My Thoughts On Prince, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston And The Burden Of Fame!

prince michael and whitney



This is what I think about those who entertain us; the ones we laud, now and forever more for their outstanding achievements. I think that they just get burned out. I think that fame and fortune comes with a huge price tag and to pay that price, it means endless hours of grueling and exhausting work, work and work to continue to produce what they are adored for, to produce more for their fans who expect more and more and more from them.

With the recent passing of Prince and the not so distant passing of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, there seems to be a common denominator; aging and drugs, drugs to deal with the pain emanating from a body that has been put through a nightmarish and hellish torture. Can you just imagine what it would take to get your body ready for a concert tour? Can you imagine the hours of rehearsals, day after day after day. They have got to achieve perfection. There can be no ‘retakes’. There is no room for failure. Their fans are expecting them to give their all and to continue to give it, forever! They are expected to be above human failings. The problem is, they are not. They are put on a pedestal and they are worshipped and idolized and that has to do something to them. The pressure alone has to be beyond anything I can imagine. I would not have the stamina to withstand the pressures of being under a microscope, forever. I could not imagine the grueling workout routines and regimens they must have had to endure to be able to get through multiple back-to-back concerts and make it all look effortless and for them to look, tireless.

We are all extremely selfish when it comes to those who entertain us. We just hear and see the finished ‘product’. We don’t get to see all that goes into putting that finished ‘product’ together up until the moment they step out onto that stage and perform. We don’t see the sleepless nights when they are trying to pen lyrics to paper and then music to lyrics and then dance moves to the music. We think that it is all just glitz and glamour and fun and a beautiful voice and riches and fame and oh the wonder of it all. They must train their voice in order to extend it through hours of entertaining us and they also have no private life. Who they are friends with is known. Who they are dating or who they marry is known. Where they shop, what they buy and so forth and so on. They have no privacy whatsoever. And it seems as though it is expected of them to know that they have no right to privacy because they should know that they belong to us; their adoring and exacting fans. They cannot let us down for if they do, we will turn our backs on them, just as we did when Whitney Houston’s voice finally gave out due to her giving up. The pressure was just too great. Being in the spotlight all the time was more than she could take and add an aging body into the mix and there you have it, another ‘idol’ gone too soon, but was it too soon for her? We will never know.

And with Michael Jackson, what was different? We hear about his financial problems and we all know the scandals that rocked his life. We have heard about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father as a child. The man had no childhood. He was expected to perform, get it right the first time and never should the word, ‘imperfect’ be a part of his life; privately or publicly. That would confuse the hell out of me. I wouldn’t even begin to know who I was, especially when I never knew what it was like to be a child; to laugh and to play and to run around a playground. He couldn’t do those things because he had lyrics to write and songs to produce and moves to choreograph; an adoring public to perform in front of and the performance had better be perfect, so said his father in his early years and he knew later on in life that it was demanded of him. But with an aging body, scandals dogging his every footstep, nowhere to turn, what did you think would happen? Oh we think that they are surrounded by a loving family and plenty of bosom buddy friends but Michael Jackson was alone with just a doctor when he died. The Michael Jacksons the Princes and Whitney Houstons of this world were more alone than we can ever know. The kind of life they must live does not bode for a long life. It cannot. The body cannot take it for long and neither can the mind. All of the greats have this in common. Not many live a long life.

Prince died alone. And yet, he was idolized. I have read that his parties were ‘All The Rage’ and everyone wanted an invitation but when the final curtain call came, who was with him? Where were all of these people who had clamored to be around him, to hitch their wagon to his star? Who faced with him, the pain of an aging body, the ravages of countless, sleepless nights spent at the piano attempting to pound out yet another hit because the hits just needed to keep coming? He was Prince. He was not a mere person. He was an idol; a god. He walked, not among us, but above us which is where we put him. No mere mortal can endure that kind of adulation forever. It exacted a toll. And death comes all too prematurely; a common denominator, once again.

These people that we idolize cease to be human and become ‘wonders’. They become stars. And where are stars? Stars are in the sky beyond our reach and so are these people. We cannot touch them. We can only see and hear them from a distance and we can read about them and follow them as best we can on social media and to one country after another when they go on tour.

But have you ever stopped and asked yourself, “Could I handle the pressure?” Have you ever even stopped to question just what it must be like to be idolized; put on a pedestal, not seen as all too human? Our idols will never live ‘up’ to our expectations because we prop them up too high and the higher we prop them up, the greater the distance they have to fall. And when they fall, we are not there to catch them. And so, they die, alone.

Think about that the next time you find yourself worshipping, idolizing and putting on a pedestal a person who, without the gift of a beautiful singing voice or some other extraordinary talent, would be just another you; an ordinary human being and not a ‘god’; a star in the sky, out of reach of us mere mortals. Please remember, they too, were mere mortals who happened to have been blessed with a gift they chose to share with us and though we think we did right by them, we only did them a disservice by never truly realizing all that we expected of them and all that they gave to us; not until after they died. We failed them, they did not fail us. Mankind was not meant to be worshipped, but to love and to be loved.

I Could Not Profit Off The Pain!

hospital bed

I take the suffering of others
and I load it onto my plate.
I keep hearing that someone’s dying.
There’s been a lot of that of late.

I hate to ask about someone
for I know just what I’ll hear.
The sad news comes from everywhere;
both from far away and near.

Poor Sally, she has cancer
and it’s ‘terminal’, she’s been told.
Jack, he has it too
and his daughter is six year’s old.

Oh where are all the advancements
that they promised us would come?
Need we still be dying from cancer
though we pay a princely sum?

Who benefits from all the wealth
that sickness generates?
And who sits back and watches
patients in pain that excruciates?

I could not profit off the pain
and the death of so damn many.
I could not go to sleep and dream.
My conscience would disturb me plenty.

Written by,
Shelby I. Courtland
©2015 Shelby I. Courtland

It has gotten so damn bad that I hate to even ask about people that I haven’t seen in awhile. I keep getting the same answer. They’re dying of cancer. So many people, dying from this and yet the claim is that cancer will be eradicated by 2050. Yeah, dream on!

Let’s Fucking Celebrate!

Throw a hotdog on the grill for him. It'll end his homelessness.
Throw a hotdog on the grill for him. It’ll end his homelessness.

So, you want to honor the grateful war dead?
But you never put an end to why so many tears are shed.

Stop feeding the warmongers lust for power.
We fight for some shits who sit in an ivory tower.

Why the hell is ‘friendly fire’ such a fucking good thing?
And ‘collateral damage’ has a great sounding ring!

Get that goddamn modified hotdog down.
And wave a ‘made in China’ flag all over town.

What is there really to celebrate?
America’s desperate need to dominate?

Homeless vets walk the goddamn streets.
And here you sit eating Memorial Day treats.

What a goddamn way to memorialize the dead,
by ignoring homeless vets who are fucked up in the head.

You celebrate the rich who are swilling champagne,
while the families of the fallen are living with the pain.

Enjoy this holiday and throw some meat on the grill.
While those who made it home, don’t have a decent meal.

You’re so fucking hypocritical when you celebrate this day.
And tomorrow, a homeless vet, won’t have a place to stay!

Written by,
Shelby I. Courtland
©2014 Shelby I. Courtland

Yeah! Let’s fucking celebrate! ‘Cause ain’t a goddamn veteran, homeless, hungry, mentally ill and some more shit! So, let’s fucking celebrate how fucking grateful we are to those who’ve died all over some bullshit and for those who make it back home, we are so fucking fine with their status of being fucked up and homeless. Eat a goddamn hot dog for THEM!! Fire up the grill and then pass some more laws tomorrow to make it more and more difficult for them to be homeless.

America is filled with some stupid ass shits! And I ain’t fucking bragging, I’m just fucking sayin’!!! We are celebrating!!!!

What Is Wrong IN My Life?


So many temptations to get me high,
Or could it be that I really want to die?

Sell me crystal meth, I’ve developed a need.
This shit is so good, even my demons recede.

When I drink it’s because I want to forget
all the horrible things I’ve come to regret.

And if I shoot up heroin,
don’t I know it’s a sin.

But it takes away the pain
Though, it’s all in vain.

These are the escapes that I do crave.
And yes to some, I give in; I cave.

What is wrong in my life?
Should I end it with a knife?

With so many voices in my head,
will they leave me when I’m dead?

When the pain of life gets too hard to bear,
the soul of man is filled with despair.

Note:I’ve tweaked this abit because those of us who love to write, for us, we can never get it ‘right’.

This one is about the ‘demons’ that many of us try to escape from. Life for many is just too damn horrible to contemplate, sober and in the U.S. alone, escapism by way of drugs has become an epidemic. Regardless of socioeconomic factors, it has crossed all barriers. It is not respective of income or education or even geographical location. People are using/needing drugs to escape from pain of the body, from the pain of the mind.

Written by,
Shelby I. Courtland
©2014 Shelby I. Courtland

I Am Cursed!

Definition of Nubian:  a member of one of the group of dark-skinned peoples that formed a powerful empire between Egypt and Ethiopia from the 6th to the 14th centuries.
Definition of Nubian:
a member of one of the group of dark-skinned peoples that formed a powerful empire between Egypt and Ethiopia from the 6th to the 14th centuries.
I don't mind being Black as long as it is only for a holiday. Wouldn't want it be for a lifetime, now would we?
I don’t mind being Black as long as it is only for a holiday. Wouldn’t want it be for a lifetime, now would we?

Confused yet?

Confused yet?

I bleach my skin to make it light!

This Black must come off! I want to be white!


I hate myself because I am hated!

Why is my skin so underrated?


My complexion is on trial, I object to my skin!

I am Black and degraded. I was born not to win.


Take this dark pigmentation that so destroys me!

Every tear that I shed is a heart wrenching plea!


I look at your skin; so white and so pure.

Give it to me! Find me a cure.


I am cursed with such shame that I am black.

My skin is a nightmare and that is a fact.


How many whites have ever loved my race?

I am the one who should paint my face.


 You with your filthy, black stained brush,

and you with that brilliant, red colored blush.


You lie in the sun and bake until you’re brown,

and when you’re Zwarte Piete, you’re a ‘black face’ clown.


Give me your ‘face’ and I will give you mine.

If black is so beautiful, why am I last in line?


Stand next to me, we’ll be black together.

You’ll know what I know; hate and anguish forever.


Written by,

Shelby I. Courtland

© 2013 Shelby I. Courtland

What a dilemma! We have those who because of the dictates of society, have found themselves to actually hate their dark complexion to the point where they will use skin bleaching crèmes and lotions to lighten or ‘whiten’ up. When I was in college, I chose an assignment relating to this issue and when I was giving my presentation on my findings. A ‘Black’ student raised her hand and said to me, “Shelby, of course you can speak against skin lightening crèmes because you are ‘light’. A friend of mine bleached her skin and now she is as ‘light’ as you.” I must say that I felt quite the fool because I never considered what hellish nightmare Black people are living each and every day when someone can look at me and state that their friend, strove to have my complexion when in grade school, I was considered one of the ‘darkies’ and thus relegated to the ‘b(l)ack’ row in the choir and for plays and dances. My mother threw hellish fits when she saw the performances for the PTA that she attended. She knew what was what. I had been innocently unaware of anything untoward. It was only after she stormed through the school that I was made aware that I had been considered too many shades too dark for the first and second row.

We ‘humans’ are sick and depraved when we can make people hate themselves over something that they have absolutely NO control over whatsoever!

On the other hand, we have people, who because of some holiday in the Netherlands, deliberately paint themselves ‘jet’ black to ridicule and make fun of ‘Black’ people and then have the nerve to think that no one should get offended when we already have people who because their skin is dark are affected by racism, bigotry, prejudice and hatred to the point where they are desperate to do ANYTHING to fit in. What a fucking fucked up world we have created! And people have the audacity to tell me that there is hope for this shit. Really? On THAT, we will agree to disagree!

And finally, to those of you whose skin complexion is not to your liking, lightening it or attempting to ‘whiten’ it will not make you feel any better about yourself. Love what you see when you look in that mirror. Make every effort that you can to not buy into the bullshit that is shoved down our throat, day in and day out. I realize that ‘beauty’ is not portrayed as the ‘dark’ skin but why do you think that so many so-called ‘whites’ will lie in the sun for hours risking skin cancer to get what you were born with? Do not let them make you hate yourself, you are too beautiful for that. Love that gorgeous face and body that you were blessed with, believe me, it is envied by those who have you hating that which is what they desire!! Believe me! I know!





Must We Kneel Before The Emperor?

kneel before me!


Must we kneel before the Emperor and beg for just one crumb?

And lie prostrate on the floor as he pretends to be struck dumb.


His consort just looks on and we know she does not care,

that another child is hungry; with a cupboard that is bare.


The lords who hold the purse strings are stingy in their ways.

The empire will shut down for who knows how many days.


They spent us into debt and the people here can starve.

There’ll be no food to cook and no meat for them to carve.


Though some don’t feel the pain, there is still left-over stew,

but when their pot is empty, tell me; will they get a clue?


We may be down, but are we out? What more is there to give?

On hope the people cling and that’s just no way to live.


Why should we have to kneel or beg one lazy lord?

Only money speaks to them; but it’s our money that they hoard.


Written by,

Shelby I. Courtland

© 2013 Shelby I. Courtland



The Devolution of Evolution


There are those who say that we must wait for human evolution

and that we are just as wrong if we start a revolution.

Humans have devolved into what you see today.

There are those who glimpse the suffering and they simply turn away.

They care not for the hungry, no tears shed for the sick.

They beat them down and shame them, it usually does the trick.

Must they take another look; no glasses hued in rose

and speak to me of what they see with eyes that do not close.

There is a war throughout the land in one form or another.

We do not love our sister and we hate our foreign brother.

There are those who walk the streets, they have no home at all.

They were sold out by the bankers who never take a fall.

The rich have all the power and the poor are in a bind.

If you fail to see the problem, there is something on your mind.

Or could it be you just won’t see because you would reject

that we have not evolved and are stuck in retrospect.

The ones who see and understand that something must be done

are those who care for all and not just care for one.

If ever we evolve, and there is no sign we have

the future looks too bleak if what we use is salve,

to staunch the flow of blood from those who are in pain

and never hold accountable, the ones who wield the chain.

Alone, we cannot act, we need you all onboard

as this is not a game, and we can ill afford,

to not join in the fray nor start the protest march

nor arm ourselves with nature’s tools and branch out like the larch.

Where once we stood alone, we now stand arm in arm

And those who are the enemy are those who do us harm.

Violence begets violence and this I understand

but power will not yield with just a reprimand.

Those with much to lose will crush us if we try.

They must hear our roar, they must heed our cry.

For peace can never reign without a show of might.

No matter who is wrong, no matter who is right.

Written by,

Shelby I. Courtland

© 2013 Shelby I. Courtland





When all seems lost and hopeless, no more pain can I endure.
A thin, red line across my wrist, the blood so dark and pure.

A thousand ways I cried for help and so it comes to this.
The ecstasy of oblivion, the sweet painlessness of bliss.

Tis too late to call me back, my life blood’s down the drain.
My sorrow was too great. I could not withstand the strain.

The signs were everywhere and often went ignored.
How many times I turned to you and desperately implored,
“Please don’t turn your back on me. I cannot find my way!”
My debt’s now paid in full, no cost left to defray.

If you think of me at all, I did what I thought best.
I went to someplace peaceful, where I could finally rest.

Written by,

Shelby I. Courtland
© 2013 Shelby I. Courtland

Judge Not,The Pain Of Life

I used to look down on people who were addicted to crack or heroin. I remember someone telling me that if a person tried crack just once, they’d get hooked. I thought to myself, “well then, who the hell would try it?” Apparently a great many people. I always felt superior to the people who were addicted to crack, heroin or pain medication because I thought of myself as above all of that. I didn’t put myself in their shoes, try and understand what drove them to even ‘do’ those drugs and why others became addicted to pain medication. It soon dawned on me that they were living in despair, hopelessness, anger, pain, frustration, helplessness and the only way to cope was through mind altering drugs. What this says about the society that we have created is that we are forcing people into trying to escape reality by any means necessary. Their pain is so great, that some will sell their bodies to obtain a way out, if only for a little while. People who normally would have never committed a crime are now shoplifters, prostitutes who have rap sheets and who are most likely eaten up with STDs.

I’ll never forget, I was living in Baltimore, MD at the time and I was going through some rough spots myself. I had just left an abusive marriage with only the money in hand and the clothes on my back and had relocated myself to another state to get away from him. I had just found an apartment and recently got a job. I remember that my first electric bill was a turn-off notice. I was overwhelmed and in a big city. Now coming from a rural area, I was more green than spinach and I looked it and in many ways, I was. I was so broke, I had to walk to work in $2.00 tennis shoes. I had no coat, but luckily when it turned cold, I searched through closets and found a coat left by a previous tenant. A guy in the next building took pity on me and let me borrow a warmer coat and when I was walking to work one day, I started getting catcalls and guys were pulling up beside me and yelling out their telephone numbers. I just shook my head and said to myself, “girl, you’re in the big city now!” When I got to work, I turned around to take the coat off and the girls in the office burst out laughing. Okay, now I’m fed up. When they could take a breath, I was told to look at the back of my jacket. The jacket was from a ‘strip club’. Sigh!! This would happen to me! I had no choice, but to wear it back home and got pretty much the same thing. I’ll get to the point in a minute. When I got home, there was some ladies standing outside my apartment building. They were extremely nice. One of them came up to me and said, “here, honey…I want you to practice safe sex.” She handed me a handful of condoms. I thought to myself, “oh dear, she thinks that I’m a prostitute.” I was touched by her wanting to help me. I had never met a prostitute before. I thanked her for the condoms and explained to her that I was working an office job and that I wasn’t a prostitute. She told me that it didn’t matter, keep the condoms because I was sure to have a boyfriend and if he wouldn’t do the right thing, I’d have protection. Bless her heart!

The next time I was on my way to get some take-out, one of the ladies came up to me and asked me how I was doing. She looked as though I should be asking about her and I did the only thing I could think of to do. I asked her to walk with me down to the store and when I came out, I handed her some money and begged her to stay off the streets that night and to be safe. I didn’t know that I was inadvertently feeding her drug habit. I didn’t know that it mattered not what little I could give, she’d have to be out there. The horrors they must face. Their bodies, used and abused, their minds trying to escape the reality of what is happening to them. The need for more money, the pimp who takes his cut, the beatings they take. If I was a praying person, they would most definitely be in my prayers, but what would prayers do? What can I do? What difference in their lives can I make? I am just as helpless to do anything to relieve their plight as they are. I now realize that I have my own way of dealing with reality and no, it is not just writing about it. What would I do without that glass of wine with dinner? Without a flute of champagne to dull the suffering I see each and everyday. Just because what I indulge in is legal does not give me any moral high ground. I cannot judge anyone else for what they use to get through another day when I, myself have a wine cellar and make good damn use of it. What hypocritical thinking to believe that I’m better than a crack addicted person or one who is hooked on heroin or pain medication. I can be just as easily jailed if they decide to once again, make my ‘pain reliever’ an illegal substance. And so I ‘judge not, lest I be judged’!