Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - for day 106 - Burn Hollywood

Burn Hollywood
Burn Hollywood
Burn lies about looting and rioting
Burn marches burn
Run marchers run
Fight marchers fight

Carry sticks and stones and signs
This is your home
Should you feel safe at home
The police ain't checking for you at home
The police are looking for you at home
Looking for you
For you
For you
Because you are too much you
Because there is too much hate
Because there is too  much fear
Over you
For you

Burn Hollywood
Burn Hollywood
Burn till Oscar's ashes rise
Till Emmit's body forms
Burn Hollywood
Burn Hollywood
Till Freddie screams again
Burn Hollywood
Burn Hollywood

See Renisha's face at your door

Are you afraid of a black woman
At chicken o'clock in the night
Can a sista use your phone

Burn Hollywood
Burn Hollywood

We are the most forgiving people
We forgive to the grave
We excuse to the grave
We fast and sing to the grave

Rise again Nat
Speak out Brother Marcus

Water up
Pray up
Turn up the music and
Weapon up
Fight up
Fight on
Learn up
Remember on

Burn Hollywood
Burn Hollywood

Monday, April 27, 2015

I used to write poems about many of the stories and names that triggered me. It kept me buried in feelings. At a time I needed to breathe. I still post and write. I pray more now though. In this time I need to breathe.

A poem a day for 2015 - for day 105 - Whisper

Land well in my listening and I will hear / I will stay / I will fog with you through ideas / Midst with you mourning / I will learn / Will lean and let you rest on my shoulders / Too

Saturday at Buena Park City Hall Children's Art Festival

I am thankful for this day. For lives to touch and lives to touch mine.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sometimes the red flag is overplaying the happy.
I'm off when I've been pretending to be on too long. Sometimes you just gotta declare off and hide under the covers.
So behind on my poems. And other things in life.
At my feature at The World Stage Art, Education & Performance Gallerylast Wednesday I shared stories I rarely share. This Tuesday at Flight-School Open-Mic I believe I'll share poems I rarely share. If you have a request, here is the place to ask because shouting from the audience will get you a no because it's probably not in my head anymore. smile emoticon
Sometimes I don't want to talk to anyone. I just want to share things on Facebook and my blog. So I do.
Poems are coming to me. Just slowly. Very slowly.
I'm happy to be featuring at Flight-School Open-Mic this Tuesday. I'd love to see you there!

Poets luncheon in Burbank

I am looking forward to performing at the Still Waters Poetry Luncheon today in celebration of National Poetry Month out in Burbank. My brothers and sisters at Still Waters (Vibrations) are truly my family and anytime I can say yes to one of their events is my blessing. Pictures to come. Enjoy your day.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I'm featured at The World Stage Art, Education & Performance Gallery tomorrow. The workshop starts at 7:30. I hope to see you there!

Monday, April 20, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - for day 104 - For you

I will meet you there
In the place where the clouds are low
I will be
I will sit
Ears like valleys
I will talk with you
When you want to hear stories
I can tell stories
About nothing
About no things
I can tell stories about world
And blue
And skies
And spring
I am not afraid of your clouds
I have my own
I will sit
I will listen
I will give
And poems
About bridges
Do you like bridges
Way they take us from here to there
Did you know that there is not somewhere else
Only another here
I will listen
And talk
And make here
And rainbow
I know how to be a friend
I know how to be an ear
A shoulder
Feet and legs
I know how to be a friendly smile

Me at the Inglewood Stories shoot

Me with Ojenke

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - for day 103 - For you

I wish you no clouds today
No murky thoughts
I wish you clean air
I wish you deep breath
Tomorrow dreams
I wish you ease
Attention and love
I wish you softness
Gentle touches and
Smiling faces
I wish you blue
Blue today
Like sky
Like air
Like clean
Like love
Like care

Friday, April 17, 2015

A man started talking to me in Jiffy Lube today. We talked about children mostly. Then he told me that his son's mother is twenty-two years younger than he and he doesn't know what happened when she got pregnant but before the baby she would just do anything he wanted. "She was malleable" he said with his hands in the air as if he was bending iron. "But then she got pregnant and now she's nuts." I told him that she wasn't in his life to do anything he wants and his face got all frowned up when he responded, "no, it's about compromise." But what part of "she was malleable" and "she did anything I wanted" said compromise? Oh well, don't strike up a conversation with me if  you don't want to know what I think.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

