Alive & Ill

by Micah Bournes

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credits

released June 25, 2014

Sponsored by World Relief worldrelief.org
Recorded, Mixed and Mastered by E.M.J. of AlterBoy Productions alt-boy.com
Album artwork by Lindsey Taylor lindseydi.com

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Micah Bournes Long Beach, California

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Track Name: Born Ill
Elisha Rock Younger,
my nephew, 3 weeks old,
was born with several disabilities.
He can't speak, he can't walk,
he is emotionally unstable,
erupting into fits of rage
with no explanation.
He can't even control his own bowel movements.

There's no way he'll survive without the ever-present care and love of others.

The doctor said it could take
18 to 20 years until
he MIGHT be a fully
functioning person,
and even then, it's a huge maybe.
Some individuals born with his
affliction go their entire lives
and never quite grow out of it.

Adult in size yet clumsy in speech at best.
That handicap alone creates great
heartache and dangers.
And his feet may learn to walk,
but they'll often drag when they should march,
and run when they should stand in confidence.

The emotional instability is a deceitful
symptom of his condition.
It seems to level out during joyful childhood,
only to return with ferocious intensity
in the teenage years,
and often worsens until death.

Thankfully the
doctors are optimistic concerning his
digestive control,
if there is one thing most learn to
do well, it's crap.

But Elisha, beloved nephew,
you must accept the truth,
you were born ill,
you will suffer for life.

Yet there is nothing
you must endure that others born in
your unfortunate state have not overcome.

Believe that God exists.
Believe that Love can be.
For these...
For this...
For He, is the only hope of relief
from our hopeless disease.
Track Name: Confident Uncertainty
Life.
A nice, simple, life.

My dreams seemed quite attainable.
No grandiose fantasies of fame,
just me, a wifey-boo
a few chirrin and a steady
paycheck is all I wanted.
And I had a nice, simple, life-plan to ensure
I would become the man I’m supposed
to be but there was one thing,
I forgot to factor in; Life.

See somehow in all my preparation
I forgot to prepare for the things
you can't prepare for,
then all of a sudden someone
bust down my door
like popos at a crack house
and next thing I know
I’m on the ground with my
arms held behind my back
begging Death not to murder me
'cause I was sure it was he who had come
but a voice cried out
"No this is Life, son!"

Life?
Life get off me right now!
This is not part of the plan!

Then Life laughed and said, "Who told you that
you tell me what to do?"

I paused, and before I could respond Life answered
"Exactly, now, what you up to?"

"What am I up to?! I was trying to live
out my nice, simple, life-plan
until someone named Life came in
and started ruining my life."

"Ruining your Life? I am your life.
And I might not be what you
expected but difficult is not synonymous
with destructive, I'm not ruining anything.
And you might think your
nice simple plan got me
all figured out but
I'm only nice sometimes, I'm definitely
not simple, and good luck trying to plan for me.
So before you start with the accusations you better recognize
who you talking to. My NAME is Life, and you got me all riled up,
but I'm on your side.
So, you can lie here arguing with me for
the rest of me, or you can get up and we'll get outta here,
I suggest you choose quickly 'cause death is on
his way and we aint got time to waste."

"Ohhh my bad Life,
no disrespect,
but I got one question,
where are we goin'?”

Life grinned with confident uncertainty
as he walked by faith toward the open door,

Inhaling a deep breath of himself, he confessed,

"Only God Knows."
Track Name: Nine to Five
You know I love you mama
But I’m glad I didn’t listen
you wasn’t hatin'
you just couldn’t see what I given
tunnel vision
when you got somethin' you GOTTA do
don’t worry if others blind
to what heaven revealed toyou

See I, aint nothin special
not claimin' to be prophetic
just faithful with what I’m given
forever makin investments

never burying treasure
steady plantin' the seed
what’s a trunk full of paper
to a world full of trees

never chasing the fame
always chasing the dream
if you don’t believe in dreamin
then homie you don’t believe

“Thy will be done on earth
as it is in eternity”
we be dreamin the kingdom
till ghettos got gold streets

“Thy will be done on earth
as it is in eternity”
we be livin’ the kingdom
till ghettos got gold streets

