Soul Of A Man" by Joe
Thomas, jazz musician, composer, arranger and humanitarian
reveals his heart and soul in his story, The Soul of a
To And From Caged Kings On Lockdown" by Jihad
Right now, you’re walking through the Valley of
the Shadow of Death. Not many come up out of the Valley,
but a real soldier finds a way to rise. And if I don’t
know anything else, I know my nephew is a soldier--a no-limit,
by any means necessary, non-compromising soldier. I say
this because look at all the mess you’ve had to
face your whole life by yourself, and just you keep rising.
How many headz you left seven plus years ago when you
first went down, and how many of those headz were still
in the same place as they was when you first left the
streets. Marinate on how you came up, how fast you did
it. Now I ain’t talking about how you grew, cause
everybody know a rose can’t grow out of concrete,
but a weed can find a way to rise, and that’s what
you were, a weed, but now nephew, you a rose. You rose
from the concrete jungle cause the savages of the streets
listened to you, not cause you had the best game, the
best dope, or was the baddest, but they listened to you
because of your character. Young-bloods from Baltimore
projects to Haulville revered you, because everyone who
knew you, knew that you say what you mean and mean what
you say. They respect you. And RESPECT is the most powerful
thing you can ever have. You can’t buy that. I know
you messed up, and ain’t nothing I can do to stop
the pain you feel, but I can show you that you ain’t
alone, been there done that, and YOU GOT ME. I thank God
as I write this letter that I have you for a nephew.
Regrets" by William
I ask your forgiveness for this sudden, and I’m
certain, unexpected intrusion into your life after quite
some time and now turn my focus on the reason for this
letter. If you’re wondering why the memory of you
resurfaces on occasion, the answer lies in the response
to a question recently posed.
asked to contribute a story to The Soul Of A Man Anthology,
I thought of a defining period of my life that forged
resiliency, resolve, and character-building fortitude.
In spite of all the drama, emotional catastrophes, and
tragic events transpiring throughout the world; despite
joyful and wondrous events like watching my daughter grow
and where my present endeavors reside, my mind kept wandering
back to you.
you ask? It’s because your entrance into my world
on February 6, 1987 had such a profound impact on me that
continues to affect me to the very day. Don’t worry
though, I bear no ill feelings, have no regrets, harbor
no resentment, nor do I still feel pangs of unrequited
love. My friend and first love, you assisted greatly in
transforming me into the man I am today, a man I’m
very proud to be.
Lies In The Souls Of Men?" by Alvin
here I am ready to solve a piece of a puzzle that is missing
coherence and clarity to some to shed light on this dark
passage - understanding men!
good friend and editor of the book you're reading approached
me with the query, "what is in the soul of men?"
If you think nobody gives a hoot what Black men are thinking,
think again. I often wonder myself!
some people would rather open us up and see why we do
what we do, especially when there are those that fear
us, and would do anything to keep us second class. We
are a force - I know this because I'm aware that the corporate
world loves us because they can coerce us to buy their
products. Politicians have exploited us for years with
promises and more promises. Banks coddle us because they
want the deposits that fuel their institutional worth.
The media, including TV, radio, and now the internet,
want you to redefine what role models they want you to
emulate.they want you to pay attention to more stereotypical
crap. The point is, all of them want something from us.
And when someone has a demand, and it's us that they are
after, we got power over them. Yes we, do! Anytime a collective
group of people can earn more than 400 million dollars
a year - that's clout, baby! As a man of color, there
are a plethora of things I'm always thinking about that
have the propensity to make the grade for reflective thought.
The depth of my soul is like a bottomless pit that cannot
define volume. I've thought long and hard on how to answer
this question and have come up with a few caveats that
I'd like to share.
Out" by Marc
no, baby!" screamed Fancy.
the opposing player dashed to the basket for an easy layup,
JR trailed right behind him in an effort to foul or strip
the ball. He took a swipe at the ball, missed, and ended
up sliding face first on the slick floor. As the coach
marveled at the good hustle, the entire gym erupted in
laughter as the friction from JR's dive, not only pulled
his shorts down; but also his boxers underneath were stripped
as well. When JR finally stopped sliding, while lying
on his stomach, he looked back. JR panned slowly to see
everything. He looked up and saw that the player had actually
made the layup. "Dang man!" iterated a disgusted
JR. Then he glanced to the back left and right and saw
people covering their mouths. Lastly, he peered straight
back over his shoulder and noticed the source of everyone's
laughter...that JR McDonald was shooting a moon to the
Oh snap, I need to wakeup from this nightmare like yesterday!
