Saturday, August 30, 2014

I am thankful for my mother Patricia Davis Turner, whom I can laugh and talk politics and disagree and agree and be horrified with over this country of craziness and watch comedy with and find beauty in the world and appreciate this life of ours together. 

No beef

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dear Antonio Smith

I am so sorry. I didn't do it. I didn't shoot you four times but I am sorry that someone did. There may not be a big rally with your name chanted. Maybe there will not be a social media campaign with your name behind a hashtag, but you mattered. There will not be a movie about your life. You mattered though. Your life mattered and your death was tragic. Antonio, people keep saying that we only care and cry and scream about black people dying when it is at the hands of a white cop. Sweetheart, that is not true. I promise. We are numb and shaken and torn and pulled and we die at every body. And to be so young. Nine years old. I will call your name. I will pray for your family. I will pray for your community. Your Chicago and my Los Angeles I will pray. I am sorry. You mattered. Your life, your family, your friends, everything about you matters. If there is a way for you to know this, please know it well. And what good is my sorry? What good are my prayers? What good are my words? My rage? My tears? I don't know. I really don't. Maybe though, someone will understand that we are not actors, that this is not a play, that our wailing is real and too often. But what good is our wailing? Because you are still gone. Too soon. Too horrific. Until my last breath I will fight for black boys and girls like you. For black men and women like me. Human beings with stories and laughter and meaning and history. Human beings who deserve tomorrows.


These are the poems I performed at the 25 year anniversary of The World Stage. They are both old poems I reworked and blended with other poems. I did not give new titles to either one.

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

I know the fire next time is now
I know that all the babies are mine
That we are all homeless
If one is sleeping on the street

I know that I come from a people
Who will out walk a lie on broken toes
Who will fight back beyond the very end

And I know how to pray
I know that I am always praying
No matter the words you think you hear
I am always in conversation with Spirit

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 know there are moments
We have to decide to be as beautiful
As we really are

Because being beautiful is a decision
Kindness is a decision
Poetry is a decision
Getting out of bed is a decision
Love is a decision

I know that we are resilient
And fragile
And broken
And weak
And fabulous

I know that we are the strongest
Fragile, broken, weak, fabulous
History has known

I know that we are a denim people
Who clean up well in the wash
Who are focused and afraid

I know that we have swallowed
Our voices and fear and rage and joy
Long enough

I know that we do not fit in or out
That we are heavily hued and magical
Textured and raw
That we are roar and whisper and breathy
And intuition and fire

That we are body people
Drumming and bass people
Wood and sand
Flame and chocolate of all these hues

And I know the bravery it takes to hang on to hope

I know I will take my last breath one day
This is not an if
Before I do I'm gonna 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
Except they know I know
How to get a prayer through
And a story straight

I know the further we separate ourselves from each other
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 walking around on your feet
With your hands and thighs

Those are my knees and teeth
These are your lips and lungs
I know that we are all one

What does it matter
All this good I have
If heavy on your mind so muddy
You can't inhale longer than you blink
What good are fancy dresses and red bottom shoes
If they 'bout to cut off her father's feet

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's been to me

I know how to wave hand
I know how to give thanks
I know how to 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 cross his forehead
I know that

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

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

I know that we are wonderful
I know that we forget how wonderful we are
I know how to remember
The next time I do
I know to open my eyes
And look right into you

Poem 2:

I will be for love today
For honoring freedom
Honoring lives

For gospel and jazz
For rhythm and soul
For moans from the bottom of my belly
Hand claps and hallelujah

Living just one life
Through many incarnations
And the sanctified souls who hold my head
Will not ever allow me to forget
The lessons of my past

Drum, drum
Thump, thump
Ooh baby, baby ooh

But when I don't remember
And am pulled into the drama
Of my bygone

The great grandmother of my angel
A crackled black blue spirit
Gently sticks me with her crown
And I scream ouch
Don't poke me like that

I will lay my blues to rest today
Swear never pick them up again
Except to remind tomorrow
The hours that I fell
How I got this scar
And why some
Say all the right words
Graduate from all the right schools
But only get so far

Drum, drum
Thump, thump
Ooh baby, ooh baby

From today
Not the contents of my wallet
Or weight
Not my relationship status or work
My circumstances shall not decide my worth
I am flawless

Gaining understanding new on my journey
At every turn

I began in the mind of God
Who is beginningless
So I too am without a start

The angels up in heaven
The stars in the sky know it's true
So if you don't too
Then you are in the few
Because I am all right
With me

With freckles
Thick thighs
Nappy hair and big feet
And the grown woman way
My breasts hang and bottom pokes a little

I am more than woman
More than stories and poems
Than black and painter
I am more than water and daughter

I am drum hands
Pat, pat, pat
I am music toes
Tap, tap, tap
I am smile on my face
And focus on my brow
I am head side to side
I am mamas and babas speak through me
Do you know how Higgins I am

I am not just chest and blood
And bones and flesh

I am that I am
As all of you are me too
And I am you

So what is it to be
Christian or Catholic
Jewish or Muslim
Science of Mind or Bahai

It doesn't even matter
That some do not recognize the
Awesome outstanding of The Most High

My religion is truth
So don't ask me what I am
It should only be important to you
That I exist at all

So I ask
If all the things around you
Should quickly fade away
Who would you believe in
What would you stand for
I had a conversation with a substitute teacher today who told me that there was a recent plot of a group of high school Pasadena students to kill as many students as they could. Thankfully the plan was foiled because a student told. I really didn't need to hear that. Well, not so much that I didn't need to hear it as I really hate that that's the world in which we live. As a parent, educator and human being it tears my heart even more.

