Sunday, June 30, 2013

A poem a day for 2013 - day 180 - Woman's Day



Because sometimes a woman needs to be alone with her thoughts
She needs to separate real life from bullshit like the laundry
Delicates to the left
Jeans on the right
She needs to sew buttons and take out hems
She needs to take out hims and hers
The only voice she desires is her own
A woman, this woman, needs time to be in a T-shirt and no panties
Let braless breasts hang loose as flip-flops
Sit under fan and paint lavender flowers on old canvases
There is healing in hands covered in paint
There is forgiveness in flowers
There is God in a clean room
Rest, woman
Add butterflies and lilies and ladybugs
Where is the rainbow
Remember to add a rainbow
The bills will always be there
Like a specter I wear like tattoo
Somebody get this out of my skin
Everybody back away from me and let me 
Put thoughts into baskets
Everything is turning pink
I do not want to answer phone calls
Or the door
Or eat
I want water
A closed door 
A camera
And polish for my feet
Somebody give me Morrison
Give me Walker
Give me Baldwin
Give me Shange
Bring me the big guns to inhale over and over
Tonight will come soon enough
When I have to face the moon
Face the stage to tell stories
And smile pretty
Rub backs
And recall words 
But now is not tonight
Now is now
Now is my time
Now is red and purple and green
Now is yellow and Pandora
Now is Norah Jones and old journals
Now is necessary for tonight to be
Possible

Linked in


Photo by Holland-Reid Photography


Happy Red Stories day!

Red Stories is tonight at Vibrations - 2435 Manchester Blvd., Inglewood, CA. at 7:30, $7.00. The feature this month is Steve Connell and special guest is Alaa Bit Hashim, Sudanese poet visiting us from Dubai. I hope to see you there. Shout out to my sister who showed up last night (a whole night early)! See you tonight!

Claude McKay


I Know My Soul 
I plucked my soul out of its secret place,
And held it to the mirror of my eye,
To see it like a star against the sky,
A twitching body quivering in space,
A spark of passion shining on my face.
And I explored it to determine why
This awful key to my infinity
Conspires to rob me of sweet joy and grace.
And if the sign may not be fully read,
If I can comprehend but not control,
I need not gloom my days with futile dread,
Because I see a part and not the whole.
Contemplating the strange, I'm comforted
By this narcotic thought: I know my soul.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

So

www.crunkfeministcollective.com is my new blog addiction. I dare you.

A poem a day for 2013 - day 179 - Linked in



I seriously don't understand people 
Who go out of their way to make
Low key digs at people who have never meant them harm
Isn't the world a cactus already
Without your pointed fingers
Your whispers
Your innuendos 

He is too dark
She is too fat
Your jokes
Your Facebook posts
Why is the phrase "go kill yourself" so en vogue
We are human beings
Do you know what that means
We are more fragile than a watermelon 
Dropped from your grandmother's garage
We are blood and seeds dripping sticky all over the concrete
Who will clean this mess
After the foul breath of your laugh
After you see her shoeless and bent and begging on the off ramp
And pass by without a second thought 
As if she was as fixture as the Johnnie's Pastramis stand on Adams

After you wipe your hands on the lap of your jeans
Because an old man who lives under the boardwalk reached out to you
To tell you
How much you remind him of his granddaughter
How he watches you pass by every day
And run to catch the same bus
Never stopping to notice him
Never stopping to notice yourself
Those frown lines on your forehead have become permanent
What is wrong with the world
That what is right with the world means so little

It was a hundred degrees today and my news feed was filled with complaints
The sun only did what the sun does
The sun heats things up
The sun reminds us to slow down
To drink water
To go outside and stick our busy feet in the ocean
To let seaweed get tangled between legs
Sun wants to tie us together
To save gas and ride the bus
To sit next to a man you will never know and hear his story

