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Life: The Shape Of My Heart

Posted in bad ideas, blame society, family, fatherhood, randomness, shameless pandering, torch-passing on May 20th, 2013 by Hannibal Tabu
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As of this writing, I am at a medical facility, torso covered with electricity-enabled adhesives. I am told that I have a “ventricular arrythmia,” an irregular heartbeat based in the rough neighborhoods of my cardiac city.

WHAT? Yeah, it freaks me out too. I was among the healthiest people I know. No booze, no cigarettes, no red meat. Fairly regular walks and what have you. Fairly low sodium intake. Weird.

On Sunday, I got out of bed to get my youngest some almond milk. I felt my heart beating like it did when the regional spelling bee was on the line, but I had no immediate reason to be nervous. Ignoring it, I went about my day — lugging things down from the attic, packing, parenting, et cetera. Even saw a great Eccleston Doctor Who episode (I’m late to the party). At 11 PM, lying down to sleep, my heart jumped and jagged like a car engine that’s threatening to stall. I asked my wife to put her hand on it, causing her to run for the girls’ stethoscope. “You need to go to the hospital.”

Getting rushed past the waiting crowd was weird, but in I went for chest x-rays, EKGs and more to discover something, somthing that may have been there for years, was awry in the core of me. Something new, past the regular misanthropy and madness.

An overnight stay on atavan gave scant slivers of sleep. An afternoon angiogram is on the agenda, while my non-stop job will have to churn on without me, maybe for a month, if one cardiologist is to be believed.

SERIOUSLY, WHAT????? The bottom line is I’ll be okay. It’s very early detection, it’s “wholly fixable” and everybody here is treating it like a simple instance. I’ll be home with my ladies this weekend.

What’s funniest is that 90 percent of the things they thought would be the cause — smoking, fried foods, drinking, et cetera — were not relevant. My cholesterol and blood pressure are fine. Ditto blood sugar, and there are no signs of infections or foreign biohazards. Only worry — which I absorb through waves of second hand stress from half the people I know — stood as a red flag. I will have to try more exercise to offset the toxic energies floating around me.

Mostly it’s just a random accident of chance, the spin of some cosmic roulette wheel. Funny old life.

JUST IN CASE: There is a mathematically insignificant chance that something untoward might happen to me. If that’s the case, I want all my intellectual property turned over to Chinedum Ofoegbu (my wife has the passwords), and for his work on my work to be overseen by Vince Moore, Geoffrey Thorne and Brandon Easton. Any and all gross profits are to be divided evenly between my daughters, returning 45 percent of said profits to Ofoegbu, Thorne and Easton.

Not that any of us expect this to happen ..

DING! DING! DING! DING! DING! Since 1 AM, a loud chime from a Phillips Intellivibe heart monitr has relentlessly sounded whenever my heart does something unusual, or I think about …

  • my numerous writing deadlines, as I am poised on the precipice of greatness but with little time to achieve it
  • my day job
  • moving
  • money
  • making sure my daughters will be okay
  • making sure my overworked wife will be okay
  • why the end of the modern Battlestar Galactica sucked SO MUCH!

… as it does now. A head-splitting reminder of my inability to relax. 20 percent charge on my iPad, heading for traffic and dye in my arteries, I’m just trying to breathe easily and become still waters, so I can flow to refresh my wife and daughters — and hopefully you — for many decades to come.

… BUT IF ONE WERE SO INCLINED … If you have a jones to do something to help me, you could use the Gumroad link and buy copies of my novels, The Crown: Ascension or Faraway, as most of that money goes right to me (well, right into feeding my kids anyway). If you own it, buy a copy for a friend. All good.

Now, to try to get Netflix going on my phone …

Playing (Music): “I’m Ready” by Tracy Chapman

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Poetry: Anedge Hirak Dwight Johnson (also known as D. Black)

Posted in creativity, culture, family, fatherhood, gratitude, poetry, writing on August 16th, 2012 by Hannibal Tabu
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Dwight “D. Black” Johnson died on Tuesday, August 14th of complications surrounding heart disease. Survived by two children, a wife, a brother and a sister, he … you know what? Screw the prelude, here’s all I need to say about him.

Dwight "D. Black" Johnson, 1959-2012

The hereafter went and got a little bit smoother ...

Twenty million
oppressive ultraviolet hammers
falling on your back.

Ain’t easy bein’ cool under summer heat.

Refrigerators asking for ice water.
Everyday challenges of
blacktop battlefields
hamstrings half-steppers
so frequently,
ain’t worth remembering names.

Dwight motherf***in’ Johnson, now,
Mister D. Black,
he could side step with supernovas,
cut heat in half with one breath.
Fresher than condensation
on grandma’s glass of sippin’ tea,
he was old school
like a diamond in the back,
with a sunroof off.
We’re diggin’ a scene
that’ll miss his lean, ooh ooh …

Pick up your pens,
D. Black 101.
Please make no mistake,
if you’re hittin’ southside streets
or talking LA legacies,
yo ass needs to know about Dee Black up in here.
The Dee Black I knew,
spun around two axes
like twenty inch rims
on a deuce and a quarter.

