I am Racist

We were driving down the highway

Me on the steering wheel

You next to me

I see your face freeze

As my sister from the back

Merrily touches your hair

Grabbing into it, massaging your skull

“It really feels like sheep’s’ wool!

You’re our family’s little black sheep, sweetie!”

It painfully reminds me

Of how I learned

That I was racist,

Too

 

When we first met

I used to tell you:

“I don’t think Germans are racist.”

And specifically, I wasn’t racist, of course.

We don’t really have much of a history with Black people in Germany, do we?

What are even the stereotypes we hold of Blacks?

I couldn’t see any issue.

 

Racists are those Americans

Where policemen shoot Blacks without proper reason

Or the South Africans

With their long history of Apartheid

 

But with time

I learned to understand the kind of racism

That left scars in your heart

Because racism

Isn’t just the punch in the face

The angry yell

Or the shot of a gun

 

Racism is

The hundred unthoughtful remarks

The curious gazes

And the closed doors

That you encounter

Solely

Because of the colour of your skin

The frizzy hair

The full lips

 

Racism is

When I say:

You dance so well

You got the rhythm in your blood

Probably from your tribal festivals

 

Racism is

When the photos I bring back home

Portrait only the mud huts of the Massai

But not the skyscrapers of Nairobi

 

Racism is

When I say

You’re so good in bed

Much more driven by your instincts

Wild, like an animal

 

Racism is

Anything, really

That feeds stereotypes

Tells the same old story

Of Africa as the uncivilised continent

With people close to nature

Not quite

So head-driven like us

Not quite

So materialistic like us

 

Cause in the end

What does that mean?

Underdeveloped, underprivileged and less intelligent

Just put in a different way

 

Ignorance is bliss

They say

And ignorant

Are those who are unintended racists

Ignorant of the pain they cause

 

The catch 22 is this:

The ignorant doesn’t know about his ignorance

 

I was ignorant

And I learned my lessons

Through exposure

Through discussions

 

The world will only become a less racist place

If everyone

Who is racists without intend

Gets the chance to learn their lesson

Learns

That even well-intended, even curious remarks

Can cause another scar

 

Awareness can only happen

By making what may seem obvious

Visible to those

Who don’t see it,

Yet

 

(Painting: Sam Spratt)

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Natural Spectacle

When I’m mad, I’m like a storm

In the evening of a hot summer day

My angry voice

Like thunder

Awakes the neighbours

Makes people shudder

Vases, like lightning, hit the ground

Smashed

 

My lust a humid day in the jungle

My arms like lianas

Wild and untameable

Grabbing what they long for

The smell of plants and the earth

The song of birds, the roar of a feline

All senses focussed

Sweat dripping down the body

Addictive intensity

 

My sadness is like the monsoon

In a big Indian town

It pours and pours

and won’t stop

Mascara runs down my cheeks

Like the splashes of a dirty puddle

On a white summer dress

The vortex of misery

Is sweeping down the streets

 

We are two

You and me

I’m like the seasons

Change is unavoidable

Hope and fear, love and hate

I try them on and let them pass

Like the leavy dress of a tree

They come and go

 

But you

Are not a fan of seasons

When the thunder hits your ear

You say I’m dramatic

The heat of the jungle makes you drowsy

And you want to move back to colder climates

The running tears of the monsoon

Leave you overwhelmed, soaked and uneasy

 

I’m too much for you

You say

You’d be much better off

In a stable climate

Composed and understanding

Like sunny California maybe

 

But I can’t help myself

I am what I am

With all the intensity

With all the brutal force

And with all the passion

 

I wish

You could be a caring witness

And provide a space

For me to go through my emotions

 

Natural spectacles aren’t about you

They are about myself

I don’t demand a reaction

I demand acceptance

Embrace the authenticity in it

Embrace me as I am

 

Painting: Henri Rousseau

Your Choice

Here’s the thing with pain

It is like a spider,

Weaving its net around you,

So tight that you lose your breath,

Can’t move

It’s like a scorpion,

Pushing its poisonous sting into you,

Racing heartbeat, shock

It’s like a boa,

Absorbing you with its massive jaws,

Eating you alive

 

But then it’s not,

Because you’re in charge

It’s up to you to end it at any point

 

You can decide to see it not as pain,

But as a challenge

An opportunity for growth

 

Marcus Aurelius once said:

“Choose not to be harmed -

and you won’t feel harmed

Don’t feel harmed -

And you haven’t been ”

 

So why would you ever decide to feel harmed?