Kamasi Washington and The Next Step at the 25 year anniversary of The World Stage at The Ford Amphitheater

So I haven't, in too long, posted any poems on this blog. Like maybe two weeks or something. But I'm fixing that soon. Like maybe some time tonight. Maybe.

Vanessa Ayala at The World Stage

Friday, August 15, 2014

Everything feels like a lot today. Showering feels like a lot. Brushing my teeth feels like a lot. Eating feels like a lot. Checking my email is for sure a lot. Making my bed is a lot. Conversing with my son is not a lot. It brings me joy. Thankfully we had the opportunity all day today. My body feels heavy. How am I going to recite poetry at this birthday party tomorrow when I can't even talk myself into a change of clothes today? I don't know how but somehow. Somehow. Thinking about what I'm going to wear tomorrow is a lot. Listening to the noise outside is a lot. Not being able to explain a lot is a lot.

A diamante poem a day for August 2014 - day 15 - Fix

                                             this hurt
                                        so I can breathe
                                   please assist my breathing
                                        feel stuck now
                                             I can't 
WWFP (What Would Frida Paint)


I am thankful today for love
For my son and being with him right now
Watching him cook eggs and eat breakfast
I am thankful for the sound of his laughter
For his health and strength
For my health and strength
I am thankful for my family and friends
For peace and a good rest last night
I am thankful for words and art and poetry
For stories and shelter and clean water
I am thankful for a healthy exchange of ideas
I am thankful for a mindset to be thankful

Fires - draft 2

Throughout our lives things will come up that we have to handle. Then the air cools and we rest. Handling and resting seem to be the ebb and flow of our lives. Those handling times I call fires.

Fires come in varying degrees. Fires are those energies, people, situations, circumstances that we have to handle before they get out of control. I believe they are all lessons. Sometimes the best way to handle a fire is to recognize that we can't control them, rather our jobs are to choose how we react to them.

Fires burn. They move us to move. They keep us from moving. Fires are relative. Fires are a part of life. What is yours? Police brutality and the propaganda being spread that black life has no value gets me heated. Every time. The idea that we are useless enrages me. We who are the direct descendants of those who built this country and we who are still building it, are treated so inhumanely.

Writing and expressing myself is my outlet. Expressing my opinions on social media, in my journals and on my blogs. I also talk to friends and family and share ideas, questions and concerns with my community. Also, I converse with my son and other young people and hear their ideas and frustrations.

Sometimes fires don't burn as hot as other times. It is annoying when a store clerk is following me too closely, but the clerk's actions don't raise my blood pressure too much. A grown man following a teenager at night against orders from the police and then shooting and killing him, see the Trayvon Martin case, well that's a different story.

Conversation keeps everything alive. Communication is important. Fires are dissipated when conversations disappear. Look at what happened when the widespread conversation settled about the over two hundred girls who were kidnapped in Nigeria. Who is looking for them beside their immediate loved ones? How long has it been since that topic has trended? Fires keep things alive. Heated conversations. Love conversations. Communication gives life to everything.

I am a part of the fire. We all play our roles. They are different depending on the day and situation. Sometimes I am the woman who starts the heat. Fire is necessary. As an artist I find it necessary to call out the names of my brothers and sisters who have been murdered, abused and gone missing. I do this through my stories, poetry, paintings and photography. I repeatedly call their names. I know that this is a trigger for some because many don't want to deal with the pain in our community, understandably. There is a lot of it. I don't want to deal with it either, but it is necessary. We should be triggered.

Other times I am a balm. I am the bucket of water needed to cool a situation. I can say a prayer, walk away, hold a hand, feed hungry, give clothes and shelter. When fires are not raging in my life I can help someone else as many do for me. Often we are helping others when our fires are burning.

What I consider fires differ today than yesterday in that in my younger years they had more to do with me. My bills, my life, my job, my money or lack thereof. Today what I consider fires are more about my community, which is the world. Police brutality, children abused, domestic violence, racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia. My life work is about making life better for all of us.

I find myself to be a more effective fire diminisher in my current years than my junior because work for my community is more valuable than simply concern for myself and my circle. I would not exist without the world of people.

Working with others has helped me be a better person for myself. My needs are considerably smaller than the needs of the world. More are fed when I am concerned not only with how my family will eat, but how the hungry in the community can also be fed.

