Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The brothers Mark and Kahlil part 5


A poem a day for 2013 - day 120 - This just in. Still.

This morning on Crenshaw just north of Hyde Park
I saw a full sized mattress
Leaning against a tree
With its sheet on the ground
Both mattress and sheet were covered in blood
And holes

Blood and Holes is not a poem
Blood and Holes is a cry
Blood and Holes is a knees bent
A wailing
Blood and Holes is at least an emergency
A cautionary tape
A breath sucked out
A heart collapsed and smushed into the cement

A bloody mattress and sheet
Against a tree just outside a motel
On Crenshaw Blvd.
Where our babies walk to school
Cannot be counted common

Hey, you wanna see where somebody got smoked
$2.00 extra I show you the sheet

Blood and Holes is not a neighborhood game
Where we guess whose mama didn't come home
Whose big brother is missing a gun
Run get your science kits and DNA tabs
Winner gets free Del Taco for a month

How can I wipe away Blood and Holes from my memory
I can't even stop saying it on this page
Blood and Holes
Blood and Holes
Blood and Holes
You say it enough times
It will have a ring to it
You pass it on repeat
A blood soaked mattress with holes
Becomes as much a part of the boulevard
As much a part of nature
As the tree it is leaning
Against




Monday, April 29, 2013

The brothers Mark and Kahlil part 4


A poem a day for 2013 - day 119 - Next

The man in the lane next to me
Rolled his window down to tell me
That I was still beautiful
Not a continuing beauty
Like from before
I am a beautiful
In spite of
Some something

I wonder if I was supposed to be thankful
Appreciate that even with my
Whatever
That must exist
On my left side
Between the top of my head
And my shoulder
Somehow I have managed to maintain
Some semblance of beauty
Even though

Before he drove away
He asked if I wanted to
Go on ahead
And give him
My seven digits

Grown women have telephone numbers
Not available upon request at a stop light
But that is neither here nor there
Either way
We do not have digits

Not even
Even though women

Me
V Kali: I was thinking that we should all write each other's stories.

Me: Yeah, I really wanna write your story. No, really.

V Kali: And I really am gonna let you do it.

Me: We should call it TUESDAYS WITH V. No, WEDNESDAYS WITH V like when we talk after the Stage. No, ANY DAYS WITH V.

(We laugh)

Me: Yeah, ANY DAYS WITH V.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A poem a day for 2013 - day 118 - Pound

Maybe this headache
Is Life's way of telling me
To eat
To open my heart
To dance and rhythm and song

To cover my feet in yes
Walk and explore
Love new
Close my eyes
And do better
Tomorrow

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A poem a day for 2013 - day 117 - Dear Zolah

Remember this day
And days that feel the same
When we call your name
Holy and loud
Cheer and often

See our eyes
Wide and flash
Watch you peel back paper
Untie bows
Hold up Hello Kitty watch
And money
And science kit
And color
And...

Your happiness is our gift

Remember that you were happy
That you danced
Played cowgirl and princess and dancer
And cowgirl princess dancer

Remember decorations
Play ponies and lassos
Children digging in Mamamade sandbox for gold
Remember that you found gold
Gold, Zolah
Gold

Your smile was our gold
Your belly stuffed with cake
And chicken links
Chilli and ice cream
Your feet racing to line dance
And blow candles
And hug aunties
And be kisses by all of us
Who love you

Remember that you were loved
That we have all been waiting this day
This year
This five
This new beginning

Remember that there will be many more beginnings
That you are never alone
That we are your net
To catch you
To wrap you
To push and squeeze and pull
To love you with everything we have

You will lose game pieces
You will forget cupcake flavors
You will outgrow your skirt and boots
Remember love though, dear
Rest tonight
And remember all this
Bliss

Friday, April 26, 2013

A DEEPER LOVE INSIDE - Sister Souljah

Trust is feelings and actions stretched out over time.

