a cork board


What Poetry Means To Me
PMpSat, 23 Jul 2016 12:26:41 +000026Saturday 1, 2010, 12:26 pm
Filed under: the ether, the mirror, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , ,

YogiWSMenu

A few years ago I was doing some solo grocery shopping at Fresh Co. I was in a hurry, in the zone wearing track pants and trying to grab some orange juice get home quickly. A lady walking with her daughter saw me and slowed down. She paused, half-tilted her head and grinned. She said “you’re a poet right?” I hadn’t performed in a couple of years and had all-but-forgotten about that part of my life. I said “yes, yes I am.” She said she saw me feature at Guelph Poetry Slam in November of the previous year (that was even almost 2yrs removed from performing) and loved my work. She said she bought both of my books and keeps them in her car. It left me feeling perplexed and very good. Wow, my words touched someone.

Last week I was at Starbucks ordering the closest I can get to fancy there, a Grande Americano. The cashier asked my name “Yogi, Y-O-G-I”. She paused, looked up and said “do you do spoken word?” I said “I used to.” Turns out, she used to manage a bar/restaurant where I used to perform at a lot in 2012. She knew my work pretty well. She asked me why I’d stopped. Truth be told, I put it down to focus on being a present father with my little ones. She paused again, “you were good, I remember. You should do it again.” I showed her my journal in hand and said I was working on it. It left me feeling confused. I actually said I used to. WTF? When did that happen?

Something happened in the years I stopped performing. I went through a few years of writer’s block. But I’ve gotten past that. In the last year I’ve been writing a lot, lot more. I’m not finishing anything, but I’m writing nonetheless. Good ideas, good wordplay. I’m getting back in the groove. I was in a really good place in 2012 when I stopped. I felt more comfortable on stage than I ever had before. I was churning out more new, quality poems. My stage voice had found legs to stands on and wings to fly with. But I wanted to be present and accounted for during bath time, story time, good night kisses and late night snuggles. I wanted to be there for it all and I didn’t wanna miss a thing. Spoken word/Poetry slam have been around for a while, it’ll be fine without me. It’ll welcome me back when I’m ready too.

What happened in the meantime was cynicism. It was skepticism. I began to wonder if words can ever really have an impact. Why bother? What legacy do these poems and performances really have? What are we really leaving behind? I still sit and wonder about it. You stand up for 3 minutes and 10 seconds, speak your truth and bare your soul and make some noise for a round of applause, some pats on the back, some much-needed personal release and that’s about it. It began to feel like it was just spinning wheels, like an exercise for the ego. Are we really awakening minds, or are we just another passing phase? Does what you say stick with someone when they wake up in the morning? I’ve been questioning the purpose and reason behind this spoken word thing for a while now and it began to make me jaded.

But then the universe had me cross paths with someone like I did that day at Starbucks or Fresh Co. Someone reminds me, hey your work really inspired me. I occasionally bump into a person who heard me speak my truth 4-6 years ago, and I’m still with them. My words uplifted them then and stayed with them. So I start to think that maybe there is some resonance. Maybe there is some staying power. Maybe there is something more to it than ego and glory and punchlines. Performing/Sharing poetry isn’t about immediate change. It’s about planting seeds. It’s about creating a spark. We may never see the tree take root or see the inferno blaze across the horizon, but it’s there. It’s a lot like karma, it takes time but it happens without fail.

IMG_0515

Poetry, for me, has always been very personal. I never excelled at tackling “issue poetry” unless I was able to relate myself into it. Standing on that stage, just you and the microphone. Just your voice and the audience. Just your gut and their ear drums. There’s something magical about that. The butterflies. The feeling that you’re going to fall…but then you take flight. I’ve gone to a couple of poetry slams in the last couple of months on account of my wife encouraging me. She gives me gentle little pushes into it and I’m taking her queue little by little. I don’t want to make a team and compete on a national stage, but I want my voice out there again. Because I finally realized, after all this time, that I have something to say…and it’s worth hearing.

 

 

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Playing By The Rules
PMpTue, 29 Mar 2016 14:49:59 +000049Tuesday 1, 2010, 2:49 pm
Filed under: the ether, the mirror, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

There comes a time in your life when you get overlooked for someone else. It could be a promotion, an award or a simple pat on the back. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s recognition of some kind. It shouldn’t matter…but it does. We crave recognition. It validates our existence, it lets us know that we’re doing the right thing. I say we shouldn’t care, because it’s a lot like giving a pet a treat to reinforce good behavior (i.e. here’s a biscuit for your good behavior, now do it again!). I say we shouldn’t care because it doesn’t matter one tiny bit they way our actions are perceived by others. Only the results matter. But human nature is such a thing that we constantly seek validation from the rest of the world.