Let’s do the math.
24 hours in a day, 8 of which we spend working, often more.
Meaning we fork a third of our lives
over to whatever we call a job.
Don’t get me wrong I aint hatin’ on
nobody wit a nine to five
but that’s too much time to spend doing
something that means nothing to you.
If you love your grind then keep on
grindin’.
But I’m speakin’ to those who did
everything right and still hate life.
I’m speaking to those who realized the
American Dream can be a nightmare.
I’m speaking to those with joyless success.
Who didn’t expect success to mean
workin’ a job they hate for several decades.
One that pays enough to take care of
the kids but takes so much time you don’t know them.
Who didn’t know success meant spending
the last twenty years of your life using up all the money you saved in the
first fifty.
Who didn’t know success meant safety,
and comfort,
and convention.
Taking no risks and doing what is
accepted, expected.
Having theoretical faith but making no
moves that might put it into practice.
If this, is success, then you can have
it. I’ll be free.
I still got some Peter Pan in me.
And that’s what God intended
cause Christ said the kingdom belongs
to those who become like children.
But we’re taught to grow up,
to stop dreaming, stop believing that things can change.
The world has a way of eroding our faith.

Our parents were hippies and black panthers
musicians and painters
dreamers and revolutionaries
in their younger days
and it’s scary to see how easy it is to
become an atheist.
To call hope naivete
faith ignorance
miracles trickery
deceit reality.

Vanity of vanities what does man gain
by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?

Who says what’s real when we’re so
superficial?
What is a real job in a fake world?

What is a real job in a fake world?
What is a real job in a fake world?

I don’t know…
Track Name: Mowgli's Confession
“Sometimes, I wish I woulda drowned right there in that bathtub, where my real mom abandoned me. The only reason I haven’t killed myself already is ‘cause I’m afraid.”

It was the first time I heard someone express a desire to commit suicide and I actually believed them. This was no flippant threat, more than melodramatic selfishness he was stoned faced serious, and fearful, not afraid of dying, afraid it might not work, like the last time he tried, when he was a boy, youthful, and full of life. He found his uncle’s long-neck shotgun, but the distance from the trigger to the mouth of the barrel was greater than the fourteen years of arm stretched from his temple to his fingertips. So he stood the gun up for a last dance, held her tight against his chest and pulled the trigger with his toe, but blew a hole through the roof instead of his head.

“When that happened, I got scared. I coulda shot half my face off, that would suck to live with half a face, you know.”

I didn’t know, I didn’t know what to do, or say, but I figured the worst thing I could do is say too much. So I spoke, slowly, choosing my words…not, wisely, but at least precisely and I even thought about calling a hotline or something, but this was my friend, why would
I put his life in the hands of a stranger, but what makes me think that I can save him, but I gotta try to save him, and suddenly I find myself speaking as quickly as my heart is beating and I don’t even know what I’m saying but it’s something along the lines of "I love you” in the manliest way possible, but if I wanted to kill myself, knowing my homie loved me wouldn’t be enough incentive to stay alive, so I reminded him that God loved him too, hoping the affection of his Almighty Creator might hold more significance than mine, and he’d been through some hard times and I wasn’t trying to minimize his pain but he needed to know that he isn’t the only one so I said

"bro don’t give up, my life sucks too,
and I love it, and I suck too, and I’m awesome."

And fifteen minutes later my mouth is still moving and I’m praying God would strike me mute ‘cause I tried to shut up but my tongue won’t let me and apparently I had a whole lot to say for someone who didn’t know what to say and I don’t even know if I’m trying to save him or myself because if he puts a bullet through his head anytime soon I will feel completely responsible and his blood cannot be on my hands you cannot kill yourself friend! Please.

I’m so glad you’re alive.
Track Name: As We... (Ft. Ethan Butler)
They say time is a healer,
but the clock has been ticking for years and I'm still broken.
After walking with a limp for so long I've grown fond of it.
It makes me hip, ya know.
People wanna know what's wrong, what happened, why I'm like this.
And I'm not bitter but I gotta answer their questions
so I tell 'em, I tell 'em what you did to me, I tell 'em how it still hurts,
I tell 'em how much I've had to overcome and ya know what?
They love me, they love me like you didn't, they tell me I was right,
I was a victim.
Even though I already know that it's nice to hear every once in a while.
I gotta remember I didn't do this to myself.
I gotta know it's okay to be like this.
It's not my fault.
I don't have a choice.
It's not my fault.
Why are you staring?
Have you heard my story?
You wanna know why I'm like this?
Okay if you insist I guess I can tell you but it's
kinda hard to explain without giving you the whole story see...

And I can't find the words to say
sweat drippin' heart racin' trying to explain
that I'm broken, I'm broken
and I'm scared, I'm bitter
and forgiveness is like
breaking down the walls that I'm holding up
so I give up
and I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine (woah)
and I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine

And some people say get over it.
Let it go, like I can just unclench my fist and release.
Like I'm not reminded by every other thing I see.
It feels like a sick joke, like the whole world is taunting me.
Conversations and images cause my heart to connect the dots
back to memories I wish to forget.
And people will never understand why I flip at the sight of Christmas lights.
And I've tried to forgive you but I don't know what forgiveness is besides
some theoretical decision to pardon your sins and never speak with you again.
You may be forgiven but I'm still broken, I'm still broken.
And I've sought counsel and they tell me It's okay to be broken but no it's not.
I wanna be whole.
I wanna be whole.