I'm incredibly behind on my poem a day project. I was much better at this in 2013. But I'm giving myself a lot more room and listening to my body more too.
Today I was the keynote speaker at Take Back The Night (sexual assault awareness program) at Cal State Los Angeles. It went well and I was pleased that so many others shared there stories during the open mic and still triggered that there were / are so many stories to tell. I hear all these high stats on how many women and men have been sexually assaulted and the more I hear the more I know that ONE IS TOO MANY.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - for day 102 - To V Kali

Sending love to you
Sweet breath, clarity and peace
Ease you to easy

A poem a day for 2015 - for day 101 - In preparation

Waking up stretching
Yawning ready myself for
Blessing before me

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Two earthquakes today. This last one really had me...shook.


I am thankful today for a good rest last night
For waking up this morning
For love and compassion in my life
I am thankful for my friends and family
For my son
For peace and ease
For words
I am thankful for the magic of stories
And books
And poems
And art
I am thankful for gratitude

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Being single doesn't suck. It doesn't. I'm actually about that life. But that part when I've been in the muck of a down episode for about four days and I say everything can wait, that's what it does. Wait. There's nobody here to say "Babe, you lie there and feel shitty. I got this." Nope. And now that the clouds are evaporating and blue sky is returning there is a pile of laundry that somehow did not manage to put itself up. There's work to do. Writing to complete. A book to finish for this class that ends next month. There's stuff.

There's stuff and there's also being responsible about my healing. I have to let folks know when I'm down. I have to reach out and not assume the world can read my mind. Do I feel like it all the time? No I don't. But that's part of being bipolar and single. Going through an episode alone without telling anyone can be dangerous. So I reach out.

Reach out. Reach out. Reach out. And get to all of the stuff when you can get to all of the stuff.
Went to the store to get some medicine for my headache.
Headache is gone.
Gathered enough energy to get dressed to go to the gym.
Went to the gym.
Worked out.
Came home.
Headache still gone.

Thankful for my life.

A poem a day for 2015 - for day 100 (and I know this is not a poem but...) - For truth's sake

Being bi-polar is dealing with the downs sometimes. It happens. They happen. Sometimes I can feel them coming on. In fact, often I can. Other times they strike like thunder on a clear day. I felt it coming this time. Last night was hard. I get low. Chemically low. I knew when I took off work on Wednesday and didn't take the time to really be with myself that that wasn't the end of this cycle. I get angry with myself when the cycles come. I always do. I know it's not my fault, but I still get down on myself. I feel disappointed because I can have so many good days and then get slammed. The good days make me feel like I'm cured. Like this thing was just a phase. The slams remind me that it's not over and may never be. I have to deal with it. And I do. Best I can. I have God, a faithful prayer life, spiritual practices, great friends, and a gym. Now I have a gym. Before gym I took long walks.

The slams, the downs, the crazies... I have a ton of names for the feelings. The sinking is my newest. I felt the sinking coming on last week and tried to avoid it. Couldn't. It hit hard last night and I did what I do. I braced myself. I cried. I called a friend. I called on God. I tried to write, couldn't. I tried to wash the dishes, couldn't. I tried to fold and put away the laundry, couldn't. Except for this nagging headache (the same one I've had for months. I have an appointment with the doctor on Tuesday about the headaches. I'm handling it.) I feel better today. At the torque of the sinking I get afraid. Very afraid. Mostly because I feel like I'm never going to get on the other side. I fear I'm going to be stuck, sunk. I always get to the other side. It doesn't stop me from being afraid.

The best way I can describe it is like, like... I used to drink. Wine mostly. Red especially. I don't anymore because of these headaches that started in January. But that's another story. Twice in my life I tried marijuana brownies. Okay maybe three times. Anyway, the first time I was high and felt like I was floating out of my skin. It wasn't like a Merlot high at all. I couldn't control it, I was just floating. I remember feeling afraid that I would never come down. That I would be stuck floating. Forever. Needless to say marijuana is not my bag. And it gave me a horrible headache afterward (and I'm a punk about headaches). But that's what I feel like when I'm chemically low. Like I'm going to feel that low forever. For. Ev. Er!

