Promised Land

When they told you tales of a promised land,
did they tell of the people who lived there?
Did they tell you of the chosen who went before you?
of the people who worked the land;
who cared for it till it flowed with milk and honey?

As I stumbled blind out of the desert,
I fell onto the shoulders of giants.
A strong people, a resilient people.
A loving people.
and they welcomed me in under rainbow banners
a land covered by a godly promise to never again
a promise to end hostility and honour life
A land for which I could prosper.

And they bore good fruit.

but no grape, pomegranate, or fig could help you see past your privilege.
Your entitlement.
for every 2 fruits, 10 seeds of doubt were planted.
and fear took root in the hearts of a generation.
painted this land with broad strokes and dark tones
A muddy composition of slippery slopes, monsters, and deception.
nothing but the air of deceit between a desert people and their paradise.
Wandering with nothing in their way but their own hubris
A bird trapped in an open cage.

40 years in the blistering heat can change a man
break hearts of stone into founts of life
or melt plowshares into swords used to conquer.
You, Oh church,
I hoped you would be the former
but you continue to entertain these thoughts of war,
while innocent lives are lost in your struggle for power.
Flooding this earth with blood and destroying this land with your own two hands.
What will be left in the wreckage?
Peace?
Love?
Righteousness?
No.
How long must you pretend to fight on the side of justice?
When will you see your judgment for what it truly is?
all the while calling this freedom dangerous,
when all we want to do is dance.

When they told you tales of this promised land,
did they tell of the people who died here?
Did they make mountains out of molehills and heroes out of tyrants
Did they tell you fairy tales or monster stories
of the people who worked the land,
who paid for it with their lives that you might prosper here today?

Did they tell you their stories?

Ghosts

To have loved and lost is to live with ghosts,
cause although you left me,
you still haunt the barren rooms within my heart.
Rooms I am not ready to share with anyone else.

They are empty of your presence,
yet you live on through every nail hole in the wall,
every crease in the carpet.
It’s hard to forget the changes you made to its anatomy.

but I am not trying to forget you.
how could I?
you still send your junk mail to its doorstep,
and from the inbox to the trashcan you force me to remember,
every inside joke shared,
every nickname you gave me,
every memory we created,
and with a shiver …
you pass right through me.

Labels

I used to think of labels like a bad rash.
They itched
They scratched
They rubbed me the wrong way
and so I cut them off my clothing without delay.

They were uncomfortable to wear
and changed the way others looked at me.
Only the most popular brands were acceptable
but I could only wear what I was given.

Ashamed, I sewed in counterfeit tags the other kids wore
trying to hide what makes me different.
but all I was doing was trading in one irritation for another.

you can not acclimatise to something that is not your own and you can not win when it comes to labels.
But we can not escape them.

From the very start,
Adam named all the cattle, fowl, and beasts,
because as humans we are built to label and define.
But more then that we were built to discover.
There will always be new things to explore,
new things to dissect ,
and naming is one of the tools of a finite mind.
Taking the limitless and making it more manageable.

So,
if I really must choose labels to bear,
I will adorn my attire with labels of my own choosing.
Ones I feel comfortable to explain who I am to the fullest of my ability.
I will no longer bear the weight of the labels you force on me
Instead I will wear these hand-me-down clothes with pride
because I will not feel shame for dressing myself in a label that generations before me fought to be recognised as legitimate.

I am tired of calling myself something that I am not.
and if one word gets in the way of you trying to understand me,
then it makes me wonder if you ever really care about me in the first place.

 

Code-Switching

Code-switching is a linguistic phenomenon where a speaker alternates between two or more languages, or language varieties, in the context of a single conversation.
The speaker is often unaware of the mental hop-scotch that takes place on their tongue as they stitch together various identities into one patch-work language.