What does it cost to show some compassion
I don't need you to make me feel worse about myself
I am an expert already
I need a whisper
A kiss on my forehead
I need a song
I need a poem
I need an arm around my shoulder
I need to know that you get me and you will not let me go
I need you to want me to stay
Tell me you love me
The way I never forget to tell you
I need for us to know that every moment
Is as precious as the very last moment
Because every moment is the very last moment
Until the very next moment comes

Sometimes I am afraid for us
I am afraid we missed the lesson our fore parents 
Gave their lives for us to know
I am afraid we have forgotten the value of hello
A smile
The magic of two pairs of eyes locked 
So glue until a heart is healed
Remember staring contests
I miss staring contests
What color are my eyes
Did you notice that my right is smaller than my left
And the left twitches just a little when I am nervous
I want you to know this about me
Put my hand on your neck 
Let me feel your pulse
So I can know things about you

I am not asking about your credit score
How many bedrooms and baths
I want to lock freckles with you
I want you to touch him
Him to hold her
I want her to forgive them
I want us to re
Member 

Wanda Coleman


In That Other Fantasy Where We Live Forever

we were never caught

we partied the southwest, smoked it from L.A. to El Dorado
worked odd jobs between delusions of escape
drunk on the admonitions of parents, parsons & professors
driving faster than the road or law allowed.
our high-pitched laughter was young, heartless & disrespected
authority. we could be heard for miles in the night

the Grand Canyon of a new manhood.
womanhood discovered
like the first sighting of Mount Wilson

we rebelled against the southwestern wind

we got so naturally ripped, we sprouted wings,
crashed parties on the moon, and howled at the earth

we lived off love. It was all we had to eat

when you split you took all the wisdom
and left me the worry 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Rita Dove


Exit

Just when hope withers, the visa is granted. 
The door opens to a street like in the movies, 
clean of people, of cats; except it is your street 
you are leaving. A visa has been granted, 
"provisionally"-a fretful word. 
The windows you have closed behind 
you are turning pink, doing what they do 
every dawn. Here it's gray. The door 
to the taxicab waits. This suitcase, 
the saddest object in the world. 
Well, the world's open. And now through 
the windshield the sky begins to blush 
as you did when your mother told you 
what it took to be a woman in this life.


A poem a day for 2013 - day 178 - Gratitude

It's 1:18am and I am at home
I am thankful for running out of gas at midnight
In Inglewood and leaving work early
And feeling my car drift to stillness in the middle of the road
On the corner of 67th and Gay and
How ironic that I should run out if gas on a street called Gay
With all the celebration in the gay community just yesterday
And I never said I wasn't the corniest poet I know personally
And mostly I am thankful that the Universe is ever lining situations together
So that they fit tight as my grandmother's pearl necklace
She wore with her white dress on first Sundays
Because somebody might hear the voice of God and come
Begging what must I do to be saved
And be baptized that night
I am thankful for friends I call family who were ten minutes away
Driving by
Eager to help a sista like me out of gas
I am thankful for hugs in the middle of the night
Because when is a better time to embrace your sister your brother
Except under the moon
Under the moon where all hugs began
My first kiss was under moon
I am thankful for the gas can in my trunk
Do not try to figure out why I had a gas can
And no gas
There is often something missing in my prepared
I am thankful for late night emergency calls to friends
And gas runs
And pushing the car and steering the ride to get it out the street
What good is a poem called gratitude if you can't be honest with the world
Or at least yourself
I am thankful I am loved at all
I am thankful for gas in my ride
For friends who love me like sister
For being home
For an early and long day tomorrow
But who cares about a long and early day
When I am out of the red
Safe in my bed

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Let's encourage, inspire, lift each other up.

Booker T - musician

"No I wouldn't call myself a prodigy. I was just a guy that worked real hard."

Alice Walker


Be Nobody's Darling

Be nobody's darling;
Be an outcast.
Take the contradictions
Of your life
And wrap around
You like a shawl,
To parry stones
To keep you warm.
Watch the people succumb
To madness
With ample cheer;
Let them look askance at you
And you askance reply.
Be an outcast;
Be pleased to walk alone
(Uncool)
Or line the crowded
River beds
With other impetuous
Fools.

