Thursday, February 25, 2010

what we know what we do

more than anatomy
sit down with any woman
listen
absent the filters
what you think you know
she will tell you
much more

ritual of exploring hidden quiet
mysteries resolved in water
dark, dense, space
forbidden and required
our space

the everything we know
trusting dreams
friending visions
knowing no separation
between us and Goddess
us and Spirit

we know
don’t say all the time
but we all ways know
he is lying
she is afraid
tomorrow will come

this will pass
the last embrace
we know it all

it’s the lotioning of legs after shower
after bath
after sex
after prayer

secret way we caress our breasts
fondle the nipple
when we are alone
the whole world of what we do
when we are alone

The thing about writing

Is to sit in the seat
One comfortable for you
I am best at the Lavenderia
On Pico
Just before noon

Something about Los Angeles, Pico, the smell of detergent, noon
That is when my stories come
You find your own
But find them

The thing about writing
Is to tell the truth
Even / especially when it
Doesn’t make you look good
There is no truth about any human being
Without the ugly of it somewhere

And so what about your looking good
The thing about writing is
The story
Spinning
Soak
Rinse
Dry

And so what about your looking good anyway
When there is
The story
The tapestry of lines and letters
Words that form
World

Something we can hold on to
Grow from
Re member
Remember
Add soap to and
Wear again

Give me something I can
Connect to
And tell someone else to help her heal
Him heal
What good is your story if it only massages
Your ego / your pocket
So what
So what about you all by yourself
So what about yourself

There are others in the world you know
Loving / living / breathing / taking up space on this planet too
You know

Painting, writing, washing
Trying to make ourselves new

I don’t care about your erotic poetry
I don’t want you to make me moan all night
I don’t want to bend in positions
That make me scream for you
Calling your name
So what about your name

Enough with your style, your voice, your sexy
I want you to feed me words
Real words I can remember and love
And hold like ugly
Words I can wrap up in
Words that don’t wash out

In laundry, on Pico, before noon

Where we write

We are not confined to desks
On carpeted or wooden floors
With our backs to windows
Or facing the sun
Desks holding dictionary, thesaurus, black or blue bic pens
Matching lamps from JC Penney, Goodwill, Ikea
We write in the world
Church pews, red lights, emergency rooms, laundry mats

We have no conversation for
No time to write
There is always time
Especially when there is not
There is time to write
When there is time to pee, to eat, to sneeze, for sex
We know that we are not fully who we are
When we are not creating
Unwinding the messy of some story, poem, essay

We remember and connect ourselves
Again to ourselves
Through characters we create, kill off, build up
Through stanzas and paragraphs
Sentences and letter by letter
We reach beyond the limits of what we know
Of whom we think we are
Beyond the noise in our heads

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tea with Atlanta McBride #2

Good morning. I hope you had a real good Thanksgiving Day. I know I did. Gon an' have a seat anywhere. If you want some tea, I already have some hot water on the stove. I was about to make me some right now. You sure? Ok.

I gotta say now, it’s just weird to me that you keep comin’ over here wantin’ to know my stories about my life when it’s people with much more goin’ on than me. I aint never really won no awards or nothin’, but you keep comin’, I keep tellin’, what I care?

I guess what come to mind today, since you don’t never seem to care what I talk about is me and Prince. I know a lot of my stories have something to do with a man. And most of them in my stories don’t never seem to be much good. But in their own way, they was all some good. People mostly tell the bad part of a story because that’s what’s still stuck in their minds, ‘cause that part aint all the way smoothed out yet. It’s like our brains is some kinda garbage disposal or somethin’. You take a big ole pot and fill it up with your life and pour it down the garbage disposal and turn it on. What you find is the parts that went on real easy and the parts that didn’t go so easy but you got ‘em all worked out for yourself. Them parts just go down real good. But the parts that still aint all the way right with you, even though you think they are, just get stuck in the drain and make the noise in your mind. Like a spoon that gets stuck, keeps going Wrenk! Wrenk! Wrenk! ‘Till you pull it up and straighten it out.

Well, I met Prince on the streets. It’s funny how we met because I’m the one always sayin’ that I wouldn’t never meet up with no man on the street. I just never thought it was proper for a lady. Don’t you look at me like I don’t know what’s proper for a lady or not. You just never do know what you gettin’ when you meet somebody on the street. It’s better to meet somebody in the church or a bar or a school or something like that. That way you kinda know a little about what they into from the beginning. On the street, you don’t know. Well, I was driving along and came up to a red light. Who should pull up next to me but this real handsome lookin’ man. He was like what they would call regal. Had a deep thick accent. He look like Prince Charming. He even drove a white car. Like he was comin’ up on a white horse or somethin’. That’s why I call him Prince. Oh boy, I can hear it loud now. Wrenk! Wrenk! Wrenk! I may get through this and I may not. Anyway, he pulled up beside me and my window was already rolled all the way down and maybe so was his or he rolled it down just to talk to me real quick. He asked me in that thick mustard voice of his if he could have my phone number and get to know me. I just gave him my number nice and slow so he didn’t forget it. Sure enough he had called me by the time I got home. And that’s how that started.

I called him back the same day and he wanted to come and visit me but I knew that was too soon for somebody to be comin’ over to my house. I don’t too much like bringin’ men around Tanisha. She was about six goin’ on seven then. And smart as a whip. Smart, smart, smart. Well, I was paintin’ a lot back then and I was real good at it. Still am really. I was also still sellin’ my purses but not all the time. Things seem to go in cycles for me. I was sellin’ my art pretty good and so I mostly focused on that hustle. I had got this man over on the other side of town to let me use his shop to have an art show. The show was less than six days away so I invited Prince. We didn’t see each other before then but we talked every day. He was from Nigeria and would tell me about his home, his family back in Nigeria and London and his work over at the Salvation Army. He was somethin’ else.

Well, he showed up at my art show just like I believed he would. We went out to Larry’s after that to get something to eat. Red flags was waving away in my head like crazy but did I listen? No. We don’t always have to learn the hard way, but sometimes we do. He walked me out to my car and pulled out a cigarette and I knew for sure we wasn’t supposed to be together. I can’t stand those stinky things. How you gon be with a man when him and his clothes smell like smoke all the time? You, can’t that’s how. Well, we look over what we wanna look over don’t we? We sure do. It turned out cigarettes wasn’t all he was smokin’. Yeah, after he moved in it got a whole lot stronger than cigarettes.

I believe I’ll have some more tea. What about you? You know, come to think of it, we just gon have to pick this up later on after all ‘cause it’s just too loud in here in my head. I don’t know if you can hear it or not, but it’s sure loud to me. Too loud.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tea with Atlanta McBride #1

Tea with Atlanta stories by Jaha Zainabu

Call me what you wanna call me but all I knew was I wasn’t gon look my baby girl in the face and not know where we was gon stay the night. Not me. Not never. I had friends who made a game of twenty-four hour diners, laundry mats and spending the daytime at parks and beaches. No way. No how. What’s a kiss anyway? What’s a hug when you really break it down? A place to stay that’s what. And so we moved in. Me and Tanisha.

She had her very own room and was warm and safe and happy and both of us ate every night. And what’s the use of stories like these and why do folks care anyway and mine aint nothin’ special. All people wanna do is make some kinda case where aint no case really to be made. It happens every day, why look at me? But if you wanna know I’ll tell you. What I care if you know or if you don’t? So ok, here it go.

Me and Tanisha was livin’ over by the Park and things was goin’ ok. Ok like not too bad not too exciting, nothin’ to complain about or nothin’ like that you know. I was rentin’ a room from Janie for four hundred dollars a month and I could afford that well enough on my hustle. I sold stuff. Whatever stuff. Clothes, purses, art, some earrings I useta make. I should go back to makin’ earrings. I was real good at it. They useta call me the earring lady you know. I didn’t make that up. Somebody else did. I woulda come up with somethin’ way more clever than that, but somebody called me that and it stuck.

Anyway, Tanisha was only three years old. And it’s true what they say. Time sure does fly by real fast. You gotta cherish those moments when they real little like that ‘cause you don’t get ‘em back you know.

I met him at a coffee shop not far from the apartment and he bought me some peppermint tea and I sat on down and drank it real slow. Tanisha was with her daddy that night. Or my mama. I don’t remember which one that night but I was walkin’ around by myself tryina figure things out ‘cause I knew I couldn’t just keep goin’ on sellin’ earrings and stuff no matter how good I was at it. I had bigger plans than that. Bigger plans than to be rentin’ a room from Janie and everything like that. Mr. Walker bought me some tea and some more tea. The next week he did too. After a few weeks it got to be that’s what we did on Friday nights. Meet at the coffee shop and drink tea. I take Tanisha down to my mama’s and she always happy to see her when the week end and I gon over to the coffee shop. To drink tea.

I found out the hard way that Janie had been sellin’ dope out of the apartment and I just couldn’t have my baby around that kinda mess. If her daddy found out, he would try to take her from me for sure and never let me see her again and I just couldn’t have that. I came home from tea one night and Janie was sittin’ on the couch lookin’ like she had been cryin’. I’m thinkin’ it was one of her boyfriends dumped her again and wondered why she wasn’t use to it it happen so much. But she tell me that BigBaby come by and wanted more than what she could pay for and call herself just gon take it. Well, she did take it. BigBaby a pretty big girl and it didn’t take much to push her way into the apartment. She took all the stuff, my purses I was sellin’, Janie’s grandmama’s silver chains and my money I was savin’ up to get me and Tanisha our own place, plus the rent for next month. Seventeen hundred dollars of my cash money.

