I grew up in East & West Oakland during a time when everyone treated each other like family. You knew your neighbors and you spoke, “whether you like them or not,” grandma would tell us.

We went outside to play, for hours we’d run and invent games, and imagine worlds. Sometimes, in the summer we’d play well past darkness; and we got dirty, sometimes we got hurt. At most a broken bone and a cool cast for schoolmates to sign and mark up with designs.

We existed in the simple pleasures of innocence and home; we ate at each other’s houses like different color cousins, sharing our cultures like the plates we held on our laps or on the floor in front of the TV, sharing laughter and Red Kool Aid….we ate good, popcorn made in the skillet with real butter at Mark’s house. His sister would always make sure we had extra butter and salt. We ate sandwiches so good they got names like the Dagwood, Carlos’ dad would pile meats and cheeses, slathered with mustards and sauces high like a sky scraper then cut it into enough pieces to share. Menudo, Gumbo, Lion Head Soup, bar-b-que of a thousand lands, cakes made with real milk, sugar, flour and heavy cream.

Even the runs to the corner liquor store were easy, the candy was a penny, and if you were fancy you could spend a few dimes and really come up. Lemon Heads, Boston Baked Beans, Alexander the Grapes, Red Vines, Sour Tarts, candy necklaces, a gigantic dill pickle, or a pickled pig foot; all in one bag? Yes.  But that was before the gluten came, and the meat got mad, and the sugar started giving us cancer because of the stuff we put in the air and the soil and on our food.

Remember, we use to play Simon Says, Mother May I, Duck Duck Goose, Red Light/Green Light, Hide and Go Seek, Jacks, Marbles, Tag, Touch football, Hopscotch, Double Dutch, Four Square, lob league, strikeout and raced against each other in the street? We only needed a stick to save the world from destruction. Now we need more than imagination to stop our country from playing deadly games with our lives for money and power, on a world stage. Three card Monty schemes, smoke screens, holograms, hide and go get it, the humping game, no wait, the trumping game with no marbles at all.

There was no need for bottled water; we drank from the water hose. There was no way anyone would knowingly sit up and poison millions of people’s water supply with lead. We watched cartoons on Saturday mornings, walked to the corner store and rode our bikes for hours without a cell phone. We weren’t AFRAID OF ANYTHING not even The Police. If someone had a fight, that’s what it was…a fist fight. Kids didn’t have guns when I grew up.

The street lights were your curfew. School was mandatory. We watched our mouths around our elders because we knew If you DISRESPECTED any grown up you’re gonna get hit with whatever was closest… then told on and the repercussions would repeat when you got home.

We understood the hierarchy of the Village, we understood mamma was law, and so was big mamma and anyone else’s big mamma too. We understood they would lay down their lives for us if need be. We understood the differences between right vs. wrong, knew what trouble would get you, and we were afraid to be bad. Too aware of our potential to want to get caught up in average; our imaginations carried us from day to day, for many of us, from year to year. Until we achieved our goals, until we made the impossible possible. Now we have movies to do that for us.

What have we made too easy?

What have we washed away for the sake of now?

Bring it back!                       Without it, we’ll die.

Leaves ©️2019

I’m moving with the wind
Getting thrown here and far
tossed in waves so gustful I lose my breath
Feet far from the ground I know

Unable to touch what was anymore

Holding into blind trust that I land in a better condition then when I took off
Praying that the air does something fast with my body because the thinness of these nights suspended
Is harmful
Emotionally interrogating
to the little oil I have left in my storehouse
But I’m out in the wind
making my cake with the little meal & oil I have left
Waiting on the promise to appear

Like the book of promises promised

Enough faith in this wind to embrace me
tight like a sensible swaddle

safety in the way of the tears

So I’m out here
Blowing in the wind
Expecting a miracle

First Day of Fire ©️2019

Creating cleaner more powerful words
Takes more than skill
It requires experiences
an understanding
of how to uncover diamonds
from mud and crap
and a capability to let go of entanglements
Sometimes ugly ones
Arguing over definition or interpretation
makes no sense
to be
More specifics,
                      within the word’s focus
Life exists
With Less fillers or frills
Concrete ajoinments of prefixes stronger than  ancient vibranium or onyx

suffixes surgically capable of splitting hairs.

Your vocabularies must reflect
your coursework in all of life’s books
An ability to not only master the class but teach the objectives and outcomes to Princes, Dignitaries, Monks and Heads of State
the entirety of what should be in you biography
the good –  the bad – and the shaking earth
The truth that
everything’s teaching your success
Your selections mustn’t waiver in the heat of
Scholarly philosophy and research
xenophobic dissection or
self-reflecting psychological change
Because your word will be precisely fixed in honest work

& winning!