A poem a day for 2013 - day 116 - Have you seen me

There was a man I remember
From just two years ago
Who used to stand on the corner of Slauson and LaBrea
A shiny black man
In a dark green suit
With gold dye in his badly permed hair
He wore a guitar on his back
And he would stand on the center divider
And sing for money

Then he was on Stocker and Crenshaw
In the same green suit
Just now not as clean
With his black roots showing
And his gold still on top
Playing his guitar for money

More time passed and I kept seeing him
On the bus stop across from Simply Wholesome
Always sitting
In the same green suit
His shine a memory
His gold almost gone

It is only today I remember
I haven't seen him in some time

Is this what happens
We fade away on a bus stop
Under these bright lights
This California sun
Wearing the one suit we own
Singing the song we have left

I never listened to his song
I always had somewhere to go
I didn't offer a dime
A dollar
A coat
I didn't ask where he was from
Did you

But I remember him there
And I wonder where
He is singing his song tonight

Hello,
I seek your assistance in retrieving $50M left behind by a deceased customer of my bank. Reply for detailed information.
Regards,
Philip.



This was the message in my email today. 


Um. Yeah. Ok.
I am thankful for this day. For waking up and the courage to show up for my life.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

11:26pm. TGS.

I have to keep reminding myself to stay in the moment. Sometimes, like now, when I think beyond th moment I feel overwhelmed. So I have to breathe and bring myself back to now. And now. And now again. Until tomorrow, next week, next month are chewable in my mouth, I now. And now again to the next easy step.

A poem a day for 2013 - day 115 - Thursday

9:40am
I am sitting at the top of a hill
I drove here with the intention to do some light walking
Instead I am sitting and writing and reading
I will walk
Later
Now there is a call for prayer
A pull for still and thanksgiving
A long for breathing and listening to breath

An urge to sit and see
The couple walking the dog
She pulls away as he reaches for her shoulder
My mind wonders the wrong
I watch them sit on a bench
With so much space in between
There are no words
Only eyes watching dogs play
Only arms folded
Heads turned away
They came out here
To talk
I'd bet

There is music far away
But close enough
From some car
Some drum
There are birds
And lawn mower

A school bus and no children
An old woman and jump rope
There are construction workers and trees
There are joggers and sky

This is the poem to write today
All this easy
And being
And doing at the same time
This is what I need

This is worship service
These telephone poles
And palm trees

There are cars
And couples
And women pushing strollers
There are bicycles
And flowers
And tall buildings in my mirror

This is the nothing I need
The best busy of my week

All these bodies
All this mountain
This barking
And running
And human

And I am here
In all this God
There is to witness


V Kali at the World Stage 4-24-13 If I could sing


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A poem a day for 2013 - day 114 - One

There is no rote in this day
There is magnet
Ground
Story
There is seeing
Only seeing
Seeing worn bodies
Sunken faces
Feet roboting round corners
Looking for savior in liquor
Pipe
These bodies were always here
I never wanted to see up close
But how can I story from afar
We are all here
In this
Night
Together

From Sister Souljah's A DEEPER LOVE INSIDE

"Our people living on the reservation don't pay property taxes to the United States government," NanaAnna pointed out as we toured.

"Yes, but are the people here poor?" I asked NanaAnna.

"What is poor?" she asked me strangely. I didn't say nothing back. Maybe I had insulted her after she had helped me. "We are fighters and survivors. We are here. We are alive and breathing, living and loving, birthing and caring, working and earning. The sky is above us. The earth is below us. We can never be poor," she said.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A poem a day for 2013 - day 113 - Reach

Ms. Barbara told her four year old daughter
Run put her pants on when Daddy comes home
Cause a girl child shouldn't walk around
Showin' her panties
Cause a dick ain't got no conscience

Ms. Barbara is my elder
So I am careful with my questions
But I am curious

About Daddy
And his penis that cannot help itself

About girl children protecting their bodies
In their homes
From sleepwalking penises

I wonder
About her son
About messages
About control

About dicks just being dicks


Monday, April 22, 2013

A poem a day for 2013 - day 112 - Dear Diary

I am not ready to write
The elephant
Or give it a name
Describe its feet
Trunk
Eyes

My fingers
Head
My skin will not
Write around
This mass
Middle of my blood

Not today

And I am a poet
This is the work
To write my heart
To write the world
To write my window

All the news on the planet
All this edge
All this something going on

And I will not separate myself
From my own feelings
Raw and relevant

All in the middle of my
Self

St. Mark's Junior Ushers 2013



After the senior ushers did their thing at the anniversary yesterday, the junior ushers of St. Mark showed what they could do. When I was growing up in this church, I was also a junior usher.

