck demonic havoc upon the lives of others. Because of this, I left the theatre entertained by the thematic nature of the film, engaged by its many vibrant performances, and yet filled with strains of mixed emotions.

My Emotions dictated this piece.

Introspection: A Poem For Tyler Perry :

The way you do me...
The way you do love
Is an offense to my humanity. Hard
To stifle the screams of
My inner child, my inner being,
My inner cries…
While you and your vision wear
This hangman’s smile. Still

I have no hatred in my heart.
I throw no shade
Upon your star. Though
Sometimes, sitting there in
The dark, I almost felt
Pity for you.

It must truly suck
To hate your self
This historic way you do.
The way you portray me with
This absence of pride
Is its own kind of spirit
Homicide. I am more
Than whipping boy
More than felon, fuck-up
Or fraud! More than
Demon seed unleashed
To feed upon our women who’ve
Indeed considered… suicide
Because all this bullshit was

Is this how you really see me?
And is that all you see?
When you gaze into mirrors what
Stares back at thee:

Black and crazy?
Black and ugly?
Black and beastly?
Black and blinded by
Rages no one else
Do you
Ever see the chains
Affixed to my history?

The bloodstains
From my struggles, or
These blisters from
My journey?
Do you ever see the
Attempts of boogeymen
Trying to annihilate me… or
Are you too busy being
One of them?

Ever once
Feel the THUD of my
Treacherous descent? Ever
Notice… my
Beauteous feats, or
The bravery in my attempts?

Ever pay notice to the flight of
My ascendency? Ever once
See these tears raining inside me?

Yes. You see monsters
Where you should see MEN
Who share your fight, & the tone of your
Skin. You do see, plenty,
And you roll call all
The ugly. But

Have you ever once
Looked and saw
The poetry

In me?


Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Transitory Shelf-Life Of The Male Stripper (& Other Tragedies of The Ridic)

The other night, as personal favor for a friend, I did a bartending gig for this private party. I was told ahead of time that the tips would be cool, but the atmosphere might, ummm... "get kinda rowdy."

I wondered WHY he felt it was necessary to warn me. I mean, what exactly was I about to roll up on?

“Well,” he said. “This is a bachelorette party.”

Oh. Say no mo.

Having done of this kind of thing before, I knew that indeed things could get hectic, and LOUD, and crazy, and LOUD, and freakish, and LOUD and outta hand... and well, LOUD. Personally, I'm not a big fan of the LOUDNESS, but this was for a friend; and ya know a Brotha could always use some extra tippage. So, LOUD or not, I agreed.

So, I roll through around 7:30 to set-up the bar. Gradually, I see the women-folk (won't call ‘em ladies) sift through. Some come in pairs, and some in groups of four, five and six. They looked sedate enough (at first), and a couple of them even gave me some rhythm. The woman of honor, the Sista of the hour, the Bachelorette to be fetted was a chick in her early-30s, I suppose. She's all coiffed up weavey wonder-style, manicured down, and one could tell she was the woman of the evening because the others sort of swarmed around her in queen bee fashion, giving her kisses, props, and the occasional gift box.

Gradually, I noticed the crowd getting antsy, and LOUDER, as the drinks were flowing nicely and the liquor was going to their heads. I also knew what was expected to be the main emphasis, highlight of the evening, and The Big Tah-dah!: The male stripper…

Initially there were a couple of buffed cats I'd spotted patrolling the premises earlier, and I'd assumed they were the strippers, as both were rather rocked-up in the extreme. But NO! These cats were bouncers, not strippers. My bad.

The main cat, the cat-daddy stripper of some renown was a large chocolatized dreadlocked Brotha who went by the name of Aaron Anancoda. Trust! I couldn't make this ish up! There was even a BIG-AZZ "A.A." on the back of his gold cape, which was strange in itself, 'cause the dude was dressed as a cowboy!

There really should be a better set of stylists for this profession. I mean, no matter the machismo of the dancer, they always end up looking like some ridiculously femme, flamed-out superhero, gone all kinds and varieties of WRONG!

Not understanding the boots, the cape, the glitter, the tassels and such. Just NOT understanding, yo!

