Beasts of No Nation

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“Sun, why are you shining on this world? I am wanting to catch you in my hands, to squeeze you until you cannot shine no more. That way, everything is always dark and nobody is ever having to see all the terrible things that are happening here”

-Agu (Beasts of No Nation)

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I made it a good way through the film as a witness, without shedding a tear until this haunting monologue, exquisitely executed by young marvel, Abraham Attah. I hope we are going to get to see more of this brilliant young actor who holds his own with Idris Elba!

I’m not going to go into the plot of this film much as it’s pretty straight forward. Like the novel, it describes the loss of innocence and experiences of a child soldier in Africa, like those of the, “Lost Boys.”  What I will say is this. You MUST, must see this film!

Beasts of No Nation is showing in the smaller arthouse theaters and you can also see it on Netflix! Netflix produced this film. It is breathtakingly beautiful, hopeful and heart crushing. The acting is superb. It’s not easy to watch, but it’s well worth your time and you won’t feel emotionally manipulated or as if you’ve been shown violence or gore for the sake of it. The violence is not gratuitously graphic. Neither is it glossed over.

As someone whose childhood horrors forged my PTSD, I have so much empathy for these child soldiers who are ripped from their families and molded into monsters. You do what you have to do to survive and if you are tenacious, lucky and can hold on to some of the better pieces of you humanity you come out the other side with the ability to be happy.

Thank you Netflix for adapting this novel by Uzodinma Iweala. Even though the country and conflict are fictional the turmoil and circumstances are very real in some parts of Africa. I hope the film makes more people have compassion, awareness and to desire an understanding of situations in other countries that we like to pretend aren’t our problem or don’t affect us. And bravo to Netflix, not only for tackling a subject that is not pretty but is also not about white people. How marvelous to see a film, and an important one at that, about people of color where white people haven’t been injected into it! Huzzah!

Here is the trailer for Beasts of No Nation

Really, go see this film or watch it at home! That is all!

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The Deep

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THE DEEP

Do you feel my heart beneath your feet?
Do you feel the wave of turbulence about to spring up from the deep?
Do you sense that hand upon your back?
Do you know with every waking thought that a moment’s going to crack?

There’s a storm a brewing in the deep;
An awakening of something that’s been far too long asleep.
I know you hear it knocking despite the fire at your door.
Don’t be afraid to answer. It’s too loud to be ignored.

Do you hear the simple rhythm of the night?
When you look up, do you have a crown of stars or see merely scattered light?
Do you care what all this fight is for?
Do you know how many years of blood have left their mark upon this floor?

There’s a song forming in the deep;
An awakening of something that’s been far too long asleep.
I know you hear it calling through the forest, over the hills
Don’t be afraid to sing along, or listen standing still.

Have you felt time pass you, taking toll?
Do you hear the sounds of cracks and fissures, breakage in your soul?
Do you fear it’s certainly too late,
Now that you finally can articulate the change you want to make?

There’s a pearl forming in the deep,
An awakening of something that’s been far too long asleep;
Carried through an open window on the siren song of chance,
Inviting you to drop your burden and join into the dance.

Do you feel your heart beneath my wing?
Have you seen such strength mistaken for a brief and fragile thing?
Do you feel my hand inside your hand?
Does it matter any more to you where this flight is going to land?

Don’t be afraid of rumbling in the deep;
The awakening of something that’s been far too long asleep.
Greet that unfamiliar part of you like a dear and treasured friend.
Take a good look, hold it close, to love the dark is not an end.

Have you caught the scent of winter’s death?
Do you sense the rush of spring’s return in each and every breath?
You can taste the jasmine in your mouth.
Wounded hearts have steeped in every cup, yet flowers do pour out.

There’s a calm found after every storm,
A confidence, a knowing that you now are safe from harm.
There’s no sense treading water when your feet have found dry land.
Let the deep slip from your shoulders lost in endless sand.

-LM 2015

Changing Youth

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This is a song, I started a long time ago that was worked on sporadically throughout the years and eventually recorded. It had long been one of my favorites. It was really a commentary on Looking back at lost youth as one grows older wondering if one should have done more. It is also about the young rebels of every generation who carry so much hope but also think they know everything. They don’t think they need to listen to the big wind of their parents.

