DeYoung Museum

A trip to the DeYoung Museum of Fine Arts was a pleasant adventure on a warm and sunny winter morning in the Bay Area. Upon entering the Golden Gate Park, the carefully planned nature and luscious green surroundings led me to the inviting bright posters promoting the special exhibition “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” and others. Purchasing a ticket, I was excited and considered myself in for a much-anticipated treat.

The “Soul of a Nation” exhibition focused on art work and art collectives in the age of resistance to racial division and segregation of African Americans from the 60s to the 80s.  The works were a magnificent display of not only the talent of so many artists of that generation, but also of the intensity, blood, sweat and tears of those who lived and created art in those times. The portraits, sculptures, and standalone pieces were sometimes harrowing in their depiction of what it meant to be black, segregated and largely ignored by artistic establishments. The organization and division of the works through the exhibition formed a mental picture at large, capturing the struggle of the movement around black power and liberty.
Looking through the works, I was taken aback by the vibrancy and gift of the artists on display, but also by the gut-wrenching representations of life, often in response to racial violence, oppression, and the volatility of the era. By the end of my walk through the gallery, I was convinced that although times have changed, there hasn’t been enough progressive transformation in society, and nowadays, there is even a regression in freedom and raw equality afforded to all citizens of the world.

I spent most of the rest of my time at the DeYoung in the permanent exhibitions, especially in the Art of the Americas galleries. I was particularly drawn to a pair of paintings by George Inness (1825-1894) titled “A Glimpse of the Lake” (1888) and “Moonlight” (1893). Both works captivated me in their use of faded colors and light to amplify a mood of much needed calm, tranquility and a sort of rural allure. I strolled through the passages and galleries looking through as many works as I could, many of which I had seen on prior visits.

The trip to the DeYoung was a peaceful experience, one that will surely be duplicated with pleasure on my next trip to the Bay Area.

Morning March

I step outside
in the early morning

Darkness
inhaled with morning dew
and cold streaks of sharpened wind
wrapping around trees and dormant gardens
begging to stay with me a little longer

Dear Night,
I have sunshine to collect
and light to refract
today, like all others
so please do not stay longer

I lay beside you, darkness
in hopes of a warmth
you couldn’t deliver
when I needed most
but still you gather
beside the moonlight and the stars
begging me to stay

You are not to blame
for the cold
for the harsh winter morning
for the chill
numbing my fingers
and frigid limbs

Still, you help me rise
reminding me that there is much light ahead
that the day will come without further argument
and you will retreat gently into the void
without vulgarity
to make room for today’s clarity

Rhyme cycle VI

The salvation of savages ravaged is merely to sign away their fortunes on dotted lines.
To give away, to see off, to be off in all regards, poked and barbed and cordoned off into little human jars of bright minds. Scarred as ever but charred and cooked to perfection for their warm and sunny weather. They wash up upon their own shores by scores and droves in the name of life’s sacred treasure.

Indigenous, preposterous, monstrous, omnipresent like the tusk of the extinct rhinoceros. The poly amorous tentacles of oppressors reach far and wide, with no one to blame for a game so servile and snide. Polish their hide with the finest of soaps, the cleanest of water, the freshest of tastes. Civilize their eyes, and remember to place the napkins in your neck before you dig into their plates. Life is just great, so fine, so dandy. Your armored boats carry nothing but candy to their sweet and salted shores with resources galore from your prepared tools so handy. Pry away from fools their jewels and turn their names pronounceable. Regimes are always to be denounced and conspiracies surmountable upon the sleeping savages unaccountable.
For greater good, blood spilled in the name of lumber and wood, for papers with names of presidents and martyrs, for trading, tending and barter and everything forefathers and traditions ever stood.
Book a trip around the world and charter a region in their names, in hopes that casinos override the dead, that eagles rise above heads, and bird eye views are simply drones equipped with the latest technology and infrared.
A problem cannot be solved with a problem we created, but remember we are adorned not hated, and we can all just get along as long as we are not the one mistreated and ill fated. I play race cards handpicked from the shards of terror, like you play in the lap of your own system and think you’re that much more clever. I’d rather sever ties with my body for an out of body experience. Remember that we’re all equally guilty but we’re always safe as along as we’re not the source of the world’s ways and deviance.

The Whisperer

She walks past whispering
into the ears of others
Warnings of danger here
A small compliment to a stranger there

I hear her often
between the shuffle of my steps
in galleries and streets
in rooms and on sets

Between words, she hums
melodies so soft and strange
I usually walk by without a word of my own
still unsure if she wishes to cause me pain

I used to worry when I heard her
for I did not know what to expect
but her whispers are often wonderful
and pull me in in all respects

I never look her in the eye
so her mystery never unravels
I hear her often when I sleep
I hear her sometimes when I travel

She whispered last today
but I couldn’t make out her words
I walked past in a hurry
to make sure I hadn’t fully heard

When life gets absurd
I seek out my whisperer
She keeps me honest, she keeps me here
and I no longer worry when I feel her near

Some types

There are some men
who do as they’re told
both young and old
but consider themselves bold

There are some men
who do what they want
through torture and taunt
to have something to flaunt

There are some men who whisper
hushed and silent
in defiance of violence
docile and smiling

There are some men who fight
who show off their might
who punch and bite
and don’t take kindly to life

Some men, they never snap
some men, they never take crap
some don’t give a damn
others ponder and plan

Some live for the day
others do what they may
some throw it all away
and don’t care what others say

Which kind of man are you?
Before it’s all done and through
Before your blue veins turn black
and the shades of your worn skin turn blue

Are you a man of the moment?
Or one of plans and pursuits?
Are you a fine mix of both?
Do you balance your accounts with your truths?