Mama didn't really have no room and plus I didn’t want her to know all of what was goin’ on. I didn't really want her to think she was gon have to help me out all the time. My whole life helping me, helping me, helping me like I ain't got no kinda way to help myself. No. Anyway, Mr. Walker said we could just move in with him ‘till I get on my own two feet and so that’s what we did.

We moved out to Carson with Mr. Walker. He was renting a two-bedroom house that he told me he owned. I didn't find out that he was renting until one day I got home before he did and found a three day pay or quit notice taped to the door. But I guess that’s another story. Anyway, we lived walking distance from the mall and the bus lines. That worked for me because my Ford Escort was dying a slow death fast. He was a sweet enough guy I guess. Was real good to Tanisha. He had six grown daughters of his own who was all back east so I guess that’s why he knew how to treat Tanisha so good. As for me, he treated me all right too. I guess. Things don’t never come without a price though. Especially things like gettin’ a place for you and your three about to turn four year old daughter to stay for free. Things like that don’t never come cheap at all.

I knew that I had to hustle harder than I had ever before because no way was I gonna be some old man’s prisoner. Nice guy or not. Free rent or not. I knew I needed my very own money and sooner than later, my very own place to stay. My very own place with Tanisha. Just like I thought, things sure did pick up with my sales. I would go out to a little thrift store in Corona on the weekends and buy fancy purses for only a dollar or two, sometimes three or four, and I would sell them for twenty, maybe even thirty. I thought Mr. Walker would be proud of me makin’ my own money. Thought he’d be glad to know that I wasn’t just tryina take advantage of him and everything like that. Seem like he got madder and madder the more money I made. He didn't like it at all when he found out I was makin’ more in two weeks than he did on his social security check for a whole two months. The more I made, the more I had to pay. Mr. Walker never would take no money rent though. That’s ok. I said to myself all the time. That’s ok. Just two more months maybe three and I would have enough for a place of my own with Tanisha. Just me and her.

After my car broke all the way down I knew I had to come up with a hustle on top of my hustle. I couldn't keep going down to Corona no more ‘cause Mr. Walker wouldn't let me use his car to get down there unless he went too and that was out of the question. It seemed like everything I did he wanted to do too. Which woulda worked fine if we made any kinda team. But he was always competing with me. Tellin’ me I didn't know what I was doin’, down talkin’ me in front of my customers, tellin’ me I should just give him my bags and he would sell them for me ‘cause he knew he could get a better deal and he would give me twenty percent. No thank you. I would borrow my cousin’s car once a month and get down there and sell them on my own, that’s what.

Paying rent. Paying rent. Paying rent. Every night after I put Tanisha to bed. Paying rent. Free rent. I was tired. Real tired of free rent. On top of free rent he started talkin’ down to me all the time. Even when nobody was around. Out of the blue. It would seem like things was goin’ ok then he would just come in the room and tell me that wasn't nobody gon ever love me like him or treat me like him. That I should be glad that somebody would put up with a dark, fat girl like me with nappy hair and had a baby with nappy hair too. I never said anything. Just looked at him and felt sorry for him. I wasn't no fat girl. Thick. In all the right places thick. But wasn't no fat girl in no kinda way. There was plenty of men lookin’ at me who wanted me real bad. I wasn't lookin’ for no man though in the situation I was in. No way. No how. When I got me a man again it was gon be when I was in my own place with Tanisha. When I had my own car. When I had my own money. I felt real sorry for him ‘cause I could see through all them insults and everything like that. He was old and couldn't hide from me no more. I wasn't some young girl he had been buyin’ tea for on Friday nights no more. I was in his house and I knew that he wasn't some rich retired play writer. He was an old man living on the little bit that social security paid. He had some government job a long time ago and had retired.

He didn't have an Italian mother or a South African father. He had a fair skinned mother with two black parents and a black American father born and raised in Mobile, Alabama. Mobile. Alabama.

He knew that I was on my way out and did everything he thought of to keep me there. Except he never seemed to think of just being good to me. I asked him one morning after free rent if I could just money rent the extra bedroom and he could just do what he wanted to do. Even have some other young girl in there payin’ free rent. Way I looked at it it was a win for everybody. Me and Tanisha would still have a place for a while longer and I could be payin’ money rent and he would have some more in his pocket to pretend with while he took his free rent girl out for tea. But what do I know?

It turns out a girl’s got a limit to free rent and when she reach the limit it just ain't no more free rent to give and whether she got a place yet or not or got some money or not just don’t matter one single bit. When I pulled up in my cousin’s car, he thought I was on my way out to Corona. Nope. Wasn't on my way to get no purses. Not that day. I thanked him for everything but I had to leave right then and there and I just came to get me and Tanisha’s stuff. He didn't like that one bit and told me that I wasn't nothin’ but a dark, fat, nappy headed girl who wasn't gon never be nothin’ but somebody sellin’ purses on the street teachin’ her baby girl to be nothin’ but the very same thing. He didn't mean for me to like that but I sure did too like the sound of that.

I didn't know where I was goin’ but I was leavin’ there. I tell you. When free rent run out then free rent run out and no man nor woman knoweth the day nor the hour. I had the car for the weekend ‘cause my cousin was out in Vegas with her friends. I loaded the car with Tanisha’s clothes, my clothes, purses, art stuff, books, a chair or two and some more books. I put a big blanket over everything and went to Mama’s house. She was used to seein’ Tanisha on Fridays so I knew I wouldn't have no explaining to do that day. But still, what was I gon do? I didn't know. I stayed the night at Mama’s that night and turned the TV off and prayed and prayed in the house all by myself. Tanisha and Mama had gone to dinner and to the movies. I didn't go. I needed to pray. I never did tell Mama none of what was goin’ on. I had just made up in my mind to work it work it out without doing that.

The next morning I woke up and called Vanessa first thing. It musta been God answered my prayer ‘cause I was shol prayin’ for a miracle and that’s what I got. Vanessa and I hadn't spoken in over seven months. I exhaled hard when she answered on the third ring. I told her my free rent run out and she understood ‘cause she had paid free rent before too. She said that she was on her way out to Atlanta to see her new man and would be gone for the whole summer and I could stay at her place and just pay the rent there, only catch was that she needed a ride to the airport ‘cause her ride had just flaked on her and I had to be there in an hour. I kissed Mama on the cheek and woke up Tanisha.

In a mustard seed, that’s what happened.

At the heart of the matter

On Wednesday, February 10 I woke up with a tightness in my chest. It felt like a fist behind my heart squeezing. Not my heart. Not my heart. Not my heart. Not today. Not like this. Squeeze. Squeeze. Not. Squeeze. Today. Uraeus.

The pressure lifted and after a few deep breaths, a few deep prayers, I remembered and connected the event to that February 10 last year my father passed away. Heart attack. The pressure in my chest lasted on and off all day.

The next morning, the pain moved from my chest to my back, directly between my shoulders. I told myself that if I was still hurting the next morning then I would go to the hospital. If it is not obvious by now, I don't have health insurance.

At about 3:00 Friday morning, the pain was in my chest again. My left arm was sore and was tingling down to my fingers. Dear God. Dear God. Dear God. Uraeus. Mom. My journals. Uraeus.

Thankfully, the pain dissolved. Uninsured or not, I didn't need a bigger sign. About 7:30 that morning, Therman (my uncle) and I went to the hospital. At that point, the pressure in my chest was on and off. Mostly off. BUT MY BACK! MY BACK!

My blood pressure was dangerously low and the doctor wanted to moniter me throughout the night and do further tests the next morning.

Throughout the night, with pain only in my back I had the headspace to slow my thoughts down and think. I wondered what the tests would show the next morning. I wasn't afraid at that point. I was comforted in knowing that everyone in my life that I love already knows that. I thought about things and people I wasted energy on. Arguments that were not that serious afterall.

The next morning after the stress test, the blood tests, the x-rays, it wasn't my heart. Remember, I am an uninsured so they weren't looking for what the problem was. They just wanted to make sure that they didn't send me home to have a heart attack the next day and then my family sue the day after that.

I know that the pain was a sign to let it go. The worry. The worry over money, bills, family, time, career, friends. The worry over worry. Let it go and love myself.

I am back to walking more. Taking deeper breaths. Recognizing the smallness of what I worried about. Perhaps I did not need a sign so big to learn a lesson so simple. But then again, maybe so.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Domestic Violence - More Red Stories

The following are stories I pulled from the internet when I did a Google search for domestic violence. For the past few days I've been posting the telephone number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) on my Facebook page. Someone asked why I was doing that and I could only respond by telling her that I have so many conversations with women who, in some form or another are living it. Of course not just women are going through this. Of course, not just women are the victims of it. We are all affected. So, the short answer to her question of why, is simply, because I am led to.

I posted these stoires because you may see yourself or someone you know/love in them. Perhaps you thought that you were going through this by yourself. You're not. Maybe you think it's way too late to do anything about it or get any help. It's not.

If you are someone you love is living with domestic violence there is help. Again, 1-800-799-SAFE.

********************

My name is Linda and I started having a bad life at 18. I met what I thought was a wonderful man. He was one of my bosses from work. He was so kind to me at fist. We would spend lovely times together just having fun. I seemed important to him; at least I thought I was.

After we were dating for about 2.5 months I found out I was pregnant and I wanted no more children. I already had a son and I was too young for him but another would have been havoc. So I told Joe that I wanted to terminate the pregnancy and that is when it all started.

