It was on the way to John’s funeral, my Mother’s second deceased husband (note: not her 2nd husband), in the late 90’s, driving a borrowed white Miata from Austin to Houston, Texas with the Milky Way shining an umbrella of inspiration over me, that a spoken word piece landed in my consciousness like a shooting star awaiting my wish for personal reclamation. Written on scrap pieces of paper, precariously balanced on the steering wheel, I scribbly-scrawled quickly by dashboard panel light. On this day, The International Day for Overcoming Poverty and Social Exclusion, I offer you keys that slowly began turning rusted-busted-out locks hiding so much of my tabooed existence. At the time I was deeply entrenched in the anger of my storm-trooper-survivor-self-righteous-feminist-fury. I will not take that time away from myself or the importance the message imbued. However, I will report that the angst and urgency of the piece has shifted to a more warm duvet and hot cup of tea approach. Carl Smith, an amazing painter and jazz improvisationist, once asked me if I could find a way to translate truth and inquiry from a razor sharp cutting evisceration of others to a gentle unfolding. At the time I remember wanting to literally cut him out of my life for having the audacity to suggest to me that my bloody butcher man approach to identity politic deconstructionism was unwelcome. I thought I had a super sleuthy hidden tendency of masking my fears of creating emotional intimacy with others by being an out spoken activist for personal and social liberation. The mad thing is…no matter who was screaming at me…my mother, other activists, the police, creditors, abusive partners, or my own reflection…volatile intimidation tactics have never motivated me to want to change. And so this spoken word piece, written over 15 years ago on the wobbly steering wheel of a car racing to yet another father’s funeral in the Texas starlight – a historical look into my past, and a hint at my direction forward towards inquiry and wonder – I offer to you…
Can You Deconstruct The Dogmas that You call…Your Self?
Whose books are those on Your mental shelf?
Who put those prison bars in Your mind?
Can you name them?
Speak the truth to me, or to the person next to you…
Do you not want to?
Why are you afraid?
Cuz shit, I’ve been scared since the day I came into this world…
I was told to Stop Crying
You see…If I didn’t change I wasn’t gonna survive.
Robert Johnson II said to me, “TEACHER…TEACH!”
Are You courageous enough to…speak the truth?
Can you liberate…your…self?
Embody THAT freedom.
Try…to tell me the truth…Your Truth
How do You exercise Your rights?
Where will You start?
With who? Specifically?
When is it the…Right Time?
In what conversation…and between…which words?
What is keeping Us from movement?
From not only questioning, but creating answers?
What is keeping You…still?
You don’t have to plea or demand change.
Why give anyone the right…to even Deny You?
When all anyone wants at the end of the day is to….break down…these bars…as well.
Cuz we’re all
© Amanda Lee