Saturday, January 31, 2015

Gratitude

I am thankful for this day
With my son
In the sun
In museum
In book store
In conversation
Over dinner
At home
In love

A poem a day for 2015 - day 31 - Uraeus

Locks like God's fingers
Hang down your face / I see you
Angel of my life


Friday, January 30, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - day 30 - Hold

Tie me bow round your ankles
And I will wash your feet
Belong to me way thunder owns the roar
We will sit and sup the wind
Let us cross legs so you can read my thoughts
I woman this way
With poems and art
Welcome to my world
I read you easy in my wondering
Hoping you are there



Gratitude

I am thankful for breath
For seeing a new day
For my son
My family and friends
I am thankful for food and shelter
For burning scented candles
For hot baths and thunder
I am thankful for easy
For knowing that God is always where I am
I am thankful for being thankful
For grocery store runs with friends
For laughter and longs talks
I am thankful for my health
For the headache that has eased
I am thankful for a headache that is just a headache
I am thankful for my limbs
For good lungs
For the books on my shelf
And plants and
All the love around me

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - day 29 - Dear Jaha

Simple is fish sticks
Turn the oven to 425 and wait
For water to boil and raspberry tea
Wear socks
Wear pajama pants and t-shirt
Whatever
Just be comfortable
Shower
Let the water fire down your neck
Just stand
Roll your head till the ache has almost disappeared
It will be back
It keeps coming back
The point is the moment
That one second it is gone and you are free
Free
Of the monsters in your mind
In the news
On the streets
That one second you know you are free
Safe
Hold yourself
Smell the scent of the soap
Get out
Light a candle
Write a poem
Paint a picture
Read a chapter
Whatever
Just breathe
Breathe

Gratitude

I am thankful for seeing this beautiful day
For waking in its glory
I am thankful for my son and the community of folks who help rear him
I am thankful for my friends and family
For love and acceptance
I am thankful for surprise blessings
For gas and food and bill money
I am thankful for shelter
And how comfortable I am
I am thankful
I am thankful for a job to go to today
For students who listen and understand and push themselves further
I am thankful for teachers
For this breath and the next
I am thankful

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - day 28 - Wear

Walk my easy in the way of your knowing
How you come here me and I come
You know
You know how we do
Learn me lessons your papa taught you
Way you squeeze and know bodies like that
Paint me red with splashes of green
Let me always be new to you
In some kind of way
Swallow my fingers and tickle my knees
Make me laugh
Like how you know how

Me with Damon Turner


Gratitude

I am thankful for this day
For sleeping so peacefully
For art and poetry and friends with words
I am thankful for life and rhythm
For work this morning and love all around me
For the beauty in my world
For moment
Precious moments
I am thankful for my son and the loved ones who help rear him
I am thankful for my friends and family
For my sister
My mother
I am thankful for my nieces and nephew
For the children in my life
For adventures
For rest
For calm
For the journey

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - day 27 - For Alexis Kane

Kansas City, MO
Three teenagers have been
Charged with shooting Alexis Kane
Multiple times
Multiple
How many shots does it take
To snuff the life out of a princess
Gone
Ever

Fourteen years old
Eighth grade
Black girl
Black
Girl

Three black boys
One black girl
Charged
Bang
Charged
Bang
Multiple

Eighth grade is for boy crushes
For fret over algebra
High tops or heels

Charged
Charged, charged
Alexis is still dead

Stop killing us
Brothers stop killing us
Taking our lives
Our babies
Breaking our
Future

Me in Utah











Gratitude

I am thankful for seeing this day
This beautiful day
With fluffy clouds and perfect breeze
I am thankful for my son
For my family and friends
For good company and food and movie
I am thankful for my limbs
For time
For quiet
For words
I am thankful for art
For poetry and music
I am thankful for my mind slowing down
For feeling better today than I did days ago
I am thankful that headaches subside
That life goes on
I am thankful for my home
For being so comfortable
For being loved and happy
I am thankful for easy

Monday, January 26, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - day 26 - Hands

Once upon a January Friday night in 2015
In the land of New York
Four queens were shot and three died

Jonathan Walker, thirty four years old
Thought his girlfriend and common law wife, Shantai Hale (names matter) was cheating
He thought
He thought
Thought
But this is not about his thoughts
This is not about whether or not she was cheating

