Desperation for a nap

While an interior dining space offered solace for hungry companions, the decrepit building's exterior sent chills down Mr. F's back.
While an interior dining space offered solace for hungry companions, the decrepit building’s exterior sent chills down Mr. F’s back.

In the dining area of a building, there were seven treats on the floor ready to be picked up by seven people in attendance. Mr. F watched the first hand grab a treat but he was unsure if he was going to be the next as he noticed no one else’s movement. Restless noises trailed from another room and disturbed the energy to the point when Mr. F turned his head and then faced dark space underneath his desk. A pain throbbed on the left side of his neck while he tried shaking his hands and shoulders awake from an awkward attempt at creating a pillow on the speckled blue desk chair. Its pattern made one feel peaceful in the warmth of a hotel’s uninspiring repetitions of color and shapes.

While he straightened his torso, Mr. F slid his seated half very little into comfort. He hoped no one saw his desperation for a nap in the midst of all the chattering in the hallway as students exited and entered the lunch area. Slowly the paralyzing needles crept over his legs and arms as they came to life. Energy drinks were wedged at the top of his briefcase so he snatched one and tossed it into his left hand, pulled his desk drawer open with his right, patted around for a straw and plunged it in the can after he popped it open. He needed to check the time but the alarm didn’t go off so he knew there was no emergency.

He stood up as though he were just checking his briefcase for the smallest piece of information. Nearly jolting by the memory of responsibility, his eyes moved across paper piles on his desk of grades in need of records. To his left he saw the reflection of students giggling as a teacher scolded them for not lining up properly and quietly. It was amazing how little regard students paid to rules and persons of authority, perhaps even comical on a rare occasion. However, deeply troublesome premonitory feelings arose when Mr. F speculated outcomes based on behavioral patterns, which contradicted great ambitions by some of the most uniquely sheepish individuals.

Who was clumsier, the students who couldn’t stay quiet or the teacher who couldn’t manage a night without something to soothe the nerves? It was a question Mr. F was going to write down for another moment’s contemplation until Principal H entered his room and asked, “Good afternoon, Mr. F. How are you?”

Mr. F’s expression shed light on his feelings about her arrival earlier in his classroom but as he casually responded, she angled her head to resemble pouring out any negativity before arriving just in front of him to continue. “I’m not sure you received the email but we’ll need your help starting this afternoon at lunch in the cafeteria. Could you help us with that?”

“Of course. How long do you think this will be?” he inquired.

“From eleven forty until twelve ten,” she replied flatly.

“No issue, just wanting to make sure.”

“Great, well, Mr. L is there now and I’m sure you’ve heard the students already moving,” she stepped back and into a steady pace toward the door. Mr. F couldn’t tell if the turn or passing students interrupted her final words but he took heed and took a final sip before tossing it in the small plastic trashcan on his way out.

Responsibilities in the morning

Before the tin was left nearly empty, the weather began taking a dramatic turn but the behavior worsened in the sixth grade but somehow lessened in the seventh. Announcements for buses were nowhere near and the chatter was incessant with the exception of the few willing to learn. In almost every class, at least one student possessed athletic abilities and small stature while peers carried fuller frames and personalities expressive of a desire to learn.

With contributions from specialized students of scheming, the review twisted into more of a game where admitting a selection of a prize to the strongest performer garnered more attention than perceiving respectful behavior as the norm. Chaos ensued in the peculiar manner dismissals incited. It was clear the organized process of the activity evaporated with Mr. F’s management of the classroom the first week of the year. Smiling was one mistake realized merely three weeks into the year but something from which he felt vital to recover.

Not in a long time had Mr. F been challenged in tactics encouraging adaptability, wit and creativity on such fast pace and in large volume but a challenge of significant proportions it was. Instances of hardship were ill-phrased obstacles worthy of time and consideration, especially when seeking an immediate resolution, but he decided this would be rewarding on several levels.

Before resting for the next morning, Mr. F gazed at the night sky.
Before resting for the next morning, Mr. F gazed at the night sky.

These thoughts of the classroom circulated as quickly as people who passed the counter at Mr. F’s frequent destination. Old Bess offered a banquet for the senses and spirits but very often turned into a mecca of inebriation. Though he could savor a bottle or two by himself, customary it was to find him observing fellow patrons and engaging in delightful conversations with the ease of a butterfly out of its cocoon while offering libations to new and familiar comrades. Memories of Old Bess and visits to familiar places strung together his daily habits in spite of inevitable responsibilities in the morning.