St. Mark's Senior Ushers 2013



Yesterday was the anniversary of the senior usher board at the church I grew up in. My mother is an usher there and wanted her family to come. None of us gave her a yes but all of us surprised her. I'm so glad we did.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A poem a day for 2013 - day 111 - Pro Life

When the grass turns to quicksand
The options may become
Being the bitch in the story
Or the corpse

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A poem a day for 2013 - day 110 - Like this...Woomaaannnn

I do not like being called girl
All this growing I did
All this deep and long and wide
I been through
All this heavy I keep praying off my back every day

Woman
Woman
That so scary a word to say
Woman

You get it right if you try

See how you have to tilt your head up
To see my whole self
Feel my stomach right here
Where a boy
Now big as you
Used to kick and stretch his arms all out

Put your foot next to mine
See all this earth I cover
One single step at a time

Girl
Girl
Girl sound like fingers pointing
Girl sound like back seat
Girl sound like wait to speak
When you talkin' to somebody
Grown up as me

I been girl already
Shutting up
Keeping secrets
With my polite little self
With my pink dresses
And lacy fold down socks

Even girl is more than this
Girl
Girl

It roll off simple from your teeth
Woman
Woman

See how easy it is to
Free




Friday, April 19, 2013

A poem a day for 2013 - day 109 - Love letter 3

What do you think
When I say kiss
Do you remember
Arms forgetting home training
And everywhere fingers
All underneath and above

If I whisper
And you do not hear
What will you do
Pretend I am jasmine strawberry secret
Mouthing fruit for you

Do you think my words are all ways sweet

I can be bitter you know
I can be ocean
I can be all this easy on top
All this fight below
I can be shark
Hold you in my teeth
Till I feel like letting go

I can be tea you know
All peppermint and good for you
Want me to lemon on your cuts
I can ginger on your face
Do you like ginger

Do you like prayer
Do you like music
Do you the sound God makes when God sings to put God's self to sleep
God bless

I'm trying to figure you out
Because I don't know
I only know what I like
Like blues
Like white sheets
Like blue jeans
Like Muddy on white sheets taking off blue jeans

Don't mind me
Don't mind my magic words
Putting a spell all on you
Don't mind this pendulum
Swinging all in your face

Don't mind this love so good
This sleep so sleep
This skin so skin
Never mind all this red
This pink

Don't you love all this good so good

Dear Adenike

I finished reading your thesis, Restorative Notions: Regaining My Voice, Regaining My Father: A Creative Womanist Approach to Healing from Sexual Abuse. I don't know where this response will end or the direction it will go, but I begin with thank you. Thank you for being woman. Most will argue that you had no choice in that. I have rarely been most. Thank you for your Womanist, Womanish and Around the Way Girl Ways. Thank you for your voice. For reclaiming it. Thank you for reclaiming your father. I am a great admirerer, appreciator, student of your father. Though he may not know. Thank you for telling.

I never told anything. I was silent about my childhood, teen and adult sexual abuse until my late thirties. I hid it in my poetry and stories. O you should have seen me, Adenike. I was the boldest woman you ever wanted to meet with my striking bald head, layers of strong colored flowing fabric, platforms high thana mug, radio voice telling all these stories about what happened to "my neighbor / friend / homegirl (boy) / lady at my church, old man round by my sister job" the who didn't matter. Long as folks like your father, folks at the World Stage, the rest of my poetry community, anybody who mighta seent me on BET or wherever didn't think I was talkin' 'bout me. Not me. Fly and enlightened as I wanted folks to think I was. Shiiiiiiieeeeet. I tucked all that shit under my head wrap, put some lip gloss on and kept it pushin'. On to the next one, on to the, on to the...you know.

