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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Peace-Out 2011: Personal Reflections In a Nutshell. . .

As I reflect upon the personal revelations and the ravages of 2011
I am glad I can say with some degree of satisfaction that:

Everything's fine.

Hired a small team of lawyers. Didn’t get my rightful justice, but at least I walked away with some peace of mind… and

Everything’s fine.

Completed a novel. It’s probably my best work to date, yet couldn’t find a decent literary agent to rep me, so, since I am no longer trusting of those within the publishing industry, I will be doing the entrepreneur thing… And guess what?

Everything’s fine.

Quit smoking. Felt sick every day from Early January thru mid-May, before I finally went to a hospital and was promptly diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. Was given a pacemaker and a Second Chance at Life, and now…

Everything’s fine.

I’ve looked at life from all sides, and realized that petty stresses amount to nothing more than nonsense, the petty people don’t mean shit, and the Real Deal ones are truly worth the investment. And…

Everything’s fine.

Love has smiled broadly in my direction... turned its back, walked away, appeared, reappeared, disappeared, gotten shy, showed its ass, and finally revealed its true face… and now...

Everything’s fine.

Yes, as I reflect upon the personal revelations and the ravages of 2011...
I am Blessed to say, with some degree of satisfaction, that:

Everything's fine.


Snatch JOY, y'all!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

*Let Nothing You Dismay (An Urban Xmas Tale)

(Based upon a True Event)

There was once a young man who lived in a Big Bad City of Rich, Mean and Inconsequential things. This young man had a dream of being different, perhaps to one day even do something epic. This idea of achieving was long ago instilled in him by his grandmother when he was a very young boy. In the summers of his youth, he and his baby brother would stay at her small clapboard home in the south. There they'd share a swing, and the young man would sit for hours with his 'gran' those sunny summer afternoons on that large green swing. It was the most vital piece of furniture on her screened-in porch in Virginia.

It was there, one memorable afternoon, she’d tell him that out of all her many grandchildren (and she had close to 60, by then), out of every single one, this young boy sitting beside her was destined for "Great Things." But she had not told him what that Great Thing would be. Perhaps her eyes were clouded by the cataracts of old dreams and the vision outside them had grown hazy. Or perhaps she already knew and wanted him to realize it fully in his own time, and in his own ambitious skin.

As he grew older, the young man had fulfilled a part of that destiny she'd envisioned for him. When most of his friends were running the streets or rotting from the atrophy of urban youth, he’d somehow excelled in school, and soon became a student in college.

The young man worked very hard and most meticulously. While in a Modern Literature class, it was discovered he possessed a Special Gift. Perhaps this one gift was what his grandmother had long ago prophesied. It seemed he was developing into quite the writer. People, professors, pupils alike, not only enjoyed the things he wrote, they actually FELT the things he wrote. This was a magical gift, indeed.

And so as the years passed, he managed to finish school. Unfortunately, in his senior year, his beloved grandmother passed on.

This saddened him terribly, for now no matter how hard he worked, or what he would become, his grandmother could no longer see it. The young man began to question the time, the work, the effort of becoming someone epic.

Instead of fulfilling the hazy vision his elder loved one foresaw in him, he began to drift and loiter. With his grandmother gone and his college days done, the Country was gripped in the throes of a recession. There were no jobs that fit his particular skill, or held out hope for any real advancement.

The summer became autumn and autumn progressed into winter, and Christmas loomed ahead.

And there was this talented young man without a job, without hope nor the promising prospects of any employment.

He’d moved back into his parent’s home, and that alone became a setback that severely depressed his spirit.

Day after day he’d dress in his one blue suit, the same suit he’d worn to his grandmother’s funeral, and he’d head out on his quest to become one of the gainfully employed. But the doors continued to close and slam in his hopeful black face. The young man was now way beyond the point of utter despondency. More than this, he wondered how he would possibly manage to purchase Christmas gifts for his mother, his father and his younger brother.

The Holidays drew nearer.

Late one afternoon, as he and his one blue suit walked dejectedly down the avenue, he ran into an old friend. His old acquaintance appeared to be doing quite well. Though this friend had never finished high school, never considered college, never was driven or ambitious, he was now driving around town in a very fine car, and wearing the latest in expensive designer sportswear.