The nearly empty tin

Nearly paralyzed by the anguish of despair, the poor Mr. F dragged his feet beneath the warm sun as he pondered whether to beg, steal or forget about a morsel of food. The answer created a struggle of character more than hunger as he walked further from the sidewalk adjoining his school and a gas station. To his surprise, a cherry apple colored car screeched to a halt in a gas lane. The driver door swung open and exposed a well-dressed young person whose thickly heeled shoes tapped the ground with severity. Keen on concealing the extent of his curiosity, Mr. F adjusted his navigation toward the array of cigarette ads and scratched windows to get a clear view of the newcomer’s reflection.

To Mr. F’s surprise, the suave energy and tailored attire of a bearded young lad uplifted his spirits and pushed him to the point of laughter when he reflected on the juxtaposition of gracelessness and elegance of the arrival. It was a change of pace in this part of the city where bursts of expression puncture the stale sensation of normalcy but depart just as quickly. As the gentleman hurried from his car to the entrance, Mr. F straightened his posture and allowed the spectacle to enter first.

Inside, the gas station attendants boisterously debated with a paying customer the previous night’s surprise football victory. The debate ensued with “Yo, bro” strewn throughout the conversation, which Mr. F learned to expect as much as the consistent banana supply at the first register. He sauntered down the chip and frozen food aisle, which led to the fully stocked energy drink display where Mr. F routinely scrutinized lists of ingredients and caffeine contents.

His final decision was the same as always so he let the door slam shut as he went up a different aisle toward the animated sports conversation. Not wanting to be rude, he hovered on the carpeted space and looked to his left to see if the red car was still parked outside. To his dismay, he remembered hearing the clicking of heavy heals exit as he contemplated the origins of taurine but the absence of the car left a foreboding sentiment in the pit of Mr. F’s stomach.

“Alright, I can help next customer right here,” exclaimed one of the cashiers.

“Hi, how are you today?” inquired Mr. F.

“Just fine, thank you. And yourself?”

“Well, thanks. Can I get a,” Mr. F quickly scanned the familiar candy display just below the register, “Never mind. Just the drink will do.”

The cashier rambled something very quickly to his coworker then asked Mr. F as he prepared to swipe his card, “Debit or credit today?”

“Credit will do, thanks,” replied Mr. F.

“Credit, alright. Go ahead and swipe.”

Mr. F swiped his card and waited for the receipt as the cashier greeted a new customer. A receipt was the least of his desires so he waved to the cashier while he turned to the left and made his way back to the school.
____

Mr. F recognized one of the voices exclaiming, “Hey, Ms. Y,” or “Hey, Ms. G,” blurted out by students who were scolded for not walking quietly in the hallway. He gazed at the desks upon which he laid handouts for his exam review but Mr. F felt certain the afternoon would flow smoothly to review for the forthcoming test. His plan entailed a question and answer competition with opportunities for students to earn sweet incentives. This, in his mind, would influence students to recognize the advantage of a review day and improve their disruptive behavior exhibited in previous weeks.

Just a few minutes before they were released from lunch, he remembered he needed to retrieve the vintage tin (a lengthy container holding sweet incentives) from its hiding place. He snatched a sheet of paper left on the floor while approaching the metal storage cupboard, slowly opened the door and peered over his right shoulder to make sure no one was watching as they passed his room.

He grabbed what used to be a tin for crackers but Mr. F noticed the weight was significantly lighter than when he left his class the day before. As he moved from the rear corner to the front of his classroom where he would place the bribing system, he opened the lid and found only a quarter of the full supply of incentives left in the tin. The only thing on Mr. F’s mind was getting through a successful day of reviewing with his students and while candy was the least of his worries, stealing was quite another matter.

As he walked toward the board of the classroom, one of his more amiable students entered the room and inquired, “Ey, Mr. F, can I have some candy?”

In an instant, Mr. F’s stomach tensed and wanted to remark, “It’s rather difficult to appease you and your classmates’ plethora of desires especially when a simple incentive system can be abused in the manner I recovered it within fourteen hours of leaving my classroom.” However, he decided a succinct note inside the tin would suffice as he continued walking down the hall to return the culprit’s worksheet, which he found in the vicinity of the nearly empty tin.

So much to see, so little time [Part II]

YESTERDAY by Herbert Gentry at N'Namdi Gallery.
YESTERDAY by Herbert Gentry at N’Namdi Gallery.

On the way from Ellen Kayrod Gallery, I caught up with a friend and shared ponderous comparisons of beverage availability at the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Arts. Ultimately it didn’t matter as we turned the corner and felt music blaring at the opening of Herbert Gentry and His Contemporaries alongside Adnan Charara and woodcut inspired pieces. As we entered, George N’Namdi was near the source of the evening’s melodies so I shook hands after the gentleman I entered with did the same.

I realized before entering a smaller display area there should have been no mistake missing the eastern wall, which was given life by the inquisitive and worldly glances at the other and the self. Gentry’s work presented this feast of beings and exchange with uncompromising hues to guests who dawdled and were determined to absorb a glimpse of the artist’s breadth of talent and travels.

