The East Bay Express

starry sky

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

The fourteen-year old boy shared a small room with his older brother. In the room, there were two windows about four feet apart on separate walls.  The windows were totally bare except for pages of the East Bay Express that were taped across them. The carpet was old and brown. Yellow paint peeled away from the cracked ceiling. On nights such as this one when his older brother came home, the fourteen year would open his eyes as soon as his brother stepped in the room but he would still play sleep. He would put the cover over his head and fake snore as he heard the lamp being turned on. The gold chains being placed on the dresser, followed by the gold rings, the roll of money, and finally the grill. Then he would hear the lamplight turnoff.

Silence. Darkness. He was slowly dozing back to sleep.

“You been jacking off little nigga?”

Giggles! Then muffled laughter almost to the point of hysteria.

“Shhhhh. You gone wake up Mama and the girls,” the older brother said alluding to his mother and two younger sisters in the other room.

“Nah, I don’t be doing that.”

“Stop lying dammit. It’s hella hot in this room. You was probably jacking yo little dick before I came in here. Thinking about um. Um, what’s the girl name? LaTriece?…”

“I don’t know who you talking bout.”

“Oh you know who I’m talking about. The little dark skinned girl with the dimples.”

“LaShelle?”

“Yes dammit, LaShalle.”

They whispered to one another as if they were in a very dark library, knowing that their mother was more than likely awake and if she was awake then she could definitely hear them through the walls.  But they kept on. The fourteen-year-old totally up now and smiling with every word he spoke.

“LaShelle don’t even go there no more. She moved to Antioch.”

“That don’t mean you can’t jack off to those memories.”

Muffled laughter into the pillow.

“You probably jack off with your left hand too huh? Just to switch it up huh?”

The fourteen-year-old couldn’t help it. He laughed out loud until he gagged. Just then their mother knocked on the door four times in rapid succession.

“GO TO SLEEP!” She said from the hallway.

“Sorry,” the fourteen-year-old said.

The older child said nothing.

They continued to whisper. The fourteen-year-old now fully into his story about N’yesha the new girl in school who sat on his lap at lunchtime and she didn’t even know him and she has a boyfriend. He propped himself up on his elbow and relayed the story as if it were the most salacious scandal the world had ever seen. It must have been because she found out he was on the basketball team, he reasoned. Of course that meant he had to tell his brother all about practice because the two of them were only in the same room together about once every three days so he had to cram everything in.  As soon as the fourteen-year-old began to tell his bro about the fight he almost had with Dwayne over a hard foul, the older brother said:

 

“Alright dude, you got class in the morning. Go to sleep.”

Thirty seconds later he was snoring leaving his little brother wide awake and in awe. It was crazy because in an ideal world the older brother would have class in the morning too. He would be a senior preparing to graduate and go off to college. He would obey curfew and have a job at Jamba Juice or Round Tables Pizza or something like that. But their world was absolutely not ideal. Their world was real and for at least one of them being a square was not an option. The fourteen-year-old’s eyes had now totally adjusted to the darkness and he would not be able to go back to sleep before his alarm clock went off. All he could do was listen to the rhythm of his big brother’s snoring, until the sun rays lit up the pages of the East Bay Express that were taped to the window.

-Roger Porter

Advertisements

Love Language

8641BB3C-5AA5-41E0-A69E-F8316433038F.jpeg

He had been going to group ever since he got out of the hole, however, he only participated in the conversation minimally. He said his name. He checked in. He briefly smiled when something was funny and that was the extent of his interactions. But what was being discussed in this session really struck him. The topic made him push his shoulder blades back hard against his chair. This talk about love languages was bizarre to him. It was both engaging and very hoakey at the same time. To have a whole conversation about humans show love was hilarious. He didn’t laugh though. He tried to never laugh out loud in the penitentiary. He felt like it was a liability. So he just smiled for a minute while he threw the concept of “Love Language” around in his head. Dr. Joanne was laying all of the languages out but none of them really resonated with him. She talked about physical touch and that one kind of made sense but it was still off in a sense.

