Friday Fictioneers: Non-Believers (6.22.12/Story 4)

Stumbled upon the Blog of Madison Woods and discovered her fabulous idea for Flash Fiction: Friday Fictioneers! A great way to generate ideas, and receive opinions, praise, critiques, etc. from fellow writers.

The goal is to write a 100 word story inspired by a picture that is posted every Wednesday. On Friday, we post our stories, and indulge in everyone’s short pieces. Interesting fun!

Her Site:

www.madison-woods.com

This week’s inspiration:

My story (Enjoy!):

Non-believers

Bobby said stones could talk.

I didn’t believe him.

I had to prove him wrong.

I walked to the bus, sat in the back row, and according to my compass, we were headed north. Next thing, I was waking up alone as the driver announced, “Last Stop.” I didn’t know where we were, but I wasn’t scared. I heard running water, ran, and eventually found the stream.  Stones everywhere. I put my arms up in a V and concentrated hard. Nothing. They rejected me, but a dragonfly landed and screamed my name. I ignored it, and no one believed me.

(Open to constructive criticism, of course)

-MS

 

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Tribute to The Black Arts Movement (BAM)

Clean out the world for virtue and love,

Let there be no love poems written

until love can exist freely and

cleanly…

-Amiri Baraka

I’m unsure how well known the Black Arts Movement is, because it is so controversial, but it is a movement I have learned to truly respect!

I DO NOT agree with all of their views, but I believe this group of artists has produced some of the most powerful poetry I have ever read. A lot of BAM works come from an extremely angry place, and anger is a fierce emotion. Some would say it’s an emotion that does not have a place in poetry, simply because it’s harsh, based on fear, and often considered base, but that doesn’t make BAM poetry any less beautiful to me. It is very honest, and most like confessional poetry.

You can find a decent amount of info about the movement on Wikipedia and much more if you do a little research, but the Black Arts Movement is the artistic side of the Black Power Movement. It came to existence in the 1960’s in the wake of the Malcolm X’s assassination. Amidst a tumultuous atmosphere of political and social unrest,  Amiri Baraka began BAM in Harlem, with his seminal poem “Black Art.” It’s an ars poetica  that lays the foundation for his ideas and the Black Arts Movement, in general. “Black Art” easily lends itself to being the authoritative text of the movement and serves as a manifesto, as it is undoubtedly, the Black poem—and the blueprint for all Black Art of the movement. It is militant, boisterous, angry, proud, demanding, and no holds-barred. There is cursing, violence, blasphemy against God, poetry, and poet, pure unadulterated hate, and also love. Needless to say, his writing receives a significant amount of negative attention as it is typical of his works to express hateful, racist, classist, sexist, anti-Semitic, anti-establishment, anti-African American, anti-peace until we can all have peace ideas, making his work exclusionary to almost all, except those who agree with his ideas of what it means to be Black.

Yet, when reading this poem, I do believe it’s important to question what it truly means to be Black and what it means to be White. I don’t think he is referring to races at all, but using Black and White as concepts, modes of thinking, and ways of being. BAM may appear as a counter culture, but I do think BAM writers were intent on establishing a new culture with new meanings for the terms Black and White.

Black is typically associated with negativity: darkness, danger, evil, and death. White is typically associated with positivity: goodness, clarity, safety, and life. Baraka completely reverses these meanings in his work and associates White (not the white man), with negativity, and Black to be the innate being of man, a man who fights openly and aggressively for the rights of the marginalized and does not turn a cowardice blind eye to universal struggle. Baraka insists that people should be willing, not to die, but to kill for the independence of all. He takes a “you’re either with us or against us” approach and that extends to all races of people.

The Black Arts Movement was innovative and emerged during a frightening time in American history. While, the violence that is promoted can be quite graphic and overbearing, I think it is representative of what was happening in the 1960s, and I understand Baraka’s intention to rile people up and ready them for battle. Yet, violence is a difficult thing to promote, especially in a culture where violence is associated with being a brute. If one can reach past the violence and see the movement and the material of the movement through a broader lens, it has the capacity and possibility of establishing itself as a national and international movement of the oppressed who are ready to fight and kill for their rights and no longer willing to wait to die or accept someone else’s definition of how they should live.

Also, I think it’s important to note that the violence that is present is rhetorical violence and we see worse on TV nowadays. I think the simple fact that his poems are so difficult to digest is testament to the power of the written word, and that means a lot to me.

