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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S#!t or Get Off the Pot

Happy New Year!

I got up this morning to a text alert from my bank. I get messages from my financial institution when any money is deducted from my checking account.  I can snooze my alarm but there is something magical about that quiet little “beep.”

“Who the hell is this? Paging me at 5:46 In the mornin’, crack of dawn an’
Now I’m yawnin’, wipe the cold out my eye
See who’s pagin’ me and why” – Notorious B.I.G “Warning”

So I check my account and it happened!  They jacked me again! I pay $15.00 a month for a gym membership that I haven’t used it 2 months! Ashamed but determined I jumped out of bed. I got my daughter’s bag packed, packed lunch, cleaned,  and then finally packed my hot pink Aeropostale gym bag. No excuses.

I also cancelled my subscription to American Greetings (no one appreciates internet cards), the mail in book club I have for the kids(I buy books all the time in stores), and my free credit report (no comment.) My grandfather used to say, “Either s#!t or get off the pot!”
Its a colorful and effective expression.  There’s no time to procrastinate. I’m also not doing a resolution. I’m not trying to lose weight.  I just want to be healthier and less stressed. 

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What do you do for yourself? When im alone I listen to music loud.  I am scantily clad. I am honest.  Sometimes I just listen for the answers to my prayers in silence.  I used to be a gym rat.I’d stay in there at 3am and leave when the sun came up.  Its a good time to clear your head.
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Before children,  relationships,  expectations, failures, and obligations. ..who were you? What did you do for yourself?  My mother made clothes and dreamed of being a pilot.  My father builds models and customizes them. A friend of mine is a fabulous makeup artist as a hobby. I was an 8 year old practicing my pushups,  weapons, and punching combinations for self defense class on Saturday. I was calm,  reflective,  meditative,  somewhat serene adolescent. Then as a young adult I revisited Muay Thai and personal training.  I may be far from that now but I will take some time for me every once in awhile.

Will you?

By SMN

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