He kept me home and fired me from my job. For the 1st time he hit me right across the face because I said I was leaving him. He dragged me into the dept. store and said we are going shopping so stop crying like a baby. He acted like it was nothing and I knew it was wrong but I did as I was told. I was 18 and he was 31. I thought an older man would be better for me but I was wrong!

The hitting became beatings almost every day. Even though I was pregnant, he did not care. He said, "If you were a good girl I wouldn't have to discipline you so much." I hated hearing that. Be a good girl- that was screwed up ya' know?

I had my daughter and I thought it would help us but it didn't. It just meant that I was stuck with him. The black eyes and busted lips and bruised body was all I knew and he was taking my heart too. I was no longer living near my parents and I was forbidden to have friends or should I say a life?

Two years later I became pregnant and I was not at all happy with that. But of course I had to stay pregnant. It cooled him down a little and he always said he was sorry. I hated my life and I wanted it to end but I had children whom I loved and I couldn't leave them. That is what keeps me alive. I tried to get help from my dad but he said THAT I MADE MY BED NOW - lay in it!! That hurt so much because I thought daddies were there to help when you needed them most.

My father was angry with me because I had children and he said it was my fault I put myself in that type of position. My mom couldn't even help me she could barely take care of herself. So as my pregnancy progressed he was a little nicer to me- we had twins now. That was the worse news to me. I kept thinking how am I going to leave with 4 kids.

I paid for a tubal ligation so I couldn't have any more children with him. I started saving a dollar here and a dollar there so I could escape my hell with my children. I remember one day that I told him I hated him with every bone in my body. He hit me so hard I went flying at least 10 feet across the bed and onto the floor. Blood dripping from my mouth, I just smiled and said, "Are you done?" I was so tired of him hitting me and controlling me as a person that I had had enough!

He started hitting me some more and I didn't back down. He finally walked away. The days went by and I would get hit because I didn't vacuum first then dust. The house was not clean enough or there was a fork in the sink I would get slapped again. He made excuses to hit me. So I bided my time till I could leave.

A few years later I was going to be gone within a few months then I found out I was pregnant again. I was floored because I paid to be fixed. Well I was that 1% that could get pregnant. So I stayed until my last child was 1 and a 1/2 and I packed my things and left.

I left the children behind because I couldn't care for 5 children. I took the oldest child with me because he was mine and not his. I became a stripper to care for my son and we did fine and I thought I would finally be free of violence. I loved my new life of no more long sleeved shirts or pants to cover the bruises.

Then I met James and he swore he would never hit me and he didn't for 1 1/2 years. Then one day I was out riding my bike and I pulled into the front yard and he was yelling and all of a sudden I fell down. He had hit me in the face so hard I had lost my balance. I still do not know why he hit me that day he never told me.

I stayed with him for a few more months hoping it was a mistake and it would never happen again. But I was wrong again. I let him move in with me in hopes of a good relationship. It did not last long.

One night I went out with my friends like I always did on Fridays and when I got home he yelled and screamed at me for being out while he was working. I basically told him he needed to leave because it was not working out then he hit me across the face a couple of times. I got up and ran for the phone to call for help. He pulled it out of the wall. He kept saying why are you making me do this to you? He grabbed my hair and was dragging me into the bedroom and I knew what that meant from experience I began to scream for help.

My son heard me and I hollered to him to get the neighbors and he did. He saved my life. James was arrested and given 1.5 years and no contact. I moved after that. We were over and I was over with men at least I thought I was.

Then one day my friend introduced me to a handsome sweet intelligent man and I fell for him hard. I was tired of being put down and bruised but my girlfriend assured me that he was good. She lied! He was worse than the other two put together. It was pure hell and I didn't realize what pain really was till I was with Jeff. He hit me every day even if he woke up in a good mood. I hated life and everyone in it. I thought that this is how my life was meant to be so I stayed for 6.5 years till I couldn't take it no more.

He would call my job all of the time and make me bring home a register receipt to prove what time I left. He held a gun to my head and said, If you want to die, let's do it." He would hit me in the face all of the time. Everyone at my job knew he was mean but no one would help me. Finally after he broke my windshield for the 3rd time I left and moved 20 minutes away and transferred to another store. He found me once again.

He called us all hours of the night yelling nasty things to myself and my roommate. He threatened her a lot and finally after 6 months of calls I finally agreed to see him in hopes of it being the last time. I was hoping that he had realized that after 6.5 years of hate he would finally end it and be civil. I wanted him to go on with his life so I could without him. I wanted to stop looking over my shoulder and my dreams would stop keeping me up at night. I wanted sleep again. I wanted to smile again. I wanted to be ME again.

He invited me to his birthday party so I figured I would be safe. I was so tired from working 18 hours straight but I made it to the party and there was other people there so I was ok with it. He was drinking and taking Librium pills the next door neighbor got him. I should have known to leave but I didn't.

I fell asleep on the couch and I awakened to him standing over me just looking at me in a confused look. I asked him what he was doing and he grabbed my throat and said, "you think you can just walk away from me. No you can't." I froze for a moment because I had this strange feeling rush over me and I can't completely describe it but it was scary. I knew then if I didn't get away from him I would die! I knew it and I didn't know how but I was terrified beyond belief. I pushed him off and ran for the door. He got up and chased me and it started a fight because I was determined to win this one. He grabbed my hair and pulled and yanked it hurt so bad that I could barely stand the pain. I wrapped my arms around the railing of the outside steps and held on for life. My arms began to bleed from scraping the wood rail back and forth but I held on.

He finally got me loose and I fell to the top step with my face down hoping to pass out. I knew I had to stay alive and that meant staying awake. He grabbed my head and began pounding it into the top step. It hurt and all I could do was cry and fight back. I saw blood dripping onto the step and I knew I had to be bleeding from my face now. It was a mess all over the steps. He yanked me up and I dropped to the steps again and he kept telling me to get up and get inside and I kept yelling for help. No one listened. He grabbed my hair and dragged me inside and I grabbed the doorway in hopes of tiring him out because I was tired. I dug my nails into the wood frame around the door making my fingers bleed and nails breaking from the pressure I could no longer hold on. I was now inside and he picked me up and threw me up against the wall calmly talking to me saying that we were soul mates and we had to be together. He said that our lives, especially his, was not going to be wasted by me. I owed him and I say I owed him nothing! We fought some more hitting each other profusely not taking a breath. I pushed him away and he fell over the end table he looked up and then unscrewed the table and came at me again and caught me right across the nose. I felt dizzy and out of it.

I remember saying to myself if there is a God, please help me. I will never doubt Your existence again. I never believed in God until that night. Jeff kept hitting me and made me walk the house with him. Finally I had him convinced that we would marry tomorrow. He stopped. He brought me into the kitchen to wipe my face off because he said I was a mess. He told me to go shower and change into some of his pajamas and we would watch our favorite movie. I agreed. I rushed upstairs and got into the shower and cried so hard it hurt. I looked down at the water and it was red all red. That's all I could see and I cried even more. My face hurt so much that I couldn't bring myself to look at it. I got out of the shower and dried off quickly and ran down stairs. He laid on the couch babbling about how I made him do that to me. He made me make a promise to be good and to marry him. I was to obey him forever and we would never be apart again.

I waited for him to fall asleep. It was midnight so that meant we had been fighting for 1 hour. I was so tired and dizzy but all I could think of was getting out. I waited for him to snore so I would know he was asleep. I went to the back door and unlocked the first lock 2 more to go. I waited a little while longer and opened another then another then I ran out the door as quickly as I could run. I ran down the steps and didn't look back. My feet were bleeding from running down the rocky driveway. All I could think was getting help.

I ran across the street to a neighbor's house it was 3:30 in the morning. I tapped on his window and begged for him to let me in. He opened the door and let me in we called the police and it was now over for me and him. I thank the Davidson county police of Tennessee for all their help. I get to live again. I am now 36 years older and am finally happy. I forgot what it was like to breathe on my own again. I haven't seen Jeff in 3 years and I keep track of him. He is still in jail and I have found someone who is the best thing in my life besides my children. 3 times is a charm - no the 4th is!!!!

*********************

I'm your basic middle class male who was raised to respect women and never hit them. I consider myself a good provider and who has had some success after my hard work has paid off with my authoring 2 best selling books and having sold a self-started company. I work hard and am a decent man. I am also one of those in total disbelief this would ever happen to me.

I hate the term battered man, I'm a DV survivor. And I can say the system (judicial, police, legal, local and state government agencies) does virtually nothing to help a man survive when they're on the receiving end of a female sociopath's attacks. In fact, the system has, in some ways, injured me more than my ex wife ever could.

My wife slapped me hard after I said no to her wanting to get donor sperm in order to get pregnant. Keep in mind her fertility doctor said there were NO physical problems with either of us to prevent her from getting pregnant. Keep in mind we'd only been trying for 4 months, but she felt entitled and was willing to beat anyone down who got in the way.

After I confronted her about her having no right to lay a hand on me and my fear of what she would do to our future children, she replied, "if you're going to get your tiny feelings in a bunch over a little slap, you need to keep going to therapy TO WORK ON YOUR PROBLEMS."

I packed and left immediately. Ironically, the day she slapped me for not allowing her to become pregnant using other men's sperm, was Mother's Day.

I later intercepted a written letter where my wife agreed with her friend's idea to "have a child and then dump me". The letter also detailed how to catch my sperm in a condom for insemination without my knowledge.

When I confronted her with the note, she just shrugged like, "there's nothing you can do about it, pal." I keep the letter to remind me why I'm divorcing my wife.

