This Then Is the Work of the Spirit

I like to consider myself to be a bit of a poet, so when I come across someone who clearly has the skill down to an art form I have to share their words with the world! I’ll start with you. 😉 I hope you enjoy this poem by Louis Alan Swartz. It’s featured in his book of poetry entitled Constructed of Magic and Other Poems on the Immortality of the Human Spirit.


 

constructed magic
This Then is the Work of the Spirit
(Written for and dedicated to Carla Cohen)
You were sitting across from me,
That was the apparency.
Do you fully realize what you
Enabled me to see?
The depth of the aesthetic
You opened in me?
We stand in awe
As the spirit is freed.
In the little room
Faced to the south
Couldn’t believe the words
That came out of my mouth.
You listened beyond all
Imaginable listening,
Helped me see
A profound aesthetic that had
Always been part of me.
The depth of your listening
Has enabled me to hear
A music that has no sound.
This then, is the voice of the spirit,
It was always right there,
I was always right near it.
But before you listened to me
I just couldn’t hear it.
Bless you and the work you do.
This is the actual holy work.
The work of the heart.
The work of the spirit.
Thank you for listening to me
With such unearthly intensity.
There was truth
Right next to me
That for vast, vast eons
I couldn’t quite see,
An aesthetic that comprises
The very best in me.
You’ve helped me open this
For all of eternity.
For this, I cannot express
The degree to which
I thank thee.

Good poetry leaves much to be interpreted by the reader, and this poem reminded me of what excellent counselors do: provide a safe place for people to open their emotions and their eyes to the endless possibilities life brings. What’s your interpretation of this poem?
If you want to enjoy more poetry by Louis, click here!

 

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When Love Goes Wrong…HALT!

What’s up lovely people? I was feeling a little nostalgic the other day and looking through some of my old posts. I stumbled across this one and decided to re-post it. It’s one of the short stories/essays I contributed to my writer’s group anthology. I hope it speaks to you!


He was the kind of lover that made you want to thank him at the close of every rendezvous; to absolutely and definitively express gratitude towards him for his ability to give pleasure; to humbly praise his skill and his tangible way of physically bringing you to a place of bliss and then allowing you to dwell there. Yes, he was that good. All he did was give.

Until he didn’t anymore, and then all he did was take. I should have seen it coming. The whole yin and yang of life is not new to me. If our lovemaking was unbalanced, it only made sense that the pleasure he should have rightfully received, after giving me so much, should be taken from some other aspect of our relationship. An unbalanced debt is an unbalanced debt, no matter what the currency. Bills always come due.

It wasn’t until much later that I came to understand that perhaps it was all a set up. That maybe he used his rare talent as a way of achieving personal gain. In other words, he was a gigolo and I was his mark.  Maybe it wasn’t so much that I was selfish and did not try to give back, it was that he was determined to take his pleasure elsewhere and feel justified in doing so.  Or maybe it was just karma. Either way, I’ll never know.

I do know that I’ve been taught better, both figuratively and literally. On my first day of college a professor of a kindly paternal disposition set out to give sage advice to a classroom full of hopeful and naïve freshmen. He scribbled an acronym across the dry erase board and stated that we should make all of our decisions over the next few years with it in mind.

H.A.L.T.

 This meant stop and consider your personal state before making any type of choice. The professor succinctly said, “Never make a decision when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Always remember to halt.” He went on to actually teach the subject we were all there to study, but my mind stayed stuck on his introductory speech.

It was a moment that changed my life, but not in the way that I think the well-meaning instructor intended. I spent the rest of the class contemplating the simple acronym and the meaning behind it. Eventually, I concluded that if I waited until I was in such an ideal frame of being to make choices, I would live out the entirety of my life without making a single decision. Because my reality was that I had never lived a single moment of my life without feeling hungry, angry, lonely or tired.

This revelation could have easily caused me to make a life change by working to create an existence where I was not feeling at least one of those sensations at all times. Instead I used it as an excuse to recklessly make decisions with dire consequences.

HUNGRY
HUNGRY

You see I was always hungry for an ever-elusive craving. An indefinable something that, if received, would satisfy me in a way that nothing else ever had. It was this insatiable hunger that caused me to latch on to him and take, take, take without any consideration of the phrase, “payback is a mother-“.

ANGRY
ANGRY

As a result, I was so familiar with anger as a constant companion that I was incapable of distinguishing between my everyday jacket of anger and a justifiable mink coat of rage. He did things that deserved violent fury and I let it slide, convincing myself it was the former and that I was overreacting.

LONELY
LONELY

Don’t get me started on the loneliness. It is the worst kind of isolation to feel lonely when you are in a relationship with someone. Again, I blamed myself. I berated myself for being such an ice queen that I could not let someone else in. It did not occur to me that a sincere relationship should gently chip away at the frostiness of loneliness with constant warmth in the form of passion, kindness and caring.

TIRED
TIRED

I thought I was world weary before, but I hadn’t seen anything until my debt came due. He sucked me dry. I was the kind of tired that made me lay awake at night staring at the ceiling. I was the kind of tired that caused friends to do a double take and express concern over my well-being. I was the kind of tired that caused my supervisor to suggest a leave of absence. I was the kind of tired that caused me to take that leave of absence thereby enabling me to expand my nocturnal ceiling watching to daylight hours as well.

Then I got tired of him. Ending it was by no means easy. He had so methodically captured me that it took a major crisis of conscience to free my mind from the luxurious prison he had created. And yes you’re right, supposedly there is no such thing as a luxurious prison. The two don’t mix. That’s about the same as a cold love affair. Both metaphors are a complete contradiction in terms and hell to live through.

