Cleaning Out the Attic III

(Believe it or not, I was hesitant to share this because 1: I felt it was too lengthy and 2: feared the backlash I would get. It’s funny, because I’m usually the first to encourage a poet to speak their mind in their poetry, “They don’t have to like it. Write what God told you to write.” So, here’s today’s poem—a poem on words.)

LEXICON

I’ll be honest
I don’t quite remember
When precisely was the first time I swore
But I do recall
How it felt
To shoot out an endless stream
Of invisible bullets
And watch them penetrate straight through
Into somebody’s heart

To see their eyes widen
Their pupils filled with shock
Pain
And not very often, but sometimes
A slight touch of embarrassment

And in the fiery heat of my rage
I would do a Mortal Kombat
And finish them
With rapid fire

It always felt good in the beginning
Until after the dust settled
And I was forced to stare at the aftermath
Guilt and shame would crawl up
From deep down inside of me
But I’d shove them down with my pride

Didn’t I tell you to back off?” I’d ask rhetorically,
“Didn’t I?”

—-
Other than my big sister
I have not been in a fight
When I was younger
I tried to swing and deck her real good
But I was too small and too slow
I think that is where it all started
Because I realized I didn’t have the stamina
To go to fisticuffs

My word usage however
Was quite strong

I knew it was wrong
To talk that way
That’s not how I was  raised
But I did it
Because I got to be good at it
And those words seemed to do the job better
Than any punch or jab I could have ever thrown

I used those words as a shield
Call it a defense mechanism
My earliest memory being fourth grade
I was still stumbling around when I got to sixth
But by the time I got to junior high
I was a force to be reckoned with

Call me a walking grenade

It was never my intention to hurt anyone
Or inflict the same trauma upon them
I carried it with me everyday
A hurting that kept growing with fierce intensity
I just wanted them to let me suffer in peace
I was already unhappy
I didn’t need any help in that department
Miserable by the thought of having to be me

Yet still
They kept showing up
So I kept knocking them down
Until I couldn’t knock them down anymore
Because they were the walking dead
They had already heard those words before
Thousands of times
Plus a thousand more
Desensitized
By those who were supposed to love them
But called them everything but their name so much
They thought it was their name

So who was I
To try and crush their spirit
When they had dresser drawers
Overflowing with shell casings
At home

One glance at those crumbling smiles
And somehow
I knew I was about to be outdone
“You think that’s something?
Here,
Let me show you what real agony is.”

Which was convenient
Because I began to believe
That I was the biggest and baddest thing around
The original gunslinger
Completely untouchable
Til I got shot down
So I dragged myself into the nearest, darkest cave
And stayed there

And if anyone was foolish enough
To venture too close
Or get too bold
I’d load up a clip
Set my tongue to annihilate and let it rip

—-
There’s more than one way to skin a cat

The English language
Has so many words to choose from
You could delicately insult someone
And have them thinking it was a compliment
As you walk off laughing
Imagining how their face will look
When they figure it out on the way home

I experimented with different rounds
I found out
I didn’t have to use a dump truck
Full of expletives and curses
All I had to do was be patient
Study down my opponent
Take my time
Waiting days
Weeks on end if I had to
Slowly uncover all their insecurities
That they tried
To bury and hide
But there was no pit deep enough
No place secret enough
They couldn’t keep it from me
Then
When the time was right
With great precision and tactics
I’d proceed to tell them things
That even those who hurt them
A million times over
Had missed
Hitting spots they didn’t think I could hit
I’d make sure
That every time they saw my face
They would never forget

I didn’t miss
Not once
I always hit my target
I could tell
Because they weren’t ever the same
They hardly ever saw it coming
And even when they did
It was simply too late to do anything about it

Again
It was not my intention to harm anyone
I just didn’t want to hurt any longer

And since I was still tending to injuries
Several years in the making
I couldn’t have them thinking I wasn’t tough
Yes, I was crippled by people emotionally
But I couldn’t let them think they could step to me
And just say
Or do
Whatever they pleased

I’m nobody’s punching bag
I’m not a punk
It ain’t goin’ down like that
Naw homie, not like that
Got me messed up
These were my thoughts

I used those words as a last resort
When I had nothing to say
When I was robbed of my words
Because I couldn’t think of anything
And yeah I could write

But what was I gonna do
Sit down while someone was ragging on me
And say,
“Hold on a sec while I scribble down this angry letter,”
Then hand it to them and watch
As they tore it up to shreds?

That actually did happen once
I wrote a letter as a response
And I watched as it became confetti
Before my very eyes
I did it again much later on a second time
And then I laid that idea to rest altogether

—-
I got older
And it wasn’t until I accepted Christ
That I finally was willing to hear Him out
Felt the tapping
On my shoulder
As He spoke, saying

“What is it that you feel you have to prove?
What exactly is it that you’re trying to do?
What is your objective?
That’s not why I gave you this gift to use.
I gave you a gift
To heal every broken person just like you
And draw them all
Unto Me.

You know better than anyone
How it feels
To have a bruise that won’t fade,
A nagging sting that won’t go away,
You know,
And yet,
You do it all the same.

You do not have to be this way.
Come
And let Me give you better things to say.
Come
And together
We can change the world
One letter, one word
At a time.”

At the time
It was not until then
I began to understand
God was there
From the time I fired off
My first sawed-off
From before my beginning
He was right there
For every step of my steps

But I ignored Him
Because I wrote Jesus off as my conscious
And who really listens to that,
Right?

But there I was
After I had given Him my life
Reaching up
Outpouring myself
With stained eyes
Cheeks wet with remorse
As I recollected
About the destruction I had left in my wake

I was a wanted woman
Destined for the gallows
But He chose to pardon me instead

“Write daughter,
Allow Me to use you
And show the world
How I can take ugly things
And make them beautiful.”

God
Can take ugly things
And make
Them
Beautiful
He can make
Them
Beautiful
So beautiful

That when people see the beauty in those lines
In those rhymes
They won’t believe it
They would’ve had to seen it
Been there themselves
Before they can process through their mind
That the majestic splendor
Standing before them
Was nothing more than a piece of junk
Floating about in a landfill
Buried deep in the most disgusting,
Awful pile of garbage

The aroma alone unbearable
And yet
Christ bore it all for me
Embracing me
Mending me
Cleaning me up

I had a horrible mouth
I made sailors look like choirboys
And don’t get me wrong
I still have slip ups
From time to time

But still
I choose to use my gifts
To give back life
And cause the deceased I ran into
To rise

Truthfully
I look around, I listen and hear
And I suspect
I would not be incorrect
To assume I’m the only one
I’m not the only one hiding behind small-minded words

Some are still using them for a shield
Trying to come off as Billy Bad
But toughness is not defined
By one’s ability not to cry
On the contrary
It is crying
Then getting up, pressing on
While continuing to walk resolute
Head held high
There are also those
Who can’t be caught
Grasping at straws
So they pick the ones up
Laying there
On the ground
Because they’re the easiest to reach
Therefore they’re the easiest to use

They have not been taught
A better way
And when in the heat of battle
It is simple
You go
By what you know

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