Cognitive Dissonance

Spiritual equations of Truth and Love
Lie fallow in rows of prime Numerology
While the world turns

Earthly delights spin webs of pain
Sucking thought through the Black Hole
Of Experience
Transforming Self into Ego
Manifesting animalistic behavior
In lieu of the transcendence of the Material Plane

Souls held captive to the destructive patterns
Of minds awash in Babylon’s Manna
Scream helplessly as they bear witness to
Acidic structures eating away at wholeness
Promoting dissolution and destruction
Decrying the Evolution of the Omniverse
In favor of the Revolution of the One

Difference representative of Devolution rules
The obscuring of Truth in favor of truth belies
The commonality of the human condition
Things are bad all over
But this Truth is obscured by media’s manic madness
Proselytizing the American Dream
Minimizing the American Nightmare
Scions of Death eerily captivated by scintillating screens
In the dark of night
While death haunts the urban streets
Searching for fresh blood
The sacrifice of centuries
The price we pay for life in these the Last Days

Mental Compacts held unconsciously in common
With the unwashed masses maintain the illusion
Of enthralled devotion
Motion proceeds ever toward the Center
Spiraling series of denial connect disparate entities
Intent upon ostrich-like behavior
Heads buried in sand until
The storm blows over

But this cleansing hurricane of the Soul
Is just beginning to manifest its true power
Burdgeoning towers of cumulonimbus burst
Over the horizon
Looming darkly blue-black with portentousness
Threating a cleansing long awaited
In a land whose soil is dark with the
Blood of the Sacrificed

While the ignorant await the new season of Survivor
Content with their lot
As Slaves of the New Century
Their cognition deliberately debilitated
In favor of the dissonance created by false contentment
The soothing melodies of orchestral music haunt
The astral night as the Ship of False Salvation
Descends unto the Deep
Lost to the worlds above and beyond the storm
That carries us Home

Great Grandmother Crow

1740 Slave Code from South Carolina: “All negroes and Indians, (free Indians in amity with this government, and negroes, mulattoes, and mustezoes, who are now free, excepted) mulattoes or mustezoes who are now, or shall hereafter be in this province, and all their issue and offspring… shall be and they are hereby declared to be, and remain hereafter absolute slaves.”

Mahogany skin

Crisscrossed by comet streaks
And framed by a mane
Of lustrous ebony hair
Haloed out and around then
Down
Her back
Her soul shone like endless night
Eyes bright and fey even
At 104 years of age

Her mother walked the Trail of Tears
Before she was born
Bloody feet and whip-torn backs
Still proud their souls
Undefeated
All Blacks and Browns
Proud Cherokee
Creek
And Crow
Of the ancient lineage
Called Negro and enslaved
By ignorance and
Envy

Torn by hatred
And jealousy
Their land and lives coveted
By the powerful
A system of segregation was created
Those Lighter
Divorced from the Darker and
Given the inheritance of their
Blood Brothers and
Sisters
Acknowledgement of whom would result
In the most dire of
Consequences

Her family stretches
From New York to Los Angeles
The hearth of her land the
Texas Panhandle and southern Oklahoma
She witnessed the end
Of Slavery
The birth of the Klan
And the Dream of
Martin Luther

Great Grandmother Crow
Told stories of her life
By lantern light
In her shack on the hill
Red dirt and rock the jewels
Of her Nile
Horny toads and tumbleweeds
Worshipped her in silent
Homage

Goddess Anasazi
Queen Mound Builder
Mother of the Cosmos
Great Womb of Creation
The children of her fertile crescent
Traverse the modern world
Lost
To their heritage
Relegated to storied fantasy
And undocumented
History

And yet tied they remain
Through blood and bondage
Souls wounded by life
In the 21st century
Calling out to a distant continent
Ancestral home of
The human experiment
Lost to the knowledge of themselves
And numbed by the battered images
Of demonized minds

Ancestral voices sooth her
Singing songs of the soul
Recalling distant days
Flickering flame and deer-skin drums
Midnight ceremonies held secretly
Anasazi Nation of Mound Builders
Conduct the Rites of Eternity
Dark and shining skin glistening
As they dance to the
World’s rhythm
Electronic beats rock the street while
Hip Hop’s popping locking body drops
Bring a faint smile to her face
As her feet remember
Dances of youth lost
And tribal nights
Of Black and
Brown

Dance
Great Mother
Great Grandmother Crow
She dances
As night calls her
Beckoning with bony fingers
Death’s fell gaze a rumor
Denied her life
The covenant of agelessness
Mark her progeny
Black velvet skin
Mahogany shades
Of light
And dark
Spiraling in harmonic leaps
Of Destiny
Fulfilled

The Invitation

Crete Greece

To be ten years old and living in a foreign country is a blessing. It allows one to broaden the mind at an impressionable age. To be a Military Brat and used to moving constantly is to understand that you are an Ambassador to the World, and to live the rest of your life with that understanding.

