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A Dirty South Poet's Plight

Steven Randle

Poet or vividly imaginative observer of life? Moments exist when I see these as synonymic and others could be nothing less than a quid pro quo that most assuredly is the steel toe boot dangling eerily close to the already wobbly leg of the chair that I’ve always found myself standing on…yes, DIY noose around my neck.  Words have a way of bringing a calm amidst my storms, though dark the tone the sheer release has a way of indicating that the light exists even if only in a refractive state. I tend to get a little wordy but in the spirit of giving it to you as raw as possible… 


Writing saves my life.  Words are my religion, and I am not shy about professing my love for and dedication to them.  


I wouldn’t dare take credit for words spoken written and thought,

For I am merely a vessel. 

Singing melodically tho without a conductor rehearsal or recognizable voice,

I flail symphonies as puppet arms without harp strings,

And who would have known I’d reach the stage at Carnegie Hall without ever knowing how to read music.

I was simply always this way.

Inherent traits deserve no praise…

Especially when they are being wasted.


I am of the morbid belief that my affinity to tarry, though painful it always seems to be, makes me a better writer.  Such rough terrain is created during the process of procrastination that it forces me to be much more creative in telling the story that I seem to be reliving over and over that all stems from missed opportunities or failing to notice the advantage of my vantage point.  It is here that I find my voice, and through the pages to follow share that catch 22 of pain and purpose with you.  I dare not reduce you to the simple terms of audience or reader.  If I have decided to bare and share my soul with you, a more befitting term must be given.  I truly hope that you aren’t, at this point, hoping that by the end of this brief introduction I will have defined that because I am not sure that will happen. 


But of what I am certain is that life is most definitely not.  As I believe that I was chosen to put this uncertainty in an entertaining but parabolic form, my expression may at times be crass, overly descriptive, seemingly out of sync, and more often than not, unpredictable.  But as someone smarter than I stated so eloquently, “such is life.”


For me, 3 Pens of CapitoLEAN, represents a story of transitioning from bystander to 3rd person supporting cast member, to author of my own narrative.  Though a fictional depiction of an actual place that Akili and I have decided to put a southern swang on, CapitoLEAN is very much real in my life.  It serves as the Mecca of all my thoughts, desires, reflections, and regrets.  It is the place where I have created idol gods in search of the reflection of the one true God within myself.  It is that place by the river where I have parked many a time with the sincerest prayer that the water would have the answer to my inquiries.  Vicksburg, MS is my CapitoLEAN, and the place I call home.  My roots are there, by the Mighty Mississippi river.  


I was 7 or 8 years old the first time I was called a nigger, and 5th or 6th grade before I saw what an honorable black man being treated like a nigger actually was. This was the birth of what I can remember as my first intentional poem, and the tone was anger and confusion.  I’m not quite sure that my writing style or voice has changed much since that day.  My writing is definitely that of a more dark and stormy voice than fields of daisies, but that is not to exude an air of hopelessness for quite the opposite is true.  I am a pragmatist, and my poetry is an honest depiction of my daily thought process and approach to life.  An approach of which I’ve never been more cognizant and cautious with than in this very moment. Being black and creative in the deep south is not a talent but a prerequisite for sanity, prosperity, and survival.  I oftentimes refer to my lust for pen and verse as an escape from my reality but in contrast, and fortunately for me and now you, I see it more as a loving and holistic embrace of passion and purposeful perception.  


Perspective is, at its core, that thing or set of things on which we build foundations of lies, truths, and those hard-to-put-your-finger-on spots in between.  If you will indulge me, I will take you with me on a journey through some of the things I’ve gained, some of the things I’ve lost, some of the ways that I view this rubrics sphere, and you’ll also get to see what happens inside of a mind that is never still.  I’m not sure that I will ever find the peace that I so desperately seek, but somehow, I think that I desire it that way.  Santiago’s journey was the treasure that he had always searched for, and it was but until the end of his narrower, more vain quest that he realized that wisdom, experiences, relationships, and passionate pursuit were those things that were truly invaluable.  Maybe that’s me…or maybe I’m full of shit.  


Nonetheless I vow to forever be an open book even beyond the conclusion of my days.  I am a true believer that to be felt one must be spiritually naked whether forcefully stripped or voluntarily.  With each line I write, I build a portrait, a scene, a production that has no direction until the last period is placed.  I oftentimes smile once I’ve finally named a piece because I see so clearly what was once only words floating through the cosmos. 


The process of putting this book together with my dear brother was magical because there was no purposeful coordination.  Somehow, we were writing the same words at the same time with equal amounts of pain, passion, and beautiful confusion.  The magic of CapitoLEAN is the parallel circles in which we all find ourselves traveling at some point that merely imprint copied footsteps in the sand…for nothing is new under the Sun.  CapitoLEAN is a true depiction of life as it represents choice and circumstance and allows one to navigate in the best way they know how.  Whether the best way is the best way is only seen in the consequence…ain’t life grand like that? 


Navigate carefully through the streets of CapitoLEAN, Beloved. 


Yours truly,


Steven I. Randle

3 Pens of CapitoLEAN written by Steven Randle & Jerid Woods


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