Make a merry gathering
On the bank
Where thousands perished
For brave hurt words
They said.

But be nobody's darling;
Be an outcast.
Qualified to live
Among your dead. 

A poem a day for 2013 - day 177 - poem 2 - For Rachel Jeantel

I know what it's like
To have a white man turn his back on you like you are nothing
In the middle of your speak
Your talk
Your say
As if your words are garble and tissue and smoke

Baby, I understand you
Baby, ask Don West how many languages he speaks
Baby, ask him how many times he heard his friend killed
Baby, ask him how bold you have to be to be
Ridiculed by your friend's killer's defense

They will talk
That's what they do
You are brave
Brave like sun got nerve enough to show up after Katrina
And look all that death in the bones

They will talk
That's what they do
Tell them what it take to comb hair
Make face
Tell them about putting on shoes
To face your friend's killer
Tell them about keeping your voice as syrup as you could

Baby, roll your eyes
Baby, count to ten
Baby, breathe, Baby, breathe

I know what it is like
To be black girl nobody wants to hear
I know what it is like to be feared
Don't get it twisted, Baby
They are afraid
They are afraid of you
They are afraid of your pointed finger across that table
Hold it together
Hold his life in your hands
You think they don't know?
You will throw away the key
Why else is it so important to shame your black girl
Your arm fold
Are you listening?
You better ask him again
You better let him know
He better axe somebody

Baby, you betta know your power
You think they don't understand
A black woman like you
Like me
Attitude
Sassy
Eye roll
Skin like ocean
Like sky
Like Africa

Let them laugh, Baby
With his life all in your sass

A poem a day for 2013 - day 177 - That I am

I am a black woman
I am full body
I am loud mouth
I am quiet
I am artist
I am nappy
I am deep voice
I am shit talk

I am mother
I am complicated
I am you better axe somebody
I am slang
I am perfect grammar
I am use words well

I am poet
Bald
Free
Afraid
Forever
Fearless
Human

I am my sister's keeper
I am you fuck with her you fuck with me
I take sides
I am funny like that
What? You aint laughin'
I am doin' what I can do
I am friend
I am you know when I aint got feelin's for you
I am alive

I am confident
I am sexy
I am smart
I am attitude
I am insecure
I am my best friend
I am brave
I am comfortable like cotton in my skin

I am this
I am the opposite of this
I am don't put me in a box
I am you will be disappointed every time

I am forty plus
I am jeans
I am glasses
I am book smart
I am hip hop history

Whatchu know about old school anything?

I am all this Harriett
I am back against a wall
I am angry
I am carve a hole
I am you will not take me alive
I am higher road
I am sage and peace
I am common sense

I am you aint never gon be ready for me

Photo by Holland-Reid Photography


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A poem a day for 2013 - day 176 - poem 2 - Gratitude

For the sound of friends laughing
Talking
Sharing their lives
Stories
Secrets
I am thankful
For feeling the sun on my head
For work
For kisses so soft on my hand
For being appreciated
For quiet
For time to myself
I am thankful
For poetry
For words
For art
For ideas
For the simple in my very every day
For heat
For summer days
For hot nights
I am thankful
For the ending of proposition 8
For California
For freedom
Safety
Song

A poem a day for 2013 - day 176 - Forward

Proposition 8 is dead
Our voices alive like murder of crows
Squaking, yelling, lifting
For justice
For safety
My sisters my brothers
Lesbian and gay
Free to marry their loves
Landmark day for California
I celebrate you
Dance with you
Mark this day with you
Know with you
That the fight for equality
Is not over
Civil rights
Human rights
We all want our lives
We want love
Freedom
Equality
You are not in this alone
We are here
We are allies
We choir
We step
We march
We hands
We shoulders with you
We cry
We fight
We bend
We break
We get back up with you
We have so much work to do


Four years and a day since the death (murder?) of Michael Jackson.

Wendy Davis

"Let her speak! Let her speak! Let her speak!" GO WENDY! Now THAT'S using your voice!

