The Call of the Coyotes

I hear your call on my morning walk
In my soul you sound like me
Expressing not entertaining
Giving voice to what makes you free

You are a child of Nature
Living here before we came
Domesticating wildness
While our own tongues we cannot tame

Whenever I hear you calling,
I wonder what you say
Is yelping in the darkness
The Way Coyotes pray?

Well if it is I’m part Coyote
I also call to the One Who Hears
I may not speak Coyote Language
But I’m blessed with Coyote ears.

©️ Copyright 2021 Pedro S. Silva II

More poetry at https://itsallinme.com/

Belonging to Not Belonging

They say “Get in where you fit in.”
But I can’t find my space.
Like looking in the mirror
But cannot recognize my face.

No one else can see me.
What should I expect?
An outsider can’t get in
I’m destined a reject.

Damn this hunger for belonging.
I’m never satisfied
Because of the idea, “I should be special.”
Now I see it was all a lie.

All heartbreaks come from beauty
Or longing for it to be
The presence of an absence
The soul was never meant to see

So now I’m coming out of hiding
I need to recognize my grief
Because I know me, but cannot show me,
I’m a product of disbelief.

© Copyright 2021 Pedro S. Silva II



God’s Plan

it started in the beginning
it ended in the beginning
the Peace and the war
the losing and the Winning
the time we have to wait
the weight that comes with time
the Word and the verse
the pentameter and the rhyme
the Hope for a better tomorrow
than the way things are today
the separation from God
and the recollection when we Pray
the anger and the rage
that makes me hate my fellow man
and the Forgiveness of all error
that makes me want to hold His hand
the slavery that freed me
and the freedom that was my prison
the Light that was so blinding
that it made clear my True vision
the death I had to suffer
to see that I was Alive
the Love that is more Perfect
than all that man’s contrived
all that I will overcome
that led me to come over
to the Answer that’s so close
that it can’t get any closer
the doubt that made me Trust
that there’s Nothing I should doubt
and the Silence that’s so deafening
it drowned out all my shouts
my enemies who hate me
that I may know the Love of my friends
and the Salvation I received
because I committed all those sins
so when it comes to God’s Plan
there’s only One thing we need to know
this world was already Perfect
before our struggle to make it so

© Copyright 2004 Pedro S. Silva II

Moments After Martyrdom

You’re about to die for the cause you believed in,
But you can’t decide if it’s an honor or a tragedy.
As you look into the faces of those who surround you,
It is difficult to remember who is friend or foe.
Didn’t you see this coming?
You know it could’ve been avoided
But the momentum was too strong
It’s kind of like being caught in an undertow.
You were tired anyway
So, tempted by the thought of rest, you surrendered.
But as the light fades and voices begin to muffle,
You start to wonder if you might survive.
Wouldn’t that be a story to tell?
Something the cause could leverage
And seal your message as one with Divine Authority.
Because the truth never dies. 
But, then a metal like taste coming from within 
Confirms what you know.
You are dying.
And once you accept that, everything changes.
You don’t perceive the way you used to.
Eyes are everywhere.
Ears are everywhere.
Taste and touch are everywhere.
And you see everything as it is.
As if you are on the inside and the outside of everything,
There are no distinctions between your inhalations and exhalations.
And then everything stops but your consciousness.
You wonder how you’re here and nowhere at once.
And then you rise and expand at the same time
Like a balloon floating upward as it’s being filled.
Are there limits to your expansion
Or the heights that you might go?
Living this question is what made you who you were.
It was why you said what you said.
It was why you did what you did.
And it got you killed.
Or did it give birth to the reality of who you are—
Who we all are and who we could be?
And then you stop expanding
Is this finally the end? Or is it the beginning?
It is both. It is neither.
And when your last breath is as pure as your first,
In returns to in and out returns to out
Then, an existential popping sound.
It reverberates throughout all of Creation.
Now you have a choice.
Give birth to the you who will die for what you will believe in,
Change your mind and hold your breath,
Or live as the You who cannot die?
And then you remember why you decided what you will decide.
Whoever saves their life will lose it.
But whoever loses their life will find true Life.
This is the cup that was passed to you.
This is the cup you drank from.
This is when you decide that no one can take your life.
You will give it freely.
And so you descend. 
And so you contract.
Time collapses.
And you remember why you will choose to come here.
You will not die for a lie.
You will live what is eternally true
No matter how many times it takes
To be truly born again.