They spoke, and they joked, as they once had in their golden days. Being slightly amazed at his old friend’s fortune, the young man asked,

“So, what you been doing for yourself? I mean, look at you! You’re looking mighty successful, my friend.”

And that old friend informed him of his booming business in pharmaceuticals, and how, if he wanted, the young man too could be driving a nice new fly car, and sporting the latest in track suit finery.

This was his fork in that snowy wind-drift road. This could possibly be the answer to all his out-of-money-blues. Drugs and their sale had become a thriving commodity within the community. There were other young men, like him, who doing big things by dubious means, and he looked around, he had seen the glossy sheen of their notorious success. Now here was this friend from his past, offering him a ticket to the land of fast food urban riches. The young man was so ready to agree, to do what he had to do to finally, finally achieve and succeed.

Still, something like an old voice haunted him slowly.

And so, he told this friend he would THINK about it, and give him his answer the following day.

On this way home that snowy evening, he passed a group of carolers singing an old Christmas hymn:

God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman,
Let nothing you dismay…
Remember, Christ, Our Savior Was Born on Christmas Day…
To Save Us All From Satan’s Power
When We Were Gone Astray

Odd that he would hear that song now. He recalled how that one carol was his grandmother’s favorite of all the Christmas songs. As he walked away and the caroler’s voices faded… another voice singing the very same song became LOUDER inside his ear, inside his head. It was his grandmother’s voice. Lovely and strident, so soulful and strong… and was if she were his own Christmas angel, singing him home.

The feeling of it made him warm inside, even on that frigid December day.

Later that very night, his grandmother revisited him in a dream.

In this dream: they were sitting together on that sunny summer Virginia porch swing. But instead of the usual warmth of memories past, the young man he felt a sense of cold emanating from her. When he looked closer, he could see his beloved ‘gran’ was crying.

“Why? Why are you crying, Gran?” the young man asked of her.

“Because, my grandchild is blocking his blessings,” she said.

“I don’t understand. What do you mean?”

And she told him, “Son, God has blessed you with everything you’ll ever need… and you keep ignoring those gifts. They are what make you special and rich inside, and you don’t even use them,” she cried.

“But it’s Christmas! I want to bless my family… and I can’t, Gran. Even with this so-called ‘gift’, I can’t!” he said in desperation.

“Oh? Really? Can’t you?” she asked.

And then she turned away from him. The young man held his head in his hands, and when he lifted his eyes, she was gone.

He awakened that Christmas Eve, still unsure of everything, except for one thing. He was going to say NO! The answer was, NO, to his friend’s offer of quick cash through dirty deeds.

And though that friend looked at him as if he were crazy, the young man said it. “No!”

On his way home again, strolling by those same carolers, singing that same song, he happened to look down in the snow, and he saw it. It was a brand new Cross pen. The gold inlay gleamed under the Holiday lights in a way that beckoned him. The gleam of it begged his knees to the ground. He picked up the pen as the carolers sang “Let Nothing You Dismay…”

He headed home with that shiny new utensil. That night, he sat at his desk, and as if by magic, the thoughts and the words and the sentiments began to pour out of that pen. They came out of some sacred place in him, like fresh spring water from a gushing well.

This would be his Christmas present to his family: Poetry. For each of them, a poem composed of the words he felt for them, each special, each uniquely beautiful, each heart-breakingly tender.

In the last lines of the poem he'd penned to his mother, he wrote…

I wish I could purchase you a fine new mink
I wish I could lay the moon, there, at your feet…
I wish I wouldn’t cry as I write this poem
I wish I could prove how much I love you, mom

And so, on Christmas morning, he presented those gifts to his loved ones. Oddly enough, knowing his circumstance, each of them truly FELT the love implicit in his words. But his mother felt hers most especially.

She said through eyes full of tears, “How did you know, son? This is this best gift you could’ve possibly given me.”

He wanted to tell her that he saw it in a dream, about an old woman, sitting on a large green swing.

But instead he embraced his mother very tightly and simply said, “Merry Christmas.”

* * * * * * * *

One Love.

Snatch JOY!


Monday, December 19, 2011

One Whole YEAR, Smoke-free… Dammit, Applaud Me!