Instead of choosing strength?

 

It’s the habit of suffering,

That we are so used to

The momentum of pity,

That drags us along

And jumping off that high-speed train

Of misery

Seems daring

Almost impossible

 

We know

That the jump will set us free

Yet we decide to be

Captured by the spider

Stung by the scorpion

Swallowed by the boa

 

Again and again

We cry

We sob

We moan

 

Instead of choosing liberty

Which is a present reality

At any point

Open to us to embrace

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Climax and Abyss

Naked skin. Perfect intimacy, yet so far apart.

The side of my face tightly pressed against your chest.

Kaboom… Kaboom… Kaboom…

“Isn’t it crazy”, I say to you “that our life depends on the rhythmic cramps of this one big muscle in our chest? How the “person” inside us is just gone, when it stops beating?”

I imitate the pumping of a heart with my tiny fist.

Clench, release. Clench, release.

“Mmmhh”, you answer.

 

I shut up.

I know it’s not exactly a chatty moment, but I like the comfort I get from thinking aloud about topics that distract me from my deeper worries.

Your smell has changed since you came to my house.

From a fresh herb garden and the sea breeze running through the leaves of a coconut palm

To the scent of an angry tiger, moist and acidic.

 

Ain’t we a match made in heaven?

You tell me your past and I feel you’re talking about myself.

The struggles you went through, the decisions you took.

Your conscious effort to be more than what you were conditioned to be.

The choices you make and your reasoning behind it.

The relationships you foster and the freedom you are fighting for.

The freedom you demand, the freedom you give and the freedom you discover in the nature of being.

The sentences I start and you finish, the co-creation of understanding simplicity.

 

You clear your throat.

My attention switches back to the present moment, the bed we lie in.

Bliss and embarrassment collide.

So close, so far apart.

The pressure of expectation, the cosiness of your arms and the disenchantment between us.

I wanted you, didn’t I?

When we got to know each other, I wanted you, didn’t I?

When you hugged me, I wanted you, didn’t I?

When you kissed me, I wanted you, didn’t I?

When you ate me, I wanted you, didn’t I?

When you stepped out of bed to grab a condom, I wanted you didn’t I?

 

Lust is a fragile bond.

Triggered by the mysterious,

kindled by spontaneity,

inflamed by wanting gazes and welcoming touch.

 

Lust is a fragile bond.

Shaken by doubt,

Hit by reason,

Extinguished by worry.

 

A match made in heaven,

You’re my mirror.

In our aspirations as much as in our hesitation.

In our spiritual climax as much as in the erotic abyss.

 

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One Love

 

Once upon a time,

I fell in love with a man

 

He was like the moon

His silver light calming my thoughts

Silent attraction, like a tidal force

Moving inner oceans

 

He was like my father

Considered and knowledgeable

He could explain the world to me

The history of foreign lands

And the origin of species

 

Both feet firmly on the ground

Worldly,

yet inspired by utopia

A rational poet,

a romantic scientist

Cultured and sophisticated

 

Once upon a time,

I fell I fell in love with a man

 

He was like the sun

His burning heat kissed my cheeks

Bright joy

Made me dizzy, gave me calenture

 

He was like my mother

Sensuous and intuitive

A creative soul,

seeing beyond the visible

Breaking down the walls of my preconceptions

 

His head in the clouds

Quixotic,

yet making a change in people’s lives

A poetic fighter,

a rebellious artist,

Indomitable by societal norms

 

Once upon a time,

I asked “who am I?”

If I can find love

In two men with qualities so far apart,

Identify with all my heart

With such disparate worlds?

 

I’m a nighthawk in the moonlight

A seagull in the sunshine,

I’m my father’s daughter,

My mother’s child

Many different worlds unite in my chest

 

Identity is complex,

It changes, confuses

Why even try to define its boundaries,

if love can show me oneness of contraries?

 

(Painting by Rene Magritte)

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Breaking Bridges

 

My heart is longing for you,

dreaming, hoping. 

