Lupus?! A wha dat?!

Just another emcee who gets free. Vessel of philanthropic vision fueled by theophilic purpose.

Tag: humanity

With gratitude

My sons and I, November 2020.

Three years ago I was in Brooklyn Hospital Center enduring what would become a three month long stay. I would spend Thanksgiving in so much pain that the last thing on my mind was a plate.

Everyday I would rise at 6, read scripture, and worship God while singing along with Richard Smallwood’s “Total Praise.” I would hold on until 9am or so when I knew doctors made their rounds, clamoring for updates on my condition. Could I go home soon? Would I make it home in time for my youngest son’s first birthday? I wouldn’t.

So standing in front of this hospital means another opportunity for me to show gratitude. You don’t have to make it. Tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. If we’ve learned anything from 2020, impermanence stands at the top of the list. Life is truly a vapor.

“Splashpad” featured on Human/Kind Journal

Biggup Human/Kind Journal for featuring my poem “Splashpad.”

You can read “Splashpad” and other poems on their site here.

https://www.humankindjournal.org/humanities/a-poem-by-chris-burton

Performing “Backside!” At ASU Gather

Peace!

Really excited to share this video of my performance at Arizona State University. Shared a story called “Backside!”

Watch it here!

God nah sleep

Zechariah 10 has been my comfort. A counter to the narrative that faith is anemic in times like these. Some take comfort in criticizing rage and pretend that God can be reduced to a justice less peace. This desire to preserve normalcy, this desire to have one behave one’s self while there are knees on our necks is borne in fear. Fear that your myopic readings of Romans 13 won’t be enough. Fear that you didn’t spend enough time with the prophets. All that book learning and you never took the time to see how much God cares about justice? You look for God in your things. You look for God everywhere but the margins. Where God always is. You speak of reconciliation. You have soothed yourself to sleep with the dream of bringing together. You refuse to acknowledge that reconciliation is the repair of the master-slave dialectic. You want to be woke now. You’ve commodified woke. Prolly will commodify non-commodifying soon enough. But all of it means nothing unless you confess. All of it means nothing unless you admit you are complicit. You cannot be the hero in this story, we already have One. Our hero hears our blood crying from the ground. Our hero weeps. And our hero nah sleep.

What will we learn?

In September 2001, I was a tenth grader. I remember wearing my black and silver jersey, shiny black jeans, Raiders hat and And1 Moneys. I sat in the back row of French class and remember thinking this is the bluest sky I’d ever seen. Completely cloudless. A few minutes into class I remember the confusion of looking at that blue sky and hearing the worst thunder I’d ever heard.

Once we returned to school, my French teacher began to teach us about surrealism. We read French writers wrestle with this dream like state where the mind protects the body from reality. As we are in another reality altering event, I want us to take care in the lessons we learn from this. In 2001, we had an opportunity to learn about the love of our neighbor. We had moments where our smallness taught us about God’s bigness. Those lessons were momentary and faded in comparison to the ingrained lessons we kept. We kept the lesson that assured us that security is more important than privacy. We kept the lesson of fear. We kept the lesson that encouraged us to view the world through a lens of mistrust.

With this crisis we have an opportunity to love in a timely way. We can get closer even as we are social distancing. Let’s write to each other, send each other playlists, and create tournaments in video games. Let’s call our elders and make sure they are alright. Check on those of us who are always isolated. Let’s learn love.

Fight or Flight

Hearing about COVID-19 is like hearing about a tormentor’s return. It’s knowing you shot Michael Myers but not knowing where the body is. Or refusing to say Candyman. 

This week my sympathy for what was happening around the world became preparation. I wrestle with my fear, read Psalm 91 religiously and wash my hands even more. On Friday I could not place my feelings. This isn’t the sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that the last day of school normally brings. It feels so indefinite. A collective interruption that holds us all in suspense. It hit me during an assembly. The feelings were so strong I wondered if it were psychosomatic. I felt my chest tightening during the assembly. I tried to calm myself down but eventually had to go to my classroom early and just pray. This episode and the exhaustion I feel tell me how unwilling my body is to have another dance with the devil.