Bogie was Coooool & All... But... Please Don't Believe The Hype!


The picture above was taken the last time I ever smoked. I wanted to memorialize The Moment. I wanted to pay homage to Bogart and McQueen (both who died from cancer, btw) and all those very cool cinematic peeps to blew smoke and fury and signified nothing, and yet further served to punctuate their brand of uber mystique.

So… Here’s The Method To My Madness:

Yesterday, December 18th, was not only the natal day of my longest-lasting childhood friend (Happy Burfday, Val!), but it also marked the one year anniversary of my Emancipation from the Nicotine stick.

Yes, applaud me! In fact… BIG-AZZ congrats to me!

Sadly, there were no parties, no NY headlines, no parades, no fireworks, and there was no holiday held in my honor. In the grand scheme of things it wasn’t a banner day that will live in infamy, but it did and does mean something to me, and to those who’ve loved and supported me through my fight.

I have not fallen back, fallen off, slipped back, fell down, went BOOM, fell from some high expectation, and busted my azz on the way down, gotten weak and /or reverted back to type. In fact, I can now state, with just a small bit of determined cockiness that I AM cig-free. This is not some hiatus. This is NOT a drill. I've passed those tests. This is the Real Deal. I no longer crave a morning cigarette, or need a smoke after a full meal. I no longer depend upon a smoke to relieve tension or stress. I no longer need a smoke after sex. I don't smoke anymore when I’m bored, when I could use a physical prop or need something to do with my hands. I no longer feel the need to light up a ‘Port when I’m writing and creating new worlds or trying like hell to finish a cogent thought. I no longer seek that designated spot to light up outside in the summer heat or the crazy cold while communing with my fellow fag igniters. I no longer have to search pockets or ramble thru drawers to hustle up those extra bucks to feed that monkey on my back who refuses to let me be! Gone are those days and nights when I'd be forced to rustle up those extra coins and spare change just to pay that steadily increasing tab on those demon cigs! AND... no longer do I feel compelled to head out in the middle of a freaking blizzard to cop those necessary tits to suck upon as I wait out some hellish winter assault.

Whew! It was mad rough being ME a year ago!

Yes, trust, in the past, I’ve done all those things (and more) until I was indigo-blue in the face! But that was then.... and this is now.

My NOW contains no residual smoky odors, no stuffy coughs, and no stifling air. My NOW is a new and crystal-clear outlook; a brand-new confidence in me and in my ability. The NOW is a celebration of my willpower. The now eschews the thought of lighting up and instead takes a deep breath, goes for a walk, or meditates, or reads a book.

I do not want to come off here as being superior (I’m NOT!) or holier than thou, as some former smokers are apt to do. I am not nor do I ever plan on becoming one of those Cigarette Nazi People! Not a fan. If my friend smokes, I’m not the one to be making speeches, or giving tedious testimony on the evils of the weed. Naw! That cat’s NOT me! I DO, however, have a few rules set into place:

I don’t want anyone smoking IN my crib! Sounds simple, right?

Well, at the moment, I'm currently housing someone (an in-law) who is a moderate-to-heavy smoker. This is a person, who, even AFTER having a scare and then surviving a serious bout with breast cancer… continues to smoke!!! I have already spoken to her about it. I have given her a few medical facts about my heart condition. I had HOPED that by my being so candid, she would, perhaps, if NOT quit, then at the very least STOP SMOKING IN MY CRIB! Second-hand smoke ain’t NO joke! And still I awaken to find my bathroom REEKS of smoke! Not trying to be a hard-ass, and besides, we’ve already ARGUED about this, and how, IF she wants to continue to stay here, she will HAVE to smoke outside or in her car, or a someplace else! And yet, its like that heated convo never even took place! This witch just keeps on smokin' and smoking... and SMOKIN' some mo. I understand the POWER of the habit. I do. I understand it intimately. So, I will give her until the start of the NEW YEAR before I kick her lax, lazy, disrespectful azz to that proverbial curb. Family relationships be DAMNED! After all, this is MY HEALTH and I refuse to allow it or myself to be played. I refuse, after MUCH personal sacrifice, to have it sabotaged by someone else, when I’m trying to do them a favor. Smell me?

