a cork board

My First Book….3 Years Later
PMpSun, 28 Aug 2011 16:02:19 -040002Sunday 1, 2010, 4:02 pm
Filed under: poems, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

3 years ago I did something I’d always wanted to do; I published a book. I had been writing for a few years and lost a journal or two. I’d taken a Creative Writing course and an Intro to Short Story course at Broward Community College in South Florida. Way before then I had written on and off, it was always a way for me to make sense out of things. I’ve since lost all of my poems from the ’95 – ’99 era.

But my writing went through a lot of phases and growth over the years. My English courses at the same college really helped me to understand my own style and where I wanted to go. It’s a funny thing that I hardly even read books. My mind wanders too much and sometimes I just can’t quiet myself enough to sit down and read a good book. I’d always wanted to immortalize my words in a book.

There is something extremely definitive about publishing one’s work. I spent all this time pooling together what I thought to be my best collection of poetry and prose from throughout the years. I wanted each piece to define something for me and of me, and it did. But I spent so much time with the layout and the formatting and editing that when I got my first shipment it didn’t seem real, not at all. But one day I looked at my bookshelf and saw an array of books by authors from around the world, all pressed into one another. They were all different and they were all unique. I thought about the process of using a single finger to pull out something so precious to a writer. It was then that I saw my book sandwiched between them, and I thought about the copies of my book in Hawaii, Trinidad, Florida, UK, California, New Jersey and North Carolina and it blew my mind. In ‘Lady In The Water,’ there is a water nymph that tells a story to an aspiring author about how a boy will grow up with a book on the shelf in his living room. The author will have long been dead (3 generations old), but that boy will one way pick up the book and it will shape his way of thinking and he will change the world. Isn’t that ever author’s dream? Not to change the world, but to reach future generations. To leave a fingerprint out there and to have your pulse echoeing through the wristwatches of time.

So yeah, I’m super proud of this book. I downplayed it for a very long time. Every book I release will be yet another fingerprint that I leave out there. But this is the first one. So it means to much to me. If you have it already, thank you so much. If not, grab a copy. You can put it on your Kindle or iPad or iPod or whatever “smart” device you use to read books. I can only hope that when you read, and your alone, that somehow what I left in those pages will find a way to resonate with you…or anyone for that matter.

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.


A Wedding Fit for 2 Poets
AMpWed, 17 Aug 2011 11:37:01 -040037Wednesday 1, 2010, 11:37 am
Filed under: events, the ether | Tags: , , , , ,

When two people are meant for each other, you just know it. Not because they are exactly the same or because they’re radically different, but because of what they bring out in one another. You get flustered when you meet that person. All of the smooth demeanor goes right out the window because that person just makes you lose your cool. It’s pretty awesome actually.

I still remember when Truth Is… first told me about Beth Anne. She was in awe of this woman and what she was doing to her. She didn’t know exactly what was happening, but it was love in its purest of forms. Truth said to me “I can’t bullshit her man!” and even if she was able to, she just couldn’t bring herself to do it. Beth Anne made Truth look in the mirror and see so many things about herself and let her know in absolutely no uncertain terms that she was loved without condition, but truly, made & deeply (yes, that was a Savage Garden reference!). When I saw them together they looked like extensions of one another, it was completely natural and organic and lovely.

Then Truth told me she was getting married. When you hear that one of your best friend’s is tying the knot , it doesn’t really sink in until the details start unfolding. A few months later Truth gave me the honor of asking me to be in her bridal party. And voila, I was a bridesman 🙂

So this past weekend carloads of poets and people from around the country and the world converged onto Leamington, Ontarios’ Point Pelee National Park to celebrate the joy of marriage. We filled our bellies and our hearts with laughter and love under a tent and surrounded by wilderness. The MC of the night was Greg “Ritallin” Frankson and he was sharp, endearing and witty. There were a lot of speeches, some teary, some funny, some short and some long. When Best Man Made Wade got up to make his speech a lot of us thought he was gonna rap it, but he didn’t. He did close off his love tribute in true hip-hop fashion with a call and response, “when I say ‘Truth and,’ ya’ll say Beth Anne!’”….”Truth and” “BETH ANNE!”, “Truth and” “BETH ANNE!” and it was awesome. Maid of Honor Carla Henderson got up and delivered a very personal and touching homage to her everlasting friendship with Beth Anne while letting Truth know that she had her most sincere of blessings. Denise Collins’ speech kinda floored me. She talked about knowing Truth for 20+ years with tears in her eyes and it was very moving. Tomy Bewick gave us a poem tinged with humor and heart about friendship and love. We heard from Beth Anne’s super-awesome parents about how happy they were. Then we all made our way to the beach for a sunset wedding ceremony.