D. Black was about these kids.
From ones he sired,
to helping orphans in need,
his sunglasses always saw tomorrow.
G’on and call Caltech or MIT,
find yourself a math whiz
wielding a super computer,
maybe they can help calculate
how many smiles he planted,
how many futures he improved.
Blazed a trail for me,
showed balance of art and responsibility,
giving back while getting yours,
all with perfectly pressed creases
and a brim free of dust or imperfection.
Example of one
who gave so much
to those who had less
will carry on, like his daughter
helping her little brother
with his tie on prom night.

He’ll be there,
even if y’all can’t see him.

Second thing,
maybe even what people knew more than anything else
was that D. Black was cool.
An ineffable sense of certainty
about who he was,
this implacable inner tranquility
exuding style and confidence
like long shoes he favored
or a Corniche rollin’ out of the car wash.
Whether Inglewood or Hollywood,
with ballers or busters,
you could find him at epicenter of everything,
posted up with something to sip
cooler than mornings in Anchorage.
Cutty mack, he’d say,
what Steve Harvey dreams about being,
never needing jewel studded showiness
of shuck and jive men on music videos.
Kept credibility in the hood
and respectibility for the northsiders,
incorporating young man slang
with old brother strut,
perfect synchronicity of swagger and class.
Everything he did spun out of that cool,
from poetry that gave Shakespeare some pimpin’
to shootin’ the sh** under street lights
to remembering that every goodbye ain’t gone.

We know he’s not gone.
Every time we brush that dirt of our shoulders,
he’s there with a smirk and an “mmph.”
Each shiny pair of gators
carries his blessing,
and every dude who ever steps smooth to a sister,
whether he’s trying to get with her or not,
has a hint of D. Black,
ready to fold her up
and put her in his pocket.
Leimert Park sidewalks embedded with his footsteps,
grafitti that won’t wash off,
you can’t paint over,
he’s here,
and we’re here,
and he wouldn’t want it any other way.

I’m not here to mourn.
This life is hard,
and D. Black had weight on his shoulders, too.
No, I’m here in gratitude,
wearing my nicest shoes,
giving my freshest respects.
We learned from each other,
we grew together in fellowship with words.
I miss him, sure,
I’m sorry he won’t see me side eyin’ his boy
when he’s checkin’ my daughter in a few years
but knowing he’s free from suffering,
ask me if I’m sweatin’ under sadness.
I’ll just smile, and say,
“nay … err …”

In the words of our people,
anedge hirak Dwight Johnson,
and thank you.

“His Sunglasses Always Saw Tomorrow”
For Dwight Johnson
By Hannibal Tabu

We’ve got to take care of ourselves, yo.

Watching (Hulu): The Booth At The End, “A New Reality

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Poetry: On A Road To Nowhere [#napowrimo2012]

Posted in bad ideas, creativity, culture, fatherhood, history, life, napowrimo, poetry, sadness, warfare on April 24th, 2012 by Hannibal Tabu
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Here we go now …


There’s no such thing as peace.

Rocket propelled grenades
sit next to breakfast bowl
play with 7.62 mm shell casings,
find blood splattered on street
four days out of seven.
More dead from fever and hunger,
less discriminating surge.

Baba fights the Americans,
Kalashnikov his companion
more often than mama.
Baba’s baba fought the Russians,
Americans at his side
more than his bride
whispered Pashto in his ear.

I am eleven years old.
I have never been kissed
by anyone not a blood relative.
I can make out
a passage or two of scripture,
know rustle of baba’s thick beard
and coarse clothes
when he hugs me,
taste of mama’s kahdoos.

Two years ago,
American soldiers
left a magazine near marketplace.
Kept it hidden for a month,
buried behind the house,
before daring to gaze upon
impossibly smooth skinned westerners.
Smiling and immodest,
shaven faced men,
like children, really
women’s bosoms in view.
They look like they’ve never known
bits of gravel in stew,
like they eat meat
less gamy than goat,
and not just on special days.
They look like relentless,
cloying smell of poppies
isn’t woven into every memory.

I don’t hate them,
fat and godless,
but I understand those who do.
I’m too hungry
to hate them.

At night,
sounds of shelling and screams
hopefully far from my pallet.
Wonder what nights are like
beyond hills of Sharobi,
where baby faced boy-men
sleep next to red lipped harlots
on endless pillows,
in safety,
in safety …
too busy tracking down survival
under unrelenting sunshine.

Mama tells stories
about golden days of Afghanistan,
days when quiet wasn’t frightening,
times of plenty.
Baba snorts
when she’s not around,
says we’ve always been
stop on somebody’s road
never wanting to be here,
always needing to control the way.

Baba says,
there’s no such thing as peace.

I don’t know about any of that.
I know sand and stone,
I know running and gunfire,
body parts and explosions,
prayer and waiting
for freedom even I don’t believe
will ever come.

”Jangi Shah: A Hymn For Afghanistan”
By Hannibal Tabu

Thanks to my wife Myshell for this idea, driving and listening to KPFK.

Playing (Music): “Sin City” by Sin City (Verbal and Icarus)

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