In fact, go ahead, smell me. I dare ya! You won’t find anything other than a faint whiff of my Dolce & Gabbana cologne, ironically named “The One.

So, where's the party? The balloons? And can a Brotha get a hug or sum'm up in this piece?

Happy Holidays to You & Yours!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

*Breaking Out Those Holiday Classics...

Lately I’ve been trying to snatch, to retrieve and to retain this thing in me; this lost and sleeping Spirit of Christmas. Sometimes, it waxes, wanes and tickles my brain with a sweet memory from the past. Often it comes and goes, and lasts as long as a snowflake on a red-hot griddle.


Last night and early this morning, it snowed. Actually... it was officially just a “dusting”. Kinda wimpy really. Maybe I needed the snow to remind me of those long ago Christmases. Y’know: kid voices singing carols, people smiling and being kinder, the smell of pine trees shining with tinsel. But mostly, it’s the SOUND of gospel and holiday hymns sung by REAL singers. Maaaaaaan, I loved those Christmas songs. Something about them made me feel a part of the world, so warm and necessary. Thus, I’ve been trying to reconnect with those cursory things that bring forth the angels of memory. Yes, the lights across the street beckon and remind me that tis IS the Season to Be Jolly, but I’m running a bit deficient of those fa-la-lala-las.

One of my first poems ever published appeared in Essence Magazine, and it was called “Cobwebs on my Revolution Poster. “ It was metaphor for a time of promise and expectatation that had somehow faded away. Well, lately I’m beginning to realize that there are cobwebs on my childhood.

My upstairs neighbors have been blasting Hip-Hop and R & B classics. To counteract their sonic assault, I broke out one of MY classic gems: my Merry Christmas From Motown album. Yup, it still plays, even though it skips, pops and scratches from a spinning disc of vinyl.


This was the music from my kidhood. See? For me to reconnect with those good feelings, the emotions, the wonder and promise of the season, I desperately needs me some Ave Maria, some O Holy Night.

I can seriously O.D. on some original Temptations crooning Silent Night....

....And some Jackson 5 way back when li'l Michael was a soulful brown-skin child who wore a ‘fro and was so vibrantly ALIVE!


Calling on Smokey Robinson… come in Smokey… ‘cause lawd knows we could all could use some Miracles!

Stevie… Mr. Wonder, could you please summon that Little Drummer Boy to come out and play for me?

Damn it! Drats! I mean, Good Grief! I somehow missed this year’s showing of A Charlie Brown Christmas! The l’il keeid in me was never very big on animation or hyped on pretend, but he still relates to this one & only cartoon from way back when.

Who even realized back then how seriously COOL and quasi-intellectual that music was when The Peanuts gang got down? The man in me still grooves to that classic soundtrack of those fluently jazz-inspired tunes.

Music seems to bring the joy of Christmas back to me… even more than snow or lights or shiny presents under a tree. Music alone can take me over that river and through the woods of materialism and deliver a few of My Favorite Things.

So, I’m trying to reclaim that rightful spirit… the spirit that’s been stolen, kidnapped from me by those vicious gods of greed and avarice. I’m trying to keep it simple... when the world keeps getting so damned complicated around me. It’s a chore and a war of the heart, but I aim to score and win that small, yet important victory.

After all, it’s my duty and my solemn right to snatch myself a little Holiday

Photobucket !!!


Friday, December 9, 2011

Satchmo's Grin ...

Recently I received an early Christmas gift and it's one that I'll cherish for many years to come. My boy "Brotha Life" (thanks Lifey!) Blessed me when sent me this gem. It's a large coffee table book filled with black and white classic & candid images of the Jazz greats. The book is called JAZZ IMAGE, The Masters of Jazz Photography (by Lee Tanner). And trust me when I say, the photographers who contributed to this epic book didn't miss too many masters of the idom. To name but a few there's: Basie, Miller, Satchmo, and the king of all Sir Duke... there's Blakey and Dizzy and 'Trane and Bird, there's Miles and Ella, Billie and Sarah, Hamp and Roach, Brubeck and Krupa and Cootie and Nat Cole and mo.

I suddenly feel like I'm lost in my own selfish bliss. Awwwww... whatchu know about the Jazz language?

