I thought year thirty-three was going to be the year of wisdom.
Profundity would find me on the edge of the ocean
dipping my toes in the waters of understanding.
Clarity would embrace me like a sister
and I would smile a thousand times.
But buried under year thirty-three
naïveté found me on the edge of stupidity
and dipping my toes in the waters of doubt.
Confusion embraced me like a sister,
heartbreak like a friend,
and I felt that I could die
a thousand deaths.
Thirty-three became the year of mourning.
A scorching misery, I would pull over my head
like a hoodie, pulling against the drawstring
so it covered my face
unafraid that someone might
mistake the heart in my hand
for a weapon and kill me
like an unarmed black man.
And I did not care if they did.
I was sackcloth and ashes.
Beaten by loss-the death of a mother,
uncle, brother, and the loss of a friend.
My tongue could taste the bitter tang
of humiliation like plaque on my teeth,
and tears turned into oceans I drowned in.
I thought year thirty-three was going to be
the year of wisdom.
And, strangely, it was.
Thirty-three quieted me.
It forced my tongue to the roof of my mouth
fixed my jaw to clench shut my teeth
while cultivating me in the furnace of affliction.
Profundity did not find me
on the edge of the ocean,
and I have not dipped my toes
into the waters of some grand understanding.
Instead, the flames of truth
burned off the useless layers
on the surface of my skin.
My tears are oceans of holy olive oil
washing away the sorrow from my soul.
Seeds of fight root themselves
in the crevices of my heart
that I have pushed back into my chest
so that out of the ashes of pain
wisdom may grow
so that out of silence,
understanding will meet me here once again
on the edge of the ocean
where I am smiling
a thousand times.
Don’t forget that if you have read My Soul is a Witness I am trying to reach 20 Book Reviews before this year closes and we are two reviews away! (Update: For some reason one of my reviews were removed. Boo. So I am 3 reviews away). If you have the book (and have read it), do consider leaving an honest review on Amazon by Jan 1.
Note: This poem is not in the book. It is new for those flipping your pages wondering where it is lol.
How to Review on Amazon:
Click this link. Scroll down to ‘Write a Customer Review,’ rate and leave your thoughts on the book.
Also, I am Soul is 99cents on Kindle for a limited time.
There is a humility that is sacred and far more valuable than any tangible thing. Then there is a humility rooted in fear. This humility is not real. It is the mask we wear when we are afraid to step outside of our comfort zones. It is the fear of being “too much.” It is the fear of being perceived as arrogant and proud. There is a pride that leads to destruction. It operates under the belief that we cannot teach it. It is that nasty arrogance they always warn us to stay away from, and for a good reason. But there is another way in which to be proud. It is the pride that gives us the courage to be who we are. It is the pride that acknowledges all the struggles we’ve endured to be where we are. It is the fulfillment that gives us the intestinal fortitude to hold our heads up and believe that we are capable despite all obstacles and impossibilities. There is a nasty and egotistic pride, and then there is a pride that is self-respect. There is sincere humility that will take us places money and status never will. Then, there is a humility that keeps us stuck because it is not humility; it is fear.
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with me that every day
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.”
– Lucille Clifton
Last week, Saturday, October 3, 2020, I buried my mother.
On Tuesday, September 22nd, we learned she might night make it. That night I spent the night in the basement on the couch watching Grey’s Anatomy episodes with a glass of wine. I couldn’t sleep, but you will inevitably fall asleep on the sofa when you are downstairs in my house. We’ve had the couch for a while, and it has claimed many victims who promised themselves it was not comfortable enough to tame them. What also happens is I lose service down there, and while I drifted, my phone rang and rang, but I couldn’t hear it.
Finally, I went upstairs, and my phone rang again. My heart dropped. There is only one reason people call that early. I accepted my sister’s call and asked, “why are you calling me so early?,” although I already knew the answer.
