A Woman

Just like that, she was a “woman.”

179 seconds, dim lights, in the background was a bootleg movie that she was completely uninterested in, one stained white wife beater, a wasted night and an overactive imagination equated to her “womanhood. ” By the time he came back from the bathroom she was fully dressed. Her house keys were jingling in her hand.

This was a presumptuous, impulsive, stupid ass mistake. I waited 19 years for this?

This night was a contradiction to every R&B song she sang her heart out to. This night made urban fiction truly fiction with no fragment of truth or substance. This night made her long for the daylight. There was no fire, no spiritual awakening, no levitation, no communication and no connection. The only difference between now and 179 seconds prior was now she felt stupid.

Can you take me home now?

She hoped her facial expression asked the question without her having to part her lips. Suddenly he wasn’t funny or charming anymore. He was the accomplice to the theft of her innocence.

He asked her if she wanted to cuddle.

She stared silently but ferociously. Hoping her gaze would force his head to explode and leak gasoline that would fuel his car and autopilot her ass home. She had no intention of seeing him again. Poor unfortunate soul. He was a victim of her expectations.

He was her withered flower. A relaxing  candlelit bath gone cold. A piping hot, fresh, homemade meal, with a roach in it. A new, high end, enviable automobile with no engine. A mattress with no sheets. A mylar balloon with a hole in it. A shoe with no sole. A jet with no pilot seat. A disappointment. 

Just like that, she was a woman longing to be a girl again.

By: Shaun Liriano 

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Jitters

I looked into my soul and you were there
Chilling
Cruising as you would say
You were sorting through old bullshit and heartache and you were tossing it away
You were shoveling a pathway for yourself
Something safe for you to travel on
Something you couldn’t slip on
Something that couldn’t muddy your best boots
You sprinkled love so the ice wouldn’t freeze and make it too dangerous to get to me
You plowed through the fear and doubt, even the stuff you caused.
You were there.
When I reach for you, your body is warm.
Your breaths are deep and steady.
You are away tucked neatly in a space I cannot get to
Tucked away where I can only dream of finding the thoughts that make you cry or wake you up in cold sweats
You are away
Chilling in my soul.
Waiting for me to understand
While I wait for you to speak, to crumble, to be vulnerable or to be a shell of yourself
Not forever
Just for now
As I search for you
You soul search within me
Hiding away
I scream to be seen
You close your eyes
We stand with our hearts glowing and bursting in our chests like a neon “open” sign in a store window.

Goodnight my love

By Shaun Nickens

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Down There

This is a Part II to the following post: https://shutyamouthandcallmeugly.com/2015/07/10/nachos-and-cheese-cold-sweat-series/
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I walked in and I heard music. It was loud and intrusive. It thumped through your chest and it rattled your soul. I thought to myself, “How does anyone have a conversation in here?” As if reading my mind, he appeared and said, “Words complicate things.” The music always muted when he spoke. Everyone was always suspended in the air. There were no floors. It wasn’t frightening though. There was no place below. There was no place further to fall.
He was tall. He wasn’t a large man. You could tell he was strong, though. There was something about his posture and the tone of his voice. He was aware of his power. His reputation and the fear his presence induced fed his power. He was wearing a black A-Shirt and a pair of black sweat pants and some tan construction Timberland boots. He grabbed my arm and his touch burned my skin. I jumped back in shock and grabbed my wound. He said, “You’re not one of mine. What are you doing down here?” I said, “Well Mr. ..” I had no idea what to call him. Do I call him Satan, Lucifer, The Dark One?
He said, “Chill, titles mean nothing down here. They all know who is in charge and they rarely have anything to say. That’s why I play the music so loud. It drowns out the unnecessary. I always liked music. They loved my stuff up there. Most people should have said what they needed to say when it mattered. Down here it doesn’t matter. I’m not listening. If you’re down here, no one cares about what you say or what you think or what you feel. If you’re down here, you missed out on being with the One who cared about those things. If you’re down here, you may have been someone who didn’t care about those things when someone needed you to.”
I looked at him and explained I was “up there” and JC and I had a conversation that went left. I hoped it was just a misunderstanding because I didn’t want to stay in darkness. I had questions and I’d always thought JC would be so nice and angelic about his expanations.
He looked at me and said, “You think they explained anything to me when they sent me down here?” “I was like a shooting fallen star! It was like being shot out of a damn cannon. Sometimes you can challenge too much. You can ask too many questions. You can rebel too much. Goodness is inherent. Kindness can be forced but if you do not like it here then you need to force it. You need to think about others. You need to think about yourself too. There are people down here who neglected themselves physically, spiritually and emotionally.”
As he spoke, I started to realize JC sent me down there because He knew my questions would be answered and that was the point. I wasn’t supposed to have so many inquiries. I was supposed to have FAITH. I was supposed to trust that He knew what he was doing. I was supposed to fufill my purpose.

