Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Except for that vanilla ice cream cone, my diet was perfect today.

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 30 - Grandmother

In her shoes
Squeeze as Easter leather
Cherry as lipstick and song
This is how I remember her

Hair chemicals and curly
Oil of Olay and morning cream
Hot water corn bread and spaghetti

Folded usher program
Notes written on Bible pages
Peppermint candy and cuss words

Girdle straps and blue veiled hat
This is how I will remember you
Because I choose
This love

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 30 - Traveling shoes

No one told me life would be all smooth
I knew I'd have to find my own groove
There would be days I'd cry
There would be days tears dried
I am glad I did not plant, I moved

New essay

Today I am working on an essay on Domestic Violence. I have actually been working on it for about three weeks now. It's taking me a while for a few reasons. Domestic Violence is my story only in that it has happened to many I know. Thankfully though, not to me. It's not like the story on The World Stage / V Kali or the story on Mental Health where I could just spew my own situations straight from my head and experiences. Also, since I was talking about myself I didn't have to be as careful about the privacy of others.

I'm stalling. I know enough about this topic and have witnessed enough to knock this out by tonight. Will I though is the question.

Gratitude

Today I am thankful for waking up and seeing the sun
I am thankful for my son, my friends and family
I am thankful for my aunt Mildred being alive and well on her seventy-fifth birthday
I am thankful for peace in my head
For my health and creativity
I am thankful for energy and love all around me
I am thankful for the village that supports my art
The village that rears my son
I am thankful for poetry and art
For rest
For good good ease

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Gratitude

I am thankful for this day
For waking up and witnessing the loveliness of the sky
The faint breeze in the air
I am thankful for my son
For my mother and family and friends
I am thankful for being able to be of service today
I am thankful for V
For Nspire
For peace and ease
I am thankful for words and space and healing
I am thankful for water and food
For books and art
I am thankful for nature and blessings
I am thankful for protection
For protection I see and protection I don't
I am thankful for forgiveness
I am thankful for being able to forgive
For plants and heat and fans and it all
I am thankful for it all

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 29 - We. Will. Have. Our. Girls.

Do you know how impossible it is for two hundred thirty-four girls to be missing from the same place
Two hundred thirty-four absent voices
Two hundred thirty-four absent pairs of eyes
Two hundred thirty-four black faces
Do you know that somebody knows where two hundred thirty-four girls are right now
Do you know that you could buy a ten year old Nigerian wife for twelve dollars
Do you know how much goats go for in Nigeria
Do you know that there is a difference between a goat and a girl
Do you know goats cannot fold laundry
Do you know goats will not lay on their backs
While you stick your tongues and penis and fingers in their sore vaginas
Do you know

Do you know girls can have babies
Girls can give life
Girls can birth boys to make you a proud man
Do you want to be a proud man
Do want a baby girl to smile at you and tell you she is proud to be your wife
Is that what you want
Do you want a girl you bought for twelve dollars to cook for you
Do you know she is old enough to know her life before you
Do you know a girl is old enough to hate

I hope you know we teach our daughters to escape
I hope you know we teach our daughters to kill
I hope you know we teach our daughters to pray
I hope you know we teach our daughters to remember

We teach our daughters to tell
We teach our daughters to swing fists
We teach our daughters to live

We will live
We will fight
We will keep looking for our daughters

Do you know how dangerous mothers can be
Have you heard how wicked we are
Did they tell you we cast spells
I know they mentioned we set fires
You saw the ashes on the ground

Do you know we can smell
Do you know our girls have left a trail
Do you know we will not stop

Are you afraid
Do you know when to be afraid
Have you looked underneath our fingernails
Do you know where we hide the knives
Do you know we have already died a million times
Do you know how loud we laugh when death comes knocking

You know what we demand
You know what we will do

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 29 - In the window

There once was an old lady who talked
She sat on her couch, didn't want to walk
Had long straight and gray hair
And she always did care
'Bout boy down the way, lingered and stalked
I wanted to write. So I started writing. I didn't need anyone's permission. I wanted to learn more about writing. So I studied great writers. I didn't need a kagillion dollars. I needed passion. I needed a library card. I needed an imagination. And I had all of that.

My journey to getting help

Mental illness in the African-American community – My journey to getting help

by Jaha Zainabu

“Roller coaster! Roller coaster! Up, up, up, up! Down, down, down, down!” This is the song my three year old cousin, Aubrey made up and voraciously danced to one night as her mother and I sat up talking and watching television. As she repeated it, the song stuck with me. I thought about how it reminded me of how I feel on many days. Up. Up. Up. Up. Then down. Down. Down. Down.

I had been experiencing emotional lows since late in my elementary school years. I remember times as a little girl when I asked my sister Roshann, who is four years younger than I if she ever felt really sad but didn't know why. I don't remember her answer. I don't know if the question even made any sense. I knew I felt that way sometimes and didn't understand why. In my middle school years the sadness and sudden feeling like being alone was interpreted as moodiness by my friends. It was also in middle school when I remember first experiencing the highs. The extreme happiness for no reason. I was puzzled by it. And then high school was just, well... high school.

In 2012 it was serious. Before then I don't ever remember having suicidal thoughts. Even though depression, which showed itself as “moodiness” had shown up in many ways in my romantic relationships. The hardest part was not being able to communicate what was wrong. Nothing was really...wrong. There were just these tears sometimes. I spent a lot of time hiding sadness; and when I did feel safe enough to express it, it seemed like every man in my life wanted to fix it and then became frustrated that they couldn't. And then the tears would stop and later I would be so happy and excited about everything. The color of the sky, the sounds of the birds, everything. I could fit football fields between the two feelings. The actual thoughts of ending my life were brand new though. I knew I needed help. I knew I didn't really want to die. I knew I had too much to live for and more than that, I had someone I wanted to live for, my son Uraeus. But none of the reasons I had to live were enough to keep the thoughts at bay. And then there were the highs that kept coming. And highs by the way, do not always show up as happy. Sometimes they show up as extreme irritation, especially when I feel trapped. Like in traffic. There were times I felt I would combust if I didn't get off the road. And then sometimes, and more often, the highs showed up as me laughing uncontrollably in situations that were either not that funny or not funny at all. My clue that the highs were onset was that I would be talking way too loud and fast. I could feel myself doing it but couldn't seem to control it. That would last for a while then I would crash and the lows would come.

One day I asked a friend of mine, Donny, who is a poet and psychologist, to meet me at a coffeehouse to talk about what was going on with me. He gave me his listening ears and some recommendations for psychologists to see. One night after a poetry event I went to Denny's with a group of poets. I was talking to Donny at one end of the table and there was another conversation at the opposite end. There were about twelve of us all together. At the opposite end were mostly young men who were engaged in a conversation with two young women. One of the women was a young poet I know named Venessa and the other woman was her visiting cousin. The way I remember it is that Venessa's cousin said something and the men were laughing at her. That's how it felt, like they were laughing at her and not with her. I saw the look on her face and knew something was wrong. I didn't know what they were talking about but I sensed her great discomfort. As a woman at least a decade older than Venessa and her cousin, normally I would have at least inquired about the situation added my voice to help. But for some reason, I started laughing. I don't know why. To this day, I wish I could take those moments back. I laughed so hard and couldn't stop. I remember Donny sternly whispering my name to get me to stop. But I couldn't. Venessa's cousin got up and went to the restroom wiping her face. I felt awful. I knew that nothing I could say at that moment could change the situation. Shortly after, I left and went home. Still feeling bad. I cried the whole night. About nothing. About everything. I hid my tears because I was in a live-in relationship and didn't want to explain that I was crying and didn't know why. Not that he wouldn't have held me and empathized but even that would have made me feel sad.

The next morning was my first appointment with my therapist. By the time I got to her office I was twenty minutes late and felt dreadful about that. I cried and felt hopeless and miserable like I couldn't do anything right. I was a wreck. Thankfully she was a wonderful, understanding and patient woman. But I was still nervous. Dr. M was my second therapist. My first abruptly ended our sessions in a way and for reasons that still baffle me. I was seeing the first one, a woman I will call B for about six months. I was reluctant at first because I didn't know how comfortable I would be telling my deepest pains to a white woman whom I didn't know whether or not could relate to me. But shortly into our first few sessions I relaxed. I started seeing her to sort through a relationship that ended badly. I was depressed then for many reasons and no reason. But I was experiencing the cycles back then way more frequently than was comfortable for me. One week she asked me on a scale of one to ten where was I in my place of sadness and I told her I was at an eight. Our session for the week ended with her having me write down names and numbers of friends I knew I could call if I felt suicidal. She even asked me to include her on my contact list. I did. The next week with B I felt a little better but still jittery and uneasy. Then the next week before I even had a chance to say anything, she began the session by telling me that she was going to end our sessions because she felt like she had similar issues and couldn't advise me as she should and blah blah blah and that I could see someone else in her office or another office. She watched me slowly gather my things and walk out. It was like a bad break up movie. I even remember her faintly calling my name as I walked out the door. I was too confused to turn around. I was so pissed at her because just two weeks before I told her I was having suicidal thoughts. Then, with no reason that made any sense to me, I had to see someone else. So, needless to say, I was reluctant to seeing another therapist. But I knew I needed help. I knew it.

So I went to see Dr. M and knew immediately that she would be a good match for me. She looked and felt like family. Her soft brown face, style, grace and familiar and wonderful sense of humor. She was easy to relate to. But the first day, I was a mess. I was breathless from being late. I have a huge thing about time. I sat in her immaculate office and wiped my face with the tissue she gave me. I also have a huge thing about things being immaculate and was glad she shared that need. I still couldn't stop crying. I told her I had been so sad lately for reasons and for no reasons and had been on an up and down cycle for too long and needed answers and help. I also told her about the incident the night before when I couldn't stop laughing at Venessa's cousin. Told her I was tired of being so sad and that I kept having awful thoughts and I was tired of having them. I told her I thought I would give in one day. A day I felt would come sooner than later. And yep, I had a plan.

I had and have a very healthy spiritual relationship with a power I call God and all of the proselytizing about religion and mental health on social media was infuriating. I am an African-American woman and perhaps people of many ethnicities look down on people dealing with depression but it for sure happens way more than I am comfortable with in our community. People saying that if people had a better relationship with God and Jesus then they wouldn't have those thoughts or be depressed is not true and to me, only adds to the stigma of mental illness. No wonder we are so reluctant to get the help we need. It doesn't make sense to me that if a leg is broken then it's okay to see a doctor but if there is an internal problem then seeing a doctor is somehow considered treason to God.

Here are a few notable facts on the African-American Community Mental Health Fact Sheet by NAMI Multicultural Action Center:
  1. African-Americans tend to rely on family, religious and social communities for emotional support, rather than turning to health care professionals, even though this may at times be necessary.
  2. Mental illness is frequently stigmatized and misunderstood in the African American community.
  3. African Americans are often at a socioeconomic disadvantage in terms of accessing both medical and mental health care in 2001, 20.2% of African Americans were uninsured.
So it seems we know we need help and are afraid to reach out because we may be looked down upon by friends and family. We know we need help and are reaching out to people who could be giving us unhealthy advice. Or we know we need professional help and don't get it because we are unable.

I was so glad that Dr. M heard me. That's what I wanted all along, to be heard and gotten even if I couldn't explain completely how I felt. Even if she had not felt the way I felt I knew she was listening. She didn't let me leave that day when the hour was up. She told me to give her my beau's name and number so she could call him to take me to the hospital. I refused. I knew that if I couldn't even cry about this in front of him, I wouldn't be able to explain why I needed to be in the hospital. Also, I didn't want him to feel responsible or have to take off work. I tried to get her to just let me go. I tried to convince her, through my tears that I couldn't explain, that I would go on my own. Thankfully she didn't believe me. She said that she would either call the police to take me to the hospital or I could give her a name of a friend to come to her office and get me. For the record, it is not standard that when one goes in to see a therapist on the fist visit, then the therapist threatens to call the police. In my situation, she made the best professional move she could make. I was in a really bad state and had confessed that I thought about suicide and I wanted and needed help. I gave her my friend Laura's number as she worked fairly close to where I was. In the state I was in, I was so afraid that Laura would be upset because I interrupted her work. I was obsessed with the thought that people don't want to be interrupted from their busy lives to take people to hospitals for something that they can't see. I didn't want her to call my mother because I didn't want her to worry and I knew I wouldn't be able to explain it in a way that I felt made sense. Thankfully though, Laura answered the phone and agreed to meet me. I was so happy that she was available and happy that Laura was always someone to whom I could explain my unexplainables. And I was still crying and unsure at the same time. Dr. M talked to her and told her what she felt I needed and where I should go. Laura met me at Dr. M's office. We all talked then Laura took me to a treatment center near USC Hospital called Exodus.

By the time I got there with Laura I wasn't crying anymore. I was much more relaxed being with her. She told me when I went back there not to act like I was okay so they wouldn't keep me. She told me to tell the truth. She knew me well because putting on my it's all good face was exactly my plan. I had become pretty skilled at it once the tears stopped. They finally called my name after almost an hour wait. I went back and talked to the doctor and told him about what led me to being there and he asked me about my history, symptoms and family history. After our meeting he told me that he suspected I had a mood disorder called Bipolar two which is a form of mental illness with moods cycling between high and low. He prescribed medication to even out my moods. Their pharmacy was closed that day where I could get medication for free so I left with a plan to come back the next day to pick them up.

The next day was Wednesday, March 28, 2012 (I'm glad I keep journals) and I stayed at Laura's house that night so I could get up early and pick up my medication the next morning and not have to travel far. I woke up and prayed, wrote in my journal, dressed and was out the door. My head felt clearer. I think mostly because there was some reason to why I would go from being so happy to the river of tears in which I would get lost. I needed a reason. The traffic that day was easy. I picked up medication and took a short walk in effort to keep the commitment to myself to exercise more. I was making done check marks in my iPad calendar which made me happy. I still hadn't had the conversations I needed to have with my partner and family. But I ran a couple of errands and then I went to work and for the most part it went well. Then I felt myself getting anxious again. Very anxious. And I was afraid.

At that time I was working as a home health aide and thankfully I only had one client. There was a time less than a year before I had seven. I was taking care of an elderly woman whose company I enjoyed. The family I worked for was really cool. And supported me taking care of my health. The woman's son is a nurse, musician and majorly into yoga and meditation. It was easy to talk to both him and his wife about how I was feeling. I knew I had to be honest with them because I wouldn't want anyone to take care of my mother or family member if they were feeling unwell.

I hadn't taken my medication yet because I wanted to be at home first. I didn't know how I would react to the pills. I didn't know if they made me sleepy or not and I didn't want to be asleep with my client. I didn't want to be sleepy driving home. So I waited. My therapist called me the same day while I was at work and I told her how uneasy I felt. She reminded me to do what I had to do to take care of myself.

My anxiety kept growing greater and greater. Every little thing scared and irritated me. I began to feel that spiral. That sinking feeling again. That's what it feels like. Like I'm trying to climb but I can't because I'm being pulled then eventually I just give in and am stuck. The man I was in a relationship with at the time was working nights then and I was still not in full communication with him about what I was feeling. I didn't even want to communicate how afraid I was of myself being left alone at night. There is a lot of hiding in depression. A lot of pretending to be okay. Prior to going to the hospital I was self medicating with pills to help me sleep. Sleeping was always an issue. Even with the pills I still couldn't seem to sleep. That night the anxiety was too much. I was afraid of being alone and afraid of being with anyone. The dark scary cloud was there and that was never a match with the anxiety. When I got on the freeway I was so afraid. I was having panic attacks and I felt like people were after me. I pulled off the freeway and called my brother, George. George and I have known each other for many years and we aren't blood but...we are. He was at work at the time and I told him I needed to stop driving and he told me to come to his job. We sat in the parking lot and talked. I think he talked and I cried and rambled. I told him I needed to go to the hospital but I was afraid they would keep me. I didn't want to stay in the hospital but the thoughts were back. The dark, scary thoughts I didn't know I could defeat anymore. So, I drove myself back to Exodus.

They kept me there, as I assumed they would. As much as I didn't want to be there, I knew it was where I belonged. I am so happy that I got the help I needed. And I will say here that if you need help then get it. There are all the voices that may tell you to be embarrassed and feel weird but I advise anyone to thank those negative thoughts and voices for sharing and keep driving.

When I'm panicked I notice that I can stay awake for days at a time. Then when I'm in a place where I can sleep, without any attachments to the place, without concern for dirty dishes or the ringing phone or who knocks on the door, I crash. I think that's why I love hotels so much. Thursday night at the hospital they gave me medication that had me rest so well. I didn't wake up wake up until almost two p. m. the next day. I needed that kind of sleep. I felt so much better. No clouds. No anxiety. No cops chasing me. That's my paranoia. The cops, when I'm extra anxious, are chasing me. All cars around me are undercover cops. And "cops" ya dig? Not police. For some reason in my paranoid state they are cops. Everyone crossing the street, in line at the doughnut shop, at the gas station, they're all cops. And they all want me. It doesn't get this bad too often but when it does, it's bad.

When I woke up from my perfect rest, I was cool. I thought I could just thank the nice people for a bed and turkey sandwich, declare myself well and deuce out. Nope! Seventy-two hour hold, Son! The nurse came to get me and told me that the ambulance was waiting to take me to some hospital in the valley. I looked at him and was like “Ummm, no thank you. I'm feeling much better now.” Then had the nerve to ask for my belongings. He laughed at me and said “Oh no, you need to go with them.”

Okay, so here is where I say this, again, get the help you need! Who is to say that the cloud, or whatever you call your dark moments, won't be back? The cloud, the thoughts, the anxiety, the poorly dressed undercover cops pretending to be just crossing the street or whatever your thing is could be back without you staying in the process of getting the help you need. I didn't fight it, not that fighting at that moment would have helped the situation. They gave me my things from the safe and put me in the ambulance. I made phone calls to my mother, sister, a couple of friends and my employer. I think I left a strange message on my lover's phone then I hung up and just tried to focus on taking care of myself and being well.

When we arrived, the check in nurse spoke with me. I liked her right away. She was thankfully easy to talk to which had me more comfortable in the busy place. She showed me to my room and I sat on my bed for a minute then it really sunk in. I was in the the psych ward. The. Psych. Ward. Say that three times fast. There were people there whom I was sure were more ummm... psych than I but there were plenty of staff to handle that. I openly say things like psych ward, anxiety and paranoia because they are truthfully uncomfortable for me to admit. But we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations sometimes and better to get the help we need than to hide behind our shame. Our shame, our silence, our fear has not protected us. 

As much as I didn't really want to be there, it was the best place for me. Yes it was a bad time. Yes I had work to do. Yes I felt like I needed to have better explanations to my friends and family. But it wasn't about any of that. I was the one who mattered. Me. One of the hardest things for me to do was tell my mother from inside an ambulance that she couldn't come up and see me while I was there. I knew it would be hard for me to see her seeing me there and I just couldn't take care of her while I needed to take care of myself. My mother, by the way, is as strong a mother and woman as any. I just know that it would be hard on any mother to see her daughter in the psych ward. It would be hard for me. I think it showed more courage and strength on her part to not fight me and accept want I wanted and needed.

I didn't eat much while I was there. I skipped breakfast often mostly because I didn't feel like eating with everyone. I skipped "group" because I didn't feel like talking to everyone. I skipped exercise because I didn't feel like doing braless jumping jacks with everyone and the guy two doors over kept calling me fine. I didn't have a change of clothes and the times I could use the laundry room kept shifting. Basically I walked around in my gown looking like Casper the non-compliant ghost. I talked to my doctor, the nurse and my roommate and that was pretty much it. I don't know if that's how it was supposed to go but that was how I worked my program. Oh, and I wrote a lot. Writing is necessary for me. I would have gone flip without the pencil the nurse gave me that was only almost as large as my pinky finger and the few sheets of paper I was rationed to to scribble my thoughts onto. I think I just needed the time and space and constant supervision of professionals.

I had some favorite and funny moments though. One was when a guy creeped up on me as asked me what I looked like before they cut my hair. For twenty years I have rocked my hair cut near bald and I guess he thought the staff had to strap me down and shave me for some reason. Bless his heart. Then there was the German doctor who stared at my head the whole time we talked and didn't seem to believe I was a writer. I guess he thought in some fit of frenzy I snatched my hair out by the follicles and was tied down by two big men in white jackets. And of course as the nurse went down the hall each evening and called for quiet time was when someone had to use the phone. And television was always interesting. In the TV room we watched dolphin documentaries because Cold Case made That Girl sad and He got angry if This was on and Neither of Them were comfortable with That. And you probably didn't know that many documentaries existed about dolphins but there are plenty. 

The funniest thing that happened was the one time I went to a group session. Partly because I wanted credit for going to group and partly because I was bored. Thankfully it was game day. I never went to group so the others didn't jump at the chance to pair with me. For a little while I pretty much played Connect Four and Chinese Checkers by myself. One of the staff members said to another young lady, "Why don't you play with her?" Talking about me. Except he said it in Spanish, but I understood. She almost broke out into real tears. She may even have, I just didn't turn around to see. "Noooooooo!!!!! Noooooooo!!!!! No! No! I don't want to play with herrrrr!!!" She said that in English, probably so I would understand. Baby, no worries. No worries. But see if I rush off the phone for you next time. I thought.

Yes, I shared things that were funny and I should have taken group more seriously but I did really get the help I needed there. I really did. A particularly special moment for me was when the guy I was in a relationship with came up to see me. I needed that. I was finally able to talk and share with him ways that I was feeling that I couldn't or wouldn't articulate before. I needed the conversations I had with my therapist, my doctor and the nurses. Even the conversations I got to have with my roommate really helped me. It helped me feel not alone. I watched her go back and forth to the bathroom to cry. I understood that kind of hiding. I asked her if she knew why she was crying and I understood when she said no. It was a blessing to me to see us give each other the space we needed. We were mirrors for each other. There was a big part of me that wanted to feel like I wasn't them. I was better. I was okay and they were ill but that wasn't so. We were all there. All of us for different reasons.

I was there for about a week. My doctor wouldn't release me until he felt comfortable that the medication was settled in my system and that I was not a threat to myself. When I got out I continued taking my medication. I still have ups and downs and I am still in therapy. Perhaps I will be for my life, I don't know. A year later I experienced another really challenging cycle and immediately went to the doctor. I didn't have to stay that time. My diagnosis was changed from Bipolar two to Bipolar one. Which is also a form of mental illness. A person with Bipolar one cycles from manic episodes to episodes of depression. Which in other words means, I was going from super highs to super lows. Because I was diagnosed as that then doesn't mean I will stay that way but it does make me aware of how I need to take care of myself. I am careful about taking my medication and being aware of my triggers. I am also more communicative about how I'm feeling to the people in my life. I don't hide out as much as I used to and I keep my appointments with my doctors. I'm working my program now and my life is better than it's been in many years. I don't have the high highs or low lows anymore. Probably because of the medication in my system as well as my continued practice of meditation, prayer and art. Art is important. I am always writing. I am constantly painting and taking pictures. Art feeds my soul. Find what feeds yours and nurture it. I no longer have thoughts of suicide. As a matter of fact, I value life much more. I know how blessed I am to be here. I am thankful I got the help I needed at the right time. It doesn't mean that I don't have my days, we all do. All of us. I am treading carefully these days. And bravely at the same time.

There are many ways to be treated with mental illness. Probably as many ways as there are people on the planet. What I wish to convey here is that if you know that you are not well, get help. Don't hide. I hid for too long and it didn't help me. Depression and other mental illnesses are just that, they are illnesses. They do not define your relationship or not with your higher power. Love yourself enough to get the help you need. I did and I know it saved my life.

Monday, April 28, 2014

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 28 - This right here

And then there are days when new bed linen is the best therapy / when thread count is the least of your worries and color is meaningless / only opening new packages and fitting sheets on your mattress and you notice how a new comforter changes a day / the whole day / the whole room / and you water your plants / even the orchid and cactus that thrive on neglect / and you eat Greek yogurt from Trader Joe's because you promised your doctor / and then you buy a book from the Goodwill on Crenshaw and the old lady with the white dress in front of you shouldn't have on red panties but that is not your business / and then you drive looking for the perfect spot to take the perfect picture of the sun / and you are not tired anymore somehow from a days work with high school students who talk too much when you want them to listen and don't speak at all when you want them to / and then you pay rent even though it's a week late and / then there is that moment when you are sitting on your bed / and your room is spotless / and work tomorrow will be work tomorrow but you still have tonight and / and you open a new book and you begin a new poem / and you breathe and allow your body to still and just know / that whatever this life is / this life is the life

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 28 - Easy

Ahhhhh, and then there are days like this here
Palm trees bend to whisper in my ear
And kiss me on my cheek
Then tell me what they think
About lovely days and skies so clear

O Digable Planets, if you and Zhane and PM Dawn got together at the Troubadour and sang songs I'd come and bring along my funky friends. Pinky promise.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Some days you just gotta stop what you're doing and say yes and watch how life shows up. Today was one of those days.

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 27 - Bliss

And then there are moments when I'm singing
And you're singing
And we stop
And realize
We are singing the same song
Together

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 27 - The boardwalk

There once was a show on the sidewalk
Folks gathered around, there they would talk
The actors played and sang
Others had bells they rang
And others wrote notes on ground in chalk

Saturday, April 26, 2014

I had a wonderful and long and exciting and lovely day. All that AND I made it in time to wish my good brother and mentor Peter J. Harris a happy birthday! Tonight I will burn the sweetest incense and fold the clothes piled at my ankles. I will thank God again for the day. For my son. For my family and friends. I will read a chapter of a book it's taking me too long to finish. I will get irritated with myself for not finishing the essay I want to submit on Sunday. I will get over it. I will drink enough water to interrupt my rest tonight. I will find something entertaining to watch online. Perhaps I will catch up on Resurrection. I will close my eyes and hope that I open them early tomorrow morning.

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 26 - Fly. Robin. Fly.

I was picked second for relay races because I had long skinny legs and I could fly like a roller coaster / and if you could beat most of the boys in your class it didn't matter what number cutest you were because at the end of the day / the boys wanted to win

My ponytails would stretch back past my neck and the wind would flop my cheeks and back then slip on Vans were my favorite shoes and red was always my winning color / and sometimes I would take my shoes off and run in my bare feet because I did not have the option of getting holes in my socks because I wanted to win a relay race / nobody's mama could understand how important it was for a black girl like me to win races / I was an ordinary black girl with nappy hair and crooked legs and full lips / but I could fly / I could fly

My back was straight and arms were pumping and knees high / and I could zoom past the boys on my block / and then I wasn't ordinary anymore / I was fly / I was fly / and black girls like me were always looking for ways to be fly / for ways to fly / for reasons / for our turn / to fly

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 26 - Funkytown

There once was a city underground
Day, folks walked but no one made a sound
And they glided so swift
Bought and dropped their gifts
Nightfall, they danced and boogied on down

Friday, April 25, 2014

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 25 - Maren Sanchez. Maren Sanchez. Maren Sanchez.

Maren Sanchez said no
Maren Sanchez was sixteen years old and her no should have been enough
But no
Maren Sanchez refused to go to the junior prom tonight with a sixteen year old boy
And he stabbed her
And then she died
Maren Sanchez of Jonathan Law High School in Milford, Connecticut

Doesn't that story sound simple
Boy asks girl to junior prom
Girl says no
Boy stabs girl
Girl dies in hospital from stab injuries

Don't short sentences sound horrific
Shouldn't stories about boys stabbing girls at school for saying no
Be longer
Shouldn't her name be mentioned more
Shouldn't her name wake us up at night
Are there rules to journalism that refuse names of stabbed girls
Mentioned over and over and over

O the luxury of being a poet
O the burden of being a poet
Maren Sanchez
Maren Sanchez
Maren Sanchez

Maren Sanchez will not dance tonight
The junior prom was cancelled tonight
Maren Sanchez will not dance next year
Maren Sanchez
Maren Sanchez
Maren Sanchez

Maren Sanchez said no and she died
I hate to think what would have happened
If Maren Sanchez said
Yes

A limerick a day for 2014 - day 25 - Roots

There once was a tree, leaves to the sky
With branches so spread, folks wondered why
A tree that big and strong
Would stay so very long
When it could reach to heaven on high

Gratitude

I am thankful for this day
For this perfect day
I am thankful for waking up this morning
For love, peace and understanding
I am thankful for friends and family
For food and shelter
I am thankful for a working vehicle and gas
I am thankful for words and art
For work and more work to do
I am thankful for my son
For the sun
For my health and strength
For good rest and quiet
I am thankful for entertainment and joy
For laughter and my mother
For this gray day and my eyesight
I am thankful for my limbs
For the plants and sage and incense
I am thankful

Check out my essay in Zócalo Public Square :: You Can Find My Poetry Tribe in Leimert Park

Zócalo Public Square :: You Can Find My Poetry Tribe in Leimert Park

Thursday, April 24, 2014

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 24 - Hush little human, don't say a word

My body talks
Does yours
Does your body talk
What does it say
Does it tell you when time to rest and
When to wake up
What to eat and drink
Does your body use words
Do you trust the words your body speaks
Does your body tell you to give him a dime
Or give her a ride
Do you listen
Do you care
Are you quiet
Long enough to hear your body whisper
Did you know your body will sing
In the darkest hours of night
In the deepest part of ocean
Do you know how never alone you are
When you allow yourself
To listen

A limerick a day for April 2014 - Staring at blue

I once went swimming alone in sea
Took off my clothes so I could be free
Though breast stroke is my knack
I floated on my back
I spent the whole day, just being me

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 23 - Untitled

I cannot fly away with you
Because I am too afraid
To fall asleep with
You at the wheel


A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 23 - Nature buzzness

There are two trees, a flower and bees
The trees stand up tall and wave their leaves
And the flower is shy
And the bees buzz and fly
No human alive know what they mean

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 22 - These. Heroes. Anyway.

Tell me about black babies
Tell me how lazy they are
Tell me about how easy it should be
To walk through war zones to get to school
You ever hide your books in a pizza box

Tell me about studying the Boston Tea Party
And neglecting the Black Panther Party
Tell me
Tell me about drive bys
Tell me how many guns you ever heard
Tell me about dead bodies you've seen
Tell me about going to school anyway

Tell me about spreading your clothes out for the next day
Tell me about how many red AND blue garments you wear
What do you know about being stepped to and patted down
By your own kind
By blue kind
By teacher kind

Tell me about not being believed

Tell me about looking over your shoulder to walk the dog
To run an errand
Tell me about not being able to run in white zones
Tell me about walking while black
Tell me
Tell me about being suspicious
Tell me about looking like the one
What one
That one
Why one
Tell me about looking like everyone who did it
What it
Tell me if there was really an it to be

Talk to me about helicopters
All hours of the night
Every minute of the day
Hovering above your school
Tell me
Tell me about the food you eat
How many McDonald's are on your corners
Two burgers for a dollar
Plastic fries for two
Soda for fifty cents on sale
Tell me why soda is always on sale

Tell me about black babies succeeding anyway
Tell me about math
Say we can't add
Convert ounces to pounds real quick in your head
Tell me about take aways
About time tables

About times and tables and hunger and depression
Tell me about how our babies soar anyway
Tell me about anyway

Talk to me about the ways we
Fly

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 22 - Treasure keeps

There once was a woman made of gold
Had long straight hair although she was old
She wore plenty of pearls
Owned them since she was girl
She would never consider them sold

Monday, April 21, 2014

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 21 - To the woman who announced what I should have said in MY poem

Dear, hider in a comment box / who asked you / who wanted to know / where were you when I was living my life / when I needed a babysitter were you there / when I couldn't look at myself in a mirror / did you tell me I was God's art  / were you on my contact list when I was afraid I would take my own life / would you have answered the phone if I called / where were you / what do you look like / what do you sound like / do you ride the bus / have you ever ridden a bus / do you take the 210 down Crenshaw / have you ever offered me a ride / have you ever offered anyone a ride / where were you during my depression / did you sit next to me and hold my hand when the doctor said I was bipolar one / did you look at her funny with me when I told her not to limit me / because I am all the polars / did you kick a pill habit / did you congratulate me when I did / have you ever been awake for three days straight / did you know you were losing your mind / did you get it back / how many times have you had to catch yourself from talking too fast and laughing too loudly at nothing funny / how many times have you had to explain why you were crying for nothing / do you know how good God is / do you know that I know / do your thighs jiggle / do you judge yourself / do you stand in public and tell your stories anyway / are there moments you decide to be as beautiful as you really are / because being beautiful is a decision / loving yourself is a decision / kindness is a decision / patience with yourself is a decision / poetry is a decision / getting out of bed is a decision / love is a decision / work and peace and honestly telling the truth is a decision / knowing that I am wonderful and declaring it so powerfully is a decision / I am wonderful / I am wonderful / I am fragile / I am weak / I am the strongest weak and fragile I know / I am human / I fly / I am fly / I have beat myself up long enough / I have already spent days in bed and couldn't crawl out / getting help is a decision / I own my beauty / I own my self / you are not a part of my story / not this part / this part is about me / embracing me / loving me / declaring myself at peace / in praise / I remember when days were different / I remember the flow of tears / I remember not knowing how it was gonna work out /  I was there when it did / I watched God work God's amazing God's self out in my life / I am finally fine / I am wonderful / this isn't about you

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 21 - This rest in

This eve I am sitting here in love
Thankful for grace, peace, and all above
And the rivers that flow
That flow deep and below
I am easy tonight / calm as a dove

Gratitude

Today I am thankful for love
For life and living
For ease and grace
I am thankful for feeling well
For accepting myself
I am thankful for my son
For my friends and family
I am thankful for those who love me
For those I love
I am thankful for food and shelter
For space to rest and regroup
I am thankful for words and art
I am thankful for life

Red Stories line up!

Youth slam team - May 18

Sage Gallon - June 15

Valerie Bridgeman - July 20

Michelle Majors - August 17

Donny Jackson interviews Jaha Zainabu - September 21

Kiyatana Sapp - October 19

Food 4 Thot and Socks - November 16 - 4 YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!!

All shows at Vibrations located at 2435 Manchester Blvd., Inglewood, CA. 7:30 pm. $10 love.

Red Stories last night!

Thank you so much GaKnew Roxwel for being your amazing self last night at Red Stories! Thank you for being so open and vulnerable. I so love you, dear brother. Special thanks also to Sabreen Adeeba for opening the show so perfectly. With a trillion lips flapping I will never be able to thank Food 4 Thot and Socks for blessing us to call Red Stories our home. I am thankful to the writers of the Still Writers Workshop for staying for the show and regularly supporting. I so appreciate you! Thank you to Frio de Pedazo and Vanessa Ayala for being the social media team! And thank you to the quiet faces in the audience that help me feel like it's all good no matter what. Thank you Reverdia da RiverWomanDonny JacksonKorlah Camille KafeleDietra Walker, Ann Buxie. Every single body in the seats are incredibly special whether I know all of your names or not. The show would not happen without you! You, the audience, play the biggest part. Nishati Vibrations, may you live on forever and ever!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 20 - Untitled

I pray a lot / for my mind and my self and my family and my son / and for all the boys / especially the black boys / especially the black girls / because I read and I know and I feel things and I can see through smoke / can you / can you see through smoke / can you read / are you blind / did the white bitch ask you why all these black women so bitter / did she ask you / what did you say / did you tell her about those boys hanging from trees / did you tell her about those girls in a ditch / did you ask her what she know about holding her breath while her baby just go walk the dog / did you ask / did she answer / did she tell you how color blind this world is now / did she try to out black bitch you because her man is black / did she / did she sing to you in that voice / did you tell her your conversation ain't a choir / did you / did she run down all the black friends she has / did you care her great granddaddy was native american / did you remind her that we ain't scared of the same things every day / did you / did you tell her all the rest you have to say

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 20 - For Uraeus

Today I am thankful for my son
Who is so peace and witty like none
Always speaks his own mind
He is bright eyed and kind
I'm proud but parenting's never done

The betrayal

He spoke in his sleep
Sound like clicks and songs
I would stare and listen

He was black and shiny as a marble
I fell for him like a shoe
I should have known then

I hated shiny motherfuckers
Who wore creased blue jeans and church sandals
But I was hungry
And didn't know the difference between a hot dog and steak

We called him Moo
He was tall as the bathroom
I could hear his head hit the ceiling
Every time he flushed
Had a scar on his cheek
He explained a different way every time I asked
So I stopped
Damn if I dared to ask about his missing pinky finger

I didn't realize how loud he chewed his food
Until one day it dawned on me he stopped eating
Same goddamn time my money kept comin' up missing
Asshole kept fussin' at me about missing condoms to take attention off him

Trouble knocked on my door
Trouble
Trouble
That's what he said his name was
Said if I know what's good
I would send that booty scratcher packin' else
I had it coming to me too

What I know about dilated pupils and skinny dudes
Pacing back and forth on my wood floors
Motherfucker told me he was sick
And why shouldn't I believe him
Crazy as he was

Till one day he smash the windows
Of the house next door looking for money for medicine
Then I knew what kind of fool I was
And what the fuck I had to do

I laughed like something was funny and told him
Baby, come back to bed
And plotted how I was gone send him to hell or back to Nigeria

Wouldn't you know he wouldn't go to sleep
After I wasted all that good time and pussy
Stared at me like I was the next pipe he'd smoke
Then Trouble came

Come knocking on the door like he promised
Then me, naked and scared between them
Hoping Trouble had a gun to shoot this man I used to love
Man I loved was gone a long time ago and I didn't even know
This wasn't nobody I knew before me
This was a pile of powder ready to acid my life

I stood there scared to go shit
And Moo scared to move makin' promises and tellin' lies
Like Trouble got time for tongue

Then just as fast Trouble pull a screwdriver out his pocket
Demand his goddamn money or both our lives

All a sudden Moo was lyin' there floppin' on my floor
Drowin' in his own blood
And wasn't nothin' left between me and Trouble
And fuck Moo for dying on my floor
Fuck Moo for disappearing a long time ago
While his body sleep in my bed and watch my cable

Moo down there slippery and blue
And wasn't nothin' to be mad at no more
Nothin' to be mad at in the first place
He ain't never protected me from no kinda trouble noway

Whatever you gon do
You may as well gon and do
You think I'm scared to die
That's what I told him, knowin' it was a lie