When it happens to me, I get infuriated. I get angry at the people who overlooked me AND the people who I was overlooked for. I’ve always operated on the belief that good, hard work yields good, honest results. Plain and simple. You work hard and plug away day in and day out and one day, if you’re lucky, then the boss-lady may call your number and give you a cookie for your efforts. But in the relentless culture of the office, playing the game is more important than hard work can ever be. What is the game you ask? The game is about appearances. It’s about facades and thinly-veiled agendas. It’s about social manipulation, being self-serving at every opportunity and looking out for number 1. And I’m not willing to play the game. I’ve never been cut from that cloth to be dishonest and manipulate things for my own benefit.

The more I sit here and ruminate onbring overlooked yet again, the more I fester with anger and bitterness. The more I begin to think about the old sayings of, no pain no gain or with no risk there’s no reward. I’m realizing that I’m sitting here comfortably in a job that doesn’t fulfill me, plugging away day in and day out expecting to get rewarded when I’m not playing by the rules of the game. I don’t like over-laughing to fit in. I don’t like being social when I don’t feel like it. I don’t like soliciting compliments. I don’t like complimenting the boss on her hair, shoes, jacket if I don’t feel like it. I’ve operated under the false pretenes that work and production alone represents youir place within an organization. But it doesn’t, and I can’t fault the system for that. I’ve chosen to be part of this system. This system requires a real “go-getter” attitude, a “team player” and someone overflowing with confidence, swagger and pizazz. It’s listed plain as day on the job requirements. Neither of those things are overly me.

Instead of being grumpy and unsatisfied I need to realize that I cannot change the game, I don’t want to change the game. I cannot change the rules. And I will definitely never win unless I’m willing to play by the rules. Well, bah-humbug, I ain’t playing by a damn thing. I need to actually put myself out there and stop running from my potential. I need to stop procrastinating and do more. I’m sick of feeling like I’m being overlooked because the person doing the overlooking is me. I’m the one who chooses to stay within the confines of this mindset. I’m the one who refuses to simply open the gate and enter a world with a different set of rules. Often times we get so caught up in what’s in front of us without ever realizing that we have the ability and power to simply walk away, turn around and just say fuck you and move on with our lives onto something better. I’m sick of it. So I’m trying to view this dogged day to day a bit differently. As a means to an end, because the moment I start to believe that it’s something more or that I can be something more within the confines of these rules, then my goose is cooked. Upward and onward folks. New rules, new game….slowly but surely.



How I Was Feeling Around The Time I Took a Break From Performing
PMpFri, 09 Jan 2015 16:27:13 +000027Friday 1, 2010, 4:27 pm
Filed under: poems, the ether, the mirror | Tags: , , , , , ,

I was combing through some of my poems that I’d written and hardly ever or never shared recently and I came across this. I read this and remember so many things. The way I was feeling then was just that I didn’t belong. I felt torn. I wanted to be home. I felt like everyone was fake, like I was constantly being judged, like people had these expectations of me that I felt I could never live up to. I wanted to retreat into corners like I used to. To be invisible. That’s convenient. In a few ways I’ve done that. I haven’t completely because I haven’t been living some shadow-filled, dark, angry life of a loner. I’ve been being a father, husband and working on being a good human being. I’ve been re-calibrating my sense of purpose and re-tuning my creative muscle. Anyway (I digress), I’m in a much calmer place now and to re-read this brings back a lot of memories. It was also a time when I started reaching into the farthest of places for metaphors and those places ended up being a little dark and surreal……

The Company of Eagles & Wolves

I’ve never been part of a crowd.

I never fit into any one place.

I bleed blue blood in blistered corners

of houses dispersed with red-blooded hounds

and cold-blooded hearts.

I could never be part of the crowd.

Moments where I felt like I was 

An eagle would come flying into the room

To pick his bones apart

So he could martyr himself in an effort

to remind me that I did not belong.

And I was bleeding myself dry.

Even here, on this stage, behind this mic,

I look some of you in the eye 

I know you don’t understand me.

Or even worse, you misunderstand me.

You think you have me figured out

and you never took me our for coffee.

You never asked me why the sky was red

or why I have these horseshoes

hanging out of my pockets.

I get trapped in the entangled

expectations you have of me,

of what you expect me to be.

And I’m left running in my head.

Screaming at the top of my lungs

while ripping the smirks off of

your disenfranchised faces.

