Tag Archives: struggle

Affirmations for my Lost, Abandoned, Misunderstood, Marginalized, and Openly Ignored Tribesmen:

Marvin Gaye, 1971:  What's Going On

Marvin Gaye, 1971: What’s Going On

Berry Gordy told Marvin Gaye to not release “What’s Going On”. He told him it would ruin his career. Can you imagine someone telling you the greatest work of your life is not worthy? Could you imagine if someone said that about your children?

Elia Kazan refused to help Barbara Loden make her brilliant “Wanda” – which, in 1970, was ‘the first feature film written, directed, and starring’ a woman which was made independently and won the Venice Film Festival. Kazan was jealous, infuriated I suspect. I am convinced his refusal to have a beautiful woman who could write and direct better than he could – around him contributed to her breast cancer, of which she died of four years later…

Barbara Loden's "Wanda"

Barbara Loden’s “Wanda”

Carl Theodor Dreyer’s original cut of his “The Passion of Joan of Arc” was found in a closet of a Norwegian psychiatric hospital in 1981.  It is widely regarded as Dreyer’s masterpiece.

John Cassavetes first cut of “Shadows” was found in NYC MTA’s Lost and Found and the man who took it – only screened the film to see if it was original pornography. Eventually Ray Carney acquired it (much to Gena Rowlands’ dismay. She always said Cassavetes had dis-avowed the 1957 version, in favor of the second draft he edited in 1959.)

Vivian Maier’s lifeworks as a photographer was never assessed, seen, or appreciated until after her death in 2009. She was perhaps the penultimate Outsider Artist. In the Emily Dickinson sense. In fact, a year prior to her death John Maloof shared some of her work oline via Slattery: the premiere of her work! She is now regarded as one of the most compelling photographers of the 20th century. None of the people she was intimate with or whom she worked for ever knew she was an artist.

Vivian Maier, Self-Portrait..

Vivian Maier, Self-Portrait..

Lesson? Be careful of what you create, what you leave behind, and be aware of the possibilities lurking. Sometimes you have to look in the opposite direction to find what may be truly holy. Make dangerous choices. Stick to your guns.

Only you know what it is that you are doing.

*

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So Much Beauty to Offer, But too Ugly To Move

Just remember to write, tuck the face, face the soul

Until the foul
Erodes

Like the million splintered tiny silver angels that floated on that morning when everything changed.

Receive the vision so you may heal the tribe
Write the stories only if you feel the vibe
But don’t outsource your soul

Not everyone
Can have
An Elephant Man

so stay down in the trench and come up just once when night appears
or the day the sun has decided to make you his ally.

 

"A Kangalee Mourning" [photo by Nina Fleck, 2009]

“A Kangalee Mourning” [photo by Nina Fleck, 2009]

*this poem was originally published in the Outlaw Poetry Network

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Another Revolt, The End of Song, No More

Another Revolt, The End of Song, No More

My latest “haiku” had the honor of being published in the Poets Basement section of “Counterpunch,” a wonderful Left wing publication. 

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A Message on 125th Street, Harlem NYC (2011)

A Message on 125th Street, Harlem NYC (2011)

She was a quote whore and had legs like a seagull, beautifully bent as if awaiting take-off, eager to follow the visiting ships. We’d wheeled hypnotically for hours at a time once before in different corners of the world, often flapping in a cul-de-sac of frustration. I had learned of her through a truncated message tossed from a virtual skyscraper and tried my best to reciprocate.

I’d spent the better part of my life on the wing, but my wandering had slowed when too many of my fellow searchers were snared in world wide webs devoted to no one but the faceless spirit of the machine.

She sat like a beautiful Spider Monkey cross-legged on volcanic stone, waiting at the wall.
I caught a glimpse of her from above and behind, through the scalding chinks of the coppers’ chains and the dimmed windows of their Chevy Impala. There were crumbs and old newspapers and a crushed coffee cup kept rolling back and forth under the passenger seat. They picked me up for rolling a cigarette outside of Central Park – I wasn’t even smoking, I was just rolling it. They said I broke the law and was loitering and would have to be booked and they said they had witnesses. They drove around for a while and went back to the park entrance where they snagged me. My cigarette was still on the cobblestone. They asked around if anyone had seen me rolling the cigarette. The hotdog vendor just stared at them. He must have thought it was funny.
They shoved me back in the cruiser. Now they were pissed. They drove a bit, then laughed as they blared the siren and slapped me around a bit. I wanted to fight back — but if my fury had gotten the best of me I’d never make it to the wall.

They beat me so badly, a couple of the dead mariners’ souls’ tumbled out of me spilling onto the corroded seats of the car. I began to wonder if they would turn my feet into tobacco pouches.

— from “The Albatross Wall” (2009)

The Albatross Wall

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All the Good People I Know

All the good people I know are defeated.
Soar
-ing
into themselves,
deep and lonely –
especially the voices stuck inside an echo chamber,
a poet’s words bouncing back and forth,
back
and –
one can’t constantly
turn
oneself on
and yet
if it weren’t for the
dispossessed dreamers,
the unreconciled romantics
hovering
cold
within
that bear mountain
tavern
of a lonely head,
a near-ghosted spirit –
well then,
no beauty would ever
stand a chance,
no flower
would ever be bold
and crazy enough
to bloom
amidst
the ghettos
of the soul.