 

There were eight other convicts there—four Mexicans, three blacks and a Cambodian. He was the only white guy. Presently people were being asked by Dr. Joanne to share their love language and he started to panic a little bit. He felt like whatever his was it hadn’t been discussed yet. There was a black inmate who was right before him and started going on and on about Quality Time. And how the essence of love is the time you spend with people because your voluntarily giving pieces of your life to someone. Then he started talking about how time is the most precious thing that we have and the white man knows that, which is why when you get in trouble he takes away your time and throws you in prison. The blacks said “Hmmmm” in approval and nodded their heads. It was all cool. It just gave him more time to think. By the time it was his turn he was ready.

 

“Violence,” he said. “My love language is violence.”

 

Dr. Joanne looked down her nose at him so he went on.

 

“I don’t mean like in a super tough guy kind of way. I just mean that everyone that has ever loved me has either kicked my ass or tried too. When my father was in between jobs he used to punch us in the face for not ironing our clothes, or talking back, or playing in the house or sleeping too long. Whatever we did was a problem you know. When he did have a job he would beat us for being ungrateful or wearing our shoes out too fast. Then when he didn’t come home my mother would beat us because she was worried or lonely or because she didn’t want us to be like him when we grew up. I got a little older and got bullied at school. One day I couldn’t take it anymore so I chased the bully home with a knife. When he finally came back to school, he wanted to be my best friend. It’s like until I pulled that blade on him I wasn’t a fucking human being you know. Sorry about the language Doctor. So after that he became my closest friend.

 

So a few years ago I got a woman. And uh, you know she’s pretty and all that. Things are going good. Then one day she gets on my case for drinking. Like she’s really screaming and crying and just going all out. And uh, I punch her. She falls. I panic and I go back to the bar to finish drinking. And that’s where they arrested me.

My point is, I loved her. It’s weird. I still love her. I just uh, I don’t know. Obviously, her love language is different than mine and uh, I need to spend some time learning a different language because I have 18 months left on my sentence and when I get out I’m never coming back to this fucking place again. Excuse my language.”

He smiled briefly.

“Thank you Chris,” Dr. Joanne said. “We’ll talk more about it next Wednesday. This concludes our group session guys. Thank you all. I really appreciated hearing your voices.”

-Roger Porter

Erasing memories for the Cause

349c5e5b-3e3a-47c5-b225-de68639593a9

I recently unloved my favorite painting because I found out he artist had a fetish for underage Polynesian girls. Then I unloved all the slow jams that I made love to in undergrad. Finally, I took it a step further and rendered myself unmotivated by the song we sang at my 9th grade promotion. After all, I am a fully-grown woke man. Why the fuck would I ever want to fly?

 

It’s like a few years ago when they came out with this Nat Turner movie and when I saw it I instantly thought it was one of the most powerful films I had seen in years but then I found out the director was charged with rape when he was a freshman in college so I instantly unliked it. I had to harness the social media app in my soul and take my heart emoji back! I am way too down for the cause to be caught in these traps. I made sure I never made that mistake again. For example; when the domestically violent homophobic young rapper XXXtentacion was put out of his misery I threw a release party with all of my fellow intersectionals. And I don’t mean a release party as in we played new music, but rather we opened all the windows of the house to symbolize the liberation of his victims from psychological bondage. Then each of us spoke about why his murder was empowering. It was a joyous occasion.

 

Wokeness is about being free of all blemishes created by oppressive patriarchy. It’s about unappreciating all the things that male dominated society brainwashed you into believing were amazing. It’s about taking the mighty Bell Hooks Bar of Soap and scrubbing your memories clean. It’s about deleting all of those dirty Chocolate Factory files and replacing them with Lemonade while the lemonade is still good. For it was recently revealed that the Queen Bey’s husband may have been involved with an underage rapper named Foxxy Brown in the 1990’s. I’m still waiting on the call from intersectional headquarters but if I have to erase more memories for the cause I am more than ready. For the child of destiny is now a full-grown adult and it was raised by two strong women without a man in sight.