Later, my wife body slammed my 67 year old, 4'11" mother into a mirrored closet door bruising my mother's knee. Subsequent x-rays revealed my mom also suffered a nearly fractured finger as my wife ripped my mom's camera from her hands. We were taking pictures at my house to prevent my wife from destroying more of my personal property. Is this how your mother should be treated by your wife?

As we both left my own house being pushed, shoved, and attacked, my father in law arrived and started to push and goad me into punching him.

We left without touching anyone and called the police when we were safe in my car. The police arrived and did not call an ambulance for my mom, did not recommend any of the numerous government and legal resources available ( i.e. restraining orders, etc) and downgraded the event to a "property dispute."

Further, the police threatened me by saying, "if you return, sir, we will arrest you for trespassing." Keep in mind, this is my own house where I'm on the deed. Four counts of assault and battery/DV with pictures, doctor's reports, and witnesses, but no arrests or convictions.

Do you think there's a problem with the system if you're male and subject to domestic violence from your wife?

No? - Imagine if the situation was reversed: the husband slapped his healthy wife for not having a child after 4 months of trying, shrugged off a written letter found by his wife where the husband agreed with his buddy about dumping his wife after tricking her to get pregnant, beat his wife's mother badly enough to require x-rays, and called his father to assault his young wife on the front lawn for the neighborhood to see.

Do you really believe the police and the courts would have treated that case in the same way?

Not a chance. The husband and his father would be in jail while paying for damages, and the wife and mother would be celebrated as domestic violence survivors on Oprah.

If you're like me, who's trying to protect your rights and your family by blood from a crazy wife, and an even crazier system, take heart. You are not alone.

Tell your story, and do what you can to take care of what's important. Things will change.

P.S. To those that may not believe me, I can understand. You probably haven't experienced anything like this in your life. I probably wouldn't have believed it fully until I heard my mother scream in pain from my wife's attacks, saw the hard evidence of pictures and medical reports, and felt the pain in my gut of doing the right thing by asking the system for help, and having the system turn right around and try to prosecute the innocent victims for crimes they did not commit.

It does happen, and the system does not work.

*********************

I Am A Survivor

In the summer of 1996, I met a guy and we knew each other for about three weeks, and then he moved in with my son and I. And he was good to my son and I, he bought me cards and flowers every day and this went on for three months. One day I went to the grocery store and I had been gone about an hour and when I got home Eddie was furious with me. Eddie slammed me down on the couch, causing me to hit my head on the piano.

Eddie told me that when I go to the store I only had ten minutes to do the shopping and get home. When I would go visit my mom and dad I could only stay for ten minutes. I couldn't go have coffee with them in the mornings like I always had done. When I was gone longer than ten minutes Eddie would start pushing me around and he would grab my upper arm and drag me to the bedroom, that's where he always would start beating on me. Eddie would bruise my arm every time he grabbed me like that.

I had this bowling activity one night a week and it would take two and a half hours to bowl and I had to get home right after I was done. Well one night I was a half hour late getting home because I went over to see my mom and dad and when I got home Eddie grabbed me by the arm once again and off to the bedroom, he threw me down on the bed and held me there and then he started head butting me. This happened several times. Eddie always told me I'd better not ever hurt him. I bent over backwards for him so he wouldn't beat me up. But it was never good enough for him. Eddie was never happy unless he was beating me up. As time went on things got worse. When I would go to work Eddie would call my place of work several times during the day to check up on me. Eddie told me I wasn't to talk to any of my co-workers. On day Eddie come to pick me up from work and I was talking to my manager, and it was a guy. When we got home he started knocking me around again. Every time he got done with me he would always say he was sorry and he would never do this again. Eddie always begged me for another chance and I would. When Eddie would go to work and I had the day off I had to sit by the phone, I couldn't go visit my parents, because he called every five minutes to see if I was there, and if I wasn't he would leave work to come check on me. Eddie would make up stories just so he would have a reason to beat me up or call me names when he got home. Eddie called me one day and asked me what a blue truck was doing in my drive way and I no idea what he was talking about so when I told him there was not a truck in my drive way he would start beating up on me. Eddie always called me a liar, a slut and a bitch. Eddie always told me he had someone watching my every move, and when I would come home and he had told me some of the places I had been that day I really thought someone was watching me, and then I really began to get scared. Eddie always accused me of cheating on him and when I denied it he would slap me around again. One morning I got up to go to work, Eddie got and started a fight with me, and when I left for work about ten minutes later he called and said he cut his hand and had to go to the hospital, I asked him how he cut his hand and he wouldn't tell me. I told him I couldn't get off to take him to the hospital then he hung up on me. About fifteen minutes later here comes into my place of work demanding I take him to the hospital so I gave him the keys to the truck so he could take him self. When I got home from work I found out how he cut his hand, he the mirror in the bathroom and broke it.

Eddie also always told me If I hurt him he was going to take my truck and drive off of Dead Horse Point, National Park. Eddie told me I would have his mother to answer too, as to why he drove off of Dead Horse Point. Eddie told me it was my fault for him beating me up. As time went on I was getting really scared for my life and by this time I was really so far in that I was afraid to kick him out. I talked to my sister and she told me if I was to kick him out to call the cops for back up, and I told her that he would never hurt me, that was not the truth because he had been hurting me all along.

I couldn't go to my family about what was happening because he told me he would go after them if I ever told them what was happening. So to save them I had to keep quiet.

Eddie cut me off from my family and my friends and I didn't know why at first, then I figured it out, Eddie was afraid I was going to talk about what was really happening to me, this was a threat to him. Eddie was afraid I was going to find out about his past and get rid of him. Well I did find out about his past after he nearly killed me. I was out side talking to my neighbor and I had been out there for about thirty minutes and Eddie came out and told me

I had a phone call and I told him I didn't hear the phone ring and he made up some story as to why I didn't hear the phone, so I went in to answer the phone and I get in the house and there was no one on the phone, he told me they hung up. Eddie used this type of stuff to get me away from anyone I might confide in. One day Eddie called me at work several times and I didn't want to talk to him. My managers told him I was busy and I couldn't talk, well he got mad and walked down to my place of work and when I saw him coming I told my boss I didn't want to talk to him and my boss sent me to the office. Eddie stormed in and demanding my boss to come get me. When my boss told him no, Eddie stormed back to the office, and my boss followed him and told him to leave but he wouldn't. Eddie got in my boss's face and threatened him. Eddie wanted the keys to the truck and I wouldn't give them to him and he got madder and madder so I gave him the keys so he would leave and leave me alone.

On October 31, 1996, I was dressing my son up to take him out trick or treating and Eddie kept asking me how long are you going to be gone and I told him I didn't know. Eddie told me not to get in a car with my mom, he kept telling me she would have me put away so I couldn't be with him and I told him no she wouldn't, but he said it so many times he had himself believing it. My mom and I took my son out and we were gone about and hour and a half. So when we got home here comes Eddie out from no where he was really really angry and demanding to know where I was, he saw me getting out of my mom's car. I told him we had taken my son around to some homes. My son had just gone into the bowling alley before all of this started taking place. Eddie had hit the hood on my truck he had been calling my parent's house the whole time we were gone. Eddie said let's go home now. My mom had asked me if I was going to be all right and I said yes I will be all right and I will call you in a little bit. Eddie hated it when I would talk to my parents he was really nervous about me telling what was really going on in my house. Eddie would never talk about his past then I was really scared of what kind of person he really was. Eddie would go through my mail, I had no idea what he was looking for. Eddie is a real possessive and jealous person and very very controlling.

In November of 1996 my dad bought a bus ticket for Eddie and bused him down to Texas to get him out of my life, because my mom and dad knew he was really going to hurt me and I was blind to it. Eddie called and said he bought a bus ticket to Colorado and asked me if I would pick him up and bring him back and I did, little did I know what was going to happen. I thought some time away he would change but it didn't the beatings started again.

On February 10, 1997 I got up and went to work, normal every day routine. When I got to work everything seem to be cool. To my knowledge there were no phone calls and I went on about my work. When I got home every thing seem ok there to. At 7:00 p.m. I got a call from my dad and he asked me to come over to his house because we had to talk and I told him I would be right there, I hung up the phone and Eddie asked me who that was and I said it was my dad and he asked me what he wanted and I said he wants to talk to me, and Eddie begged me not to go and I told I had to go talk to dad. Eddie told me I better be home in a half hour and I said ok. I got over to dad's house and dad told me Lori who was my general mngr. said Eddie called my place of work that day ten times. And Lori was going to have to let me go if I didn't take care of this situation, my job was on the line because of Eddie. Well I wasn't going to choose Eddie over my job so I told my dad I was going home to kick him out. Well I had been there for a half hour and the phone starting ringing off the hook, and I just about jumped out of my skin and my dad could tell I was nervous so when we got done talking I had gone over to the bowling alley to visit my friends because I knew what was going to happen when I got home. I told my sister I was going to kick him out and she said I better call the cops and I told her I would be all right. It was 8:20 p.m. and I went back over to the house to tell my dad that I was going home. Dad asked me if I wanted him to come over with me and I said no that I had to do this and he said ok. It is now 8:30 and I got home and when I crossed this street with a four way stop I look up the street to see if any cars were coming and I saw Eddie he started walking down to my parents house and when he turned and saw me on my way home he was here in less than five minutes. He asked me what we talked about and I told him and he said my boss was a fat lying bitch. Eddie then said to me what are you going to do about it, I told him I wanted him to move out. Eddie then grabbed my are like always and dragged me to the bedroom and threw me down on the bed, and then Eddie went to the kitchen and I heard the drawer open but I didn't know what he was doing and by this time I was really scared so I picked up the phone by my bed to call my dad and I just as I started to dial the number and Eddie came back into the bedroom and looked me in the eye and said (I quote) I told you to never hurt me and when I turned around he was standing there with a knife. When I tried to get away he swung the knife down-wards cutting me on my left chest and I turned my back to him and I felt the knife going in, after Eddie stabbed me he went out the back door and threw the knife over the fence and at this time I had a chance to call my dad and I was so hysterical I didn't get to tell him Eddie stabbed me, dad hung up and he and my sister were there in about five minutes. Eddie came back in and said let's call 911 and I told him to get the hell away from me and to never touch me again. Eddie went out the front door and I followed him out so I could see which direction he was going to run. I stepped out on the porch in a bloody white sweat shirt and my dad fought Eddie to the ground and the cops arrived at that time. Eddie used a 10 inch boning knife on me. The cops called for an ambulance and then I was transported to the hospital, I arrived there at 9:00 p.m. and they had to stitch up the wound on my back, and then they had to put a chest tube in, I was in ER for an hour and a half they had to take pictures of my wounds and doctor all of the wounds. The hospital staff told me they had to air lift to a hospital in Colorado. At 11:30 p.m. Air Life flew me to Colorado and I arrived at that hospital at 2:00 a. m. I was in there for a week. I was released on February 14, four days later.