(c) 2013 by Nina Fleck

(c) 2013 by Nina Fleck

*

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You ever wake up in the morning and have about five things wrong with you, but you just lay in the bed (or whatever you use to make a bed) staring out into the grainy space in your dark room and try to figure out which problem to deal with first? Such as: should I go to the bathroom first before I get nervous about having not paid rent or should I put socks on now before I touch the floor cause it’s cold and I can’t afford to get sick? – well the General woke up this way every morning. And his days were long agonies into the depths of his innumerable problems, with no end in sight no meaning no tags no order. Riddles that could not be solved. How is it possible to continue living when you actually do know the outcome of what it is you are doing. You don’t know what it means, but you know how it’s going to end. I ask you: How is it possible? How can it be that every fear does come to fruition, but the harm, the pain can’t and won’t go away? The cruelty in the room alone was breaking his very will to move, think, or breathe. His feelings, his imagination. And he always thought he was tough. But a tough person is just a supersensitive person inside out. The world – or at least their system in it – didn’t care if you were tough. It was more interested in what you were willing to give up.

— from “Where Ladybugs Go to Die” by Dennis Leroy Kangalee, (c) 2006

*

You Ever Wake Up and Have About Five Things Wrong With You…

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If I Really Cared

if i really cared i wouldn’t write a poem, i’d fold myself up and bleed into the night,
finding a more environmentally conscious way to commit suicide
at least i’d have honor.
Honor from a pair of eyes above

if i really cared i wouldn’t toss and turn, i’d give it all up into the barrel of a gun that could
destroy us all, why not — leave something for future atoms and molecules to reconsider,
something for another race to ponder and learn from

if I really cared I’d send my heart to the government – since they already have my soul and
hope that in my death they could finally be one

if i really cared i’d go back to those 4AM moments when i was 24 and at the height of
imagination and anger and bravado and beauty and i wouldn’t try to kill myself,
i’d try to kill the time that was stopping, the past and future tenses bumping and grinding away
from a center that would surely burst
into the absence of a cell phone discussion or a truly final black midnight summer

if i really cared i’d offer myself up, not because i am important but because i am NOT important
and must face that there are others more important,
yes i’d admit that perhaps there were people or ideas or dreams worth dying for

if i really cared i wouldn’t be a romantic
i would be dead

who can breathe and stand to live among the willful ignorant and the fuzzy frightening conscientious stupidity deemed important
by our newsmen and leaders.
If i really cared they’d be the first to go

if i really cared i’d make sure there was no past so that there could be nothing to learn for a future
that was rooted in today
and wonderment
if not
a beautiful mystery
called
progress

*

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The author at Brecht's grave, Berlin, 2006 [Nina Fleck]

The author at Brecht’s grave, Berlin, 2006 [Nina Fleck]

It was the type of beauty that makes an artist jealous or an atheist create a religion.

The woman’s face seemed to say “Handle With Care”. Her features were etched with a loving poise as if the brush across her face said to its own bristles: “Check this out.” Her lips had the sculpted and untouched look of a marble statue or a grandmother’s china set. Majestic, but almost too sterile. But so real that you knew if you touched it, you could break it. The delicacy of her face hosted a pair of bright cavernous eyes. They seemed deep and endless, a Xanadu unto herself. And just as lonely, perhaps. Her hair waved and nestled around her head. And her collarbone, too, seemed unloved and therefore all the more inviting. Her breasts hung and bobbed naturally, barely hidden beneath a thin wisp of loose cotton. The Maestro’s mouth twisted dumbly and his eyes ached. He felt bad about every negative comment he had ever made about women. Or life.

He watched her cross the street and saw the poetry in her gait, her bent head, tired arms. What he had always read about in dance books is what this woman was. The purity of her movement–was a great deal to take because it championed the “Beauty of a Better Tomorrow” philosophy in today. Her demeanor was confident, but mortal. And her curved marble lips were not pursed for her victim; they were curled up for grace. A shift of one minor muscle and it would have read as a smirk. All that beauty, like the blanket of stars at night, swimming through this sea of contempt, unpleasantness, and bitter digitized Eleanor Rigby’s of the world.
Seen, but not valued.
Hated because it lived and breathed.
Scorned because she was beautiful, but not wealthy.
Single, but not lonely.
Happy, but not ignorant.
And it was in the way she bent down to adjust her shoes that the trembles started and pain swelled…

He had to do something; he was still dizzy from his episode minutes earlier. He sucked on his dwindling saliva and hummed. Her tiny ballet shot adrenaline-razors through his veins.

