love

Adrift

James (Adrift)

Mortal Man

Adrift

By: James Dickerson

Optimism is new to me. I stopped having expectations some time ago and have learned to let life be.
— James Dickerson

This year I found myself breaking up with and wanting to get over what I thought was the  traveling path of my life. I left behind someone I should’ve held tighter to. Had an emotional fling that I’m still sore about - my first time engaged in intense desire; so intense that I broke my own rules involving women with significant others. And financially, as a single father, I found myself struggling to live on the pedestal I placed the responsibility to my sons on. Sleepless nights wrote my story after so much happened in so little time. 

I would think: what is the point of a sunrise if all you see is darkness? Every day felt the same. I became distant at work. The idea of friendship is a struggle and my kids wonder if I’m okay. What it meant to be a photographer in a non-traditional way was lost because of inconsistency. Prior to full time employment I was able to split my time on the street as an urban documentarian with my time as a clerk at a library, making enough noise in both respects to keep everyone happy. Almost everyone. The dissolving of my relationship with the mother of my children forced me into a full time spot at work. And then things started to die.

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Part of the problem was giving too much of myself to sustaining troubled waters. I needed still waters. I sought still waters, but aimlessly. Living for the satisfaction of others is not mentally healthy when you avoid your own health in the process. The darker life became the more I contemplated the wrong things. I told myself that the “end” would be a loss for everyone. I thought about my kids and what that would mean for them to lose their father, and a thread tightens and yanks me back a few feet from the edge. Their sadness I’d never want to face even in death. 

My relationship with them is strong so I have to survive for them. I have to survive for them. Fatherhood is keeping me alive. 

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I’m not the type to enter into the year with resolutions but I think about them. With their succession, how does the future feel a year older? If I hit every one would I die a better man? From one year to the next they ranged from weight loss, financial responsibly, a healthier relationship, and a home to raise my boys in. All the things I wished for when I was with their mother are still the things I wish for after. 

There’s something to be said about existing on the same page. Our story could be told together, written without ending, but our conflicts with each other prevented any real growth after 12 years. I don’t regret the loss of time but I regret the lack of growth.

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I doubt that I’ve truly healed from the strains of this break up. My nuclear family had a meltdown. We both assumed blame but still lacked growth. I tried dating after her and while that had its strengths, I was definitely its weakness. I left her feeling as lost as I was. That made me a bad guy. 

The bigger question is if I feel what is in my soul is for me. I don’t want the crash and burns to define my life. Nor the hang ups of emotional flings. “I want more life.” She shared that with me when I was having a rough moment. A phrase from a play that slips my mind. I debate whether our relationship was karmic in nature; that we taught each other something in the process. I did learn that I don’t want to be alone. But the bigger part I learned was that I never want to be who another man feels will destroy his happiness. But am I allowed to make that mistake in the process of growth?

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I don’t know how to end the year within this essay because my life is still changing. I may have written the most cryptic piece for the Mortal Man series. At the same time someone may pick this out as a resonating segment among others. Optimism is new to me. I stopped having expectations some time ago and have learned to let life be. However, as my life wraps up, I have a small amount of hope that’s always existed. It’s pushed me forward when permanent sleep was all I dwelled on. 

Let me experience internal peace, God. Just once, even if we aren’t friends.

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James Dickerson

Adrift

Son | Father | Brother | Photographer | Author | Real Life Documentarian

I met James on instagram. I admired his photography and reached out to him when I knew I’d re rolling through his hometown of Toledo, Ohio. Though it was our first time meeting our conversation was deep, intense, personal… REAL.

You can keep up with James on instagram at:

@dirtykics

James’ street photography is also featured on Wassuprockers’ “The Room” and can be viewed online here.

Turning Points

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Mortal Man

Turning Points

Kameron Davis

Lately I've been trying to understand my purpose and how I would define my life up to this point, wondering "what type of man am I?" When I see the Mortal Man series it helps me realize that men are vulnerable, that I am vulnerable. At this point in my life I pretty much know who I am and who I want to be but at the same time there is that "unknown." There's some things about that that scares me and some things about that that excites me. In some ways I don't want to know everything about myself and what I'm capable of and in some ways I do.

I think about the generations in my family, especially the elders. Bing Davis is my uncle and he is pretty much the alpha male in our family of many men. He has a lot of wisdom to offer. He is an artist an educator and a strong christian man. Many of us in the younger generations look up to him and use him as our measuring stick. Lately I've been wondering about how vulnerable he feels. We all look at him as this strong individual but I'm sure that he's been through his own share of bullshit in his life and has thought about his own mortality. I wonder what things happened in his life to help mold him... "when did he reach his turning point?"

