I’m a product of my environment
Things that occur
Events take place
That will wipe the smile
Right off your face!
Not my fault, but then again
Schools and teachers were never my freinds
I don’t need an education
I just need a new vocation!
Freeway traffic smog
Lines of people, beliefs
What the hell am i supposed to think?
“been left of center ever since, uh, i been left centerfield
winter still remind me of my pop’s passin’ (1)
a mass of them pray and suddenly stop askin’ (2)
admin say ‘ma’am, your son is not passin” (3)
excel at self-expression, my impression felt (4)
sizable welt left on my question, mark the section of the bible belt (5)
rally roots established in a baptist church
first act of ‘ism’ was against that forbidden thirst (6)
thought it odd – all the men in my biological bottle fed
god in the women, the devil cause of my father’s death (7)
fresh clay, shaped the way they want me up in sunday school
formin’ resume the morn of monday, too ( 8 )
pioneers of integration with no relation to race, from the
earliest days they merged clergy and state
serve as deacon do a teacher; principal as a pastor
every lesson prepped for the test in the hereafter (9)
best to have the fear of the master in your heart of hearts
i tried reasoning and seen things fall apart
carved outta henry – how befitting, ‘give me liberty’ (10)
or else an alternative to dwellin’ with the merciless
the line drawn around the county i have found to be
confining – aint no bounties in the boundary
we ’bout to secede…
a colonel by default, i never fought for the continentals
though my war of independence bore some resemblance (11)
they trynna make me do like them – move right then (12)
attune my mentals, broke pencil – spoke through my pen
kinetically set it, gesture affect a ripple
imprudent, for this student body is ill and crippled (13)
i’ll walk on ’em, in partin’ ‘yall gon’ miss me when i’m gone’
now long forgotten, they pawned my saga for a song (14)
the alarm is armed – guards on watch, not one’ll abscond the box again (15)
the common anomaly of protestants (16)
i lost to the sovereign, the dominant still holdin’ office (17)
glowin’ over that oldham era’s a golden aura ( 18 )
growin’ under that old america’s something strange
bubblin’ to break-point range – awaken, take the reins! (19)
oh, there he goes again – broken and soberin’
his story told all over, the walls closin’ in (20)
the line drawn around the county i have found to be
confining, aint no bounties in the boundary
we ’bout to secede…
i’ve gone across the country, what you want from me
to die of hunger for the punditry?
you’ll never succeed…
nah, you’ll never succeed.”
(1) – to be perfectly honest (assuming it’s not too late), i know very little about the details surrounding my father’s suicide. i was too young to pose questions when it happened, and by the time my curiosity developed i felt it inappropriate to broach the subject. among the few memories i’ve kept from that time is one of a bitter chill and gray skies; cold winter death.
(2) – my kindergarten teacher’s name was mrs. watkins. she was a tall, middle-aged woman with short, dark hair. her voice was authoritative, but calming when she spoke with that soft, slow, southern drawl, and if she opened her mouth wide enough, she’d reveal a beautiful display of a dentist’s work in gold. she was like an angel to me, coddling me and catering to my every need. at the time, i had no idea she felt pity on me, but i understand it now. she was one of many.
(3) – like mrs. watkins, dozens of subsequent teachers seemed to care less and less about my personal wellbeing over the years. when the administration gave up on me, i gave up on school.
(4) – voted “most individual” by OCHS’s class of ’93, then expelled by the school for performing a rap about the principal at the homecoming dance.
(5) – maybe questioning god’s existence was my way of exploring the non-existence of my own father. in any case, the hellfire and brimstone set don’t take too kind to heathens.
(6) – oldham county was “dry” in all the years i lived there, meaning the sale of alcoholic beverages was prohibited, period. every few years, a petition was organized to repeal the law, and my family’s church became campaign headquarters in the fight against change. i still love me a good rally.
(7) – pastor says drinking is a sin, and the sinners are going to hell. things looked grim for my grandfather, uncles, and most especially my father. perhaps abstinence from alcohol on the part of the women was a counterbalance to the excessive drinking by the men, or maybe it’s further evidence of patriarchy in the south, but i rarely, if ever, saw a lady in my family with a drink. that observation served to polarize the distinction between woman and man, between good and evil, respectively.
( 8 ) – this week’s lesson plan comes from the good book.
(9) – all pretty self-explanatory, really
(10) – oldham county was formally established in 1823 from portions of 3 surrounding counties, one of them being henry, so named for patrick henry, the american revolutionary most famous for the line “give me liberty, or give me death.”
(11) – the colonel was my high school mascot, chosen in honor of col. william oldham, a veteran of the continental soldiers in the revolutionary war. though i truly cannot imagine experiencing first-hand the horrors of the battlefield, i do know what it’s like to wage war against a tyrannical regime.
(12) – can you say “red state?”
(13) – subsequent to my punishment for the episode at the homecoming dance, i felt i was ready to lead a revolt against the board of education. i came to realize that leadership is a quality, not an emotion.
(14) – i often times refer to my departure from OCHS as an expulsion, when in fact i did choose to leave the school. following the rap (which i still have and promise to post one day) the administration placed me on severe probation, and knowing i couldn’t possibly enjoy my senior year on lockdown, i bounced. i had a feeling my presence would be missed, but you remember high school; drama has a short lifespan.
(15) – the principal was in her inaugural year when she decided to make an example out of me. she made life miserable for a whole lotta young folks that year, vowing to not let another one swim against the current. to this day, my parents feel as though they should have fought harder in opposition to her uncompromising rule against free speech, but we all had the last laugh when she “resigned” in ’97 citing complications with her health. i hope she’s all better now.
(16) – you appreciate the irony, right?
(17) – sure, martha sammons resigned from her post as principal, but the school and its entire district remains under the thumb of an oppressive government. you win some, you lose some.
( 18 ) – “no, they won’t name no buildings after me,” (c) badu – but the spirit still lives.
(19) – it’s the rally cry for who got next! it’s the passing of the torch! it’s the final hour!
(20) – it’s the same zealous rhetoric i spent my formative youth trying to escape. that’s deep.
says officer james brown of a murder/suicide in the place i was born and raised: “this is an isolated incident… it’s not indicative of the community we live in or the people of this community…” really, though?