Beer over Wine.


“Throughout the later 20th century, wine makers have done a fantastic job of convincing people that wine is the complex, sophisticated drink for erudite people with discerning taste – and during that same time period beer marketeers have done just the opposite for their product. It turns out that these marketeers did all of us a great disservice.”

“Beer can be many things; from thirst quenching, sprightly and light to complex, full and contemplative – and everything between. Beer in all its complexity is blossoming to its full expression.”

“Those of you familiar with wine terms will recognize some of these terms, but you will also quickly realize that many of these can not be applied to wines. This is because as good as wine may be, wine just does not have the same breadth of flavors and aromas that beer does.”

Big
Balanced
slightly Buttery
Clean
Coarse
and Complex
Crisp and Edgy
Expansive and Expressive
Firm with Finesse
Fresh, Luscious
Mellow
with Rich Overtones
and Smooth Textures

This is me.
A beer in a society convinced that wine is the pinnacle.
Judged because I prefer jeans to slacks. Because my jazz
and hip-hop and rock mesh.
Because the Christianity I see biblically condemns capitalism and condones cursing. Because I believe courage is the highest virtue, while niceness is a vice,
and well-placed anger is righteous.
I exist in the tension between murder and taking life.
My feeling is poetry should work on pages, stages, and beats,
and some graffiti deserves galleries.

I know Christian culture ain’t always right
and European tradition shouldn’t be seen as king. I know most nobles wear name tags, yet remain nameless; always asking how they can help, never asked if they are well.

The Kingdom of God belongs to these.

I know that racism is wired into the fiber of our society.
I know I am often racist
elitist towards my own people
I look down on those who don’t understand as much as me.

I love beauty too much and value tact too little
and know
Passion and patience make ticking time bombs of men,
of which I am the least…
I am too many things, and oftentimes too much, but that’s okay, they say good brews take time.

Strive.


Even though this pains me, I’m going to be really vulnerable and honest here, feel free to skip over this if it bores you, it’s perfectly okay. This doesn’t really have a lot of practical application like most of my posts do. I just need to be honest right now.

I’ve spent a good chunk of my evening watching a web series following a truly phenomenal group of spoken word poets called Striver’s Row as they tour, perform, and share their hearts behind the scenes. Seeing them, their hard work, hardship, and commitment to do whatever it takes to follow their calling is jarring. It’s an earnest slap to the face to watch a bunch of 20-something year old kids like myself pursuing doctoral degrees, writing their asses off, performing their poems around the world, in the White House, for television, at their alma maters as commencement speakers with awards named after them, all because they know that this impact is exactly what they were made for and they are committed to making it, life or death.

Meanwhile, I’ve known since I was a child that I want to change lives, but I grew up lazy, arrogant, foolish, entitled and most of all, terrified.

Terrified of my own gift.
Terrified of all of the work I knew lay before me.
Terrified of standing out.
Terrified of failing.
Terrified that I might not be everything I’ve sorely wanted to believe I am.

I’ve known all my life that I owe a huge debt to the world and I’ve run and run from it over and over and over, and now by some miracle, it dawns on me as I watch these videos:

I can do this.
I am absolutely capable.
All I have to do is work for it. Work hard for it. Really hard.

It’s in me, and I’m finally ready to do what is required of me. I’m not afraid anymore. I see myself better than I ever have, and I’m ready to suffer, to pour myself out because I know that I have a message that people desperately need.

Thank you Josh Bennett. Thank you Striver’s Row. Thank you for showing me what I am worthy and capable of. What God expects of me. What the world needs from me.

Placeholder.


I’m writing this post because I want to remember today.

I wrote a poem today, a hard, ugly poem that really hurt to come out of me. I would’ve shared it here if it weren’t so terrible. It’s angry. Really angry. So angry that I used the “f” word. A lot. A day ago I didn’t believe in the “f” word and never would’ve used it, but today, I couldn’t seem to find any other words. I blamed, and blamed, and blamed. I cursed almost every way I know how. I came out astonishingly honestly with my hate and I didn’t know I was capable of so much of it.

Even as I type this I’m so frustrated I want to cry, though my brother can’t even tell and he was just right next to me. I still don’t know how to let it all go…

Future Michael, look back on this and remember how much you fought and hurt. Remember that your success was stained with tears that still won’t come and pain that just doesn’t want to quit. Remember the man that showed up at the bottom when you look down from whatever height you one day find yourself. Remember who lied in case they try to come back. Remember everything you feel because someone else will feel the same thing and come looking for compassion and if you forget these moments, they’ll have to look somewhere else.