Removing focus from myself solely helps me see the connectedness of all humanity. I am thankful for the continued lesson of I am because we are.

Fires, though they burn, ignite a rush and pull to cause community to unite. Problems will always exist. Through the recent suicide of Robin Williams on August 11, a man who suffered from depression, there is active major conversation about depression and other mental illnesses. Also, in the space of being incredibly angered about the police murdering Michael Brown on August 9, there is great race discussions in the United States.

Fires also keep us from moving. They kill communities, ideas and dreams. A fire that burns uncontrollably will suck the oxygen . This is what a fire is by definition. If everyone is concentrated on putting out the same fire, something else is burning and being neglected. Fires keep us from breathing. Play is necessary. The energy it takes to put out a fire held constantly inside of us will kill us. It, unfortunately can be easy to fall into the trap of fire and neglect ourselves. Since the 9 th I have been so consumed with the case of Michael Brown and the riots in Ferguson, Missouri where he was killed and the murders shortly following his, including the murder by police of Ezell Ford, a twenty-five years old mentally ill African-American man. But for my self care, I have to take walks and take care of and enjoy my son and nurture my hobbies and crafts. Being still is important. Breathing is important. Having fresh air and head space to relax is important. We do not exist without the community but it does not exist without our healthy selves either.

Community builds
We keep hope and life alive
Good and bad we burn

Day 3
Tara Bliss Manor nominated me to post 3 positive things a day for 7 days and nominate 1 person at the end of each day. I'll take that on and thank you Tara for nominating me.
1. I am POSITIVE that in the space of the negativity in the world I am richly blessed and am able to be a blessing to others.
2. I am POSITIVE that my son is a huge part of my blessings and I am ever thankful he chose me to be his mother.
3. I am POSITIVE that I have that art saves lives.
Today I nominate Vanessa Ayala to post 3 positive things a day for 7 days and nominate 1 person at the end of each day and if she does not choose to, I totally understand. Blessings y'all.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My son is so beautiful. He just is. Thank You, God that I can watch him rest tonight.

The Jungle Story - an excerpt from Women in the Village go 'round and 'round - another rewrite

Chapter 1

There ain't no way to make it sound pretty 'cause it ain't pretty. It ain't pretty. It ain't ugly. It ain't nothin' but a story to be told. That's what everything is. All everything is is something that happened. We always gotta make it something. Gotta make it good or bad, right or wrong. And for what? To fit feel good into our boxes to fit underneath our pillows so we can sleep through the night? That's what happened to me. Was so caught up in savin' face, protectin' his image, protectin' mine, lookin' good. Who I gotta look good for?

I had been caught up in my own bout of depression for some time back then. I don't know why. Don't nobody really know why. They just be like that that's all. That's all it was for me anyway. I was settled right there in all my sad. Got some kind of attention 'cause of it too. Not too sad folks didn't want to be around me, not too down folks look the other way when I come. Just enough sad that was just enough company to anybody's misery. You know?

I met him in The Village. He was playing piano at The Joint. I guess it was about eight, nine o'clock because it was dark out. The lights was off so it was just dark enough for me to look good being sad in. I went inside and sat down in the back and listened to him play. He sang some too. I sure am a sucker for a sucker who can sing. And a sucker with a story who can play the piano and sing at the same time can sho nuff get next to me. Well that's kinda what happened. Course I could tell the short version right here real easy. He sang. We got together. Shacked up. Broke up. But then that's the short version. Everybody say they like to make a long story short, but they don't. It's too much you gotta leave out. Too much.

He finished singing and someone came in and turned on the lights. It's always somebody don't see the good in something the way it already is. Always somebody don't see that somebody might be havin' a good time and gotta mess it up. Maybe I'm goin' too fast for you, but you gotta keep up with the tellin'. Well, somebody turned the lights on and I saw him. Just sittin' right there on that piano bench like he ain't just made heaven sing. I forgot I was feelin' some kinda sad right then. I was high off the moment. I've heard folks say that but don't know that I've ever experienced it. Don't matter no more anyway. I'm an old woman now and he's long gone.

I was a young girl. No I wasn't. Wasn't no young girl at all. I was thirty-one. That ain't so young. It's old enough to look at a situation and make a choice. He was old enough to be my daddy's big cousin and here he was comin' on to me like I was a woman his age. Rememberin' ain't pretty. Remembering get you mad sometimes. Get you feeling like you livin' it all over again. See how the mind work? I found out somethin' though. Only reason to get mad at somethin' is 'cause you think life and folks is supposed to fit the standards you make up. But they ain't. Life is life and folks is folks and you you. See how ain't none of them the same thing? But there I go. Goin' on and on with it.

Chapter 2

Folks has always thought I wasn't so smart. That was to them and what they thought. I know me better than any of them and I gots plenty smarts. I just ain't never been the kind that gotta always be showin' 'em off all around all the time is all. It's somethin' to be sad about when you think about it. Folks thinkin' that you is a fool when you know good and proper well that you ain't. My grandmama raised me and she knew I wasn't no fool. She told me to gon and play like one though 'cause I had the kinda smarts that folks wouldn't understand. So I got good at playin' not so smart. Too good I guess.

