Blog Post

I’ve taken a break from Facebook.  It wasn’t a particularly difficult decision since I’m on there almost exclusively because of my wife.  When I’m old, Facebook photos will tell stories of our lives since we met, and I think that’s pretty amazing.  After the election, my feed blew up with all types of arguments for and against Donald Trump. And then they’d blow up with arguments whenever a black person got shot by the police.  My opinion on both of these topics is:

  1. If you support Donald Trump, you’re racist.  You might not think you are, but you’re okay with ignoring it and supporting a racist for whatever personal reasons you might have, and as such are enabling racism.  So, ya racist.
  2. Cops in America are a gang with too much power and kill way too many people.  Nine out of ten times, there’s no excuse for it.

I weeded out the people with these opinions on Facebook by unfriending and ignoring them (on facebook, so that I wouldn’t see their comments). But recently more arguments have been popping up.  It probably has something to do with the new concentration camps popping up.  I don’t know.  Anyway, that’s not what I’m trying to write about here.  I’ve also taken a break from poetry.  These two things are related.  And because I’m an academic, I feel like I have to have some sort of flow and purpose to the blog even though it’s just a blog and I can really do anything I want.

Anyway…I’ve been doing writing poetry and attending open mics for a year and a half.  I have met many amazing people, several people I’m proud to call my friend.  For a year and a half I’ve put my pain on paper and listened actively as other poets shared theirs.  For a year and a half, I’ve been a sponge for the trauma I’ve witnessed.  The poetry I produced would wring some of it out, but not enough, and recently I’ve reached the saturation point.  I can’t hold anymore, and when I try to write, all I can think about is how terrible everything is.  And you know, lots of shit is terrible.  You can just look at the news and see that.  But my life is pretty great.  My wife is amazing, my kids are whole and healthy.  I’ve got a black panther shirt for every day of the week.  It’s awesome.  I realize I’m privileged, even if being a black man induces stress on the daily.

But the only poetry I’ve written has been based on this trauma, so lately when I try to write, it’s just made me immensely sad.  The feeling goes away as soon as I stop trying to write.  Because of this, with facebook, I’m taking a break from writing poetry and I’m going to scale back on attending open mics.  I’m still going to go out, but I’ve been attending 4-5 open mics a month for over a year.  My mental health needs to draw back.  One thing that I did constantly while writing fiction and nonfiction is take note of my writing, where I’m excelling, where I could improve.  I would note things I liked and didn’t like about my writing.  I have never done that for my poetry.  I have grown and changed as a person and a writer over the past year.  I’m going to take a few months to think about why I still want to write poetry (because I do), and how I can grow from here.

Facebook and the arguments were contributing to the general malaise I’d felt, so I felt a need to draw back.  See, it’s all connected.

I’m still writing in the interim.  I’ve gone back to some fiction stuff that’s been brewing.  It feels really, really good.  I’m reading a lot more.  I’ve finished TWO books in the past couple weeks (The new Stephen King book Outside (not my favorite) and a fantasy book by a black woman fantasy author NK Jemesin…the first book in The Inheritance Trilogy (pretty good!)).

Right now as I write this, I’m in the Youtube pigeonhole of listening to a bunch of spoken word poets.  This is also enjoyable.

It makes me want to write poems…which is how I know I’m okay and that I will heal.

PS.  I made myself not correct the different punctuations of facebook because it’s a blog and not a paper.

PPS.  A blog post titled blog post is fucking funny.  We can’t be friends if you disagree.






An Interview (with myself)

Stephen King does this all the time.  I do it with my characters.  So, I’m doing it with myself right now.

Michael:  So, Michael.  DarkCat.  Skillzilla?  What do you go by these days?

Answering Michael:  Mostly Michael.  Most people just call me Skillz because of Sandy.

Michael (M):  I see.  What are you doing now.

Answering Michael (AM): Watching The Good Doctor with Sandy.  Plotting out a few poems I have to write for class.

M:  What are the poems about?

AM: I’ve got an assignment coming up that asks me to write a poem about a historical event from three different perspectives.  I chose Trump’s election:  POV of a white moderate, a black person, and America.  I’ve also got an idea of a series of poems written based on “The Talk” series.  Things a black parent would tell their children.  I’m trying to build a portfolio, but more than that, I’m discovering myself as I write.  Finding out more about me.  Wading through this world of whiteness in which I live.

M:  It’s been exactly a year since your first open-mic experience.  How do you feel about yourself now, about your poetry and writing?

AM:  I’ve still got imposter syndrome going on.  It’s hard for me to accept complements.  It’s always been hard.  I’ve learned to trust the people I surround myself with over my own opinions.  So, in that way, I feel better.  I’ve got a really solid group of writing friends who are supportive and offer great feedback.  My wife will always call me on bullshit.  It’s getting to the point where I can’t deny that I’ve got something going on, but that feels

Last year, I’d written about 4 poems.   I’m up to around 15 now, with several that I’m really comfortable performing.  Poetry is coming easier to me now, the ideas for them.  I’m getting to a point where I want to memorize and start playing with different forms of poetry.  I want to write all of the poetry.

AM:  Where are you on your prose writing?

M:  Tons of ideas.  Using my notebook more to jot down ideas, but I haven’t written much prose lately.  I want to, but right now, I’m doing the poet thing.

AM: How do you feel about that?

M: I don’t feel any way, I guess.  Right now, I’m exploring poetry.  Sometime soon, I’ll write prose.  What’s important to me is that I’m writing.

AM: Reading anything?

M: June Jordan, Audre Lorde, Langston Hughes, Ta-Nehisi Coates.  Black Power, pretty much.  Lots of James Baldwin.  Reading an amazing book by Ibram X. Kendi titled “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.”  It’s what the title says, an extensive study on racist thoughts in America.

AM: Sounds interesting.  Sounds intense.  You write a bunch of serious stuff.  You’re working through your own emotional drama and traumas.  How are you relaxing?

M: I think I mentioned I’m watching The Good Doctor with my wife?

AM: You did.  What else?

M: Lots of that.  Lots of relaxing at the end of the day with Sandy.  Reading comic books, working through Chris Priest’s Black Panther run now.  Thinking of doing a type of “Read Through” on the blog.  Playing games.  Trying to learn Dragonball FighterZ.  Starting to go to the gym a lot more.  Trying not to get diabeetus again.

AM: Oh, right, that happened?  How are you feeling?

M:  Better than I have in a long time.  It was rough the first couple of months, but I’ve got a handle on it now.  Weight down, blood sugar is great, and building good lifestyle habits.  The new goal is to be super swole and wearing this thing for Black Panther 2’s premier:


AM: That’d be pretty dope.

M: Wakanda forever.

AM:  You don’t think this is weird?

M: What?

AM:  Talking to yourself like this?
M: Nope.

AM:  Well, it was good talking to you.

M: You, too.  We’ll do this again.

AM: If you say so.

M: I do.