Category Archives: urban youth

Haiku Journal DMV-Manhattan-Subway Edition

new york sattelite 1

Yesterday I went to the DMV to get a New York License. I was dreading the waiting, but optimistic about finally getting my bureaucratic life in some sort of order. (Next I will try to get a passport!) I write my journal haiku or senryu throughout the day and today’s rhythm gave me a lot of time to reflect on events. There were three things that happened yesterday and I think this is a good “haiku journal” entry, so I am vainly sharing it. (Sorry I can’t format this into columns this Morning)

39. Computers are out/
Metrocards demand money/
At #woodside station/
#haiku

40. Tollbooth clerk covers/
Window with impotent signs/
Backs them with ennui/
#haiku

41. Most are just angry/
Ancient immigrants can’t know/
“Why no traveling?”/
#haiku

42. Clerk tries to explain/
To ancient Himalayan/
Of “system failure”/
#haiku

43. Palms up and head down/
The clerk gives up on language:/
Universal sign/
#haiku

44. Mercifully my/
Soggy cash is accepted/
By god in machine/
#haiku

45. Kindly Latina/
Money’s rejected by god/
Of electric eye/
#haiku

46. She’ll be late for work/
While desperately begging/
For a crisp fiver/
#haiku
47. DMV start time/
For attempt at an ID/
12:20 PM/
#haiku

48. Bureaucracy makes/
Life together easier/
(Not always nicely)/
#haiku

49. Pallet of people/
From which DMV’s painted/
Beyond the spectrum/
#haiku

50. I love New Yorkers/
In their peculiarity/
While being tested/
#haiku

51. Done with first window/
At a painless 12:50/
Miraculously/
#haiku

52. Alpha-Numeric/
Computer-read tickets called/
Impersonally/
#haiku

53. Slow but efficient/
Workers execute their functions/
While we demand more/
#haiku

54. Man with pompadour/
Speaks formal Urdu to wife/
Condescendingly/
#haiku

55. New Americans/
Seem more adept at these lines/
Then those born right here/
#haiku
56. Subway ride back home/
Walked vanishing Manhattan/
Past places ʇɐɥʇ were/
#haiku

57. Manhattan changes/
It is no longer my place/
It’s for others now/
#haiku

58. City Landmarks go/
New places: new memories/
Mine Evaporate/
#haiku

59. Walking those same streets/
Without friends I once walked with/
I’m slowly erased/
#haiku

60. Memories miss me/
Youthful, lustful, desirous/
I’ve outgrown ʇɐɥʇ self/
#haiku

61a. That city belongs/
To ambitious desirous/
Not contemplative/
#haiku

61a. That city belongs/
To ambitious desirous/
Not the satisfied/
#haiku

62. Lovers on the train/
Hungry hands kept to themselves/
Eyes feasting on eyes/
#haiku

63. Thus it’s ever been:/
Youth revels in its beauty/
While the old look on/
#haiku

 

 

George & Trayvon

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George & Trayvon
This one’s too complex for a haiku:
Being white’s always been a “participation sport:” hate blacks or latinos correctly & be accepted by the clan-cops-continuum. If you declare white supremacy’s goals your own, you will get the privileges of that fiction (see the Samuel Jackson character in Django).
Zimmerman was probably the least comfortable in his family (& lightest) with the fact that their afro-diasporic-latinos and might have been teased about it by his siblings & parents. Being also the dumbest in his family he would have tried to prove his “superiority” by playing the neighborhood Gary Cooper (or Clint Eastwood) as a neighborhood watch junior sheriff, with a cereal box badge & REAL GUN.
Latinos, Asians, Australian aboriginals, -fuck- Haitians & Nigerians & Senegalese will all distinguish themselves from working class African Americans as a shortcut to getting some of that “American Dream” (sold at Walmart & denied to underclass blacks, Latinos & Asians).
Calling out & murdering an underclass Black kid is the surest way to get the stain of mother Africa off of your identity: the catharsis requires blood. As Hurston wrote “real gods require blood” regarding the anxious climb up the color cast system ranking system. Zimmerman, as an insecure light-skinned son of the African Diaspora with pretensions to middle class normalcy, had to kill a nigger (since he washed out of the police academy-lottery).
Interestingly his german/Jewish surname suggests another axis upon which this all plays: by breaking the covenant of the civil rights era Blacks & Jews he might be finding a way to get goyem approval as well, proving not all Jews are liberals & can be accepted by mega-church-christendom (adorned with parking lots & SUVs).

