Unbreakable (a poem)

to say we were lost boys would be cliché

but clichés have ways

of cementing truths into language

like hard red suns that scorched West Philly & warm beers we guzzled ‘till we couldn’t walk straight & time went missing like a thief

who stole my innocence

& we packed into an old sedan on a road to nowhere &

perhaps, if time is not linear, this had to happen &

if free will is a myth, we had no choice in the matter,

merely swigging, smoking, fighting in adolescent wastelands

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God’s Polaroid Camera (a poem)

For my father

in the dining room, action figures were imprisoned in a green vase, and you returned from prison with my uncle, looking slimmer

from pushups in sunbaked yards

mustache and dazed look gone, down on one knee, arms open wide & smiling with teeth I learned were fakes

I thought you were fake, too

unrecognizable, a stranger from a blurred past we no longer spoke of, only at grandma’s house, when we opened letters decorated by your brother with cut-outs from Marvel comics

& were told you were away on business –

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On Racism and Growing up in the American South

Growing up in the South, you learn from an early age about racism. Our public schools taught from books that The Daughters of the Confederacy bought for schools. Eventually, we read books that actually told some truth.

I remember reading about the Civil Rights movement and its leaders.  I remember learning details about Martin Luther King, Jr.  I remember feeling shame to know he was assassinated in my home state of Tennessee.

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Everyday Saints

I was a mess in college.

Two years before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was enrolled at a university in New York with somewhat of a life trajectory, a moral compass, and many good qualities.

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Happy Father’s Day!

Today is a sad day for me, but I’m also feeling hopeful. This marks the second Father’s Day since my dad passed away. In fact, tomorrow will mark the second anniversary of the day he passed. My life irrevocably changed that day on June 22, 2018, but I feel that my grief journey has gotten lighter.

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Grief, One Year Later

In the years leading up to my father’s death, I’d been preparing for it. He was diagnosed with cancer a decade ago and, since then, his health slowly, but surely, deteriorated.

When it comes to grief, I learned no amount of mental preparation will suffice. Sure, I’d seen grandparents pass away, but this was different: this was my dad, the man who I both loved and at times loathed.

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Where do We go from Here?

The unraveling starts slowly, but surely. From my earliest memories, I’ve been trying to find meaning amid the chaos. I still get the “pictures,” as a recovery friend likes to say. As I continue my research, I discover that psychologists today call those “intrusive memories.”

At times I wonder if the whole world is wrapped up in this web of dysfunction. If we’ve been marching toward this boiling point for some time now, and if we’re about to face a reckoning.

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