The Sounds of Stillness

I have been in here for days.  They are probably looking for me but I don’t care. They probably think I am in a dumpster somewhere. They think I’m wrapped in a black trash bag.  So they are pooling together their resources so they can come together to raise my kid now that I am theoretically “gone.”  They are part correct. They are probably more than half right.  Which also means that there is an existing part of them that is “wrong.”  Consequently, I’m right too!  That is extremely comforting in this time where I really need a win.  I need to be indisputably right. I’ll settle for this unofficial 33% though.

See, I met a man on the Colosseum block on Jamaica Avenue. He’s a security guard.  He’s a grown man with a job and a beautiful smile. Usually, someone like that isn’t interested in someone like me.  I’ve always thought of myself as plain. I’ll tell you one thing though…I have bedroom moves that would put a Stanley 68 6 way screwdriver out of business. I know how to make men feel special and feel in control.  I yearn to be controlled and I long to be needed. Mr. Security Guard fits the bill for now.  They don’t know anything about him.  They just know that he is the last person I was with.  They know I am either “flippin’ in the ghetto on a dirty mattress” in a bad way or…I’m gone.

I miss my kid though.  The last thing I wanted to become was Her.  She is the woman who walked away from me when I was a toddler and then She decided to come back on my 11th birthday.  Then the Broad left again.  She popped in and out of my life for most of my life sporting a cute nickname, “Mom”, that only she called herself.  We (my brother and I) just call her Beverly.

My goody two shoes best friend has been going over to my house every day since I’ve been gone. She acts like she’s better than me because she stopped at getting finger popped and I went all the way.  She’s saving herself for marriage and I wish her luck but I don’t believe in such things.  Goody Goody is good, I must admit.  She brings over food and toys for my kid.  My step-sister and Goody Goody are home from their respective colleges for the holidays. I know they are just trying to make a bad situation less bleak. If they could only see the picture from my viewing seat.

Beverly is a figment of my imagination, my grandmother who was my best friend in the whole world is gone, my grades are great but I hate school, my dad has spent his whole life trying to be the character he created in his mind.  In the process of trying to become this character he has ruined every woman he has ever touched.  My siblings are their own beautiful messes.   I love my baby brother and I wish there weren’t so many years between us. He might be the one to actually understand me.  It’s too late now.

They are frantically looking for me like any good family should.  They are imagining the worst.  They are praying for the best. I’m gone though.  I can see the breath leave my body.  I hear someone calling my name.  I’m surrounded in darkness and I f*#@ing love it! Every time I walked towards the light it was just a trickster with a flashlight shining it in my eyes to taunt me before he shoves it where the sun don’t shine.  I know there is a God but I need help finding his contact information (there’s no yellow pages anymore.)  I just want that warm apple strudel that slides down your throat baked by the hands of someone beautiful.  They call it love.  I’m been searching for it, I draw it, I read about it, Good Goody sings songs about it.  The silence of my surroundings is drinking me in.  I can hear my own noises now over the absence of sound. The nothingness pushes the walls on top of me.  It doesn’t hurt though.  I just focus in on the reverberation of thoughts so strong they could escape the confines of my head.  In here it is just me and my madness.  I don’t know when I will leave here.  Within the isolation is the safest I have felt in some time.

I can’t hide in this basement forever.  I think they teach Sunday school here in the morning at 10am.

 

-Shaun Liriano

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Photo captured by Shaun Liriano

Pray With Me

Pray with me

Pray with me
Entwine your fingers with mine
Feel my palms sweat and don't shy from the warmth of my vulnerability
Pray with me not for me
Bow your head with graciousness
Stand at my side, not ahead of me or above me 
Dance to the rhythm of my heart beating feverishly
I want to hear your nervous feet shuffling from side to side
I want to see the imprint of your big toe through your shoe
May our intentions and desires be one.
See, I await anxiously, hoping God will see 
that I really hope
and I mean I really hope 
that the road to hell is NOT paved with good intentions
I intend to make a change in this world 
I intend to give children something good to dream about and chase their nightmares away
I intend to clean the filthy
I intend to give a hopeful beginning to those who just want it all to end
I intend to wake up every morning ...early...and spend an hour with myself 

There is something magical about holding hands with a stranger.
First Calvary Baptist Church (Inwood, NY)
Don't be alarmed as I tighten my grip
I just really needed someone to touch me today
I have desperately been waiting for an answer from God 
Desperately been shining as brightly as I can while filtering through so much darkness 
I have been holding my arms outstretched 
I have been kneeling with white paths on my face that begin where my eyes are and end somewhere between my neck and my chin
Waterways traveled there many times
They irrigate the mask I wear and unveil pieces of all that unravels me. 
Pray with me
Embrace me and let me feel the comfort of your awkwardness 
Let me know you are waiting for something from HIM too
Your are not untainted 
You are also afraid sometimes
You too, wish you could ...everything
Pray with me in the middle of the mess
Not at the end of the day when its quiet and neat and the candle is lit and its convenient
Pray with me, with rollers in your hair or your boxers and your A-shirt on, or with your stained apron that smells of fried chicken and plantain
while the kids are saying "Mommy" 5x consecutively...pray with me.
While the game is on...pray with me 
I need the blessing now 
We need the connection now
The calling is now 
The moment is now 
The answer is coming now