Eddie was sentenced to no less than 1 year and no more than 15 years in prison, he served nine months and then he came up for parole, I wrote letter's to the Board of Pardons and I also appeared at the hearing. Eddie got two years. In the mean time Eddie messed up and he got another year. Eddie was released from prison on February 13, 2001. I asked the Board of Pardons to banned Eddie from the town I live in. I also requested electronic monitoring, and was paroled to Texas. I Still track his case, I know in my heart the more interest I take in keep on top of things the more support I get from the Board of Pardons and the Law.

UPDATE: Aug. 9, 2003

Eddie is now back in prison, parole hearing was on July 30, 2003 Parole was denied and in 30 days Board of Pardons will have a decision on what they will do with him.

********************

I was married to a man who did everything in his power to hurt me mentally, financially, physically, and sexually. I was with him for 13 years, and he was a great husband until the last couple of years. He changed.

I educated myself, and started a business, and he tried everything to stop me. It seemed the better I did business wise, the more controlling he became.

He started not paying bills. Withholding sex. Ignoring me. Calling me names. One night woke up to him yelling at me at 3 am. He had a knife hanging in the bedroom, with a 10" blade. I woke several night to being hit, he tried to say he was sleeping, and didn't know he was doing it. He scared me.

I stopped sleeping in the room. I found porno books around the house. I asked many times for him not to leave them laying around, as I have a 6 year old son. He did it anyway. So I had to keep checking to make sure nothing was around that my son would get into.

I proceeded into my business refusing to give up, and he got more ugly daily. It ended after a 911 call to police, when he threatened to smash my office equipment, and hurt me.

I got a restraining order and had the police remove him. My divorce was just signed this month.

I didn't realize I had possibly had PTSD, until I talked with a friend who is a Psych. Tech.

I have a new man now, a good man I am dating, and he took me into a jewelry store to just look. I was so stressed out, I wouldn't look at anything, and stayed back. All I wanted to do is leave. :---(

I didn't realize I am worried about commitment.
I didn't understand what was going on, why did I react that way?
I don't like the feeling I had at all.

********************

I saw the gun my husband was holding as he stood in the door way of our kitchen. After years of being intimidated to stay in the abusive relationship, I thought to myself "not this time, gun or no gun". I defiantly turned my back to him and his AK-47, and walked toward the backdoor that was in the kitchen. Something in my head asked "where is the phone?" I looked up and saw the cordless phone in it's cradle on the kitchen wall. It was a millisecond later that I smelled gunpowder and heard a pop. I caught myself on the kitchen table with my right hand while my left hand was holding my side actually trying to realize that I had been shot.

I sat down, I didn't know what to do. It didn't hurt, I could breath, but I could tell that something wasn't right. My husband come over to me and I looked up at him and said "you shot me. Call 911." He was putting another bullet in the gun. I got up and reached for the phone. I dialed 91 but before I dialed the other 1 he took the phone away from me. He repeatedly said "oh no you don't" I didn't wait to find out what was next I turned to go to the bedroom to use that phone. As I started walking my legs felt weak, this unfathomable burn started in my chest and rib cage. When I got to the living room I couldn't go any further. I couldn't breath. I couldn't scream because I couldn't get any air. I couldn't move because it would burn and hurt worse so I fell to the floor.

I begged and pleaded for him to call 911. I apologized for whatever it was I did wrong. He said to me "oh no you are gonna die now". I crawled to the front door, reached up and opened it. I was laying half way in the house with my head on the front porch. I tried to scream for help, but it only came out as a whisper. Then I felt open the door away from my legs. He drug me back inside.

He called 911. WHAT A HERO.

I spent 8 days in ICU and 9 days on the regular floor of a hospital. I had horrible HORRIBLE nightmares in the hospital. I woke one night hitting my arms against the hospital bed railings and screaming. I woke before the nurses got there. I had had a dream that I was hitting the insides of my coffin. Since then, it is just same old nightmares. Some nights are better than others.

I see these shirts and bumper stickers on cars that say "NO FEAR". I laugh to myself, and wonder, do these people really know what fear is? At the same time I envy them for the ignorance. That used to be me.

********************

i was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder yesterday. Finally, I understand what has and is happening to me.

My ex-husband began hitting me before we were married. Instead of seeing it as a 'red flag,' I embraced the belief that it had happened only because of who I was and something I must have done.

I embraced this philosophy during 26 years of marriage. it was always 'my fault' and if I could 'change,' the emotional and physical abuse would end. Of course, it didn't.

In the meantime, I became increasingly fearful, anxious, and depressed. I became an alcoholic, which only increased the beatings. i became an 'expert' at lying about why I couldn't come to work, why I couldn't make social engagements, and at applying make-up to cover the bruises. After one particular beating, I told my ex-husband I thought I had a broken rib. He said, "You know where the hospital is, go there."

On the day my youngest son went away to school, there was an altercation, and my ex-husband and son pulled out of the driveway, while I lay unconscious on the garage floor. When I regained consciousness, my glasses were broken, I had two black eyes, a chipped tooth, and a split lip. I left that night.

Since that time, I have been in alcohol abuse rehabilitation, have been taking the anti-anxiety/anti-depressant drug Paxil, and attending weekly AA meetings.

For a time, all of that worked. I began a promising 'new life.' However, in the last few months, I have been experiencing increased depression, anxiety, and physical problems (gastrointestinal problems, insomnia, profuse perspiration.) I have also experienced nightmares in which my ex-husband was beating me, during one of which I actually screamed out loud.

I have been fortunate in that I sought medical attention as my symptoms persisted. I am fortunate that I have a doctor, and now a therapist, who had the insight to understand what was happening to me.

I will now be visiting the therapist weekly, and am scheduled to see a psychiatrist to discuss medication.

In closing, i was researching PTSD when I came upon this sight. It has been very comforting and encouraging to me.

I just wanted to share my story.

*********************

The Reclamation of Me Before I: A Reminiscent Truth of a Destructive Past
By Lynnesha

I was 16 when he stole from me. Stole my virginity, my dignity, and my
self-esteem. I want it back.

I met him on the internet. A newly-turned 16, I knew that my mom would not approve of me talking to boys that were over 18 in person, but online, as I thought, was different. He said such sweet things. I met him offline two weeks later, and he looked normal enough, with big, pink lips and a kind, welcoming smile. We dated for three months before he told me he loved me as he took my innocence. I knew that I was in love. Just knew it. It felt so right; I was happy beyond measure, and even though my parents had a bad feeling about him, they didn’t know him as well as I did. I was the one that he loved.

Then he hit me.

HE punched me with closed fists in my face, my stomach, and one day even gave me a black eye. He told me I was ugly, stupid, fat, and that he is the only one that is stupid enough to have any emotion towards me, so I became a bulimic “cutter”. After he hit me, he would kiss me on the
forehead and apologize, and I would forgive him. Then he would bruise my
face again. I didn’t drive, so the three hour journey by public
transportation came with confused stares; the other passengers watched me cry as tears and blood rolled down my cheeks.

I left him eight months later.
I was 18 when he stole from me.


I met HIM through a mutual friend. While I didn’t think that he was very
attractive, I thought that I should humor him and go out on a date. We had a great time, filled with laughter and jokes all night. Towards the end, I parked my car around Montebello Lake and we sat in the backseat to talk. He started to get closer and closer.

I told him no. I told him to stop. I told him to get off of me.

He held me down so strongly that I was afraid he’d break my arms. He told
me to shut up as I screamed, and told me that I wanted it, when I didn’t.
I was afraid that he’d hit me, so I stopped fighting back, and after he
was done I took him home.

I remained friends with him until we lost touch
I was 19 when he stole from me.


My best friend had casual sex with this guy who was 35. She was only 18.
One day her partner invited us to his place in the city for drinks, and
told me that he’d bring a guy for me. The GUY that was there when we’d
arrived was super unattractive, but told me that he worked full-time as a
stripper in a local club. We all sat around the television and drank, and
right before I became unconscious, my best friend and her partner left me
in the room with this guy I barely knew. As I started to black out, I can
remember his hands touching me, him smiling, and my eyes shutting.