Let's see
He say
Let's see

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 19 - Country club

There once were four sisters in a square
Sat writing stories out in the air
Then a drunk woman heard
And we found it absurd
Way she stared wearing birds in her hair

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 19 - Tangle

Everything was wonderful
Everything was perfect
There was only one problem
He was human

What would I do with human
Any creature with only two syllables
Would not be worth my swallow

I warned him
But he would not leave

Humans

So I reconsidered
Tasted him anyway
How delicious he was on my lick
How his eyes bulged beneath my teeth
How his lungs begged for more of my raspy

What pleasure it brought to me
I was human once
For what it's worth
I was rather bored
Spent most of my days angry and bitter at the sun
And the sound the moon made each morning
As she pretended to be asleep
I couldn't wait for my sentence to end
Though I knew I would return someday
And get the play I wanted

I wanted fuck and taste and sand down my throat

This time I am invisible when I want to be
O how I wished for invisible then
O how I wished for sky as complexion

Now I suck and eat and dream by night
And devour him bit by bit until he screams
I offered him escape
Over and over he refused

It is just like a human to look a woman
Large and dangerous as I
In the face and tail and teeth
And declare himself equal
A woman as fierce and invisible and present as I

I should fly away
I know
But he demands this tangle
Until the bitter end
So I swallow him
Slowly at first
Just as he has asked
But I am kind
And cannot see him squirm

Then I gulp him
What is left





(Note: The first stanza of this poem came from a writing prompt from Tchise Aje)



How happy and thankful I am

Friday, April 18, 2014

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 18 - Mother wit

Today Dee sent her son on an errand
To drive just seven blocks away
He grabbed the keys and friend sat in passenger's seat
Then his brother wanted to go
Then my son wanted to go
Then Dee and I counted four black boys
To travel seven south central blocks
One with a hood
One with locks
The other an Afro
And the last just because he made four
And then Dee and I screamed No
No
And then the errand wasn't as important as before

Nspire and village work!

Today my friend, Dietra, who also goes by the name Nspire (perfect for her) was such an example of community and village. Not just today, she always is. Her simple acts of her just being herself often bring me to tears. Today we were in the store and a woman in a motor chair who could not speak beyond the grunt she struggled through was with her six years old son. Her son was pushing the basket in front of her. At some point the son sped up ahead of his mother with the basket and went far beyond her view. I went to bring the son back and the Nspire, who is well trained in dealing with children, lovingly spoke to him about staying with his mom and obeying her. I watched them pinky swear and high five an agreement. I watched him look into her caring eyes in a way that he may have never stared into eyes before. Then she spoke to the mother and interacted with her with such easy and great respect. As the mother could not move her limbs, Nspire put her card in her shirt and another card in the son's pocket and told her to have him call if she wanted her help.

This is village. This is community. This is our work. This, right here. This is being...there for each other. With all of everything within me I am thankful for Nspire and our friendship. I am thankful for women like her. Women who give hope and salt to this world.

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 18 - Hands

There once was a brother named Slade
He had everyone come to his aide
For small and easy tasks
There was someone he'd ask
Till Slade one day was all out of maids

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Red Stories line up!

Gaknew Roxwell - April 20

Youth Slam team - May 18

Sage Gallon - June 15

Valerie Bridgeman - July 20

Michelle Majors - August 17

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 17 - Mr. Wendell

I wonder about the first time
I cannot imagine that the fifth or the tenth
Are any easier
But that first time
I often wonder
The courage and desperation
To find a box and tear in half
To find a marker and wonder what to say
To find a corner and stand for the day

To hear the ridicule and withstand the dirty looks
Or no looks at all
To begin to smell with no place to shower
To be the most in the way invisible

The hunger and courage it takes
To decide to stay alive

To find a bucket
To collect quarters and dimes

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 17 - Hues

There once was a rainbow in the sky
So big you could see it city wide
I sat down on my porch
Lit a candle to torch
Celebrate ways God loves you and I

Gratitude

I am thankful for waking up this morning
I am thankful for this gray sky
For my son
For my mother
For my friends and family
I am thankful for words and poetry and art
For all I have to do today and for the moments I will rest
I am thankful for peace and give and take
Thankful for joy and acceptance
I am thankful for time and space
For people who love me
For abundance and vision
I am thankful for life

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 16 - In praise

Look at all this plenty
These baskets so full
Feel how high this ocean
Way above my neck
All this salt
Lifting me higher
Look at me wrapped
In all this silk and safe
Do you know what it is
When all the saints call your name
When they sing you to leap
And you know that you are safe



A limerick a day for April 2013 - day 16 - Spare change?

There was a toothless old man named Ray
Who stood on a street corner called Bay
He held up a large sign
Only asked for a dime
Folks in the cars would not look his way
I am thankful for feel good moments like today and spending time with my mother and son at the movies with my son sitting between us as we watched Draft Day. This is time I cherish.

Gratitude

I am thankful for this day
For love and peace and my son
For the sun and trees
The softest breeze and sweetest secrets
I am thankful for my mother
For my friends and family
For poetry and art wisdom
For gracefully getting older
For answers and good rest
I am thankful for laughter and fun

Back on Tumblr

I finally got back on Tumblr after forever. If you're a Tumblr er then check me out at jahasmusings.tumblr.com.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 15 - Untitled

you can tell a woman who knows how to love herself by the way she holds her fingers
they are like lilies
they are like sage
her fingers are hours they are moments they are minutes
you wait for those fingers to beckon you

her fingers are whispers they are songs
her fingers are lick
they lick you so candy
do you know what it is to be touched so wet
do you

you can tell a woman who knows how to love herself by the way she protects her hands
she knows
she speaks to Goddess through those branches
she wakes up early to stick her fingers in the sun for the ocean to ocean
that is how we all came to be
did you know
did you

have you ever tasted a woman's fingers
if you are brave enough to ask
wait and see what she will answer
but you must ask
did you know

did you know that you cannot just hold a woman's hands
you cannot smell her fingers on your own
did you know
did you

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 15 - So fresh

There once was a tall girl with corn rows
Sometimes she wore barrettes and Afro
On Wednesdays she wore plats
Her hair soft as her cats
Used coconut grease for it to grow

Monday, April 14, 2014

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 14 - Sister moon

Will you forgive me my sins
Will you pray me through night
Will you hold my head in your palm
Will you fingers through my hair if I am afraid

Rock me
Will you breeze the water in my temple
Will you

Will you pillow the rockets that may strike
Will you rain
Will you reign
Will you follow me

Will you sing
Will you whisper
Is that you
Is that you right next to me

Will you be friend
Will you
Will you dance
Will you dance with me so sweet

Will you swallow me
Will you glow
Brightly in my face
Will you look me in the eye

My neck
Will you warm my neck
Will you rub my back
Will you

Will you

Will you see me in the morning

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 14 - None ya

There was an old lady in the tree
Nine babies on leaves, one on her knee
When the doctor complained
And called out her name
She dropped a big hive of honey bees

Gratitude

I am thankful for this day
For my son
For my mother
My family and friends
For love and peace
Understanding and health
For my sanity and words
I am thankful for waking up on this sunny day
I am thankful for my limbs
For patience and truth and freedom
I am thankful

Sunday, April 13, 2014

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 13 - How you gonna revolt without love

If the revolution comes
Rioting down your block
Looting along its way
Slashing throats and slitting tires
Blacks fighting whites
Rich against the poor
Blood all in the street
How then, my dear
Is one lonely gun
Going to save you and me
I just sent in my rewrite for my article to my editor. I think it rocks, but we'll know soon enough.
So I'm writing for an online magazine and my first article got accepted. And I think that's pretty cool. Actually, I think it's more than cool. It's a dream for me come true. I have wanted to do this kind of work for a long time. My articles will be an extended version of my blog posts. Mostly about life and events in Los Angeles. I'll post the link when it goes up.
Today I'm reciting poetry at a birthday party for an eighty year old woman and I think that's pretty cool.

