Too Young

I've been on this earth for a little more
than two decades
and have only been awake
for a couple of years
yet I feel like I've gone
eighty rounds with The Champ,
(Rest in Peace)
and had my head pounded in
and my face beaten to a pulp
by the red gloves they buried him in.
You'd never know it by looking
but behind this smile
and braying guffaw
is a bundle of frayed nerves
and fried circuits.
I haven't even lived
until I've tried diving from cliffs in Mexico
or have visited the country of Africa
to take photos with dark-skinned natives
shirtless and starved
to post on my Facebook
so everyone knows that I'm a globally-minded
forward thinking
loving, caring, empathetic
bleeding heart
neoliberal cocksucker. 
I'm too young to be
this late-stage Mark Twain, 
waiting for Haley's Comet
to make another pass
and take me off this rock
that God forgot.
I'm too young to be
this dying Vonnegut
recounting his mistakes
as the very fabric of time
quakes around him.
I'm too young to be
Papa drinking himself to death.
I'm too young to be... 
I'm too young...
I'm too...
I'm...

Still I Rise- Maya Angelou

To celebrate the close of Black History Month and the beginning of Women's History Month, Mick read a poem by one of the greatest poets to ever walk this earth, the late great Dr. Maya Angelou.

Listen to it below:

YOU MAY WRITE ME DOWN IN HISTORY
WITH YOUR BITTER, TWISTED LIES,
YOU MAY TREAD ME IN THE VERY DIRT
BUT STILL, LIKE DUST, I'LL RISE.

DOES MY SASSINESS UPSET YOU? 
WHY ARE YOU BESET WITH GLOOM? 
'CAUSE I WALK LIKE I'VE GOT OIL WELLS
PUMPING IN MY LIVING ROOM.

JUST LIKE MOONS AND LIKE SUNS,
WITH THE CERTAINTY OF TIDES,
JUST LIKE HOPES SPRINGING HIGH,
STILL I'LL RISE.

DID YOU WANT TO SEE ME BROKEN? 
BOWED HEAD AND LOWERED EYES? 
SHOULDERS FALLING DOWN LIKE TEARDROPS.
WEAKENED BY MY SOULFUL CRIES.

DOES MY HAUGHTINESS OFFEND YOU? 
DON'T YOU TAKE IT AWFUL HARD
'CAUSE I LAUGH LIKE I'VE GOT GOLD MINES
DIGGIN' IN MY OWN BACK YARD.

YOU MAY SHOOT ME WITH YOUR WORDS,
YOU MAY CUT ME WITH YOUR EYES,
YOU MAY KILL ME WITH YOUR HATEFULNESS,
BUT STILL, LIKE AIR, I'LL RISE.

DOES MY SEXINESS UPSET YOU? 
DOES IT COME AS A SURPRISE
THAT I DANCE LIKE I'VE GOT DIAMONDS
AT THE MEETING OF MY THIGHS? 

OUT OF THE HUTS OF HISTORY'S SHAME
I RISE
UP FROM A PAST THAT'S ROOTED IN PAIN
I RISE
I'M A BLACK OCEAN, LEAPING AND WIDE,
WELLING AND SWELLING I BEAR IN THE TIDE.
LEAVING BEHIND NIGHTS OF TERROR AND FEAR
I RISE
INTO A DAYBREAK THAT'S WONDROUSLY CLEAR
I RISE
BRINGING THE GIFTS THAT MY ANCESTORS GAVE,
I AM THE DREAM AND THE HOPE OF THE SLAVE.
I RISE
I RISE
I RISE. 

Stupid Rocks

Recently there was a bit of a hubbub as diamond distributors put out a new set of advertisements targeting millennials to pressure them into buying diamonds. 

Thinking that this was tone-deaf and ignorant of the socio-economic realities that millennials face, Mick wrote a poem challenging the diamond industry.

Then, he got around to viewing the advertisements and realized that the poem and the imagery in the commercials actually matched up. 

So he re-cut the commercials and recorded himself reciting his poem, Stupid Rocks. You can watch it right here, right now:

We don't want your stupid rocks.
We don't need those baubles to show our love.
We don't want you to pry them from the guts of the earth with slave labor-
to wipe them clean of the dirt and blood until they shine like stars ripped from the night sky,
like rotten teeth yanked from a diseased mouth.

We don't need your stupid rocks because
they don't make our love any more real.
Their cold kiss does nothing to remind us of
warm lip meeting lip, of skin touching skin, 
of one uniting with one and becoming one.

We can't have your stupid rocks because
choice has been stripped from us
because if dollars were vocal chords
we'd be mute and
we're saddled with the burden of
mortgaged futures and white picket dreams
becoming nightmares, so our hands
are too full to take on any more dead weight anyways.