This is about a black woman's life
And her mother's life, Viola Warren (names)
And Jonathan's and Shantai's daughter's lives
Kayla, seven and Christina, the only one to survive, twelve
Because he didn't want his children in foster care

(Horrible things happen to children in foster care you know)

He didn't want
He didn't
He
Because I guess this is about him now
He shot himself
And this is about black women's lives more than a man's thoughts
This is not about what she did or did not do
Not about with whom

Are we ready for this conversation
Are we ready
Are black women ready to revolt against black men
While we are on the front lines fighting for us and them at the same time
Are we ready
Are you

Black women are busy
We are too busy and tired
Of looking over shoulders by day fighting off white men and women too
And slaying boogie men out our baby's closets by night
And being thin and pretty enough
And smart but not too smart
And satisfying sexual and emotional needs of our men
We are tired
And too busy being killed and coming up missing

Are we ready brothers and sisters
To talk

Gratitude

I am thankful for waking up this morning
For an easy rest last night
I am thankful that my head is feeling so much better
After weeks of pain
I am thankful to be on my way to work
I am thankful for my son
For God and the saints who guide his head
For his smile and calm
I am thankful for my friends and family
For loved ones who listen and care
I am thankful for my circle
For a home where I am incredibly comfortable
For bills paid
For stories to write
For love to give and receive

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - day 25 - In this quiet

I know love
I know candles burning
Myself chanting to myself
I know tomorrow
There were times I didn't know tomorrow
I tell secrets about acceptance and now
And I am the best singer in the room
I am the belle at the ball
On the couch
In the quiet
In this alone


Dear sisters

I don't have a poem or story about it (yet) but I feel awful about and am constantly sending prayers up and out to the women from Central America who go through extremely harrowing experiences to get into this country. Eighty percent (at least) are raped and are assaulted in other sexual ways by guides also known as coyotes, gangs and some officials. Yes. Many women take shots as birth control to prevent pregnancies. Assaults that happen in the desert stay there because who ya gonna call? What authorities you gonna report to? Nobooooodaaay! These are our sisters. Our mothers and grandmothers, nieces and friends. We are these women. We are the world, right?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - day 24 - The thing about love

Is holding
Holding stories
Blood
Weeping
Holding breath and blur
Moments
Holding time
Space
Way

Sharing miles
Courage
Challenge
Fit
Sharing room
Circles and squares
Moon and seas
Sharing shapes

The thing is finding
Investigating truth
Matter
Believing
Happening
Telling

The thing is getting on a bus
And gathering
Covering
Exploring
Weighing
Papers and pens
Notes and songs
Memories

The thing is now
Soon
Right
Heart
Blink

See?

Friday, January 23, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - day 23 - Enough

Hospital I go
For headache now two weeks old
Pain all I can stand

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Family time


A poem a day for 2015 - day 22 - Celebration time

I celebrate this quiet moment
Even with this ache in my head
With food cooking on my stove
I celebrate
I celebrate the safety of my son
I give thanks for seeing good in the world
It is not always easy
But it is there
I give thanks for the spirits who hold my head
For the cotton whispers of the ancestors
Guiding me 'long my way
For friends who wrap loving arms 'round my shoulder
For my family who loves me
My family I love
I celebrate
I celebrate the moon
The sun
The ocean and rent paid
The clouds and black beans
Water and my chin resting in my palm
Life is the little things
I celebrate
I celebrate
My eyes on the peacocks and feet propped on my couch
I celebrate my couch
The rug
My socks and the bed
I give thanks
For the list that could go on
I celebrate today
Right now

Peter J. Harris at The World Stage


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - day 20 - To Reuben

Happy birthday to you
My nephew
My sister's son
I am proud of you
Black boy
Young man
You are always in my prayers
Do you know
Do you know I talk to God and the angels
About you
You
About you
Your life matters
Your presence on this planet makes a difference
A difference that makes a difference
I am honored to be your aunt
Your blood
Your family
You can use my shoulders
My ears
I will put my hand in yours
I will wish your dreams come true
I will talk you through your worries
I will dance with you
Praise with you
I pray saints camp round your head
I love you
Happy seventeenth my love
My love

Monday, January 19, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - day 19 - I

I give hugs
I say I love you
I apologize
I cry with my mouth open
I sleep when I can
I get way too excited
I get depressed
I do middle very well
I am a priceless friend
I write stories
I perform poetry
I take pictures
My favorite color is red
I fight for the human rights us all
Of women
My people
Yours too
All of the people are mine
All the babies too

I write to release
Words get stuck in my chest
In my blood
My fingers
My mind

So I let go
I let words out
I set stories free

I love rainbows
I pick flowers
I water plants

I
I
I

I am not always about me
But sometimes I am

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Dear Uraeus

You will always have my love.

