Here, We Are.

by Tenrai Kenshin

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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    A hard copy of Here, We Are, by Tenrai Kenshin. Includes a 20 page lyric booklet, and a download code for Here, We Are [Profound Mix], an uncut edition of Tenrai's entire performance at The Dial Studios.


    Booklet and insert formatting by Elizabeth Rhea
    Cover Photo by John Cuyugan
    All Photo Editing and Other Photography by Michael Lee
    (except pg 1-2 by Mikkesha Mannings, pg 4 by Josh Nuñez, pg 9-10 by Eboni McClanahan, pg 19 by Loyde Cordero)

    Includes unlimited streaming of Here, We Are. via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

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about

Spoken Word poet Tenrai Kenshin welcomes you to come to a place you can call home. He gives nothing but honesty in his album, and his upfront style will make you question the very meaning of words you use daily.

This album was recorded live at The Dial in Murrieta, CA. We believe art is communication, so special attention was taken to ensure that the dialogue between a poet and the listeners was fully captured and represented.

All artwork, audio and related images are copyright Michael Lee and Kenneth Foster

credits

released January 3, 2015

Written and performed by Michael Lee
Recording/Mixing Engineer: Nick de Gangi
Recording Assistant: Bianca Hollins
Producer: Kenneth Foster
Cover photo by John Cuyugan
Photo editing by Michael Lee
Vocals on Track 1 by Cecil Williams
Additional Foley on Track 1 by Vanessa LeFevre

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about

ReVision Recordings Riverside, California

ReVision Recordings stands for a simple idea with big ambitions. Make this world a better place through spoken word and music.

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Track Name: Oceans
Such beautiful,bombed-out battleships you are!
Simply stunning!
If nothing else I say rings true, I pray these words do:
You are gorgeous!
The way strength and pain intertwine in your eyes
is reminiscent of sunrises, shining
like God fused stardust and music and drew beauty from clay
and made you!

Yet you, are slowly fading away.
Your fire
Used to burn brighter
Your legs strain from the weight of holding whole days with you,
I pray these words stay with you.
Welcome wounded warriors!
Leave that sword by the door,
Drop your armor elsewhere, we've come to help here, so come in.

Forget your struggles for a bit,
Let the weight of your mistakes simply slip away,
You are safe here, so stand.
Like God is your Father
and He would split the Red Sea to get you to safety.

Stand TALL.
Like your shoulders are razorblades
sharp enough to cut the glass ceilings you've built yourselves.
Like palm trees are weeds to you and flying,
Flying is easy!
You just leap from really tall things and believe you can!
Stand like your souls are unshakable,
And if you let our Great Anchor aweigh, there's no storm that can break you

We all know,
Sometimes the waves are too large
The ocean, too dark
And we seem so far from home to feel known;
Some days, we all forget who we are,
Stuck on what we think we should be instead,
like I'm not quite Dr. King
a Jedi, or a dinosaur, I am a miracle.
The seventh of six miscarriages
90% chance of down syndrome, born without a hint

I believe in miracles
You are a miracle!
Light dances in your eyes like ice skaters
Your glow is Aurora Borealis
Train your eyes to see how important your now is

We are miracles.
Of vision and near-death experience.
Of chance meetings and dead writers whose words still inspire
We may sometimes take the hard-headed road
But where we find ourselves does not define us.
We were designed for more,
Step forward.

We have room to grow vast as oceans and galaxies
So set these broken ships to sea.
We're NOT hopeless.
We'll weather this weather together and
Sail these stormy seas.
May hope and Holy Ghost hold us all
And when our stories are told, may the records show
The world wasn't worthy of our call.
Track Name: Burning
You were burning up, weren't you?
I saw the light of flames
Licking at the back of your pupils
Smoke pouring from your nostrils
Bright glow in your throat

I used to wonder how you could be strong enough to contain such a thing.
But I didn't know that it would slowly sever the connectors
that kept ya tethered to truth,
That the receptors that would tell you
things were moving too fast were being reduced to ash
You weren't built to restrain that sort of passion

You meant to keep this private
But it was just a matter of time
Before it would find its way
Through your lips to that girl you kissed,
She just needed a spark to start
You both tried to hide it but you cant keep firecrackers quiet
Even children don't play with flames.

I already knew how it would end.
The next time I saw you
Your walls had burned down
Eyes hollow
Charred lips
Coughing clouds of soot
Earthquakes of hate shook you
Continents crumbling
Trying to fault her, running away.