From the ages of eight to eleven, I lived on the island of Crete, Greece. My father was stationed at Iraklion Air Station – a staff sergeant between the port city, Iraklion and the sea-side town, Hersonissos, where we lived for a year before moving on base. These were the mid-70s, and America had just celebrated the bi-centennial. We were black Americans at that, stared at wherever we went. Whether it be the ruins of Knossos palace where the ghost of the Minotaur lurked, cobblestoned villages high on Mount Edna or outdoor Markets in the bustling towns and cities, the reaction was the same: smiles, stares and friendly greetings, because black Americans were an anomaly back then, rarely seen by foreigners outside of the United States. We enjoyed a freedom of expression and action that has not been lost upon me and has formed the person that I am today. I lived each day in a state of wonder, exploring my surroundings with other American children.

I remember one Greek family quite well. A husband, his wife and their son, Monoli. They lived a few houses down from us, in the town of Hersonissos. Behind our house lay a few more old houses and an olive grove that marked the end of town. Past the grove, the island rose precipitously into the sky. I remember it as a wall of green, crisscrossed by slate-gray roads and the alabaster veneer of tiny walls, climbing the mountainous slope.

From the roof of our apartment, I could see the blue-purple waters of the Mediterranean sea. The houses were of different designs, but conforming to a type that might be called tropical, being painted a uniform white and stylistically box-like. The buildings were separated by narrow streets that, in those years, held more donkey and scooter traffic than automobiles.

Each morning my sister, Maya, and I would catch the American bus to school with the other Brats, always a wild bunch, given to loud expression and unruly solidarity. The dramas of childhood were no different for us than with other kids, even though we were being raised in a foreign country. Our play was no different from normal American childrens, unless you count speaking non-native languages and playing on exotic beaches, valleys and mountainsides as unusual. Past the 8th Grade, the Brats were sent to the mainland to Zaragoza, Spain to live in dormitories and attend school.

Each afternoon, we would get off the bus down on the main street through town and walk up the hill; me, Maya, and a few other children who lived near us. Monoli would be out front every day, running around, pretending he was riding a scooter. He spoke no English, but he and I would smile at each other and play in the same vicinity, although we never really played together. There was something of a rivalry between the Greek kids and the American kids. Our little gangs would throw dirt clods and chase each other through the back streets, cursing the best we knew how, with us Americans using the Greek words for shut up and other terms that we thought were curse words, but probably werent.

There was one house in particular, a small, gray-boarded shack with dirty, dark windows that we were particularly afraid of. It was the house of the Octopus Man. I dont recall why we called him that, or why we were afraid of his house, since I dont remember ever seeing him. But we did used to sneak up to the window and peer cautiously within then run, screaming away to gather in small groups, whispering about what we had seen inside.

Monolis family was friendly with my own. His mother spoke a little English, and got along well with my mother. I dont ever remember our fathers ever speaking, but then, fathers dont run households; mothers do. For 6 months, we lived on that hill in Greece, overlooking the sea before the relationship between our families progressed to the point where we were invited into their home. I was very excited by this and remember being quite impatient on the eve of our visit.

With my parents leading the way, we marched to Monolis door. His mother answered with a beautiful smile, ushering us in. Their house wasnt so different from our own, although they owned theirs and lived in both the upper and lower apartments, while we lived only in the upper apartment of our building.

The smell was wondrous, but before I could determine its source, Monoli took my hand and pulled me back to his room, where he enthusiastically began showing me Greek comic books, in black and white. We were having a great time, so I was very surprised when my father came to the room, not 15 minutes later, to tell me it was time to go.