And I can't find the words to say
sweat drippin' heart racin' trying to explain
that I'm broken, I'm broken
and I'm scared, I'm bitter
and forgiveness is like
breaking down the walls that I'm holding up
so I give up
and I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine (woah)
and I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
thy kingdom come, thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses...
as we...
for... forgive us our trespasses...
as we...
a, as, as we...
forgive u, forgive us our tre...
as we...

I can't find the words
I can't find the words
I, I, I, I, I,
I I, I, I, I.
Track Name: There Goes The Neighborhood
“Would you like some more water?"

"Naw, I'm good."

"That's not what your parole
officer said.
Did you register when you moved into
the neighborhood?”

I couldn’t decide if he was a cold
racist asking a racist question,
or a friendly racist telling a racist
joke.

Either way, I was not amused.
But I laughed.

As the awkward chuckle passed through
my lips,
it tasted like The Eucharist,
like blood in my mouth,
my stomach churned as I imagined it
would if I ate human flesh.


I felt like Judas and Christ,
betraying myself then hanging in
silence as I’m crucified.

I wanted to prove him wrong

I wanted to stand up and list off
my
credentials in words with more
syllables than his
simple mind could take.

I wanted to prove him right

I wanted to stand up and fire off
hyphenated profanities
inventing new conjugations
for four letter words like
the dumbest nigga he done eva heard.

I wanted to prove him wrong

I wanted to leave and come back with
the black elite. A fleet of the
sharpest
darkest intellectuals he's ever seen.
Leaving tips large enough to buy out
this
business twice over

I wanted to prove him right

I wanted to leave and come back
with thugs and hoodrats
with chains guns and bats
burn this place to ash

But what did I do?
I laughed.

Then sat there silently.
Then ran home and wrote poetry?
Then screamed it out like I’m not a
coward?
Like I didn’t cry in front of my
computer screen?
Like I wasn’t waiting for my two white
friends to speak up for me?
Like I stood up for myself?
Like I did something?
Like I fought a revolution?
Like it wasn’t funny?
Like I didn’t laugh?

But I did.

And it tasted like The Eucharist.
Like blood in my mouth,
and I swallowed it.
Track Name: Always A Gift
Frederick Douglass’s mother was a slave.
Frederick Douglass’s father was a slave master.
Frederick Douglass was a bastard,
a result of rape,
the embodiment of pain, shame, the
offspring of injustice,
a life that should have never existed
but I think it’s safe to say we are so
glad he did.

Frederick Douglass, was an orphan.
Frederick Douglass’s mother died when
he was a child.
Frederick Douglass was a
bastard-orphan-slave child
Frederick Douglass had a life that some might
say he’d be better without.
Frederick Douglass was a criminal.
A law breaker, a runaway slave self
educated orator, author,
international abolitionist, advisor to
the president,
appointed U.S. Marshal
and champion of women’s rights.

Frederick Douglass was the only Black
to attend
America’s first Women’s Rights Convention.
1848 Seneca Falls, I quote,

"In this denial
of the right to participate in government, not merely the degradation of woman
and the perpetuation of a great injustice happens, but the maiming and
repudiation of one-half of the moral and intellectual power of the government of the world.

Frederick Douglass loves you, baby
girl, young lady, sweet woman.
You’ve dreamed of being a mother, but
never thought it’d happen this way.
In a flood of passion you found
yourself clinging to a stranger,
and neither of you realized what he
left behind when the tide carried him off to sea.
You know exactly the type of things
people won’t say to your face and you feel like drowning in shame.

Or maybe you’re not one to get swept
away.
You didn’t need a ring, you had mutual
trust.
You didn’t need protection from what
you thought was love.
Not expecting the man who seemed
so committed to abandon the seed he worked so hard to plant. He insists you
exercise your right to choose, and by that, he means do what he wants you to.
In this twisted soap opera you’re faced with the choice to lose your lover or
lose his child, and right about now you feel like losing both.

Or maybe you’ve lost even more. Maybe
this life was forced inside you and some people still throw stones. They
call you murderer, for even considering, foolishly equating a homicidal maniac
with a victim of rape who might not want to raise the child of their oppressor.
I apologize for the ignorance. These predicaments are complex.