Recently, I came across an online archive of lyrics and partial lyrics that I thought were lost forever and this snippet from the original song was in there. All my masters, notes, notebooks and computers were lost along with almost everything I owned in 2012. As an artist, it’s really heart wrenching to lose your art. It’s like losing your children!

Trauma has changed my brain so reconstructing things has been very difficult. Even lyrics from songs I have performed for years don’t pop off the top of my head the way they used to. There was another verse and a bridge to this song, but I don’t have it here. I remember it took setting the song aside for a several years before the right bridge came to me. Maybe something new will come to me more quickly this time around! Regardless, I was really very happy to find this old friend!

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CHANGING YOUTH

Changing youth searching for truth in an empty room
Well, where will you go when the world gets old?
What will you have learned, from them?

This sacred place that we have forsaken inside our hearts now & then
Well, what will we say when it’s finally gone away
That we just played our parts?

I don’t have to tell you that you’re the only ones
Who can make a difference before more damage is done

Unholy thoughts that we act out
Then pray forgiveness in the dark
A kind of hush that you create
It’s a very good disguise

As you walk on by watch their big wind die
What did they know anyhow?
Changing youth you search for truth
But then you live a lie

And I don’t have to tell you that you’re the only ones
Who can make a difference before more damage is done

Changing youth searching for truth in an empty room….
-LM

Over The Edge

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Sometimes I write pieces that could become a fleshed out story, become part of another story or just remain a fragment, a piece of a story that is a story itself. A piece of writing feels complete as incomplete, like a teaser for the imagination or just a peek into another world, a glimpse of someone else’s’ experience.Often when I write, I am perfectly ok if i write a few paragraphs and leave things hanging. After all, life is like this more often than not. We meet interesting people, we have friends who are going through a rough time and they slip in and out of our lives for various reasons. We find ourselves wondering later, “I wonder what happened to so and so? I hope that thing they were going through turned out all right.” I used to think this was just a terrible thing for a writer to do and that I must be a real freak. Then I discovered, Kelly Link, a fabulous writer that very often leaves the reader hanging, and I didn’t feel like such an aberration.

So, I am just warning you, gentle readers that this is one of THOSE fragmeantz. it’s not very long so perhaps you won’t get invested. I have been on the fence since I wrote it. Is it complete though it seems incomplete? Is it a metaphor? Is it a story to be continued?

I actually do know where this story is heading. If I want to continue it, it waits. What do you think? Should I continue?

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Over The Edge

I stood at the edge and imagined EVERYTHING.

I went over all the possible scenarios in my head.

I made it day. I made it night. I moved ahead a year. I made it five, ten, an eternity.

I even removed myself from the equation, in my head, made myself moot. I know that sounds ridiculous because without me, none of this would have happened. It’s not like an alternative life would have taken my place and followed the footsteps I had never made. Even if I disappeared today it wouldn’t fix things. The world would still be hanging on a hinge with nothing to be done about it. Not that I could figure anyway. Not without help.

So then, that was it. There was nothing left to do but jump.

The map had said that height was merely an illusion. That flailing through the air was like splashing around a pond in summer as long as your leap was one of faith. Faith was something I was short on these days and I was terrified of heights.

I knelt down and rummaged through my bag until I found, the book. I leafed through it until I found the map one last time. It could be a complete fabrication, the hallucinatory imaginings of a wizard who’d smoked too much leaf mold. If I didn’t jump I wouldn’t know. And it wouldn’t be long until I was discovered. Damn it! I had to move quickly!

I tucked the book back down in the bag, dug out my flask and took a sip, letting the whiskey burn it’s way down my throat. It served me less as liquid courage and more as a reminder to my blood to start flowing through my limbs again. I had been standing in one place too long.

Suddenly my ears caught noises from further down the mountain. It was time to do this or give up. I knew too well what giving up meant so I quickly tucked everything back in the pack, secured all the compartments and strapped it on tight.

A few yards away, my horse was grazing. Sorry, my friend, you’ve got to come too. I hope I’m not going to kill us both with this crazy plan. She nuzzled me. At least someone trusts me, I thought and swung myself up onto her back as quietly as possible. Now, how to get her to leap off a cliff without her balking or making a fuss? I decided riding wasn’t feasible. Instead I dropped to the ground again, untied the scarf from my hip and made her a blindfold. One blind horse, docile as you please, one terrified human with probable assassins at her back.

“Ok. Girl. We are taking a walk,” I whispered. And with that we walked to the edge, I closed my eyes and stepped off, yanking the reins hard.