 

Contaminated memories should be disposed of like contaminated meat. Well like all meat actually, and all nonorganic apples. We’re moving forward with this no matter what, and some thoughts will be sacrificed in the process. The point is I belong to a strong army of staunch nonconformists and we will win. This is just the beginning.

-Roger Porter

Untitled/ On Bad Days

On bad days, such as this one I feel as though I’m wasting my grind. I’m no longer thinking like an artist. I’m hanging on to the old days like the neighborhood addict who used to be the captain of the football team that one year they went undefeated. Back when they were raw. All the teenage boys think that he’s lying, but he really was a star athlete back in the day. None of it matters too much to anyone else but him now though.

 

At any rate that’s how I feel when I tell a college student that I once wrote a book. Or that I used to get published in magazines, and they look at me like I’m a panhandling junky in Fisherman’s Wharf. And actually, I kind of am. My cardboard sign reads “Haven’t had confirmation in years. Anything helps.” It’s all very pathetic.

 

I used to have a jones for this shit. Writing before the sun came up. Performing new material at readings around the Bay Area at least one weekend out of every month and only associating with other artists. Now I have to force my own hand. It makes a man wonder where do waning passions retreat to and does Southwest fly there?

 

Without my drive I am incomplete looking back down the road of past success. Scared to go forward and scared to put my art out there. I’ve allowed myself to become spoiled by the complacency of having dental benefits and a professional title. I have forgotten that I am a savage. I forgot that I don’t care. I know I promised myself that I never would but I fear that I have indeed lost my soul.

 

Notes on the killer of Jazmine Barnes Being a Black Man

6B0DDD0A-AF78-4C82-89A6-831C52A8556B.jpeg

 

Earlier today it was revealed that the killer of Jazmine Barnes is not a white man in his forties but rather a black man in his twenties. My thoughts on the matter can be summed up in one sentence: “We need to keep that same energy.” A seven-year-old girl was murdered and we should be just as appalled that a black man did it as we were when we thought the killer was a white man. There should be just as much outrage, there should be the same outpouring of sympathy, and there should be the same amount of media coverage now that we know that the killer is black. As a matter of fact, even if we knew that the killer was black to begin with there still should have been national outrage.

 

The other day I wrote a blog condemning America for its racism as it manifested itself in the murder of Jazmine Barnes. Today I want to speak to the problems that come along with not highlighting black on black crime as the most significant issue facing our community. And I think that everyone who lives in predominantly black communities from Newark to Chicago to Oakland would agree with me when I say that a black life is just as precious no matter what color the perpetrator that decides to take it.

 

When Nia Wilson was killed by a suspected white supremacist in July at Macarthur BART Station there was international outrage. There were even several celebrities who condemned the act. Less than a week later a 21-year-old woman was shot to death along with a 19-year-old man in East Oakland and there was nothing. Outside of the Deep East Oakland community where the killings took place it seemed as if no one cared. As if black teenagers being killed presumably at the hands of another black individual isn’t quite sensational enough.

 

I blame the current state of lack of outrage on people who don’t live in the ghettoes of America controlling the Black American narrative. For everyone who lives in the hood knows that the dialogue of improvement needs to begin with us conversing with ourselves first. I hate that anytime a black person says “What about black on black crime?” when the topic of violence against black people comes up they are more often than not generalized and dismissed as being a sellout or being out of touch. It bothers me because it focuses the conversation on victimhood instead of control. We, as black people, control whether or not our lives matter we just don’t know it. We control whether or not middle class white people around the country make a living of us as police officers and prison guards we are just blinded to this truth. It is our job to keep our little girls alive and free from violent deaths. Jazmine Barnes is dead at 7-years-old and a black man killed her. We should all be outraged.