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Looking back I realize that I had a naive childhood. I was raised by my mother along with my two older brothers. My father left when I was about two and was out of my life until I reached eight. He got back in our lives then because he wanted us to get to know our sisters. I was the baby brother in our house so I was very close to my mother. My brothers were older so I learned a lot from them, both good and bad - but I wasn't anything like them. I grew up playing video games. I didn't play sports or even think about dating girls until about my senior year of high school. I didn't really blossom or come of age until I got to college. Up until then all of my friends were gamers so I was definitely behind the eight ball. In this phase of my life I didn't know much about love, challenges or life in general.

One of my brothers told me that I was a late bloomer. That things always take off for me in life but they happen late. He said "you learn all these things super late but you progress in ways that I've never seen. When you hit your stride you hit it HARD."  And when I look back at all of the progressive periods in my life I realize that he is absolutely right.

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There was a time in my life where I feel like I lost myself. It was five or six years ago and that's when I reached my turning point. I was dating my first college girlfriend - we were together for nearly four years and everything between us seemed to be going great. I felt like I had finally found someone that accepted me for who I was, PokeMon and all! Right when I was about to graduate I found out that she was cheating on me and I didn't know how to process or accept that. I was devastated. My foolish pride caused me to take her back only for her to cheat on me again. This time I became depressed. We tried working things out but never got things back on track. She started dating another guy and I hit a breaking point. One night she went to her new boyfriend's house and for some foolish reason I had to see things for myself. I was outside of his house for a couple of hours. I didn't know what I was going to do but I couldn't make myself leave. I had to get inside so I broke into his house. I wanted to see what was going on with my own eyes so I could stop denying it but I also wanted her to see me so she could see the pain and misery she was causing me. I wanted her to meet her demon.

They escorted me out of the house. Her boyfriend didn't press charges but I did have a civil order against me which stated that I could not come into contact with her. I realized that I needed help so I saw a therapist. I never told anyone about what was going on with me or that I was depressed. My mother and stepfather found my court documents that I failed to get rid of and confronted me about what happened like; "what were you doing stalking your ex-girlfriend?" That was embarrassing but talking to my stepfather about it helped me. He shared an experience that he had gone through that was somewhat similar so he understood what I was going through. Even though I love my father I love my stepfather as well. I have a connection with my stepfather that I really appreciate. It's almost as if we can communicate and understand how the other is feeling without even speaking a word. He's been there for me and has helped me understand who I am.

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I realize now that I rarely expressed myself, what I was thinking or what I was going through and that sometimes there are events in your life that change that for you in an instant. I felt as though the men in my family were invincible, but now I am traveling through the discourses that shaped them into the alpha men that they are today.

Now I choose to do what makes me happy despite what others may think of me. I decided to own my own faults and flaws and to accept who I am as a person. I've had brushes with death and too many chances to take the wrong path in life and into the devil's work.

I love being an artists and having the ability to conceptualize and understand things.
— Kameron Davis
 
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Kameron Davis

Turning Points

Person, Cinematographer, Photographer, Editor, Gamer, Creator of the Reflex Series

website: junebugg.space

reflex series: reflex

instagram: junebugg.free

facebook: Kameron Davis

"Look alive kid!"

Footnotes On Loving a Broken Man

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Mortal Man

Footnotes On loving a Broken Man

by: Atlas

On days, I rebuke my reflection Times, where I begin to wallow in self-doubt and pity.

Eventually, succumbing to my past failures On those nights, when I come home defeated And I feel I can’t live up to my name.

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(Please.)

Wrap your heavenly wings around my physique. Compress your flesh upon mine. And (hold on.) Cling to me like memories of the fallen remind me what an functioning heart beat feel likes,

(Be silent.)

Wipe tears that escape my pride Off my cheek bones

(And as I resist, in showing you emotion.)

While my ego attempts to engulf Whatever’s left of me in order to save face. Remembering, what the absence of my father taught me. What the absence of my grandfather taught me. Remembering what my mother taught me. That there is no safe haven for men; boys whose hair is coarse and skin sun kissed.

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That being frail is not an option, being tender is not an option. That black men; boys cannot be broken. when those words prove false. And my own esteem shatters across our living room floor When these eyelids overflow And streams of disdain pour down your back. (Squeeze me tighter.) Remind me that I’m not the sins of my father. That I am not incompetent or a failure. Or colored from the same brush Everybody will eventually paint me. Remind me, that (I too deserve love) I too am worthy of peace, vulnerability, of feeling safe.


 
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Some of my oldest memories of my childhood were me looking for affection and it was consistently met with resistance.