He took advantage of me repeatedly while I was intoxicated.

I awoke to a painful, swollen vagina and my clothing ripped apart. My
breasts were red and had bite marks all around them. When I told my best
friend what happened, she laughed heartily and said “you shouldn’t have
gotten that drunk!”

She remained my best friend for two more years.
I am 21 and I want it back.

Every day they haunt me in some capacity, their memories clinging to my
being like lint to a black sweater. They befoul my relationships, my
sexual life, and most importantly, my self-esteem. I’m pissed off because
I want her back. The innocent, overly confident, happy girl that just
wanted to love and be loved is gone, and what’s left is her overly
sensitive, self-conscious sister. The three of THEM are out living normal
lives, free from the hurt and confusion that comes from being physically,
mentally and emotionally abused. They should pay, and I have already
planned my revenge. I will live a full and complete life, finding love,
getting married, and sharing my love with my children. I will educate
young women on the warning signs of domestic abuse. I will talk to those
that can relate and help me through the angst that the three of them have
put me through.

I will be a strong woman.

The little girl that has been taken away from me will be avenged by
preserving the little girl inside of young women in future generations.
That is what will not only make them go away, but that will bring her back
to me.

I will regain my sanity, my dignity, and ME.

********************

Stop The Violence

She was a shell
Empty and alone
Where could she go?
Who could she tell?

Was easier to stay
To accept defeat
Everyone told her
That's the way it should be.

They all looked away
and left her alone
they turned their heads
to any broken bones

They told her to be strong
for that was the plan
Her only goal
should be to please her man

She did her best
She gave it her all
When asked "What happened?"
She said
"Oh, Just a fall"

Years went by
she learned to adapt
she learned how not
to make him mad

She learned how to please
Just what to say
She learned to make sure
HE had a good day

Those looking on could not see?
Would not see?
The pain that was so deep inside of me
Was it easier to just look away?

Distance and time
closed for me
there was a hand that
could be reached

A hand with a face
from the past
A hand that only for a
short time would last

I held on to that hand
with all my might
I pulled myself up
I learned how to fight

A year has past
And now I see
just how wonderful
life should be

Written in celebration of my freedom
Dedicated to the face from the past,
(Someone's name)




I

untitled

can sense the crazies coming
bit ways off yet
but on their journey still

take over my mind
hold of my tongue
move of my mouth
harden my speach
peanut brittle no sugar
golden seal no honey

i am relieved
afterwards remorse
then crazies leave me here

i am a coward
mess up work theyve done
with my excuses
with my tears

i will grow deeper
speak taller words
scream sans apology
yell to my moons content
like the crazy they think
i am

Dear Uraeus #16

As a mother, I have tried to find the words to carry you through puberty and sustain you throughout your adulthood. I have read books, my journals, searched my prayers, my veins, the ancestor's songs. But in the end there is only one...BREATHE.

Love, Mom

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

forward

mornings thunder was kvetch of nature
lamenting in all the languages i know
follow the murmur of blood
reproaching my veins
contrary to the gossip of clouds to sky
i am not afraid of tomorrow
i remonstrate
only yesterday
i squawk
yesterday

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Letters to my people

1. Dear People who are scheduled to appear on a nationally televised court show; Please call me for coaching so that you do not look like a jerk. Thanks. Have a nice day.

2. Dear People who wear pajamas in public; The thrift store by my house is having a sale this weekend on street clothes. All blue and pink tags 1/2 off. Hope that helps. Have a nice day.

3. Dear Paid programming shows; You know, I think that the things you sell are really great. If I was going to spend $49.95 on anything at 4 am, then it would be on whatever it is that you're selling. Really. Ummmm??? Maybe yall could get together and have your own paid programming station or something instead of interrupting Law and Order. Thanks. Have a nice day.

4. Dear Uraeus; As long as I have a prayer in my body, it is to give thanks for you. Love Mom.

5. Dear People on Facebook who motivate other people; if you don't spell the words right, then people won't be that motivated. Blessings.

6. Dear Lady in Wal-Mart with the ponytail perm; If I wanted your advice on how to grow my locks, I would have asked you. Thanks. Have a nice day.

7. Dear FOX NEWS; It's not me. It's you.

8. Women wobble but we don't fall down.

9. Dear Poets over 35; Not that you asked, but I'm bored with your sex poems.

10. Dear Every company I owe; You're not gonna get your money today. Thanks. Have a nice day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Me with me part 3

* Morning.

J* It's a beautiful gray day. Hot chocolate day.

* What's up today?

J* I have an assignment in Douglasville, go walking, work on a story that's been forming in my head.

* About what?

---We talk offline.

J* I'm journaling again.

* Again?

J* Kinda, I took a break and was focusing more on poetry and stories.

* What brought you back?

J* I have some stuff inside I don't want to publish but I still need to get the stories out. Truthfully, without changing the names to protect anybody. Plus, it relaxes me.

* Is it working?

J* Yeah. I'm sitting outside the house in Douglasville. Be back tonight. Love you.

* You too.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Me with me part 2

* The Saints won!

J* Mkay. I mean, yay for New Orleans. I'm excited for them. New Orleans deserves a party.

* What's wrong?

J* Nothing's wrong? Not wrong, just...stuff in the background. Not for the blog.

* So let it go. Let it go.

J* Thank you. Woosaaa.

* Where do you go to relax?

J* I take a bath. That's what I did tonight. I took a bath. Hot hot. I read a book while in the tub.

* What are you reading?

J* THE BONESETTERS DAUGHTER by Amy Tan.

* What else do you do to relax?

J* Sometimes I take a nap. When I can I swim. Which isn't often. When I can I get a massage. Which is even less often. I find a nice little restaurant and have a glass of merlot. I listen to music. I clean my home. I watch police shows like Criminal Minds, that's my favorite. I clean closets. I love that. I don't know why. I feel like I'm organizing my mind.

* You're ok, Jaha.

J* I know.

* You just write out conversations with yourself and post them online that's all.

---We laugh.

J* Yeah.

Me with Journey Johnson

This conversation is a bit different from others here on this blog. The difference is that I have never met Journey, face to face anyway. In fact, the first time I heard Journey's rhythmic voice was when we spoke for this blog. So why Journey Johnson?

We met on Facebook. I was very connected to her poetry and her daily posts were much of how I was feeling on the same days. I knew that we would have an interesting conversation so I sent her a message asking her if she would do it. Well, with little, very little, back and forth, she agreed.

We started the conversation talking about the show Hoarders. I had just watched the Hoarders marathon and we talked about the psychology of a hoarder. Poet psychology.

JJ* You know how you go in most people's homes and the livingrooms are clean, but then the closets are messy. Like that's reflecting the mind. What must be going on in the mind of a hoarder?

---I wanted to ask what her closets looked like. I didn't because although the vibe was cool and talking to her felt like I was talking to someone I had known for many years, the fact was, this was still our first conversation. I didn't want her to think I was too weird. As if she couldn't tell that from my own Facebook posts. But oddly, I'm interested in what people's clostes look like.

J* Where are you from?

JJ* Hawaii.

---I wasn't expecting her to say Hawaii because she has such a beautiful texture and pattern to her voice. Like Carribean and something else, I couldn't figure it out.

J* Really? OK. I guess that explains the boogie boarding.

---In one of our back and forths about setting time and date for the conversation, she mentioned that she would be available on a certain day because the only thing she had scheduled was to go boogie boarding with her son.

J* I thought that was so cool that you were boogie boarding with your son.

JJ* (She laughed) Don't give me too much credit. I didn't go that far out.

---Still, that's way cool. We then talked about our children and the shared stories we have of her daughter, my son sitting in green rooms and in audiences of poetry shows.

JJ* My daughter, on the front row, clapping too early.

---Laughter.

J* I like that profile picture of you on Facebook. I love the story it tells. The story I think it tells. Freedom. But freedom by choice. Not because everything is all good but because you just decided "hey, I'm gonna have a good day." Love the story of your feet up, the wine bottle, all of it.

JJ* Yeah, that's the story. I used to smoke. I tried to quit for a long time and I came across a woman who said that if I wanted to quit smoking then I had to quit drinking too.

J* Whoa!!!

JJ* Yep.

J* Did you?

JJ* Yeah. Begrudgingly. And I loved my wine. She saw that picture and edited it and took out the cigeratte and the wine. But I left it in there. I've been many a fucked up person and I've loved every fucked up person I've been. We shouldn't distance ourselves from who we are.

J* Or who we've been.

What do you do now?

JJ* There is a quote from Walter Reedy that says, "I found out the dirt wasn't dirty. Just brown." I was in Texas, outside to see the sun. 'Cause I don't miss the sunset. Anyway, I saw this tree on a flatbed. It was a very big tree. While I was looking at it, I felt like I was looking at a corpse.

Now, I'm planting. I'm giving back to the earth.

---I took a very short break from writing and recording our conversation to be with and be in the conversation deeper. This happended a few times while we talked. I do hope that Journey will consider talking and sharing with me again and letting me post the conversation. Reader, please forgive the breaks. Flow with us please. Flow with us.

JJ* People were giving me credit for things I had done but was no longer doing.

J* Like what?

JJ* I was in Texas and a young man came up to me and said, "You're Journey, right?" I said, "Yes." He told me about a poem I had written and that it changed his life and his writing and how he looked at writing.

For many people, that would make them feel good but for me...it didn't.
I didn't want to live in the past. Many people do that though.

When I was in college I said I was going to be an artist full time for rich or for poor. And I was ready for poor.

I started a paper for artists called, The Village Pulpit. There was no art around.