I get dark and scary thoughts. Calling friends help. But the thoughts (that are not my friends) tell me crazy things. They tell me that no one wants to hear about my sinking. That I have nothing new to say. That they won't know what to say and will hate me for calling. It's never true, but it's how I feel in the moment. The moments. The moments that feel forever.

Last night, on top of having a burning headache I was so low and dark. I called Reverdia. She's close. I know she understands. I love her. I know she loves me. Her voice was God. Her words were God's words. I needed it all of it. After talking to her I felt my meds kicking in and I was able to rest well. I still woke up with a headache but the sinking had passed. Thankfully. I get afraid because I don't know how long the episodes will last.

This morning I washed the dishes (except for that oatmeal pot I've decided needs to soak). I folded and put away the laundry. I ate some Greek yogurt. I talked to a friend. I was supposed to be at a video shoot this morning that I couldn't make and talked to the director. I really don't like rescheduling things but I just couldn't today. Perhaps this is too much to say. I never know. The voices during my dark times are not my friends but I love them for not letting me write when I'm really low. Who knows what I would say? But I wanted to get something out today. Writing helps. Writing helps me see my feelings in black and white. It helps me explain this thing little by little to you. And hopefully it helps you, whoever you are, understand your own feelings. Maybe you sink too from time to time.

There is such a negative stigma on people with mental illnesses and as best as I can I want to destroy that stigma. Bi-polar looks like me. It looks like someone you know and love. Show some love, okay? Show some understanding, some love and compassion. Okay?
Thank you Reverdia Trammell for sweet and encouraging conversations in the middle of your drive. I love you. You know that though, right?

Friday, April 10, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - for day 99 - Tug

Reminding myself
I belong to me. Feeling
pulled all of the ways.

A poem a day for 2015 - for day 98 - Go ahead

Michael Slager shot Walter Scott eight times while his back was turned and I do not have more words for another poem about another black murder. I don't. I have the same words. The same words I had for all of the other black men and women before. America does not need to send me another message about how she feels about me and my people. She does not. Michael Slager has been charged with murder but ask me how hopeful I am that he will be convicted. Ask me.
Glad I honored my mind and body and went to the gym today. I feel good. I had and early class and the majority of my students were not working like I wanted them to or like I knew they could. They said that it was Friday and they weren't feeling it. As if. I didn't let them get to me. I did my job. Appreciated the other students who did their jobs. Came home and changed clothes and carried my self to the gym. I didn't do my normal workout but I honor myself for getting done what I did get done.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Now they are playing and replaying the cop shooting Walter Scott. I am stiff. I am aching. I am sore from watching ANOTHER cop on black murder. I am ill from all the killing. The gangs, the cops, the all of it. I am burning from knowing that this country gives no damns about black people. None.

Take back the night

"Women are often told to be extra careful and take precautions when going out at night. In some parts of the world, even today, women are not allowed out at night. So when women struggle for freedom, we must start at the beginning by fighting  for freedom of movement, which we have not had and do not now have. We must recognize that freedom of movement is a precondition for anything else. It comes before freedom of speech in importance because without it freedom of speech cannot in fact exist."

The Night and Danger by Andrea Dworkin
I was down yesterday. The depression hits me hard sometimes and I feel stuck. That's when I know I need to take minute, a day, the time it takes to get it together. I didn't go to work. I needed the time. I needed the prayer. I needed the cry. Woke up feeling much better. Was a good day at work. Thankfully the students cooperated. I have a fear of breaking down in front of them so to prevent that I take care of myself and take the time I need when I feel the sinking. I'm swimming today. Praise God I'm swimming.

Dear Sunny - Women in the Village go 'round and 'round

 To answer the first question of your last letter, yes, I have been getting your letters. All of them. I haven’t been in a place in my head where I could write you back. You knew I would answer you eventually, didn’t you?