Scoop them in your arms until
they are spilling onto the ground
to lie among the pebbles where they belong.
Do us all a favor and fill your pockets
with your stupid rocks and
go for a nice long swim.

Circus

I wake up every morning
to the sight of a massive hourglass
on a shelf over my bed.
I watch the sands sift through the neck
grain by grain
counting down breaths
and heartbeats
and opportunities to create.
Then I drag myself out of bed to start the circus.

When I was young, 
I was told to follow my dreams.
That I could do anything I set my mind to,
but I never did get the hang of being Batman
because my parents stubbornly refused to die
and most of the family money was tied up in property-
specifically the one we lived on.

What they mean when they say “Follow your dreams” is
“Follow your dreams if your dreams are realistic.”
Even then, realistic is another layer of doublespeak
whose translation lands somewhere between
the rock of profitable and the hard place called exploitable.
Because how many cowboys and princesses could the world actually use?

How soon do we tell the next generation the truth?
That they can be whatever they want to be
so long as there is mitigated risk
and a market for growth
and a long enough ramp to get you to the next round of funding
and opportunities to go public
and diversified revenue streams
because the shareholders expect at least a five percent return
at the end of the quarter.

When do we tell them they are teeth in a mouth
that is in a constant state of chewing and swallowing and shitting
and so long as the entire mouth is in working order
each individual tooth is more or less expendable?

When do we tell them they are blades in a combine machine
reaping, reaping, reaping through a field of projected infinite growth,
because growth is apparently the only thing
in the universe that isn't bound
by the laws of matter and energy.

Because no matter how many forests we chop down
or how much plastic we drop in the ocean,
there will always be room for unchecked growth.
And when every inch of this planet is burning neon bright
with Golden Arches and blinking Nike swooshes,
we'll blast off into motherfucking space
and look back at that glowing disco ball behind us
and wonder why the blue planet doesn't look so blue anymore.

When are we going to tell they next generation
that they are to be guided by empty stomach and throbbing gonad,
that they are to drown out the voices in the heads and hearts
wondering aloud if this is truly the best way to live?

When do we perform that about-face reversing the mantra
we've repeated like an actress trying to get her lines just right-
“Money isn't everything”
I guess it's technically not a lie when money isn't everything- 
because what are you going to do with liquid money anyways?
You need to diversify with property
and bonds
and a healthy portfolio of companies in strong industries.

These are the important things in life,
things they should teach in high school.
Why should I bother with math
when I carry a calculator in my pocket?
And don't get me started on the arts.
I mean, what's the point?
All art really is
is a bunch of weirdos with green hair
staring at a shit-smeared wall nodding pensively-
as if it means something.
Because what good has art done for me today?
I can't eat those cherry reds and lemon yellows splattered across the canvas.
And I sure as hell can't fuck  those beautiful marble goddess
with their perfect limbs stretched out in beckoning,
so what's the point?
Why do you want me to think?
Thinking isn't growth and there's damn sure no money in it.

We need to jump start the next generation on The Way It Is™ 
because otherwise they will dream
and imagine and create and have their hearts broken over and over again
until one day they're laying in bed
staring up at an hourglass counting down
breaths and heartbeats and opportunities to create
and they'll heave a heavy sigh before getting up and starting the circus.

 

Sonnet 29- William Shakespeare

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur’d like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings

Ecosystem

The world is so much smaller than any of us can appreciate or comprehend.
It's getting smaller every day.
Only five hundred years ago it would take six months to cross the ocean.
Now we send messages across it at the speed of light every hour.
What we fail to realize is that the Earth can only get so small.
It'll shrink down to the size of a pin head and a thousand angels will dance on top of it.
We won't see them.
We won't hear the beautiful music.
We are blind, deaf, and dumb, playing pinball in search of something more satisfying.
And even when we move on to our Ataris and Dreamcasts and Wii Us, we'll still be searching for something, anything to make us forget about our parched throats and empty bellies.
And some of us will try to sustain ourselves with money, choking down fistfuls of greenbacks and bond certificates.
Other will binge on Communion wine and wafers, growing drunk on their faith.
But with all this conspicuous consumption we can't smell the poison.
There's lead in the groundwater and cyanide in the clouds. 
We gorge with gaping mouths, generations of feet marching forward: a centipede miles long with our jaws caked in froth and shit and our wild eyes turned to the heavens looking for rain, hail, a sign from God sealing a covenant.
But there's nothing there.
Only particles diffusing light from a sun that is slowly losing mass, chip chip chipping itself away as it burns for no reason in particular, only to pass the time.
Because time is all we get here- it's the only currency truly worth anything, which is why they say time is money even though they mean the opposite- money is time.
Because you can pay someone else to waste their time while you hoard yours for yourself, sleeping on a pile of it like a dragon in a cave while others scrounge for two minutes to rub together.
There's an entire ecosystem at play here, tooth meeting tooth like gears in a clock, ticking seconds minutes hours away, counting down for the new year, watching a glass ball drop like a sun lit with a million drunken faces cheering on the passage of sand tumbling through an hour glass.
What nobody ever told us is those tiny grains are coarse enough to widen that sexy little waist and soon enough time flies by faster than you know it and you're fumbling to put those grains back where you found them on a beach somewhere where the tide flows backwards and smashes them together so they grow back into giant chunks of rock like they were when Jesus and the dinosaurs walked the Earth looking for something decent to eat.
Because that's all we've been doing in this twisted ecosystem- there's a million fucking restaurants but not a single goddamn place where you can leave full and happy and ready for a good eternity's sleep.
So instead we fill up on bread and dirt and high def LED pixels in the shape of our favorite porn star's latest pubic topiary because we haven't found that five out of five on Yelp that can make a savory meal out of old time cards and halfhearted attempts at self-expression.
We cake it in salt and drown it in booze and it's almost tolerable if you close your eyes and think of England.
But you know deep down in that secret place inside you where you keep your ex's nudes and those creepy thoughts about your second cousin that this is no way to eat. There's no umami. Nothing worth Instagramming for a few of those delicious cherry red likes that land on your tongue like candy hearts laced with LSD and dopamine.
You know in this whirring ecosystem of machinery and diesel smoke that you are but a screw holding together a cog turning a larger cog powering a piston running an engine inside a Mercedes going 25 on a midnight drive to nowhere in particular, just waiting until the tank runs dry and there's nothing you can do about it because you're so small and the world is so big, but what you need to remember is the world is much smaller than you appreciate or comprehend and is shrinking every day, so don't be scared to carve out your own little place where you can bleed color into the dirt and piss away your paycheck because time is the only precious thing there is, so you might as well spend it in a meaningful way because before you know it you'll run out of time.
And then

Silly Damned Thing Anyhow

Silly Damned Thing Anyhow by Charles Bukowski

we tried to hide it in the house so that the
neighbors wouldn’t see.
it was difficult, sometimes we both had to
be gone at once and when we returned
there would be excrete and urine all
about.
it wouldn’t toilet train
but it had the bluest eyes you ever
saw
and it ate everything we did
and we often watched tv together.

one evening we came home and it was
gone.
there was blood on the floor,
there was a trail of blood.
I followed it outside and into the garden
and there in the brush it was,
mutilated.
there was a sign hung about its severed
throat:
“we don’t want things like this in our
neighborhood.”

I walked to the garage for a shovel.
I told my wife, “don’t come out here.”
then I walked back with the shovel and
began digging.
I sensed
the faces watching me from behind
drawn blinds.

they had their neighborhood back,
a nice quiet neighborhood with green
lawns, palm trees, circular driveways, children,
churches, a supermarket, etc.

I dug into the earth.

Because I could not stop for death

Because I could not stop for Death by Emily Dickinson

 

Because I could not stop for Death –

He kindly stopped for me –

The Carriage held but just Ourselves –

And Immortality.

 

We slowly drove – He knew no haste

And I had put away

My labor and my leisure too,

For His Civility –

 

We passed the School, where Children strove

At Recess – in the Ring –

We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –

We passed the Setting Sun –

 

Or rather – He passed Us –

The Dews drew quivering and Chill –

For only Gossamer, my Gown –

My Tippet – only Tulle –

 

We paused before a House that seemed

A Swelling of the Ground –

The Roof was scarcely visible –

The Cornice – in the Ground –

 

Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet

Feels shorter than the Day

I first surmised the Horses' Heads

Were toward Eternity –

A Poison Tree

I read a poem by one of my favorite poets: William Blake.

A Poison Tree

By William Blake

 

I was angry with my friend;

I told my wrath, my wrath did end.

I was angry with my foe: 

I told it not, my wrath did grow. 

 

And I watered it in fears,

Night & morning with my tears: 

And I sunned it with smiles,

And with soft deceitful wiles. 

 

And it grew both day and night. 

Till it bore an apple bright. 

And my foe beheld it shine,

And he knew that it was mine. 

 

And into my garden stole, 

When the night had veild the pole; 

In the morning glad I see; 

My foe outstretched beneath the tree

Ozymandias

I decided to read one of my favorite poems.

Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

Don't Listen to the Bleeding Hearts

Don't listen to the bleeding hearts
and romantics and university students.
Art is as commonplace as a phone call to an old friend.