The ceremony was simple, quiet and elegant. We made our way onto the beach and the sounds of small waves gently washing against the sand was our backdrop. A cool breeze blew and Beth Anne’s folks paced down the aisle arm in arm after the 2 bridal parties criss-crossed into our places. I will never forget the image of Truth Is… and Beth Anne slowly walking down the aisle and over the sand (Truth in her white pants and lavender shirt with white vest and Beth Anne in her simple and stunning white wedding dress) soaking in every lovely moment. Their smiles were like light. There was a massive, light grey storm cloud sitting atop the lake that gave off a light show of flashing lightning during the ceremony. It seemed that Mother Earth was showing her support too. Their vows were inspiring and the love was so thick in the air it was sappy. But a good sappy.

After the vows and informal formalities DJ Who set up shop at the hotel and began spinning some serious tunes. MC Ritallin re-convened his duties on the mic. We all watched their first dance as a married couple, such a nice and beautiful moment. Truth spun Beth Anne, and the few times Beth Anne tried to spin Truth we all laughed. Greg opened up the floor for more speeches and I went gun-shy and totally missed the chance to give my speech. That’s what happens when you want to give a speech after getting inebriated, lol. The reception/after-party was very fun, we danced and partied and toasted and cheered for love, for Truth Is… and Beth Anne. We meandered through the halls of the hotel from one room to the next until the early hours of the morning. We quietly woke up and said our goodbyes and scattered on towards our homes.

Now I’m reeling from an exhilarating weekend full of love and friendship and family. I’ve got this great feeling of trying to relive everything just to grasp onto the unforgettable moments. Somebody asked me what time I went to sleep on Saturday night, and I wish I knew. I thought I went to sleep at about 4:30am, then somebody said they were talking to me at about 6:30am outside, lol. So I don’t even have the faintest of clues. All I know is that 2 friends that are near and dear to me are a portrait of a loving and giving relationship/marriage. The reason they match so well is because they balance each other out. Each individual involved in a union has something to learn from their partner as well as something to teach. In embracing this understanding and embodying its sentiments, a marriage will be blessed with long years, strong legs and a healthy heart, not to mention a level head. So I know that they’ll be okay and I wish 2 of my favorite people a lifetime of admiring each other and basking in one another’s love.

‘The Dougherty Gang’ and Cowboys
PMpFri, 12 Aug 2011 12:34:25 -040034Friday 1, 2010, 12:34 pm
Filed under: the ether, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , ,

By now most of us have seen the news stories about the 2 brothers and 1 sister who went on a country wide crime spree. They shot at a cop in a high-speed chase in Florida and managed to get away. They robbed a bank in Georgia with a machine gun, an AK-47 and a handgun. Then they led cops on another high speed chase in Colorado involving machine guns and driving at speeds up to 100mph. Most of this is just assumed at this point, considering they still have to stand trial. But I’m watching the news, reading people’s comments online and hearing the overall tone of articles covering the story and I’m a little confused. Now, am I the only one who was rooting for the Dougherty Gang or am I the only one willing to admit it?

Times have changed a LOT over the last (say) 150 years. Bank robbers used to be somewhat “scum-of-the-earth” bad men. They were the examples that parents used as what you would end up if you didn’t follow the straight and narrow path of life. As they perished and their stories became stuff of legend, they turned into glorified anti-heroes who broke all the rules. Almost all of us grew up looking up to people like Jesse James, John Dillinger, Bonnie & Clyde and Butch Cassidy. I mean, we grew up watching movies about them and hearing stories about them, and they were the bad guys but somehow we always ended up rooting for them. I can still remember running around in Louisiana with two cap gun six-shooters strapped to my hips playing “cowboys and Indians” or just pretending to be Jesse James. And when we pretended, we always shot the sheriff. Then, suddenly most  movies about bank robbers portrayed them in a sympathetic light. So we would actually be disappointed when they got busted by the sheriff law man. He was enforcing the law, but we thought he was spoiling all the fun. I guess that’s a bit of the birth of the anti-hero.

