There is something dark and hungry lingering in popular culture today. It is eating its followers one by one, taking them by overdose and heart attack, divorce and sex scandal, putting them in cells and graves and rehab centers and hospitals and mental institutions. It is stalking and devouring, seducing and destroying, and the world sits enthralled by the drugged cotton candy of the rapist of its collective mind.
Another one hit the dust tonight. The legendary Ms. Whitney Houston. Songbird by trade and broken person in truth. She is the latest of the giants to fall at 48 years old. She was a mother, a wife, an addict, a fighter, an overcomer and then a victim. A woman that should have been in her prime, a magnificent talent, a soul bruised and broken, chewed up and swallowed.
What is this beast stalking our mighty and tempting our children as we leave them in front of the television? Is it the cocktail taken by Michael or the one taken by Amy? Or is it the liquid sipped or powder inhaled by Lindsay? What about the less fatal of these disasters – the golf club Tiger’s wife took to his face, the cursing Baldwin poured out over the phone to his little girl, the insane flight-of-thought ramblings of Charlie Sheen?
Pick your poison – something leads a person to a place where they drink it. THAT’s the beast I’m talking about. The thing inside that takes you to the dark side. A pain, an inadequacy, a doubt, a guilt, a fear – all symptoms of the human condition. And yet it is these inadequate human beings that our world chooses to worship…
One by one the leaders of entertainment entertain us with their venom-soaked death throes. But not before getting into the minds of fatherless boys with ideas that manhood looks like five baby-mamas and a rap sheet. And the minds of young professionals to say that they need a line of coke to relax. Or tells the young woman that if she lets him into her body he will let her into his heart. Of if he hits her he loves her (yes Whitney, honey, that was your message). And hardworking people to say that honesty does not pay but holding up the corner store does.
It is poison and we sip it in the evenings with a bowl of popcorn and our feet up on the sofa after a long day at work. Every time we turn on the TV. Exposure to it infects us like any other communicable disease and spreads from the lyrics we cannot seem to get out of our heads to the words that come out of our mouths to the actions we commit only to poison others.
Tonight an idol has died. I will mourn Ms. Whitney – her Greatest Love of All was one of the first songs I learned to sing. And she fought a hard battle with her own weaknesses. I will mourn not only her beauty, her talent and her soul but the opportunity she missed to get it right and show the world by her example that there are paths other than the one that leads to a too cold, too young, too dead corpse on the hotel room floor.
May God have mercy and comfort for her family tonight.
Flashing lights bring fear to the dark night,
And screams take place the prayer that should be recited.
The puncture rips away the flesh, the bone, the spirit.
… Rest – until judgment – to be here in a second, a flash.
Wells pour over and ground never fills.
The wrong paths, un-forgiveness, rage – void of love and revenge wraps its determined finger around the trigger.
At long last the morgues are happy and a community stricken with grief.
I closed my eyes
I held my breath
I clogged my ears
But I could still smell death
The taste was there
On the wind in the night
And it ran its fingers
Around them tight
The last one out
Was like the first one in
Can’t put them back
In the nozzle & start again
Last night of life
Last night into death
First thoughts of fear
Last thoughts of regret
Laid down in the blood
Lifted up without myrrh
Another violent night
And it leaves us in a blur
Cry our bitter tears
Weep and wail our lost,
Beat our grief stricken chests
And still we can’t pay the cost.
I closed tight my eyes
I held in my breath
I clogged my ears
But I could still feel death…..
© Alta Bodden-Solomon, 20 September 2011
Overnight two young men lost their lives to violence. They were the fourth and fifth of this last week do die in savage warfare. Pointless warfare. As each little boy dies, the land that bore him cries. Thank you to Alta for putting our mixed feelings and the pain of our nation into words.