Since 2011, I have had pneumonia five times. All of my episodes of pneumonia are connected to complications from Lupus. I am too familiar with how exhausting those fevers are, how labored the breathing is, the terrible effects of the antibiotics, and the permanent damage it inflicts on your lung capacity. I often think of my lungs as a building and that pneumonia has rendered rooms in that building uninhabitable. 

I texted with the pastor whose church I am visiting and am grateful that he understood why he would not be seeing me until this situation is under control. I wrestled this week. Were my precautions an example of anemic faith? Does trusting God mean that I keep going to church and step boldly as if there is no crisis afoot? I’ve arrived at the theological juncture that informs me to demonstrate my faith through wisdom. The Lord brought the episode in the gospels where Satan tempts Jesus to mind.

In Matthew 4, the devil brings Jesus to the “pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not [a]tempt the Lord your God.’” 

It is not an act of courage, bravery or faith to go out and about during this time of social distancing. It is selfish and foolhardy. It is best to demonstrate your faith and trust in God by taking care of the most vulnerable among us. You may have the health to overcome COVID-19 but consider those of us for whom contracting the virus would mean increased hardship, or even death. I am trusting in the Lord and believing that God will grant us a hedge of protection. I believe that we can participate in God’s good work by being that hedge for our most vulnerable neighbors. It is what’s best. So, you won’t see me out and about for the foreseeable future but I am confident that this too will pass. God bless you and keep you, my friends. Stay safe. 

Chasing Normal

It is hard to believe that I have six and a half weeks until I return to work. There’s a mix of excitement, fear, and “today has enough trouble of its own”  coursing through me. Some days I feel bursting at the seams, ready to get back to normal (though there is no such thing) and other days I feel like I have no sauce at all.

I had a setback two weeks ago on a Friday night. I felt ill most of the day and had no appetite. Foolishly, I took my medicine without eating dinner. Around midnight I went to the bathroom and vomited a sea of blood.

I told Bri and we made our way to the hospital (not before vomiting for the second time in an hour). As we walked into the emergency room I began to feel chills and body aches. It scared me because it was the most ill I’d felt since the fall. We sat in the waiting room and I felt my confidence about life and chasing normal, fade.

The hospital kept me overnight for observation. Thankfully I did not vomit anymore. They discharged me with orders to follow up with my primary doctor and my vitals were good.

I was happy to be sent home but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that being back in the hospital shook my confidence. I told Bri that I couldn’t think of five straight days where I didn’t feel ill or fatigued or just not right. So, as I used to do when I wanted a fresh start, I got a haircut.

During the flare-up in the fall, I stopped shaving my head because among everything else, my scalp felt very damaged. I could see scarring on my face during the flare-up and assumed the same was happening under my beard and hair. My hair grew to a point with very different texture than normal but my beard was wild and untamed. I thought about letting it grow until June but then it started to annoy me. I brought it up to my rheumatologist in March and he did not see the danger in cutting my hair so I was happy to shave again. My shaved head and cropped goatee revealed my autumn scars but I am kind of glad to have them. Lupus can be such an invisible disease and the scars help remind me that I am not making this up. They remind you of what you’ve been through. Scars can be beautiful.

Supermarket Verses

Was it you?

That used to scold me

when I’d put items back

in the supermarket

out of place?

Can you believe how she looks now?

I bet she won’t stop working out

until she gets definition

on her abs again.

I heard she wants to lose ten pounds.

That’s too much pressure.

Just live.

 

Our cashier isn’t interested in the exchange of pleasantries.

Her loss.

But I get it.

Full day of work, last shift. It sucks.

Don’t know how much I’d smile.

From the looks of my grocery bagging skills, don’t know how much use I’d be either.

 

You always make me bag!

I never understood that.

The times when you are paying I get it but I had money in my pocket this time!

We’re standing in the wrong places.

 

I must be lousy.

The cashier bags these items with ease.

I manage to get three bags worth of groceries into the cart.

She seems so unencumbered by the categories.

Flawless. She knows to put kindred items into the bags. Record time.

She doesn’t smile but she packs these groceries with love.

Reminds me of Ms. June from the cafeteria in Davidson.

Made the best sandwiches on earth!

Three hundred kids in line, each one leaving with a piece of her love.

If you looked close, you could see her painting with mayonnaise and mustard smiles.

 

God I’m hungry.

 

This morning I tarried over dishes.

Mind isn’t clear if my kitchen isn’t.