Notes on the murder of Jazmine Barnes

e6b78c69-ff7f-4b78-a63d-405a9a79b250

 

Jazmine Barnes was gunned down by a white supremacist the other day. She was 7 years old. No less than 6 months prior Nia Wilson was murdered by a white supremacist. She was 18 years old. There’s a good possibility that Nia’s killer may be deemed unfit to stand trial. The killer of Jazmine Barnes has not been apprehended. I don’t want to hear anything about progress. Race relations have not improved. We are not becoming a more perfect union.

 

Do you know how exhausting it is to be a member of a race of people that have to organize an international campaign to prove to the world that our lives matter? How hopeful can I be when a 2nd grade girl can be murdered with impunity just for existing while being black? Our little girls and our women are being attacked. What recourse do we have but to protect them by any means? In the mind of the public this has to constitute as justification for revenge. Wars have been waged for less. I mean what would your people do under the same circumstances? Would the world at large expect them to sing, pray, and instantly show forgiveness? Or would the world be on edge anxious to see what your next move would be?

And the lord sayeth

*Fiction

 

45ED8E1B-F202-492D-B1C9-91C9459DE499We kissed first. Then we talked about god later. I inquired more about her soul than her sex drive and thusly I became too much for her. She wanted to get back in bed and I wanted her to tell me about scripture. Explain to me how it is that God calmed down so much in the New Testament. Is it because he had a child? Do you think that made him compassionate? Without answering any of my questions, she sauntered back to my mattress which lay atop an old box spring on the floor. I hadn’t yet put my bed together because I had just moved into my apartment and I hate putting things together. I lack the patience and dedication. Which is why I think that all Ikea furniture stores should be burned down to the ground Old Testament style. She got to the edge of the mattress and crawled across it ever so slowly and it made me feel like Quavo in the “Working Me” video or like Richard Gere in “Pretty Woman”, but I wanted to feel like Jesus in the book of Matthew. This was not written.

 

She kissed me on my neck and then starred right at my waistline before asking “What you want me to do?” I said nothing and my silence was more truthful than any words I could have uttered out loud. I honestly didn’t want her to do anything. I just wanted to hear more about her summer in Jerusalem and her experience working on a doctorate in ministry at Azusa Pacific University before she dropped out of the program. Then I wanted to know why she dropped out, and what did her parents say, and how bad are your student loans, and would you ever be willing to start a megachurch in order to pay them off? Before I could put more questions together she started to suck my dick so sloppily and with such vehemence that it legitimately frightened me. It didn’t scare me because we were having unprotected sex or because I figured that the technique that she was using had to have taken hundreds of hours of practice on dozens and dozens of dicks to master, but it scared me because I knew that God was watching. I saw him when I closed my eyes. And just like he spoke to the Holy Prophet Isaiah he spoke unto me. The Lord sayeth “Do not cum my son.” And I obeyed.

 

I wanted to talk but she didn’t. She felt rebuffed while I felt totally objectified. In fact, if we were anywhere but at my own place I would have left. I didn’t want to ask her to leave because I don’t think Jesus would have done that. He would have just laid there and refused all fellatio while making her put her soft brown titties back in a bra where they belonged. The conversation grew clumsier until she eventually played her favorite Spotify playlist on her iphone and fell asleep. Another thing that we didn’t talk about in the month that we had known one another was that she obviously had sleep apnea because she snored like a fucking grizzly.

 

What was the Lord trying to tell me? Why had he sent this woman of uneven faith into my life? And even though I had gone against his rules prohibiting premarital sex, his willingness to give me the strength not to cum inside of her ravenous maw, proved once again just how awesome of a god he is. For even in my most carnal moments the lord hath never forsaken me. I got down on my knees and began praying with my elbows on the mattress and both of my hands clasped together in the front of my nose. I prayed for continued strength and thanked him for his guidance. I took an extra blanket from the linen closet and slept humbly and comfortably on the living room floor. That night I vowed to fight harder to live up to his glory. I promised that the next mouth that I came in would be the mouth of my wife under the holy covenant of God.