Nikki Giovanni


Knoxville Tennessee

I always like summer
Best
you can eat fresh corn
From daddy's garden
And okra
And greens
And cabbage
And lots of
Barbeque
And buttermilk
And homemade ice-cream
At the church picnic
And listen to
Gospel music
Outside
At the church
Homecoming
And go to the mountains with
Your grandmother
And go barefooted
And be warm
All the time
Not only when you go to bed
And sleep 

Watching Trayvon Martin's mother wipe her tears as she sits in court is heartbreaking. Every time. The courage it must take to sit there and watch her son's killer takes strength I don't ever want to know if I have or not. I know that this is not just her journey. This tragedy happened to Trayvon but it will take the thoughts and prayers, love, help, strength of all of us to lift this family. Not just his mother. His father, his family, his friends, all of our boys, our girls, our communities. This is a human issue. A world problem.

Prop 8 is over (in California)

Our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters have the legal right to marry in the state of California. Finally. In 2013 I don't get why people are opposed to people marrying who they want to marry.

Dear Paula Deen

Every interview is worse than the last. They are as comical now as if you began them with "what had happened was..."

Dear Paula Deen

Um...

Random family fact

My Uncle Namon was my grandmother's older brother
If you asked him when he was born
He would have told you
In clear voice
"During cotton pickin' time"
Because cotton pickin' time was a time for black folks
Like May, June, July
Like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas

You want a writing prompt? You want a homework assignment? Bored? Wanna know what all the hub bub is about? Read the Voters Rights Act 1965 then know that the Supreme Court of the United States smashed it today. Then write about that. Then share. Go.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A poem a day for 2013 - day 175 - We the people

Remember when we pretended racism was a long time ago like slavery like Jim Crow like devils and boogiemen and then one day rain fell down and washed all the color away and then we were all like this nation of blind people walking around in mis matched socks and dating on opposite sides of the tracks and all was fair in love and land and we elected a black president who had a black wife and two black girls with twisty hair and then somehow and we don't know how but schools started closing and prisons opened all over the land and people who spent much of their lives and had children here were deported and families were separated again and we still had hope and then Assata was back on the FBI wanted list like hard core and then all these killings in all these schools happened and we were still all on some we are the greatest country in the world type dream and a bunch more stuff happened and then George Zimmerman just might get off and the Supreme Court was like nah on the Voters Rights Act and then people, good good people started to see what they never wanted to see before

Take us back (draft 2)

It was the moaning mostly
The whispered guttural moan that escaped pursed lips and
Sunday pink lipstick

That groan from underneath belly that granted the go ahead to
Say it sista!
Preach pastah!

Hallelujah shouts from peppermint breath
Knocked cracked leather black pumps
Holding swollen ankles on wooden floors
Closed eyes and tears falling slow

Bread of heaven, bread of heaven
Feed me till I want no more

I remember you, Grandmama
We honor you, Auntie
The organ keys you made sing
Tambourines you reached for and brought down from nowhere

Negro women who could out walk a lie on broken toes
Courageous women who got a prayer through
Breathing a breath
Deeper than the last

Jesus keep me near thy cross
Pass me not, oh gentle savior
We've come from these women
Spread noses, wide feet
Carry the world shoulders like theirs
Lest we forget and think we carried ourselves

Gonna lay down my burdens down by, down by the riverside

These are our mothers
With backwoods grammar and perfect memory

This little light of mine, this little light of mine

We need you now, Grandmama
Our fine homes are poison without your wrinkled fingers
Folded for breakfast prayer

There was something about your Jesus
Your John Kennedy, Martin Luther, Mahalia Jackson
Glued to dusty wood mantle over stale candy and crystal glass bowl

Your God who had the whole world in His hands, in Her hands
Was too big to argue love, death, resurrection

Hold to God's unchanging hands

Big Mama we call on You now
Forgive us please our education
Our money
Our everything we think we know
Too good for your pork chop
Your hymn book
Your hot comb

Put your feet in our laps
Great warriors
Let us massage your boiled blood and blistered backs
We are listening, queens
All the time we heard your songs
But could not hear at the same time

Let witch hazel leak between your fingers
Rub our temples
Sing your songs again
We are wiser now
Those spirituals we ignored
Sing them to us again
See mother?
See?