My father always called me a rebel without a cause.

Would that existential crisis leave me in the darkness with the dark one with answers to questions that didn’t require answers?

I became antsy. I was hoping this was a little exercise the angels were putting me through. Maybe a test of character. I was hoping the darkness wouldn’t be my new permanent residence. It wasn’t hot. He wasn’t red. There were no flames but it was uncomfortable and it was loud. Suspended over nothing with nothing to look forward to.

I asked if any of my friends were there.

Some old associates appeared. I couldn’t remember all of their names but I remembered their faces. I wondered what they could have possibly done to merit that fate. I wondered what my fate would now be.

(To be continued )

-SMN

Don’t Call Me

I will it. May the universe hear it.
Don’t call me.
Receive it…receive it…receive it.
Don’t call me.
You specifically.
Not with negativity and incincerity.
Not with the petty, the snotty, snooty, or regularity of absent class.
Not with ghetto antics and foul language.

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Not with bitterness and hatred.
Not with immaturity.
Not with dread.
Not for show.
Not for tell.
Not for optics.
Don’t call me with deep sighs wallowing at the bosom of your breath.
Don’t call me if your ability to be intelligent is paralyzed by my success.
Don’t call me.
Don’t call me neglecting your responsibilities.
Don’t call me parading and pretending in your bubble and rolling around in your dark dungeon of delusion.
Don’t call me without engaging in cognitive self actualization.
Don’t call me if you’ve been a therapy absentee.
Don’t call me…
…pretending the problem is me.

By Shaun Nickens

#peace

Respect the Process

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I saw a good friend of mine a couple days ago. She had surgery on her knee recently and she is currently undergoing physical therapy. She’s on disability and recouping, getting back to normal. She’s getting stronger and she has her own signature walk that shows the confidence in her knee. It’s not a limp. It’s a walk that says I am in the process of being better. People ask, “What the hell happened to you?” She simply responds, “I had surgery but I’m okay.” She acknowledges her past, admits that she is still damaged, and claims her recovery.

I once heard a TD Jakes sermon when he said, no one would ever buy tickets to hear a musician play the scales. It’s not impressive. *People want to hear the finished product. The process is not alluring. There is no decadence in process and procedure and patience. It’s hard and annoying to perfect something or attempt to perfect something.

People like instant gratification.

One of my favorite quotes from Lauryn Hill Unplugged is:

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I am a blogger and I am on Twitter mainly for the purpose of promoting the blog. Sometimes I can find writing competitions or some decent spoken word videos. YouTube is great for tutorials on EVERYTHING. Of course there are benefits to social media. However, I think there are a lot of downfalls to it as well. Children are bullied, ADULTS are bullied, and we are surrounded by people who only show/post/bulls*it the best parts of themselves and their lives. There was a time when you would meet someone in school, you’d graduate and never see them again. You’d meet someone at work, change jobs and never see that person again. You weren’t a bad person. They weren’t bad people. Life happened. Now with social media, people from your past post their new cars and titles and model children and filtered bodies every day. . .all day. Does that affect you? Does it make you feel inferior? 