He told me that I was real real pretty. Wasn't like ain't nobody told me that before 'cause they have. Just the way he said it. Way he look at me and keep lookin' even after he say it make me believe it in a way I ain't never really looked at it before. You ever have somebody tell you that you pretty and then you go to the nearest bathroom and look in the mirror to hurry up and see what they saw? He look at me like he know my kinda smart. Like he got eyes like only me and Grandmama. He didn't though. he didn't have eyes like us at all.

Chapter 3

I was livin' in The Jungle. Had me a little studio apartment. That's all I needed. A space for me. A space for Koko. Just takin' care of us by myself. My grandmama been gone. At night sometimes she think she ain't gone though. I don't say nothin'. But she gone. My neighborhood wasn't no real real nice one if you lookin' for clean all the time and quiet at night. But it was sure all right to me. Had me a nice little place to cook and eat and sell my dinner plates every night. A bed that was all mine all by myself with Koko. A bathroom with a tub and a toilet and a shower and diamonds on my kitchen floor. I really liked my diamonds.

He would come over mostly at night and eat my food and sleep in my bed with me. Then he started comin' over more than just at night. Was over there a whole lot. Sometimes I liked that and sometimes I did not. I really like my game shows you know? He didn't like game shows. He didn't like Country neither. And he really didn't like Koko.

Chapter 4

The brothas around there always was real nice to me. They bought my dinners at night and some of them even tell me I'm pretty. Not the way he did at the beginning, but they tell me. And that's nice too in a world like this. Don't you think? Most of them over there hang out in front of my building just there to sell them drugs. I never did mess with none of that. All of them listen real good to Country. I guess he the leader 'cause he sell the most drugs or 'cause he got the most guns or know the most cars that pull up. He say don't mess with me and don't none of them ever do. Some folks got a way of messin' up a good thing though.

Chapter 5

I found out that he got kicked out of his place 'cause he wasn't payin' the money every month. You gotta pay the money every every month or they will kick you out. They say I ain't got no smarts, but I do know that. He didn't even ask me, he just move in with me. He told me because I needed somebody to take care of me 'cause I was over there all by myself, and somebody like me don't need to to be all by they self like I was. I pay the money every month though. Didn't nobody ever kick me out 'cause I didn't pay the money. He brought his shirts and pants and drums and shoes. Brought his TV and some books too. I didn't ask for none of it. Besides, I already got a TV and ain't really no room for two. I told him ain't no room for two TVs and he say we just gon sell mine. I didn't wanna sell mine but I didn't say so. I guess that's the kinda smarts people talkin' 'bout.

He tried to sell the TV to Country downstairs but Country said no. To this day I don't know why my TV ain't good enough for Country. He shol didn't take it though, and he told him don't never bring nothin' down there to him, and stay out his face. If he knew what was really good for him he would move out my place and let me be me. It was just a TV. I tried to tell Country later that he didn't have to get all mad about him tryin' to sell the TV. It's just because we didn't have no room for two. I guess Country ain't have no room for two TVs neither. I guess I ain't never gon be smart enough for that one to make no sense. Folks use to bring Country stuff all the time, all hours of the night. Some stuff I know for a fact he already had two of. TVs is different I guess.

It was on the count of the TV we had our very first argument. You know I like my game shows. He say wasn't no game shows gon be played on his TV 'cause it's other stuff going on in the world and even though I wasn't smart enough to understand I could at least try to get some smarts. He aim to teach me some smarts I guess. I was plenty smart. I tell him all the time I know plenty what's going on in the world. Like what country shootin' what country. How much a house go for in this part of the world. What the weather like over here and over there. Famous peoples that got married and divorced. A whole lot of things. I just love my game shows too. I didn't never see nothin' wrong with that. He tell me I can't watch 'em though. I shoulda known then.

Chapter 6

Koko has been with me since I was sixteen years old. I will say this, if anyone has ever really truly loved me besides my grandmama then it would have to be Koko. It ain't what folks say to you that let you know they love you. It's how much they let you be yourself. I didn't never have no pretendin' to do around her. I wake up in the morning and open the blinds to see the sun. I like to sing. I know that I don't have the best singin' style but I do like to hear myself sing. Koko like it to too I think. She never said so different. He said so.

Now Koko got short, curly hair and real dark chocolate skin. Like a book cover. She got pink lips and purple magic eyes. She can see and she can hear and talk and understand and got plenty of smarts like me, even though folks think she don't. I made a pallet for her right at the front door 'cause that's where she like to sleep. Why anybody wanna sleep right at the crack of the front door I don't know, but that's her. I lay it out for her every night after folks finish buyin' dinners from me. After I eat. After he eat. One day he come in late after I already laid her pallet and done gon to bed myself. He told me don't ask him where he go late at night so I don't. I don't even wanna know. Just when he go I shol do watch my game shows. Gotta watch 'em on his TV though 'cause he sold mine. Even though Country didn't buy it, somebody did, so I guess it was an all right TV after all. I never did know how much money he got for it 'cause I didn't go with him to sell it and he only got medicine in exchange. I didn't even know he was sick.