Artists are self-important.
It's a necessary trait
Otherwise people would see
them for what they are:
Bottom feeders.
Scum.
Liars.
Charlatans.
Sophists.

We make the effort to spin
shit into gold.
But it's still shit.
No matter how much time you spend on it.
No matter how much work and thought goes into it.
It's still shit.
But sometimes,
Sometimes the light catches it
Just right...


They're a rotten bunch.
"Tortured"
"Feeling"
"Misunderstood"
More like maladjusted.
Who isn't tortured and feeling?
Who doesn't feel misunderstood?
It's just the opposite:
They're completely understood-
Smearing colors around and 
Covering pages with lines.
Useless crybabies.
Unable to cope with the
Everyday wretchedness of humanity
And are thus forced to ram their head into the wall repeatedly
In an attempt to make it
More beautiful with their blood.

...And for one shimmering second, it's gold.

VOID

Recently, I wrote a piece of spoken word poetry called “Void.” I performed it at the NU Write Club Open Mic on January 30, 2014. Here is a ridiculously high quality video of me reading said poem. I wish I had memorized it before going up on stage, but whatever. Not all performances can be perfect. The full text of the poem is below the video, check it out if you want to read along.

(Thanks to Tom Viccaro for filming this)

Void

I’ve got some bad news for
Those of you who think they’re important–
That the universe holds you in a special place
in its heart and watches out for you.
You’re not important.
You’re not special.
You don’t matter.
You are not some beautiful mind
the world has failed to recognize.
It is true that you are a unique
and wonderful snowflake,
but you fail to realize that
in spite of their subtle differences,
snowflakes all look pretty much the same.
The world does not owe you a damn thing.
And while it’s true that you didn’t ask to be here,
it is equally true that the world
did not ask for you.
We like to tell ourselves
there’s a plan, and that things work out
for the best, but we know in the back
of our monkey brains that it is sink or swim–
that it’s been that way for the past
8 billion years.
Sink or swim. Live or die.
It’s a simple choice, really.
I think I know what you all would pick,
based on the fact that you’re all still sitting here, breathing.
The problem is that there is an asterisk
attached to every breath you take:
“The end user agrees to be responsible
for maintaining their own existence, including:
eating, sleeping, and hydration.
The end user agrees to take responsibility
for any such other physical, mental, or emotional demands not detailed above.”
Always read the fine print, because
every time you inhale you are signing
on the dotted line
and dating at the bottom.
I’m not saying this to be a harbinger of doom and gloom.
And I’m no Tyler Durdan trying to subvert the capital system with nihilism and anarchy.
Rather, I’m your friendly neighborhood Spiderman,
swinging by on his web
to remind you that you are the master of your domain.
The world doesn’t care what you do.
There’s two sides to this coin–
You can either go crazy like
some super villain megalomaniac, become lonely and depressed when your career as a Bond villain doesn’t pan out, and off yourself out of spite, living your life like some stupid cliché.
OR there’s plan B:
You realize how liberating it is that the universe doesn’t give one iota of a shit about you.
It doesn’t matter what you do.
Go nuts!
You’re free to do what you want.
The universe doesn’t care.
The only caveat is that you have to do it yourself.
So go forth and build.
But know that you have to put on the hard hat and get your hands dirty.
You have a dream. You have a vision.
Leave something behind to make this world slightly better for those who come after you.
But don’t ever forget about the apathy. Glance periodically at the thermometer to remind yourself of how cold it is.
Do not be like Ozymandias carving your name for mortals to gaze on and despair, because those lone and level sands of time are abrasive and will
rub your name clean from any stone.
Create to inspire. Create to challenge.
It doesn’t matter if you’re painting a picture, or
designing a can opener, or birthing a baby.
As long as you’re putting your heart in it and
your mind to it.
As long as you accept the fact that there will be struggle. As long as you look that ugly monster in the eye and bare your teeth, knowing that no one is going to fight this battle for you.
Never stop pressing forward.
An object in motion stays in motion, so keep your pace and momentum.
Because even though you aren’t special or important, you have potential.
Potential to build something of importance and beauty in an otherwise cruel and careless void.

NEU WRITES SPOKEN WORD Fall 2013

Here is a ridiculously high quality of me reading at Northeastern University’s AfterHours for the NU Write Club.

Shout out to Tom Viccaro for making it possible.

I read:

Portrait of a Drunken Lecher as an Artist

Daedalus Wept

Dead Weight

IV by Jack Valentine

NEU WRITES SPOKEN WORD

This reading took place at afterHOURS in Boston, MA on April 1st, 2013.

I read 5 poems, 4 of them original:

I Am Not Afraid

Toxic

Panic Attack

Now Things Are Different

Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson