We are all unique and amazing. With this notion bouncing around inside me I offer to the world what I have to share. The words inside my head have reached to overflowing and in an attempt to keep from exploding I have taken to writing. What follows is the result of purging my mind. If you like what you see, SUBSCRIBE at the top of the page.
Before you judge me, what do you know about me? (air)
Jun 17, 2019
As a child I feared that I would die by drowning. It is somewhat funny that I did not have a fear of water. Remnants of the fear continued into adulthood but the fear was not debilitating. As an adult the fear would come in snippets at the fringe of sleep. In those snippets I would flash to another existence and I was drowning. I could feel the water fill my lungs. I could feel my lungs leaden and starving for air they could not get because they were already full. Throughout childhood I was quite familiar with my lungs straining for air. I am an asthmatic. All too often my lungs would betray me and stop working fully. The asthmatic response seemed to be so random. I could run and play for hours and then bam I could not breathe. I could enter a house and become short of breath. I could eat or drink something and then be starving for air. I did not make sense. Sometimes the asthma attack would last a few minutes and sometimes it would last days. There were nights that I gently cried myself to sleep. I had to cry gently so that the crying would not take away any more of my air. My cries were not for how laborious it was to breathe, the cries were because I was not sure if I would continue to breathe once I fell asleep. When I was twelve years old I was playing a game of tag with my brother and some friends at the Hammonton Lake. The local town lake had a floating dock. Two sides of the dock had shallow water and two sides of the dock had deep water. While trying to avoid being tagged I ran and jumped off the dock into the deep water. I jumped as far as I could to evade the tagger and mid stride I realized I was jumping into deep water. I did not panic. I can remember telling myself “sink to the bottom then push off toward the dock”. I took a big gulp of air and hit the water and willed myself to sink fast so I could jump back to the dock. I was sinking but there was no bottom. And still no bottom. I could not feel the bottom so I started reaching for the top flailing. Maybe just maybe if I flailed my arms for the top of the water I would start swimming. But I did not start swimming, I did start running out of air. The more I flailed the more I wanted air. I was twelve and I did not have a strong conviction and I was about to give up my struggle for air by trying to breathe water. Someone grabbed me. Whoever grabbed me was shoving hard. I did not have enough time to wonder who it was because the next thing I know I was touching the dock. I grabbed ahold of the ladder and climbed atop of the dock followed almost immediately by my big brother. I was gasping for air and my brother flopped down beside me also gasping for air. Although he did have enough air to say “Don’t jump into the deep end again. Next time I’m not saving you”. The following year I taught myself how to swim. By the age of fifteen I was a lifeguard. At sixteen I became a Water Safety Instructor where I was teaching others to swim and training lifeguards. I became comfortable and confident in and around water. I now have my advanced Open Water SCUBA certification. I have taken deep dives on the Cayman Trench in Jamaica and on the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. My comfort level in and around the water remains and yet deep within the recesses of my mind surfacing irregularly is the fear that I will die by drowning. My adult brain reasons that my struggle with air as a young asthmatic is why I fear dying by asphyxiation. Will it be drowning in water? Or will I drown on land as the asthmatic? Last year my mother died in a drowning accident at a spa. For a brief period after her death waves of panic would overtake me as I lingered on the edge of sleep. As I would fall asleep I would sink below the water and starve for air straining to breathe only to snatch awake chewing on fresh air. I am not sure these are premonitions of my own death. I do believe this is the fear of life being taken away before it has been fully lived.