He told me that night to keep Koko's pallet away from the front door or he would throw it out. Seem like everybody ought to be able to pick out where they wanna sleep in they own house. Especially since I'm the one that pay the money every every month all by myself and he don't even help me and that's the whole reason he say he movin' in in the first place to help me out and he don't do that! But I try to keep the peace. I guess the smarts I ain't got is the mean smarts that don't wanna hurt nobody's feelings. I don't like nobody hurtin' my feelings so I guess it's only right. Folks shol do hurt 'em though. Hurt 'em all the time. After that I just started makin' a space set up real comfortable for Koko in my closet so it won't be no type a mess.

Chapter 7

Dear Diary, I'm really tired of him livin' here with me. He don't help me out none and he sick all the time now. And when I wanna help him get better he just get mad. Mad all the time now seem like. Mad and sick, sick and mad. I tell him over and over he feel a little bit better if he just eat somethin'. Just a little bit of somethin' and lie down and get some rest. He hard headed though. Hard headed just because. He stay up all night watchin' TV then go downstairs and sometimes knock on Country door. Country don't wanna be bothered with him. Country don't like him. Country like a lot of people, but he don't like him. He say it's 'cause Country jealous 'cause he get to live up here with me. He say Country kinda gotta feelin' for me in a sweet way. I don't know, maybe he do. I mean he do buy my dinners every night for himself and a buncha the kids in the neighborhood too. Maybe Country is kinda sweet on me and just was too scared to tell me 'cause he know I know he sellin' them drugs and I'm a good girl.

After I found out about Country bein' sweet on me I started lookin' kinda cute when he come at night to get the dinners. I never let on that I know. I just smile a lot. Put lip gloss on a lot. I kept it cool though 'cause I didn't want him to know I was looking cute for Country.

Chapter 8

Dear Diary, yesterday was my birthday and me and him went on a date. We haven't been out in a real long time. We went to some restaurant that I didn't know the name of. I ate meatloaf and he ordered some chicken and he ate all of it too. All of it. Maybe he'll put on some weight now that it look like he back to eatin'. He told me that he was real real sorry that he haven't been takin' good care of me like he said he would, but he just needed to test me out to see if I could really really handle myself 'cause he ain't gon be around forever. I asked him where he goin' he say home to be with the good Lord one of these days.

He told me he need to talk to me about a big job he got comin' up out in Dallas. It's a real big job and we gon be rich together. He just gotta be trained good to do the job. He gotta leave soon so he don't miss no part of the teachin'. He only gon be gone a week and I keep thinking about watchin' my game shows every every night for a whole entire week. He need the money for the trainin' class and he gon pay me back every single penny with the money from the job. I'm scared to give him the money for the trainin' 'cause it's the money for the apartment. I always pay the money every month. He got mad when I told him I can't give him the money for the trainin' and I always get scared when he get mad. On the bus home from the restaurant he didn't sit with me. He was cryin'. I never saw that before ever. Right then I knew how much that trainin' meant to him. He cried all the way home but he didn't want me to see him. I pretended that I didn't.

Chapter 9

The police came out one night. A whole lotta police. They came the night before he was supposed to get back from Dallas. I was scared that night and I wished he was home with me. There were about twenty of them and they rushed the stairwell screamin' and yellin' and all that. They went to Country's place and took him out wearing his robe and house shoes. He was in the backseat of the police car and was sad sittin' back there. I could tell. Just then it came to me that with Country gon things would be a whole lot different for me. Folks already had not been buyin' my dinners as much since he moved in and Country said that would happen. A lotta folks didn't like him, not just Country all by himself. Turns out, he was mean to folks comin' 'round just to get my dinners. Country started buyin' more and more. Sometimes it was 'cause of Country I had all the money I needed to pay all the money every month and I didn't never have to get none from Koko. I didn't want them to take away my Country. I took to callin' him that. My Country. All of a sudden it came to me to tell the police that I needed Country to stay 'cause he was a real real good guy and even though he sold them drugs he didn't make nobody buy 'em or nothin' like that and let them know how good he been to me. Buyin' my dinneres and all lettin' all them other guys around there know not to be messin' with me. Yeah, I knew that if I explained to the police they would understand and let Country out that car and out them handcuffs.

I put my robe on and ran out fast as I could. "Don't take him!  Don't take him!" I started bangin' on the windows. "Don't you take my Country!" Then one of the police grabbed my arms and tell me to go get back in the house before he take me away too. I told him I don't wanna go away. I just want Country to stay here. "Leave him here! Leave my Country here!"

I saw him just then, runnin' up the street. Runnin' real fast too. I didn't even know he could run so fast. I guess he saw the police cars and all of that. He grabbed me from the police and held me right by my shoulders shakin' me and everything. "What you talkin' 'bout, 'my Country?!' That ain't yo Country! You look like one fool. I'm gonna teach you something real good. You get inside that house right now!"