I’m very proud of you for staying in school. You keep up with you education and writing and all of that and really make something of yourself, okay? I know you will. God already made something of you, you just keep you hand in His and stay on the right path. I guess here I go again sounding like a big brother. I know you never like when I speak like that to you. Look Sunny, I don’t really know how to write you no letter. There are so many things I wanna say and maybe I will get to say them all one day and maybe I won’t. I know how you have always felt about me. I have always felt that way about you too. I know a smart girl like you understands why we could never make something of what we felt. Here you were a young good girl doing well in school and then there was me five years older and always on the wrong side of the law and caring too much about you to even think ‘bout messin’ you up. The best I could do, Sunny, was to be the big brother you never had. Especially in a place like The Village.

Man, I miss home. The Village. The Jungle. The streets. But I gotta put that behind me now. You gotta put that behind you too, Sunny. The Village will always be a part of your life because it’s a part of you. But you can’t live like your whole life is what you left. You gotta remember and love the life you had and keep moving on. You spend your life missing someplace you left you will never leave and see the world. You gotta keep moving. Keep seeing. Sure, Baby, you go back and visit. Even keep up the house your daddy left you if you want to, but the world is too big for you to stop right there. You gotta take The Village out into the whole world. You hear me?

Baby, I’m not getting out of here. I don’t want you comin’ down here trying to visit me or nothin’ like that. You just send me postcards with those fancy poems. And keep sending me those stories. That’s what you can do for me, okay?

I’m adjusting to all of this. Of course being inside ain’t brand new to me. The adjustment comes in making my mind know that I’m gon stay right here. I couldn’t let Jermaine do no time for something he didn’t do. You and me and everybody who know Jermaine know he didn’t shoot that boy. MarcusRufus maybe, but not Jermaine. He just had too mucha good thing going for his life for me to watch that happen. I put word out that I was in the car with them and that I did it. The gun they found three blocks away was one of mine. Hell, almost all the guns across The Village and The Jungle was one of mine. They been after me for a real long time so that wasn’t no hard sell. Especially to some crooked, lazy cops. If they was gon get somebody for killing that kid, it wasn’t gon be Jermaine. I keep praying that MarcusRufus nim don’t waste their lives. Jermaine is doing real good in college now and playing real good too. I’m proud of him. Like I am proud of you.

I’m tired, Sunny. I’ve been running for a long time. Not just from the law with all the dirt I’ve done. But from myself. I still think about Tweet. I think about Tweet so much that little girl take up most of my headspace. Ryan was watching Tweet until Rico got back. I came by and he left the stuff on the table. The rest is what everybody else know. They killed Breanda for killing Ryan. That’s on my soul too. They didn’t kill Brenda, I killed Brenda. If I hadn’t started her on that stuff maybe she woulda never picked it up in the first place. My head is filled with what I shoulda done different.
I deserve to be in here, Baby. Not for shootin’ no kid, but maybe Tweet wouldn’t be dead if it wasn’t for me. Not just Tweet, but I think about how many pregnant mothers and jobless fathers I sold stuff to and how many other babies out there are dead or messed up because of me. In here maybe I might make a difference for good for somebody. I shol wasn’t doing much of it out there. Who knows, I might write me a book or something like that telling young brothas to stay outta this place.

Keep doing what you’re doing and remember that I will always love you.

Melvin Davis Dupree (Country)

Introduction - Women in the Village go 'round and 'round

I walked quickly across the perfectly manicured grass at Long Beach State University. I passed the drama department doing theatre exercises outside. Passed a group of Asian students in a deep conversation about something. There were African-American students gearing up for a protest against police brutality and a group of white women and men in a debate about women’s rights. I love the diversity of the students and faculty at this school. I flew up two flights of camel colored stairs to my English class and waited for Professor Cheatham to hand out the break assignment. This is my first year of college and I’ve been taking it in like a sponge. Storing every assignment as opportunity to expand my world. I don’t even mind that we have homework during spring break. Each week it is something else to keep me on my creative toes. I got to class and stared at the assumed privilege of the other students. The fancy clothes and expensive cars. Trips home every vacation. The assumed privilege. I love Professor Cheatham. She reminds me of the women from home with her round bottom and thin dresses. Chocolate skin and big legs. And every now and then after a great big laugh, the music comes out in her tongue. Home. The assignment was…home. We had to create a project describing the communities we come from. Already I have ideas. I can’t decide yet if it will be a video or written project. Professor Cheatham is open to however we want to do it. I’m going to focus on the women of my home.  

