Sunday, May 18, 2008


My collection of short stories and poems is going to be titled "Off the Block". The title has a few meanings for me. The first is to pay homage to Langston Hughes, who is one of my favorite writers. He had a collection of poems called "The Block". So, in turn, this title is in homage to his work. Another meaning for the title is just a reference to my neighborhood. My Block. Writing is my avenue away from the block, while that same block inspires most of my writing. The book will be available for all to enjoy by mid July, but until then I will leak one final poem from my collection.....Hope you enjoy..catch ya' on the FLIPSIDE.

Broken, crushed, slaughtered,
Somehow saved by prayers,
The promise of golden gates
Giving way to serenity, identity.

Sunshine plays hide and seek with the moon
Every now and then going unnoticed for hours
Never revealing its hiding place.

Freedom prevails and sunshine reveals itself
One minute too late, but not soon enough
The moon readies for another game tonight.

Eager feet trust the sunshine won’t peek
Just count to ten, how many will it discover
Shadows scurry under the moon’s watch
Chasing the North Star, chasing
Life, freedom, identity, equality.

Still chasing

Thursday, May 15, 2008


As I near the completion of my book of poems and short stories, I will leak one of the poems that I have included in the book. Take a look at the poem, let me know what you think afterwards. Please your valued opinions are needed. The poetic device in most of my work is a combination of Harlem Renaissance and early 20th century British Literature. Pretty much what that means is you'll hear some Wordsworth, Blake and Hardy, but sprinkled with Hughes, Morrison, and Baldwin....enjoy.

Uptown on the #2

The dreary day has diminished. My eyes have been set free to roam another day, another scenery, and another lifetime. Shutting the steel door behind me, I know that my love will be at the train station to welcome me home. The tracks spark and scream bloody murder as the wheels burn them trying to stop and throw momma from the train.

Good evening miss. Oh, maybe you didn’t hear me, I hear the baby screaming, the snoring intern tired from making coffee and donut runs all morning. I should probably speak loud so that you can hear me. Good evening miss! Never mind. My woman’s gonna be waiting for me anyway, at my stop. I’m going back to Harlem, 135th and Lennox. That’s my stop. You know where that is? Hello. Okay, I’m tired of being nice. I’m done speaking with you lady. You can forget about those tickets to the Apollo. That’s right up the street on 125th and we ain’t gotta go in through the back door like we used to either. We comin’ up baby!

Nothin’ like the ol’ #2 train runnin’ uptown, huh? Oh yeah, I forgot you wasn’t talkin’ to me. I bet if my man Langston was here, you’d talk to him. You sisters are soft on those light skinned cats. Me and my man James can’t get no love. You know James right? The cat who graduated from that school of arts and wrote that book. Something about tellin’ on the mountain or some jazz like that.

The doors flung themselves open and tossed people out all the while sucking others in. The commotion awoke the gray-haired short woman with the young child attached to her arm.

This our stop granny. Were you dreaming about granddad again? I know you miss him. I miss him too.

Friday, May 9, 2008


In the shadow of a national report that put Detroit on the very bottom of the list that calculated the percentage of our inner-city youths who finish high school with a diploma, there is yet another matter at hand that must be corrected. While I believe parental involvement will increase the student’s chances of getting through high school and earning a diploma, the involvement should not end there.

As I said once before, a diploma gets you a little advantage in the workforce, but what else does a high school graduate have to do in order to find a slot in an economy that is always looking for ways to cut back?

One thing I notice about young men in our city who have earned degrees from high school is that after completing that goal, they seem to be unprepared for the next level. That next level may be college or that next level may be entering the workforce. Whichever the case, young inner-city men seem to lack the direction or preparation necessary for making that transition.

A friend and I were standing outside my house a few days ago when we were approached by a young man who was dressed in slacks, a dress shirt and tie. On his way to some local businesses in the area, he stopped to ask us if we knew of anyone who was hiring. In response I told him there are a few places that are hiring, but they were either accepting applications online or only accepting resumes in person. He said he did not have access to a computer, nor did he have a resume. Surprised by his lack of preparation, I offered him the phone number of a friend who is a teacher who could help him build a resume as well as assist him with filling out online applications. He thanked me and went on about his way.

It is then when I thought that perhaps someone did teach him the value of an education and how important it is to at least finish high school, but nobody bothered to tell him what to do after that. That is an issue with our inner-city youth, especially the males. The lack of preparation is not the only thing that has to be addressed though. The lack of self-confidence is an issue as well.

The two major indicators of this lack of self-confidence are poor eye contact and soft handshakes. When interviewing or just conversing with potential employers, these two things are vital. They are also things that need to be discussed by parents. Maintain good eye contact throughout the conversation and learn to give firm handshakes.

I know it was hard enough getting Junior through high school, but you want to make sure he knows what to do once he leaves the classroom and enters the boardroom. For more information and resources take a look at this website: or contact Shane Bernardo at Let’s get our youth out of high school with the knowledge and confidence to make it into the future. Catch ya’ on the FLIPSIDE.