Traces by S. Margot B Myers exhibited at N’Namdi Gallery.
Another woodcut creation on display at N’Namdi Gallery.

After getting my fill, I went toward the western wall hosting a smaller display area where woodcut made a very strong reiteration of Abstraction and Landscapes: Contemporary Woodcuts. There were a few familiar faces I had seen earlier in the night but there was a particular Mr. K whom I embarked on conversation and transition to the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit since it was the next destination on the evening’s agenda. Just after passing Seva, housed in the same building of the gallery, I made the acquaintance of the remarkable Ms. M who donned a recently acquired cape. She and Mr. K discussed a few matters before we parted ways to explore the music and havens of vibrant expression fashioned by pairs of creators within confined spaces.

Outside one of many collaborations for the People’s Biennial at MOCAD.

The line only took a few minutes to pass and as I wandered to the cubicles of inventiveness, a groovy guitar player of a Brooklyn band prepared for their upcoming set behind a table of merchandise and radiated excitement to perform in Detroit. After weaving through one side of the People’s Biennial, I saw professor Baz Dreisinger standing next to a beam and observing spectators of her collaboration with Hank Willis Thomas. So poignant was the arrangement of writing from students within an East coast prison. It drew spectators closer to connect through sentences of identity and frameworks of improvement. She was exhilarated people were responding so affectionately by acting on the impulse to observe the content and snap an image or two. Ultimately she was firmly grounded in a mission to bolster more proactive attitudes regarding achievement.

Words of learners housed in the system of criminal justice.
Words of learners housed in the system of criminal justice.

Celebrations of growth and accomplishments
took place in more places than the few I
could reach but as I waited to hear the
Brooklyn band to play, accompanied
by intriguing associates there
stood that fabulous Mr. K.

with a blindfold

blindfold

While in a district court and on
my way to the second floor to
elucidate a foreseeable outcome,
my eyes were struck by a statue
named Lady Justice whose eyes
were covered by a blindfold
and whose hand contained a scale.
Witnessing the stone’s grey color
and precisely carved skin and cloth,
I smiled with curiosity as the question
passed of deeming a sense frivolous
when using judgement to determine
culpability. Objectivity may be
its purpose but when layers of
contradictions and reports are
used to give a ruling member of
the court an impression of one’s
history to determine a course of
action before a dismissal of a
person in question, it seems
strange to rely on this decision-
making system in the midst of
quite blinding chaos. Ah, decisions.
How they demand attention and are
responsible for changes of varying forms.

of amorous relations

A song was written
about a young woman
and charm of a person
by which she’s smitten.
The rhythm was off
but the theme was evident
of a romantic pursuit
forced to remain secret.
Why in this season
do energies shift
and influence admirers
to reveal an eerie twitch
when trying to determine first
whose number will be uttered
and consequently lend to the
spreading of various ignorances?
Rhyme and reason do not enough
in explaining the dynamics
of amorous affairs.

fool who shouldn’t walk the line

[This is meant to be hummed/sung as an exploration
of the blues through an omniscient narrator.
Think Pink Anderson, J.D. Short, Otis Rush, Sonny Terry]

Through the screen of a window, the sun shines brightly
illuminating leaves small and still dangling
from branches reaching far above the lazy streets.
Suddenly, a sweet female voice shouts with fury
to confront a gentleman whose tone’s so raspy.house on Farmington

Their argument resembles the blues
if two voices could be used
to show how emotions
can lead to such confusion.

Words are unclear until the woman exclaims,
“Boy, you’ve got me sitting idly
only to tell me someone’s waiting on you.
I said why you got me sitting idly
when someone’s already waiting on you?”

The gentleman sways his body weight to the other side,
flings his arms up, then loudly declares,
“Now, now, now don’t go chasing me with your insanity
just cause you couldn’t come to that party,
though I won’t deny seeing you then would have been mighty nice.”

To which the woman responds with an extraordinary howl,
“Don’t you dare try that move,
I hear about what you’ve been up to.
It’d be best to use less trickery
so I don’t keep feeling like such a fool.”

With disbelief, the gentleman replies,
“I wonder why you act so funny
but your words show me you misread
why I have to go run and hide.
I guess you don’t, no, you don’t know much about me.”

The woman can’t help but laugh with a bit of surprise,
“Honey, hasn’t there been enough time spent
reflecting on our likenesses?” Even as he nods his head,
with pity she says, “Don’t talk to me
like I’m a fool who shouldn’t walk the line.”

When the gentleman pauses, his eyes widen
and jaw drops so he can express,
“This only proves what wasn’t meant to be.
Damn, now I see what woes may come
in more forms ’an one by over thinking compatibility.”

