When I first encountered MaxWell Shell he was working at the 24-hour Walgreens on West 117th and Detroit. I remember entering at around 2 a.m. with some friends, greeted by a cheerfully chill voice from behind the counter: “Welcome to the WAL, y’all.”
Naturally, that put a smile on our faces, and MaxWell was even more fun at the checkout. Sharing jokes and wisdom, he managed to take a mundane visit to the store and transform it into a genuine human experience for each of us. Over the years, I’ve heard many tales of MaxWell’s Awesomeness from people all over the city, often quoting his signature greeting, which MaxWell refers to as Cleveland’s favorite catch phrase.
Sadly, MaxWell no longer works at Walgreens. The store is not nearly as welcoming anymore. There’s a void now. You see MaxWell wasn’t just a friendly clerk. He’s a poet, musician, and—as I see it—a philosopher. While talking to MaxWell on his front porch at the edge of Lakewood, I learned that the WAL has a much deeper meaning in his eyes: the “World As Love.”
Rife with hidden flow and meaning, the following are MaxWell’s pure, uninhibited written expressions. In memory of Mama Small…welcome to the WAL.
HISTORY – Born in Mt Sinai (aka Mt Suicide) in September of ’79 off MLK Drive. Raised all over Cleveland. East & West & East & West Again. Never met my IrishSide/mama died when I was 2/Daddy Bruce disappeared into the streets by the time i was 11. i learned early to be A constant skeptic & to study much more than what got presented to me. I also learned to trust people Along the way because they were born babies too. Often Indoctrinated into A MindState I was blessed enough to not have to go thru. A paradox of sorts.
YOUTH – The summer before 6th grade I made A whole ComicBook (illustrations, storyline & All) called MEGA MIXX. Imagine CaptainAmerica/Flash Face, SuperMan/SpiderMan body. It was my subConscious dealing with my mixed breedness to coin A phrase. Or flip A coin: cliche. Better everybody feel my pain. That’s not what I was thinking at the time. I was thinking how Cool.
CLEVELAND – (where i’ve lived: CliffNotes…AllWays on the Edge) E. 24th & Superior, w. 58th, W. 54th, w. 67th & Lorain, Franklin, Bridge, Endora, Earle, Griffing, Urbana… (E. 116th&W.117th) A bunch of in betweens & outer seams…within the FreeRange of the Cleveland Scene… I have unconditional love for the city of Cleveland. It has been my favorite reason for being. I just love the happy medium of it. The GoldiLocks “JustRight” of it. Respected for our workEthic & homeGrown Talent worldWide. Loyalty & HomePride. There is no love like ClevelandLove. (AlmostCried).
HOMESICK – (Ironically enough, without Louisiana March 2012-May2013, theWAL would never have surfaced. I worked at the WalGreens in DeRidder & Leesville, Lousiana (20 miles Apart), while taking care of one of my mamas…I got adopted a lot lol)….Southern Hospitality is A real thing & that’s where I fell in love with my SecretStage & came into contact with the power of my particular kind of innerG as A healing & healthy service to my community (MostImmediate) Cool+Cool equals GoodChemistry…Mbody&Mbrace for Nfinity).
FAITH – I have A different patience. A living faith. That’s my God to Culture. My most extreme dream is to be A part of an Inside/Out Revolution. A movement of humans focused on the most immediate moment at all times. An Urban Garden of UnEarthed Diamonds. Shining True thru the Core. I believe in the HeavenSent Power of Love! (toughLuv/RealLove) But that means more than one man can make move. It takes soul-searched people to make things move in A major way.
PERSPECTIVE – For me, the world is Maya (mereIllusion) in many ways & because of this UnderStanding i don’t take my success in this current world or the world to come that serious. I believe in MustardSeeds & OrganicMagic & PureIntentions in A world that’s not necessarily set up to fulfill that criteria. Levity is key at this point. The pedestal will disappoint. Personal Journey Counts. Check. Bounce.
AMBITION – I once made 400$ for 10 minutes of spoken word poetry at the Rock&Roll Hall of Fame museum. Cash in an envelope right after i got off stage. MyBiggest payOut as A poet. Money doesn’t drive me at all, (like A stuck shift) however. If we lived in A system set up like video game points i’d be much more compelled to rack up as many points as possible on my way thru too many obstacles. The idea of selling myself has made me S-cape from soCalled worldlySuccess many times over.
PHILOSOPHY – Life Philosophy is A funny thing. Philosophy is the study of Life. I’ve put that into the best perspective I possibly could over the years. I feel for my peers & elders & the youth too. I really do. Because Life gets twisted in this World’s WorldView. Skewed by the pre-screwed schools that pay teachers to say to students to become slaves to do. HappySlave or not. The RowBot is Alive & Running Loose & some of us get lucky enough to find our Groove within that Blues.
CONNECTIONS – It’s All Connected. How can it not be? My community is the closest thing to home. My home is my heart. That’s where my passion starts. My poetry shoots out like dart. My music wants to see the good people free to be who they were born to be. Where their home is their heart. Because Life is about A Good Fresh Start. & U roll with it. & carry that momentum into the next staged world event & just keep livin’. Not trippin’ off what anybody else is falling for. Because you’re creating space for you & yours in your own special way. Within your own rhythm & intuition. That’s what’s gonna save the day‼
ADVICE – A physical sense or spiritual sense…or material sense…A CONvenience… A comfort… It comes Again down to who wants what more. Finding your place in the world with Life guiding your moves. That’s A cool tune. Finding your way in the world using the World’s Ways. That’s A cruel tool. Real Distinctions have to be made if one is to find their way. Because the World is Dog-eat-Dog but Life is not A BITCH unless- Beauty Is The Curve Heard ((round the world)): LOUD & CRISP.
You can find more poetry from MaxWell Shell at youtube.com/saxswell1, find his book Space Creator(s) at both the Cleveland Downtown and Lakewood libraries, and watch for “the WAL song” coming soon on soundcloud.com/saxswell.
(in A paperBall)….the depth is too deep to steep….peep the possibiliTEA:
SERVERS, NURSES, STRIPPERS, BAR/TENDERS, URBAN PROFESSIONALS, UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS, FIRST GRADE TEACHERS, EVERYDAY DEALERS, FIRST OF THE MONTH JUNK/KEYS, POT-HEADS, ALL DAY LABORERS, UP STARTS, ARTISTS, MUSICIANS, HIPSTERS, ELDERS, MOTHERS, FATHERS: CHILLED RUNS. THE BELOW. THE ABOVE. THE ILL ONES. I LOVE(D) THEM ALL. AIMED TO HEAL ONE BY ONE ON MY LIL RUN. SECRET SERVICES. TRUTH SERUM. CIVIL DISOBEDIENT HEART BEATING TO MY EXTREME DREAM DRUM. they never knew what hit them. Never knew how pure my intentions. Funny how people are Attracted to Truth no matter what. Funny how laughter heals. Funny how it still scares the bull/shit out of Corporate America. At the heart/earth core, we All Want to feel the UltraVibe of being Alive. The living breathing IS & WAS. the World As Love. NO LIE.