“It was the twenty-third of September. That day I’ll always remember, yes I will ‘Cause that was the day that my mama died”
The next day, September 24th my aunt, my late dad’s sister, also passed.
I didn’t talk about it, but my Uncle John passed earlier this year on May 28th, two days after my birthday, and on June 2nd, a dear friend and brother passed.
The world also lost Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman, and Thomas Jefferson Byrd, known best for his role as Luther from Set It Off. He passed the day we buried my mother.
I need no more reminders of how fragile life is, and that’s what sticks out to me the most in my time of silence as I seek to process all this death.
I think we are all aware of this delicacy that is life, but it becomes much more real when a loved one passes. It is then that we realize how insignificant we are and precious too. The insignificance is the weakness of our flesh; how it so easily topples and breaks down. The preciousness is the breath of life, without which we are lumps of clay.
It made me think about how we treat each other. It wasn’t until Yah breathed into Adam the breath of life that he became a living being. We are nothing without this power, and yet, we treat each other as if the breath pulsing through our veins differs from someone else’s. We treat each other as if the Almighty can’t call our spirit back at any moment.
What right do I have to mistreat someone when I return to the Earth just as they will? What right do I have to judge someone’s life or mock their pain when I know that I bleed just as they do?
What right does any of us have to think we are better than anyone else when the sun rises and falls on all of us, righteous and wicked, alike?
There are so many promises we make to one another at times, such as this. We promise to be there for one another, we promise to keep in touch, and we promise to appreciate the time we have.
But these promises do not last and are only remembered at the next funeral.
Our life is like the wind, a breeze that comes and goes. How I wish we could be consciously aware of our own lives’ fragility as we live and not only in death.
Don’t forget to grab your copy of My Soul is a Witnessand leave a review as reviews help to expose the work of Independent Artists.
This post is longer than I would like, but I think the message is necessary.
If you’ve been following me online for any significant amount of time, you know I am always saying thank you or reintroducing myself to new readers. I do this because of my firm belief in the phrase, “people don’t have to support you.”
Let me tell you a story.
My husband was driving, and I was looking out the window of the passenger’s seat as we passed by the brick houses, mansions, and condos of downtown Atlanta. “This probably where most of the celebrities live,” I joked. We talked about how movies never show the city’s complete image by filming movies in less wealthy areas. Since we are both from Chicago, we talked about Chicago films where we didn’t recognize the city because it was on the side of town we have never lived.
As we drove, we passed by a fancy-looking hotel where a man stood. He leaned against his suitcase, a white sign on its top with black ink that read: “I lost everything.”
My smile faded, and my heart felt heavy as I realized he was homeless. He didn’t look like those fakes that try to scam people out of their money, either. Something about his vibe told me he was not joking. He had really lost everything.
The US economy was already bad, but since the COVID-19 Pandemic, things have gotten worse. People are out of jobs, out of money, out of homes, and out of hope. Any little they scrape together is reserved for only the most essential items. If someone spends money buying books or t-shirts, or anything that is not greatly essential (okay well, books are essential to me but I mean, like food), it means so much more to them, and they deserve a thank you.
Because they didn’t have to do it and sometimes, they couldn’t do it, but they invested in you.
Entrepreneurship has been on the rise a lot lately, and as an entrepreneur, I think that’s a good thing. I have always stood for the underdog and will still rally around the concept of Independence. There is a humility about small, independent businesses that I love. Plus, every large company started as a small business. And since the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and the countless black deaths, it has encouraged more people to support black-owned businesses and independent businesses.
This awakening means that while many people are struggling, many people are also thriving even amid this Pandemic. However, I am disappointed to see a lot of bullying among entrepreneurs, both large and small. Some people are shaming people with 9-5s when truth be told, most entrepreneurs in this economy have 9-5s, and their business is the real side hustle. That or their spouses have 9-5s. There’s nothing wrong with this, but some people think there is. People also throw shame when they try to bully people into supporting them.