J* Where was that?

JJ* Texas. There was no art and I wanted to see art. I wanted to read. The paper was a selfish thing. I wanted to read and see art.

Remember that movie, Slam?

J* Yeah.

JJ* After that movie came out, we were sitting around watching it. Spoken word was new to me. Spoken word to me was something done privately and alone. Like prayer.

J* Haaaa! I love it. Like prayer.

JJ* I started doing spoken word to promote the paper. I got a group together called "The hungry poets." We were going to be called "The starving artists," but none of us could paint.

---Another break here to allow for some off the record conversation.

---We got on the subject of perfoming in prisons.

J* I always tripped at how attentive the audiences were there.

JJ* Yeah. I remember once, (she laughs lightly) I was setting up chairs. I'm short. 5'2" and I just put the half in there. Anyway we were there to perform in the prison and I was setting up the chairs when this big girl came up to me. She said, "What do you do? Do you sing?" I said, "No." "Rap?" "No." "Well, what?" "Poetry. I'm a poet." She said, "Aw, shit!"

But I performed this piece. (The theme, as I remember was abuse, and heavy. Note to self here to ask Journey if she still as the poem and if she would send it so that I can post it. Please.)

The people we were performing for appreciated us being there. Later, they put on a show for us. The big girl. The one who didn't even want to hear poetry at first, well, she was inspired by the piece that I wrote and wrote one herself. Telling her story of abuse.

---There was a pause here. For me, the pause was for the young girl's story. Abuse. Sex too soon. Strangers. Hard paths. Tired of hearing this story. So tired of it being our story.

J* I read the poem you posted on Facebook, Siren's cry. Where did that come from?

JJ* All the tears I cry. It comes from a lot of places. Conversations. Being fucked up. I was having a conversation three days prior to writing it about rape. Molestation. The violence of it all.

J* (Shaking my head) I don't know a woman who this hasn't happened to. Damn.

JJ* Yeah. And the men, they go on with their lives.

J* They go on with their lives. (I repeated her statement resisting being triggerd by it. But I am. Kinda. Still there is a part of me that wants to believe that they are affected by it. They have to be if we are. Right?)

JJ* The men go on with their lives. (She repeated the statement and I wondered what she was thinking. I didn't ask though.) Why is that though? Why do they go on with their lives? Why is it that when women are raped the men don't speak up? And the women who speak up are really speaking up for when we didn't speak up for ourselves. Why don't the men speak up? What is this bitch move?

I asked that on Facebook. I sent it to men and I wanted answers. Some people said that they liked the question. Liked the question? It wasn't fucking rhetorical. I did want answers. I got some too. Some interesting ones. I understood from some of them that it wasn't that easy. You know? Some women acusing and false accusing and being on the other end of that and...just not that easy. But...(and I understand the other end of the but. It's never that easy. Nothing worth it ever is.)

And when I look for where this started I go back to back in the day when we first let "bitches" and "hos" and "sluts" on the radio and at first we were like, "it's just entertainment." But no.

J* But no.

---We took a break from bitches and hos and sluts and rape. Just a short one. And went back to art. Sort of.

JJ* Remember the rap songs back in the day that were so materialistic? (She laughed) If you have the fuckin' shoes, wear 'em. Don't stand around talking about your fucking laces. (Funny!)

J* Money don't wear money.

JJ* I read an interview with Sonya Sanchez and she was talkin' about people being in such a rush to put out a book. She was saying to wait and read and develop. Once you put a book out, it's out there. Forever.

I was thinking about this time once, when I was getting dressed to go to this poetry slam on the volcano and... (ok, here, my ears had to play catch up because she just said poetry slam on the volcano like anything happening on a volcano was usual.)

J* Wait, a volcano?

JJ* Yeah.

J* OK.

JJ* I had been away from slam for a long time. I walked in this place and there were all these people. Older people, mostly white. I was a stranger in my own place. I listened to this poem. There were mellow poems, shopping lists, (we cracked up here because we are both familiar with the shopping list poems, not that there's anything wrong with that. Still laughing.) Anyway, I was waiting for the Slam to begin. During the half time or, break, the mc told people to share, talk to people, mingle. I was like, "mingle?" I don't wanna talk! I don't wanna mingle! I got out of there and into my truck so fast. (We laughed again. There was a lot of laughing.)

I'm just tired of poets sounding like every other poet. You know that sound? That...sound?

J* Yeah, I know it!

---I did my rendition of Every Other Poet
(Whisperyelling) Reaching under yellow blue moons and pink purple
skies I see rooooooose petaaaaaaalllls...
Well, I don't know how that translates in print, but...that's the vibe.

JJ* Why would a poet try to sound like anybody else? I mean, your poems are your tears, your sweat, your DNA. When you write the poem, it's yours. So why the fuck does it sound like everybody? Don't be so fuckin' lazy, man! you disrespect your soul.

When I hear that sound I get this internal ucky! (Yes, she said internal ucky and yes, I laughed my ass off.)

J* I know what you mean. I think about how I have evolved as a poet and what I've evolved into. I am just no longer the poet who needs to stand on stage and set herself on fire. These days I'm just much much more into the word. I need a music stand for my words and a place to put my reading glasses when they start making my ears hurt.

JJ* Haaaa haaa. (I didn't know if she was laughing at me or with me. And it didn't matter.) The sugar is the fire (delivery), and the substance is the word. When I was living in New York I lived in Park Slope and I used to go to hear poetry at Ozzy's Cafe. At the time, I was a child used to sugar and they just stood there and read poetry. But then I started to really appreciate it.

Your art is not for the art community. You have to take the time to see the world outside of you. (I love that.)

---Here I stopped taking notes and we talked. More and more. Just what I needed. My dog, Brandy, started barking and we got on the subject of animals and how I don't like cats. Really, I'm just afraid of them.

JJ* Why?

J* Because I'm afraid that they will be casually walking by and then suddenly jump up and scratch me in the face.

JJ* Weeeeell, I can't say that they won't. But I love cats. They're real.

---So I'm a Virgo and I overanalze everything.

J* I think I don't like cats because that's who I am. I'm a cat.

JJ* In what way?

J* I will walk casually by and then suddenly jump up and scratch.

JJ* I don't see that, but when someone tells you who they are...believe them.

---I thought about why I said that about myself and sat with it for a minute. I thought about dreams I've been having lately. Dreams about stress building. Dreams about letting go. Letting it all out. Somehow. Perhaps the statement and the dreams are a warning to me that being casual aint always so cool.

Maybe this isn't the blog for this but when the revelations pop up they pop up. I thought about how I walk around keeping a lid on it, knowing it's there.

I grew up a nice girl. I had to be nice. Sweet. I'm still like that in a lot of ways. Too many ways. I criticize myself for letting it out in slow hisses. Fuck Fuck Fuck. Listening to Journey reminded me too much of myself. Fucking this, fucking that. Fuck is my slow hiss. My reminder to let it, all of the its, out more and more. Somehow, in our conversation, I became less and less afraid of cats. Less and less afraid of myself.

Thank you Journey. For the journey. For your words, wisdom, laughter, poetry, path. Thank you. Until later.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Me with me

I usually like to introduce these conversations with how I know the person I'm speaking with and how long I've known him/her. I guess since I am forty years old, the easiest thing would be to say that I've known me for forty years. I don't know how true that is though. Because every year I know me new. Or is it newly?

* You know the drill, no, the routine. What memory comes up first?

J* Me as a little girl. The neighbor's tent next door. Next door on Cameron Street where I grew up. I don't wanna go into the story but that's the memory that comes up first. Maybe because it was that incident that had so much to do with how I guard myself so much. Maybe.

* Say more about you guarding yourself.

J* Ummm, mostly in relationships I guess. It's very natural for me to take on the role of cheerleader, encourager, lifter of spirits, wind beneath his wing...

* How does that describe how you guard yourself?

J* Well, I generally go above and beyond the call of girlfriend duty for men I know in three lifetimes wouldn't do the same for me. It's a perfect set up. I give and expect at least the same level of respect and am disappointed when I don't get it in return. Disappointed, but really there's no other way for it to turn out. The relationship ends and each failed relationship is validation that it's crazy to give so much. And then the next guy shows up and there is something about his potential I start rooting for. And the cycle continues. And each time I wrap myself in a new hard layer of I told you so don't do this again. But to my...credit I keep bouncing back.

* You make it sound like giving and rooting are bad things.

J* They are not bad things. In romantic relationships I just seem to give them to people who don't cherish them. Didn't really ask for them in the first place.

* Awww, poor you.

---We laugh.

* Well, if I can talk straight, it doesn't seem like it's them. I think it's you.

J* Yeah?

* You said yourself that the cycle continues. You must know the end before it begins. Right?

J* I do. Yet I'm somehow surprised each time.

---We laugh again. But we know it's not funny.

* So what, if anything, are you doing to break the cycle?

J* I shut down sometimes and wonder why I haven't gotten a grip on this whole love thing by now.

* As if any of us have.

J* Well, in my mind, by forty, it should be handled.

* As if life has ever followed any shoulds. But answer the question. What, if anything, are you doing to change this cycle?

J* Reconnecting myself to Myself.

* That's a great title for a book, but what does it mean?

J* I'm listening. I'm trusting. Everytime I have ever done anything there has always been a small voice that said yes or no. I know the voice. It's never lead me wrong. Too many times I didn't listen though.

* But it sounds like you've had this tragic life of horrible relationships and you haven't.