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Huffington post

I’ve been poisoned by socially acceptable standards of beauty predicated by celebrities. I find myself comparing and contrasting. It’s dumb because these people have teams and an entourage to maintain and enhance both their looks and their brand. I have aczone, blistex, shea butter, and some argan oil. Is that an excuse? Aren’t some of them just naturally drop dead gorgeous?

The obsession just inhibits my own process. As a writer and a poet, I have to be able to tap into the ugliness of people. I have to touch them in the places they try to hide. I have to expose that. I have to marvel in the unloved parts. Being obsessed with what society says I’m supposed to be is keeping me captive in mediocrity.

Get a signature walk. Strap on a brace of confidence. Deal with the ugly parts of yourself. Accept those things. Love them up. Decide what you want out of life and then decide when you’re going to get it, not how. Trust the way you would want to be trusted. Love the way you would want to be loved. Get stronger. Don’t limp but its okay to broadcast your process. Maybe people will be more compassionate. I like when kids stand for the pregnant lady on the train. I like when people open doors for the elderly. It proves they respect the process. Respect the processes of others. Respect your own process. See you in the winners circle.

By:Shaun Nickens

To hear the TD Jakes sermon please click the following link:

Perfect (Cold Sweat Series)

I like fushia skies
I like old couples fussing at one another and smacking each other’s asses.
I like short walks that have more quality than long ones
I like flowers
I like cheese
I like the fact that Jimi Hendrix couldn’t even read music.
I like people from your past that don’t bore you with small talk. They just nod and smile.
I like sleep
I like the full disclosure of children
I like when doctors heal, restore, repair and do it masterfully
I like working hard but I despise not being recognized for it.
I love being a mom.
I like 3am, the stillness, the moonlight and the freedom.
I like the kind of breeze that feels like a touch from an angel.
I like surprises but I hate waiting.
I like life
And living
But I love being alive.

By:Shaun Nickens

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Nachos and Cheese [Cold Sweat Series]

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I walked in and I heard music. It was faint but it wasn’t gospel like I expected. It was all melody, all instrumental, no words. He said words complicate things. The floors shone. They weren’t wood. They weren’t marble. They weren’t glass. They weren’t concrete. You could feel something solid under your feet but you couldn’t see anything. It was like walking on water.

When I saw him I was surprised. He was thin. He was small. He was wearing a Polo t-shirt and some linen shorts with white slippers embroidered with the initials “J.C.” He said, “I heard you had some grievances. Come sit with me.” When I looked in the direction He was pointing in, I immediately knew where I was. There was the loft bed my parents bought me when I was 14. My old karaoke radio was on my old dresser with my old word processor on my old desk. There were roses from my dad on my desk and a looney tunes tweety bird figurine.

We climbed the ladder to the bed and He sat at the head and I sat at the foot. I didn’t hesitate. I said, “What’s going on? !”

     Why am I on a constant uphill battle?
     Why do the rich get richer and the
     poor get poorer?
     Why is there war?
     Why do babies die?

He sighed in exasperation. He rolled his eyes and sucked his teeth. Then he kicked his slippers over the bed and replaced them with gold leather moccasins with his first initial engraved on the sole. He waved his hand over his head and his cherry wood locks transformed to a baldie. I stared in amazement. I reached for his head subconsciously but he politely bobbed and weaved out of my grasp. He said, “No one touches the fresh cut. Not even my mom.” Then he said, “What do you really want to know?”

I didn’t know what to say.

He took out a bag of tortilla chips and salsa con queso and he said, “Let’s bond a little. What do you really want to know? What keeps you up at night? Like I know you have a good heart, I made it! But I know you aren’t stressing over war and poverty.”