This can't be happenin', thought JR to himself.
With cheerleaders staring at JR feverishly, the referees
blew their whistles as if to signify an injury time out.
Immediately, without exposing himself too much, while
still on the ground, JR slowly pulled his boxers up followed
by his uniform shorts. As he felt an embarrassing tingle
within his spine, JR got up, passed the ball inbounds
to his teammate, and trotted down the court as if nothing
happened. Meanwhile, Buford and Fancy took deep breaths,
glanced at one another and continued watching the game.
Vacancy" by Clarence
"Baba Simba" Mollock
well I remember that first thing Tuesday morning. Chawls
and I had been out hunting the night before. We were up
late skinning squirrels. Early that morning when Daelay
went to the chicken house to get eggs he found a hole
in the wire fence. Some of the chickens had gotten out.
He told Chawls to mend the fence and wake up Sammy, Saundwo
and I. We had to find and catch those chickens and put
them back in the chicken yard before we went to school.
By the time we did what we were told and got dressed for
school the school bus was blowing it's horn. We grabbed
our books and lunch boxes and ran down the lane to catch
the bus. That was one heck of a morning. I barely got
myself seated in the first group when he started.
Goslee must have decided to just pick on me! He talked
about my red plaid shirt, my overalls, and my PF Flyers
tennis shoes! I was not embarrassed, I WAS GETTING MAD!
By the time he started talking about my hair and how it
looked bushy my teeth were grinding, my eyes were squinting
and my nose was flaring. He yelled at me while reaching
for that leather strap and asked, "BOY! WHY DIDN'T
YOU BRUSH YOUR HAIR BEFORE YOU CAME TO SCHOOL!?"
I stood up abruptly and yelled back,"IWAZENAWUSSHH!!!"
was dead quiet... He looked at me and said "Wh-h-hat?"
I lowered my head and quietly repeated, "Iwazenawusshh."
He got up and slowly walked over to me. I closed my eyes
and was ready to flinch from the bite of that strap. I
thought that I deserved that strap because I should not
have yelled back at him. He leaned in close to me and
said, "Boy, look at me." I opened one eye at
a time looking for that strap. It was not in his hand?
He told me to repeat, real slow, what I had just said.
I slowly repeated, " I -waz- zen-ah- wusshh..."
He stood straight up and said, "Boy, I didn't understand
a word you said!" You know, the nicest thing he had
ever done for me was to get me a Speech Therapist.
here I am, ten years old and learning how to talk. The
speech therapist said that I had a lazy tongue - that
I was tongue tied. She once asked Mommo why I talked the
way I did and why so fast? Mommo simply said that I got
it from her husband's side of the family. She said that
as a child I would sit and listen to Daelay and his brother
l'il Waller telling tales. They would be talking so fast
back and forth to each other that she just walked away.
She said that it got to the point that not only could
nobody get a word in edgewise, but, they were the only
ones who understood each other. It was very clear that
I was in dire need of help.
Up With God" by Brian
off to college I went with all of those wonderful words
of encouragement and a vote of confidence from all of
my friends and family. My plan was to get away from home,
have fun at college and one day I would become a rich
lawyer. Well, I certainly got away from home, and I had
a lot of fun at college; I had so much fun that I forgot
about being a lawyer. During my sophomore and junior years
of college is when everyone started to finish most of
the electives and general classes, and started taking
the major courses for graduation. I was still having a
good time just hanging out, enjoying my freedom, and doing
some homework every now and then. Life was just a joke
to me, and I always had the sentiment that my current
situation was always going to take care of itself. I was
like a person that was high on "weed," walking
around like a zombie with no cares, worries or adverse
thoughts. I was the class clown since elementary school,
and that escalated into being the party guy, getting drunk
and sleeping around during my college years. My new found
freedom was exciting to me: alcohol and having different
women hanging around were my new drugs, and I was getting
often as I could. Besides, that's what all of my role
model rappers were talking about all of the time.
biggest concerns in life were having fun and not obeying
any rules. In my mind, I was legally grown and my parents
weren't around to hassle me.I called all the shots, and
I was taking advantage of an opportunity of a lifetime:
living in a college town, going to a historically black
university where the ratio of women to men was approximately
15:1 and alcohol was flowing like water. I loved the attention
that I was getting from the ladies, and I couldn't remember
ever seeing that many beautiful women in one location:
tall, short, brown-skinned, light-skinned, big breasts,
big butts, pretty feet, sweet smells and everything else
in between was there for the taking. I got so caught up
in this aspect of my life that I began to forget the true
objective of why I was in college. In my youthful ignorance,
I didn't realize that rules and laws are not meant to
enslave or control, but to produce order, structure, and
discipline (something I didn't have).
the while, I knew that God was calling me to repentance.