Home for me is less than forty miles away but it seems much farther. I live in a part of Los Angeles that many people don’t know about. Most of the people where I live either come from the south or their parents did. I live in a really small section of a very big town. We don’t venture out much though. Our world is divided into two small parts we call The Jungle and The Village. Mostly we just interact with each other. Our parents and grandparents came from the same towns together. I’m from The Village.
This assignment could not have come at a better time. Lately I sit in my dorm room at night and stare out of the window. Remembering. The trees. The lovin’. The language. The women in The Village. 

My name is Phoebe Sunday Morning Waters but most folks call me Sunny. I have lived most of my life in The Village. All of my life until I went to college. If it was left completely up to me I would have continued school right there in The Village at Harriet Tubman College behind The Joint where the drums, jazz and poetry never stopped, but Daddy wouldn’t have it. Mama and Daddy divorced when I was only four months old and I lived with my Daddy. They both raised me ‘cause Mama lived less than six miles away in The Jungle. Daddy made sure I did well in school and Mama made sure I kept writing poetry and painting and playing chess. She taught me how to play chess. She said I was born writing poetry. They both said I would go away to college and see the whole world someday. I have always done well in school and could have gone somewhere out of state but I wanted to stay close enough to home for now. I’ll have plenty of time to see the whole world. But the whole world oughta know The Village is what I always felt. 

I didn’t know how magical it was until I left. I spent nights in my dorm room laughing over and over at things that were normal at home that would be so strange to the rest of the world. I’m so sorry for the children who don’t have The Village. When my schoolmates and I are having lunch sometimes I entertain them with a story or two. They think I’m making most of them up. None of them have ever heard of The Village. I catch the bus home often to see my favorite cousin Michelle who I keep trying to get to visit me here. “Leave for what?” She always says. I get it. I really do. The drama of real life is more real there than anywhere. And I don’t have to go everywhere to know that. 

From the outside looking in it is easy for one to believe that we are not progressive, that we are ignorant and stale. Nothing could be further from the truth. That’s what’s so funny, you know? Watching the faces of folks who could never understand why we do what we do, speak how we speak, love how we love. Like Michelle, who had her first baby when we were seventeen. She named him Thomas Jones Pride, Jr. the first. See, Michelle and Thomas had been going together since the ninth grade at Bishop Tolliver’s Junior High School, and he pinky blood promised her that they would get married and stay married forever. She believed him. Maybe he believed him too at the time. She got pregnant and just three months after that Sharita Bailey with the big breast and long hair got pregnant too. Turns out he told her that they would get married and live happily ever after too. Michelle and Sharita never got along very well and this just added salt to a fresh cut. Michelle still wanted Thomas and of course Sharita did too. You would think that there was some shortage of men in The Village but folks want what and who they want you know? At the same time they both found out that they were having boys and Michelle’s baby was due first so of course hers would be da da dadaaaa!!! Thomas Jones Pride Junior the first! And Sharita’s boy was just plain ole Thomas Pride Jr. (poor Sharita.) See, we love the way we love. 

They come from everywhere and ended up here. They aint goin' nowhere. Ain’t nowhere to go. Ain’t nothin’ to get. These women in The Village are being. Don’t concern yourself with time and space. Don’t be fooled by the lazy tongue. Don’t you confuse grammar and wisdom. They ain’t nothin’ to do with one the nother. These women, they know the secret. This is The Village that raised me.

Dear Mom, okay, thank you for answering your phone.
Dear Mom, please answer your phone. Please answer your phone. I get feelings when you call me and then I call you back and you don't answer your phone.
I wanna live in Paris.
I'm proud of my son for all the reasons. And...today he is on his way to San Diego for a film competition with his teacher and some other students. My prayers are always with him. Wishing him fun and education and a blessed and safe experience. Proud mommy moment.

