You Played Yourself: Knives Out

Here we go, first class in Food Tech,

That’s cooking class to the uninitiated, a new world opens in eighth grade,

Students split into groups, assigned a stove each,

Complete with tools and equipment necessary to whip up a simple meal,

Ain’t no Masterchef shit here, gotta start with basics first,

Excitable teens quickly presenting challenges for teacher,

For the most part they’re diligent, some more experienced than others,

The temptation to trigger a food fight must be all-consuming,

Thought the class needed laughs so you did the next best thing,

Pinned a knife between your right armpit, stumblin’ like a stabbing victim,

Had your groupmates giggling while others shook their noggins,

Teacher wasn’t buying it, boy did he see red,

Ordered you to see him after class, better get ready for he’s about to whup your ass,

Slapped you with after school detention, the price of your clowning,

Come home time while others are charging out the gates, you’re sitting in a room ruing your mistake,

Good luck explaining to your folks why you came home so late,

‘Til then, sit back and relax, still got hours on your sentence,

There’s no other way around it, Dude you played yourself.

Hours In The Day

Rise and shine, your big day has arrived,

A new day’s breaking, time for that grand entrance, your bio clock’s off and running,

Mom and Pops, they sure were smitten, in their eyes your presence is a blessing,

Though they might be thinking opposites when you’re trolling with their sleeping patterns!

But all jokes aside know that you are loved, that they’ll walk through fire for ya,

To make sure you’re healthy, nourished and a very happy camper,

The significance of what they’re doing doesn’t quite register, but hours from now it will,

Before they know it you’re communicating clearly, moving independently, growing exponentially on the daily, seemingly.

The day progresses, the sun rises further,

Morning at its peak and you’re raring to go, practically bouncing off walls,

Once an infant, now a child, some degree of independence and strength,

Plays right into your favour, those energy levels seem never ending,

Earlier just an infant now a living advertisement of the human body’s capabilities,

Running, crawling, jumping, rolling, throwing, catching, occasionally crying when ya trip then scrape that knee,

Gonna have to start school eventually, it sucks but if it’s any consolation, might seem scary at first but for Ma and Pops also kinda nerve-wracking,

But soon you’ll make friends, find your tribe for life if you’re fortunate,

Might as well be siblings from different parents, doing damn near everything together,

As the minutes turn you’re getting bigger, a growing awareness of the journey ahead of you,

Though the main priority is living a life carefree as young’uns are wont to do,

Besides keeping those grades up and your room tidy, responsibilities confined to fun times with friends and family,

What was exciting hours prior now seems beneath you, you find yourself wishing to be bigger,

Just like your guardians, free from any rules it seems, free to do as they please,

But you’re not privy to their hustling on the daily to keep you happy and healthy,

Some nights coming home drained, yet still making time with you to play,

Checking to make sure you’re head of the class, put you back in line when you’re acting like an ass,

Listen when they tell you never to take these hours for granted,

You’ll find out soon enough, how much clout such advice been carrying.

Closer to midday now, the past few hours have been most kind,

Crossing into teens, a taste of the world once beyond your reach, soon you’ll see, the big ones ain’t driving down Easy Street,

Slapped with more and more responsibilities, life’s no longer loose and carefree,

Those grades a new battleground, better be diligent or you’ll be found out,

Assessments and exams carrying extra heft, outside class you’re likely to make as many enemies as friends,

Some folks be wolves in sheep’s clothing, fading innocence giving way to ruthlessness,

There’s your early taste of politics and manipulation, flexing and comparisons, big folk games that’ll make your head shake,

Popular among the teens, it only gets worse from here, unfortunately,

What your folks done taught and brought you up with in the morning can and will be challenged, will you evolve or remain defiant?

Ma and Pa can only do so much, the world and your surroundings will do their part, where temptations were once of the sweet and sugary type, perhaps a few white lies, might now involve escapades and substances of the harmful, trouble-making type,

Thinking ‘bout the opposite gender, where once they repulsed and repelled, they’ve all but taken over your mind, thoughts of the sweet and nasty kind,

Years behind those gates under the teachers’ care won’t last forever, gotta plan for life outside sooner or later,

To jumpstart what could well be your life’s work or get you a degree first?

Make use of your newfound freedom to venture beyond that comfort zone, see what else the world has to offer,

Go get what you’re worth, have no fear of failure, start over as many times as necessary, the world is your oyster.

Past the midpoint, here comes the afternoon sky,

Drifting further from morning and closer towards night,

Earlier on lived for the material, to fly high your main ambition,

More pals and hangers-on than you can count, living for the present was what life’s all about,

And now it’s sunset and all your treasures are in storage collecting dust,

That circle reduced in circumference, whatever bubble you’d created long gone bust,

No need to be ashamed, it’s part of the journey, look at you now, reinvented through maturity,

Equipped to make moves on your own, Mom and Pops can take a backseat,

Their roles now that of support system than guardian, up to you to dance to your own beat,

Perhaps you’d found someone to call your partner for life, had you some little ones to carry on your legacy,

Maybe you’re flying with no co-pilot, marching to beats suited only to your rhythm,

Those aforementioned little ones the closest that you’ll get to turning back time,

Been there and done that already, you’re more than qualified to be their guide,

Do your job right you can live through ‘em vicariously, maybe turn ‘em onto what lit your world up bright and sparkly,

Hustling day in, day out as your folks once did, lessons they drummed finally sinking in,

Sadly, they might check out at any time, but if they’d raised you right you’ll continue to thrive,

Looking back on earlier hours wistfully, the world seemed pure under the sun’s full bloom,

But nothing gold can stay, so said Mr. Frost, as the sun’s sinking you feel yourself turning grey,

Day’s more or less half-over, minutes ticking by quicker,

They should have told you earlier the more you acquire the shorter your hours,

Never too long in the tooth to learn something new, stay curious if you want to slow down,

Keep in touch with whom you were earlier, they’ll never let you down.