Our arms are not smooth like before
We have our own battle wounds now
We can hear you now
Sing with you now

Take us back
Take us back
To the place we first remembered

Meditative thought

"It takes a lot of courage to look into the cosmic mirror. We are so big that it is overwhelming to take in, to imagine our true greatness, true beauty, and true enlightened beingness. The great universe in which we live provides constant feedback about our evolutionary process if we choose to look, listen and stop making excuses for postponing our awakening."

Michael Bernard Beckwith
The Supreme Court trashed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as of today. I have words for this but they are the same cynical words I am tired of saying. Mostly I feel like, why are we surprised? But then I remember Valerie's words about being grateful for still being able to be surprised by the evil in this world. I feel that too. Glad there is still a space in my heart I hold out for the expectation of good.
Two cops killed this morning near Venice and LaBrea. Say what you want to say about police officers, they are human beings and their lives and efforts for good deserve a pause for recognition. Saddened that someone would open fire in such a high residential neighborhood. Angered by the disrespect of lives and peace and safety.

From the amazing women of LODi

NATIONAL HIV TESTING WEEK HEALTH FAIR
Take the test. Take control!

Solutions Family Resource Center
1218 E. Compton Blvd., Compton, CA 90221

FREE and open to the public health screening for Glucose, Blood Pressure, HIV, STD and Hepatitis B and C

Refreshments, Kid Zone, Massages, Raffles, Music and Entertainment!!!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

10:00am - 2:00pm

For more information please contact 213-484-1186
JWCHINSTITUTE.ORG

Ladies of Diversity

Singing praises for the Ladies of Diversity (LODi) of Los Angeles. A small group of black and brown powerful women lifting their voices, arms, using their energy, intelligence, time, money, resources to better the lives of displaced women with HIV / AIDS. Read for yourselves at www.ladiesofdiversity.org.

Gratitude

Thankful for this day
Just because
Because I can
See
Feel
Hear
Smell
Work
Love
Repair
Remember
Forget
Forgive
Grow
Again
Ok, great. Nelson Mandela has not died. Still critical though. Lingering.

Phillis Wheatley


An Hymn To The Morning

ATTEND my lays, ye ever honour'd nine,
Assist my labours, and my strains refine;
In smoothest numbers pour the notes along,
For bright Aurora now demands my song.
Aurora hail, and all the thousand dies,
Which deck thy progress through the vaulted skies:
The morn awakes, and wide extends her rays,
On ev'ry leaf the gentle zephyr plays;
Harmonious lays the feather'd race resume,
Dart the bright eye, and shake the painted plume.
Ye shady groves, your verdant gloom display
To shield your poet from the burning day:
Calliope awake the sacred lyre,
While thy fair sisters fan the pleasing fire:
The bow'rs, the gales, the variegated skies
In all their pleasures in my bosom rise.
See in the east th' illustrious king of day!
His rising radiance drives the shades away--
But Oh! I feel his fervid beams too strong,
And scarce begun, concludes th' abortive song. 
Watching the George Zimmerman trial will be way too triggering for me. I will watch as much of it as I can. I can't not. Zimmerman's attorney began his opening statements with a knock knock joke. Nobody laughed and he was surprised. Yeah, we're in for a journey here.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Here's a clue

People are defensive to the level they feel attacked. Folks generally don't walk up to you and start explaining themselves or their actions in the crunk voice. Maybe they are responding to you.
Prayers for Nelson Mandela in critical condition in Pretoria.
Run. Snowden. Run.

