Tanka's Mark K. shares his heart and his art at Poetry Slam

June 21, 2010

Tanka's Mark K. shares his heart and his art at Poetry Slam



When the Thunder Valley e-Tanka Cafe hosted a Youth Speaks Inc. training session and Poetry Slam in October (see previous story), one of Tanka's very own stepped up to share one of his creative works.

Mark K. Tilsen, Tanka's assistant director of marketing, is serving as a youth mentor in the nonprofit literary arts organization's program that focuses on spoken word performance, education, and youth development programs.

Youth Speaks presents local and national youth poetry slams, festivals, reading series and a comprehensive slate of literary arts education programs.

In addition to Youth Speaks, Brave New Voices, the First Peoples Fund, First Nations Oweesta Corp.'s SAGE Collaborative and Thunder Valley Community Development Corp. are working to assemble a group of youth poets to attend the Brave New Voices conference in Los Angeles in July 2010.

We're proud of Mark K. and we wanted to share a little of his talent with you:


I said good bye
five long years
sobriety strength sacrifice
my blood for you
my life for you
it wasn't enough
the pain
the illusion
the angry discord
between bullshit and the dream
stung too much in my eyes
my own especially
theirs too
I cut my hair that hung beautifully and ragged down to my waist
wavy and curly with different colors
the girls loved it
beautiful and ratted
"let me braid it"
sure cutie,
all over now
did not endure
did not dance
did drank/smoke
pain embraced
this is my madness
my sweet and ugly truth
not good enough
maybe never was
Hung with best of them?
I didn't but from a distance you could say that
the sweet truth
I was wandering,
going through motions
looking for understanding to the unknowable
but that is foolishness every common man knows that
common men
spit my insanity in their face if i could
leave them infected
midnight wonderer
what's it all mean? and if that wisdom is true it changes everything?
don't you see? it's all or nothing!
I wish I could,
make them catch it like a cold
"oh maybe the idolized dream I wish for is a lie"
yes my friend, now the question, what the fuck will you do with this information?
and I cut my hair,
the knife till its dull then the scissor
i loved my locks and held them with pride
crazy dreaded brown and gold
beautiful and ugly, they were me and all i learned
"never tell a lie, unless it's convenient"
"always put the people first, unless you don't like them"
"never forget about this way of life, unless the game is on"
"never turn your back on what you know, except when you really want to"
they tell me i was weak with their praise
almost made it
i'm still a good man
they reek of half truth and immolation
say what you mean, like grit and blood
razor edged swinging, charging, bashing to the TRUTH
HERE is where you are
HERE is where I AM
they are not the same
knowledge and madness, same draught and smile has it rips you
like carrying a life-changing secret for a decade but still holding on
the truth stings and rots, but it is pure
take the wounds.
too many words
The battle was on and I chose not to fight
Ghandi glorious or Judas pride?
non-violence in the face of the end of the all things?
is there honor in that?
Give me myself, an awesome gift of broken soul confetti
black-toothed liberation with hope at the root
but looking back
if i wasn't true at the end?
was I at the middle? or the beginning?
was it all a lie?
every scrap of blood and flesh and hour spent praying?
was it all for power glory self?
or were there moments of divinity?
under the raging clouds
"take my life if it is needed"
i hope there was truth in some of it
THERE must have been!
but the same words were uttered by the faker next to me
does that mean all my years of sincerity were opposite?
is there a power in being contrary?
I know they won't care or understand but that's OK
i have their love
and that's enough,
admire from afar
don't step inside
the blades are scary in that mind
foreign and eloquent
he is something else, they say
I would share
a dawn
a dream of spring
a beginning at the end of it
tears to my eyes
it is glorious
world reborn
so beautiful
like a child smiling
can't you see it
can I show you?
ask me at midnight
I will tell you

For more information:

Youth Speaks

Brave New Voices

First Peoples Fund

SAGE Collaborative

Thunder Valley

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