Posted in Poetry, Social Commentary

Be Kind

The contentious tango between older generations and the young has been going on since the birth of Cain and Abel (parable characters used purely for symbolic reference). The only difference is the technology that is used to facilitate the discourse.

I’m posting this poem, Be Kind, by Charles Bukowski, for my beautiful millennial children because it is an exact replica of many of our conversations about the way millennials engage older people and their view of the world. It begins with my refrain and transitions to their honest, brave and resolute responses. This generation does not go along just to get along, which is what previous generations did and I truly admire that. I’m actually cheering them on even though the end goal is not completely clear. I just hope that their englightened rebelliousness leads to a kinder world where values are shifted to people rather than things so that we can correct the course we’re on which, for all intents and purposes, is continuing old and creating new unnecessary suffering and loss.

This poem exemplifies why I–love–poetry! The genre is a fully focused magnifier of absolutely everything.

Be Kind

By Charles Bukowski

we are always asked
to understand the other person’s
viewpoint
no matter how
out-dated
foolish or
obnoxious.
one is asked
to view
their total error
their life-waste
with
kindliness,
especially if they are
aged.
but age is the total of
our doing.
they have aged
badly
because they have
lived
out of focus,
they have refused to
see.
not their fault?
whose fault?
mine?
I am asked to hide
my viewpoint
from them
for fear of their
fear.
age is no crime
but the shame
of a deliberately
wasted
life
among so many
deliberately
wasted
lives
is.

Bukowksi Image by Ulf Andersen / Getty

Millennials, Save Us All Please!

Posted in Career, Work Related

Reclaiming My Time

I’ve been away from my blog for several months now in dedication to succeeding in a job role that has been very challenging since the very start. It has taken a significant portion of my time and I must now take a queue from Maxine Waters and reclaim my time!

The role is a leadership position on a larger scale than I’ve been in before. I took it on knowing that I was a bit scared since it involved areas of management that I’d never been involved in, middle management decisions which required the right combination of higher management approval to move forward, and supervising people with a hierarchal perspective and some with no genuine appreciation for a manager embarking on a job with a learning curve.

The thing is, I am not one to turn away from an opportunity simply out of fear. When I self reflect and realize that I’m just scared, my spirit says “Sheeeeiiiiit! Go on and do this girl!” and I do. Then, soon enough it starts to feel like I’m flailing in the middle of a turbulent ocean. Anxiety unpacks and settles in for a good stay, inner voices, egged on by imposter syndrome, scream at every perceived mistake.

In reality it took a few years of being in this role for the experience to culminate to a point where my physical well-being along with my mental well-being was noticeably impacted which led to taking two weeks off to just let go of it all. It took two weeks of stilling myself in order to come to terms with why I needed a change and how I intended to manage where I was until another opportunity presented itself.

I was brought into this position because of a merger. Mergers are wrought with emotional people who are no longer sure of their future. So being an empathetic soul with the patience of ten Jobs, I was a good person for the job. I’m able to listen, restate what I’ve heard, and provide sound guidance, all because I’ve been there. So for the first year, that’s what I did. Some felt confident enough to stay on while others decided to understandably move on. Also, during the first year, both teams were in different buildings. Which helped to further the divide. Those who remained needed to build relationships with their colleagues so we engaged in team building activities which helped us to get to know each other and set the course for developing a good team.

Three months into being under one roof, COVID hit, which created a situation for remote work which the rural office had to adjust to. They value face-to-face interaction. Now that offices are reopening and the team is stronger, I can transition someone else into the role who has risen to the occasion of being the in-office go-to person and transition myself into a position that’s suitable to my passion. It just so happens that the need for developing technological solutions and guiding my other team, one that I built, is a truly organic need at this time.

With all of that said, this transition also allows me to reclaim a bit of my time. This is what I’ve been holding myself to task for since coming back from my two-week time off. So far, the reclamation has been very good. I’ve successfully produced two poems that I’m most proud of. In addition to my free-verse I’ve decided to focus on developing my ability to write Shakespearean Sonnets. I published two new poems yesterday. That’s a record for me!