Anyway... best thing is that most of these photos are rare collector's items, and the faces of these people, these creative legends, they tell such real and vivid, lively and sad and mad compelling stories. For instance, there's a shot of Billie Holiday in the studio recording the classic "Strange Fruit." There's Ella singing scat on 52nd Street. There's Bird nodding off inside a mellow mood while holding his sax.
Each picture, each nuance speaks its own quiet poem. I'm sure this book will inspire riffs of crazy poetry from me.

I'm sharing one here. It was written (or maybe it was channeled) in about 10 minutes after staring at a photo of a smiling Louis Armstrong:

Satchmo's GrinPhotobucket

(A Poem To Old Skool Mindsets)

Tuxedo-clad, and glossy
As his horn…
I am diggin on that
Wide-ass grin of
A young
Louis Armstrong. I see that Genius
String of pearls strung across a mask
Of blackness as it unfurls… and
This mad hep
Jazz cat just
Makes you happy, doesn't he?

But was he really
That damn happy? Could anyone
Black in 1920s America
Possibly be that damn

There are notes, some notes
That sing us, slowly… notes
That cry
So sharp
And so high, they define us
In our deepest quietude…

In his rendition of
St Louis Blues
I hear his pain
I feel his scream
I smell the Delta's
Summer steam…

Maybe he dreamed
Not in visions
But in sound…
Maybe that sweet
Racket of his
Horn warmed and
Transformed him.

Maybe. Maybe.
Maybe all that jazz and
Frequent weed-smoking
Tickled his ass into
Some semblance of
Makeshift Negro


Forget back door entrances
And exits thru the kitchens.
Forget fancy establishments
Where he's less than a
3rd class citizen!
Forget Jim Crow abuses… black
Bodies strung from nooses
Seen from the eyes of a
Boy with a coronet
Who can digest
And manifest
The definition of
The Blues…

But on stage
Satchmo blows
Satchmo smiles
Satchmo knows…
The secret to Negro joy…

Yet when someone
Outside his skin, screams,

"Play that Jazz, boy!"

Louis Armstrong Pictures, Images and Photos

Still, Satchmo grins…
His smile
Wider than The Nile.
His pomaded hair
Aglow, in slicked-back style…
His eyes, his eyes
Squinting back
Light and sweat or
Something resembling
And tasting of

There are notes, some notes
Which sing us slowly…
Notes that cry
That strut and fret
So sharp
And so high, they define us
In our deepest quietude…

I listen to the sound of
Louie Armstrong's
Smile… and I HEAR
The St. Louis

Louis Armstrong Pictures, Images and Photos


© 2011 by L.M.Ross moaningmanblues

Thursday, December 1, 2011

In Honor of World AIDS Day: When Friends Die Young

When Friends Die Young (For James & Jr. & Kim & Cliff & Jet & Cunning & Rosemarie &
Frankie & Richard & Deborah & Every Tear That Falls Down On The Neighborhood Now

A part of you never
Understands. Your tears fall,
Hard, as violent rainstorms from
The heavens.
You swear at God!
You curse the fates! You barter
In bitter degrees. And you ache. You never stop
This aching. And you wonder why
You’re left behind
To grow older, while
Your friends
Expire into skeletons
Before their time.


When Young Women Die
A part of you never really understands.
You think of babies, never born, and
Of newborns dying,
Of sick babies,
Never forming their lips
In a kiss against
A mother’s cheek.


You swear at God! You curse
This fuckin’ disease! You barter
For survival, in degrees… You make deals with
Your libido, your lust, your loneliness. And
You may exist, for years, without the succulence of
The human

When Young Men Die
A part of you grows angry…
Your heart beats faster than
A speeding locomotive,
Your screams pitch
Louder than a subway’s thunder.
You try to remember:
The sounds of a friend’s laughter.
The autumn’s brilliant colors,
The way children smile and
Play with each other when
They think no one’s watching.

But you are watching them…
Watching these shiny kneed little boys
And little cornrowed chocolate girls…
As they grow, evolve, get older,
And life unfurls for them.
You keep watching, like a sentinel,
Or some quietly sobbing god… remembering
When their loved ones were such
A vital part of our



© 2011 by L.M.Ross moaningmanblues