Bully others into supporting them?
It means making people feel small and insignificant for not buying your services or product. It means threatening to cut people off because they didn’t support your business. It means neglecting to consider all the other things people have going on in their lives right now and that maybe they don’t have the extra money to spend or perhaps don’t have the time.
Ignore social media posts for a second and think about what someone may go through behind the scenes.
Maybe they cried their eyes out this morning.
Maybe they prayed on their knees, drowned in tears.
Maybe they were going to lose their home or apartment or children.
Maybe they lost their job, career.
Maybe a family member died.
Maybe people have other things on their mind that take precedence over buying your bar of soap.
And if you think someone’s being fake for wearing a smile through their storm, then you need not look passed the smile of Chadwick Boseman, who battled cancer while filming movies and never complained.
I watched my sister-in-law battle and eventually perished from cancer. My dad, too, so I know what Chadwick did was not easy from personal experience. And while everyone is praising his silence now, that is not how we treat the “regular everyday people,” we know in actual life who battle in private. We call them phony for not opening up as we think they should. Sometimes people don’t talk, not because they are being fake or secretive, but because it’s just none of your business. Let’s allow people to give their testimony in their own time.
My point in all of this is that no one is obligated to spend money with a business only because it exists. Anything that anyone chooses to give, including time and information, is a gift. I always say “thank you” because people don’t have to support me.
People support businesses that offer something they need, whose message or value system aligns with their own, helps them solve a problem and companies they trust. Someone might enjoy eating bread, and you may launch a bread business, but that bread lover is still not obligated to support you. Maybe over time, once you’ve gained their trust and they’ve sampled your product, they may try it and when they do, say thank you.
Because they didn’t have to do it, so show some gratitude.
To better conclude this point, I will again turn to Tyler Perry as an example.
For the record, this isn’t about Perry’s personal life. I will not comment on him dressing up as a woman, Madea, or his elite status because its none of my business. I am commenting on some basic business practices I see from him as an outsider looking in that many newer entrepreneurs can learn from. Everything else is for an entirely different conversation.
From a business perspective, you see the same stories and the same actors in Tyler Perry’s films because Perry has a good understanding of his targeted audience. He knows the persona of the people who like his stuff, and he focuses on giving them what they want. Many beginner entrepreneurs can learn from this. Instead of guilt-tripping people into supporting your business and trying to sell to everyone, find your targeted audience or that specific group of people you want to reach based on shared interests and market and direct your attention to those groups.
This means that if only five people like your post, that’s a good thing because chances are those five people are genuinely interested in what you offer. Listen, I’m a damn good writer. I know this to be true. But I also know it to be true that everyone doesn’t want to read what I write, and that’s cool because I am not for everyone and everyone is not for me. I work to serve my audience no matter how small, and I appreciate all the support and time my people invest in my writing.
Welcome to the blog Buddah and congratulations!Your poem, “Claiming Victory” was so uplifting it won you the #2 spot. Please tell us, what inspired this piece?
This poem was inspired by the challenges many of us face in believing in ourselves and doing what’s necessary to fulfill our purpose and achieve our dreams. Too often we think we’re not good enough. Too often we think we don’t have what it takes to make it. Too often we allow the noise, conditioning, and all the junk we’ve been fed by external forces to negatively impact our outlook and our ability to act. When we’re able to change our mindset, own all of who we are, and shed all of which hasn’t served us, we’re unstoppable. That’s when we can embrace abundance. And claim our victory!
“People get caught up on the highs, peaks, and successes They don’t see what went down in the valleys What it took to get up, get out, and rise again It’s what we’ve been through— the periods between life’s highs and lows— that make us so resilient We can’t concede We have to keep on”
-Excerpt from “Claiming Victory.”
As one of the top winners you get a full interview so go ahead and get comfortable. Can I get you anything? Coffee? Tea? Water…wine?
Thank you. May I have water please?
