Thunder Speaks

The eruption of thunder seems to come from all sides. Lightening flashes, electric zig-zags along the sky. The dark room is briefly illuminated. Thunderbirds, flapping their wings. Have they come to speak to me? I already know the answer to that question. What have they come to tell me?

I don’t know, but I’m listening, giving close attention. Thunder was last night. This morning, I left the house at 6:30am to head out to San Francisco to give a talk to a 12th grade english class on hip hop, social institutions, writing, and identity. I arrived early and decided to take a walk around the city blocks. I knew the area somewhat, because the school is right down the street from KPOO, where once upon a time I hosted a weekly radio show.

I go down a street I’ve never been down before. There, in the middle of the sidewalk, on top of a metal grate: a dead bird. Perfect in frozen posture, no visible wounds, alone, forgotten, ignored. I pass it. I remember who I am, and go back. I pick it up and take it down the block to the park and bury it near a tree. I don’t know how you died, but I know how you will live on; in the dirt, with dignity and respect, free at last from the concrete, you will feed the people of the earth and live on.

It felt amazing to finally be back in a classroom after three months on pause. There’s a certain look that students make, when they start off completely uninterested in whatever is going on, and then slowly begin to realize that I am not a regular teacher. The presentation goes on, their interest piqued, they tune in, they are engaged. It’s in their eyes. Not all of them, of course; I have yet to do a classroom presentation where at least a few students weren’t passed out on their desks. Teenagers are notorious for lack of sleep, and sleep is crucial, so I take no offense.

The circle, the pyramid, the grids, the bones of the dead. The breakers, the DJs, the MCs. Children of the earth, our family, machine god corporations and the secret history of compulsory schooling. Daggers of flying knowledge; all hit some, some hit all. I get paid for this. God, as the muslims say, is truly great.

Back on the bus, then back to the screaming metal carriage, then back to the Town. I run into a friend I haven’t seen in well over a year, who I’ve been trying and failing to link up with for several weeks now. There he is, standing outside Oscar Grant Station, having a smoke and a phone call. “This had to happen,” I say. We catch up for a bit; life changes, work drama, narcissists, conspiracies, private business of the unseen chiefs. As we’re talking, here comes another friend I haven’t seen in months, and have been trying and failing to link up with. The gods work like appliances, said Ghostface Killah, and here we are—the universe moves to link her parts together.

I come home to an excited Thomas—where have I been? What was I doing? He hollers at me and sniffs me thoroughly. We have a nap together. I wake up, wash dishes, make dinner. I want to drink, as I want to drink everyday now it seems, but ceremony is on Saturday and it demands four days of sobriety. Thank the gods sobriety doesn’t include caffeine—I’ve got another early day tomorrow. But for now, I’m back at the kitchen table writing, working; Thomas dozes next to me.

Then, book editing. Then, comic drawing. Then… Daredevil season two!

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About DZAtal

The true and living
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