I don't mean to say so in such a sharp way,
But you got what you paid for, Michael
Next time, I hope you don't ignore the smoke signs.
Track Name: Note To Self (And Others Who May Be Struggling)
If you are wounded
And the pain won't cease
And the gash don't seem to stop bleeding out
Remember:

There are 56 million white blood cells inside you feening for a fight, you are not alone.
When your wounds are a little less literal and
it becomes difficult to garner sympathy for your ache
Make no mistake
All of this is not darkness.

Your heart is your hardest-working muscle
and will keep beating broken;
Your jaw: stronger than thighs.
Your tongue sharper than knives,
You have all the weapons you need
so keep speaking;

Let that light fly from your throat
Train your eyes to see hope, no matter where it lies.
No matter how you feel, you are still alive.
It may feel as if you are fading,
But your spirit is being renewed day by day:

Even Jesus learned obedience this way.
You are okay.
Track Name: Too Much
You were grins and jokes and laughter for the couple right ahead of me, which excites me
Shopping is often too dull a process, and I like a good conversation.
I reach the front of the line and ask how your day has been.

You look right through me, expressionless
and proceed to ring up my purchase.
I ask once more.
(perhaps I am too quiet)
You punch a couple keys and tell me my total, still straight-faced.

I resign.
Hand you my pride's weight in green paper.
You count it but I already know I have overpaid.
You announce my change and hand back what I never should've given.
Your eyes never reach mine.
I thank you.
My words, more plea than anything.
You turn and address the next customer.

I turn, heart in hand.
my fingers clinching tightly
Twitching with each beat
It reminds me I am still music though you pretend not to hear
I am brilliant hue though you pretend not to see

In high school
My best friend told me
He did not see why people love John Coltrane
Could not understand why jazz
has such a lasting influence
I guess he prefers Miley Cyrus.
Track Name: Wild
She speaks like silence is voluptuous and unashamed of it
And moves as if we invented symphonies simply to explain her
Even the trees are stirred by her!
They swoon as she passes through

She's fair enough to launch a thousand ships and strong enough to sink them
She may be full of hot air but don't dare speak it,
Raise her temp and she's bound to start a storm
You may come to see that there's no way to hold her, so just let her be
And if you find yourself all alone outside one night
She might just find you quiet and keep you company

Most people take her at face value,
Call her syncopated song chaotic because it can't be conquered
But like all passionate women, she has her own sense of rhythm
So there's no winning unless you go with her
You'll get your mind blown trying to fight with a cyclone
Just let her be be who she is.

Let your kite to her
Hang your chimes and build mills high as you dare
I dare you,
Try to paint with all her colors
And without a care, she'll share
All that flows through her.

There is no owning her;
Only reverence and synergy will reveal her "inner-me"
Her name is Gale, Tempest,
Zephyr, Sylph, Wind.
And she's just like any passionate woman.
Track Name: Virtue
Whirlwinds wickedly whip with weapon-like wrath

Wondrously, her calculating countenance concedes no contour of cowardice

Contesting the effectiveness of the electrical eddy enveloping everything

Elegantly displaying a deep-rooted determination to deliver daunting decisions devoid of dread, dooming darkness to decadence

Dutifully, she cradles a crying child, casually creating a climate of contentment

Continual fire-eyed faith freely flows full of finesse, formally fixing a feast for the fallen to feed on and flourish

Forever seeking her savior, a sure source of splendid strength

Her appearance is beyond beauty
Her love: the epitome of prosperity
Truly, her character gives her worth above rubies
Track Name: Valor
Scared, scrambling for safety screaming obscenities

As towering trouble attacks extremities of the tallest towers

Everything emblazoned in an eruption of energy

Even vigilantes veer from its vexing venomous villainy

Still, readily I run, my rage raring for retribution
Track Name: Worlds Closer
The average person will tell you we all share the same world,
Each nation beneath the same constellations
And One Sun to provide life,
But that is simply what things look like;

Any intellectual will tell you that the universe is functionally endless
And if we were given an infinite amount of time to try and unwind its mysteries,
We'd never find it's end.

Any intellectual will tell you,
Its design
Does not surpass the vastness of our minds
As similar as we are, you and I are still worlds apart.

Your eyes are shimmering oceans while mine are sunrays breaking rainclouds
My towers are your doorways
My high dives are your stairs;
Please forgive me if I stare:

But I've always looked up to you, for your hearts are giants.
Wait for hands large enough to hold them gently, and eyes wise to find forever in your smile.
Find someone who reminds you of those oceans while you're crying them.
I really hope you know, you are so sexy!
Every one of you.
And I don't even mean it like that:

I say the same thing to passing butterflies and when I compliment mountainsides.
In my eyes, sexy means you inspire awe
That the deep in me calls to yours,
That I appreciate you for all you are; and each way you are unique, I find beauty

Yahweh scooped us up from dust,
exhaled life and grinned;
We make Him glad.
YOU make God happy.
If that ain't sexy, I don't know what is!