Performing Whiteness:/
A participation sport/
(Just hate them coloreds)/
#haiku

Killing a Nigger/
Earned Zimmerman Acceptance/
Of GOP-Klan*/
#haiku *NRA-Klan

In apartheid South Africa, Japanese were “honorary whites” while the Chinese were simply coolies (or so I was told), racism is a participation sport. It is one that j participate in with my pompous vocabulary & Ph.D. Since I was a boy my ability to arch language over working class whites gave me a feeling of satisfaction directly related to Zimmerman’s automatic pistol. We all participate. & yes this is related to 70s identity politics & essentialism, but the problems of white supremacy haven’t changed enough to merit new remedies.

1a. White Supremacy/
Means devaluing Black folk/
Even by Black Folk/
#haiku

1b. White Supremacy:/
Devaluing Black People/
Even by Black Folk/
#haiku

1c. White Supremacy/
Means devaluing Black folks/
(Even by “Niggers”)/
#haiku

1d. White Supremacy/
Devalues All Black People/
(Not only by whites)/
#haiku #

1e. Media content/
Devaluing Black people:/
White Supremacy/
#haiku

*Man Gone Down* by Michael Thomas Haiku Review

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*Man Gone Down*
by Michael Thomas
Haiku Review

1. Starting *Man Gone Down*/
Gently riveting to me/
(I “Identify”)/
#haiku

2. Confronted by youth/
The youth that hides in novels/
With happy sadness/
#haiku

3. Fiction converges/
With readers’ realities/
History revised/
#haiku

4. “Strange… to go through life/
A social experiment/
Understanding… Gone”/
#haiku (Thomas 99)

5. “You can tell when someone’s been loved; they don’t question its presence, nor do they despair when it seems to be gone” (Thomas 165).

6. Three hundred pages/
Of fearing his decisions/
Vicariously/
#haiku

7. Protagonist’s life/
Both Virtuous & sinful/
Flirts with disaster/
#haiku

8. Faithful to his wife/
Staying sober, kind & fair/
When cheating is rife/
#haiku

9. Crazy decisions/
Like evading a mistress/
Are perfectly right/
#haiku

10. “I was born a poor/
Black boy of above av[']rage/
Intelligence[: CURSE]” /
#haiku (Thomas 216)

11. The Expectations/
Placed upon Smart Black People/
Prove to be unfair/
#haiku

12. “Representing” Blacks/
Burdens folk who need to live/
Simply for themselves/
#haiku

13. “Representative/
Man” must undo and fulfill/
All stereotypes/
#haiku

14. Protagonist can’t/
Simply exist for himself/
He lugs history/
#haiku

15. Meditative run/
Through the Brooklyn Bridge’s ribs/
Explored though nicely/
#haiku

16. Digressions of thought:/
Thinking man in thoughtless world/
Explored New York well/
#haiku

17. Manual labor/
Suspends thinking men in toil/
This book explores that/
#haiku

18. Texture of labor/
The Psychology of work/
Is rarely explored/
#haiku

19. The isolation/
Of immigrants languages/
Exposed in this book/
#haiku

20. Job sites’ loyalties/
Along and across language/
Was a nice detail/
#haiku

21. Surrendering job/
With a violent outburst/
To keep pride was nice/
#haiku

22. Swimming under the bridge/
Like a weird aquatic troll/
Strange symbolism/
#haiku

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23. Impossible acts/
Of the damaged superman/
Kept me reading on/
#haiku