ANYWHO: When this A.A. dude made his way to the stage, the place went wild! I don't mean wild… or even WILD. I mean Wi-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-le! Male strip clubs must unleash that sleeping inner CAVEWOMAN out in some women. They lose ALL control! And yeah, I must admit, in his rowdy raunchy rodeo glitter-gear, A.A. did look kinda impressive. I mean his shoulders were huge and his guns were looped and gi-normous. He was blessed of thigh, and had bountiful gluts. Yes, I understood the buzz, the hype, the squeals of delight generated by this he-man's hulking presence. Some of the women were indeed visually pleased to see such a well-built speciman.


However, when I looked closer, my writer's eye noticed, A.A. was no spring chicken. I mean, seriously, I'm all for shaking whatever yo mama (or daddy or granddaddy) gave ya, and I'm not about the age discrimination trip, but dude was tad long in the toofus (AND the jockstrap!) for such a physically… ummmm… demanding profession.

This was just something I NOTICED, and having noted it, I just kept pouring.

The crowd grew LOUDER, more juiced on liquor, and this only made them all the more impatient to see some more skin. So, A.A. ripped the back of this stripper-gear away, and showed ‘em some man-azz.

I heard a few "Ooohs…" followed by "oh…" and the "oh" wore a tinge of feminine disappointment. Still he received a bill or two as he continued going through his dated hip-swerving moves. The cat's dancing ability was... ummm... kinda lax and lacking. I mean, there was a distinctive absence of energy, as if his heart, balls and the rest of him wasn't really INTO it.

But the crowd grew louder and more demanding, and she, the bachelorette, straight up hollered: "Show us what you workin with, big daddy!"

Oh. My. Goodness!

Man... this is where it gets sad.

I mean, for real.

You might wanna stop reading at this point. If so… Peace.

Aiight. Still reading?

Homeboy, churned and slowly rolled his hips in a freaky old skool circa 1985-style, and then he slowly, methodically whipped IT out. And, trust me, whip would be the correct terminology. Yeah, he was kinda blessed in the lax ding-a-ling department, BUT, I guess the women wanted to see the old anaconda dance, rear-up, get frisky, and bite someone. Unfortunately, all the damn thing did was hang there and swing, sway and flop, uninspiredly... and the women were just NOT having it! But trust... they WERE definitely amused.

They began to laugh, teehee and titter and some just straight-out guffawed.

"Damn! Is that thang asleep?"

"Somebody call 911, stat!"

More laughter ensued.

Charming, eh?

Then, for his next move of grace-free choreography, he launched into his MAIN ACT. He half-lumbered, half-gyrated over to the chick-of-honor and did his shake and swing-a-ding-a-ling dance thing for her. He began to slowly grind her now giggling thigh. He sat on her lap, which was shaking hysterically as he rolled his hips all lewdly upon her. And she, oh she was doubled–over laughing at his ass, and the rest of him! And no, this was not that shy, uncomfortable bachelorette giggle thing. Nah. She was mad laughing AT him! And, by now... so were the rest of them. I mean, they were all ROARING!

It was like this cat had become the stripper-comedian or some such shit.

Then, and this is the SADDEST part: homeboy left the lap, went back to the stage and laid on the floor, on his back, face-up.

Oh Lort! What was Aaron and his alleged Anaconda gonna do next?

Well, he commenced pouring oil all over himself, applying extra oil to his rippling, if declining assets… and still the anaconda wouldn't dance. Maybe all the laughter had killed the mood. I clearly could see why it would. But, that didn’t seem to faze him. He just kept pouring and rubbing, rubbing, and a-pouring and nothing noteworthy happened. The only thing throbbing in the room was the boom of the music.

Ironically, it was an old Sade tune, "War of The Heart," and it seemed that even she had conspired against him, as she sang:

“I’m loaded… Don’t know where to point this thinnnnnnng.”

Really? Et tu, Sade? Seriously?

Maybe that musical selection had already been pre-planned, but, for me, as a man, this was a pretty pitiful and putrid display.

I couldn't help but wonder... Did homeboy forget to pack his Viagra?

Picture it: a grown-azz man with dreadlocks, easily in his mid-40s, with a decent build, a large, if lazy johnson, spread out on the dance floor, with only a couple SINGLES surrounding him. A grown-azz man, old enough to KNOW better, dry-humpin’ the floor, and TRYING his level best to entertain these drunk, laughing and abusive women... I mean, you had to SEE it.

