Vanity Piece

I don’t need to smell like Indian Fruit incense, wear backpacks, walk instead of drive, or have some sort of visible plight to be a poet
I can straighten my hair, drive a high end car, eat caviar every night with a glass of dry red wine and be authentic.
A poet is a prince or princess ordained by explanation of circumstance
Ordained by the ability to paint with words
Ordained by articulation
Ordained and maintained by the exercise of mental physique
They are strained and stressed by the mundane
A poet is irritated by imbeciles decked out and camouflaged by struggle.
Loved
A poet is favored by the gods of resilience and chosen by God to tell a story
A story that brings tears
A story that causes laughter
A story that strengthens
A poet is the shit
A poet doesn’t know how great they are until they see others struggle to do what they do effortlessly
A poet eases others into their heart and absorbs their pain

I am a poet

By Shaun Nickens

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In the Palm of My Hand

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When I was young, growing up in the Catholic church,  we loved Palm Sunday.  We would sit in the church pews during the sermon and make crosses out of the palms. We would give them to older people who didn’t know how to make them. We would search the church floors for them after service.  We would sword fight with the longer ones. We would make trades with them. It was like getting a favor or a party bag at an event.

What I always personally liked was the symbolism it brought.  It was a physical reminder that Easter was coming.  Easter was always awesome for MANY reasons:
1. You get a brand new Easter dress.
2. The music in church is always good because EVERYONE comes to church on Easter, Christmas and Mother’s day.
3. There was usually an Easter Egg hunt for the church youth.
4. Theres a level of celebration that is insurmountable.  You’re happy because of new life. New beginnings. Spring.  Joy!

And of course you’re preparing yourself for the possibility of the return of the Savior. Now thats the part that kind of gets lost in all the fuss. 

Christian or not you have to admit that the story of Jesus is interesting and relevant.  Palm Sunday he had friends,  admirers, and I even dare to say he had fans. The people who lined up to watch him perform miracles were the same people lined up to see him tormented,  tortured and eventually killed. He was betrayed by the people he gave his life to protect.

Today started off rough. I woke up tired.
I had an appointment at the mechanic for 9am.  My car sounds like a spaceship right before liftoff and I need to remedy that before my annual inspection.  So being that I snoozed the alarm multiple times and defeated the purpose of setting it, I had to FLY!!!

I grabbed my kid, put her in some sweats, popped a bottle in her mouth, threw on my grey “day off sweats”, ate a granola bar and drove as fast as I could while on the mobile phone and cleaning the junk out my car as well. After I left the automobile I realized I needed a ride home. I’m usually a great planner but I wasn’t today. Im not a fan of buses and I had house slippers on and my hair was in a big poof. I looked absolutely nuts. While im walking towards the cab station,  a woman coming from a church service hands me a palm. I thanked her, handed it to my daughter and kept walking. Watching my 10 month old look at the palm and maneuver it in her small hands brought back memories and got me excited. 

We came home to clean the house, open the blinds, crack the windows, organize, read together,  eat,  sing, and just enjoy preparing for new life!

No matter what/who you believe in, hope is universal. Grab a little of it and stretch it out and add water and smear it all over your face!! Tie it around your waist and adorn yourself with it!! Throw it at people like a water balloon and watch it break through their despair and drip down their doubt!!

May you be blessed,  touched and transformed this Easter!  Orrrrrrrrr…you can Shutyamouthandcallmeugly

By:Shaun Nickens

Jealous or joyous?

“JOY IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF SADNESS”-MY PASTOR

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Joy is finding peace during the most turbulent times in your life.  Joy is learning to smile so much through your pain that you convince yourself you are happy. Happiness is a fleeting emotion so don’t be frustrated with yourself if you don’t have some invisible joy juice that everyone else seems to have a lifetime supply of.

This is the time of year where you get holiday cards. You get pictures of former co-workers’ children.  You see empty boxes on the curb from lavish gifts. You get solicitations to join bourgeois gyms so you can fulfil your new years resolutions.  Does envy creep in? Does it block your joy?

One year I got an email from a former close friend.  I hadn’t spoken to her in over 5 years. She apologized for a falling out we had.  She proceeded to tell me she was married but going through a divorce.  She said she would find used condoms in her husband’s car. She said he was so physically abusive that she had been hospitalized multiple times. She lost custody of her daughter from a previous relationship.  Her ex was now happily married raising their daughter in a beautiful apartment in the Bronx.  She was discharged from the military.  She hadn’t heard from her biological mother in years. Her step mother wrote her off and was also divorcing her father.  She was alone.  She was dissatisfied.  The correspondence she sent was long. She told me about failed relationships she’d had and how she begrudgingly began to resent me because my life was “so great .” She remembered Christmas mornings seeing me open a multitude of gifts. She hated getting hand me downs from me. She hated tagging along on my family vacations.  I always thought she appreciated my acts of kindness but she resented them.

I was so astounded to receive that email.  It had been so long. There were things I’d heard through the grapevine.  There were things I never knew. I could have responded with an equally lengthy email but I didn’t see the point. The purpose of her email was to use her dysfunctions as an excuse for her deplorable behavior.  I don’t think that’s fair. I got a multitude of gifts on Christmas because my family was compensating. First I was the only child then my sibling was sickly and finally she perished.  She passed on the Fourth of July. If that wasn’t enough, she was in the backseat of the car with me when she died. So while this old friend was jealous of my Barbie condominium with the elevator,  I longed for siblings to play with. I longed for my sister and her exuberant smile.

I went to a private university but I took out loans to do it. I only received a $2000 scholarship.  She had better grades. She was more disciplined.  She could have gone anywhere she wanted but she conceived her daughter on prom night. She decided she couldn’t juggle parenting and studying.  She quit and she followed one man after another. 

We cannot blame others for our lack of joy. We cannot use our handicaps as excuses for our hangups. Dysfunction is true normalcy.  Its just that it takes a lot of courage to be honest about your hurt. There’s victory in vulnerability.

This was a rough year for me. I’ve been through way too much to type.  I’ll tell you what though! Next year will be better. I love getting pictures of my friends families.  I love seeing others unwrap their hearts’ desires. I pray diligently. This holiday,  I watched reruns of “Martin” with my 6 month old. I cleaned her up and dressed her in warm pajamas.  I told her about Santa and Jesus and rocked her to sleep. I sang Mariah Carey’s version of “All I Want for Christmas” and I wrapped a few gifts. 

The lights flickered on the artificial tree and I think I felt it pass through me…I felt joy.

Merry Christmas ♡

-SMN