© Copyright 2021 Pedro S. Silva II

We’re Failing Ourselves

We are all politicians
We are all the press
We are in it for the votes
But we won’t confess

We know the game’s rigged
And we say we hate it
Till the ball’s in our court
And we think we made it

We all like our heroes
Like we like our burgers
Ground up and grilled
Next in line for murder

Then we give them a statue
It’s a static warning
Choosing truth over lies
Leaves your loved ones mourning

Times pass and they praise you
In reality they hate you
Because as soon as you show them their face
Here comes the breakthrough

And that’s what we’re waiting for
A good excuse
We say that we want the truth
But it’s a ruse

What we actually want
Is for one to do the work for us
Make us feel better
By saying they support us

But the only real thing
Is to do your own labor
If they tell you otherwise
They’re the opposite of savior

The real saving grace
Is to live like God sees you
And stop putting all your faith in folks
We will deceive you

If I Die Before I Wake – A Reflection on the Regal Nature of Chadwick Boseman

I can’t stop thinking about Chadwick Boseman. He’s been on my mind so much that I caught myself shaking my head in the gym on the edge of tears. Now if you know me, you know that this isn’t characteristic of me. So, I had to examine why I was taking this so hard. Even before he died, I would find myself googling about his health. Like many people, I saw him getting thinner and would find myself concerned about him. I too hoped that the weight loss was due to him thinning up for a movie role. It had been announced, around the time that he started coming into public noticeably thinner, that he was going to play the first and only Black Samurai, Yasuke, who served under Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga in 16th century Japan. Once again, he was going to take on the role of one of the “First Blacks to…” just as he had with James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, and Jackie Robinson. So I hoped that his gaunt appearance was going to reveal itself to be indicative of his passion for his craft and the calling on his life to bring powerful characters into the consciousness of people who for so long had very few symbols to hold on to.

Thank you for being a King in this life—for challenging our imaginations and giving us an aspirational symbol. I know many people will think that you were “just an actor”. But for those of us who never grew up with superheroes who looked like us and saw ourselves portrayed in a negative light, you made an indelible mark and shined eternally bright. #restinwakandaforever

My Instagram post August 30, 2020

I don’t say this much out loud. But I often feel lonely. Part of this loneliness comes from the fact that I don’t have many living role models before me who can relate to my background or life’s experiences. Everyday, I try, in my small way, to live up to an ideal that I have never actually witnessed being displayed up close. And I do it knowing that I live in a world that, whether people will admit it or not, is always waiting for me to fail. And not just me. If I extrapolate from the conversations I’ve had over my lifetime, almost everyone who is veiled in Black skin in this country carries this burden either consciously or unconsciously. Though many people are in denial about it, if you’re paying attention as a Black person, you know. And others know it too. If we fail, we take so many other people down with us. Because to be Black here is to be a symbol. And as a symbol, you always represent much more than yourself. Whereas, if some other people fail, they are simply seen as an individual–often deserving of second, third, fourth, and fifth chances.

When you are a symbol, society tries to make you an exception when you achieve in any capacity simply because the underlying belief is that most of us are incapable of meeting the illusory standards of this country. That’s why I think our ascendance, however small, is watched very closely. I believe that this is because, every step that any of us climbs, undoes the structure of the painfully comfortable false narrative that was built upon the foundation of our supposed inferiority. In other words, when Black people do well, especially in arenas where we are not always lauded, it tears at the fabric of this nation’s institutional myth about the capacities of American Blackness that almost everyone has bought into–even many Black folks. What if we were always this talented; this intelligent; this powerful? What does that say about how our ancestors were treated? What does it say about those of us who succumbed to the lies told about us? Does the past become even more tragic if we consider that we all had Wakandan like potential that was virtually strangled out of us for centuries? The questions are almost too much to contemplate.

By simply being who he was and living into his moment, Chadwick embodied that potential. His nature was regal. And in his person he carried the spirits of many of our ancestors. Perhaps that is why he was called here to embody them for us in the enduring form of film. He showed us our past and our future. He changed our world. And then he left.

In my work, I have seen many people die. I have watched as the light leaves their bodies and often wondered if they illumined every place they came here to shine in. I suspect that most haven’t. And that’s why there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about when my day will come. But I am not afraid of death. Ever since I became aware of the expectation that, as a Black Man in America, I would either die or spend some time in the criminal justice system by 18, I have contemplated my death. So no, I am not afraid of death at all. What gets to me is the idea that I will not do all that I can with this life because I will have allowed myself to be overly weighed down by the loneliness of being the first or the only. As they say, I don’t want to die with my music still in me. I want to truly live while I am here. And the truth is that I can’t say that I’ve done that yet. So perhaps that is part of why I can’t stop thinking about Chadwick Boseman.