I’m hopeful that this new outlook and new commitment to reclaiming my time will stick. It kind of has to because I feel a bigger change coming my way that has to do with really honing my writing skills and pursuing publication on a larger scale at some point. If you’ve taken the time to get to the end of this reflection, send kind thoughts my way. 🙂

Posted in Poetry

Sonnet 1


Thankful

Some days we refuse to be thankful cause
it won’t hold up its end of the bargain.
The granted objects shrink themselves too small
The hunger for what’s not grows and demands
to be pursued. A Goliath of need.
If only seemingly, it strikes the same.
We set off into a reality
filled with bitter dried fruit and sugar cane.
The occasional dandelion begs
to be wished upon. Pray, a miracle
brings us back from the unforgiving edge.
Into the ignored and humble, ten-fold,
where there is plenty of plain and simple,
but only in veil. We return thankful.

©Shonda Taliaferro 2021

Posted in Poetry

Free Verse

Sister

be guarded with your mind, a precious thing.
Jumpstarted by connections constructed of nature and nurture.
Ill-fitting garb for most. We make the best of it by looking away,
by thrashing about, by cutting, dismembering, and reshaping,
just for the honor of saying–this is me.

©Shonda Taliaferro 2021

Posted in Political, Social Commentary, Work Related

Juneteenth – Independence Day for All

When people think of independence in America, they usually think of the 4th of July, the day the United States adopted the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Hardly a thought is given to the fact that many of those who signed the document were, in fact, slaveholders. On June 19, 1865, 89 years after the Declaration of Independence, and two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed all enslaved people in the rebellious territories, the remaining legally enslaved people of Texas were given their freedom.

On that day, enslaved people in Galveston, Texas received the news of their freedom from Major General Gordon Granger who arrived with 2,000 Federal soldiers to establish a union presence to inform the enslaved people  that they were legally freed people—the Civil War had ended.  Thus, Juneteenth was born.

Juneteenth has been celebrated over the years with parades, picnics, and large family gatherings. These celebrations include lots of entertainment and great food with red velvet cake being a staple to represent the bloodshed and resilience of the enslaved people.

In 1980, Texas officially recognized the day as a state holiday with “partial staffing.” In 2020, Virginia, New York, and New Jersey officially recognized the holiday with paid leave for state employees. Last month, Washington also has officially recognized Juneteenth as a holiday for state employees. Many companies such as Nike, Citigroup, and Twitter have made Juneteenth a paid holiday for employees.

As with much that has to do with the relationship of Black Americans and the country we helped build without compensation, Juneteenth is bittersweet. It’s indicative of how difficult the forces we battle have been and continue to be just for us to simply claim our humanity. It is also indicative of our passion for life and our resiliency. In many ways, the fight for freedom continues.

Until it is fully achieved, we will remember the ancestors who persevered under the harshest of circumstances and celebrate Juneteenth as Independence Day for all Americans.

Posted in Parenting, Social Commentary

Coming Out of Myself

“You ain’t gonna make me come outta myself!” is one of Chadwick Boseman’s lines as James Brown in the film Get On Up. I recently revisited the film and remain in awe of Boseman’s performance of course, but this time, it was that line I carried away into my week. The line, unbeknownst to me, remained perched in the forefront of my mind, and became a central reflection point for me when a personal matter arose regarding one of my children.

Now, there isn’t a whole lot that can make me “come outta myself.” The hair-trigger reactions of youth subsides with age and experience, affording one the wisdom to take a brief moment to decide if something or someone is even worth the very precious time it would cost to address. I consider this a real perk of getting older. There is a satisfying feeling that, if you could put a name to it, I suspect the name would be, “oh lord, not today.”

It’s been so many years since I’ve had the out of body experience of coming out of myself that I really didn’t think anything would come up in my life to make that happen; however, I was woefully mistaken. It’s as if I forgot, I am a mom!

As a mother of adult children, all of whom are on very different paths in life and encountering all of the rewards as well as the difficulties of the decisions they’ve made, the latter can sometimes drift into my lane and I’m called on to support and/or advise. This was the case a few days ago, when my son brought his co-parenting difficulties to my front door. He is going through a text book case of mismatched individuals dealing with the aftermath of a failed relationship.

I went into the situation that was brewing outside my door by advising my son to be flexible with the mom as that is what’s best for everyone. I reminded him that she had been flexible on occasion. To his credit, he conceded and the transition went forward. However, at the same time heated words were being exchanged, and like a virus, the words branched out into my direction, which I was not prepared for. Being caught off guard, I failed to go high and came out of myself and was directly cast into hell where the expletives pop off like corn in a sizzling pan. Woo chile!