Trickle

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desert
I am weary of being scared. Fear is simultaneously very real and just plain pointless. Fear is a bully!
 
Freedom is at once with me and illusive. I would like to be free but freedom without the means to choose my situation is just another kind of trap. I keep thinking there has to be a way; a way out, a way ahead, a way through or even a way to accept, Yes, I keep thinking there has to be a way, but I have not found it yet,
 
I keep thinking if I was younger, prettier, more energetic and able; if I was less ethical I might be able to use those things to my advantage. However, I am not any of those things.
 
I have tools. I lay out the tools I have on the table in front of me but my fingers merely fumble with most of them.
 
I look back over my shoulder into that dark and treacherous place and I refuse to go back. I look forward into the shifting fog. I look up at the blinding sun. I look down at my feet and I can for fleeting moments I can feel my roots. I am strong and grounded. Then the earth cracks, breaks and rumbles to remind me that it is difficult to keep my balance. I look inward at my wounds, some healing, some tenaciously festering and I see where I have been. It is a place and time where angels covered their ears and would not tread.
 
I find myself marvelling at all the brutality I survived with astonishing resilience. How did I manage to keep opening up my heart? How did I determine to keep trying to trust, to forgive, to love? Yet, now my heart finally closes, hardens, becomes wary, cynical over much smaller offenses! The clock is winding down and I have more happiness yet more frustration than ever before.
 
All I ever wanted was to be loved and cared for. All I ever wanted was to give love, to share, to help others by word, deed and through my art and music. I wanted to let all this creativity and care flow to the ocean in a torrent but all I can do is let it trickle through a straw in the hopes that someone who is thirsty will find it and drink.
 
-LM September, 2015

How To Find Hope

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bluebirdYou always know it’s going to get better
It’s just that sometimes You don’t care
About looking forward to the unknown
Which has pretty much an equal chance
Of being fantastic
Or an utter disappointment

There are some days that
Someone could tell you
Without a sliver of doubt
Tomorrow you’ll win the lottery
And you’d just shrug and walk away
Staring at your shoes

You used to say about your life,
Well,
At least it’s been interesting
But interesting has lost its shine
Interesting is lying somewhere in a gutter
Without it’s wallet or it’s dignity

And HOPE who used to lift you up
Is struggling to stay in the air
So many of her feathers lost
That when she tries to float
It’s more like a stutter
The bluest ones you loved
Were the first to go

No, you’re too tired these days
To love anything
Or anyone again
At least not with your entire heart
It seems insurmountable
Unlikely
Ridiculous

It’s an effort just trying to be useful
Trying to love someone
To find someone to love
Who will love you back
Without swallowing you whole
Or chewing you to pieces
From the inside out

No. That ship can sail on without you.
It’s too much work
You’ve been caught up in the rigging
Dangling high above the deck
Like a sorrowful kite
Hem tickling your ears
So many times
It’s no longer embarrassing

Just tiresome
Yeah
It might really be over
Time to hang your heart on a hook
In the foyer
Like that. dusty hat you always mean
To grab on the way out but forget.

You used to FEEL helpless
Now you KNOW that you are
It’s not a feeling you care for
You used to feel isolated
And now you contribute to your isolation
It’s a comfort you’ve come to resent

It’s funny
The things in life you think
Will surely destroy you
Only show you how resilient you are
It’s the little things
The ones you thought you could
Just shake off
That accumulate
A weighty poison

It’s the one you fooled yourself
Into thinking held no power over you
Who turned your heart into a desert
While you slept
Who made your bones angry and brittle
Who tapped the last of your strength

And tired isn’t getting any easier
It just takes you further away from the world
Passivity
At some point a decision’s got to be made
Or it will be made for you
By time and neglect

For now you live with insomnia
And cells and neurons at war with each other
Most of the time your eyes are dry
Surprise tears sting you blind
Often you feel like you are too close
To the edge of the precipice

Most days you feel like you are trapped behind a giant stone.
You can’t roll it away
It feels like every day of your life has been
A different view from the same prison

You can’t reconcile the dream
With the life
Or the things on your plate
Or the realization that you absolutely can’t
Do it alone
But you have to
Anyway

You still make little efforts with the half heart you have left
But all you want to do is sleep
Because Hope still flies in dreams
And has all of her feathers
The blue ones that can lift you up
And coax you to go further

-LM 2015