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JJ Johnson

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3 Seeds - Seeds And Weeds - Chapter 1 excerpt
By JJ Johnson
Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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Seeds And Weeds is a philosophically expressive compilation of poetry and prose, creatively expressed in rhyme and reason. The poems within are more than simply a collection of verse with splashes of imagery. Seeds And Weeds challenges the mind and heart to find a better way through observations and feelings on the rise and fall of character.
Written in the moment, the poetry here is sometimes harsh, but always honest. Digging deeply into the essence of poetic creation, they have not been conjured from the casual observations on life that some would accept as poetic inspiration. These works are the raw emotions, articulated in words that have been inspired by a lifetime of experiences.

"Pride Is One Seed"

One seed is masked in infancy
With its intoxicating allure
Its sexy remedy
Impersonating ones esteem
Inseminating the mind with arrogance
An artificial substitute for confidence
Yet this sweetener is no equal
Stroking the ego
Through external heights that excite
Leading to a bitterness deep within
Fueling a growing resentment
For all that is physically different
Forgetting that at the core we are One
We are the same
Letting go of who you are not
Is the key to setting us all free
As part of you is a part of me and we
And in One we are all together
Our commonality is the seed of our equality
You are my equal and I am sorry
While the shame I carry for four hundred years of hate
Cannot be let go of by one alone
It must instead be released by One together

"3 Seeds"

Young ones look up to us with learning eyes each day as they grow
Teach your children how to feel and everything that you know
About love and self-esteem and what you reap you sow
Parents who express no love raise their children down so low

Once planted in a heart, the seeds of hatred sprout then grow
Pride injects a high, like drugs, through veins where it can flow
To desire more, then crash from withdrawal addicts come to know
Three seeds of prejudice raise your spirit down so low

From the depths once descended exploring new levels to exceed
Is there nowhere inside their souls unconsumed by material need?
Hypocrites utter deception, telling half-truths designed to mislead
Said so many times even they believe in the lies that plant the seed

Corporate owners seem to have forgotten the slaves were freed
Robbing retirement funds to stuff their overwhelming greed
Keeping down the poor to maintain their status as the richest breed
Who refuse to admit the pecuniary progress they impede

Zealots point fingers and label "immoral", hearts that bleed
And proclaim God as a charter member of their creed
They hunger for power over fearful faithful they can lead
With a grip on their flock that strangles credence like a weed

Cowled cowards twisting scripture till they feel sanctified
Planting the tree grown for the cross, burned to become purified
But there's another fire eager to see how far down they can slide
Where the fallen one would rise to lead them to unholy deicide

Seduced by fear, bathed in greed and gorged the flesh with pride
Will they embrace all three until they've cast their souls aside?
Will God look back at the end of man and see the hate of genocide?
The first thing God did not create, the only thing that never died

The rainbow in their love filled lives kept them on the outside
Don't ask, don't tell the truth, there are rules to abide
Homophobia in fox holes is not morally justified
Love feels no conflicting virtues that ever could collide

Weak hearts are overcome when they feel a darkness drawing near
Listening to the movement beating war drums within each ear
Quiet those thoughts and open the mind to a silence all can hear
Look inside the heart for the courage to quell this secret fear

Eyes held closed to painful sights shed not a single tear
When they open up their eyes the truth becomes so clear
Mesmerized by powerphiles like headlights to a deer
In darkness till they will admit every human is their peer

Search within thick forests for three seeds that grew three shady trees
Knock on their wood to hear three names carried on the breeze
Hear the quiver of terror, glory and desire shaking the greener leaves
See spring saplings and perceive the grand design that hatred weaves

Time marches ever onward forming new circles in the wood
Branching out lines surrounding rings where only one once stood
Lines drawn in circles that separate where colors never could
While one more family tree draws cryptic bloodlines in the hood

The high and mighty tree grows taller with each passing year
The weight of its own branches make it hard to persevere
Until its hollow trunk caves in making way for freedoms true frontier
The first steps toward the promised land must begin right here

NYS OCFS Graduation Speech, Parker Training Academy, 12/10/99

When I first started working for the Office of Children and Family Services in April of 1998, I ran in to an old friend who asked me where I was working these days. I told him I was a YDA at Tryon in Johnstown. He looked at me with a confused expression and asked me what the heck a YDA is and what kind of company Tryon is. I told him that YDA stands for "Youth Division Aid" and Tryon is a residential center. His eyebrow raised and he asked me in a frustrated tone, "What do you do?" I thought for a few seconds and said, "I'm a guard in a reform school." That seemed like the right answer at the time, but the longer I worked there, the more I realized that Tryon is not simply a reform school and being a YDA is so much more than being a guard. Yes, we do guard the youths in our facility and yes, we do our best to reform and educate them, but those are the simplest definitions for what we do.

Perhaps reforming assumes that these children were ever truly formed to begin with. We have the opportunity and the responsibility to be a positive influence in the lives of impressionable teenagers who, for the most part, have lacked positive role models throughout their lives. We are mentors who help guide these young people through the final stages of adolescence before their age makes them legally adults, but are still children on the inside.

Why should we do this for kids who break the law and break the rules time and time again? I'm reminded of a video we watched in class called "Eye Of The Storm" about a third grade class room of blue eyed children and brown eyed children. Not only did Miss Elliot teach those children a valuable lesson on prejudice, but she showed how easily young people can be influenced and persuaded by adults in a position to teach them. She demonstrated that it was possible to change overnight, the students ability to learn based on what they were told about their ability to learn, and how they were treated by the other students after they were told half of them were better than the others. As YDA's we need to take that lesson to heart and give these kids a sense of self worth, but not at the expense of their peers.

Equality and consistency will create an environment that will allow us to use the opportunity we have been given to plant the seed of self-esteem. With that, when they leave OCFS to return home, they will not feel the need to rejoin or become part of gangs who make them feel safe and important. They will already have the self-confidence inside themselves to survive and a real chance to flourish on their own when they venture out into the world. To do that, we must do our best to share and instill in them our "Valiant Vision".

JJ Johnson

       Web Site: Albany NY Poets - Seeds And Weeds

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