Consider what he accomplished in the 4 years that he was diagnosed and being treated for colon cancer. Can you imagine? And consider that he did all of this while keeping his diagnosis to himself. Talk about lonely. But I don’t think he kept it to himself for himself. I think he did it for all us who know what it’s like to be the first or the only. In a consumer driven world where illness is seen as just another failure, he commanded his body and the world it inhabited to conform to his ideal. And in so doing, he tore that mythical fabric of Black inferiority that much more.

Of course, it is sad that he was not able to share his struggles with the world and receive the wellspring of compassion that he would have likely received and perhaps lived longer. But he was Black before he was The Black Panther. So I can imagine that he didn’t think he would get a second chance. So he did everything he could with the chance he got knowing that just like when one of us goes down we inadvertently take others with us, when we ascend, we take others with us as well. And that’s why I can say unequivocally that though this man had no earthly crown, he was and always will be a king. And at least for me, his being brings about a sense of conviction that before I die, I must make contact with my own regality and do everything I can to encourage it in others.

A Poem Fit for a King (In Memory of Chadwick Boseman)
I’ll see you on the Other Side
But I still can see you now
In the ways you changed the atmosphere
And by your essence you showed us how

We can’t believe that you are gone
And yet you’re here now more than ever
Giving form to a future and a past
We salute you now and forever

Now that your form is no longer with us
We see the burden that was in your eyes
You held the Space just long enough
To show that One who is Living never dies

Someday we all will meet you
In the azure canopied ancestral plains
Where everyone is a queen and king
In the Place where Spirit reigns.

© Copyright 2020 Pedro S. Silva II

Miss You While You’re Here

Lately I’ve been thinking about
All the moments that we missed
When we’re younger we think we have plenty of time
And don’t think about stuff like this

We put so much off until later
But what if later never comes?
All tomorrows repeats of yesterdays
The future setting like the sun

I’m not ready yet to miss you
When I know that you’re right here
There’s so much I wanted to give you
Before my chances disappeared

Now it hurts that we talk almost everyday
And yet we never talk at all
Or that I battle with all these tempting thoughts
Not to answer when you call

Of course I want to be here for you
But it seems this is always where we’ve been
You telling me about how hard it is
While I listen on the other end

I look back and feel like a failure
I wish I could’ve spared you from some pain
But the best I can do is be a witness
And pray for something else to change

I still have hope that you’ll get better
That perfect love will cast out fear
But for now I’ll be grateful for what we have
Because I don’t want to miss you while you’re here
© Copyright 2020 Pedro S. Silva II

I wrote this poem as I started to think about how many conversations I have with my mom are about how to make it from month to month. We talk everyday. Sometimes multiple times a day. But rarely are our conversations about thing that I would like us to talk about. Because of all of the stress over the past few years, there has been a strain on the relationship. I’ll be honest and say that often I am acting like I am her parent rather than the other way around. I want her to be safe and make decisions for her well-being. I know how hard she tried to be whatever and whoever she felt she needed to be to make sure we survived growing up. That took a toll on her. And I know that she had huge dreams–most of which never got fulfilled. This is a wound in her heart.

She always told me that she wanted to leave my brothers and I with a legacy. What she meant was money. That hasn’t happened and it saddens her. She apologizes for not being in a better financial situation and asks me to believe in her that she can still pull it off. I want to believe, but… And now that I am witnessing her forgetting so much and yet still holding out hope for a miracle or for her “ship to come in” as she says, I feel a twinge of regret.  I ask myself, “If I knew we were going to end up here anyway, what would I have done differently?”

At first, I told myself I would’ve stayed in the military so that I would have my retirement right now and I could be working another job to provide for her. But then I look at my wife and kids and know that I had to take the course I did.  I then think that I should’ve chosen a more lucrative profession than being a pastor. But then, I was having a conversation with a guest at the church who is experiencing homelessness and watching members of the congregation–to include children–serving food and sitting with our homeless neighbors and I thought, “I am glad to be in this moment.” And then I thought, well maybe I was called to be a pastor for a season, but now that my mom needs me, I need to move on and do something else because my responsibilities demand it. And then I prayed and I felt the spirit moving me to be honest about how hard this is and to tell my friends. And so I did. And they stepped in and blessed my family and gave me room to breathe so I could figure out how to make the next best move for my mom. They showed me the truth of the teaching that says, “[God’s] strength is made perfect in our weakness.”

And so then in that space, I asked God what I could do differently for my mom. And in my soul’s language I heard, “Don’t miss her while she is still here. Because that’s what you’ve been doing. If you want to have different conversations with her, change the subject. Talk about the things that you wish you could talk to her about. If she misses it and repeats something else she just said, tell her you love her. Tell her your dreams and maybe she’ll get joy in knowing that she is a part of them. Have an unreasonable belief in miracles because you never know what might happen. And don’t forget, you are not in this alone.”