So now here I am, thinking over that wise instructor’s advice. Meditating on his attempt to give me and my classmates a local’s perspective in our newly foreign world. Finally I have made a decision worth the effort. I decided when I was hungry, angry, lonely and tired to not stay that way. I’ve come to a halt…and I’m changing the game.


 

I hope you enjoyed a little snippet into the wonderful collection of poetry, short stories and essays that is Voices from the Block: A Legacy of African-American Literature. Click here to check it out! 

Have you ever been involved in a love affair gone bad? What did you do about your dissatisfaction? Dish in the comments below!

 

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I Know A Girl…

 

ghetto
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I know a girl who’s always saying

She doesn’t know what to do

She’s fifteen and her son is two

 

They live in the projects just south of 7th street

I sometimes see her walking home from school

She stands out from the other kids

There is no voracious curiosity beaming from her eyes

No barely contained desire to push the envelope and test boundaries radiating from her being

She has the closed off look of someone who has learned that curiosity did indeed kill the cat

She looks like she knows that some steps taken and lines crossed are impossible to retrace

 

I know a girl who’s always saying

She doesn’t know what to do

She’s fifteen and her son is two

 

One part of me wants to write her off as another statistic

To look past her to another teen with less drama and more potential

Another part of me, the part that longs to break down generational brick walls

Wants to sternly tell her

Number one: Take care of you and your son.

Number two: Get an education.

Number three: Strive for a career, not just a job.

Number Four: Choose what you’re naturally good at, then study it to make yourself better.

Number Five: Leave the boys alone for now. Wait until you’re older and know who you are. Then you’ll know who you want.

Number six: There will always be people who will judge you based upon your past. They’ll call themselves realists, but they’re cynics. Ignore them.

Number seven: Dreams are good. Call them goals and have a plan.

Number eight: Always remember that—are you listening to me?

Yes ma’am but…

But WHAT?

 

I know a girl who’s always saying

She doesn’t know what to do

She’s fifteen and her son is two

 

My frustration spills over

Why won’t she walk into the bullet pointed life I’ve outlined for her?

And now this woman/child is looking at me

With those eyes that have seen too much and not nearly enough

So I soften my voice and ask again

But what, sweetie?

A slight hesitation with bowed head and gaze glued to the floor

I’m still stuck on number one

I can barely take care of myself

Let alone my son

 

I know a girl who’s always saying

She doesn’t know what to do

She’s fifteen and her son is two

You Are Loved!

Hey y’all, I normally don’t post anything on Sundays, but I really wanted to share this video with you guys! It’s a powerful message of affirmation for women. I hope it speaks to your soul. Be blessed!

 

XoXo,

Faith

 

Maya Angelou’s Legacy Continues: Caged Bird Songs

Photo Credit: MayaAngelou.com/media
Photo Credit: MayaAngelou.com/media

I have incredible news! AMAZING news! I’m thanking God for technology and the gift of a legacy, even as a wisp of a smile dances across my face. Yesterday I discovered that the late Dr. Maya Angelou is releasing a project posthumously. It’s like nothing she’s ever done before, yet so familiar and reminiscent of her style and grace. Check out the press release taken from MayaAngelou.com:

Maya Angelou’s Work Mixed With Hip-Hop for Album

NEW YORK — Sep 3, 2014, 11:38 AM ET – By MESFIN FEKADU AP Music Writer

Maya Angelou’s iconic words and lyrics will blend with hip-hop beats for a new album called “Caged Bird Songs.”

Shawn Rivera, the lead singer of R&B group Az Yet, and RoccStarr, who co-wrote Chris Brown’s “Fine China,” produced the 13-song set, to be released through Smooch Music on Nov. 4.

The album — the title taken from Angelou’s classic 1969 book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” — is one of the last projects Angelou completed before she died in May, her grandson said in an interview Tuesday.

“Grandma loved it from the beginning,” Colin A. Johnson said of the album’s concept. “These guys were inspired by grandma’s work, which many people are, and felt like giving it a different medium of delivery to make it more obtainable to a larger group of people.”

Rivera and RoccStarr started working on the album before Angelou knew of it. Johnson, who is in charge of Angelou’s estate with his father Guy B. Johnson, said once she was aware, she completely backed the project, which was recorded at her North Carolina home. Some of the songs use previously recorded Angelou vocals, while others were recorded specifically for the project.

Johnson said Angelou’s initial reaction to the songs was similar to when she first saw her own Facebook page: “She just laughed.”

“She loved it and was excited to hear more about what they wanted to do,” he said of the album. “She had a lot of energy around it.”

Angelou won three Grammys for her spoken-word albums. She previously released a calypso album and collaborated with Ashford & Simpson for 1996’s “Been Found.” She also was featured on Common’s 2011 album, “The Dreamer/The Believer.”

Click here to read more.

There’s a sample on Maya Angelou’s website of her melodic and powerful voice reciting the critically acclaimed poem ‘Still I Rise’ with soulful music in the background. Check it out here. You can also pre-order the album that is set to drop on November 4, 2014 via Amazon. Choose either the Deluxe Album or Standard Album. I’m sure they’re both absolutely fabulous!

Who’s your favorite author or literary hero? Why are you drawn to their work? What would you say if you had the opportunity to meet him or her? 

In case you missed it, click here to read the tribute I wrote to Dr. Angelou on the day she passed.