And a complete positive of the Black Arts Movement is the widespread change in academic literature that arose after the movement waned in the mid-seventies. American literature was no longer to be dominated by white authors. Not only did African-Americans gain a voice, but Latinos, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, members of the LGBT community and other minority groups who were voiceless.

I don’t agree with violence in any way (except in my writing), or hating people based on race or any other stereotype,  but I think the whole movement is interesting. I don’t know what it was like to live during the time of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, I don’t have first-hand experience of blatant racism and constant disrespect, so I cannot judge the reactions of people living during those times, and I won’t. I will say that being a product of your time and representing your life experience in your work is something I admire because it represents a very honest truth.

I grew up (am growing up) in the era of rap & spoken word and both of these art forms remind me of the Black Arts Movement. When you are surrounded by negativity and violence, you shouldn’t have to shut off your experiences to make art, but infuse all of it into your writing in order to tell your story, that deserves to be told. Yes, sometimes it is gratuitous and sometimes it is glorified, but good rappers and good poets paint pictures and tell stories, and I definitely respect that.

BAM writers I enjoy:  Amiri Baraka, Mya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Etheridge Knight, Gwendolyn Brooks…

A poem by Etheridge Knight that I Love:

Cop-Out Session

I done shot dope, been to jail, swilled

wine, ripped off sisters, passed bad checks,

changed my name, howled at the moon,

wrote poems, turned

backover flips, flipped over backwards

(in other words)

I been confused, fucked up, scared, phony

and jive

to a whole / lot of people…

Haven’t you?

In one way or another?

Enybody else wanna cop-out?

-MS

The Other Woman (6.20.12/Poem 4)

The Other Woman

The world is upside down,

my cynical side is showing,

and positivity is positively

exhausting.

Crushed hard by gravity,

craving depravity,

I just want to

be a dirty girl

love bad man

have wild sex

eat greasy food

cut school

skip work

smoke a lot of weed

live a champagne life

party all night

get drunk

Black Out

never think about what happened

and do it all over again,

conveniently forgetting

 to feel guilty

about any of it.

-MS

50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School By Charles J. Sykes

50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School

-By Charles J. Sykes

I think these are sooooo interesting, and for the most part true. Although I still live somewhat idealistically, and that’s okay with me! Despite what anyone says (#36), I AM IMMORTAL!!! ;)

THE Rules!

 1. Life is not fair. Get used to it.

2. The real world won’t care as much as your school does about your self-esteem. It’ll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.

3. Sorry, you won’t make sixty thousand dollars a year right out of high school. And you won’t be a vice president or have a company car. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn’t have a designer label.

4. You are not entitled…

5. No matter what your daddy says, you are not a princess…

6. No, you cannot be everything you dream…

7. If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss. He won’t have tenure, so he’ll tend to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, he’s not going to ask you how you FEEL about it.

8. Your navel is not that interesting. Don’t spend your life gazing at it.

9. Your school may have done away with winners and losers. Life hasn’t.

10. Life is actually more like dodgeball than your gym teacher thinks.

11. After you graduate, you won’t be competing against rivals who were raised to be wimps on the playground.

12. Humiliation is a part of life. Deal with it.

13. You’re not going to the NBA, so hold off on the bling and spare us the attitude.

14. Looking like a slut does not empower you.

15. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping. They called it opportunity.

16. Your parents and your little brother are not as embarrassing as you think. What’s embarrassing is ingratitude, rudeness, and sulkiness.

17. Your parents weren’t as boring before as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, driving you around, saving for your education, cleaning up your room, and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are.

18. Life is not divided into semesters. And you don’t get summer off.

19. It’s not your parents’ fault. If you screw up, you are responsible.

20. Smoking does not make you look cool….It makes you look moronic.

21. You’re offended? So what? No, really. So what?

22. You are not a victim. So stop whining.

23. Someday you will have to grow up and actually move out of your parents’ house.

24. Batman’s girlfriend is right: “It’s not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you.”

25. Pi does not care what you think.

26. A moral compass does not come as standard equipment.

27. Your sexual organs were not meant to engage in higher-order thinking or decision making.

28. Somebody may be watching…

29. Learn to deal with hypocrisy.

30. Zero tolerance = zero common sense.

31. Naked people look different in real life.

32. Television is not real life.

33. Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all could.

34. Winners have a philosophy of life. So do losers.

35. If your butt has its own zip code, it’s not because McDonald’s forced you to eat all those Big Macs. If you smoke, it’s not Joe Camel’s fault.