Ever so gently, since my sophomore year of college, I
knew that God was dealing with me about committing my
life to Him.
I Used To Love Her" by Jarold
had been trying to forgive Maria for cheating on him but
every time he tries, all he pictures is the night that
he caught his wife and a deacon at another church rolling
around in the bed… this very bed in which they conceived
their second child and shared many a moment as husband
and wife. But lately, those moments had become less and
less as they struggled to get over the death of their
son. This is the second child the couple lost as their
first son died as a result of sudden infant death syndrome.
Calvin and Maria longed to raise beautiful sons and daughters
and their failure to deal with their children’s
death was part of the problem which kept the black and
Mexican couple from having true happiness. A child means
the world to them and they’ve gone through any length
to get one. Maria has been through a lot to give them
a family; two infant deaths and two miscarriages but they
keep trying. Calvin often wonders if this is the reason
that Maria was cheating on him… so that she can
have a baby by someone else, but he shakes the thought
Choice" by K.L.
as you sleep I am writing you this letter trying to explain
what has happened and will happen. Well baby here is the
whole thing. Some time ago, an angel came to me in a dream
and explained that something bad was going to happen to
the girls. I asked why are you bringing this to me. The
Angel said, I was told, because of the life Dan lead it
was decided that a price must be paid. However, since
I called upon the Lord often and serve him as best I can,
I could change the outcome if I chose to. Baby, the angel
told me, I could pick someone else to take the girls place.
The angel even suggested I could choose Dan if I wanted
to... I was offered a chance to remove him from the picture
as payment for his sins. I couldn’t do it honey,
I just couldn’t take another man’s life no
matter what he did in the past. I know Dan is trying to
make things right with the girls. After seeing him come
to church, I know there is still a chance for him. So,
you see love on this night I traded my life for our children.
I couldn’t see myself randomly picking a person’s
life to be taken. It didn’t seem fair or right.
I felt I was being tested. It turns out I was, Darling.
Marie after making my choice and deciding to lay down
my life, I was given a reward. The reward the Lord granted
me was one wish before I left this earth. I chose this
trip! This wonderful evening we shared was that wish.
I thought since we had been blessed with so much, even
though it wasn’t that much in money or status, it
was still a blessing. I wanted to give you the honeymoon
night I couldn’t all those years ago because we
couldn’t afford. I did this for you Marie.
Father, Like Son" by Joey
I first met Mary, everything was cool between her and
I. Andre made it obvious from the very beginning that
he wanted his mother to have no parts of me. But what
little man did? I wasn't offended. In fact, I gave a silent
ovation to his desire to protect the only person that
had protected him. I never felt provoked to challenge
his bond to his mother. Simply put, I was a stranger invading
went from courting Mary to actually marrying Mary. I proposed
to Mary after church one hot Sunday afternoon in July.
All of her family and friends present in the parking lot
praising the King of Kings and appraising the engagement
ring. Six months later, we married with those same family
and friends in that same sanctified church. Hands down,
it was one of the best days of my life even though Andre
practically ignored me. I remember hugging him and praying
that God help him come to accept me as the man I was.
In time, I wanted him to realize that I seriously loved
his mother and had the same love for him. He showed no
signs of appreciation. Instead, he pushed the buttons
on his new Game Boy Pocket that he successfully begged
understood that position when he was a little boy. I gave
him room to figure things out. He had to get used to having
a father-figure after eight years of just having a mother.
I took the lead and remained the adult. I didn't embarrass
him in front of his friends, I never laid a hand on him
that wasn't warranted and I never talked down to his mother
during our disputes.
the years, the tension continued to build. At sixteen,
Andre was where he was at day one: I was still a stranger
invading his space. Despite all that resistance from Andre,
I continued loving Mary like there was no turbulence,
by the name of Andre, interrupting our relationship. I
struggled against the strain of juggling life with an
enamored wife and a egocentric son.
