Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In Honor Of National Poetry Month...

In honor of National Poetry Month starting up tomorrow and running through the entire month of April, I am recommending(actually, begging and pleading!) that those of you who read my blog, order a copy of my book, Joby, Uninterrupted:Bittersweet Symphonies and Bohemian Rhapsodies. It's 79 poems, written over the last 20 years and running the gamut of topics from love, jazz, family, faith, doubt, death, and how I've seen the world during the course of that time frame. They range from whimsical to intense and intensely personal--I can't do it any other way. The poems are inspired by and influenced by my literary muses including James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Marvin Gaye, Langston Hughes, among others. I can say, with almost absolute certainty, that you will not be disappointed and it will be a welcome addition to however you celebrate National Poetry Month, if you celebrate it at all and I hope you do. If there are any artists in our nation that should be celebrated, it's poets. They are literary filmmakers, whose words are mini-movies for the mind and soul(God knows, it'd be nice to be compensated like most filmmakers!). So, do yourself a favor and those in your sphere of influence who may also love poetry, and direct yourself to the attached link and buy my book. And if not me(WHY NOT?!), then celebrate a poet, any poet, this coming month. Check out a local reading(there's literally one almost every day of the week at any coffeehouse or bookstore in any major city); borrow a book or two from the library; and there's plenty to discover via the Internet(hint, hint). In any event, happy National Poetry Month. Accept some verse into your life--you'll be the better for it. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was life. Peace, shalom, as-salamu alaykum, shanti.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

But You Still Call Me...

This is a new poem, just written this morning, and inspired by recent events. It may be revised or retained as is. Let me know your thoughts. They might be taken under advisement....might be.

But You Still Call Me...

I fought for your right to freedom of speech,
But you still call me nigger;
Fought for the right to live in your neighborhood,
But you still call me nigger;
I’ve taught and raised your kids,
Cleaned your houses,
Mowed your lawns,
Made your lives easier to manage,
But you still call me nigger.

I’ve fought in all your wars,
Sacrificed myself on the battlefields,
So that you could live,
But you still call me nigger.

I’ve marched in the streets for freedom—
For yours and mine, and our children’s children;
Been stoned and beaten, spit at and cursed,
Without fighting back,
But yet,
You still call me nigger.

I’ve brought laughter into your homes,
Entertained you on stage and screen,
Given you reason to cheer on the fields of play,
And you still call me nigger.

I’ve discovered advances in medicine
To help prolong your life;
Fought for health care for those of you
Who don’t even have it;
Even attained to the highest offices in the land,…

But you…





© 2010 Joseph Powell

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Man Of A Certain Age

I'm trying very hard not to become that guy. You know the one who wakes up one morning and realizes that half his life is gone and he has nothing to show for it. That the dreams he once had and the goals he had planned have fallen by the wayside and become all but distant memories. You know, that guy. Maybe one of you is him. But I know I don't want to be, in spite of the seeming path leading in that direction.

I'm four years shy of 50; almost 23 years have passed since my college graduation, where I was supposed to have the whole world in front of me. Like many before me, I had bought into the whole dream of going away to college(of which I was the first in my family to do so), meeting the woman who was going to be my life-partner, raising at least 2.5 kids in a beautiful suburban home, outside of a major city, working several years at a job I loved, was qualified for, and couldn't imagine not doing. But, as fate would have it(or, as was often said in the churches and the Christian college I attended, "it's all part of God's plan for your life"), the dream gave way to certain realities of life. Like John Lennon so eloquently put it in song: "Life is what happens to you while you're making other plans." Job instability, unemployment, a succession of dissatisfying jobs in three different states, missed opportunites, a series of failed relationships including one that ended in divorce, the fatal loss of a best friend--the list goes on and on, leading me to where I sit now.

Yes, there have been a few bright spots along the way--a second marriage to a woman who wanted to make a life with me; a young daughter who, though she was spawned by another, could've been of my own making, and who, in spite of the evil that's called "teenage", makes me proud and swells my heart everyday; I just recently released a complete volume of 20 years worth of poetry. These are things that I do not take for granted or consider lightly.

But I hunger for more and I'm not talking about wanting to belong to a certain class or attain to a higher status. I've rekindled my dream of wanting to be a writer, full-time and successful, like so many of the ones that I look up to and whose works have inspired me. I would love to see something of mine on the big screen(and it wouldn't even have to be a blockbuster--just knowing that people are watching and enjoying something that I created--there's nothing like it). I've even dreamed, from the time I was a child, of walking the red carpet at the Oscars, nominated for an award that everyone has buzzed I was certain to get.

I still would like to get that house, though maybe not necessarily in the suburbs, but maybe close enough to walk to the ocean. I'm envious of people who get to do that. And I've always wanted to be the son, who having attained success, is able to parlay some of that into the form of a house for his mother. I'm also envious of those who get to do that.

I would love to travel more--there are scores of places that I've never been to, that I would love to visit--Africa, Paris, Rome, Australia, the Holy Land, just to name a few. I'm envious--you get the picture.

To boil it down, I would love to be able to live beyond my expectations and my life experience up until now. To have my life account for more than what it has at this point. There has to be more to my life than working jobs that I hate, paying barely a living wage or one that can hardly sustain a family, and never being able to venture beyond one's parameters or environment. To know that people, other than your family and friends, are benefitting from the fruits of your creative labor. To live a life worth celebrating and remembering. To become that guy, who at a certain age, is able to look back and say, what a life I've lived and what a difference I've made.