Take the Gomorrah freeway east, beyond the wasteland where the rose has lost its bloom, and the songbird of double happiness can’t warble a note. Continue driving. Take the bridge over troubled overdoses. At the corner of Racism and Ruin, make a right. As you approach downtown, know that Waze goes into a daze. It can’t steer you clear of the crosstown traffic of human trafficking, the clogged arteries of disease, the bumper-to-bummer doldrums of rape, murder, misogyny, child abuse, collusion, discrimination, and countless other ills. If you miss the last exit for redemption, keep driving straight toward the sunset. Know that if you yearn to be in a better place, it’s hard to be anywhere when you’re in a nowhere state of mind.
The chiming of bells, the clanking of chains. “I Have a Dream” sounds more like “I Have a Scheme” on the lips of crooked businessmen and politicians. They sing in the key of B Minor. That is, Be Minor when you’re a minority. The chiming of bells, the clanking of chains. Soul symphonies rise us from the oppressive beat of nullification. With dignity and discipline, we’ll battle the continual onslaught of discrimination. The chiming of bells, the clanking of chains. Human bones are billy clubs in the hands of the hateful. Bruising downbeats pound at the Emancipation Proclamation, while compassion stands at the frontlines, wielding weapons of empathy and light. The chiming of bells, the clanking of chains. Epic democracy battles against an epidemic of systemic injustices. It’s hard to cash a check on the collective human spirit when society is damn near morally bankrupt.
In the abandoned alleyway of lies. In the cemetery where broken bones are wagered for the tattered remains of grace—there you go again. Nothing is ever good enough when it comes from your abundance of malice. No hatred is ever undone when it is poisoned with your racist words. The earth and its good people did not ask to be harnessed in a choke chain, and led around by your arrogance and ignorance. We did not wonder how big your nuclear button is, only the size of your character. And now we know, have known for some time actually, that it takes a man living in a shithole state of mind to claim that good people come from shithole countries.
Tattoo my heart onto the flesh of what is real. Let the living world wear my love so I may learn to grow closer to what cures instead of kills. Ink my truest inner beat onto your already dancing feet. A bliss-bumping boogie seeking the pure eureka of a unified sweetness. Emblazon all my positivity onto the skin of possibility. Don’t wanna be the picture of how things work when they don’t work out for what is best.
In the rain museum, some are swept away by storms. Lives shattered by shards of lightning sharpened by horror and ruin. In the rain museum, some are touched by liquid hallelujahs. Awesome soul awakenings in cathedrals of thunder. In the rain museum, storm clouds can be seeds of green and grace. But for leaves already gone, nothing is more somber than the song of rain too late.
Rainy days are the ideal audition day for LA. That’s when she can pout and brood before the cameras of our eyes. Oscar-worthy moments when she can clinch her fists, gnash her teeth, channel Brando and Joan Crawford. Thunderous hysterics making dogs howl and mountains wither into mudslides. But LA knows we prefer swimsuits to raincoats, sunny days to storm surges. So she saves her moody auditions for those rare days when she can menace like Elizabeth Taylor in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Magic decibel movie moments when she can let out a shrill, resounding cry shattering the good crystal into sparkling raindrops.
Time’s chakras are laid out like landmines, so let us be careful how we travel through these battlefield hours. One small misstep, and our insides are graffiti all over history’s walls. Still, the world’s wounds will not bleed us dry. Every morning, we rise above the pain to build a new song from bone, breath, belief. If you don’t trust its sweetness, kiss this new day. Our cruel world bears the taste of honey on its tongue.
Society’s radio is cranked to one decibel below bedlam. Radiant voices wail grace, while others—rusted with ruin—slow progress to a standstill. Day by day, this soundtrack grows louder, angrier. Haters and political obfuscators drum decent citizens to dust, while madmen—fingers on nuclear buttons—threaten to release bombs like Armageddon’s final mic drop. Meanwhile, in the grand and groovalicious beyond, some cosmic mother wonders how we’ve turned society’s soul song into such a heap of blood and bones. She spins the radio dial, tunes out all our white noise. Hopes humanity can one day compose a sweet and enduring pop song of peace.
Don’t wanna be a tattoo on a gutter rat. Don’t wanna be a wrecking ball’s hangover. Don’t wanna be a cruel-thought lollipop for haters to suck on. Don’t wanna be the “big nuclear button” on Trump’s desk. Don’t wanna cut my hair short and dye it the color of smog. Don’t wanna be the rusted, oil-leaking pickup parked in the pristine driveway of your mind. Don’t wanna climb Kilimanjaro to find the answer when it’s right in front of me on the street. Don’t wanna walk the earth without a song in my head. Don’t wanna live without you on the dark side of the moon.
No blindfolds or tourniquets for the blood. Any demons leftover from the previous year will soon reveal themselves. Let those beasts run wild, sweat out their remaining poisons. Along the way, refuse to transform your loving hugs into chokeholds. Don’t sell the truth for pocket change. Chip away any stones that have honed your fists into weapons. This year, fill breath with intention and light. Let every inner kindness radiate blessings, guide you through your darkest hours. Be bold, bright, be the true path home. Be your own north star.