I wrote this because men aren’t allowed to be broken, especially me being a black man. I could go over the statistics and data of how we as black men are treated unfairly in society. However, no one really gives a fuck and at times it is extremely frustrating and infuriating.

I can only speak for me and I personally was always taught that I couldn't show ANY vulnerability or emotion. That was like a cardinal sin growing up. Some of my oldest memories of my childhood were me looking for affection and it was consistently met with resistance. When little girls fall and start crying because they scrape their knees, we stop everything to make sure they are ok. When a boy falls and start crying because they scrape their knees, we ignore him or tell him stop crying; we call him names sissy, punk, or a girl. We give negative reinforcements at an early stage that showing emotion is not a quality boys should have.

We as society promote hypermasculinity and stoicism, especially in the black community; then 15-20 years later after he's been conditioned to be a "savage" or lack empathy we complain about how he does not know how to say I love you and mean it or why he cannot properly express himself. We also chastise and vilify him for that same reason. Men are just forced “Man up,” especially when dealing with emotions.

This poem is me recognizing what has been instilled me and why it's problematic. That there are an abundance of broken men out there who want to show love and be loved, but that concept is so foreign to them. Lastly, masculinity will continue to be fragile until society is truly open with allowing it to be vulnerable.

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Atlas

Footnotes on Loving a Broken Man

Vet. Artist. Teacher. Student

Atlas is a spoken word artist and member of Underdog Academy.

Be sure to engage with him and follow his journey.

instagram: @atlasthepoet & @underdogacademy

twitter: @Da2KcoolJ

facebook: Kyle Flemings & Underdog Academy

and also at uapoetry.com

please comment on this page to keep the dialogue going.

 

All In A Name

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MORTAL MAN

All In A Name

by: Aaron Paschal

I'll never forget the emotions, the memories, the stillness that I felt the first time I signed my last name after my father passed away. It was like time stood still as visions of my father flashed before me. Memories of my childhood and hearing him walk through the house quoting Muhammad Ali and scenes from Superfly followed by his goofy laugh. I could see him with a basketball in his hand calling himself the "Slama' from Bama" in our driveway followed by a hook shot that always seemed to go in no matter where he shot it from as my friends and I looked on annoyed and impressed all at the same time. 

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I wonder how long I stood there at the desk signing my last name?

Funny how something I've done countless times in my life could trigger such thoughts. I'd always taken my last name for granted and even had grown accustomed to simply writing my initials up until March 18, 2012. That's the date my father passed away and left me his only son to carry on his name, his lineage, his legacy.

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While I was there at that desk signing my name on that paper I could hear my father’s voice calling out to me to press my teenage foot on the brakes as we worked on my first car. I could hear him telling me how foolish my uptown haircut looked. I could hear him repeat some of the same corny jokes that he told me as a child to my kids. 

I wonder how long I stood there at that desk signing my last name?

I could hear the frustrations in my father's voice as he seemed to be in and out of the hospital the final year of his life. I can remember the strength and courage he displayed as he was diagnosed with stage four cancer. I never heard him complain or ask "Why me?" He just went about his life, enjoying time with his family, soaking in the love and what I imagine the pride that he had as he looked at the people he would soon be leaving behind.

Isn't it funny how something as simple as signing your last name can remind you where that name came from? How what you do with that name extends far beyond you?

I wonder how long I stood at that desk signing my last name?

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MORTAL MAN is dedicated to the memory and legacy of my father
— Willie Frank Paschal

christina + corry

this thing called love

on august 5, 2017 i had the pleasure of documenting christina and corry’s love story at mt. carmel baptist church in cincinnati, oh.

there’s a certain art to capturing the “true” dynamics of a couple. creating a mood and atmosphere that allows them to relax and enjoy each other and show their true personality. lately there’s been a trend with wedding pictures that have couples disengaged with a cold stoic look on their face. well i’ve never been one to follow trends but this one baffles me. this is one of the happiest days of their lives! i love it when my couples wrapped in each others arm, interacting with each other and fully engaged -  leaving no doubt that they are indeed in love!

i was able to capture christina and corry's affection for one another at eden park and the cincinnati art museum “it’s always great when coupled set aside the proper amount of time for creative portraits!” in between their wedding ceremony and their reception. during this time they were greeted with congratulations from people at the park and due the relaxed environment and my approach to documenting love stories we were able to create some dope images that christina and corry will be able to cherish for a lifetime and pass down through generations.

be sure to subscribe to the blog to see our next love story or contact me at aaron@ap2photography to contact me about documenting your happily ever after!
— aaron paschal