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Short Attention Span

As I watch the news, the press conferences, the tears, the outpouring of support, the prayer for the families, the empathy and compassion of the American people, I am both happy and sad at the same time.  I’m happy, because for the time being we are engaged, concerned, desire to do better, be better, a little more cordial toward one another, more loving, more spiritual, and more humane in general.  These tragedies, while hard to stomach, each give us a glimpse of the America we could be.

I’m sad, because I know this humanity that we flash after each tragedy will not last.  I’m sad because I know by the end of the year our attention will shift back to the fiscal cliff, New Years parties, Scandal, reality TV, or some other escape that we turn too when we’re tired of being compassionate.  I’m sad because I know that after showing glimpses of the America we can be, we’ll go back to being the America that we are.

The latest tragedy made me dig up an excerpt from an old poem I wrote a few years ago.  The poem still doesn’t have a title, but I call the excerpt Short Attention Span.

We
Come together
As a community
Speak words of comfort
To the mother we ignored
About the invisible boy
We never wanted to see

We
Hold candlelight vigils
In his honor
Cry on queue
Raise funds for the cause
Contact the media

We
Are drawn closer
To one another by
Compassion for the victim
and outrage
Over the violence
That has pierced a hole
In the bubble
Protecting our
Perfect
Little community

and then,
We move on
Distance ourselves
From the tragic memories
Of the invisible little boy
Who was prematurely killed
Senselessly

Put aside our
Compassion
For the mother
We ignored,
Then embraced,
and then left alone
To deal with the pain
Of her empty soul

Left her alone
To be tormented
By the dreadful thoughts of
Unseen smiles
Un-blossomed seeds
Abducted generations
Unfulfilled destinies
Stolen tomorrows
Dark dreams
and unrealized visions
Of what could have been

We move on
Transform our empathy
Back into cruelty
Just before forgetting
The mother we ignored
and her invisible son
and her tragedy
and her pain
and her loneliness
and the fact
That she stopped eating
Stopped going to work
Stopped praying
Stopped believing
and hasn’t moved forward
Since that tragic day
When her son’s life was
Stolen

We move on
Only remembering her tragedy
As a tool to quantify the horror
Of future tragedies
But we forget her pain…

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Loss of Words

I’m not at a loss for words, I just find myself saying the same words over and over again. Today like every other day my soul cries for broken hearted parents who find themselves unnecessarily burying their children prematurely. I feel like a murderer every time our society fails the innocents among us. I feel like a rapist every time innocence is taken from a child who awakes to the hopeless horrors and their dreams become forever tarnished. I feel like a hypocrite because every single time a tragedy happens, we become temporarily human, compassionate and caring, and kind. But like all tragedies before this one, the pain, compassion, and human kindness will go away as we retreat back into our self centered bubbles and argue about the principle of what should be, while life continues to be lost to the reality of what is. To say we have to do better is a gross understatement. But I’ll say it anyway because it’s the truth. We must do better if we want to have any chance at a brighter tomorrow. — Sean King

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Can’t Blame Her, Don’t Blame Me


I opened the door,
she stopped
looked
clinched her belongings
while getting in her
defensive stance
like she was going to
have to fight me off.
Can’t blame her,
they don’t meet too many like me anymore
“Gentleman”

I said,
“Hello. Good Evening.”
She shifted her head down
like she was throwing her body
into another gear,
you could hear the rhythm
of her toes pressing down
and her heels picking up
as she race walked past me
no eye contact
no response.
Can’t blame her,
they don’t meet too many like me anymore
“Hospitable”

I asked,
“Is this seat taken?”
Immediately
she flashed her engagement ring
from a ceremony
that never happened with
a boyfriend
she had left so long ago
he was barely a distant memory.

She responded
“I’m married.”

Not that I asked,
all I really wanted to do was
rest my feet.
Can’t blame her,
you have to be careful who you trust
there are a lot of unsavory characters
out there,
and besides
they don’t meet too many like me anymore
“Real”

We just met
natural connections
based on deep dialogue
and reflections
on life
love,
and what it means
to live in this world

Time flew
to the cha-ching of
light libations
fantastic conversation
kicked over a light melody
under the hypnotizing glow
of the moon

I offered to walk her to her car,
she paused
before grabbing her bags
looking me in the eyes
and saying
“I’m parked just up the street, I’ll be fine”
as she proceeded to walk away

Carrying with her
insecurity,
fear caused by a lifetime of history
with games, and
people trying to take advantage, and
men with ulterior motives
hidden desires
aggressive tendencies, and
rape

Can’t blame her
for wanting to take her chances
with the unseen monsters
of the dark alleys
rather than letting me into her space

I looked like the baggage she was carrying, and
even though the dark alleys had their danger
they weren’t as dangerous as the horrors she
had already come to know

Besides
They don’t meet too many like me anymore
“Brotherly”

I only saw her once more,
in the morning paper
a story of a lady
who never made it to her car

I vaguely remembered her name
but the eyes I saw in the photo
were unmistakable,
they were the eyes of the lady
I had met the night before
the sister I let walk to her car alone
my sister

Now I carry her memories like
gorillas on my back
those eyes,
her eyes
staring into my tortured soul
my emptiness

So don’t blame me
for holding the door open
or speaking
or conversing
or being real
or treating you like a lady
or offering to walk you to your car
or worrying about you

Just know that we all have baggage
and LOVE,
is a lighter load to carry
than the burden of what if
or what I should have done.