I hadn’t realized the correlation between the scene in Get On Up until the early morning of the next day. In the scene, James Brown was confronted by his band members for lack of pay among other things. Mr. Brown said that he’d take their concerns under consideration to which the drummer jumped up and said “Fuck you!” That’s when Mr. Brown lost his composure and came up out of himself while warning them not to further provoke him.

Just to ensure clarity, the band’s complaints had merit, while the attack upon my character as well as parenting style did not. To be further clear, during the two-year long relationship, nobody in my family had the opportunity to even get to know the girl or her family and we still barely know them and are quite content to keep it that way.

Nonetheless, I had reflected on how the situation made me feel when I woke up in the middle of the night to a feeling of anxiety and disappointment in myself for not handling the matter better. I had realized that I had, in fact, come out of myself and that the feeling had continued to simmer long after everyone had left.

I whole-heartedly believe that there is always a way to handle conflicts without things rising to the level of anger and irrational thoughts but one has to be prepared. After getting these words down, I feel that I will be better prepared next time. I support all of my children when they are right, and when they are having difficulties doing the right thing, I counsel and provide solid guidance. At the end of the day, they are adults shaping their own lives, the same as I did. I have faith that the challenges will be overcome, lessons will be learned, and better days are always ahead, that’s how life goes when your heart is truly in the right place.

If you’d like to share an experience you’ve had parenting 20 somethings, I’d love to read it, so please leave it in the comments. Sharing is caring.

Posted in Creative Writing - Fiction, Writing Prompt

Writing Prompt 1/27 (10 Minutes) – Wicked Wickles

“You all think you know me!” Gildy yelled. “Well you don’t know me! You know nothing about me at all! He turned and looked each person in the room in the eye. His uncle Bertram turned away. His sister Phyllis, casted her eyes downward. The only one to hold his glare steady was Wilford, the family butler. He was the one who finally broke the silence.

Wilford cleared his throat and in the tone he’d used with Gildy from the time he was a little boy, said, “Master Gildy, you’re just tired. Let me get you some tea.”

“I don’t want any tea!” Gildy yelled.

“Tea always makes you feel better.” Wilford said while walking over to Gildy. He held his arm and guided him over to the sofa where Gildy collapsed and began to sob.

“There, there Master Gildy.” He soothed. “Those wicked Wickles will pay for what they’ve tried to do.”

Posted in Creative Writing - Fiction, Writing Prompt

Writing Prompt 1/26 (10 Minutes) The sugar scandal

As far as scandals go, Bright Johnson, 8th grader at Stacey Abrams Middle School, accomplished the greatest scandal anyone in the school could have ever imagined. This was her final year in the MESA program. MESA is where all of the smart kids and those kids whose parents dream of having smart kids come together to create scientific fetes such as prosthetic arms made from kitchen tongs and duct tape. She wanted to end her middle school career on a high note so coming in first place was a must. Her toughest competition was Audra St. Blume who lived a few houses down from Bright. They used to play together when they were in elementary school but middle school changed her. During their final friendly play date Audra said to Bright, “New school, new clothes, new me, new friends. Bye!” So Bright concocted a scheme to bring her down. It came to be known for years to come as the great sugar scandal of Stacey Abrams Middle School.

Posted in Creative Writing - Fiction, Writing Prompt

Writing Prompt 1/25 (10 Minutes): Unseasonably Salty

All of his life’s efforts came to this one moment. All of the hours alone with the light of his laptop transitioning to the light of the sun and back again. All of the sacrifices. A marriage that never stood a real chance, even though he found time, at least twice, to spend 15 minutes physically connecting. This was evident in the two children the coupling produced. Aside from DNA, there was no real connection to the children. Yet this is what his mind decided to ruminate on. How are David and Cassandra doing? The unexpected longing in his heart, an unfamiliar sensation, made him unseasonably salty considering the fact that he just hung up the phone on his agent and the news that he was now a Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry.

Posted in Creative Writing - Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing Prompt

Writing Prompt 1/24 (10 Minutes): Ricocheting Rocks

“When is mama coming home Gil?” Danny asked.

Gil examined the rock he had just spotted poking out from under the log they were sitting on. “I don’t know D. Daddy said it could be a long time.”

“Do you think she’s gonna die?” Danny asked in a whisper.

“Do you think I got a crystal ball or somethin’?” Gil barked before lobbing the smooth rock with just the right wrist action, causing it to skip across the surface five times before it sank.

Ricocheting rocks is one way Gil found that steadied his mind and soothed the ache he felt in his belly when he worried about something.

“Help me find some more rocks.” Gil ordered.