Sexual abuse started for me at four. Girls next door who used to make me suck this dude's dick in a tent in their backyard. Pssshh. Whatever. 'Cause that's how we blow it off, right? Pun intended. Then it was one of the ministeres at the church I grew up in. That went on for years. Again. Pssshh. Imma Energizer bitch. I take likins and keep tickin'. I wasn't no bitch (up ass or down ass). I wasn't hard. I was scared. I was a fucking kid. Again. Pun intended. Then there was the rape at 22. On to the next one, on to the...

My abusers were muthafuckas my people knew. I wasn't gon rock no boat. For what? When I could just as easily pretend nothing happened. What? That's what my abusers were doing. I gave you a piece of my story to say, no, I don't KNOW (can't stand when muthafuckas tell me they KNOW) but I do SEE you, Sis.

I told my parents 'round about the same time. I had just completed this course from Landmark Education called The Landmark Forum and it was about, basically, taking the head wrap off. I did. Shit was all over the floor. I told my mother first. She was supportive. Asked some questions. She made the space easy. Easy as it could be I guess. Any violation is a hard thing for any parent to hear no matter how long ago it happened. Maybe a week later I told my father. He let me talk. When I was finished he was as honest as he could be. "I'm sorry that happened to you. I know this sound messed up but I'm glad you didn't tell me when you was little 'cause I woulda killed them. Then I woulda went to jail and you wouldn'ta had no father." I greatly love my parents for the way they gave me the space to tell. Pause. What I don't think supporters get is that after you tell, you need to talk. I'll say a million times, I know it was hard for them to hear. But I wasn't done. I told. I needed to talk.

That's where I love to the mf gristle how you and your dad pushed through it. And I know that could not have been easy pushing. One of the reasons I was afraid to say anything when I was a child was because I knew how much my father loved me. I never wondered. Joe Reed was about his daughters, his liquor, his gambling, his gun. Play wit him an' see. So of course I didn't want him going to jail. Or as my child mind would have it, I wasn't gon send my dad to jail. Nope. I can handle it. It ain't even that bigga deal. It was though.

I acknowledge you. Hats off to you for taking control. For telling. Talking. Talking. Pressing charges. Pointing fingers. Telling your story. Hats off to your father for tying himself to the back of the stove, because I know there were nights it took just that to not take matters in his own hands. I love him for listening to you and respecting your voice. I have never read anything like this before. This! This right here!!!  Imma kiss yo face when I see you again.

Love you, Sis

Jaha

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A poem a day for 2013 - day 108 - This mountain I cannot not see

There was another poem
It was too sad
I told you before
I am my own worst trigger
But not today
I will not

My head is enough
Even without bombs
Even without the image of Burman Muslim child sucking his dead mother's breast
Burman Muslim child
Sucking his
Dead
Mother's
Breast

And I keep trying to push out this poem about boy meeting girl
Beach wedding
Long linen skirt
Happily ever after
You know

But I'm stuck because
The only poem swimming in my head
Is her lifeless body
Stickied in sand
Her head and still feet
Arms
His fingers holding
Sucking
His
Dead.
Mother's.
Breast.
I am reading the thesis of Adenike Harris right now. She is the daughter of one of my favorite poets. A man whose presence makes me smile. Whose humor keeps my stomach cracking. And she is his daughter for sure. That same smile, perfect-reassuring-easy smile. Why am I reading her thesis? Because the words of this Womanist woman have my heart. Because I am a sucker for literature written by women, especially black women, especially women who identify as Womanist, especially women who write words to other women about using their voices. Reclaiming their voices. Reclaiming voice after sexual abuse. Put your finger there. Now hear me say reclaiming voice after sexual abuse from her step father from ages 14 to 22. Yeah.