Michael today, be the man of your future. All you can control is what you do in response. Do it wisely.

Extraordinarily Selfish


“”For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 19:45) […] They [the disciples] soon learned that servant leadership ultimately means giving up yourself so that others can have the life God desires for them.”
— C.Gene Wilkes, Jesus on Leadership

I’ve done this terribly.

Like many of us, I’ve spent the latter half of this week intentionally diving deep into the story and life of Nelson Mandela, desiring to know who he was, what he was motivated by, how he accomplished what he did, and generally desiring to know what life looked like through his eyes.

What moved me most was simple; a handful of letters he had written to his wife during his 27 year long political imprisonment. What was immediately apparent was that he loved her deeply. What also quickly became apparent was that he detested the fact that in many ways, the movement had to come before his family. He hated that.

But he did it willingly.

That is leadership.

That is why I fail at being a leader. I serve as long as it is convenient or beneficial for me. I serve people all the time, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t lay my life down. I do a little bit, give some encouragement, share some knowledge, but I don’t get all the way in and suffer, cry, and love people with all of me. I don’t give until it hurts consistently. I boast in my freedom and I love it so much it keeps me from pursuing my mission. Yeah, I serve, but I don’t live to do it, my life doesn’t revolve around it, and it isn’t what I’m all about. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t tell you what my life revolves around… Well, I guess that means it revolves around me, doesn’t it? I guess I’m just being selfish.

I’m not discouraged though. I’m excited because all of the difficult discussions I’ve been finding myself in recently are adding up to this moment. Every person that has told me that I’m not where I need to be, that I’m capable of more, that I have so much more to give than I currently am. I’m ready.

#58 Broken Promises


What started as an everyday writing commitment has turned into a desire to “write when I actually get around to it”. I’m not sure how I feel about that…

After neglecting to return his phone calls for two weeks, I told a friend that I’d give him a call after work today. When I got off of work, I went to return my rental car, went to Walmart, looked at some parts for my car, dropped it off at my parents’s house, and fell asleep for four hours, woke up for dinner, washed dishes, and helped my parents move some furniture before coming home and climbing in bed before realizing that I never called him. Well, I guess I left some things out: I read the new chapter of the Bleach manga, posted two pictures to Facebook/ Instagram, watched an episode of The Cosby Show at dinner and watched a movie called Black Roots as I washed dishes and helped my parents.
Obviously, I’m capable of multi-tasking, I’m just bad at prioritizing, I suppose. Anyway, that was another broken commitment.

Three months ago, I told the internet that I wasn’t going to kiss my girlfriend, and despite all of the bravado, I broke that commitment a couple weeks ago and now I’m breaking it regularly. I don’t feel like I’ve let anybody down or like I’m doing something terrible, but I just know that I made another commitment I failed to keep. (I’ll be devoting a post to the issue soon, look out for it)

I’m sorry if I’ve made a commitment to you that I didn’t keep, I really am. You aren’t the only person I’ve hurt that way. I take full responsibility for my lapse and I am working at becoming more dependable.

I’ve read somewhere that men are supposed to make bold promises and deliver on them.

But I’ve also read that wisdom is making small promises and over-delivering on them.

And that the only promise I should ever make is never to promise anything because I can’t even guarantee that I’ll wake up in the morning.

It has also been said that all a man has is his word…

One way or the other, I need to reevaluate the way I make promises. Either way it goes, I know what type of man I want to be:

Lord, who can dwell in Your tent? Who can live on Your holy mountain? The one who lives honestly, practices righteousness, and acknowledges the truth in his heart — who does not slander with his tongue, who does not harm his friend or discredit his neighbor, who despises the one rejected by the Lord but honors those who fear the Lord , who keeps his word whatever the cost, who does not lend his money at interest or take a bribe against the innocent — the one who does these things will never be moved. (Psalms 15 HCSB)

#56 Sunsets.


For every person who didn’t receive the praise they were due until they died:

 

You lived in a way that wasn’t quite unlike the sun

Though your life shined brightly,

Few people paid any attention

Until they caught sight of all the colors you brilliantly painted the sky with

As you quietly disappeared,

Leaving your light lingering long enough for us

To realize that we’ll never see the same day again.