Choose wisely
Think clean and strong.

Make magic.

My place as Man ©️2019

Standing in the light of wisdom
My place as man, made on earth by Father
To Father

Becomes clearer

We are your teachers
The ones who protect knowledge and understanding
The ones who pass the peace through stories, and lessons,
Sermons and great tall tales that tickle the souls of our feet
And make room in the midst of children to dream & explore imagination
To make the impossible possible through hard work and prayer
The ones who show us how to make a village a village

Honoring all inhabitants as necessary, vital and important

Standing in the light of wisdom

We are your protectors
The ones who set a standard for you,
What you will and will not accept,
the fence post around about you and at your back
your Greatest of all times and Heavy weight champions
The ones who didn’t go missing and stood in the empty spaces of your wounded heart
The ones who made baseball, video games and dress-up tea parties all okay in the lexicon of play time
The ones who made growing into oneself safe and easy
Soft & strong like the arms of a gigantic teddy bear won from the fair

Standing in the light of wisdom

We are your providers
The ones who showed you how to make room at the table
The ones who made room
The ones who moved the rooms, and hillsides, and mountains, to make enough money to meet ends
The ones who met ends for more than their own
The ones who out of nothing more than honor and loving for who God made them to be –
Whatever they had
To acknowledge the miracle of another of God’s creations to bloom
Without perceptions of the beasts in the world
More than money
We provide riches in how one faces the world head on
Against the rain and hard weather of continual inequalities, injustices, and slight
While still holding up your head,

Still standing with your back straight – praising on the inside while the tear falls

In the light of wisdom

We are your hiding place
The shoulder
The embrace
The time capsule of your heart
This in the light of wisdom is …My place as man, made on earth by Father. To Father.

What we wear ©️2019

It was before I knew me
Before I had any vision of myself
I walked in places carrying my cure in plain sight
On my sleeve
It wasn’t my heart
It was, but it wasn’t
It wasn’t truly mine
I wasn’t connected to my instincts
Wasn’t based in my foundations

But I didn’t realize the reflections were my own

On my sleeves
Wearing the wrong patches
Carrying old dust
wanting to change clothes like Dianna Ross
I wanted my dreams
But that was before I knew
Before I had any vision of myself

Survival Tactics ©️2019

To combat the cold
I made a list of my blessings

Hoping gratefulness will increase the fire in my belly

To combat the feelings
I read them outloud to myself
Remembering the accomplishments & rams in the Bush

The marvelous plans that could only be accomplished by blind faith and a willingness to say yes

To undig the holes
I shed tears of joy
during my greatest pain
releasing on paper the tormentors’ deeds
Remembering my desire to exist in a new gift
a peaceful place
So I made a list of everything I was
Everything I know
Everything I thought I knew

Everything waiting in the echoes of my prayers

It’s warmer now.
Frostbite leaking from my heart
Fingers catching feelings again

And the thoughts aren’t languished with bitterness from the numb anymore.

Make a list.
Let the fire burn away the pain.
Be grateful for the unfreezing work of praise and memory. Counting sheep will never equal counting the ways you’ve made it though!

No Slow Dancing Alone ©️2019

Rivers don’t dance on their own
They need a push
An active pulsation of electricity
Something capable of creating immense shockwaves

And circles

The strongest dance is always
Mutually feeding


And the waters never dance alone
They need
a friend
a strong partner’s hands to
hold up the truth in the body elastic
ever changing
always the same
forever frightening
because of the unknown moves
meant for improvisation

Desperately trying to get them right

But nothing dances alone
even when you are
somewhere someone else is answering
your river’s push and pull
there is always an answer
for every swayed and dipped questioning
there is a response

an equal and opportune reaction

So what do you expect from the rivers edge?
The outline of the experience
What is the meat in the middle?

What can we learn about dancing renaissance?

Very little resistance
Very little resistance

no resistance at all

Prof. Ramon S. Jackson, M.A., M.F.A.
Consultant* Ed. *Cmty Planner* Artist
Co-chair & PLWHA at Large –
Oakland TGA Planning Council
R. Shawntez Jackson, M.A. / M.F.A. is a native of the Oakland California, receiving his duo Master Degrees from San Francisco State University in English and Playwrighting 2018. An award winning poet, playwright, spoken word artist, actor, educator, community planner, consultant, radio personality, host, AIDS advocate and father of a program focused on empowering disenfranchised communities via creative expression, education and dramatic social justice performance presentations. He is described as a vivid story-teller creatively framing and displaying some of the best and worst details of love, relationships, religion, sexuality, gender, and life on the margins; with a voice that will sooth & captivate your mind

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