A poem a day for 2015 - day 18 - Yes

The men across the street are laughing
At whatever those grown black men
Standing on steps would find funny
Funny I am glad to hear laughter at all
From black men
From black lives
Mattering and smiling
These are precious days
Sacred moments
These hours go by so quickly
We rear our babies to accept
The insanity of the world
Of police
Of the streets
Names are added by the hour to
The mourning lists
I am tired of crying
I am tired of anguish and worry
And fear of other shoes and batons dropping
While I am in the middle of my nap
And would much prefer quiet
There is no sound better right now
Than the sound of men across the street
Laughing

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - day 17 - Gratitude

I was in the third grade and
fell off of the garage door at my babysitter's house.
I was playing with friends. Don't ask why
we were  not supervised properly. That is
another story. One I cannot tell. But I fell.
I was pushed, pulled really, by a girl who
said it was her turn to play in that spot.
On the garage door. Where  none of us should
have been. Her turn.

I fell head first onto the cement. I fractured
my skull. I broke my head. My head. I
remember falling. I blacked out before I hit
the ground. I think before I hit the ground.
I don't remember the connection.

So on days like this, when the headache
won't seem to go away, I am thankful.
I am thankful for headaches. I am thankful
the opportunity and healthy enough to worry
about the whatevers. I am thankful for my
functioning limbs. I am thankful for my healed head.
My working brain. My wonderful self.

There is no reason that I can tell why I can walk
and talk and no damage to my brain. So I am
thankful for headaches. I don't like them. But
the alternative after a fractured skull. After falling
head first from the top of a garage door. These
two pills will help me sleep. Sleep. Rest. And wake
up. To new day.

Again.

Friday, January 16, 2015

V Kali's birthday feature November 2014


A poem a day for 2015 - day 16 - Movie we make

Tonight I will take my son to see Selma
We will eat candy and watch video of our lives
We are Selma
We are Ferguson
We are Miami
We are Los Angeles
We are the world

Tonight we will talk about history
About stories and pretend and what is true
We will talk
Talk
Share
I will hear
Listen
He will give
He will breathe

We will grow
We will make a new
Tomorrow
Together
Today

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - day 15 - Dear Valerie

Valerie
Valerie
Dr. Bridgeman
Bridge man
Bridge humanity

We walked on your shoulders
Were carried by your whispsers
Thank you
Did we tell you thank you

Happy birthday
I wish you smiles on your day
This is your day
For everything you do
All the ways you fight
Preach
Work
Pray
Feed
Witness
Listen
You are a listener
You are a healer

You are a dancer
A singer
A song

Fluffy your pillow
Rise up your feet
Unball your fists
Coat your throat with
Lemons and tea
With honey and chuckle

Feel our hands stretch out your way
Let us hold you
Let us love you
Gift you
O, praise God for you
For you
You

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - day 14 - Back

"I took your girls
They are our slaves
I will sell them in the market"

"Western education is a sin"
A sin
A sin

Nigeria
Nigeria

Girls just wanting an education
Stolen
Sold

Bring back our girls
Bring back our girls

Mothers and fathers chanting
Crying

Bring back our girls
Bring back our girls

This world is unrecognizable
To our ancestors
To love

What is sacred now
What is gem

"Fuck you, faggot"
A young man yells while crossing the street
As I type these words

Bring back our girls
Bring back our girls

Black lives matter
Black lives matter

Trans boy is killed
Lesbian teen is kicked out of her home

Do we even deserve this planet anymore
Did we ever
Did we ever

Bring back our girls, lives, boys, world
Bring back
Bring back

Monday, January 12, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - day 12 - Easy

There is always work to do
There is always love to give
To myself
To my art
My son
My friends and family
To my life

There will always be work
Money to earn
A bed to make
A story to hear
A hand to hold

There will always be time
With or without me
I will spend my days being ready
To share

Family Business - excerpt from Women in the Village go 'Round and 'Round

Rico ask me how I feel. I tell him I don't feel nothin' so much to talk about and why he wanna know anyway? What do it matter? It don't that's what. The way I figure a woman's got to do what a woman's got to do and feeling good about it don't really play a part in it.