36. You are not immortal.

37. Being connected does not mean you aren’t clueless.

38. Look people in the eye when you meet them…

39. People in black-and-white movies were in color in real life. And no, the world did not begin when you were born.

40. Despite the billion-dollar campaign to turn your brain into tapioca pudding, try to learn to think clearly and logically.

41. You are not the first and you are not the only one who has gone through what you are going through.

42. Change the oil.

43. Don’t let the successes of others depress you.

44. Your colleagues are not necessarily your friends, and your friends aren’t your family.

45. Grown-ups forget how scary it is to be your age. Just remember: this too shall pass.

46. Check on the guinea pig in the basement.

47. You are not perfect, and you don’t have to be.

48. Tell yourself the story of your life. Have a point.

49. Don’t forget to say thank you.

50. Enjoy this while you can.

 Good Stuff!

-MS

Exit Interview – A No More Love Story (6.20.12/Story 3)

Exit Interview (First Draft)

“But, I love you Kazim” Almana repeated.

“I love you too, but I just can’t do this with you anymore,” Kaz coolly replied.

She held her head back—nose in the air—to keep her tears from flowing. She wished she could bury her face in her hands, but decided pitiful was beneath her.

“Do what?” she asked, “You act like this is a chore or a game, we’re not playing Monopoly, this is my life—our lives.”

“I don’t know what you want me to say, Alma, I just don’t want to be in a relationship with you anymore. I’m not happy.”

Kaz expected their break up to be difficult and vowed to only give the whole process two hours before he mentioned that he had plans and had to leave, but he could tell she was going to try and keep him there as long as possible. They were only ten minutes in and he already saw tears. He wanted to cry with her for effect, and to make her feel better,  but he’d never been that upset about anything except his father dying, and could never cry over a woman.

“And what about me?  Alma asked. She couldn’t help raising her voice now and looking him in his eyes, which seemed cold and distant, as they usually did. “You think I’m happy with you all the time? They’re called trials and tribulations asshole. You don’t just give up.”

Alma’s intention was not to try and convince Kaz to stay with her. Most days she couldn’t stand to be around him and he made her miserable, but she had a strong attachment to the love they used to have when it was fresh five years ago, and by staying with him and fighting for him, she had convinced herself that she was the loyal one. And he was doing exactly what she had expected of him—leaving.

Kaz met her stare and tried to look compassionate and spare her feelings, but he had long ago stopped sympathizing with her. Often, she seamlessly managed to play the bully and the victim, but she had just given him an opening by calling him an asshole. It didn’t bother him one way or the other whether or not she called him names (except if it was in front of other people), but to drive his point home, he used it against her..

“You continuously disrespect me by calling me names, this is exactly the type of shit I’m always warning you about.”

“So, you’re leaving because I call you names?” She asked sarcastically.

Kaz almost laughed, he knew she would reduce everything they had been through, to something simple and try and make him feel silly about his decision. He waited a minute to compose himself, so he could speak to her with a straight face.

“You know that’s not all. We’ve been through all of this before, we have the same arguments time after time. “

Truth is, he couldn’t pinpoint exactly what went wrong in their relationship. It wasn’t any one big thing, it was a series of small disappointments that got them to a place where they were always on opposite sides of the fence. He was banking on the fact that she could feel things weren’t going well between them and wouldn’t ask for specifics from him and just let it all go. Individually everything she had ever done in their relationship could be considered minor offenses. But a million minor offenses is major.

Alma remained quiet for a minute or two as Kaz sat and watched her. He checked the time on his phone three times during their awkward silence and this was one thing that made her angry about him. He could never be in one place at a time.

Alma was well aware that they had spent the last two years drifting further and farther apart, but she wasn’t done yet. And if anybody was to leave, she wanted it to be her. He’s the one who cheated on her a year into their relationship, but she had her indiscretions as well, so she gave it one good argument to make him feel bad and to give her an opportunity to yell freely at the guilty man, and then she swept it under the rug. He got caught, she didn’t.

She wiped her tears with the back of her hand and sniffed the snot back in her nose. She needed to be clear-headed and rational about this and wanted him to take her seriously.

“You know what, Kaz?”

He immediately knew she was framing him for a set up with that question and her new found resolve.

“What?” He asked.

“Would you leave your job and explain to your co-workers and your supervisor that you were leaving because you were unhappy.”

He knew where she was taking this, but couldn’t find a way out.

“Probably not,” he answered, skeptically.