The House of Bubbles

Formed in darkness
Bubbles of black foam build upon hard floors
of wood and marble
The house is dormant
But inside, something grows
Vulgar in it’s tentacled reach
Evil, malicious… shocking to those who are still asleep

The bubbles slither through the house welcomed
Washing and splashing around the floors and rooms
Engulfing all in slime and grime
Sucking into the tiny bubbles
Everything and anything that can be touched
And everyone that can be reached

There are many inside this house
But the bubbles grow uncontrolled
Inching ahead in the form of a large black wave
Shapeless, erratic, unpredictable
And ready to take over all that has been untainted and innocent
For so long

Soon the house is covered in millions of little black bubbles
With unseen people trapped inside
Some happily cased in
While others suffocating against their will
The thin walls of foam
Crushing backs and limbs
With little space afforded
For freedom

The bubbles gather and smash through the windows and doors
Gasping for freedom
Appearing from chimneys and vents
Until the house has overflowed
With muck and people
And little to differentiate between them
And little explanation
To those in the outside world

Do you like it here?

Memories of welcome are quaint and rare
But the sounds of goodbyes were always aplenty
Wished away for voicing words in the face of our troubles
Like we always did ever so gently

Curse me in my back
And whisper within my ear a few words filled with empty scorn
Remember that your visitors are merely invaders in disguise
And everyday another one of their stars is born

I know that monsters are also made of the conscious
As enemies are often made in the name of the sleeping
Weeping and tears never solved the worlds problems
But shattered dreams are good memories for safekeeping

They never hesitated
To doubt and second guess
Second class citizens
Mostly products of laziness or civil unrest

We’re put to the test but better off to swords
Forced to clap and applaud the system they so laud
The fresh air does wonders for life and liberty
But this world relies on us to remain in the depths of our misery

“Freedom ain’t free”

Scrutinize with your eyes
these humans for rent
Quality services available
and always guaranteed as “money well spent”

For only a few dollars
Hard working and reliable
Adjusted only for inflation
with a phone number on call and dialable

Clothes packed into a closet
organized for efficiency
Uniforms pressed for duty
standard work boots for uniformity

Never one in a façade
but always a person unknown
with clear and staunch political opinions
and always “homegrown”

He tells it like it is
He doesn’t want people in his biz
He’s a traditional man from a conservative clan
He always separates “hers” and “his”

A few jokes and banter there
but never a minute to spare
You can tell him what you want and need done
but really, he “doesn’t care”

“I’ve got mouths to feed”
“I’ve got bills to pay”
He’s a busy man with many plans
He hasn’t got all day

He goes home to his wife and kids
but can’t get himself to pay them much mind
He’s neither here nor there
But he’s always on the grind

He believes in old fashioned work
and pays his “god damn taxes”
The pictures on his shelves are of his family
Even from times when his grandfather fought against the Axis

At night, he calls it quits
and rolls into bed but his wife is fast asleep
With nothing to do, he twiddles his thumbs and begins to hum
and decides to count some sheep

Apologies they cannot afford

The million “sorrys” raining from the sky
like pamphlets
and lifeless petals
stick to us like dirt behind the ears
clawing at ankles
wanting nothing more than so desperately to be heard
a million times over
in the chorus of earth’s invisible belly

Sorry, Sorry, Sorry
forever and ever more
until we choke upon apologies
and digest indifference to the word

The apologies we never really received
for our capillaries scathing in eternal unsatisfied hunger
Nothing more than a perpetual whisper on their lips
for the passing pitiful notion of our human existence

A million moments of silence cannot kill our void
A million “sorrys” can never fill our hearts again
Standing and sorting through day and night
in futile search
but covered in endless apologies

Living and breathing

Today I write without the hints of bitterness. The sun rises from the shadows behind me, sweetening the start to the week and the mundane grey covers of winter mornings. As sharp as the frost lining the fortified windows, I write with hope, with passion, and with intent conjured from the guts of perennial perseverance. There is so little time in this world to work, to create magic, to fulfil dreams and destinies, to pursue goals and ambitions, but it must all be done before the bells toll and we are bid farewell into the long night.

I breathe in the fresh morning air, clean like flowing spring water, and step through the small puddles outside on a morning stroll. The sunshine is not for sale, bartered for the darkest of days in portions enough to briefly satisfy the starving soul. Am I lonely but determined like the pursuit of ambition, where some hold onto their reserves while others leave it all out for the moment to capture? Is there a difference between existing and living? Between just being and breathing? As alive as the shadows of trees within  forests on a summer’s day, the warmth still dormant in the heart of winter’s walkway, sifting through mud and muck to uncover the pearl of human essence. The power of life, when all is doused in the downfalls of predictable gloom and a familiar deluge, threatens to pull me under while the walls close in.

Life can be rain, sometimes replenishing, sometimes refreshing, but also enough to put out the fire in our heart and the heat in our wayward steps. We plan to live, to breathe, to savor and satisfy our needs, but often end stagnant as puddles of old rain water, refusing to dry while remaining trapped in confinement. Today, I step outside and exist. Today, I will live and breathe.