So Ryan Dougherty (21yo), Dylan Dougherty Stanley (26yo and Lee-Grace Dougherty (29yo) must have reminded us of those simpler times because we gave them a name that we would likely find pinned up outside the old saloon in a western movie: The Dougherty Gang. I can see it now, “Wanted: Dead or Alive” subtitled by “$50,000 Cash Reward” or something like that. There was something special about this group though, they weren’t just brothers, there was a sister in the mix. I’m sure there are men across the country who are fantasizing about her brandishing a machine gun with high heels and ass-less chaps. But anyway, that’s a whole different discussion about men and our strange fascination with women and guns.

When I first heard about them I thought about that movie I saw called ‘The Newton Boys.’ That was the true story of four brothers (Willis, Joe, Jess & Dock) who, in a span if 5 years (1919 – 1924) managed to become the most successful bank and train robbers in history. They got minimal jail time and most of them died of old age but were bonafide celebrities in their heyday. We glorified them, for robbing banks. When they renounced crime and took on regular lives they were very well-respected and highly-liked citizens of the town they settled in.

So we rooted for them, who’s to say we can’t root for Ryan, Dylan and Lee-Grace? I mean, look at their names, along with their tag ‘The Dougherty Gang,’ they sound like they fit right in with the rest of the bank robber heroes we’ve made. What did they do? They ran from cops, they fired at them, they successfully robbed a bank, led police on a huge chase and had a big goin’-down-in-the-blaze-of-glory finale in Colorado. The only difference with the Newton Boys is that they were more successful at it. And that’s only because of how easily we catch thieves nowadays, thanks to modern technology and over-population.

But I gotta be honest here, when the Dougherty Gang was spotted in Colorado I was a little disappointed and even more so when they were caught. Call me what you will, but I was hoping they’d hide out and get away with it. And yes, I have a son who I have to set an example for and teach the right thing to, but I still wanted them to get away. I’m not gonna teach him to do those things, but I will also find ways to show him that the world is not all black and white, that there are shades of grey in everything. I will raise him with the right values and the benefit of knowing that he is loved incredibly.

 They didn’t kill anyone, they didn’t bomb any buildings or harm any children, so why do we have to pull all this crap of painting them as “scum of the earth?” I’m sure if they make a movie about them in 10-15 years we’ll cheer for them. I would just love to hear what their motives were and the story as to why they did everything. But our “heroes” never had any real motives did they? It was just the cash and the fact they loved doing it. It’s the adrenaline they chased. When they rode off into the sunset on horses we cheered for them, but now we throw our morals at our lawless “heroes.” But when I saw them, it was a blast from the past. I hope you 3 stay smilin’ and see the light of day someday before you die. Cheers Dougherty Gang, cheers.

Letting It Be
PMpThu, 11 Aug 2011 12:40:40 -040040Thursday 1, 2010, 12:40 pm
Filed under: the ether, the mirror

You have to let people be who they are. I’ve never been one to try and change anybody. But I believe that as we learn things in life, those new things that we learn will cause us to view the world differently. In turn, our behavior changes because out thought-pattern changes. It’s all cause and effect, so because perceptions change then the actions we take will take on different faces too. All of this can start to take place as a result of a single conversation with a single person. So, if one was so inclined they could go around using Jedi mind-tricks on people and change people into things they want to see. But I digress, you have to let people be.

Especially in work environments, at work you have to pick and choose which aspects of your personality come out and which ones need to stay hidden away. I wish I worked in an atmosphere where I could be myself. I work for an empowering women company and I am the only male in an office of about 20 women. It’s all good, I have no problems with that. But my sense of humor just does not go over so well around here. I can’t make a certain jokes, or a “tasteless, man joke,” because then I would be messing with the order of things. But some people get it while others just don’t, so I get to carefully gauge how I behave around people.

I bring this up because today I was reminded that some people become set in their ways and their views on life. I try to keep an open mind and realize that life teaches us something every single day, all you have to do is pay attention. So we never stop learning right? But some people become so acclimatized to their mode of thought and (for whatever reason) afraid of something new that they get stuck. I know there must be a history in that person’s life that would serve as a reason to explain this habit. But I was talking about something with someone and she just said “that’s life.” Yeah, that’s life, but through discussion and openness my Wife & I have learned overcome some of these roadblocks (or hurdles) that are called “life.” Look, I lose my patience pretty quickly sometimes, but I have been trying to learn to talk it through. That’s a priceless thing to do because that ensures that your mind never goes stagnant, you never get stuck in one place and you are always learning. But you have to be open to it. If you’re not open to it and you don’t have that patience to talk through it then you just give up. That’s why so many people give up on things that have solutions.

