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 …

Photo by Shaun Liriano

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

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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Shut Ya Mouth and Pray -The Journey

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Today I almost forgot.  I run around a lot. Always trying to squeeze everything in. It’s necessary and it’s important. I love the feeling at the end of the day that I did everything I am capable of for that day.

I have to take a moment and reflect on the tremendous, tumultuous, joyous, romance filled, cinematic, and dramatic journey I’ve taken. I did not take that journey alone. I have a good, patient, supportive, strong minded, wonderful, challenging, friend and husband. I have always rushed around trying to keep up or catch up. I now have a life partner to help me take the lead.

Father,
We take the time today to say thank you for our friends, lovers, and loved ones who keep us company on our journey. We thank you for giving us a life with purpose. We shower You with gratitude. We ask that you help us reach our full potential. We thank you in advance for the increase you are about to touch our lives with.
Amen

By:SML