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 13 - Law and Order marathons on Sunday mornings are not church

A seven year old kid was arrested
His father before him was molested
No one was around
So much violence abound
This poor child was just not protected

Grartitude

I am thankful for waking up this morning
Thankful for friends and family
For my son
I am thankful for peace and understanding
For grace and forgiveness and love
I am thankful for easy moments like this
For good dreams and my limbs
For sanity and shelter
I am thankful for food and laughter
For Law and Order marathons before my show today
I am thankful for my vehicle and gas
For clothes and an almost finished essay due today
I am thankful for poetry and art
Thankful for all

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Night

Good night youth slammers from Say Word, good night medication I'm all out of, good night poems I posted today, good night hair growing so fast on my head in this mopish kind of way, good night nephew doing dishes, good night niece teasing nephew doing dishes, good night son pretending to be asleep, good night gas tank almost on e, good night people posting judgmental preachy statements about depression, good night.

Lol

Today in line at the store my mom, Patricia Davis Turner and I watched a young couple interact. They appeared to be maybe twenty years old. The young man kept "play" fighting with her and she "play" hit him back. And then they laughed. Then "just for fun and play" he took her phone and she giggled and "play" wanted it back while he "play" did not give it to her but scrolled through her phone and she giggled and "play" laughed it off as he continued scrolling until I guess he was satisfied. Then my mother turned to me and said, "Now he would never let her "play" with his phone like that. That's how it starts. As play.

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 12 - Sophia. Sophia. Sophia.

The Sunday before Sophia killed herself she told me I was beautiful
I was only a sophomore in high school
How was I supposed to handle being told I was beautiful
By a senior
By one of the prettiest girls I had ever known

I grew up with Sophia
We called her Sophie
Sophie
Sophie
Isn't that a sophisticated name

We sang in the choir together
She was a soprano
I was wherever I could hide out the best

How does a girl kill herself
And we never talk about it
How does a choir never sing about a girl's death
Jesus died
We sang about him

Were we supposed to forget
Was someone else supposed to lead Sophie's song
And no one say a word
Where does a high school prettiest girl get a gun
To shoot herself with in the head

It was May
We will never forget

What happened
What was wrong
Was something wrong

We sat in the back of the church
Near the soda machine
In the adult's Sunday school class
At the folding table
She told me I was beautiful

And then I never heard her voice again
What was I supposed to do with that

Gratitude

I am thankful for this day
For love and understanding and peace
For my son and friends and family
I am thankful for grace and forgiveness
For fun and laughter
I am thankful for truth and joy
For freedom and words and art
I am thankful for the chatter of my niece and nephew right now
Thankful for food and clean water
For togetherness and shelter
I am thankful for poetry
For community and patience

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 12 - Our own world

It so matters what you think of me
We walk hand in hand and kiss at sea
You stare way up in sky
And then I wonder why
I ever left home, your lap and knee

Yes!

I'm so happy I met with Joel last night and I got to see the layout of my new chapbook, DEAR URAEUS, LETTERS TO MY SON. I love it and I love the wonderful people in my life like him. What a gift it is to me that I can finally get this book out into the universe.

Good night

Good night glass of water on the floor, good night too sweet brownie I shouldn't have had, good night pills I need to take, good night essay I need to finish, good night fan, good night all the folks I love so dear, good night statuses I'm just too sleepy to like, good night ideas, good night phone, good night blog, good night yahoo, good night wind, good night the guy who didn't ask for my number, good night.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Dear God

Thank You for this day
Thank You for love and joy
Thank You for understanding, forgiveness and peace
For freedom and safety
Thank You for my son, family and friends
Thank You for words and poetry
For art and the sky
Thank you for beauty all around
For clean water to drink
Thank You for all you protect us from that we don't even know about
Thank You for food and shelter
For clothes and cars
For buses and trains
For all the technology and communication
Thank You for the attitude to be thankful
Thank You, Mother, Father for my life
My whole life

The loss of Karyn Washington

Sad to hear that Karyn Washington, twenty-two years old, committed suicide on April 8. She was the founder of the website For Brown Girls and was suffering with depression from the loss of her mother. The blog was created to empower black women around self esteem issues and to create conversations that stemmed from conversations she and had with her cousin. This is a major blow not just to the African-American community but to all of us. It should raise awareness to the truth that we need help and shouldn't be afraid to get it when we do. Also, to know the signs of depression and not ignore them.

I send light to the family and friends of our dear young sister.

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 11 - Like this

Let us just water
On this raspberry evening
Take photos of sky
And the way that she burns
Have you ever seen a fire
Burn easy as this

Ever hear wind
Butterfly this way
Grass 'tween our toes
This jasmine all around
Life can be easy sometimes
See what God can give

The birds will remind us
To fly over troubles past
Even the ducks will shake ills
From the wet of their backs
We can be duck you know
We can remember
In the space of letting go

I will hold you, my dear
And you can hold me too
Smell this new way
Of living we can do

Put your arm round me like orchid
I will snake twist my legs
See this tangle of ours
We hold tight until we loose

Feel my blood flow in sync
My feet on your toes
Your lashes top of mine
There is good in the world
Life can be easy
Some of the time


A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 11 - Baby groove

When you were a small baby just two
I bought you a new pair of red shoes
I laced them up tightly
I shined them up brightly
And you'd tap dance till late in your room

Dear God

Thank You
For all the ways You love
All the ways You protect and care and give
For life and freedom and safety
For my son
For my friends and family
For grace and peace
For ease
For the lessons and blessings
Thank You
For guidance
For covering us
For shelter
For ways You protect that I don't even know
For mercy
Thank You
For food
For water
For an attitude to be thankful
Thank You
For all You give that we don't deserve
Thank You

Thursday, April 10, 2014

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 10 - Because well...I can

I was the seventh prettiest girl in my third grade class and was the first fastest runner / I stayed keeping score / what you gon tell me about where I belong / how real you gon keep it with me / what you know about me I ain't already told myself / you think I ain't already dug up my own shit / you think I got skeletons hidden somewhere for you to find / you think I got gold somewhere for you to spend / honey, hush / I'm too old to hide from anybody / cain't nobody whip me no more but water / don't you know I had a gun in my face already / don't you know I been fingerfucked already by a dude who dared me to love it / don't you / don't you know / don't you know my life is what I got left / don't you know how purple I splash these days / you seen me / you seen how I roll my eyes at these jealous bitches all up my business / I know you have / you seen me / you seen me sittin' on my front porch gettin' ready to be old / you seen me with my skirt up peelin' lemons talkin' shit with my coochie showin' / cussin' the police as they roll by / you seen me / I know you have / you seen me / livin' my life like it's my own

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 10 - Too young to blue

I once had a young student named Will
Wore a blue rag, sat quiet and still 
One day before a test
Sal announced his arrest
Now I am so sick and sad and ill
some people you love forever. you dont know why and you dont keep in touch as often as you should or as often as you want for whatever reason. you dont. but you love them and thats that and life is a funny thing and sometimes things dont work out like you thought or like you want but you love them anyway and you are blessed and so lucky that they still love you too and friends have lasted longer than lovers any old way. so there.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

NaPoWriMo day 9 - La La Laaaaa

Take all of this
These love psalms and other things I give
Take them 
Have them for free
What good are they to me

Take my hats
They are around here somewhere
Take my shoes and words
Take my life and leave me bare

I am a musician on a corner
Singing songs off key
I cannot hold a note
But I have the grandest memory

Look at my fingers 
Strum this fine guitar
I had a bag of pennies 
And box of quarters
Do you know where they are

Just leave me air to breathe
Water for me to drink
Have you seen my lover 
Waiting patiently in the park I think

He is tall and quiet 
With hands that play the drum
He will recite the sweetest lullaby 
If you ask him nicely to