Rico too much a square to even understand. He stay over there in The Jungle on the other side of The Village. He see me comin' in and out of Country's place and he know I ain't got no money so he know how I get my stuff. What I care if he know? I don't that's what. What me and Rico had was a whole life ago. He went one way and I went the other. That's how life is sometimes. You can't change it, you just go on with it that's all. I guess I gotta say I care a little bit how Rico feel. Not so much about him, but I think about how life coulda been if I went on and did stuff different.

On any normal day I don't think about coulda and yesterday and things like that 'cause it only bring me down. What I need yesterday to bring me down for? I got enough today to do that. No. I don't like to go down yesterday road 'cause when I start I just can't stop less I get high and I told myself that I would not on that day.

A part of me wish I woulda listen to  myself and a part of me know I did what's right. It was Tweet's birthday. We all called her Tweet 'cause she looked like Tweety Bird with them big ole eyes and she had kinda cartoon yellow skin. Real pretty though. Ryan kinda had cartoon skin too. He didn't have big ole eyes though. No. He had them beady eyes. And it's true what they say about folks with them kinda eyes. Don't you never trust 'em. Do, you end up in a world a mess and heartache.

I say I wasn't gon get high but I went on ahead and did anyway. Tomorrow I ain't though. I tell myself that alla time. Tomorrow I ain't gon get high no more. But that day anybody a understand.

Guess sittin' up in that house with Mama got me to knowin' I better get high or do somethin' 'cause I would just go crazy listenin' to her and Melvin fussin' and fightin' every five minutes. I never did see how she do it. Listenin' to him all time on her case and mines too.

I tried not to pay it too much a never mind but I know it get to her. Why he fuss so much I don't know 'cause she wasn't never usin' till she hook up with him. Now that he clean he got everything to say about it.

Me and Mama usta say we was gon get our own place one day. Gon be two bedrooms. One for me and one for her. We gon play Stevie alla time and 2Pac, and Mama gotta have her blues and both us ain't gon get hight no more. We just gon be happy and watch The Color Purple over and over.

We stayed there with Melvin and he was stingy as all get out. Didn't give up on money. Not even money to eat with. Me and Mama know how to hustle though. Neither one of us wasn't never dependin' on no man to take all the care of us. Mama was sick though.

She say she wasn't but she was. I didn't never wanna think about what it could be and she didn't either I guess so we didn't talk about it. I knew what she needed and I knew she couldn't go get it herself. What was I supposed to do? Just let her be sick and not feel some kinda good? If I did that I ain't no better than Melvin.

I went over to Country's and who gotta be there but Ryan. What he doin' 'round there I never did know. He left ten years ago after everything went down. What he come back here for? When somebody skip town after doin' somethin' they say they ain't do and don't never get picked up for, they oughta jusst stay gon and leave folks to they sadness and misery. He probably didn't even remember that that was Tweet birthday. I wonder did Rico know he was there? I bet he didn't.

He come smilin' at me talkin' 'bout "Hey stranger, how you doin'?" He had no business speakin' to me like me and him was friends. Like me and him ain't had no history I ain't had good cause to kill him over. I didn't say nothin' to him. I just look at Country and told him he know what I need. I told him Mama was sick. Real sick.

Mama almost was like Country mama too. Not so much at that time, but when we was kids comin' up, you couldn't keep Country outa Mama kitchen. He act like he don't remember good times though. 'Specially when it come to me. Guess he don't like goin' down yesterday road either.

I shoulda never mentioned Mama to Country. He got all hard faced when I did. He told me to come on in. He never told me to come on in before. Any business we had we always took care of iin the back. I guess he felt sorry for Mama after all. Felt sorry for me too I guess.

Country know I wouldn't be like this if it wasn't for him startin' me off on this stuff. Tellin' me it a help ease my pain. Much pain as I was in, course I'mma try anything. Maybe me and Rico coulda went on and kept up a survivin' kinda life. Maybe we couldn't be happy after all that. But we coulda survived. Together. I don't know.