A poem a day for 2015 - for day 97 - Climbing

This new day brings wait
brings anticipation for
steady calm and ease

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - for day 96 - The sinking

Some days I can do
it. Some days I cannot and
today I cannot.
Ask me if I feel like grading papers right now. Go ahead. Ask.

A poem a day for 2015 - for day 95 - Molasses

I am motionless.
Stuck as a cow middle of
road. I have no jump.
I have zero desire to write a poem. I'm behind, again, on my poem a day project. Surprise surprise. I'll get caught up. This week I'll get caught up. This week. This week.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - day 94 - For Deja

Sitting with my niece the night before her birthday
We are laughing and watching Modern Family
We playfully argue about whose show this is
It's mine
Modern Family is my show
Tonight she can win though
She turns fourteen tomorrow
She can win
It's true what they say about time and how fast it goes by
She was just born yesterday
Today she is almost as tall as I
She is a dedicated basketball and soccer player
She usually gets straight a's on her report cards
And she's sweet
I'm gushing over my niece
And she deserves it
Did I tell you how beautiful she is
She is beautiful
And growing so fast
She combs her own hair
I remember when my sister would put ponytails all over her head with colorful barrettes
Now she wears braids down her back or a bun on top of her head
She will be fourteen years old tomorrow
April fifth. Fifth
When she was a little girl she couldn't say fifth so she said pif
April pif
Deja's birthday will always be April pif
Fourteen years old 

Friday, April 3, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - day 93 - I am I am

I am a sunshine
I am a sunshine
Did you know
Way I fling these prayers to sky
For you
For me too
For all of us
I am a river
I am a river
Could you tell
Way water runs out my eyes
Down my cheeks
For your babies
For mine
All the babies are mine
Did you know
Is it obvious
All the children done sucked my breasts
All the young done come from my belly
I am a sister
I am a daughter
I am a mother
I am an aunt
I am a friend
I am a people
A people people
Did you know
Way I love you like I loved

So, I got offered a TED Talk! Yep! Here's the catch, I would have to miss part of my son's graduation and guess what I'm NOT going to do? You guessed it. There may be other TED Talks but only one high school graduation for my son. Proud mommy!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - day 92 - This day

This day is a prayer
This day is awake eyes and moving feet
This day is a text from my mother
To join her at the gym
This is gym day
This is computer lab day at Starbucks
Bus going by
Breeze on my face
Peppermint shower
This day is easy moments
This day is my mother and V Kali in the village
This is village day
This day is it takes a village
We talk about trees
And raccoons and thorn bushes and tree roots that destroy plumbing
This day is easy
This day is easy does not mean no challenge
Because he is still in hospital
She is still angry
They are still missing
They are still dead
We are still reminding other folks and ourselves that black lives matter
Black lives matter is still a hashtag
This day is self care
This is trust day as the African man asks me to watch his computer
As he goes into the restroom
He leaves his coffee and computer and bag and notes
This day he knows I am not a thief
I am not a thief
I am trustworthy
This day the painter is showing his work in the lobby
Black art
Black lives
Black coffee
Black folks
Black village
Black matters
This is Crenshaw day
This is breath day
This is inhale and exhale
This is pronounce all the black names correctly day at this Starbucks
This is free write day
This day is to release words
To plug in and plug out
This is love yourself day
Love yourselves day
This day I know you are out there
This day I know you are listening
This is love myself day
This is love day
This day is this
This this day

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A poem a day for 2015 - day 91 - Like this moment

I appreciate moments precious as these
As dropping my niece off at school
Hearing her say I love you as she jumps out of the car
Hearing myself respond I love you too
Saying prayers for my son
Giving thanks for my friends and family
Tying my shoe
Eating my food
Locking my door
These are the moments
I take for granted
These are the moments I try not to take for granted

This breath
And then this

A month ago my son and niece and nephew could
Walk down Santa Fe and buy a burger and walk the dog
But a boy was killed over there
Too close to home
A black boy
A black boy was killed
A black boy was stabbed to death
Too close to home

I should have appreciated those moments then
When they could walk down the street without stepping over
A black boy's blood

But there is now
There are moments now
Like I love yous
Like family
Like movies and memories
Like love
Like now