Now, let’s start from the top. Why don’t you go ahead and tell us your name and where you’re from.
My name is Buddah Desmond (aka BDez). I was born in Washington, DC. Was raised in P.G. County MD (primarily in Forestville, MD and Greenbelt, MD). I currently reside in Alexandria, VA.
That’s very specific Buddah lol.
LOL, yes. I know. I can’t help it. Just call me Mr. Specificity. LOL
Soo Mr. Specificity, are you employed outside of writing?
Yes, I am a User Experience (UX) professional with over 13 years of experience crafting timely, intuitive, and forward-thinking solutions to improve the overall usability / UX of websites, apps, and services for non-profit, commercial, and government clients. My specialties include user research and analysis, user-centered design, user experience design, usability testing, content strategy, and information architecture. I’m also a health and wellness coach. Finished my masters in Nutrition and Integrative Health earlier this year. I’m in the process of completing my hours and studying to become a certified Nutritionist, and in the very early stages of starting my health and wellness coaching practice.
Wow. Congratulations on all your endeavors! With all this, what was your childhood dream?
My childhood dream (and still my dream today) was to be a Renaissance man… To be able to pull from my many talents, do work that matters, and to make a difference. I’m striving to achieve this mission still to this day.
What’s your favorite TV Show? Movie?
A number of favorites here, but one show that continues to be at the top of my list is Queen Sugar. The writing, acting, cinematography, the landscape, and the issues that are addressed with each episode—it’s phenomenal. I love everything that Ava DuVernay has done. She’s a gem. A national treasure. The epitome of Black Girl Magic! In terms of film, Black Panther has been sitting at the top of my movie list since it’s opening weekend. What an inspiring, impactful, and empowering film. A classic. Ryan Coogler did that!
He did indeed. We love music on The PBS Blog. What kind of music do you like?
Music is my first love. I come from a family that deeply loves, appreciates, and respects music. A number of us, myself included, are musically inclined. I have an eclectic taste in music. I love Jazz, R&B/Soul, Hip-Hop, Gospel, Classical, Reggae, Dancehall, Afrobeat, Latin, Country, and Rock… Music is an undeniably powerful and universal art form. Life wouldn’t be the same without it.
We agree there. Speaking of the Universe, with a name like Buddah I have to ask, religious or nah?
No, I’m not religious. I’m more of a spiritual being. I believe in the Most High… The Divine Creator of our universe that ties us all together. I’ve always been fascinated by religion though, and learning about how people worship, where they worship, their sacred texts, and the similarities / differences between the guiding principles we abide by.
Let’s talk about writing a bit. Favorite writer. Go.
These questions are always tough because it’s a rarity that I can ever narrow down to just one favorite of anything. LOL!
I knew I’d get you eventually.
Okay. I’m done. Carry on.
I have so many favorite writers. Maya Angelou. Langston Hughes. Nikki Giovanni. Sonia Sanchez. Saul Williams. James Baldwin. Toni Morrison. Alice Walker. Terry McMillan. Yrsa Daley-Ward. Nayyirah Waheed. Lucille Clifton. June Jordan. Janet Mock. Ntozake Shange. Devon Franklin. Octavia Butler. Amiri Baraka. Haki Madhubuti. Zora Neale Hurston. I could keep going, but I’ll stop there.
What genre do you write in, why?
My primary genre is poetry. I also write prose, essays, short stories, song lyrics, and blogposts. There’s a universality and musicality to the language of poetry. I couldn’t deny it when I first started reading it. And definitely couldn’t deny it when I started writing it. I think Amiri Baraka said it best, “Poetry is music, and nothing but music. Words with musical emphasis.”
I absolutely agree. It’s like poetry has this ability to bring out the depth in us in ways nothing else can.
YES! Poetry gives us the freedom to get soul-deep to tell our stories in such extraordinary ways.
Soul-deep. I like that. Yess.