The first time I experienced code-switching was while coming out as gay in the church

As a kid, I was afraid of being alone
it’s so easy to see what makes you different as reasons for others to push you away
and as Christians we are taught to walk through life in obedience,
unity often mistaken for uniformity
and so I started compartmentalising my life.
breaking my speech up into dialects to mute the parts of me that made people uncomfortable.
Hiding the things I felt that people wouldn’t understand.

But you can only break yourself into pieces for so long before you ache to be whole again.

When I first started coming out,
you’d think I was speaking a different language
Their eyes widened, smiles were forced, and everything from the shoulders up became a bobble head
I was a foreign tourist asking for directions
and this poor soul in front of me only understood every other word out of my mouth.
A queer vernacular they could not digest

Although I was becoming whole again,
others thought I was falling to pieces.
They saw my queerness a brokenness to be healed
and fasted on my behalf,
hoping their prayers might intercede for me
their eyes no longer focused on the person in front of them,
but the fractured self they hoped would return.
treating this quilted heart a Frankenstein unworthy of love.
like I would have been better off a pile of rotting body parts.

and even though you look at me like I have gone mad,
like a devil has taken hold of my tongue as I
illogically weave between lexicons
I will continue to code-switch
Because your language doesn’t have a word for queer Christian
and I can not describe my experience using a framework that was built to exclude me

 

We Will Not Be Put on Silent

The telephone is ringing,
ringing,
ringing,
“Hi! I’m not by the phone right now, leave a message and I’ll get back to you when I can”
*Beep*

As the morning sun rose over Orlando, Florida, June 12th 2016
the body count came pouring in
49 killed, 53 injured
a devastating blow to a community of LGBT people of colour

Before tears could stain the headlines of the morning newspaper,
Family and friends fumble their phones
desperately manoeuvring contact lists through nervous tics.
each ring of the phone a torturous reminder that last words might be spoken through answering machines
and each silence between drawn out by a million prayers that thought is wrong.

Reports say that as investigators surveyed the aftermath that cellphones of the deceased wouldn’t stop ringing with calls and messages from loved ones,
A grim musical accompaniment to this gruesome scene;
A macabre orchestra of ringtones.
How haunting it must be to carry lifeless bodies while the sound of their soul still lingers in the atmosphere.

That day, social media was buzzing.
Everyone was looking to the leaders of today to use the power and authority they hold to speak to this tragedy.
And we grieved together
we grieved for the lives that were lost,
we grieved for the people who were injured
we grieved for the loved ones who were impacted.
we grieved for our safety
we grieved as our very existence got erased from media coverage right before our eyes.
and we grieved because a hate crime by any other name is just as painful

This refusal to acknowledge why people died gives a whole new meaning to whitewashing tombs
painting the lens of our experience to make our deaths more palatable to the masses.

But this slaughter is not meant to leave you feeling comfortable.
When injustice creeps it’s way up your spine and chills you to your bones,
remember this feeling
Remember this feeling as we stand in solidarity,
as we raises our voices high,
trying to keep out head above the waves as their silence floods over us

But we will not let these waters sink us,
like 49 cellphones,
We will not let this injustice be passed over unheard
We will continue to ring loudly as we grieve.
A thunderous uproar,
An indigent S.O.S

And although it might make you uncomfortable,
we will not be put on silent!

Astronaut

Do I look smaller to you?
cause I feel smaller ….

Back in university, my room mate and I used to sneak out at night and climb onto rooftops.
After the classrooms went quiet and the world fell asleep,
we would scale the tallest building we could find
in hopes to gain a fresh perspective.
sitting on the cold asphalt shingles we watched over the campus,
seeing through the eyes of giants.
we felt like we could concur the world and If only for a moment,
we forgot how powerless we really were.

One warm summer night,
we climbed a top the peeked roof of the residence buildings.
But instead of standing tall over the world,
we rested our heads on the slanted surface,
stared into the night sky and wondered what it was like to be astronauts …
How tall they must feel looking down on the earth.

