Buddy Wakefield – “The Gift of My Hate” @WANPOETRY (SLAM MANIA II)

– At the concert for New York
City in Madison Square Garden five weeks after 9/11,
Richard Gere stood in front of millions of viewers and said, “We have the possibility to
turn this horrendous energy “we are all feeling, from
violence and revenge, “into compassion, into
love, into understanding.” The crowd booed him. (laughter) Loudly. As if to say, “Hey! “Buddha boy. “We will not be caught dead
asking like Jesus Christ.” As if Christ only published concepts he wanted us to thump
instead of experience. Granted, compassion is a wounded word. It gets banged around in the junk drawer. It is not an entitled
driver, would not survive in California, compassion is
often the last player picked, so maybe Richard Gere should
have used the word rest to suggest we curb the
poison of reacting so fast, but journalists insisted
Richard Gere’s proposal for love and understanding
was the wrong time, wrong crowd, wrong message. I remember being 27 watching this, feeling like some fathers
do not tell their children, “I’m proud of you.” Like an entire city had
learned the language of a well-disguised suicide. Dressed in clever headlines and a swarm of stage-y news reporters
who failed to mention that a French man named Antoine Leiris lost his wife and the mother of his child to the terrorist attacks
in Paris that week. It was no more excruciating
than what happened in Baghdad, Beirut, or the
West Bank in the same 24 hours. The difference is that Antoine
Leiris was the only man who posted a love letter
for his son on the BBC. An open message to those
responsible for killing his wife. He looked directly into their
hungry little pain-bodies and told them, “I won’t give
you the gift of hating you. “Pussies. (laughter) “Pathetic propagandist. “Candy-ass liberal.” The insults that followed
Antoine’s moment of peace made me realize, y’all, that love, wounded a word as it may
be, love can see all of it, but anger, anger is only concerned with what it thinks is fair. You know what? I stole that last line from a Pixar movie. (laughter) It’s from, I accidentally
got stoned in my apartment in Los Angeles and I
was watching Inside Out, and when they introduced
the little red guy, they say, “This is Anger. “He’s only concerned with
what he thinks is fair.” (explosion sound) (laughter) He is, y’all. Only concerned with
what he thinks is fair, like the barrel of the NRA. Narrow. Like the blueprints to
Russia’s femininity. To China’s childhood. To North Korea’s private parts. To the bruised music of
the Confederate flag states still singing like a drunk Englishman in a Tibetan monastery loudly, louder, Hey! I’m the Over-compensator,
The Great Annihilator, cross me and you will know my pain. In each of us lives a
small man with a good heart and an ego the size of Hitler, y’all. Why are we not fighting fire with water? Compassion will not make us lazy. It is okay to cross these borders. It is okay to stay awake, to
love our own ignorance enough to look at it square in the wise guy, in the bright side, at the
parts you were terrified to acknowledge because of the
work it will probably cause us because there is a chance we
have been our own terrorists. There is a chance we are
a failed relationship. There is a chance that we are
the reason every single day millions of animals actually
weep before slaughter and we do not get to make up for it by watching adorable YouTube videos while stuffing our face with their death. It is more. It is more than some sellable cliche. It is more than some sellable cliche that through these bodies we
are rooted to the same source, that we have arrived on this
planet to experience form. Now that we have had some
time to do that, please, let us reintroduce the idea
of questioning everything. Excessive packaging. Planned obsolescence. Breeding. Planned obsolescence. (laughter) Your identity. Planned obsolescence. Your story. The narrative. Y’all, anything impractical to
the eradication of suffering like building a fence around freedom, like the oceans of care,
like the oceans of care we keep for this world getting
so landlocked in our chest, then when the answer tries moving over all the God dams built
across our flooded hearts to surprise us with consciousness, it might look like we’re spitting back entitlements at the Earth. Stand down. Gather your wits. Pull out the slack. Find their ends. Pull out the slack and
say, “Clearly, yeah. “Love. “Compassion. “Understanding. “Go ahead, call me another cliche. “Stick your violence into my meditation. “The worst you can do to me “for not joining the gangland
war on Christ’s behavior “is shoot me the look on my face. “The one that says I am not
afraid to understand you. (applause) “Or to stop you.” In “A New Earth,” Eckhart
Tolle refers to us as the noisiest humans in history. Some things do not need
to be fact-checked. (laughter) Stop backing up so loudly,
you screaming sirens on a cell phone, you
heavy-footed upstairs neighbors, bloated bodies of anger belting out boos, the size of Madison Square
Garden rejecting Richard Gere who I know very little
about, but who I suspect, like most humans, is
part saint, part fraud, and who reporters had to admit rebounded rather nicely
when he acknowledged that what he had to offer
was apparently unpopular right now, you know? (laughter) You know? Like taking away your
child’s assault rifle. Like the color white. Like the color brown. Like supporting the man in Nigeria who found the cure for HIV. Unpopular is compassion, like
a savings account in Greece, like the topic of trafficking
Stockholm Syndrome all the way back from New York City to right here down the west of me where I am determined to see all of it because I do not get to go blind again. Not without carving the word “coward” in holy braille on every
pen I will ever use to point out how pain cannot digest love. It works the other way. My body no longer loves writing poems for public consumption. It does not believe in blowing apart. But I am still right
here, behind its habits, stacks of ground-down teeth
and a mashed-up forehead of rolling credits
working to see all of it, which I suspect is more productive than giving you the gift of my hate. (cheers)

4 thoughts on “Buddy Wakefield – “The Gift of My Hate” @WANPOETRY (SLAM MANIA II)

  1. So many touching lines I don’t even know where to begin. Love that it acknowledged anger and ignorance and allows that to be experienced instead of saying love will conquer all whilst still using love as a huge tool to conquer all…. beautiful. Incredible & delivered so well.

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