Her shoes: tattered, worn, and dejected. But treated like the hands of Moses. She was so casual that it frightened him. The cardboard around her feet were folded and molded like moccasins. The shoestrings were made of wire like un-done hangers. If it hadn’t been for sanguine stretching for August, the stitches, like crimson thorns stuck in benign berry–he would have never noticed…And that is what continued to pain him.
Her refusal to crumble in between the pitied streets of a broken cabaret city and a metropolis frozen in spirit, caught between two different chords–minors and majors clashing and bending like fists in a boxing ring twirling with the sprays of sweat drooling on the grooves and in between the rich peoples’ collars, made him sad. And he looked and he could feel the threads of yesterday’s train pulling and hooting at some lonely distant region of his brain. Her old fashioned elegance reminded him of those black and white movies from the 1940’s and instantly his parents, who always appeared larger in his memory, came to him with comforting compassion and an immense yard of broken TV’s, each gripping its thwarted dream…

He revolted when he imagined the pain of her footsteps,–but like everyone else with a battered soul, shot nerves, and no hope–all he could do was stare and stand motionlessly. At least he gave her full attention. She removed all her clothing and ejected a rolled up ball of tissue in between her legs to help stop Aunt Rosa’s mighty flow. Sadder than an unemployed man’s footprints in the snow on New Year’s Eve.
Sadder than a subway ride on a Sunday afternoon.
Sadder than people who believe that hunger isn’t murder.
Sadder than a last minute pack or an eviction notice in the strange cool air of the summer solstice.
Sadder than a cemetery with gum on its fence.
And sadder than the boys who know who their fathers are–but have no desire to be like them.

*
— from “The Maestro” (2006)

Sad Days For Free (or: Homeless in Berlin)

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Sarah & Cecil Stole Romeo & Juliet’s Getaway Car

“Tramps For Life, episode 3”
(Or: Even Rebels Get Sad When They Have to Be Bad but all in all there’s nothing worse than having Jungle Fever on the road, broke and homeless, and trying to up the ante)

N.Fleck/D.Kangalee, 2006

N.Fleck/D.Kangalee, 2006

— heard.
Outside,
the cold rain
pours down
and beats
relentlessly
upon the roof of the car.
The car that is not yours.
And your homeless heart flinches in that way only a newly-dispossessed person’s heart flutters and aches and cold-lip-dry-mouth-cracked-chapped hands open the passenger door, but you notice – on the floor, under those worn out boots barely covering your feet which you are nervous has caught an infection – a text, a crumpled magazine…and the printed word on that filth, the alignment and the rhythms, calm you…Because they were written by someone even more destitute than you and you no longer have to dread and shudder your way three stops on the N train amidst Hipsters who come from some place no real New Yorker has ever heard of, and yet your ignorance bounds you…But you read the text and you realize it is just the thing to read when you are in someone else’s bathroom and the floor is cold and you cannot complain because it is not your home, and you wonder where your home went and how it came to…
*
You tried.
You did everything possible without breaking any laws, yet every moral code that you ever tried to live by has been left shattered and torn.
Your reputation – skids marks under Cassio’s heel; your name has been warped and twisted like the heart of a Judge who refuses to resign.
You ask yourself why? And you see fleeting images of who you could have been and phantasmagoric duplicates of you and your lady and yet you wonder…what was the sin?
Like the disabled and the forsaken, you, too, cast an eye up to the sky in hopes of an answer…There is no answer. The answer was known, was given – long ago.
And it is not his or her or their fault.
It is some
perverted
joke.

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The Best Minds of My Generation

Ginsberg wrote: “I saw the best minds
of my generation destroyed by
madness,
starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo
in the machin-
ery of night…”

But not me.

No,
I saw the best minds of my generation
resist their true insanity
and give up their imagination to Dead Steam.
The best minds of my generation are writing poems, but not sharing them
The best minds of my generation are not on the picket line, they’re being trampled by them
The best minds of my generation do not want to occupy
The best minds of my generation have a hard time ordering a cup of coffee
The best minds of my generation have no desire to follow idols
The best minds of my generation stay indoors or inside, off-the-grid, or out of bounds
The best minds of my generation are not being supported by grants or parents
The best minds of my generation create unheard symphonies and daydreams that would put a long-gone Maestro to shame
The best minds of my generation can’t seek some spiritual fix cause they are too busy remembering pin codes
The best minds of my generation aren’t interested in owning anything but their own lives
The best minds of my generation are caught between beepers and iPhones
The best minds of my generation mourn for all we already could not accomplish
The best minds of my generation no longer ask Why, but How?
The best minds of my generation realize that a man not offended by anything will stand for nothing
The best minds of my generation know that the pen is mightier than the sword
The best minds of my generation are not lost, they are simply…not found
The best minds of my generation don’t see their own potential & therefore they cease to imagine
The best minds of my generation don’t understand their times because they are not creating them
Instead, we’re willing to become like every other part of the universe and give up our identity –
desperate
to join the parade
The best minds of my generation could be beautiful –
If they could only see themselves
If they could only pause
& accept the failed status quo –
Infinitely being hurled at them
With the terror
& grace of a runaway train
& the tremor of the other poet’s great maxim: “The best lack all conviction.”

*

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