Sometimes when we are home
On our barely furnished floor
He will pound a beat on the wall with his fists
And I will dance naked until the morning
And we never speak a word

What good are phrases and candles
To lights as bright as we
So take them 
Take it all
The milk only spoils
The flowers just wilt

Just leave me his arms
And some moments to myself
To sing off key on the corner
About good moan and partner and wealth


A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 9 - Late night movie X

There once a sad movie I saw
Had a cat and a dog with no paw
I could not turn my head
I could not dream in bed
So I stayed up and chewed on my jaw

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 8 - Air

Lead me down the darkest road to temptation
I am not afraid of you
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelu oo ya
Can you hold me if I lean in to you
Will you fall from the weight of my words
If I speak them cross your calves

My tongue
Is it too sticky from all the songs that I say
When I am asleep
Do you read the sermons come cursive splashed my brows

Will you catch me if I pull away from you
Will you cross lines with me
Lines no business being crossed
I get tired
This ceiling so close to my head
Do you weary the box you wear
Shoes too small for your feet

Can you fly
Do you want to fly
Do you want to fly away from here

Are those wings
Can you tie me in your hair

I will follow
Will you
Are you proud
Will you walk behind
Will you side by side
Will you lead

Should I trust you where you go


A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 8 - A feeling

He waited alone to talk to me
I opened the door to see the bees
They stung him on his nose
And he ran for the hose
He knew then I was not one to keep

Monday, April 7, 2014

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 7 - Once. Upon. A. Time.

I am a bridge
Coffee and splintered
I dare you cross over to me
Early morning
Under ginger sky
Over peppermint grass

I will wash your feet
Bruised and worn from the travel
I can be volcano to climb I confess

Have you ever walked through fire
Did Goddess hold your hand

If you meet me over here
We can pepper the world with words

With stories about sunflowers and Satan
About ghosts and lilies and dreams
Horses, meadows and unicorns
If you believe

Do you believe

I will extend my arms to you
Until they fall off and break

I will wait until I know

I will rest inside dreams of awkward kisses
And thunder thrusts

Where else am I going to go

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 7 - Message

There once were the women who wore hats
Sat in the front, were quiet as bats
Then the speaker stood up
And he barked like a pup
And then the women scratched him like cats


Sunday, April 6, 2014

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 6 - If only. Dream. Tonight.

Listen how Ghana I chant you
Early before sun
Can you see goats and gods and chicken
Strut cross our paths
Feel dirt and gravel welcome at our feet
Do you dream of me

Do you hear my tongue
How it clicks and waves mountain
Look at the water lift at my command
Smell the rain like sage clean our sins so fine

Are we sinners
Angels free as we

See this skirt red and long I bought at the marketplace
From the blueblack woman
With tomorrow in her eyes
Want me to tell you what she knows

Are we far enough away from Los Angeles Airport yet
From all those horns and bodies busy
Destroying this whole world
Can we teleport to mother for the night
My nipples slippery in your teeth
In a hut we built together
Your neck safe inside my palms
Fingers lost inside my hair
Till we can't come home again

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 6 - Uraeus

My son is the wisest teen I know
He wears locks to his shoulders has grown
He loves reading thick books
And beautiful his looks
He's tall. My head is inches below

Saturday, April 5, 2014

NaPoWriMo 2014 - day 5 - This. Too. Passing.

Let evening come
Let even ing come at last
Let waters level


I don't expect you to understand
How could you
Are you a surfer
A rider of waves


This is me
Strapped to cloud
Riding fog


Out
I have been thankfully well mentally lately. But that's the problem. Feeling well. Feeling over it. Cutting my meds in half because I think I know better. I'm feeling it though. I'm feeling it. I will not drown though. I will not.

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 5 - Care

I once was in a hospital bed
I entered and then laid down my head
The male nurse was so kind
He did not even mind
Wiping my bottom when it turned red

Friday, April 4, 2014

NaPoWroMo - day 4 - All God's children

I sat in the parking lot checking my messages
While my son was in the store buying snacks
He always tends to take too long

My son, precious and skin like sea
Locks to his shoulders
Cover his face

I have too many messages about missing and murder
On my timeline
I say a prayer and delete them one by one

I open bills and begin to worry
Then I let that go too

Before I know my son has returned to seat
He always tends to slam the door too hard
Before I could speak
I noticed the Arizona tea in his hand
And it made me weep

For joy
For fear

He will live
But all of the boys
All of the girls
They are all my babies
Every one

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 4 - Baby. Sitting.

I'm sitting with a baby named Blue
She is tired and sleepy that's true
I fed her one bottle
She drank it full throttle
Then went to sleep and woke up like new

Thursday, April 3, 2014

NaPoWriMo - day 3 - A run on. For Sabrina Fulton and other mothers when a t-shirt is not enough

Sabrina Fulton cannot carry her grief to the white woman at the phone company and explain that a man killed her son and got away with it because who cares about black boys anyway and even though the story is no longer on the news his picture is still on the coffee table next to the Bible and Vogue mags and bills and is it possible to get an extension on the mortgage and car payments because sleeping only on the couch for a month straight and going nowhere fast shouldn't cost as much anyway right but who understands this except someone who has tasted thorns for breakfast because the doctor said eat something and take something and try to get some sleep but who can sleep and think straight when every time eyes close floating Arizona tea cans grow monster ears and who can go outside and see teenagers wearing shirts that say they remember and they will never forget who can form sentences and why are mothers supposed to be this strong and pray this hard about black boys that are supposed to come home every night and not be shot down and killed our black boys and our black girls and where are our girls faces on shirts and why are shirts so necessary and dead babies are not fashion and our children are supposed to live and not die and this was not God's plan not all this what God would plan this what God would need an angel so badly it would have to take ours and these and how could anyone need a writing prompt when there are babies lives to save and streets to walk down and teachers to meet with and drug dealers to cuss out and hair to braid and women's bodies found dead in Atlanta and are white boys and girls needed in heaven too

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 3 - Big. Mama. Jane.

Her gray hair was so puffy and big
Her blue nails were so long they did dig
She had pretty brown eyes
She ignored all their cries
And stayed home and just puffed on her cig


I'm so over how righteous and conscious and healthy and smart and busy and famous and politically correct and well read and well written and and and you are.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014 - day 2 - Lost. Found. Find.

I cannot hold the weight of you in my mouth
I cannot sing you
I cannot wrap you 'round my rib cage
And squeeze harmony through my teeth
I cannot

We are merlot and Percocet on the same tongue
Soothing and healing apart
Together we are the deadliest of sleepy combination

Do you know the sound a fire makes
When it knows it has burned too long

Do you know the musty of stale water in a sink

Do you know that letting go can be company as holding close

You cannot save my life and live yours too
You cannot fix me

I am not a broken
I am a blues
I am thunderous fingertips on washboard

I am a different song
On the same station
We will always share sky
Breaking loose together

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 2 - Fears of a clown

There once was a framed face on the wall
With sad lips, a big nose like a ball
A black tear slowly fell
And my eyes they did swell
A voice spoke and I answered the call

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014 - day 1 - Well?

Are you moon enough
Are you lick
Are you taste
Are you thigh
Are you give
Are you glide

Are you tongue
Are you share
Are you take
Gently enough

Are you fingers
Are you grip, grab, take
Enough

Are you memory
Will you remember
Will you call, care, veins
Will you lungs

Are you forgive
Are you thrust
Are you voice
Are you song
Are you wave

I know you are whisper
But are you time
Are you pull

Do you count
Letters and stars
Earthquakes and strokes

Do you climb
Do you like mountains
Are you afraid

Of heights?

A limerick a day for April 2014 - day 1 - Living

There once was a girl in the city
Who worked till her fingers were gritty
She dashed home to her bed
And she laid down her head
And vowed never to show her titties