So if you are reading this, what my soul spoke into my life, I speak into yours. There are so many things in life that can distract us from the moments we are in–something to tempt us to forget that there is always the possibility of great beauty around the corner. In my weakness, I found strength in hitting my limits and reaching out. My hope is that in sharing what I am learning, it is blessing you all too.

With true love,

Pedro

A Friend In Need

They say a friend in need is a friend indeed
Or is it a friend in deed
Meaning a friend is one who acts as one
When another friend’s in need

Or maybe it’s the former one
We’re friends when we’re in want
But otherwise we give no others thought
Just to make it blunt

But perhaps it is more gray than that
Which makes it difficult to name
Because where self-sufficiency is idolized
To be in need is to be shamed

It’s really hard to put my finger on
As I examine my condition
When I’m aware enough to know I should ask for help
But won’t fully give myself permission

On one side, it’s because I don’t want help
I have learned so much from all my failing
But on the other side, I know that there’s sufficient grace
For those of us prone to self-assailing

Furthermore when I’m on the giving end
I always do what I can do
But when I’m on the receiving end
I do my best to just push through

But presently I am torn
This uphill battle seems unending
I could keep on trying to handle this
But in reality I’m pretending

I’ve always been good at holding burdens
But now my burdens are holding me
As I consider that I’m just a request away
From a space that feels more free

Well, if anything, there’s a lesson
These constraints I feel won’t last
And it matters little if I hear “yes” or “no”
Things will get better because I asked

© Copyright 2020 Pedro S. Silva II

I wrote this poem after wrestling with my thoughts about whether or not I should share a fundraiser I created for my mother to help ease some of the financial impact of her pending move.  This season has been really tender for me for a lot of reasons. Besides watching my mother succumb to the effects of a lifetime of stress and anxiety, trying to keep this pressure to myself has taken its toll on me and my family, both emotionally and financially. But it’s not all bad. This also has been a very creative season for me as I’ve tried to make sense of my own anxieties in light of my faith that when we are open, there is a solution to every concern. I’ve written poems that I never would’ve been able to write were I not translating, what at times felt like, overwhelming emotion. I completed a rap that I’m really proud of despite the fact that it has not yet brought in any of the money I’d naively thought it would. And in my social justice and community building work, knowing that I am personally impacted by so much of the challenges that we’re trying to ameliorate, has shaped my preaching and public speaking in a way that perhaps it would not if my family was more shielded. And finally, by putting this out here, I feel that it is on the path of healing the ill effects of the negative type of pride. And so here we are.

I Always Feel Like Crying

I always feel like crying
But it doesn’t mean I’m sad
It means I’m paying attention
To the issues that we have

In my soul I see a vision
Oneness is our Way
But in my body I feel division
As I watch morality decay

I have prayed and prayed for comfort
But it seems it’s nowhere near
Until I accept that I can’t save this world
And release my brokenness with tears

I wish that I was stronger
But my weakness keeps me humble
I would love to never make mistakes
But I was put on earth to stumble

I see heaven’s door wide open
I call on all I see to enter
But I’m afraid that if I go in first
I’ll forget what I remember

I know that’s backward logic
But they say the first’s the last
So when I came here from the future
It was to finish off my past

I hope that I’m not losing you
By speaking in ways that are not clear
I just had to get this off my chest
In case I’m drowned out by my tears

© Copyright 2020 Pedro S. Silva II

 

Waking Up to You

Waking up to You is the why of my life
You are the Dream that stops my dreaming
You tell the Story of what many fear to know
And give every Word its truest meaning

You call to me to my deepest Self
By the Name only You can give
Whispering in so loud a voice
That gives the dead the choice to Live

Many of us say we know You
But Love says that that’s not true
Whenever we say You dwell in us
But can’t see our neighbor inside of You

Or when we make the least important things
The sandy ground of our foundations
Forsaking the Rock upon which You’ve built for us
The most enduring of habitations

We’re distracted by the attraction
Of getting more by giving less
We measure others by the scale of our selfishness
Then give ourselves credit when we confess

But despite all of this You love us
And that never shall decrease
Even when we deny Your Presence
By not seeing you in our least

And that’s the refining fire
You love us everywhere we go
Even when we use Your Name to tell our lies
And act like You don’t know

You are definitely some kind of amazing
I hope my soul can reach your standard
I give up my story that keeps me up at night
To awaken to Yours that’s so much grander.

© Copyright 2020 Pedro S. Silva II