Whether we are Picasso, Ferraris, or Fur Elise,
Each of us is a masterpiece.
And since sunsets, sculptures, and songs don't speak the same language,
Someone invented speech
So we can build bridges between each of our worlds;

As different as our lives may be,
We still share the same stars
Each nation beneath the same constellations and
One Sun lights the sky
We are not alone here.
Sometimes, we just need to hear it.

But then again, any average person will tell you that.
Track Name: Bravely
You are so bravely broken,
Eyes: Oceans of starlight
and uncried tears, I admire you;
Shifting all the shit you've seen to beauty takes it toll,
But it'll take that type of sight to guide us home,
You see like we all should.

That no whole or broken exists;
on this side, they coincide
We know inside we are each:
No one is complete.
And you see this:

Teach us there is freedom there
That Jesus meets us in our weakness
And you're unafraid to lead the way
Your two-toned face radiates grace,
makes no promise of perfection

Accepts whoever comes before it, no exception.
You grin like God, and your heart loves like Him.
Your chest burns like a hearth
Heartbeat steadies the stress in any head you hold close;

Your hugs are homes
Your arms; open altars
How much healing has sparked here?
How many tears have come seeking rest?
How many quiet confessions gained breath?
How many friends found their first safe place beneath your throat?
I praise you.

You love like the savior.
Your arms are spirit bombs, built for passion and wars
Your legs are jet-powered citadel towers built to chase storms

Your engine burns relentless
Brain processing endless;
You spend more time listening and helping than sleeping,
Keeping other people so far above yourself you forget you are there.

Where are you?
What are you doing?
Where are your dreams?
Can you really call this a legacy?
Or are you so obsessed with fixing those other messes so that you don't notice your own?
What's it all for?

You poor thing,
can't even see the man you've become,
Look at yourself, see how few men are built in your mold:
They are boastful and brittle
Getting much but gaining little
Growing old without growing up
But what about you?
Let your fists fight for hope and the beauty those eyes hold
Let poems pour from your throat golden
Know your bones are wielded in wisdom

You are liquor,
A malty black butterscotch;
bold and balanced
clean and complex.
So drink to that!
You are worthy!
No matter what those voices in your head say.

I know it's tough to see so just believe until you do
God bless your irresponsible mess
God bless your recklessness,
Bless your self-indulgent lust and the trust it's broken
Bless your open wounds and your never-fading scars
Bless all the girls who have broken your heart

Who you are today makes each one of them worth it.
You are no savior to be worshiped
You are loved too much to waste your life that way:
Not everyone is worth waging wars for.
And that girl will stay a storm if you chase her or not:

You are not in love, simply trying to find a nice place to throw your life away and a wife who will let you do it.
You are foolish,
But don't be fooled
I still believe in you,
So bravely unbroken:
Entire oceans glow in your eyes
I wish you could see just how lovely you are.
Track Name: (such joyful suicide)
I tightrope walk through chopper blades, limbs sent soaring in all directions
Bloodbath in 1080p
I'll bet
You've never seen such joyful suicide;

Such scarlet confetti
Sinews strewn across sky
Scent of Roman slaughter
My irises, unchanging:

Fixed forward like bullets flying
Bursting with water and light
I am grinning like jazz
My heart beating Hillsong

And somewhere, someone is reading the book of Acts as if it is fiction.
Track Name: Ebony & Esperanza
Nobody "gets" jazz music.
The dance between form-fitting, intricate, bumble bee buzzing and
Breezy, butterfly bouncing with seemingly no intentionality can be a hurricane for ears untrained.

It speaks in tones the weight of globes to men lacking depth and strength
Your notes speak straight to soul,
No words needed
I'm hard-pressed to find more meaningful silence than when I'm beside you
Some days,
No other language will do.

And I still can't see how you bounce
between butterfly and bumblebee so effortlessly
Or dance every step of this hurricane you call "routine" so gracefully hiding
So many silence diamonds and wisdom nuggets among them
But I know no one else will do,
You are riveting.

I could spend a lifetime striving to understand even though I know I can't,
But that's the point of jazz:
You never get it; you just become one with it.

Is there any greater privilege?
Track Name: Sexy
If I had to choose one word
To sum up all the things in the world that are beautiful and truthful, noble, virtuous, just and pure,
That word would be sexy.

I'd say sexy like it was more than the obscene and raunchy things most people make it to be
It would be the perfect word to praise how the right combination of warm sun rays and the sound of waves washing over the beach can lull you softly to sleep
And as the rain would serenade us with its Miles Davis intricate melodies on our window panes, we'd name it's song "Sexy"

Sexy is righteous sacrifice, something sublimely Christlike, like learning to be mighty yet meek
Or trying to describe how liberty sounds through a saxophone mouthpiece
I swear, she even sings when she speaks, so sometimes, you've just gotta stop and listen for her carefully.