24. When he cheats golfers/
He falls to earth a human/
Though they needed it/
#haiku

25. Boston backstory:/
Old Friends on the edge expose/
Promise’s burden/
#haiku

26. He survives for friends/
Not the noble ideas/
Placed upon his skin/
#haiku

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Independence Day

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26. “Independence Day”/
A bloodless simulacrum/
Of revolution/
#haiku

27. Liberty’s freedom/
Requires the diversity/
That allows greatness/
#haiku

28. Accepting others/
As they see themselves creates/
Free Americans/
#haiku

29. Freedom’s true greatness:/
Equality before law/
(Free from OPINION)/
#haiku

30. My equality/
Erases historical/
Privilege of wealth/
#haiku

31. Freedom is diverse/
Allowing independence/
For everybody/
#haiku

32. Our diversity/
Is unimaginable/
To ideologues/
#haiku

Bathroom Selfies

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1. Bathroom selfies posed:/
Curves, outfits & confidence/
Performing their youth/
#haiku

2. Hips, hair and make-up/
Symbolically represent/
The entire woman/
#haiku

3. Porcelain backgrounds/
Show the austere privacy/
Of working women/
#haiku

4. Private made public/
Through Instagram’s* devices/
Peek into living/
#haiku *internet’s

5. Lipstick, Eyeshadow/
Women’s painted abstractions/
(Displaying their craft)/
#haiku

6. Metallic rainbow/
Arched over the Soul’s window/
Competing beauties/
#haiku

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7. Windows to the soul/
Staring into a smartphone/
Shared around the world/
#haiku

8. Iris and pupil/
Take in the light’s emissions/
While showing the soul/
#haiku

9a. Painted eye sockets/
Highlight, distract, camouflage/
The windows to soul/
#haiku

9b. Painted eye sockets/
Highlight, distract, camouflage/
Nature’s true beauty/
#haiku

10. Brightly painted lips/
The close up of consumption/
Meant for consumption/
#haiku

11. The abstract beauty/
Of a woman’s components/
Dehumanizes/
#haiku

12. Each photographed part/
Belongs to a living soul/
We must remember/
#haiku

13. Souls display their shells/
Reasons known only to them/
We mustn’t pre-judge/
#haiku

14a. Articulating/
Self on digital highway/
Is impossible/
#haiku

14b. Articulating/
Self on digital highway/
Is quite difficult/
#haiku

15a . Internet’s reduced/
All humans to simple Memes/
Stand-ins for ourselves/
#haiku

15b. Internet’s reduced/
Humans into mere icons/
Stand-ins for ourselves/
#haiku

16. Bathroom self-portraits/
Reduce us to visible/
Components of life*/
#haiku *self

Sledding in Woodside Queens 2013

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35. Sledding in Woodside/
With the people of the world/
Human gravity/
#haiku

http://bit.ly/V7d1pW

2/10/13

50. The snowy hillside/
In Woodside’s Doughboy playground/
Is peppered with fun/
#haiku

51. Here Colombians/
Bengalis, Tibetans as/
Americans slide/
#haiku

52. Snowy experience/
ReCaptured digitally/
Are sent to tropics/
#haiku

53. iPad made movies/
Of happy Americans/
Are sent far away/
#haiku

54. Woman with hijab/
Gucci covered iPad films/
Her smiling children/
#haiku

55. Korean father/
Roars down the tree covered hill/
Ecstatically loud/
#haiku

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56. Mexican fam’ly/
Unloads children & their sleds/
Then tackle papí/
#haiku