I don’t know when I started feeling so small

when I was a child,
I measured myself up against door posts waiting for the day I would be fully grown.
I was always waiting for life to happen
Cause this world is made for grown-ups
and I was never quite old enough to be treated a full citizen.

Though I was small in stature,
I felt as tall as mountains.
My head was always in the clouds,
dreaming of all the things I would do when I was older.
of the man I would become,
of the good deeds I would do

But somewhere along the way, I started shrinking.

God shapes mountains, but man mines it resources.
bleeds it dry
chipping away at it piece by piece,
year by year,
until is erodes into nothingness.
it’s head no longer in the clouds.

One warm summer night,
I pined for my home amongst the clouds.
Bouldered high atop peeked roofs,
as if standing atop mountains,
I took look at the night sky through childish eyes

I draw my own constellations
connecting the dots in whatever order I choose
and in that moment assigning them fictional names.
it doesn’t matter that I won’t remember them later,
because this was never a serious endeavour
and it doesn’t have to be
cause when I look up at the stars,
all I hear is the laughter of a little prince
how tall he must feel looking down on the earth.

Now this may only be a state of mind,
but in that moment,
I think I finally found my proper size,
because, “All grown-ups were once children, but only few of them remember it”
and “it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye”

Down the Rabbit Hole

I have been trying to write a love poem for a very long time now but I felt that I never could post/share it even if I did create one (so it always got pushed to the way side). The reason being that as a celibate person I didn’t know how it would be received. I wrote love poems in the past, but that was before I dedicated myself to celibacy. Now it almost seems like a contradiction.

I find that once I tell people that I have chosen celibacy, people treat me as if I am asexual/aromantic. If I am not treated this way, they usually figure that celibacy isn’t going to be very sustainable for myself. All that to say that sometimes I feel like I can’t express feelings of love, infatuation, or anything at all that resembles “eros” simply because it colours people’s perception of my commitment to celibacy. I was left wondering, “When I talk about love, do people take me seriously?”

But the thing is that I still have feelings of love like most people. When I decided to remain celibate, my feelings of love didn’t magically go away. There are times I still catch myself wishing for a future that I thought would be apart of my life since I was young. But that doesn’t mean that I am not serious about my commitment to celibacy either.

Caught in the middle, I wrote my first love poem. Enjoy.


I never felt like falling…

till I fell

I had seen all my friends go through it before
chasing after that special someone like lovesick lemmings
they hurled themselves off cliffs just to get that weightless feeling one more time.
It didn’t matter how many broken bones,
or broken hearts lay at the bottom
the moment that gravity caught them,
it was as if they took a big hit of nitrous gas

big goofy smile,
stretched across their face,
defying all logic,
and lasting weeks to months at a time

I didn’t understand it.
What sense was there in such a reckless endeavour?
What would drive a person to take that leap?

However ….

when I first met you,
reason went out the window

Sure I had crushes before;
men who I couldn’t stop looking at
But while they were the object of my eye,
I only seemed to fly for a moment
a short fall,
Seconds before my heart hit the ground
Fleeting, shallow, selfish

A short hop off the street curb

But with you,
That feeling never seems to goes away,
I fell down the rabbit hole
but I never seemed to reach the bottom
and suddenly,
I wished this feeling would never leave me

This love is mysterious,
Unseen but very real
A force that draws me closer
And while falling for you I …
missed the ground,
Caught in your orbit
I fell for you over and over again

Flying over your surface, I map your intricate geography,
The mountain tops and deepest valleys of your life,
Your abundant rain forests and your scarce desert regions.
your softest sand beaches and your jagged cliff faces.

I want to soak up all the parts of your terrain.
be with you through every season,
through every changing tide.
I could circle you forever,
hearing the same stories over and over again,
learning something new each time.

I never thought that I would be here
perched on the top of a roller coaster,
my stomach doing backflips,
the air trapped in my lungs
My heart counting down like a makeshift timer on a pipe bomb
big goofy smile stretch across my face.

I never felt like falling,

till I fell