Your situation is less than ideal but
my
my sister, consider this,

Frederick Douglass’s mother was a
slave.
Frederick Douglass’s father was a slave
master.
Frederick Douglass was a bastard,
a result of rape,
the embodiment of pain, shame, the
offspring of injustice,
a life that should have never existed
but I think it’s safe to say we are so
glad he did.

Believe this,
nothing will be fixed by getting rid of
the only
joy in this brokenness.
The life inside of you is not yours to
live,
or take, or give,
but one to receive.
I pray you understand my friend,
life, is always, a gift.
Track Name: Dear Dad
Don’t tell me to calm down
He’s the one angry for no
reason
aint nobody done nothin’ to
him.
If he wanted a clean house
he shoulda
thought about it before he
had six kids
that aint even my stuff
I can’t wait to get up outa
here

Micah, can’t you see what’s happening?
You’re becoming just like him.

NO I’M NOT!!!!!!

Dear Dad,
I’ve been avoiding this
letter for years, because I promised myself if I ever wrote this it would be honest, the full picture.
But sometimes, things intending to heal
only peel scabs off of old wounds,
and that is exactly what I am
determined not to do.

This is not a comprehensive list of
your shortcomings.
Lord knows you could do the same to me
and love keeps no record of wrong,
but my heart has and for that I ask
forgiveness.

Dear Dad,
I was afraid you might misunderstand me, so I convinced myself it’d be more respectful to wait till you were home in glory and tell our story in your remembrance. But there’s nothing respectful about cowardice, and if I believe poetry can bring healing I must speak it while you can still hear me.

Dear Dad,
I write poetry, I write songs, I’m becoming just like you and that is a
compliment, not an insult.

Dear Dad,
I was wrong.

Dear Dad,
I keep starting over ‘cause I don’t know how to finish, I don’t know what else to say. I don’t wanna start an argument that goes nowhere. I just want you to hear.

Dear Dad,
Dear Dad, Dad, you’re dear to me.

Dear Dad, Sincerely - Micah.
Track Name: What A Fool
"In the name of Jesus, Amen."

“Do you feel something?
Something, tingling, in your stomach? No?”

“No, but I appreciate the prayer.”

And I meant that,
I really did.
It was a kind gesture,
an expression of sympathy and I believe in God and all but
did she really expect something to change right then?
Abra-Cadabra-Amen be healed on the spot
my God what is wrong with this girl?
What a fool.
What a fool to think my pain would (snap) disappear.
What a fool to think her prayers were any different
than the dozens, hundreds, thousands of faithful saints who’ve
laid hands on me and rebuked
this disease IN THE NAME OF JESUS!

What a fool.
What a fool to pray with expectation,
like she actually thought God would hear, and respond.
It’s these kind of Christians that make us all look crazy.
You know, the ones with faith,
too much faith.
The ones convinced that God grants supernatural power.
The ones who look like fools for Christ and don’t mind what anyone thinks.
The ones whose prayers go unanswered yet they keep praying
keep hoping
keep asking
"Do you feel?"
The ones who feel.

The ones who know God with more than their mind,
the ones who don’t waste time picking fights with atheists
but go to war on their knees.
The ones who lean not on their own understanding.
The ones who serves a God that doesn’t bow to human rational,
but uses the fool to shame the wise,
the weak to shame the strong,
those who are not to bring to nothing those who are,
and how far I have come.

After four years of theological training,
constant reading to appease my philosophical cravings
my thoughts about God are, intelligent.
My belief is a kind unbelievers can respect,
not the ignorance of... simple... faith.
Not the type to get you mocked,
persecuted,
crucified.

My religion is safe.

And I wonder, how I got so lost.
And I wonder, who’s the fool after all,
the one who prays, the one who waits,
the one who dies believing God is on his way,
or the one who prays, never expecting him to come?
Track Name: Do We Dare? (Ft. Poetry of Stephan Bauman)
She dries a tear
with the back of her hand
and gently lifts her swollen
son.
She feeds her daughter
instead.
"Try to sleep now, my
child,"
she whispers,"By God's
grace
mercy will meet us in the mornin’.
She's just running
late."

Beauty from ash?
Joy from grief?
Is not
suffering
simply meant to be?

What if we were to
throw our weight
against the thoroughbred
muscle of fate?
What if we were to muster
the gall
To slap the “mind forged
manacles” of reason?
Could we counter-sing the
song of sense?
Could we plant and harvest
off season?

Why not defy entropy?
Why not taunt history
Even though time insists
It cannot reverse?

Do
We
Dare
Disturb
The Universe?
Track Name: Dry Bones
Spoken word has a way of turning ugliness into beauty.
It’s like the more I mess up, the better my writing
and I guess I’m trying to be the best poet ever.