I am not finished reading it but you will hear more from me about it when I am. You can also read it yourselves. I don't have the link in front of me but if you Google her the thesis comes up as the third entry. Triggers triggers everywhere but she does write from a place of power. That's what I love. She writes with her voice. I love how she is in control. She has the conversation with her father, her non-abusive father. Yes, we have them. She is clear about her desire to have this handled nonviolently. What, after all is the use of gaining her voice and then losing her father to jail because he "wished a motherfucka Would!?" (And then the motherfucka did) O how I honor the bravery of Adenike and her parents. And all who supported her through this journey.

So often men just don't listen or respect the voices of the women in their lives. Thank you, Peter. Thank you for employing everything it took to Be. There. For. Her. To hear her words. To let them crush you. To let the love you share blow you up again.

Please read. Please please do.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A poem a day for 2013 - day 107 - Say remember

To say the least
I am bothered by all hate language
By bothered
I am indeed
Saying the least

All this talk
Our talk
Our sheltered bodies
Our educated selves
Our silk tongues in a flitter
Tear down legacies
Rip open towers
Of fathers
Of mothers
Who labored this jungle before
Say labored
Say flesh and blood

Courageously flawed
Common sense degrees
Prayers in pockets
Human beings
Say human beings
Say just a man
Say just a woman

Fight
Fight man fight
For better education
Fight woman fight
Peace man peace
Piece man piece
Say piece
Say peace

Gave last breaths
In shout against
Church bombings
Glowing crosses
Where lilies should grow
Say southern trees

Colored signs over toilets not fit for pigs
Sore to the bone black feet
Stapled to back of bus
Say back of bus

Tired and imperfect
Hands
Toes
Eyes

Risked families
Gave lives
Took lives
Say sacrifice
Say sacrifice

So we could build this nation we keep
Dreaming
Ranting
Venting
Discussing
Say Facebook

I am only five generations
Out of slavery
Say five
Say not out of slavery
Say stand your ground
Say Trayvon

Can we hands dirty
Can we dig
Say can you dig it

Can we dig
Sweat
Can we build on foundation
Laid by our befores
Say solid

Our ancestors born in Africa
Are not the only ones deserving our honor
Say work
Say pray
Say fight
Say afraid
Say stand

What you gon do with all that 20/20 hindsight
Besides shoulda / coulda our mothers / our fathers

What do you know about a dog in your face

What we gon do today
To make tomorrow for our babies

Fight man fight
Fight woman fight
All those fists in the air
All those guns
All those signs
For war
For no war
For peace
For schools
For justice
For men home for dinner
Not hanging from trees
Say southern trees
Say Los Angeles
Say Brooklyn
Say Chicago
Say Hadiya

Walk man walk
Shout man shout
Say build tomorrow

That's what it was all about

If you think we were spat on at the Woolworth counter
For privilege of a white woman's peach cobbler
You missed the whole point
Brothers and sisters say it loud
We had our own peach cobbler

Fisseha W. Moges at Da Poetry Lounge 4-16-13 Slam


Rudy Francisco at Da Poetry Lounge 4-16-13 Slam winner


Javon Johnson at Da Poetry Lounge 4-16-13 Slam


Terisa Siagatonu at Da Poetry Lounge 4-16-13 Slam


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A poem a day for 2013 - day 106 - Dear Jaha, remember

I've been on this thing
This eating thing
This thing about what goes into my mouth
Making everything that goes into my mouth matter
It's comes with loving myself
This woman I am
This woman I now

50 year anniversary of Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham jail"