As we walked back to the front door, Monolis parents were in the hall with my mother and sister, their expressions anxious. I took this time to look around, and in the room immediately to my right, there was a table, laid out with all kinds of food. I could see what I later learned was calamari, cooked squid, and snails, and other steaming, scrumptious dishes. There was so much food, the table was piled high with it. I wanted to eat, wanted to try the snails and the other unfamiliar food, but, at the time, I remember thinking that we must not be invited to dinner, because we were apparently leaving without getting to eat. I remember being disappointed, but leaving with my family, never to return again.

After that, Monoli didnt smile at me anymore. His face would drop and he would get quiet when I walked by, or his mother would call him into the house. I never saw my mother speak to his again, either. Being so young, I had no conception of social mores and what happened when they were broken. It wasnt until many years later that I found out we had left their house without eating because my parents didnt recognize the food and felt uncomfortable, leaving despite our hosts protestations. My parents hadnt realized that we had been invited to dinner, but when they found out, rather than sit down to eat they had decided to leave.

We had broken a social code, a human code, and, thereafter, were shunned by that family. I knew something had happened, something that had disturbed some somnolent archetype, provoking an automatic response that was primal in nature. But those were undercurrents that I would only become aware of as an adult, remembering.

At the same time, I learned that it was possible to form bonds with people from different countries despite the fact that we didnt speak the same language. To be an American, an Ambassador to the World from the Greatest Country in the World, was imprinted upon us, reinforced every day by the Pledge of Allegiance at school, and at 1200 hours and 1700 hours, when the Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America would play on the base-wide intercom and all traffic would still in nationalistic reverence.

I would put that prescient knowledge into practice years later when I became a soldier, stationed in Germany, living with and loving people with whom I had little in common other than a shared sense of humanity, potential and a love of art, music and dancing.

I sometimes wonder how Monolis life has turned out. And when I think of that little island and the two years that we lived there, my heart warms, in synch with the tropical sun and the crashing of frothy, emerald waves upon oil-dotted, white sands.

Maya visited Crete again some years ago and told me that the island had changed; become more touristy, with hotels and dirt replacing older homes and open spaces filled with the distinctive, ochre grass. The magical, tree-sheltered brooks and seemingly ancient courtyards that embellish my recollections may still exist, but the echo of our lives on that distant island is long gone, as is the official, American presence. But the olive groves, craggy, cliff-side highways and ancient trees still recede from the coast up into the highlands, where the crass visitation of ogling sight-seers is much less intrusive or destructive to native life.

Someday I hope to return to Crete with my children, so they can perhaps glimpse some echo of my distant and unusual past in the excitement of my expressions and memories. I firmly believe that we can only know who we are by reconciling ourselves with who we have been. By projecting the best of now and then into the future and who we want to become.

West Texas Blues

Mama told us about the cotton fields, schoolyard memories and Great-Great-Grandmother Elvira, brought to America on a slave ship in the 1800s, the story passed down through generations.

West Texas hot sky, blue steel and white puffs of pain to be picked, black bodies toiling under the sun. Big Daddy ran a store and worked for the white folks across the track, rented out houses, 9 of his 11 children older,mama and uncle Joe, the last of the country brood. Big Mama inhabited traditional women’s space, concerned with family and helping Big Daddy where she could, their dreams manifest in their children’s successes and failures.

Daddy told us about the Hill, hustling, petty and desperate knife battles in the dark and fighting, every day.

Juke joints, small houses, hovels and shacks inhabited by the poorest of the poor lined the dusty, cotton-strewn dirt streets. The Hill led down to a small dry creek and churches to the immediate north, better houses and respectable black folk, the racial hierarchy delineated by the tracks to the west, both sides separate and unequal, reflecting the larger social realities of life beyond the small, country confines of Paducah, Texas.

Mama and daddy grew up together, high school sweethearts who married, raised three children and achieved successes far beyond the cynical promise of a social caste system doomed to extinction from inception, yet practiced doggedly by generations torn by prejudice and fear. Separate schools, unequal opportunities, yet life as lived, filled with happiness and sadness, excitement and the banality of dreary days, the very stuff of life as experienced by all,regardless of site or situation.

The ghosts of this dusty past tumble through the streets like weeds these days. The once bustling town square now reduced to empty storefronts and a quiet courthouse, broken windows and the crumbling detritus of decomposing buildings. The peanut gallery of the movie house overlooks a tattered screen and the hotel lies dormant, spirits of past indiscretions whispering in the dark. Displaced dreams exemplify the American Journey, as generations move past the past, into an uncertain future.

But the cotton fields and the Hill remain, bare of workers and residents, silently reminiscent of more lively days.