Fuck you. For ever standing

on a mountain while I cast myself

into long, winding trails where

only I know the way out.

For thinking you have me all figured out.

For seeing the disillusionment

in the back of my eyes and

recoiling into frozen stances where

I’m made to think that I’m the problem.

I wish I could know the way the gears

turned in that pretty, little head of yours.

You can see me trying to read you,

and it scares you. I can see it

in the way you stare back

slack-jawed with captured eyes.

You tell me to be myself.

But that is something

I wrestled with for 30+ years.

To the point where my fingers are swollen

and my conviction feels discarded

like chicken bones picked clean

by the mouths of the starving.

I could pluck my ribs out one by one

in an effort to be a beautiful display of decay.

So that when you look at me

you will see what I’m made of.

So maybe I can fit into the

crowd of corpses of collapsed creedens

who once breathed the same oxygen

that betrays my every breath.

Go ahead and set the wolves loose on me.

Cut the ropes and send their ravenous mouths,

open and hungry, at my flesh.

I will hold these beasts with my bare hands

and tame them with affection and understanding.

After all of the isolation and

persistent pauses that

plagued our every interaction,

I finally see that I was never meant

to be part of any crowd.

All of the eagles with martyrdom complexes

could fly into the crowded rooms

from the windows of my face,

it’s okay, I’ll befriend them.

I will set those magnificent creatures free

and they will come back to me.

After I snap my ribs back into place

my heart will be intact and

every place I was ever meant to be

will be inside of me.

Because everything I’ve ever needed

is here.

An endless ocean

that crescendos with every inhale.

Scattered with your bones,

my blue blood and our indifference.

Where I keep a pack of wolves

and a flock of invisible eagles as pets.

Where the hearts that understand me

will always be.

Where every ounce of conviction

that I possess will hold me

high enough to kiss the sun.

Where the only place I need to fit

is within myself.



NaPoWriMo – Day 2
PMpFri, 05 Apr 2013 21:13:42 +000013Friday 1, 2010, 9:13 pm
Filed under: poems, the ether, the mirror, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

Okay, so I’ve got some catching up to do. I’m still struggling with getting my minf flexing and flowing again. It’s been a while. I’m diving in whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Losing My Way

My mind races

through a labyrinth of thought,

banging into every corner

thumping against walls.

Clarity is somewhere

but eludes me at every turn.

Every time I try to write,

the vision is at the end of the hall.

I blink and it’s gone.

So I run.

I run hard, I run fast.

Spraining my ankles

at break-neck speeds

in a futile effort to

re-capture the vision.

But when I finally find it,

it’s not what it was.

It’s changed into

something almost recognizable .

I haphazardly grab

at it with both hands,

only for it to vanish into this air.

So I’m running again.

Burning an inferno in my lungs.

Losing my form, breaking my stride

and becoming completely unrecognizable.

I turn a final corner to find a mirror.

Standing there, I’m panting and heaving,

but my reflection is serenity embodied.

I straighten my stance,

pace into my image,

stand nose to nose

with my own vision of self.

I’ve tried desperately

to bring this person to life,

but he lives within my mind.

He lives within me.

And I cave to the pressures

of living up to him.

I am my greatest benefactor and endorser.

I am my own worst enemy.

I am everything and nothing

and the vastness existence.

I am the pull of the tides

and the winds in the mountains.

I just wish it were always so.

That I didn’t lose focus so easily.

And with this revelation,

that elusive vision races by again.

I turn to look, my reflection disappears.

I give chase again

and I am gone.



NaPoWriMo – Day 1
PMpTue, 02 Apr 2013 16:53:56 +000053Tuesday 1, 2010, 4:53 pm
Filed under: poems, the ether, the mirror, the sweetst thing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

I haven’t blogged or written a poem in months. Since my daughter was born in July of 2012 I took a voluntary and very intentional step away from writing and performing. I’ve been living miraculous moments and have decided to spend most of my spare time with my family. With that being, lately the page has been calling me back. I’ve been going through a lot where I’m questioning the relevancy of my voice, what I have to say and if it even matters in the world. I know my son looks up to me in ways that are incredible. I know that the 2/3 times he has seen me on stage, there is a sparkle in his eye that uplifts me. So, even if it’s just him that I uplift, I have to write. I used to write to uplift myself, then through poetry slam I tried to uplift the community and the world, then it was my relationship with my wife and now it’s my kids. So, with the page calling me again and my muse ready to make another appearance, I have decided to take on the NaPoWriMo writing challenge once again this year. I tried it last year and I learned a lot about myself, I made it to 22 days (I think). I have no illusions of making it all the way to 30, considering I haven’t written in months. I just want to re-ignite my purpose and my inspiration. I want to kick-start my voice. So, if you’re reading/following, thank you. I have no idea what is going to be coming, but I’m sharing the journey and I hope we can all find something in it that is real and inspired….here is my poem from yesterday.