A poem a day for 2013 - day 174 - Praise for new day to again

Here's to waking up again
For showering again
Remembering the ups and ocean of yesterday
And being grateful for life new today

Even when I sink so low I know that I will die
To sink to the thought that being swallowed whole by whale
Is option
I do not
I do not die I swim
I am a swimmer
Big up to my ancestors
I hold my breath and swim to air
And rising above sea level is the same as heaven to my lungs
Because for the moment I am free
Free to again again

Do you know what it is like to question every thought
Every emotion you ever have
To be afraid to reach out because you do not have a pain someone else can measure
Because it is easier for them to tell you it is all in your head
Than to sit through an episode with you because
Aint nobody got time for your that
Because your that is different from their that
That you had time for

This is the path
Always wondering if this sinking is the journey
Into depression
Into the mud of hiding and fixing a smile
The pull to stay awake and be social and pretend that the triggers aren't triggering
But they are
They are firing off like July
Like war
Like family

Do you know the courage it takes to
Be vulnerable enough to express disappointment
And hurt feelings to be reminded that you
Are the sensitive one who takes things the wrong way
And so what about the wrong way
A left turn will get you to the main drag
If you ride it long enough and ask the right questions
But we don't
We shut down
We dismiss
I quit
Trying

I self evaluate
I check in
I recall labels stamped long side my body
Like medication
Bipolar
Depression
Hyper mania
Too sensitive
Be trippin'
Moody
Paranoia
Tears won't stop
Sleep won't come

It is easy to sink in all this wash
This spin
To give up
To leave
To leave leave

It is easy to blame it on my moody
When the only problem is my mouth
That won't open and say
Hear. Me. Out.
When the only problem is my nice
That won't make a scene
Because good girls sit pretty
And you remember that your scene is disruptive
But a Holy Ghost shout is a dance
And sometimes it's not me
Sometimes it Really. Is. You.

And I wear "too sensitive" like badge
Because at least I feel it all
At all
And playing nice is growing too old school for my capabilities

Then I wake up
Feel my hands
And these hands aint new
These the same hands
My feet and legs too
This face these eyes this nose
And I honor Creator for making me me
Because I wouldn't be nobody else

Because I am the same me who can at least shake a hand
Give a hug
Fix a sandwich if I aint got a dollar to give
I am a pullin' over somebody if I see you on a bus stop
Take these shoes
This blanket
This whiskey for your chill

I wear empath like saint
I know what to say when
And when not to say what
Baby, I can sit with you
Lay your story in my lap
I will listen and believe
And if it is all in your head I will know
Your head matters
Like ground
Like the wall against your back
Like water
Like real life
Like God





Sunday, June 23, 2013

Janice at the Gray Family Reunion service night

My super talented, beautiful, awesome aunt doing what she does so well.

Gray Family Reunion service night - Rev. Gilbert Chambers (cousin)


A poem a day for 2013 - day 173 - Because God

Because Spirit is bigger than gender
Because Connection and Force is outside the understanding of human label
Because God is not an old white man sitting in a 14 karat gold chair just above the clouds

Protector and Friend is everywhere
Is inside whisper and breeze
In skin and water
Provider is biscuit and shade
Healer is herb and fish
Father is friend and shepherd

God is more
God is all
God is Counselor
Doctor
Companion
Compassion
Great Giver

God is too All for list and knowing
God is so Brother
So Mother
So everything I need



The line

Dave Frost and Jane Gray were slaves
The Frost family owned Dave
The Gray Family owned Jane
Jane convinced the Gray family to buy Dave so they could be married
Jane was quite a somebody

Dave and Jane Gray had fourteen children
Some of those children were slaves
Elbert Gray was one born of Dave and Jane
Elbert was not a slave
Elbert Gray married Annie Reed
Elbert and Annie had sixteen children
Omega Gray was their youngest child
Omega married Therman Davis

Omega and Therman Davis had twelve children
Patricia Davis is one of those children