At 19 years old I moved from rural South Jersey to NYC to pursue a dream of performing on Broadway. I only knew one person who had performed on Broadway and had no idea how I was going to manage the task of getting to the Great White Way. Some of the beauty of being young and clueless was I did not have to know the way I knew the beginning and I knew where I wanted to go the rest I would fill in by living. Not long after I arrived in NYC I heard a radio news report about the life expectancy of young Black men in urban areas. The news report stated that 3 in 10 Black men in urban areas would not live to see their 30th birthday. Although I had grown up in a rural area the life of the performer was lived in urban areas. I had a legitimate fear and the threat was the city itself. Every day I would hear on the radio or see on the news reports of young Black men killed in cities around the country. Many of these young men were killed because of mistaken identity. Some were killed for being Black in the wrong place. For unsuspectingly walking through gang territory wearing the wrong colors. For looking like the vague police sketch and fitting the vague police description. For appearing as a threat while wearing the hood up on a hoodie at night to keep a bald head warm. Some even for running down the street and making the police on the beat suspicious. With each incident my fears were pushed further. Each time a youngBlack man was gunned down I wondered if I would be next. Each night that fell while I lived in an urban area I did not know if I would return home alive. To coin a phrase “I kept my nose clean” I did not hang with the wrong crowd, I wore colorful bandanas with rainbow unicorns on my head so that no gang members would suspect me of being from a rival gang. After all who would have a beef with the rainbow unicorn gang? I truly hoped no one would have a beef with the rainbow unicorn gang. As I drew closer to my 30th birthday I felt that each time I stepped foot out of my apartment I was tempting fate. While living in San Francisco in the early nineties there was a murder of a well known activist one block from where I was living. Having such a horrific event happening so close to home is unnerving and this event had a compounding issue. The report of the suspect was for a Black man 6 foot 4 inches with a mustache and goatee between 200 and 220 lbs with an athletic build. That was me. Each day I would walk in the neighborhood I would slow as patrol cars passed me. I would make eye contact with the officers. I would smile. I would give the officer no reason to suspect me to be a murder. I would also brace myself for the arrest. Two full weeks of this occurred before the suspect was apprehended.I did not breathe a sigh of relief. I gave a silent prayer that they had gotten the right guy. My silent prayer was that they did not get another Black man like myself who was trying every day to survive being Black in the city. As I reflect a little smile comes to my face. The smile comes like a sigh because I would say I have lived a realatively stress free life and yet fearing for one’s life every day for a decade does not sound stress free to me now. One might asked “so why would you subject yourself to that kind of stress when you could easily resolve the issue by moving?” The only place I knew that I could ply my trade at the level I wanted was with urban areas, that is why. I am grateful that I survived. I am grateful that the career I sought materialized. I grateful that I could share my passion and my success and some of my struggle with other young Black men along the way. I hope those others received the hope for survival that I wished upon them. So before you judge me maybe this will give you a different perspective of who I am.
Each morning I write my poem for the day. Okay that is not completely true, some days I write two and three poems or a long poem with multiple stanzas. I have posted a poem a day on twitter and facebook since April 17, 2018 and will work to continue with that until April 17, 2019. I have learned much about the process of creating work on a daily basis. My work has previously been motivated by my desire to create work, it was not something I had to do or was expected of me. A poem a day must happen whether I feel the need to create or not. There have been many days where I had to motivate myself to write the words. I have had to give myself prompts such as a week of themes (i.e. for the next three days I will write about trees). I even made myself write haiku for a couple of days. I can actually feel growth in my work from the process. More importantly for me, I feel that I could share this process with anyone. And I feel that I have learned much about guiding someone else through this path a growth and development. A poem a day has already spawned a project to succeed it but I will wait until April to share it with the world.
Happy New Year! 2019 is here and with it new resolutions, new goals, new challenges. I have never ascribed to making resolutions for each new year, instead for the past for years I have set goals for the year. My goal setting is conservative, last year I set 5 goals and achieved them all. This year I will most likely do the same by setting 5 attainable goals. My goals last year included speaking engagements, publishing my writing and working as an actor. Each of my goals required a laying of a foundation, some research and lots of follow through. Each of my goals required help I could do most of the work but I needed someone else or others to attain successful completion. My goals for 2019 are not necessarily bigger and better than 2018 some are extensions of 2018 goals and some will be the next steps past 2018 goals. At least one will be nurturing a goal I had set years ago and let whither. With my goals in mind I look to you and with you more than just a Happy year, I wish you a Focused, Love filled, Healthy, Prosperous, Safe 2019.
#ApoemAday: Tweet poetry, the latest collection of poems from William Forchion is now available at Amazon.com. just in time for the holiday gift giving season. #ApoemAday is the first installment of William's year long poetry project of the same name. Beginning in April, National Poetry Month, Willam began writing a poem a day and posting on his Twitter (@actorbat) and Facebook accounts. After the unexpected death of his mother, William's biggest fan, in June he decided to continue the project for an entire year in her honor.