And it made no sense to cook a good meal in a dirty kitchen.

I can’t fathom taking on the enterprise of straightening up when I felt so weak.

Two pieces of toast should suffice.

I’ll take them with a grapefruit juice so I can keep my constitution.

 

Downed medicine, to these dishes.

 

Remember how meticulous Prednisone made me?

I felt so focused when I came home from the hospital.

Everyday was a challenge.

A milestone.

An opportunity for victory.

I thought I died everyday.

 

Standing in front of the microwave, clutching my chest

Determined to set the time so at least when you found me

You would know when it was.

Shaking in the hospital bed, calling for the nurse.

It all felt over didn’t it?

Slipping away seconds before I belched something serious.

Both times.

So embarrassing.

But I learned that most things you think are gonna kill you

Are usually just gas.

 

I know you hate washing dishes.

Who could blame you?

Felt like every time we talked you were washing.

Were you the only one who had to do chores?

I hate your mom for that.

You seem like Cinderella to me.

 

There’s a method to my madness for sure.

I like to take utensils put them in a bowl.

With oatmeal crusted on the side, it’s ripe for soaking.

The cups are rinsed so the contents don’t spread in the dishwasher.

Nothing more disheartening–in the realm of kitchen cleaning–then having to rewash dishes.

Waste of work, wasted motion.

Lost time we can never reclaim.

 

It’s always a mountainous task.

The mountain becomes a hill

The hill becomes a drying rack

The rivers in the dishwasher roar

My work here is done.

I’m a fan of two sleeps

Yeah, I know, I make fun of how you sleep so much but it’s how i was raised.

i slept in a lot, don’t get me wrong,

but being in my bed past 8 made my grandma assume my sickness

dyam lazy, a sin less desirous than ailment


You remember how mad I was?

The whole day felt cranky.

Just left your parents house,

just left our lives in Charlotte

We were on our way

We must know 13 like the back of our hands now

traipsing from Maryland to the Turnpike

The heaviness of it all

Maybe I’m writing heaviness into my memories

I do remember getting mad

I told you to park in the driveway but you wouldn’t listen

You wanting to park on the street made no sense to me

this rage that i knew had to be displaced

an accumulation perhaps of debt for sins passed.

moments of insubordination, disobedience.

something wholly emasculating about not being listened to

Reminding me that I did not know what the hell I was talking about

 

Driving has never been my strong suit

Don’t know why I didn’t learn when most teenagers did

Young for my class, schooled in a different state than I lived

A hurricane of factors convincing me I didn’t need it

I tried it. Didn’t hate it but it didn’t make me come alive.

Only in my dreams that turned nightmarish.

Conscious of my feet

needing the break but growing heavy on the gas pedal

Reaching for the break with my left foot ensued panic

 

I panic with parking decks

Remember our trips from the seminary to the apartment?

Grew comfortable with the 3 mile trek

Til that brother came careening out of the parking deck

All I saw was doom impending but it wasn’t that bad

Save his lady yelling at me

Why sisters do that anyway?

Don’t they know words cut?

I mean, he was cool

I was cool

You were cool

But she had to trip

for no reason

 

After that I hated driving again.

took a while for me to get over how it felt

when my cousin yelled at me for losing focus

I get so anxious about driving my hands turn blue

only way I calm myself is remembering I drive for you

 

I never felt anyway about you being better than me

Always made me feel like we were progressive

You drive, I cook, I might stay home with the kids!

Could not care less about how it looks

I can be more than a good man for you, I can be a good human

Certainly felt neither when you stopped at the curb

 

It was so simple to me

Pull into the driveway

Say hello to the family

Bring bags upstairs

Come back downstairs

Eat

Fellowship

Sleep

 

We got out of the car

I thought about how I was going to announce myself

To Grandma and you flew upstairs without a word to anyone

I turned

Ready to make a joke with Grandma but saw she was sleeping

Never knew how she slept soundly on hospital beds

Dialysis so taxing she had no choice but wonder if she truly got rest

My aunt told me that she just had dialysis earlier and was feeling awful

Does dialysis ever feel good?

 

I came upstairs to sleep

Pretty tired but not enough to forget being pissed

Naturally, I gave you the silent treatment

It’s never as refreshing as intended.