But like I said, sometimes you have to let people be they way they are for your own sanity’s sake. You cannot approach certain dialogue with them or you will simply upset yourself. I know this must have been a bit of a rant, but I had to get it out. After a few encounters with people today I found myself in a real funk. So I gathered my thoughts on what was driving me into the wall over and over again. I hate it when people are so short-sighted. And if you get to realize that someone is just that way, then all you can do is let them be and choose how you are going to be in order to keep the peace with them at work and in life. And, all you can be is yourself….regardless of how much of that “self” you are being at any given time. Cheers.

A Good Start
AMpMon, 08 Aug 2011 08:32:11 -040032Monday 1, 2010, 8:32 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I woke up this morning fresh off the exhales of another weekend come and gone. Another weekend spent in the smile of my son and the arms of my wife. And everything seems to be movin gin slow motion. I’m sitting at my desk at work and I know in a matter of minutes the day will begin rapid, fast and furious. But for now, I relish the moments of clarity. I’ve got some new tunes to aid me in my inspiration and so far it’s serving me well. A new mixtape called ‘Smoke Trails’ by Hyf the GypsySun, it’s soundin’ pretty good. And besides the beats and the rhymes that inspire me, it’s the honest work and personal release I can feel in the music that’s getting me going. Sometimes I lose sight of what I wnat to do and what I’ve got to do and this morning it’s clear. My son sat across my stomach this morning, smiled a mischevious smile, gave me a high five and fell onto my chest and gave me a hug. That’s how you start a week! Have a good one to anyone who reads this…

AMpMon, 01 Aug 2011 09:34:38 -040034Monday 1, 2010, 9:34 am
Filed under: music, poems, the ether | Tags: , , , , , , ,

We were never made to understand you.
Your eyes, spoke of sadness and longing.
But your voice, spoke in soul and jazz.
And your shoulders, spoke in eulogies and swan songs.
An epitaph of brilliance and rebellion interlaced
with passion and, a portrait of addiction.
An iron-clad middle finger and a white flag,
you couldn’t give a fuck what we thought.
So you did what you could,
and we loved to hate you for it.
That’s what we came to know as,
an enigma continuously contradicting itself
for the cold embrace of shallow highs
that sailed you down a one-way river
with no hope of returning, ever.
We watched you wither away
like a descending sun through a fading sky,
and you slipped back to black.
I wish I could have helped you shake
the clutches of those shadows, Amy.
But addiction is a lonely thing,
a road that leaves us helpless.
It turns us into faceless bystanders
praying for you to make the right choice.
I will never profess to understand
the complexities of addiction.
But I know that it never leaves you; the urge,
the pain that took you there in the first place.
Not everyone deals with plight the same way,
but you, you just kept on running.
We would have laid our hands across
the blades of railroad tracks for you,
if we didn’t enjoy watching you
tear away at your own skin.
If we didn’t enjoy watching you fall
like a drunken man trying  to stand,
we might have offered you a helping hand.
Forgive us for the way we are, Amy.
We do not flee the scene of an accident,
we watch the carnage
until the blood stops running,
until the paramedics stop even trying,
until the show is over.
Now the curtain is pulled …and you’re gone.
I can only hope you find the quietness
that eluded you in life.
You kept giving us reasons to pay attention.
We inflated you with expectations of
Aretha and Billie and Natalie and Nina,
and you never knew how amazing you were;
the fact that you didn’t even have to try
is what made it so special.
No, you just sang
And your pain, sorrow and strength
resonated through the chords in your voice.
Every time you would burst into flames,
the music would pull you
out of the ashes like a phoenix.
That’s where you left us your heart, Amy; in the music.
How we’ll remember you, through the music.
After all of the tabloids and headlines,
all that matters, is the music.
Two albums, five grammys,
the start of the new British invasion,
an inspiration to so many starving artists
and a fingerprint on the chest of every person
who was touched by your music.
I wish we could have watched you rise again , Amy.
Instead I’m sitting here writing this poem,
trying to put my fingers on the pulse
of the life you left behind.
I will make sure my son knows your voice,
to pass you onto future generations.
And I wish you peace, Amy.
Peace you could never find
in this life, as you fade back to black.