My Country was sittin' in the back seat of that car and saw him yellin' at me like that and then started screamin' himself. "Don't you touch her! Don't you put your hands on her! You hear me?!" But I don't know if he heard him or not 'cause he was so busy yellin' at me. Yellin' and draggin' me up to the apartment.

We got inside and he closed the door and threw me down on the floor. He stopped screamin' real sudden and stood frozen still. Just stopped right there in front of the TV. He stopped and stared at the game show on the TV. My game show. His TV. How did I know he was gon come back a whole night early? I didn't that's how. He turned around and I saw a fire in his eyes I ain't never seen in nobody before. And then there was me always tryin' to help a situation out when it ain't no good to be brought to it. It just gotta play its own bad self out.

"Come on, baby you just upset right now about something ain't got nothin' to do with us. Lemme make you some food and pour you a drink, okay?" He had took to drinkin' more than usual 'round that time. "Lemme gon and start fixin' you a bath too." He didn't say nothin' so I got up slow and went into the kitchen. I went and hurried up and fixed him a dinner plate. Took some greens out the fridge and some corn and some bread from the day before. Didn't have no meat ready so I went and microwaved some frozen fish sticks and I hoped that would do. I put the plate down real quick to run into the bathroom and start fixin' his bath. I passed the living room and saw him just sittin' there in the big chair with the same fire in his eyes starin' off into space. I didn't know what was wrong with him but I was shol scared. The white part of his eyes was red and the black part was real big. Real big. He was sittin' there rockin' back and forth. That wasn't even no rockin' chair he was in either. But there he was, just rockin', rockin', rockin'.

"What is she doin' in here?" I heard him screamin' from the chair. I was still in the kitchen fixin' his plate. I brought it in to him real fast. I wanted to see what he was talkin' 'bout. "You heard me! What is she doin' in here?!"

Then my whole heart stopped. There he was holdin' Koko by the neck. Squeezin' real hard too. "Please don't hurt her. Please! I didn't know you was comin' back early and I had to give her just a little break from that closet. She don't like it in there. Besides, I was so lonely with you gon I needed some kinda company."

"She ain't no company you stupid gal! She ain't even real!"

"She real to me though. She like my very own baby." And what I say that for? He come chargin' at me so fast my own two feet froze. I sat the plate on the table so I wouldn't drop it on the floor, except I spilled his drink at his feet. The glass slipped right out my hand before I even knew it shattered on the wood floor. "I'm sorry, baby! I'm real real sorry! I shol didn't mean to do it!"

Then he started laughin' real hard at me. Real hard laughin'. I don't like nobody laughin' at me but it was shol better than him chocking me like I thought he was gon do. Like he was doin' to Koko. So I start laughin' at me too. Laughin' and cleanin' up all the glass. He turned around and go into the bathroom I guess to take his bath. I heard him get in the tub talkin' loud. I don't know what he was sayin' but the words sound like laughin' words not killin' words so I don't pay it too much mind. Then I heard the cats and I knew.

The cats in the alley under my window always let me know when she comin' 'fore she get here. She wasn't gon like what she saw not one bit. I stopped cleanin' the floor and go over to the big chair, grab up Koko and just sit there. She a let me know what she want me to do. Maybe she don't want me to do nothin'.

I saw her come in shortly after I'm good in the chair. She come right through the door singin' just like she did when I was a little girl. She always did have a focus on her eyes. Even when she was happy about somethin' there was always a focus there. She walk in and don't even look at me that night. She usually look at me and sit with me a minute then sometimes she say somethin' and sometimes she don't. But she always sit with me a minute. Not then. She go straight over to the window where he keep his drums and start playin' 'em real loud. Now me, I didn't even know she could play no African drums, but there she was. She had a long white scarf on her head coverin' her long pretty gray hair. She sittin' there just a playin'! Bang a di bang bang bang! Her head bobbin' back and forth and elbows movin' everywhere and breasts saggin' and swayin'. I don't know what it mean that she come with no shirt on but she always got her own way of doin' a thing.

"Gal, what you doin' in there? Did I tell you to never touch my drums? He yellin' from the tub. "You hear me gal, I know you do!"

Grandmama look at me as if to say I bet not say a word. So I don't. I sit there with Koko. Now the bangin' just get louder and louder. And she got her focus right there on the door. She know he comin' through it any minute. Sure enough he come. Screamin' loud before he get in the room. He had a red towel wrapped around his waist and his eyes was the same color red. He get to the door and just stop. She don't stop though. She goin' on and on. Louder and louder with her eyes focused right on his.

Right then his eyes ain't red no more. They white. Scared white. He walkin' over to her like he ain't scared, but I know scared when I see it. Then his feet movin' toward her real slow like he ain't even controlin' 'em. She playin' hard and he walkin' slow. Then before I even know it he right there in front of her and she stop. Just stop. She get up real slow and I'm thinkin' it's somethin' dramatic gon happen like in the movies but it don't. She just look up at him and hold his face in her old hands. Just held his face. Seem like for a real long time.