One thinks silence puts the offending party in their place

shows them the essential nature of your words

cripples them through the verbal war of attrition

but sleep was your defense

the heavens rocked with the ripple of your snores!

my teenage ghost petrified by the tree chopping

How can I savor silence while you sniff electronic music?

Well played my dear, well played.

 

When you wake, I air my grievances!

Feign innocence then assume all guilt

A tactic oft employed but I am always jarred

You had no idea, you are the worst.

Of course neither is true

I’m caught preserving self-esteem and a righteousness that isn’t worth it

 

I was called downstairs

My aunt’s voice was wrong

Grandma no longer breathed

I couldn’t pray

I stood convinced that her chest would raise

Never thought it’d be this way

Always feared I’d be hundreds of miles away

A phone call bearing the news

I still think of her and lose myself

It’s the triggers of rye bread

the reruns of Walker, Texas Ranger

So random the grief and the regret.


I remember when I knew I loved you

Felt it stirring for some time you know.

The slide from being cool and feeling healthy

 

We didn’t speak every week

Then I saw you everyday

Not able to imagine without you

 

Can I love without loss?

If I let on will you be taken away?

I’m a Job of sorts.

 

That day I made up my mind

To tell you how I felt was so beautiful.

We drove over to the next town

(Votin’ in the primaries)

One of those days where we matched by mistake.

Black shirts and khaki shorts

Made history and strolled.

Down the avenue was a dog and his man

I coolly stepped in front of you

Easing us off the sidewalk and onto the grass

Said peace to them both and stood in front til they passed

A big deal for me.

 

I am not far removed from german shepherds

Walking on blocks had to make sure none were loose

Recess interrupted by pitbulls and rottweilers

Made me run and find someone worth standing for.


I was someone once.

Full of potential.

 

Funny how potential is so much like credit.

Don’t know how good it is til it’s used up.

 

I used to fear peaking early.

But laying in that hospital bed

certain it was all over made me content.

 

If this was how it ends then I used my time well.

I loved.

My regret, my reminder of failure

is to know death means I’m leaving you.

I would never give you the life we hoped for.

You’d have the stench of widowhood.

Would you remarry and find the life we were looking for?

 

Would suitors handle you like produce

Discover this imperfection

Deem you less choice?

Did I ruin you?

 

It’s the triggers you know.

So random the grief, the regret.


Breeze

Nights like these I miss the breeze

You don’t know how I bleed for you

Swing from poplar trees for you

The silence so violent

The summer so arrogant

I sit and I long

I long for the breeze

 

Who knew leviathans brood by oceans?

The arms that nursed you curse me daily

Fountains of iniquity that raised you to fail me

 

Yet in spite of these frailties we thrive

with dancing shoes

with cold sweat

with short breath

falling hair

failing lungs

my

heart

beats

 

Oh cactus, you stubborn fool!

A desert for your kingdom

A lifetime with no reprieve

I too dream of home untarnished

Gentry dreams make me grieve

 

My home has no garden

No shelter from trees

But still I find comfort

when I’m blessed by breeze

An emcee who gets free

“They said let me hear you rap and if it’s good enough we’ll let you go,” Shingles said.

The 27-year-old says the whole humiliating experience squashed his artistic creativity.

This can’t be life.

http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news%2Flocal%2Fnew_york&id=9316130

Brian Mooney

Educator, Scholar, Author

The Nerds of Color

Pop Culture with a Different Perspective

Love Dance Hall

Feel the riddim.

Decolonize ALL The Things

The UNsettling reflections of a Decolonial Scientist

Lupus?! A wha dat?!

Just another emcee who gets free. Vessel of philanthropic vision fueled by theophilic purpose.

HIP Literary Magazine

A great WordPress.com site

Soli Deo Gloria

Follower of Jesus Christ. Disciple. Husband. Clemson Alum. Living life in light of eternity.

David Mura · Secret Colors

Writer :: Speaker :: Performer :: Teacher

Mommy CEO

Working and living the Mommy CEO life!

Pro Bono Pastor

Totally free thoughts from a lawyer turned pastor

Different By Design Learning

with Shawna Wingert

Fix-It With Fran

All Things Faith, Family, Food, Fun and more!

black flag theology

a radical approach to theology and politics

%d bloggers like this: