The fog of a restless troubadour spirit hovers above the writing of Norwalk poet Taylor X.
There is grave angst and venom aimed squarely at his opposition—fascists, racists, cops, one in the same through his dark lens.
There is the potency of love and all it’s trap doors—hatin’ friends and inlaws, drunk dads and devotion through financial destitution.
Then there’s straight up paranoia that we are all about to be swallowed whole by the mechanisms of artificial intelligence.
Through the tenuous buzz, Taylor X, a writer seemingly on the run who leaves a trail of his words on the blank page and then never looks back, loses a few things along the way—his mind, his focus, his time.
One thing he never seems to lose is his hope.
That is what ultimately grabs the reader in his debut work, “SPEED BLEEDING,” the fourth publication from the 59-year-old poet. With a riveting forward from Rev. Felicia Parazaider (founder of the Revolution of Love ministry and Movement), the reader is introduced to a person who lives from their guts- their heart and soul.
“I’m 59. I’ve been in a shitload of bands,” Taylor X said. “I’ve used to do film. But the movie work got to far apart and became more remote. So I wound up becoming a peer advocate for mental health.”
Advocacy is a large part of the book’s focus. Opening poem “All You Could Say,” takes direct aim at anti-gay and anti-POC hate. Taylor X is calling out a specific brand of citizen that he detests.
“You were never racist, but you didn’t
Mind the cops shooting and
Killing unarmed people of color.
All you could say was
Don’t break the law…”
Later in the poem “100 Years,” Taylor X writes a letter to a future audience that might pick up his book a century from now in hopes that future readers will stop the madness he’s witnessed in his lifetime.
“America used to be a country
Not the greatest
Definitely not the worst.
But the division has never
Been this severe.”
For Taylor X, the modern social climate is sullied by right-wing extremism that is a threat not just to democracy, but any general free thought.
“Facism is f****ing dangerous,” Taylor X said of his need to write about the current American political landscape. “If we’re not careful, we are almost at the point where anyone with any intellect is probably going to get murdered or disappeared.”
As deep into the dark as his mind and writing tend to go, Taylor X never succumbs to his wounded musings. Even something as traumatic as being jumped into his Norwalk neighborhood gang in sixth grade comes with the silver lining—processing that experience led him to poetry.
“I do believe that the human spirit is greater than we even know,” he said. “I don’t think humans have evolved to their full potential.”
That potential is displayed with different devices, such as the dark humor of “The Other Side,” a lament of a friend who died during the pandemic.
“I believe I will see him again
On the other side
And we’ll hand out
In the jacuzzi
On the other side
He may already be
Back here sucking
On his new mommy’s
What if this is
The other side”
Even in a poem as straight up as “Stop Hoping,” with it’s swipes at AI and the school system, puts a new spin on the audacity of hope with’s refrain of “I’m hoping I don’t get killed today.”
Through it all, Taylor X leaves nothing to chance or mystery. His world is a free verse of deflating bar hookups that wind up in heroin dens, late night taco truck ruminations over Mexican-American identity, and a hunger for true love that requires all the hope he can muster.
A big part of that hope comes from both his personal investment in mental health therapy and his work as a peer advocate at a Southern California mental health facility. He said working with patients, some recently incarcerated who are trying to make their way back into society, has given him focus.
“To see them change to where they can handle their own place to live and get a chance to make it, it’s like ‘Wow, that was trippy. They came in here and started with nothing. Now look at them,'” he explained.