Day 1/Poem 1

What Matters Most

If I ever let go

of things that lift me up,

I will have to

stand on my own.

 

Without the people

that lift me up

I will have to

stand as a tree.

 

Though I know

self-worth is

embedded in self-love,

I feel I will be amiss

without the community

that holds me up.

 

I fear that I have made

a forest of crutches

from people that I love.

 

When leaves become brittle,

branches left bare

and bones droop

too low to stand strong,

I lean on them.

 

When pressures of

day to day

become overcast skies,

I smile with my children

and hug my wife.

They light up my heart.

 

I look at my family

in amazement.

I wrap my arms

around them.

Thank the Almighty

for all of my blessing.

 

For they hold me together,

whenever I feel broken.



My Rant on Facebook
AMpTue, 03 Jul 2012 11:52:14 +000052Tuesday 1, 2010, 11:52 am
Filed under: the ether, the mirror | Tags: ,

About 8 or 9 years ago I caught wind of a groundbreaking website called Friendster. It was a place where you can create a profile of yourself and connect with friends from around the world and share pictures and other cool stuff. It was called social networking and it was brand new. Not too long after that there was this new “revolutionary” site called MySpace that was setting new trends and was a place where, not only everyday people like us, but also musicians and bands would go to mingle. It was the social network that everyone was on and it was fully customizable and very, very cool. Then shortly after that, came Facebook. I first heard about Facebook nearly 6 years ago. My stance was that I was already on 2 social network sites (Friendster & MySpace) so there was no need for another one. But, like most of the world, I thought I’d give Facebook a try and signed up just about 5 years ago. The rest, as they say, is history.

Here we are today and Facebook is an integral part of our everyday lives. The founder of Facebook has turned into a billionaire and a cultural icon and already has his very own biopic to bolster his legacy. You can find Facebook on our smart phones, our home screens, our classrooms and in every corner of our lives. I have my Facebook application and I check it at least 10 times a day (probably way more). Facebook has replaced the need for real face-to-face encounters, e-mailing and calling in general. I’m going to sound like an old fashioned dude here, but I remember when we actually called people for their birthday, when we called people to invite them out or say what’s up. I used to e-mail people regularly to communicate with them. And if something happened in my life, it had to wait to travel by natural communication or until I, myself, told you about it (I know, I know…there was a time when emailing didn’t exist). Thanks to Facebook this is not the case anymore. We can write on our best friend’s wall and say “HBD!!” and other non-personal things. Now, I could turn this post into a huge diatribe about how self-centered and absorbed we have become as a society but I won’t. I’m going to try my best and focus on Facebook.

We have become so reliant on Facebook it’s annoying. Using it as a tool to communicate and stay in touch with family that is overseas or out-of-town is great. Sharing moments of your life on Facebook is wonderful too. And as an artist or a business owner, it is a priceless tool. All of these things are fantastic and make Facebook truly unique. But we have to remember that Facebook is a website. It’s a social network. It’s a database of ALL of our extremely personal information that we are naive enough to think is private (there is a reason we don’t share pictures of our son on Facebook).

The reason I’m writing this is because I deactivated my Facebook account two weeks ago. I know it’s going to be temporary. I know I’m going to come back. As a writer, an artist, a poet and a family man I have to be on Facebook (see all of my reasons above). But when did Facebook replace a phone call? My wife signs into her Facebook maybe once a week and she refuses to install the Facebook app on her new smart phone. When did Facebook become a mandatory social construct? I use Facebook to keep in touch with people and to network as an artist. For the most part my activity on Facebook is pretty frivolous. I scroll through my newsfeed and comments on statuses, pictures and links. I share my own insight on myself and life through my status. I share pictures on my phone and post links to events that I’m a part of and I just loosely use it. That’s how it has been over the years. But now, people take your use of the site personal.

I’m not trying to claim that I’m important because of my Friend Count, I have almost 800 friends on Facebook. Half of the people on my Friends list I have met once, and some of them I have never met at all. If I perform at a poetry event and someone in the audience hears my work and is touched by my words, they find me on Facebook. If someone buys my books, they find me on Facebook. There are poets that are on my friends list that I have never met but I have heard of, so I add them. There are people on there that I just don’t know that well, but we connected on a certain level through one form of artwork or another. I use Facebook to stay connected, not as a primary mode of contact with my close friends. Especially if those friends have my cell number, email or home phone (all things that I have made unavailable via Facebook).