Hidden behind her hands, the woman gasps incredulously,
“I can’t believe I wasted time
helping you find comfort in being divine.
Oh, why does this happen
whenever I help minds of a new light?”
house and tree on Cass
All of a sudden a car in the distance
screeches noisily to a halt
but the two continue bickering
as though nothing happened at all.

Before the gentleman opens his mouth,
he points to the smoky scene,
“Maybe that’s a sign you ought to consider
in saving some of that energy.
Yea, you may want to learn how to use that energy.”

This makes the woman cringe and reply abruptly,
“You take and take but stand without
any respect for my universal love.
So silly, oh, so silly to think
you’d be there in my time of need.”

Stomping her heel against the ground
making cement seem quite hollow,
she advised him, “Send me no more temptations
to things you know I like to doing.
Time enjoyed was heaven sent, was it ’cause I’m such fool?”

The woman repeated, “I said the time enjoyed was heaven sent,”
then the two said in unison,
“And I’ve met the self I’ve suppressed for so long.
Maybe you’re the reason why
it’s easy for it to be hidden and found.”

whose progress

What can be said about the Guantanamo hunger
strike
if information is not being shared honestly
by those who can deem information appropriate
for public consumption? How surreal it must
be to live in a community in which top tiers
of a hierarchy can be occupied only through
hospitalization as a form of identity preservation. 
Are there more examples of working toward self-
hospitalization as we strive in the direction
of goals with fulfillment being the least
contemplated aspect of relevance?

A way to recover from the horrendous facts
of the prison’s deterioration is to celebrate our
purpose, determine how we can share our strengths
and dismantle the umbrellas of power, which create
and bombard chaos. A wave of hope enters the mind as
Mykki Blanco is elucidated as an entity known to
celebrate the self and declare eccentricities as a
culmination of a powerful character. Discussions
of progression with one’s identity, whether focusing
on educative or frivolous tangents, can reap innumerable
benefits for future generations in the realm of promoting
identity awareness and expression but who can think of
the self when prisoners with alleged criminal backgrounds
are treated so horribly as national leaders have yet
to address or implement viable solutions for the violent
treatment of individuals making claims of injustice
with the only tools of protest available, which are
losing stamina to strive as body mass shreds
as quickly as their dignity within Guantanamo?

Do diplomatic responses to troublesome matters
usually invoke questions of societal contribution
to the matter rather than speak directly to the
topic at hand with clear indications of a plan
to address abusive marginalization? Sluggish
resolution with immovable forces seems
strikingly similar, in the midst of conflict
regarding identity especially in terms of
restrictive energy and the absence of viable
alternatives for the security of prisoners, while
progressive efforts are made in expressing one’s
identity. These topics seem so prominent at
this hour, on this day, through these tinted
lenses which conceal a swollen eyelid but why?
Maybe Mr. Quattlebaum’s persona is an epithet
of overcoming trials and tribulations while securing
in space and time an opportunity to share with the
world ideas worth contemplating, much like prisoners
are fighting in space and time to uphold rights
and ethical codes in the face of undisclosed
withering operations whose progress is unknown.

finding a voice

“The way you wear your hat, the way you sip your tea, the memory of all that, no, they can’t take that away from me.”

As this song drifts in my mind, I can’t help but think about how to show an interest in the Charlotte culture when I have so many memories of the past floating in my mind’s eye. Everywhere I look, thoughts race through my brain and make no sense as I try to slow the stream. It’s like I’ve reverted to the days I scribbled notes of madness in the journal given to me by my brother as a gift a few years ago. I can’t help but smile and chuckle a little bit because avoiding the mess of contemplation no matter how hard I try to organize my thoughts is rarely a possibility. The pursuit of fulfilling employment has proven vital the organization of thoughts as I search for a space of my own where I can thrive in finding a voice in literary mumbo jumbo.

Twas the night before…too dated and season specific.
As I find myself sitting…too existential.
In all of my days, one never seemed so…I’m onto something.
Slow movement in the right direction never hurt a soul except for the impatient…closer.
Begin with a J and continue with the medicine of frivolous behavior…so I’m Mary Poppins?
Scribble some notes and be on your way, damned wrinkled thing of a brain!…am I summoning Dr. Seuss?
Make the impossible one of reality’s closest relatives…this requires an intoxicant or two.
Find peace in thy mind, twas there no better time to establish tranquility…no words.

After taking stabs at a few voices, I find the challenge awkward, redundant, silly and occasionally enlightening. A balance must be required when trying to rationalize diction, tone, speed and clarity in addition to making characters move through time and space. I wonder though, as I sit in a room with a partial view of the buildings of Charlotte and a rather intrusive view of a living space encased by pink windows, why does this difficulty seem most imperative to resolve during moments of uncertainty, restlessness and debauchery?

[written in February 2012]