57. Americans all/
We enjoy democracy/
Of our acceptance/
#haiku

36. Sledding with children/
Overshot my playfulness/
Collided with age/
#haiku

37. Clenching rope handles/
Spinning beyond all control/
Damaged ring finger/
#haiku

38. Regretting my ride/
Because I injured myself/
Shows a lack of faith/
#haiku

39. Staying young inside/
More important than safety/
For immortal* souls/
#haiku *eternal

40. Aging bodies recede/
To within our comfort zone/
Abandoning youth/
#haiku

41. Aches and troubles/
Of old immaturity/
Are truly priceless/
#haiku

42. Youthfulness’s worth/
Though dangerous to old men/
Keeps their spirits fresh/
#haiku

43. Adventure’s value/
Is an internal journey/
Exploring within*/
#haiku *our souls

44. The pains in my body/
Temporarily remind/
My mind I’m alive/
#haiku

45. This throbbing finger/
Beats the rhythm of my heart/
Where I can feel it/
#haiku

46. I regret nothing/
Because I’m educated/
By experience/
#haiku

47. While I don’t like pain/
It reminds me I’m alive/
Here to live for now/
#haiku

20130210-084919.jpg

48. Wedding tourniquet/
The ring keeps my red blood in/
The heart of my life/
#haiku

49. Ring’s Symbol becomes/
An active agent in life/
I cherish it so/
#haiku

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Suspended in Now

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11. Visit principal/
Over our suspended son/
Angry at school, boy/
#haiku

12. Defiance conforms/
To the personalities/
Confined by the rules/
#haiku

13. Supporting your child/
Sometimes means backing his school/
‘Gainst his righteousness/
#haiku

14. Resent procedure/
Of institutional might/
Still we require rules/
#haiku

15. Lines between “Ego”/
& organization’s needs/
Blurred by insecure/
#haiku

16. Rules offer guidelines/
But can be crude instruments/
When Ego’s involved/
#haiku

17. Papers need grading/
Though some students aren’t learning/
No matter the score/
#haiku

18. My Ego’s involved/
My prejudices stirred up/
Obedience rules/
#haiku

19. Accepting the rules/
From both sides of equation/
Will repress* Ego/
#haiku *stifle

20. Life is a blessing/
That is too hot to contain/
In neat containers/
#haiku

21a. Suspended in Now/
We struggle with G_d’s agar/
That keeps us alive/
#haiku

21b. Suspended in Now/
We submit to G_d’s agar/
That keeps us alive/
#haiku

Grading Black Lit Finals Haiku

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Grading Haikus

16. Reading Endlessly/
Final exams showing much/
(Of their distractions)/
#haiku

17. Lectures and readings/
Turned into raw sausages/
Squeezed into Blue-Books/
#haiku

18. Some evade learning/
Like the startled trespassers/
Avoiding the light/
#haiku

19. Then I read a test/
That defiantly points out/
I could have taught more!/
#haiku

20. S/he takes my lectures/
Builds an elegant thesis/
That outshines my own/
#haiku

21. Some students clearly/
Overstand literature/
And have been waiting/
#haiku

20121214-081125.jpg

22. Harriet Jacobs/
Wrote *Incidents* way back when/
For TH!S young person/
#haiku

23. Race Repression in/
One-Hundred-&-Fifty-Years/
Have not changed at all/
#haiku

24. When Jacobs declared/
“Pity me & pardon me”/
She predicted now/
#haiku

25. Students are still moved/
By prejudice & the truth/
Of so long ago/*
#haiku
*Written so long ere

26. Reading this brilliance/
After seven hundred words/
Of summary: great/
#haiku

27. S/He revives my soul:/
Insight & Understanding/
Validate my work/
#haiku

28. I hope one day you/
See your work validated/
By a students’ thoughts/
#haiku

The Prophet Redux

Image

8/22/12 7:48am

I woke up late (at 6) and washed the dishes I’d left from last night. I had wanted to wake early and go to the Y, but I did not set my alarm.  After I washed the dishes I sat down and read Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet while applying the heat pad to my ankle. Very nice except where I chose to sit the rising sun was shining directly in my eyes.