So when a family member or dear friend of mine gets upset because I don’t respond to something on Facebook in a timely manner, it annoys the shit out of me. It has happened a few times over the few years, enough to make me deactivate my account because I just can’t be bothered. I’ve reached out to people on Facebook and not gotten a response and was a little upset about it. But then I stop and think about life and staying connected. I don’t need Facebook to stay connected with the ones that matter. You all have my phone number, and if not then you know where to find it. If you log into Facebook and have hundreds of friends and don’t feel like spending 2hours online responding to EVERYONE, then I have to appreciate that. And if you log in the next time and your newsfeed has grown to where my message falls below the radar, that doesn’t mean I am any less important. As a matter of fact, if I was to feel that way then maybe there is something wrong with me. Maybe I am thinking that your world should revolve around me, when it should never do such a thing. Maybe I need to just calm the fuck down and pick up the phone or send you an email. Or maybe I should just appreciate the fact that maybe that person has a lot going on with their life at the moment.

This last two weeks that I have taken off of Facebook has been liberating. At first, I would watch a YouTube video or read something online and think, man I would love to share this on Facebook!, but that has started to fade. I miss updating my status sometimes. I miss being so damn public sometimes. I know I’m going to reactivate soon, but I am in NO hurry to do it. My life has not changed. It has stayed pretty much the same, but I am no longer checking my Facebook at every single waking opportunity. I don’t know what’s going on with everyone, but that’s okay. What I need to know, I will find out. It felt good to uninstall the Facebook application on my phone too. I just think we need to remember that Facebook in not the be-all and end-all of friendships or communication. If someone does not respond to your status, it does NOT mean that don’t care about you. It just means that they missed it by not logging on 20 times a day. Use Facebook as a means for sharing your life and your thoughts and for staying in touch with friends, but let’s stop taking it so personal shall we? After all, it’s a website. It is not our lives.

“The center of the universe cannot exist, when there are no edges.”

Marilyn Manson

 



Day 9/Poem 9 – NaPoWriMo
PMpWed, 11 Apr 2012 23:39:17 +000039Wednesday 1, 2010, 11:39 pm
Filed under: poems, the mirror | Tags: , ,

Sleep, My Dear Friend

 

Sleep has always

come to me with ease.

I have always been able to

close by eyes and

put an end to the day

whenever I needed to.

 

Like an orange sun

succumbing to

the tidal waters

of the ocean.

 

There are very seldom

instances where I

find myself restless.

Where sleep eludes me

the way the enslaved

long to taste freedom.

 

What awakens me,

those things that leave me

stationary and laying on my pillow

are always one of two things.

My mind wandering,

or my heart longing.

 

Like that time she was

gone for 3months.

I avoided my mattress

like it was a torture chamber,

often waking up twisted and

aching on the living room sofa.

Not having slept nearly enough.

 

I would avoid

my house all together.

Asking the last remaining

stragglers at poetry slams

what they were up to.

I don’t wanna go home,

my house is too empty,

I would say.

 

So I would find myself

in Chinatown at 1am.

Jaywalking the city at 2am.

Driving to the lake at 3am

to stare at the water until 4am.

Anything to avoid those sleepless nights.

Those sleepless walls. Sleepless.

 

When my mind wanders

I’m nervous in anticipation.

I will stare at the ceiling

making constellation paintings

with the spackle on the ceiling.

 

It is on nights that

preceded or tail-ended

a potentially life-changing event.

I would turn from side to side

picking apart the pieces

of what was to come

or what had passed.

 

Like the time I knew

I was picking her up

from the airport the next day

after not having seen her

for 3months, but years earlier.

 

I would go to Wal-Mart

and play Playstation 2 on

the demo machine to pass time.

Just so I could avoid

that sleepless sofa bed.

Sleepless kitchen.

Sleepless.

 

Sleep has always

come to me with ease.

I have always been able to

close by eyes and

put an end to the day

whenever I needed to.

 

Like an orange sun

succumbing to

the tidal waters

of the ocean.

 

Sleepless is not

something I see often.

But I know it like

a little brother knows

the mannerisms of his big brother.

 

So when I do find myself sleepless,

I feel like nothing ever changed.

Been there, done that.

I’d rather be dreaming,

but I wake myself

into a sleepless, dream-like state

in exchange for the real thing.