My palms started to sweat.

“Okay, why did my sister die on July 4th? She was so young. I often wonder what she would be like as an adult.”

He finished the chip in his mouth. He said, “I needed her here. Her strength, her curiosity, her innocence was too good for the world. I needed her here…sorry.”

I asked, “Why don’t I feel beautiful?  Why can’t I see what others see? Why didn’t I get a high round ass…”

I stopped and became flushed with embarrassment. Did I just curse in front of Him?

He laughed heartily and snapped his fingers. A golden toothpick appeared and he picked his tooth with it. Then he snapped his fingers again and it vanished. He said, “Its cool. Proceed…”

“Why isn’t my skin flawless? Why can’t I just wake up perfect?”

“Has it ever occured to you that you are perfect. That everything you want to correct, I purposely placed meticulously just the way I wanted it. You waste so much time trying to be something adverse to what I designed. Frankly it pisses me off!  Just relax. You’re good.”

Then I said, ” SOMETIMES I feel like I am stark booty butt naked, standing in the middle of the street, painted neon green, screaming and people just drive/walk past me. No one looks. No one tweets what they saw. Invisible. No one flinches. Why does everyone save their ‘I love you’s’ for funerals? Why do people wait for occasions to buy flowers? Why don’t people write letters anymore? Why are we so social but completely disconnected????? Its like standing in a storm bone dry. Surrounded by people but no one connects. We’re too busy. We’re too vain. Too busy with selfies and gossip about celebrities we’ll never know.”

I was screaming.

He stopped eating.

He said, “Eat because I don’t want you to say nothing.”

I couldn’t help but laugh.

He was funny. I kinda always knew He would be.

He said,” SOME People have always been ungrateful ungrounded and ungodly. However,  what you’re describing is different. You’re describing a self centered nature. Not to be confused with selfish! They are just absorbed. Too absorbed to see your love,  loyalty or friendship. You’re not exempt by the way. You’re thinking of what you need and how you feel. How do you know there wasn’t a time when they felt the same way and YOU dropped the ball? A call you missed. A visit you never rescheduled, you just cancelled…”

I tried to speak but he politely offered me more dip and said, “Eat.”

“There have been fires, floods, and other sacrifices.”

He showed me the scars on his wrists. He showed me where he was beaten.

“Look for the rainbows. Look for the cycles in life. Wait for the up after the down. Wait for the downhill where you dont have to petal hard, you just coast. If you can’t run down the hill, then just roll but keep moving. I don’t give up on you so you can’t give up on yourself. Forgive. You have to forgive. Forgive the flaky people who never showed up. Forgive the broken promises. Forgive divorce. Forgive addiction. Forgive mistakes no matter how ugly they are. Forgive the things you can’t forget. Let go of the times you zig’d when you should have zag’d. Forgive abandonment. Free yourself from cowardice. Accept loss. Fill the void with hope. Everything cycles. Pain is received and pain is inflicted…”

I began to cry. I whispered, “Please stop.”

He continued, ” The truth cuts with a jagged knife. We can be very self righteous. We can be selective and relative about black and white situations and try to make them gray. Our opinions of people are a glass menagerie but we heavy handedly and clumsily handle our loved ones. We hate what we don’t understand. We flee from the thought that we possibly deserve everything we get.”

“PLEASE STOP” , I yelled.

I jumped out of the bed. Frantically looking for the exit. I always imagined this conversation would be different. I felt alone. I felt misunderstood.

He followed me. I was running. He was walking. I ran and He chased. Most of my life I was chasing answers and He was running from me. He hugged me and said, “This is what you wanted. Why do my brothers and sisters get so frantic when I am giving them what they want?”

I said,  “Can I leave?”

He said, “You have free will.”

As I waited at the gate for the access code to exit, I sobbed silently.

He whispered , “I feel so alone. I feel so misunderstood.”

The gates closed behind me.

By:Shaun Nickens