Forward" by Thomas
wailed up in Shawn's eyes. He knew if he was ever going
to move forward in his life that he would have to eventually
address his childhood pain. He couldn't hold it in any
I was about four years old my Aunt Sarah molested me,"
Shawn said with tears running down his cheeks. "My
Mom would be at work. She was supposed to be talking care
of me instead she was abusing me. I told my Mom about
five times and she didn't believe me. By the sixth time
she finally confronted my aunt. Aunt Sarah got really
mad, pack her things and left a couple days later. My
Mom and I never talked about it since then. I was mad
at my Mom for not being there for me. I was mad at my
aunt for abusing me and I was mad at God for allowing
it to happen.
buried his face in his hands and sobbed deeply. Brother
Jones got up, walked around his desk, sat beside Shawn,
and rubbed his back.
going to be alright Brother, just let it all out,"
Brother Jones said.
cried for almost an hour while Brother Jones sat quietly.
He also told what happened in more detail. Shawn finally
wiped his tears and took a deep breath.
need to have a lot more sessions," Brother Jones
said. "I've dealt with sexually abused people before
and it can be a long road to full deliverance but with
the help of God you can overcome. Can we meet again next
Saturday at the same time?"
Shawn said. "Thanks for listening and allowing me
to release what I've been carrying for so long."
Brother Jones said. "This is what God called me to
They ended with the usual prayer. Shawn walked out feeling
like he just took a giant leap forward. He knew he needed
to completely forgive his Mom and his aunt but he had
taken the first step in the right direction. There was
one thing he couldn't understand. Why would God allow
this to happen in the first place?
Hoop And A Holler" by Tyrell
feel genuinely lifted!
jolt of energy, like none other, has rushed through my
veins! A fiery feeling, meshed with a whirlwind of the
most emotional love, has overtaken every sane bone in
my body. I am a true representation of God's yearning
desire to have a relationship with all his children. My
hands are moist beyond belief and beads of sweat trickle
down my forehead as I unleash a divine word from the Lord.
The degree of my intensity can be comparedto that of a
professional athlete who's playing in the 4th quarter
of a highly contested game. The only difference is I've
replaced a football field or basketball court with a pulpit
and podium. My beautiful hand crafted royal blue suit,
complimented by silk pin stripes is flashy enough to compete
with suits donned by Steve Harvey, but classy enough to
be worn in any corporate boardroom meeting. Someone sure
loves me for them to keep me looking as good as I do.
Term" by Maurice
M. Gray, Jr.
hate hospitals. Almost every time I'm in one, somebody
years ago, my mother went to the hospital for minor surgery
and never came out. A few months later, a drunk driver
who should've been off the road three crashes ago, broadsided
my brother; he died instantly. We hadn't finished the
food from his funeral when the doctor diagnosed my favorite
aunt with pancreatic cancer. Auntie Shane was gone within
three months of her diagnosis. Now I'm heading to the
hospital again. The odds of me getting out without grieving
another loss are slim and none- and Slim already left
flash of red light brings me into a scary reality.
cop car. Great.
can stop and risk not getting there in time or keep going
and risk having that cop force me over and legally change
my name to Rodney King.
stepping on it. If Officer Unfriendly wants to beat the
crap out of me, he'll have to do it in front of the hospital.
At least I'd be able to get medical care quickly. And,
if by some miracle he- or she- doesn't wail on me, I can
still get there in time to do what I have to.
minutes later, the ambulance and I pull up at the hospital.
As soon as I stop, a voice loud enough to startle a deaf
man booms from behind me
OUT OF THE CAR SLOWLY WITH YOUR HANDS RAISED!"
out the car before he finishes the sentence. I keep my
hands where he can see them so I won't wind up on the
front page of tomorrow's News Journal.
Birthday Gift" by Eddrick
know where this is going; don't even try it Staci. There
is no way you are taking half. You know we made a vow
to be with each other for richer or poor, sickness and
health. I upheld my end of the bargain and you bailed
out. Anyone with a pair of eyes will see that you abandoned
life when it got too hard, making your kids and your husband
pay the price and only want money now that it's here.
I just need for you to sign the divorce papers when you
get them. I'll talk to you later, you take care of yourself."
said politely as he ended the call.
wasn't bitter anymore at Staci for leaving him and girls,
because, in all actuality, it might have been the best
new start any of them could've wished for. He stared at
all of the kids and parents out playing on the playground
and wondered if he would ever find a woman to be a proper
partner and parent to him and his daughters. If anything,
they deserved that much. Taking out his phone, Allen sent
Vanessa a text message asking her if she wanted to go
to Disney World with him and the girls. When she replied,
Allen glanced at the message and grinned.
be delighted to go." He read out loud.
Allen looked down at the phone and then back up at his
daughters and sat there looking at them and thought, I
may not be perfect, and I know this will take some time,
but starting today, I will give full credit to God for
every opportunity that I get in this lifetime and rely
on him through thick and thin. And I vow that my soul
will triumph over any obstacle thrown my way.