Country said he didn't have what I wanted but maybe Ryan did. I just knew he ain't meanin' what I thought he was meanin'. I looked at him in his eyes for one whole minute and I knew that he did too mean it.

Ryan was the only one who always did have a way over Country. I never did know what that was all about. Everybody 'round there was scared of Country but nobody was scared of Ryan. But Country was scared of Ryan. I don't know, maybe Ryan had somethin' on him worth somethin. I just don't know.

"Why? Why it's like this, Country? What you let him in your house for anyway? Country, you must be crazy sendin' me to him." He didn't even look at me. He just sat there playin' his video game real loud

Ryan lookin' at me though. Lookin' and laughin'. I wasn't nothin' but a shakin' mess with all that goin' on.  My mind just kept runnin' old yesterday pictures. Same pictures I kept gettin' high for so I don't see 'em. They just kept comin'. Good times, bad times, all the times. Back when me and Rico and Tweet was all together.

Maybe we didn't have a whole lot but we was happy. I was workin' at the bank and Rico was teachin' chemistry at the college. Tweet was in school down the street and doin' real good. The pictures just kept comin' in my mind so much I didn't even remember walkin' back to the room with Ryan.
I musta fainted and somebody carried me back there 'cause I just wouldn'ta walked back there with my own two feet. Needin' to get high real bad or not. Mama sick or not I just can't see me doin' it.

I was sittin' at the edge of teh bed and Ryan standin' over me tellin' me to hurry up. I looked up at him like hurry up and what? Then the pictures came again. Seem like real fast and all at once. I needed to get high real bad then. Badder than I ever did. Then somethin' just took over me I guess and start talkin' to me.

"You don't want me to do this, Ryan, you don't." He lookin' down and tellin' me I'm holdin' onto somethin' that's a lie. That I oughta just let bygones be bygone. I told him don't go down that road 'cause I just can't go there with him.

Ain't no reasonin' with somebody like that though. Somebody that a do that to they own niece and then take off leavin' me to find her like that. Even if he too sick a soul not to care about my feelings, you a at least think he a care about Rico. His own brother gotta wake up and know his baby is dead by his very own brother.

Rico never did get high though. That's the road I took. Sometimes I think I got it better than Rico. I know that don't sound right when you look at me and then you look at him. But Rico, everyday gotta live with knowin' and feelin' that kinda pain. It don't just go away.

I don't gotta feel it no more. Not no more. All them in here keep tellin' me how sorry they are about what's gon happen. Not me. I'm not sorry. Ryan killed Tweet with his very own hands and that's how I killed him. With these hands.

I been sittin' here in this cell for six whole months and tomorrow the state will get they justice and I hope they happy. I'm shol satisfied. I will finally be with Mama and my Tweet.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - day 11 - Scene

I am not a fan of scary movies. On the rare times I watch
them I find myself screaming at the screen. "Stop! That's
the wrong door! The man is coming to kill you!" And then
I stop because screaming at a screen is stupid. The soon
to be dead actress has made more money pretending
to die than I will make living all year.

I imagine my life is a movie. Angels with buttered popcorn
screaming at the screen. "Stop! Don't take that job! Don't eat that!
Turn left!" How much can I hear? I almost fell asleep at the wheel
on the 10 freeway and just in time I heard someone calling my
name. I wonder if it were the angels screaming. I like to believe
they were.

In the mornings I pray when I wake up. I am thankful
to see another day. I am grateful for my sanity and
shelter and eggs and family and friends and clothing.
I am hopeful for ears clear enough to hear the angels.
For a heart wise enough to know.

Venice Beach day


Saturday, January 10, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - day 10 - See you

My uncle Bubba was talking to a woman at the bus stop
in Long Beach on Santa Fe just south of Wardlow and
when the bus came he said goodbye to his friend and
went about his way. But she tripped on the curb and
the bus moved and her head was under the wheel. And
he just turned for a minute and his friend died right there.
This happened years ago still I am afraid to say goodbye.
See ya later is easier. Easier. Goodbye is bad magic. Goodbyes
kill. And we never know what will happen when we turn
for just a moment after we say so long to a friend. We never
know. We just never do.

Kiyatana and I had an art show today