16 April 1963

My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.
But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.
Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.
In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.
Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham's economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants--for example, to remove the stores' humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend 
Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained. As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: "Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?" "Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?" We decided to schedule our direct action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.
Then it occurred to us that Birmingham's mayoral election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene "Bull" Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run off, we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct action program could be delayed no longer.
You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.
One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."
Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I it" relationship for an "I thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man's tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.
Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state's segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?
Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.
I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.
Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.
We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws.
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.
In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber. I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: "All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.
You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a sense of "somebodiness" that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro's frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible "devil."
I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the "do nothingism" of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as "rabble rousers" and "outside agitators" those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies--a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.
Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . ." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.
I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some -such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle--have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as "dirty nigger-lovers." Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful "action" antidotes to combat the disease of segregation. Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a nonsegregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.
But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.
When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.
In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.
I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: "Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother." In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.
I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?"
Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.
There was a time when the church was very powerful--in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators."' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are.
But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.
Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment. I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and "preventing violence." I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.
It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handling the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather "nonviolently" in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason."
I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy two year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: "My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest." They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience' sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
Never before have I written so long a letter. I'm afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?
If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.
I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil-rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.
Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Published in:
King, Martin Luther Jr. 

Page Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D.

Previous MenuHome PageWhat's NewSearchCountry Specific
Thankful today for lunch with my mother and uncle. Just because. Just because is the best.
6:04am. Home.

Been up since 3 something. As usual. Except usually I fall asleep somewhere around 5. Not this morning. My son on my mind. In love whith the young man he has grown to be. Knowing he needs to breathe and express himself creatively. His whole creative self. Not like become an artist. No, like write and speak and watch movies and do Kung Fu kicks with no limitations.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A poem a day for 2013 - day 105 - All of our heavy

I will not let my stomach knife and needle and fork and fire
I will breathe even if I have to set my alarm to remind

One bomb
And another
Three bodies dead maybe more
Over a hundred injured maybe more
We are all injured
Weather we know or not

Blaming our lot on the devil
With fingers mighty as ours

Tragedies all over
Bombs at the finish line of a marathon
Bombs at a wedding
Rape under a tree
Drunk driver
Girl missing
Suicide
Murder
Arson

A Wonderland hole

If I do not stop
Push away
Close my eyes
Mind
Hands
Mouth

I will get sucked in
Never be seen again

I cannot stop
I keep calling out names
As many as I can call

You are not alone
You are not alone
You are not alone

No one hears me

I cannot bring myself to stop
But I will put my finger here

And break

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A poem a day for 2013 - day 104 - I am untitled

I am not a possession
I am not a key
I am not a CVS / RALPH's / Rite Aid savings card on a chain
I am not owned
I am not the rice in the cabinet
The peanut butter
Soup
Dry beans
I am not jelly in the fridge
I am everything I have
I am love
I am hugs
I am cheerleader
I am friend
I am not a staple
I am a fold in the upper right corner
I am not a shiny penny
I am a disappear
I am a here
I am a magician's cheap trick
Just watch my hands
There are strings
There are back doors
I am the lovely assistant cut in two
Walking around whole
I am not a rabbit's foot
To be rubbed to erase fear
Worry
Shake
I am the fat lady singing
I am a dangerous
I am not lucky
I am not a dream
I am a cliche
I am an awake
I am a haiku
I feel longer than I am
I am not a forever
I am a now

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A poem a day for 2013 - day 103 - Pat

Today we are celebrating my aunt's birthday
All gathered in her home
Cousins pile through front door
Like leaves and dirt
Like footprints and memories
She is the aunt we all love
We are grown
With children of our own
We volleyball in the backyard
We eat
We clean
We TV
We eat
We out talk
We loud
We drink
And remember all the stories
All different ways
None of them matter now
We matter now
Our hugs matter
Our breath in the same room matters
Our children matter
Volleyball matters
These laughs
Feet
Hugs
Hold
Matter

Friday, April 12, 2013

I just saw The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas. Touching. Although touching doesn't even touch it. Sad how some human beings don't see other human beings as human beings. And sad doesn't touch it.

A poem a day for 2013 - day 102 - Speak

What if we made this easy
Easy as conversation
Conversation about love and growing and life and how it changes
Changes into...
I keep seeing all this information about how to get more traffic to your blog and there are some good tips out there. To me though, how about focusing on your content? What are you talking about? What are you selling? Ok so, suddenly you have all this traffic on your blog and you have no quality conversation.