The beauty is that we can each write a poem in any form about the same topic, emotion, or experience, and it can be embraced and interpreted quite differently by readers. What we as writers get out of it may be worlds away from what our readers get out of it. And that’s amazing. Truly amazing. Poetry has the power to change minds, and change lives.
When did you publish your first book? What was that like?
I self-published my first volume of poetry, Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics, in June 2012 through iUniverse. The experience was exhilarating, rewarding, frustrating, so many things. When I made the decision to publish my manuscript, I had a “no turning back” attitude. I was at a point in my life where it was imperative to go all in for the things I wanted. I couldn’t be mad at anyone but myself if I didn’t put in the effort or work to make my dreams come true. And I’m grateful I did. Publishing Prevail afforded many opportunities for growth and development, reading and speaking at a number of events, and connecting with other writers, creatives, and readers alike. Not to mention, many learning lessons about building a platform, social media, and book marketing and promotion.
What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?
That’s a great question. Hmmm… The most difficult thing would be pushing through writer’s block. Or periods when you really want to write, but the muse, inspiration, or motivation is sorely lacking. The most exciting thing is the freedom of expression. Being able to create you own world or worlds. New possibilities. And the blessings of your work opening minds, speaking for those whose voices aren’t being heard, and making deep, meaningful connections with a larger audience.
Nice. Buddah, what is humility?
Humility is quiet confidence. It’s being comfortable in who you are, your abilities, and what you bring to the table without being rude, brash, egotistical, or narcissistic. It’s also about being open to change and possibilities. And knowing that your way, whatever it may be, is not the only way.
What is love?
Love is one of the greatest emotions. It’s more than just deep feelings for something or someone. It’s in the actions. It’s all in what you do (or don’t do). Love can be life changing. Life-saving even. It’s unconditional. As I wrote in a recent piece, “I am nothing without love. I am everything with love.”
Beautiful. Thank you Buddah for spending this time with us. We certainly enjoyed you.
Be Sure to Follow Buddah Desmond below and look out for his piece, “Claiming Victory” in the 2nd Edition Lit Mag Literary Magazine, 2020.
Humility is an important part of leadership. That ever-present feeling of needing to do better, to be better, to try harder. To be firm, to speak up for yourself and to establish boundaries but to also believe there is always room for improvement. To look down on others only when we are lifting them up. To accept that we don’t know everything, to be courageous enough to admit our wrongs, and to constantly push ourselves to rise to the next level.
You will not shy away from the sun. Your melanin is a gift, do not fear a darker complexion. You will not tuck your stomach in for pictures. Work it off or show it proudly. You will not hide your smile from laughter. Let the joy crawl its way out of your throat and seep its way from behind your teeth. You will not ignore your gut when it hurricanes its wrath. Listen to it moan of unpleasant vibes and wait for it to prophesy your next steps. Wear discernment like a cape and superwoman/man yourself to the next step. You will turn not a blind eye to boundaries transgressed. Let the world know when it’s in danger of tainting your integrity, of shattering your kindness, of disrespecting your soul. Do what makes you happy without regard to how that happiness looks to others. You are a diamond undiscovered, a masterpiece unknown, a treasure to be dug up and valued. A precious stone. You are a rarity, something to be searched for. Something to be honored. A bumblebee may be the smallest among the fly, but her honey is the sweetest thing. You will be honey. And you will treat others as you are. You will be to others as sweet as honey. A diamond undiscovered, a masterpiece, a treasure. Treat those who love you like treasures and turn away from those who do not. You will not be meat. You will not be snack. You will not be feasted upon by those without palettes and cannot taste. Do not rob yourself by forcing friendships. Do not force connections. Do not smother them into loving you. Love liberates. Love them into freedom. But do not lower the price of your worth. A mountain does not become small for those who refuse to climb. They will climb or they can remain on the ground. You are search-worthy. Drink humility like water and taste its fruits on your tongue but do not clip your wings. Do not be cheap with yourself.