J* No. I haven't. I just learned too many lessons the hard way. And I didn't have to. But again, no. They haven't been horrible relationships and I've learned and taught lessons in each one. I spent too much time fixing and helping.

* What's wrong with that?

J* Nothing was broken. I didn't love and honor myself enough to know that I had more to offer than my help, than my fixing. My image of myself was that that's why someone would like me. I know I sound like a little girl, but we're talking about love here. Here, where we're all fifth grade boys and girls.

* And now?

J* Now I know better.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Me with Scott "Bugs" Allen



Bugs is one of coolest, kindest, peaceful and talented guys I know. The more I have these conversations the more I am thankful for the wonderful and talented folks in my life.

Bugs is also an awesome father and husband and was on his way to pick up his daughter from school and take her to her game during this conversation. Miss Sidney is now nine and a cheerleader.

As usual I asked my favorite question first.

J* When you're chillin' what pops into mind first?

B* My mom. I remember my mom at the piano doing what she did. That was my foundation. Those were my fondest memories. Her playing the piano and singing. Sometimes at church and sometimes at home. Those times were a large part of why I do what I do.

J* When did she pass?

B* 2003.

J* Was that her profession? Playing the piano.

B* Partly. She was an accomplished soprano and played the piano. She also held other jobs, but yeah, she played the piano. Her mother also played piano.

J* Did she sing too?

B* Oh yeah. My grandmother came up with Sarah Vaughn. They hung. She was part of the original chittlin' circuit ang sang in a lot of the black clubs like Apollo.

Back in those days when Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Williams were performing, she travelled with them in that circle. You know who Melba Moore is right?

J* Yeah.

B* Well her parents and my grandparents toured together. In fact, sometimes when they had gigs they would leave the kids at my grandmother's home. Melba and my mom were there together.

J* You're from Baltimore?

B* Yeeeep.

In the 60's Melba and my mother were both cast in the musical Hair, but my mom chose to raise a family.

J* That's such incredible history.

B* Yeah. I have pictures of how dignified they were back then. The way they were dressed and all, even though they couldn't stay in the hotels they were performing in. A lot of them, when they were in town, they would stay at my grandparents house. When they made it big and were still performing and were finally allowed to stay in the hotels, they would still come by and bring gifts thanking my grandmother for letting them stay back then.

I didn't realize the significance of those people. I'd come downstairs and Sarah Vaughn would be singing and my mom playing piano.

J* Did your dad sing too?

B* He did. Not professionally, but he had a great voice. He was a little melanin challenged like myself (we laughed). He sounded like Frank Senatra and they called him Old Brown Eyes (we laughed again). He just passed two years ago.

J* Do you sing?

B* Yeah.

J* I thought so. Why don't you sing much?

B* In Third Senario, Earl is such a great lead and it's not that easy to play bass and sing, so I pretty much do background behind him.

J* How long has Third Senario been together now?

B* Twelve years.

J* Really?

B* Yep. That's longer than some relationships. It's essentially Earl and myself and we hire someone that we like to play with us.

J* Where are yall playing now?

B* Nowhere regular. Wherever we get booked. I miss those Sunday nights when we had a regular night.

J* I miss those Sunday nights too. I loved that place.

B* People still tell me about how much they loved those nights. That place on Pico.

J* The Nile.

B* Yep. The Nile River Cafe. Nobody was makin' money but it was so much fun. Being around all those talented people. Like yourself.

J* Thank you.

B* I catch Deana sometimes on Facebook and we chat it up about how great those times were.

J* Miss you, Bugs.

B* You too.

Me with D Black part 2

D called me this morning about 9:45, so 6:45 his time. There was no build up of excuse mes, or were you sleepings or anything like that. Just D on the other end with something to say. Softly. Kindly. Thoughtfully.

D* You asked me the other day what comes to mind when I let my mind go blank. You asked me what comes up first and I did that this morning and I know what comes up first for me.

J* What's that? And can I take notes on this and include it in the blog?

D* Sure.

J* Ok. What's up?

D* You know I was born in '59. So I'm right at the beginning of the '60s. That's what comes up. The '60s in L.A.

I remember my brother and I used to eat the free breakfast at The Black Panther Center. We met the Black Panthers. Stokley Charmichael rubbed my head once. As I grew up I grew to understand my connection to him as a writer.

I remember that the whole neighborhood smelled like a bakery. I was born and raised on 48th and Grammercy. If you go down Normandie and go down Slauson, a lot of those buildings were bread places.

---My mind went back to when I lived in the Artist District downtown L.A. We lived in a loft that had been converted from a bakery.

D* I remember my dad had a tab with the Helms place. A lot of people did. Folks got paid on Fridays and paid it up then. But we always had bread.

I remember the red car.

J* My mom used to talk about the red car. You remember that?

D* Yeah. One of the stations was right on 48th.

I remember my uncles were bookies and they would give me toilet paper with numbers on them. They used to put money in the juke boxes and I would dance and they would give me money.

But bread. Mostly I remember the smell of bread. Now L.A. stinks. There are no more bread places. But back then everybodys grandmother was at home and they was up cookin' breakfast. Not no more. L.A. stink now. It smells like murder.

We went on to talk about old times, poets, L.A. We took time, on this rainy morning, to remember friendship.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Me with D Black


Dwight Johnson or D Black if ya nasty, is a poet I met in Leimert Park maybe fifteen years ago. Wow. He is one of the smoothest poets I know. I used to listen to him at The World Stage and his voice always sounded like it was the soundtrack to some Foxy Brown flic. Since the conversations on this blog are with folks I love and folks who have shaped me into being poet, woman, friend, being, then D had to be a part of it.

J* When your mind is somewhat blank and you're just chillin', what comes up first?

D* I think about when I was living on Vernon and Denker in L.A. where my mom passed away. That house.

J* She passed away at the house?

D* No. See Mom was a barber and after work her and her friends would come to my house and they raised money for the rent gambling. My dad wasn't into that. He would break the party up. He told everybody to leave.

I remember we were in the closet looking for her red shoes. Her and my dad were arguing and she said she would be back. Me and my brother were holding on to her 'cause we didn't want her to leave. We told her not to go. She said she would be back.

She went to the club and had drinks. She had an aneurysm at the club. They rushed her to a hospital but they wouldn't take her because she was black. By the time she got to the second hospital, she was dead.

My mom looked like Lena Horne. With her hair and her skin.

My father drove up as we were waiting for Granny to take us to church. He told us that she was dead. I was five.

J* How did that shape your life with women?

D* Well, we went to stay with Granny and we had aunts there so we were around a lot of women. But still there were some trust issues I had. I still thought my mom was gonna come back. At the funeral home I saw her and I just thought she was too pretty to be dead. I touched her face and it was cold but on her temples it was still warm. I was young and I would sit on the couch looking for her.

A part of me felt like she abandoned us because we asked her not to go. Yeah, I had some trust issues.

I never liked clubs for one. I was in clubs 'cause that's where I hustled but I never did like 'em. To this day I don't. I much rather a coffeehouse or a bookstore or something like that. I remember if I was with a woman and she was up in the clubs then that was a real problem. It took me a while to see it but really I felt like if they were in the clubs then they were gonna die.

J* Is that what got you taking care of children?

D* I always loved children. I'm a lot like my dad. I fought not to be but I am. My dad is such a mentor and hero in my life. He took care of the whole neighborhood. He cooked and everyone was at our house.

I went to Normandie Elementary and my tightest friend was named Steven and he was in a foster home. I really didn't grasp that. But one time I went to his house and there was an oriental kid and a Mexican kid and I was like, "who is that?" and he said those were his brothers. His foster brothers. Then he explained that he was living in a foster home.

I found out later that a lot of my friends were orphans and foster children. Growing up I always got close to kids who didn't have parents. There was a kid next door to me whose mom had passed when he was only five too. I didn't even know it till later but I found out and we got really close. I remember saying, "My mom is dead and his is too."

---D Black is the owner and founder of a company called Pops On Point, a company assisting parents and children with custody issues. He is the proud father of two beautiful and intelligent children, Koran and Bubba also a foster father who now has twin six years old boys who, during our conversation were enjoying playing a videogame. D yelled into the other room, "Where are we getting ready to go?" And the boys responded cheerfully, "The World Stage!!"

J* What did you get your degree in?

D* I got my AA in general education and childcare development.

J* So you never stopped.

D* Nope.

J* When and why poetry?

D* Even when I was nickel slick and had a perm and had my slick friends, I still had my nerdy friends. I used to go to the library and hide out. I had a lot of nerd friends that I protected. I'm always protecting somebody. It was my nerd friend Andre who showed me poetry and I would read poetry books.

I never thoguht I would start writing poetry. When I got married and my wife and I would get into it, I would write about her. I wrote a lot of pimp stuff like Donald Goings and Iceburg Slim. (He recited The Fall by Iceburg Slim.)I also used to do plays at Trade Tech. as Iceburg Slim.

I started reading at The World Stage. Before that I was reading at 5th Street Dicks and AK was at the door and we would talk. He used to tell me to come over to The Stage. One day I met Jenoyne at a bookstore and she told me that she and her husband were running a poetry spot at The Stage and that I should come by. Then I started coming. AK slipped my name in the hat without me even knowing and I got on stage and read. I got a damn that night.

---A "damn" at The World Stage is when a poet reads a poem and the audience is so moved that collectively they say "one, two, three, DAMN!"

J* You got a damn your first night?

D* Yep.

J* Damn.

D* Life is a big damn.

---We laughed.

D* I'm opening The Stage tonight so I gotta get goin'. Love you.

J* Love you too.