Then she start laughin'. Laughin', laughin'! He so scared he don't know which to do so he start laughin' too. I know that kinda laugh. Then I see her hands holdin' his face hard. Squeezin' like he was doin' to Koko. She still laughin' hard. He ain't laughin' no more. He cryin'. Ugly cryin'! Like the kind when you know you done somethin' wrong and you think don't nobody know but then you remember that God see everything. Then blood is comin' out of his eyes where the tears should be. By now she lay him down on the floor and he still cryin'. Blood cryin' and lookin' up at the ceiling. She take the scarf off and her long pretty hair fall down over her shoulders. She give me the scarf and tell me to tie it around his head coverin' his eyes, so I do like she tell me. I tie it too tight 'cause I'm sore at him for squeezin' Koko and laughin' at me. I don't like folks laughin' at me.

I get back in my chair with Koko and Grandmama start rubbin' her hands together fast. I feel sorry for him now. He cryin' like he was that night on the bus. Like he really sorry for his whole life. Grandmama stop rubbin' her hands and hold 'em up high and start singin'. I never heard no song like that before. Then she lookin' up at the ceiling and so was I 'cause what was she lookin' at? But me and Koko just do what she do. Look up. I think Koko look down at him first so I did too. And there he was. All burnt completely up. Grandmama blow the ashes all in one pile together and hold it in the cups of her hands.

I look down at my own clothes and see blood on my shoes. I thought it was from his tears, but it wasn't. Koko was cryin' blood tears too. I look at Grandmama but she was just lookin' in the mirror into her own eyes. Koko gettin' wetter by the minute so I take my stash out her stomach for it get wet too. When Grandmama died she left me some money but I don't trust no banks and no banks don't trust me so I put it in Koko. If anybody can keep a secret good I know Koko can. I look at Grandmama to see what she gon do next. But she still lookin' into her own eyes in a surprised way and finally say, "I'm goin' home."

I love you
I can't right now with this black woman saying we don't need to be protesting because these are the last days anyway. Somebody come get your auntie.

Leimert Park please


Jennifer Lewis

Spiritual people please stop acting like love is the only acceptable emotion.

It's okay to beat your children but not okay to defend yourself against a grown man beating you? We got real life and bullshit fucked up.

A diamante poem a day for August 2014 - day 14 - Revolution

                                             organization, now
                                        protest unjust treatment
                                   police brutality not acceptable
                                        United murderous States
                                             protection, children
                                                  t o d a y

Day 2

Tara Bliss Manor nominated me to post 3 things I am positive about for 7 days and nominate 1 person each day. I'll take that on and thank you Tara for the invitation. 

1. I am POSITIVE I am scheduled to speak next week and while two weeks ago I felt prepared, today my two weeks ago words seem empty but I will give my mind some rest and heart some prayer and body fresh air and exercise and time alone away from my phone and Facebook and my blog, and the right and divine message will come.

2. I am POSITIVE I hopscotch the line between rearing my son out of fear or possibilities. While I want him to know he can (know he can), be what he wanna be (be what he wanna be), if he work hard at it (work hard at it) - the whole song really - I wonder what I look like flip flopping on my message on how to talk to the police. In the name of Jesus I hate assuming that it's a probability that he will. Calgon take me away and saints please pray my black mama strength in the Lord.

3. I am POSITIVE I know the most amazing and brilliant people and I am so thankful a sista can pick up the phone and call y'all and y'all answer the phone and know what to say or just listen to me breathe. I am thankful beyond ways I can express myself. And that's a lot because I can express myself thanna mug.

Today I nominate Donny Jackson to post 3 positive things a day for 7 days and nominate 1 person each day and if he does not choose to I totally get it. Blessings y'all.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Remembering the times when I was a child and my uncle, Robert Davis used to tell me that "the truth is not something given to you. The truth is something you have to search for."
Having a conversation with my son about Ezell Ford in Los Angeles. Getting frustrated. Been frustrated really. He says "You know what your problem is, Mom? You're thinking from a sane point of view." I love him.

Rage Is The Right Response To Cops Executing Citizens

Fire - very rough draft

Fire is that thing, person, situation, circumstance that gets you heated. Fire is a problem to solve. Fire is a something to handle before it gets out of control. Fire burns. Fires move you to move. Fires keep you from moving. Fires are a part of life. Police brutality gets me heated. This is fire. The killing of black people because of our color and the perpetuated idea that our lives are useless. That we are useless. We whose backs this country was built on is useless. This is the fire shut up in my bones.

Writing and expressing myself is my outlet. Expressing myself on social media, in my journals and blogs. Talking to friends and family and my community, conversing with my son and hearing his thoughts.

The fires keep burning. Sometimes not as hot as others but they burn. Conversation keeps everything alive. Heated conversations. Love conversations. Communication gives life to everything.

