John Survivor Blake
The dressers have arched backs waiting to be rubbed by your things.
the bathroom misses your make-up bag, and rags wrung out all the tears.
Closets won’t let anyone else dress them. Mirrors won’t face me.
The kitchen is cockeyed cabinets and a lock-jawed fridge. The dryer
won’t give me my socks.
Kiss me so floorboards quit quivering, until curtains let breezes
brush them, until the furnace finds her pulse, until sockets laugh
that joy-shine again. Too many clumsy dreamers press their mouths
together and die having never been kissed, how love puts her tongue
passed sharp teeth and dares to forgive.
John “Survivor” Blake will tell you he just loves poetry. He will deny changing lives. He would minimize his role convincing young writers from almost hopeless circumstance to invest in their future and years later enroll in creative writing programs nationwide. He will say “if it wasn’t me, it would have been someone else”. We know better. He will claim to be “fortunate” as opposed to being successful. He will downplay being born addicted to heroin and alcohol or enduring poverty in the Baruch Housing Projects on the lower east side of Manhattan at the hands of chemically addicted parents. He believes his biracial experiences have enabled him to understand two sides of a cultural sword. He will say that spending his adolescence visiting his mother in prison was some sort of divine intervention in order that he find his own strengths.
In truth, John “Survivor” Blake has beaten more than odds. A recovering addict and alcoholic, he has managed to not only graduate high school and enroll in college, but has also shared performance stages with the likes of Patricia Smith, Saul Williams, Tara Hardy, Amiri Baraka, Suheir Hammad, Taylor Mali, and many, many other great writers. He has toured the United States. He’s facilitated writing and performance workshops as well as lectured at many universities as Columbia, Drury, and Virginia Tech. He’s done this because he believes poetry saved his life and he will tell you that he is simply making his life one gigantic Thank You card. “Survivor” is currently instructing a free summer poetry program at Warehouse508 and works outreach through writing at the Santa Fe Juvenile Detention Center.
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