Patricia married Joseph Reed
Patricia and Jospeh Reed had two children

I am the first of those children

Because love is everywhere

As I was coming out of a store yesterday I saw an old black man walk past a young(er) white woman who was leaning against a wall holding her bicycle. He asked her if she was ok because she didn't look well. She replied that she thought she was just hot and tired. He was so gentle and king to this woman. This stranger. And none of us are strangers. And he knew that. He stood with her and convinced her to move to shade where she could better rest. And it was just that. One human being taking a small moment out of his day to stop to show some good old time compassion. To see a woman who might have been in need and do whatever small or great part he could do to better her situation.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Me with Therman


Today was day three and the official close of the Gray Family Reunion. I had a wonderful time reuniting and getting to know family. Also getting to know some family as friends. I am so glad that my son was there to be a great part in the weekend. He was one of the leads in the family play last night. Yes, family play, we go hard. Also just watching him interact with other family members just made me even more proud of the man he is and is becoming. There was so much that happened this weekend. Shout out to the reunion committee, of which my mother and Uncle Therman are a part. This post was meant as a one or two sentence free write and not really a full recap of the weekend. That will come later. In spurts. Maybe.

One of my favorite moments happened tonight after the family church service, We. Go. Hard. when my cousin Linda and I shared in conversation and realized that we had many of the same passions and care in and for humanity and the world. There was this moment when she stopped being just cousin and someone I am greatly looking forward to sharing friendship, ideas, words, tea, energy with. We played with each other as children and in my mind she was little cousin. Hallelujah for growing up and connecting as adults.

Tomorrow folks will come to the house where my mother lives and where many of them either grew up or grew up visiting. The Long Beach house. It's been a long weekend and still excited about tomorrow.

Rest well, y'all.

A poem a day for 2013 - day 172 - Gray Family Reunion 2013

I am the fith generation of Elbert Gray
Son of Dave and Jane
We are tribe
We history so roots
We Africa
We middle passage
We American soil so slave
We are made of something more

We free
We family
Louisiana
California
Nevada
Connecticut
Utah
Points between

We sing so voice
Like angel like God
We act
We cook
We apple pie peach cobbler

We cousin so fun
Play hand clap pat pat
Double Dutch
Street race on feet in Oakland streets
When I was a kid with the the San Francisco crew

We smart like books
Like sense like business
Who you know can do it better
Than we
So beautiful

We complicated love
We get along
We don't get along
But we know we family

We hurt feelings
Bruise egos
Step on toes
Don't change DNA
We get together
To remember history
To forgive
To forward
To
Family


Friday, June 21, 2013

A poem a day for 2013 - day 171 - Status

My sisters are alive
They are infected with HIV
Not death
These are living women
These are inspiring women
Daring to every day
Again
Again
Until the last tomorrow
How you livin'

These are educating women
Bold enough to take staples out
Your mind
Your ignorance

These are afraid and fearless women
Broken and knocking down doors
Anyway
HIV / AIDS will not hold these women
Down
Back
Stigmatized
Separated
Buried
Silenced

These women
These sisters
Daughters
Lovers
Wives
Friends
Mothers
Teachers
Preachers
Have voices
Have lungs
Have courage so Everest
They will not be contained
Will not be forced
Held
Boxed
Inside your sickness
Your sickness
Not theirs
Your disease
Your mind peeling and sticky with misinformation
Hate
Lies
Yourself

These women have been tested
And tried
These women are living
To tell

Thursday, June 20, 2013

An all woman mostly white jury in the Trayvon Martin case.
Because changing the channel of my mind is easier said than done though not impossible / a must / because old conversations replay till my cells remember again the anger and frustration / internalized old stories coming up because they want out / I fight instead to protect the innocent but especially the guilty / what is the point of all this healing work if I only swallow and force the poison back down / only to come up later?

Dear Jaha

Wait.