I know this muck I’m in resulted from my own decisions,
so why do I feel like I never woulda chose this?
Let me assure you, this was not my plan A.
Standing on stages telling rooms full
of strangers about the billions of ways I’ve failed,
and when it’s over they cheer and say
“you did so well”.

And it's nice to know other people can
relate to my flaws,
but I pray our aim is greater than
commiseration.
Whether it’s my sin or someone else’s,
there’s a difference between being authentic and crass,
courageously truthful and puttin’
people on blast.
When the prophet Nathan rebuked King
David it was not to bring him shame,
but to bring him to his knees in
repentance,
“I have sinned against God and God
alone.”

I swear, my sole motivation for
pointing out the mud on anyone’s face is so they can be clean.
And the only reason I display the
skeletons in my closet
is to show how God makes dry
bones live again.
Blessed is the man whose sins are
forgiven.
If my public disgrace brings freedom to
your secrets so be it,
but don’t call yourself speaking the
truth if all you do is confess,
complain, if your aim is only to get it
all out then you’ll finish feeling empty, not relieved.
If death is the end there is no beauty
in lament,
you’re either dead or you’re dying stop
trying to make it pretty with rhymes.

Truth, with no hope is no better than
hope that isn’t true,
don’t dare you waste my time railing
against everything we already know is wrong.
Neither do I need your optimistic
naivety,
“things are gonna get better, just
believe in yourself.”
Ill-placed faith in my own strength is
what created this hell in the first place.

If we held the cure to our
disease we wouldn’t be sick,
we all need something greater to
believe in.
Greater than
ourselves, greater than our sin,
if we don’t believe in greater then
we're letting death win.

Resurrection, is our only hope.
Not merely souls floating through a
golden city in the sky,
but corpses rising from the
grave,
scattered ashes reconvening into human
beings and breathing again,
hearts beating again, God
speaking again, proclaiming it is good, again, and forever.

Forever now we live resurrected. Yes we
live resurrected even before death,
resurrection begins with faith,
believers see new life manifested every day.
Every day we are healed from sin’s
death. No longer separated,
at peace with God and neighbor and
enemy and nature.
No longer takers we give our
lives.
If we die with Him we will rise with
our Lord, embrace your crucifixion.

Believe, death no longer has dominion
over Christ,
touch his immortal wounds and
see, death no longer has dominion over us.
Death no longer has dominion over
me!
Pain becomes poetry, ugliness is
beautiful.
The Beautiful One beaten beyond
recognition,
the most grotesque injustice ever
committed is now our only source of hope,
The Word of God said “it is finished”,
fell dead silent,
and on the third day, he spoke.
Track Name: Closer To Home
When I get old,
I will not consider it a compliment
when told I look younger than I am.
Neither will I appreciate people half
my age calling me young man.
“That’s Mister, or Sir to you young
lady.”
When I get old, I will not care if
teenagers think I’m cool.
I will not try to use youthful slang
and accidentally say something inappropriate.
When I get old I will say inappropriate
things on purpose.
Things I’ve thought for decades but
knew only an old man could get away with.
When I get old, I will not reminisce on
the good old days as if I grew up in the golden age of morality.
As if Marvin Gaye sung about Sexual
Purity.
As if Woodstock was a Billy Graham
Crusade.
No. When I get old, I will remember the
perversity of today and I will not make young people feel like sinners merely
because they were born too late.
When I get old, I will celebrate
progress and see technology as my friend.
When I get old, I’ll amaze the children
with stories about airplanes flying into skyscrapers. And how I was in
Washington at the inauguration of America’s first black president. And how my
uncle was supposed to be his running mate but died when he crashed his truck.

When I get old, I will make stuff up.

When I get old, my vision may blur and
my memory might fade but I will never forget to sing hallelujah every single
day.
When I get old I will be closer to God,
not death
closer to life, not death
closer to home, not death.

When I get old
I will never wish to trade positions
with a younger man.
I will look back on the current me and
be glad that I am no longer him.
When I get old
I will read this poem and see how
arrogant I am for supposing I know what I’ll be like when I get old.
When I get old I’ll write a poem about
how I thought I was a good poet when I was young, but now I actually am.
When I get old I will be the man.
Possessing the mojo of every age,
I will be

Dapper
Spiffy
Smooth
Groovy
Supa Fly
Too Legit
Fresh to Death
Swagalicious
and whatever else the young folks come
up with to describe people like me.

When I get old, I will not care if
teenagers think I’m cool,

'Cause I WILL BE COOL, no matter what
they say.

And my grandchildren will shake their heads in shame.