Love vs. …

My favorite poem is Tamerlane by Edgar Allan Poe. It was published in 1827 and I remember having to break it down line by line to fully understand it. It is about love vs. Ambition. I think that is a common theme.

A conqueror who travels, ravages land and people, and isn’t exactly the epitome of Mr. Right, falls in love. He falls madly in love. She is a common girl, a peasant. He has to leave her behind to continue on and be successful.

In the end he misses her. He thinks of her during his last days. He wonders where she is. He is his beginning, she is a brief but impactful stop in his middle and his end is alone.

We grew in age – and love – together

Roaming the forest, and the wild;

My breast her shield in wintry weather –

And, when the friendly sunshine smil’d,

And she would mark the opening skies,

I saw no Heaven – but in her eyes.

Tamerlane by Edgar Allan Poe

My Own (favorite poem I’ve written and why)

I wrote My Thoughts, the evening my son Cairo was born. His birth was traumatic, exhausting and empowering all at the same time. The words gushed out of me like tears from a child who fell off their bike. I couldn’t stop them. When I was done, my son was asleep on my chest and I felt emancipated. I felt like every word was a representation of myself. The transparency, the rawness, the truth, the profanity, the blessings and the weight was all out.

Later I linked with my cousin, Langston (wheresthehaze.com) and we laid the track for the poem. 2 takes. Done. It was effortless and it fit perfectly. Hearing my words merged with his art made my heart swell. I loved the poem even more.

I dont write fluffy stuff. Sometimes, by request I’ll write a love poem for a friend courting a new interest. I’ve done the wedding of two close friends. Love is inspiring.

“My Thoughts” isn’t fluffy. It’s weighted and it’s still fly. You can read it or dance to it. It’s my ringtone. It was born the same day as my only son. It’s mine.

Lazy

A typical lazy day looks like Netflix, a slice of pizza and a scented candle. It looks like wine in a whiskey glass because all my wine glasses have been broken in late night bottle making stumbles to the kitchen. It looks like prayers scribbled in two different types of handwriting in journals. It looks like delayed chores, laundry piles and floors that are waiting to be swept. A lazy day looks like stealing my husband’s sweat pants and letting a faded tshirt hold my heart in its place. A lazy day is coffee with lots of cream and sugar because its tastes good and I’d rather be sweet than awake. A lazy day is toys all over the floor, voice impersonations and irresponsible snacks. A lazy day is singing Flashlight with your strongest voice and trying to get that Parliament bass line just right. A lazy day is burying a schedule and resurrecting restoration.

Dancer (Top 3 Things I Like About Poetry)

Sketch by Ric Richards

1. I met Poetry after I met Music. Poetry wasn’t promiscuous like Music. She didn’t try to appeal to everyone. She didn’t care if you liked her or understood her.

2. Poetry saved me. Swooped in and like a superhero. As a matter of fact, Poetry made superheroes look like security guards. She told me she could never be right or wrong. She told me we all have special abilities. She told me about Ravens and women rising and lover’s named Venus.

3. I like Poetry. The way you make a best friend the first day of school. It’s a sandbox friend. Our meeting was quick and natural and fun. I hope we’re together forever, blood sisters, bound by purpose.

Live Every Line (my favorite quote and why)

I remember reading these lines on the J train coming home from Pace University. I read it over and over again. I felt a shift. I instantly felt like I could freely be myself. Cut the perm out of my hair, write what I want, dress how I want, speak my mind and sail. Admittedly, I waited another year to grow out my perm (black hair is a whole other post.) However, this revolutionary woman eloquently summed up my overall view of the world. I felt like the author was my buddy and we walked the Brooklyn Bridge together instead of going to anthropology class. I soon realized she was just fantastic at sharing a surprisingly relatable story. She was strong, educated, powerful, courageous, a partner, a mother and an individual. She survived unbearable conditions and she embodied “the strong black woman.” This book, borrowed from my friend Stephanie, changed my perspective. “Affirmation” is a great piece but these lines are capable of standing alone. I’ll always want to be a part of a collective that alters its environment for the better. I also want to be accomplished and competent enough to stand alone. I believe nineteen year old Shaun would be proud to see me today. She would hang up her flight jacket, take her Yankee fitted off, comb her perfectly straight hair and stick her fine toothed comb in her back pocket. She would brazenly look me up and down and then we would discuss the power of words. She would agree with me…I lived every line of that beautiful poem. It looks different than we imagined but we’re doing well.

I believe in living but I’d jump in front of a train encompassed in orange and yellow flames for someone I love.

I believe in birth. Carrying a child and bringing one into the world is extremely challenging. Yet, seeing that little person for the first time and feeling their breath on your skin is euphoric. We give birth to different things. You’re giving birth right now…to thought, to light…

I believe in the sweat of love. Love is work. Hard, intentional, active and assertive work.

And in the fire of truth.

I have been in situations that were seemingly catastrophic. Then, in almost a cinematic turn, all is well. No magic tricks. No special circumstances. Just the personification of truth, rising in defiance and leveling anything and anyone that opposes it. Even when I had experienced so much I was starting to doubt myself. Truth was ever faithful.

Some quotes are pretty. Some are just timely. Some are your own memoir. You’re living every line and you find comfort in knowing you’re not alone.

My Why

I started writing to survive.

I was a little girl in 5th grade and I wrote a poem for an assignment. My teacher at the time, Mrs.Thomas, entered the poem in a contest. The poem was called Abigale.

Abigale was about a sad little girl. Abigale was caucasian. Abigale was probably in a hot air balloon. I have never seen a hot air balloon in my life but Abigale was surely about me. I was Abigale. Abigale was Shaun.

I have a big beautiful loving family. Yet, a large part of me often felt misunderstood. I lost a sibling at a young age and in my mind that event made me a part of an exclusive club no one wanted to be in. I read a lot. Words became my friends. In a way, they still are.

I wrote dark stories. I wrote about things people said were beautifully expressed but not popular. My sensibilities seemed to put me in a vulnerable space. I was exposed, skinless, boneless and edible. “They” said “No one wants to read about these feelings.” The more time that passes, I understand how untrue that is. Everyone is seeking approval in some sense but more importantly they want likeness. People want to be mirrored. Who’s the fairest of them all?

Feelings of angst, uncertainty, passion, hunger, and bewilderment don’t dissipate while you ignore them. You have to handle them carefully with clean fingertips and rub them all over yourself like a salve. You must allow your helplessness to be your healing.

I began writing because it made me feel like a grand design. I was impressed with the sustenance easily pouring from my own mind. I got a high when I read it to a peer and they replied, “Is this about me?” There I was, Adam’s rib, connecting with mankind. I was a part of a universe I once felt so far from. Trees were sprouting, soil was in my belly, rivers were flowing through my veins.

I can never stop.

I started writing to survive.

By :Shaun M Liriano

#day1