People, of course, use blogs for different reasons. For me, I love dumping my thoughts here. My poems and stories. My random musings, memories, fantasies, you know...stuff. It's a great p,ace for me to publicly (kinda) workout my work. I guess my question to folks who want a katrillion people "following" would be to first ask yourselves, where are you going?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A poem a day for 2013 - day 101 - poem 2 - See me

The little boy downstairs points and tells me every time he sees me
You bald headed and you a woman
And then he smiles. Laughs really.
His mother tries to hush him
When she is around
I tell her
That's ok, Sis
It feel so good
To be reminded how woman I am
With a big ole grin to follow
Sending love and appreciation in this moment to my mother, Patricia Turner, who showed me what love and compassion looks like in action. I was just thinking about the people who lived in our home when I was growing up. About the slumber parties she hosted and the countless children she treated to movies on the weekends with us. The people she fed and money and other things she donated. I greatly cherish her and all that she had done.
"There is nothing more important than feeling connected to the Divine." The Letter Writer

The brothers Mark and Kahlil part 4

 
 
 
 
 

I'm going to start taking and posting nude pictures of myself...just because.

A poem a day for 2013 - day 101 - I be rambling.

When I see pictures of random folks just trying to run into the corner market to get a liter of Sprite or some bread or whatever and then some asshole has to take a picture of them because maybe the person looks like frozen hell with his or her and tell the truth y'all the person is usually a woman because it's fun to make fun of women right? Well it's not funny to me and I always wanna delete the person not just off of my Facebook feed but like actually delete the person because I'm all like who the fuck are you to post a picture for the whole world to see of some random woman's tights too tight and bra hanging out? Like, dude, what if she is like mentally ill or some shit or like what if what if what if and so what she's overweight who the fuck are you and what the fuck do you look like at your lowest point of the day? I mean like shit, when my mom called to tell me that my father died I was in bum fuck ass Georgia and my family was in California and I wanted to walk to the store to get some cigs and I don't even fucking smoke and who knows what the hell I had on and it was like chicken o'clock in the morning so I'm sure some of my fat was hanging out of something I had on and I know poets be rambling on and shit but damn y'all come on. Fuck. Can a sista get a minute to run in the store to get soup and eggs and jelly and tampons wearing a Lakers shirt and some Raiders sweats and mis matched flip flops if she has to without being blasted out to the world? Really? What the fuck did you look like the first time a woman told you she never wanted to see your dumb ass again and to stay the fuck away from her job and to stop asking her homegirls for money? How about that for a Twitter pic?
Conversation is the best foreplay ever. Good conversation that is. Open. Vulnerable. I see you. See me.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

No matter what/I like to watch him walk/naked to the bathroom to take a shower/to rinse off his day/no matter the work we have to do/our business/not yours/this is being grown/these decisions to love/no matter what/love/you ever have a love no matter what love?/in this no matter what love what matters is that we are ok/I don't know about you but nothing worth it has ever been easy for me/no not me/you know what is worth it?/love is worth it/I make sure that he is ok/he makes sure that I am ok/so what this is a rant that only started because he took off his clothes and walked his beautiful body naked into the shower and I was left with all these words in my busy big head swimming around/so/so what/it still matters/my words/my feelings/his feelings/no matter what it is nice to know that I matter to someone/and someone matters to me

A poem a day for 2013 - day 100 - poem 4 - Roller coaster. Roller coaster. Up.

I am full today
Up to here
With all this life
Too big for
Any explanation I can give
Except to say
I hope you love it all up
I hope I am easy enough in your space
I hope you laugh
I hope I do not offend you
I hope you love me enough
To give me room
To not expect this of me all the time
If you laugh with me today
Can I cry on your shoulder
Some other time
When I cannot get out of bed
Please do not hold
All this happy against me
Tomorrow
If I cannot sing
I cannot help it
It is how I am wired
Can I help how I am wired
Wired
Wired
Isn't that a funny word
Wired