I seriously felt sorry for him. I felt like: DAMN… Bruh, I hope you got a good day job!

And the whole time, I'm mixing and pouring and having this mental dialogue with this cat that went something like:

Am I the ONLY ONE who feels this tragedy? I hope this scene doesn't scar you for life, bruh. In fact, I hope this scares you straight; awakens you to the reality that your stripping days are through. Done! Ovuh! Kaput! I mean, fo real, yo. Maybe this will be your epiphany… because surely, there's gotta BE a better life than THIS! Maaan, just GET UP, yo! Maybe if you leave now, no one will notice!

At this point, gangs of women were just a-walking by him, going to the ladies room, ordering more drinks, carrying on LOUD sista conversations, as if this naked cat on the floor didn't even exist.

I swear I wanted to throw a big ass blanket around the man and lead him away from that madness. But I was only there to serve drinks. So, I chilled.

Truthfully, I never understood the male stripper mentality. Other than using their assets to make a quick buck, and letting that become the seed money for some Bigger Dream, then what would be the point? It is ego-inflating? Well, maybe if you’re young enough to lack any other sense of esteem or self-possession. I definitely don't GET why anyone after, say, age 30 or 35, would still be out there shaking dat saggin’ ass for cash. It's clearly a young person's profession! And besides that, this tad-too-long-in-the-jockstrap cat was NOT bringing sexy back! In fact, he shoulda seriously considered retiring it! And just WHY was he the last one to know this?

Everybody's got a hustle… and more power to them. It’s not really fair to judge him or anyone. Witnessing this sadness was actually a lesson in social studies for me. The moral of this pitiful display: Whatever our profession, we need to KNOW when we've become a parody of ourselves. And when and IF that happens, hopefully we'll possess the grace to simply retire our respective tassels, and just say, goodnight...


This has been another of those Public Service announcements. Aiight?


Monday, November 1, 2010

“i live in the ghetto. you just come to visit me, ‘round election time.”

As yet another Election Day is upon us, I can’t help but wonder: how many people will be heading or marching to the polls with a clear(headed) agenda? How many will be voting with their HEARTS and not with their fears? And for all the millions that do vote, just what issues will they be basing their vote upon?

Considering the history of Black people and People of Color in this Country, for anyone to NOT exercise the right to vote is tantamount to a slap in the face to all those who struggled, fought, even lost their lives to see that we were afforded this basic Constitutional right!

I hope people will take that history and that struggle into consideration, and bring it right along with them into their voting booth. I hope people will vote with the truth of their hearts, and the voice of their conscience. With all the political hype and hoopla, it is far from being a perfect system, yet it remains (a small) way for us to send our voices directly to those who are supposed to represent us and our needs. This can not be ignored!

It's rare for me to use a video to make a point within the confines of this blog. However, this particular one reveals so much Truth that it seemed appropriate to include it here. It's a compelling look at America. It’s the America far too many people know by heart. It’s also the America some never see, and others never bother to consider.

There’s a line from Stevie Wonder’s Big Brother that reads:

“I Live In The Ghetto. You Just Come To Visit Me, ‘Round Election Time.”

Indeed. Maybe that’s the Real TRUTH of politics.

Watch this video, and I DARE you not to feel something!

"Big Brother" ( By Stevie Wonder)

“Your name is big brother
You say that you're watching me on the telly,
Seeing me go nowhere,
Your name is big brother,
You say that you're tired of me protesting,
Children dying everyday,
My name is nobody
But I can't wait to see your face inside my door

Your name is big brother
You say that you got me all in your notebook,
Writing it down everyday,
Your name is I'll see ya,
I'll change if you vote me in as the pres,
The President of your soul
I live in the ghetto,
You just come to visit me 'round election time

I live in the ghetto,
Someday I will move on my feet to the other side,
My name is secluded,
we live in a house the size of a matchbox,
Roaches live with us wall to wall,

You've killed all our leaders,
I don't even have to do nothin' to you
You'll cause your own country to fall!”

*Mad props to the talented artist/visionary “Rizashi” for putting together this compelling video.