Dear people who hire artists

Do not tell her how much you will pay her
Ask how much she will charge you
When you need a plumber
You do not tell him that the job pays $???
You tell him what you need and wait for a quote

Do not assume that you do not need the art you are requesting
Please close your eyes and imagine your event
Without a speaker
Without a cook
Without an M.C.
Without a song
Without a program
              (Folded. Double spaced. New Times Roman. Picture on front.)
Without a photographer
Without a cleaning crew
Yes
Handling a broom takes an artistic prowess
Beyond your vision
To pretend to be invisible
And ignore your insensitivities

We are not lucky to stand in front of you
While you wear your fancy hats

Thank you

Jaha Zainabu
They are finally saying on the news that maybe there was something fishy in the death of Michael Hastings. Maybe? He confided with someone that the FBI had him under investigation. Yeah, I bet they did. He was a journalist who sought to be fair and honest. Folks in high places lost jobs behind his words. He was only thirty-three years old and had much more to say. So yeah, fishy indeed.

A poem a day for 2013 - day 170 - Gratitude

I am thankful for all this
All this love
All this eyes open
All this sun
All this limbs moving
This breath
This this
This son
This family
Ride
Work
Busy
All this life to figure out
All this step by step
This debt to pay
This poems to write
This this to this
This blood to flow
This heart to beat
This flowers to smell
This funny to laugh
This news
This give
This take
All this thankful
To be thankful for

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A poem a day for 2013 - day 170 - poem 2 - Easy like morning



I know the world will not slow down 
No matter how fiercely 
I stretch my fists to the sun

I know how to pray
I am always praying
No matter my physical position
No matter the words you think you hear
I am always in conversation with Spirit
Because that's how we do it
We converse like two old women
On a Mississippi wooden porch
Chipped paint
Head scarves 
Sweet tea
Dogs barking at strangers 
Flies at our feet
I know God like that
Don't you

I will take my last breath one day
This is not an if
Before I do I wanna tell these stories 
So shut up in my bones
I drag around like wet towels sopping up
Tears my grandmother's mother's mother passed down
Stories that come to me in the night from folks 
I don't know
Ain't got nothin' to do with me 
'Cept they know I know how to get a prayer through
And a story straight

Like I know my own toenails 
I am sure that the only thing that matters is love
I know that the further we separate ourselves from love
Is the further we separate ourselves from ourselves
You think I don't know my own face when I see it
You think I ain't walkin' 'round on your feet
With your hands and thighs
Those are my knees my teeth
These are your lips and lungs
I know that we are all one

So busy lying on God 
As if a being so great would hate itself enough
To divide into two
Three 
Ten
Fifteen 
Twenty
Twenty-five
Thirty
All around my base is it
Let me touch you
Feel my fingers so wiggle inside your skin
There is no place I start or you end
Go put some jeans on
Some Chucks 
A thrift shop shirt
We can walk around like twins
Who you flossin' for

I don't know everything
But I know that getting back to the basics
Is the best business at hand
I know we are nothing without each other
What it matter all this good I got
If heavy on yo mind so muddy 
You can't inhale longer than you blink
What good are my fancy dresses 
And red bottom shoes
If they 'bout to cut off her mama's feet
We can't laugh over tea

I know that these arms are for building
For tearing down bridges and stretching across waters
I know I spent tears headachin' about folks walkin' over me
Till I looked up to find my back was their only pathway through
I am not rag for filthy feet
But I know that I am strong enough to carry 
The next soul in need
Even if that one is me

I know sometimes the clouds get low
I know there are days I feel stuck in a mass of 
Sadness and fear and anxiety suduku my brain so math
I forget the numbers to dial
But I know how to reach
I know how to be still
I know how to rock and sing
I know how to cry
I know how to remember how good God been to me
I know how to wave hand
I know how to give thanks
I know how close eyes
I know how to know that clouds pass
I know ain't none of this easy
So I know how to give you me
When clouds come to you

I know therapy sessions should be held at
Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles
Over grits and eggs and fish
Prayed over by a greasy hand man with a handkerchief in his pocket
I know that

I know food ain't free
But I know how to cut mine in fours 
So we can all eat
I know it's up to me
I know it's up to you

I know I am learning how to forgive
I know that forgiveness does not mean 
Stories won't rise up
I know how to let them out
Same one by one way they got in there

I know that I am wonderful
I know that I forget how wonderful I am
I know how to remember the next time I do
I know to open my eyes
And look right into you