I am a part of the fire. Sometimes I am the woman who starts the heat. Fire is necessary. As an artist I find it important to call out the names of my brothers and sisters. I know this triggers some and it should.

Other times I am balm. I am the bucket of water needed to cool the situation down. I am not just one way. But I am in the fire. Hopefully in the way I am needed the most.

My fires are different today than they were yesterday in that in my younger years my fires had more to do with me. My bills, my life, my job, my money or lack thereof. Today what I consider fires are more about my community, which is the world. Police brutality, children abused, domestic violence, racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia. My life work is about making life better for all of us. Educating all of us. I find myself to be a more effective fire diminisher in my current years than my junior because work for my community is more valuable than simply concern for myself. I would not exist without my people. All of my people.

Working with others has helped me be a better person for myself. My needs are considerably smaller than the needs of the world at large. I am a grain of sand.

Removing the focus from myself helps me see the connectedness of all humanity. I am only because we are. I am thankful for the process of learning this.

Some fires play a positive role in my life. Fires cause me to have conversations I would probably ignore. Fires move me to do things I would avoid doing. Of course there is nothing good about abuse and discrimination.The burning ignites a rush and pull to cause community to unite. Problems will always exist. From the suicide of Robin Williams on Monday, a man who suffered with depression, there is major discussion on the topic. I am beyond heated about the police murdering African-American, eighteen years old Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO on Monday. We are having discussions and hopefully organizing some positive way we can move forward and create a step to ending the police brutality against the black community. These are two tragic situations but hopefully solution can come from these atrocities. No, it should not take horrible things to happen for people to unite. Unfortunately many of us operate like the families who only get together at funerals. We need lunch dates and fun times too. But death will occur and we have to create something positive from it.

Fires obviously play a negative role. Fires destroy. They destroy lives, communities, ideas, dreams. Fires with no water in sight keep me and all of us from living. A fire burning uncontrollably will suck up all of the oxygen. This is what a fire is by definition. If everyone is concentrated on the fire we are neglecting other parts of our lives that need to be watered and nurtured. We are not paying attention to the ignored forest when the house is burning. But the forest needs water too. Fires keep us from breathing  beyond the short necessary breaths it takes to survive. Play is necessary. When was the last time there was laughter in a fire? We can fall in the trap of diving into the fire and completely neglecting ourselves. We as individuals are important too. Being still is important. Breathing deeply is important. Having fresh air and head space to breathe deeply is important. We do not exist without the community but it does not live without us either.

Community burns
We keep hope and life alive
Good and bad we burn
Reading +Candice Benbow's article on "soul ties." Loved it. I've been hearing about this for years and have always been suspect. Human beings have feelings and they are not always of the devil. They are not always to be explained beyond our human reactions to other human beings.

A diamante poem a day for August 2014 - day 13 - Trust

                                             free, now
                                        whole, know, I
                                   leap, grow, build, blind
                                        see, open, faith
                                             me, you
Tara Bliss Manor nominated me to post 3 positive things for 7 days and nominate 1 person at the end of each day. I'll take that on, and thank you for the invitation Tara. 

1. I am POSITIVE that black Americans need to wake up and see that we are being set up! They are baiting us around this country that we and our ancestors built to SET IT OFF all together so that they will have reason for the outright war they want because

2. I am POSITIVE that these good white folks have jails they want filled and

3. I am POSITIVE that all of our voices are needed right now yelling as loudly as can be.

Today I nominate Valerie Hugsy Bridgeman to post 3 positive things for 7 days and nominate 1 person at the end of each day. And if she doesn't choose I totally get it. Blessings y'all.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Listen people, I'm as peace and blessings and love the Lord He heard my cry as they come. But that doesn't mean I don't get to express anger. I am angry. Appropriately. Jesus was angry. I get to express my feelings. I do it very well. I am a mother of a black boy. I am the mother and sister of all of these black boys and girls and men and women murdered, abused and missing. Don't send me calm down messages. Don't. I'm side eyeing YOU. Let me Strang-e the way I do it. I lift my voice for you and your family too. All of your families! I'm not limited to race. I screamed to the heavens for all of our babies. All of them. Google me, bitches! And then get on the team or leave me alone. I will calm down when I do. Have a nice day.
Dear people I said I was gonna call today. I'm not. I'm just not.
Preachers, the news is so bad right now you can almost just preach that Mary had a lit tle lamb, lit tle lamb on Sunday and the crowd will shout.
I am just angry as shit about the situation in Ferguson, MO right now. The police killed eighteen years old Michael Brown who was just walking home with his friend. Police told them to get out of the street. They were not blocking traffic. Police drove ahead then came back. Policeman got out of car and one young man got away police shot Michael Brown seven times. Killed him right there in the street. Then left his body in the street for hours while his blood poured.
So all this violence and murder and police and unarmed black boys and girls and all these parents expressing their views at the dinner table or drive thru or wherever and all these children about to walk through the school halls with all these riots and rumors of riots and all these teachers making a dollar eighty-five and all this heat and all these opinions gone wild on social media and okay... I see you.