The sun finally sets, blue skies and white clouds melting into dark night,

Been a long day of triumphs and trials, you’d come a long way since sunshine,

The young ones on their own time zone, perhaps got little ones of their own,

Clock’s turned back again, just like that, for you and for them,

The day’s almost over but your time ain’t over yet,

Will you push on and keep rocking or call it a day then set off for bed?

Time may have ravaged you physically, actions once effortless now require some doing,

Others, still, might be trapped in a fog, left a shell of an individual once lively and strong,

Can’t play like you did in the morning, those joints done took a beating, but anything’s possible, still, as long as that spirit’s willing,

Barring life’s intervention these are your second set of golden years,

You’d paid your dues, that ticker’s still good, might as well go out in a blaze of glory,

Never stop learning or growing, not until St. Pete comes calling,

Stay hungry, curious and willing as you’d been in the morning,

Break the rules, defy the cynics and doomsayers, you needn’t be confined to your rocker,

Be of service while you’re able, that belt has room for extra notches,

Give ‘em miles to recall once you’re finally laid to rest, it’ll be genuine tears shed for a life well-led,

Fly high now, knowing that you did all that,

Your day ends, more new ones begin, the cycle continues like it always has.

Bank’s Closed

They say you can’t lead a horse to water then force it to drink,

Such a saying done forced yours truly to sit down and think,

Better to teach one to fish than catch it for ‘em every day, to take them under your wing until they can spread theirs then fly away,

But resistance is a possibility and in this case it’s kinda scary,

When they ain’t open to learning ‘cuz a free ride’s appealing,

When there’s zero progress because they couldn’t care less,

When the entitlement is such that they’d rather you do the rest,

To hunt and gather day after day to get them a good feed, shoulder the heavy loads until those joints creak,

Give them an inch and they’ll give you a mile, such sentiments rings true,

Tired of pulling their own weight, for all the hard yakka they’re turning to you.

Seemed like a dream when we’d finally reconnected,

Residing in different parts of the ocean, low-key forgot that the other party existed,

One big happy fam again it seemed, the honeymoon period seemed never-ending,

Should’ve done this sooner, the lateness now yours truly is regretting,

The turning point seemed innocuous but should have braced for impact,

Looking back should have severed ties there and then, that’s a sad fact,

You asked your boy for a hefty favour, even through drastic means,

Even if it meant a potential run-in with the authorities,

Opened the floodgates, others rushed in with so-called favours,

Quickly became clear that one man alone bore their expectations,

That’s to be the payroll, no ifs or buts, time and time again,

No problem too big, let him foot the bills, dude be living the life and they all want a slice,

Promised to reimburse but ain’t nothing guaranteed, funny how when it’s time to collect they suddenly disappear,

They think he got it figured out, that he’s swimming in green,

Such sentiments couldn’t be more wrong, let’s make some things clear.

They say you shouldn’t judge someone by where they came up,

No two origin stories are the same, to make assumptions would be insane,

Applies, too, to those they say got all the breaks,

Ain’t just dudes from the ‘hood slapped with labels insensitive and crude,

Some folks seem blessed many times over, the ones that fortune smiled upon,

But they, too, aren’t immune to struggles, bad luck strikes ‘em now and then,

You’d think they can escape any trap unscathed but that’s where you’re mistaken,

Could fumble the bag at any time, perhaps burn priceless bridges while they’re at it,

Health could slide at any moment, not to mention the all-conquering rising costs of living,

Hate to break it to you but that money pit ain’t as bottomless as you think,

More to the point it ain’t yours to abuse, no one believes a liar crying ‘wolf.’

Got your back should you ever run into strife,

By that we’re talking ‘bout the catastrophic type, those that require an army by your side,

Yes, your daily struggles dwarf those of the ones that you’re begging from again,

But it would be a stretch to suggest that yours are situations that are life and death,

If anything you embellish the truth just to get that loot so you can live large on someone else’s funds, read that again and tell me it ain’t fucked up,

We’re giving you plenty yearly so what’s your damn hurry?

Please don’t say you’d burned right through the last damn bags already,

Never needed handouts prior, did this renewed connection change things?

Live within your means if you want to live like kings and queens,

It’s strange how you remain invisible unless you need some bread,

Was contact initiated purely to keep those ever-expanding bellies fed?

Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way,

If this is a game your boy ain’t gonna play,

You ain’t keeping me boxed up in case of emergencies only,

Trapped in a lamp like your very own genie,

Got my own problems like the rest of ‘em, can’t take on too many external burdens,

Take responsibility for your own and face ‘em, like you did back when we were virtual strangers.

Hate to sound callous but should you reach the end of this rope your boy ain’t hanging on ‘til his palms rip, he’s letting that shit go,

Got no use for leeches that try to drain, life itself’s already a pain,

Those that ride with you should be ones that revitalise and empower you,

Flip the script and see how you like it, you really don’t want such problems,

Folks you know made it on their own, why not follow their examples?

You descended from hard-workers and survivors, why not use them as a personal reference?

You’re still better off than others where you’re at yet you’re ducking responsibilities like a brat,

Get up from your knees and hustle, keep moving and moving ‘til the wheels fall,

The view atop that mountain will be sweeter than if you got there on someone else’s time and effort,

That’s enough ranting for today, ain’t nothing personal unless you make it so,

Really hope we can stay on course, but if not it’ll be your fault, Sorry but this bank’s closed.