But you’ve gotta be quick to catch it
Cause you might only see it in flashes
Like last second Hail Mary passes with prayers attached or catching a quick glimpse at her from the corner of your eye as she goes by; sensing a slight change in the air before you're even aware she's there

Sexy has a strong mind and arms to think hard and work smart, can handle hardship like it's no problem, I bet she'd make a great mom
The calm center in a swirling storm of tempers using a single sentence to silence it
Gracefully creating a climate of contentment where every tear cried dries quick
There's something in that smile that chases them right off of a child's face and leaves him at complete ease.
Don't act like that's only sexy to me!

Sexy like Proverbs 31,
she laughs at the future and the time to come
That's virtue worth more than rubies
True beauty
Gold medals, when the dust from years of training settles
Sorta like Michael Phelps. Did you know that he only swims, eats, and sleeps?

That's so sexy!
No brokeback.
More like grown men
who love each other like brothers
and can say so without "No homo"

But if they are gay, I ain't got much to say
I'm not sinless, so I ain't trippin', we aren't so different. It's just that I've been redeemed; charged to create for love's sake
They say it's hard work, but it's the heart's greatest art work, so sexy's expressed from the inside out.

Sometimes it's a loving rebuke or a friend that ain't afraid to say that you're acting stupid
It's the heartbeat of artistry, giving life to those who need it
And changing destinies by spurring people to stand up on their feet, take their circumstances by the collar and make them opportunities
Its taking the evil things people call you as compliments.

Using the rocks they've thrown to build mansions with
It's unplanned and unwanted babies growing up to change the world saying, "My God don't make mistakes!"
Its apex
Is heart-wrenching scars telling breathtaking stories

It's holes in the wrists of a sinless King who would hang on a tree for the sake of His enemies
Or ladies with hair made gray with wisdom who've learned to love the body that God has given them,
Betcha they know that charm is deceptive, and beauty fades away, but a woman who fears the LORD is sexy and will be praised!
Track Name: Strange Fruit
I've never seen anything so strange
He couldn't hide the pride in his eyes or his sharp intellect and yet, there he was
Dressed in a rag jacket laughing with a group of homeless menlike he was one of them
I can't say I understand it

Like doctors crying with survivors every time they couldn't save a life
Or a cop shedding tears cause he shot a thief, what an odd thing!
Like the time I went to a funeral where everyone danced while they weeped
I've never seen anything like it

I once made a kid give back the lunch he stole and the other one said he could have it
What compassion!
He called her a slut then she hugged him
Told me he just needed love

I earned the death penalty but my enemy died in my place
It still doesn't make any sense
Told me it's cause He loves me
But I'm still not sure how much I love Him

I know a girl abused by her brother and still says she loves him
Like free men choosing to be slaves, not cause they're crazy
Just wanna be all things to all men so some can be saved,
It's amazing,
We produce such strange fruit.
Track Name: Coming Home
So it's safe to admit this is not what you expected.
I am honestly unimpressive
And none of us are experts, in fact

On a scale of 1 to 10, this is 12 Tribes/ disciples
One dozen misfits is all it takes to change the world,
Ask God's people what this is

This is gospel
This is feet washing preaching
This is war;
Love like a double-edged sword

This is the virtue in harsh truth,
Hallelujah ringing from broken bones
We are final becoming first
Doves wise as serpents
The meek inheriting Earth

Blessed are the nerds, the misfits and all the kids picked last.
This is for the stories you've never shared and the words you are still scared to say
For showing the camera your bad side and knowing you are still worth getting to know

This is for those of us no one takes time to get to know
This is for every time you took a "no" straight to the jaw and kept going.
This is rise against the lie that we are alone, unloved, unwanted.

This is for your darkness
For the mourning that has endured all night
For the joy that comes in the morning that still hasn't come

This is for sunrise!
For swimming towards shore
Though we may be unsure it's there

For believing though we don't see,
For the God who rewards those who seek and for the peacemakers who will see Him.

This is for your first time singing in public,
For your questions, your fears, and your doubts
This is for first drafts for that poem you wrote this morning and are still wondering is this good enough?
Am I good enough?
This is to say you are.

This is for telling the truth even if your voice cracks as you do,
For honest questioning
For admittedly being unsure.
For the strength to admit you hurt,
This is for courage.

This is raising "open" over "mic"
Choosing "ours" over "mine"
This is laying down my rights for you.
This is chasing Christ the most honest way we know.

This is coming home.