Pray with me because I can't shake the feeling that something heavenly awaits and we don't have to wait till we are at heaven's gate to be a part of something that perfect.
Pray with me because I needed you yesterday and the day before and the night before that.
Pray with me and I'll pray with you and we can glue each other back together.

By: Shaun Liriano




 

What are you doing?

Years ago I worked for a reputable insurance company (I’ll leave them nameless.)  I was in their customer service department.   I received a verbal warning one day (first stage of disciplinary action) because our quality team caught me writing poetry while on a phone call with a customer. Now, I’m the queen of multitasking so the customer wasn’t neglected at all. I would write when the customer said “give me one minute” or “just a sec, let me find that paper.”  It happens all the time.  Instead of sitting there rolling my eyes, staring at the phone wondering, “What are you doing?”  I would write.  I would write poetry.  I would write narratives. I would create stories around the customers and imagine the details of their lives.   Then when they said, “Okay I’m back, sorry about that”  I would snap back to reality. At this particular job, I took 1000 calls a month.  Yet, they scolded me.  I couldn’t understand it.  If I was doodling in a pad, it wouldn’t be a problem but typing brilliance in Microsoft word was enough to get a recorded warning from a superior.

I was livid.

That was the moment my feelings towards that source of income changed.  I even remember performing a poem at an open mic that night entitled “disciplinary action.”  The crowd loved it.  The warning was unfortunate for my customer service career but it inspired an influential moment in my love for poetry and stage performance.

Sometimes I’ll send my daughter to the bathroom to brush her teeth.  Fifteen to twenty minutes will pass and I’m waiting for her to finish so I can read her a story.  I’ll scream into the bathroom “What are you doing?”  She’s always responds,” I don’t know.”  In reality she was singing, dancing, making animals out of the toilet paper, cleaning the sink  with hand soap or just staring into space.  I ask her, “Why do you say you don’t know when you know exactly what you were doing?”  She just laughs at me.

I went to a reading for a play a week ago.  When the reading ended the lights came up and everyone was beginning to stretch and socialize.  I was fixed. I couldn’t move.  I kept staring at this desk in the corner.  I could imagine writing at the desk. I could imagine doing homework with my children at the desk.  I could even imagine a naughty marital moment on top of the desk.  I completely zoned out.  I was gone. I could feel the splinters from the desk.  I could smell the wood. It was awesome.  I took a picture because I didn’t want to forget it and I knew there was some reason it impacted me the way it did.   An associate next to me said, “What are you doing?

I am making sure I don’t miss the sign I am supposed to see. 

Do not get distracted from what you are supposed to be doing.  Look at a picture and pay attention to the background.  There is something huge you were created for.  Don’t get in trouble playing with toilet paper and dealing with other people’s sh*t. You have to get your bread and butter but don’t forget the meat and potatoes.  You are here to do something meaningful and influential.  Do what makes you feel complete and let that be the distraction from day-to-day noise.

Hey! What are you doing?

By: Shaun Liriano

The Icing On the Cake …

Your heart is cracked and split at the seams.  The losses you’ve endured, others wouldn’t have been able to survive. You’re resilience is unmatched.

Pride flows out of you like like a crashing winding river. It has unexpected bends and speeds.  It drowns everyone you touch in excellence.  Your stare exudes a longing for progression.

Your touch could melt ice. Your voice is soft but strong.  Your tongue is poetry.

Your hope is infectious.

Your smile makes the brightest star jealous .  It cannot match your luminescence.

You see…

The way you look and the way you feel is just the “icing on the cake.”

By Shaun Liriano

The Center

In the center of our family is our love
Children surrounded by support and devotion
Sacrifice from the two of us
The embodiment of partnership
Two jobs from you
Stay at home mommy in me
You sung lullabies
I danced in our children’s dreams and scared the boogeyman away.
We did anything to ensure they have everything at the end of the day.
A humble beautiful warm home
Served generations of kin
Our grandchildren, our pride and joy
The honor they carry on their shoulders
Resonates from the traditionalist values we planted within
The Center
We’ve built a core and a foundation
And even when our walls were shaken with tragedy we survived
We’re alive and still passionately in love
With respect at the center
With God at the center

By Shaun Liriano

Dedicated to Clyde “Daddy” Rhymes and Frances Rhymes
Happy Anniversary