Seeing you from afar,

living through all those fantasies

Of us together, happy, after all

 

Living in a continuum of "what if” and “when finally”

Surviving on a diet of well kept memories

 

Sweeter than honey, almost too sticky

When I look at photos and I see this perfect couple that we seem to be

Watch us in videos, so fond of each other

 

But then the reality looks different

The reality is a life on my own

A waiting state 

As if I got lost in the large halls of King’s Cross station

Straying around

Scared that my train has left without me long time ago

And I am just too ignorant to notice that it really has 

 

Sweet bits of memory, 

But what lies in between, really?

I’m putting myself on hold, 

Preserving my precious love for the few occasional moments I spend with you

Are we even on the same page about our love?

I thought so, but then we weren't

 

My sweet dreams clash with how you really are,

Not just my lover, but a lover of women

Someone who doesn’t put his life on hold, just to make the memory of me more precious

But somebody who actively lives his life in between our occasional adventures

And yes, that may be a healthy thing to do

 

But we don’t get to choose where our heart takes us

At least I would not have chosen being stuck in a love 

That feels so intense and so pointless at once

That makes my thoughts go round and round

The same drill everyday

 

These thoughts which are an interplay

Of burning hot and freezing cold 

So intense that I sometimes scream into my pillow,

Scream so loud that my mind is muted

Silence

For a second, at least

 

Ups and downs,

Hate and love

Breaking free from you in one moment

And pledging my eternal loyalty to you in the next

 

Typing down emails full of accusations for the pain you make me feel

And never sending them

But a goodnight kiss instead

 

You want me to be easygoing 

Forgiving 

Trusting

But see, I’m not

My morales are too high to be able to make peace with betrayal

And my intellect too sharp to ignore the flaws in your stories

The dates that don’t match, the numbers that don’t add up

 

I have become jealous, resentful 

I have not chosen to go to this inner place

but the whirlwind of our relationship 

has led me into parts of my soul that I never wanted to see

 

This intensity, these ups and downs,

When will they be over?

I picture you holding me in your arms, tightly 

Calming me down,

saying “Now your heart is safe”

But even believing your words is not an option anymore

Too many times have they misled me

 

What can I do to find peace,

Tell me, what can I do?

 

(Photo: Tanja Schomann)

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La Tristesse de l'Automne

The air is so cold that I shiver.

The silence is so suffocating that I feel dizzy.

 

It's a dilemma where the borders of love, attachment and freedom have become blurred,

Where joy and pain seem inseparable.

 

There is a thin line between fighting for something special and clinging to a lost dream.

How do you know on which side of the line you are standing?

 

(Photos: Tanja Schomann)

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Akzeptanz

This time is about...

... letting it evolve instead of pressing it into a shape.

... forgetting the idea that I know better what's good for you.

... saying goodbye to images that I created in my head.

... saying hello to reality.

 

Being instead of making.

Freedom instead of attachment.

Accepting instead of cursing.

 

(Sculpture and photos: Tanja Schomann) 

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Forced to Fly

I used to be a butterfly,

I used to move freely in the world,

From town to town,

Country to country,

Wherever the wind would take me

 

Sometimes I would rest for a while in somebody’s palm,

Take a breath,

Share some moments,

But I wouldn’t stay,

Because butterflies need to fly.

 

One day a man’s palm felt like more than a roadhouse to me,

It felt like a home,

I would still fly out into the world,

But I was always eager to return to him,

To his warmth and his shelter.

 

But he knew better than me,

He saw that I was a butterfly.

He didn’t even see my dreams,

Of resting in his palm forever,

My boredom with flying.

 

And then, when the breeze turned into a storm,

He failed to keep me safe.

I couldn’t hold onto his opened hand,

And the wind blew me away,

And here I am again, flying like a butterfly.

 

(Painting: Jackson Pollock)

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What is Real Anyways?

Oh child,

When I look at you,

I see this trusting look in your eyes,

How you believe someone will catch you

When you fall

 

Oh child,

When I hear you play your guitar,

I can see your ambition 

Your ambition to be just in the now

Live the moment

No need to plan

 

I see it from afar

It is not my world

My world is full of commitments

Of deadlines

Of requirements and obstacles

 

Who’s right? 

Who’s wrong?

And who’s competent to judge?

 

I see my world creeping up from behind

Seizing you

Stealing your innocence

Cracking your confidence

Or was it just naiveté anyways?

 

These worlds make my head dizzy

My heart heavy

Am I bringing you closer to reality?

Or further from creativity?

Spoiling or strengthening you?

 

Who’s right? 

Who’s wrong?

And who’s competent to judge?

 

(Painting: Rene Magritte)

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