I have always loved The Prophet, ever since that day (well it was a late night) that the messenger (Oscar? Ben? Bill? I can’t remember his name) sat me down and explained why this was the life of all life, book of all books. I think he thought it was a secular bible.  There was another book that he was obsessed with, something new agey (this being 1981, it was an outlier) that he also liked, it might have been RamDass or something that stupid. In any case he spent an hour or two after midnight evangelizing this text as I drained a 40 of Ballantine Ale (or three). As I said “I’ll be right back, I need another,” he confessed to me that he was a heroin addict. I’m not so sure why it mattered that I knew that, but I definitely filed that bit of intelligence away (people not to be trusted any more) he became even more passionate about The Prophet.  We stayed in Washington Square until 3 or 4 in the morning talking about that book and the ideas that it provided.

I have very few clear memories of Ben after that day. I saw him once on Madison in the 20s and on 5th below 14th (Funny how early in their addiction addicts can be found in the Village). I last saw him in midtown, near triple-six-Fifth, the DC building. He was looking run down. I wonder if he survived. Most addicts from ‘81 died of AIDS.

I wonder why people have always wanted to talk about books with me? I was a simple drunken messenger back then. But still people wanted to talk books with me. I’d been pretty good at avoiding the Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religious fanatics who want to talk about “Their Book.” But when I was in early recovery in Harlem and in other unusual places people have always come up to me and wanted to discuss philosophical texts. I must have a bookish mein to myself.

I’ve always considered that night in Washington Square and the book by William James The Varieties of Religious Experience that an Addict at Gracie Square gave me in ‘86 odd. But somehow I felt like Siddhartha, someone with a huge destiny because people brought me books to read in unlikely places (these are not the only 2).

In my paper journal I wrote about The Prophet, but I don’t have time to retype that here now. Sad, really.  Previously I had loved “Marriage” because of the idea of separation and love: “For the pillars of the temple stand apart.” But now, these days, with teens, the passage “On Children” really moved me. I am comforted and tortured by the passage that says “For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.”

Thing 1 has proven herself to be a totally independent thinker, who suffers instruction unhappily.  However she does follow rules, like most older siblings, and has made her trajectory towards the future clear. Thing 2 -TACITURN youth- has little communication with us, though he seems to know that we are excluded from his future.  He suffers our interruptions unhappily, knowing this. Thing 3 has become prematurely knowing.  She is the tween sister of two teens and has started salting away their mistakes for her future use.  Clever, she is.

Reunited Life

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51b. Family returns/
Bringing our maelstrom of love/
Interdependent/
#haiku

52b. We need each other/
To be our essential selves/
Family shapes* us/
#haiku *makes

53. Meeting children’s needs/
Makes this father feel complete/
Service is heaven/
#haiku

54. Having my partner/
To process occurrences/
Makes me less lonely/
#haiku

55. Returning children/
Search for juvenile routines/
Rebuilding their youth/
#haiku

56. As they get older/
Children’s motives gain nuance:/
Sophistication/
#haiku

57. Even the youngest/
Seeks to rebuild memories/
Of fanciful pasts/
#haiku

58. Home is memories/
Of familiar occasions/
That happened one place/
#haiku

59. The flavors of home/
Shape the unconscious palate/
Of the familiar/
#haiku

60. Being together/
Re-completes each family/
Reuniting life/
#haiku

61. Together we’re whole/
Needing all the components/
Of a family/
#haiku

62. Parts fit together/
With some important friction/
Tempering each part/
#haiku

63. Without the friction/
Family loses its warmth/
We need some conflict/
#haiku

64. Appreciate warmth/
Growing egos must demand/
Though it is tricky*/
#haiku *painful

66. The clay of children/
Is fired slowly in a kiln/
Warmed by love’s friction/
#haiku

67. We are slow-cooking/
Life in tender perfection/
By being gentle/
#haiku

68. Demanding of life/
Immediate perfection:/
Unrealistic/
#haiku