“Me either, so let’s do this properly and formally. It doesn’t make sense for me to get all emotional and sappy. I’m an adult, I’m 23, you’re 27, we can have a grown up conversation and a dignified ending to our five year relationship, right?”

Alma didn’t mean anything she was saying, but was tired of being the only one fighting for a relationship that neither of them needed or wanted to be in.

‘I came over here hoping that is what would happen, but you started crying and bringing the whole vibe of the conversation to a level I didn’t want to go, and—“

“Don’t be negative,” she interrupted him, “We’re moving on. I’d just like to ask you a few questions.”

“Oh God. You can ask anything you want. But I made plans, and I have to leave in about fifteen minutes.” Kaz knew what she was doing. Almana was a writer for a local magazine and when she was angry and tried to cover it up, she turned everything into business and went into reporter mode.

“You can’t just do this for me?” she lightly pleaded.

“I said you can ask, I’m not doing this forever though.”

“Forever is a long time, and we’ve been doing this long enough already” she said.

He was in no mood for her sarcasm, “Ask your questions, Alma.”

“Okay, well we’ll start with the most important one; what is your primary reason for leaving?” she asked.

Kaz was about to repeat himself and felt they were talking in circles around each other, at this point he was annoyed.

“I told you, I’m not—“

“Don’t say you’re not happy, that’s not an excuse. It’s just not good enough.”

Kaz agreed to answer her questions, knowing that this was another one of the things about her that irked him.

“I don’t know what you want me to say. I’m not fucking happy. This is not work, you’re not interviewing me. You can’t make me say anything else. I’m not doing this with you anymore.”

Not only did Kaz not like the way she questioned him, but he didn’t have an answer for her. He would have to name all of the little things about her that bothered him, with them all sounding trivial, even to himself and he didn’t see the point of wasting the time.

Alma pulled a notepad and a black ballpoint pen out of her purse.

“Okay, we’ll come back to it later, did anything trigger your decision to leave?”

She knew she was annoying him, and was enjoying herself a little bit, but for the most part, but she truly did want to hear his answers.

“Yes,” he answered, “A lot of things.”

She lost her cool, “Name them!” she yelled.

Kaz took that as his cue to leave, he had had enough.

“I’m not doing this Alma. I’m leaving. Everything always ends up the same way. I have to go,” Kaz stood up from the table.

“Yeah, you always end up leaving because you’re a coward and that’s what cowards do.”

“There you go calling me names again, but you want me to do everything you want me to do and I’m the coward?”

Calm, once again, she replied, “All I want is some answers or some type of closure.”

“You have all the answers, you don’t need me. Case closed. I tried Alma, I really did.”

“And so did I, so did I,” she said slowly.

“What went wrong?”

This definitely needs to be filled out, but I like their dialogue so far!

-MS

Photographic Memories – Poem (6.7.12/Poem 3)

Photographic Memories

A former Love sent me two photographs

One:

 my left hand

slipped into

a Black & White diamond ring

he bought me

the other:

 a stuffed seal

who holds a red starfish

between his flippers,

 we named him Bobby Brown

and he became ours

on a trip to the aquarium

that we weren’t even going to take

because it was raining all morning,

but the sun decided to smile—

Good times

Sweet memories


Yet, it seems too perfect

 that we couldn’t snap photos of

the Yelling matches

the Hurt feelings

and the slamming of doors.

-MS

Friday Fictioneers: Relief (6.1.12/Week 2)

Stumbled upon the Blog of Madison Woods and discovered her fabulous idea for Flash Fiction: Friday Fictioneers! A great way to generate ideas, and receive opinions, praise, critiques, etc. from fellow writers.

The goal is to write a 100 word story inspired by a picture that is posted every Wednesday. On Friday, we post our stories, and indulge in everyone’s short pieces. Interesting fun!

Her Blog:

www.madisonwoods.wordpress.com

This week’s inspiration:

My story (Enjoy!):

Relief

I ran, jogging around in circles, sun beating against my face. No mercy at 95°, high noon. I felt a second chin this morning covering the sweet spot on my neck. Plump, malleable, soft to the touch, but unforgiving—knowing it had purpose. I hated it, but it was beginning to love me. I ran, sweat pouring down my cheek, gathering in a pool between my breasts. I dabbed, and must have tripped over myself. Lying face down, my chin melting into concrete, needing help; all I could picture: myself, a cup of shaved ice and a snow-capped mountain—forever.

(Open to constructive criticism, of course)

-MS