Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Esau's brew in A minor

A woman, I loved once
Even her soundless quiet
towers the smallest soul
In stalking feet

“Who stole the soul
From its home?” she sings in stormy colored
hurricane harmonies

Six silver steel strings are dressed and waiting
Fresh sticks are ready for rhythm breaking
Skin caresses twinkling saxophones
punch drunk with electric breath
Tendriled keys with girlish pitches
fish for a tune to bait
aquarian hips set in sizzling shimmering swaybacks

out of the whole of mouth, however,
is a formless voice that gives no wind--

There is a woman I once loved.
the spirit of her softest kiss
levied oaks and willows
her wail unearths the dead from their respite
her tears call forth the moonlight that lie upon lakes
they spill into the streets
augmented by bruised blackness
mistaken for blues

she undresses my memory
until I am naked with the shame of
my past
in a minor
she gives me all of her
thick body
in wide blues and violets and greens and reds
riveting praise

I am a bevy of her
Subject to her verbed word
In human form
I am unchaste
From the unrequited stickiness
Between the man that i am that which I could be
She speaks in song, a roaring rubble---
Lengthening my longing with heavy lips
i am flattened
by the spiteful difference

There is a woman, whom I once loved,
once loved me.

I left her
In a dim corner
The brightest light
In Philadelphia
The stillborn star of free will

I am unworthy, even of her hate.

Tonight, I will touch you
love you
hope you are her
pray that I am me
But in that still moment
when you call my name

I hear her,
love her
so loudly.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Consider it a blessing

Knowing that the chains are broken on my behalf
I lay to rest my battle,

Like wind to the wound
heavy memory irreligiously crushes the simplest wishes
Yet, I am encouraged

Today, I break bread with my past
Though it is thick, hard willed, and obdurate

big bodacious desire, buttered hopes I offer for
Hard heeled words, hungry for higher ground

I lift my coldest hope to my lips, cup it in my hands and drink
Knowing the chains are broken on my behalf

Today I break bread with my past
With an opulent, full bodied faith,
A generous hope

A faultless love
That feeds the soul that which the body cannot

Thursday, December 21, 2006

the five finger discount (a gigan)

You too, can create a gigan. The Gigan is created and named by Ruth Ellen Kocher
after one of her favorite godzilla movie-monsters.

The form consist of 16 lines in following order:

couplet (2-line stanza)

tercet (3-line stanza)






The 1st and the 11th line are the same.
The 6th and 12th line are the same.

be careful. After you read mine you will see what i mean...

peace on earth
whipped like wind

against a burning fist full of five finger discounts
a gritty smile plays coyly against empty eyes
he's all stomach

the booty was sparsely won
but opulently gained

skipping over his own heart
he imagines babygirl's ears ringing in the new year

legs hoisted up over his narrow back
peace on earth

the booty was sparsely won
but feverishly dreamt--and fully his
he smiled at the act, effortless as his execution

until his sweet prize
with the force of all five fingers, discounted him.

the silent opus

the curl of the cup
against the lip
as the rice
from unbecoming

" caustically haunting as red on china", critics say…

one, two, four beats

it is
as is
the light
of the world
punctuated by darkness
her moonlit moan slides
down her throat
pungent and piercing

if she were in her own
the songs would come
unrestained by the
wanderlust white
of the milk
as it pours
soundlessly on sable skin
rich with spite

unforgivingly bright
against the black faced stage

if she were in her own
her opus would be mundanely beautiful

she'd refrain from her refrain
her genius her own undoing

instead she's
tasting life
raw and hot
the foreshadowing

eating sheer will
there is no room
for the distended dissatisfaction

come - ing
un be com ing
as they said

the last note lingers
rips the veil of their "ohh's"
in a rapidly rising troubled resonance
it tolls;
absence waters their
reddened ears

lost in the light
never hears

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


warm weathered
still standing

I touch a moving universe
it sticks to my fingers
luminous and translucent

Like silk, it pulls.

Where would I be without
my questions
soaring high over a milky bay?
the light from
far away stars

and rash

nursing my sorrows

forever waiting?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

the fish fry: a cautionary tale

why? because

she smokes;
even against better judgment
eats grits with butter, despite the cholesterol

and she’s hungry. Add to that

a philandering good-for-nothing
two bit desire
two parts liquid longing
allowed to boil and billow
over open barrel blues
served raw with sizzling peaches
-- the pits

her saving grace-
wedding vows broken
before the stone faced china
a man who loved the idea of her,
like fat free buttermilk

it's the teeth. they said
opulent, square, they rest in the beveled
corners of brown lips
dripping with diamonds
that make even mighty panties
drop mighty

frying up rendezvous
two by two; over easy
ma'am, he says breathily
i'll take mine to go

her frizzy curls suck the humidity like a pipe
sticking to her neck like skin
she's archetypical
tar black and nappy headed
on saturday nites the only kitchen
she's fingering
is the pulse of the stolen moment
on the cusp of venus touch, moon rising
hearing her heart
pirouette in his obsidian stomach

a slip of his hand bows to her greatness
under a wind blown sheer dress
she's been told not to soil

they crushintolove

easy on the eggshells
eyes open
eating hot id, greedily, and bare handed

that southern style
sweet meat
that flakes
like fish
when hot

he offers himself
stirring her soulfully
golden glass bubbles
blow from
the cast iron
so quickly

they never saw the trigger

be as it may

be as it may then
that love isn't a begger
it's a borrower

Friday, December 01, 2006

one thing is needed

In Memory of Officer Kaliah Harper

inspiration passages....
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed." Luke 10:38-41

2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

I sense your name
Upon the shadows

You beckon to me with full voice
Speak to me with a clear mind

The vine is empty,
But the soul is full.

I sense your name upon the shadows
your awkward dream cushions me
chariots of your speech
deliver me from my moment

Your voice burns my mind
it sears; it kisses my charred lips
the nape of the dawn
dissolves my mourning ashes
with the cool dew of your might

You hover above my destiny
linger in every mourner
The heaviness of your hope
Heralds even ears to cry

I sense your name upon the shadows
The gleaned price
Because he who lives, dies
And he who dies, lives

All that a man might do means
at the final hour
Without your breath billowing over the darkness
Beckoning our arrival
We mistake as life

I sense your name upon the shadows


Is Thy name.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Favored-- a song

I can't tell--
I can't tell you
What to do
I can't even tell

But might I suggest
You fall on your face
and thank the Lord
for giving you grace
while singing
"Favored, Favored, am I"


Favored, favored am I
favored, favored am I
You blessed be Lord
with your best
Overlooked my unworthiness
and so i sing
"Favored, favored, am I"

They may have left
left you
in the cold
and just walked on by

But might I suggest
You fall on your face
and thank the Lord
for giving you grace
while singing
"Favored, Favored, am I"

Sunday, November 26, 2006

for dreamgirls

hug upon
my curves
like a road untraveled
golden thread unraveled
from a silken gown
my landscape is none other than lovely
plunging, daringly full
and dreamed stitched

do you dream as well as
you dine, drunkenly they ask me
or maybe as well
as you sleep
avec la vie si douce,
pourquoi vous rĂªver?

you watch
i'll walk upon me with
young come hither eyes
yellow flower
in my tender hair, child
spirit meek, but never mild

star too hot to touch
the spindle pricks like this

as you sleep on the beauty
that your fantasy
is too small
to capture
in your baby bottles

but you just keep on rubbin'--
waiting for a wish

the stilled soul

the stilled soul
to life
opens its
ample mouth
kissing today
breathing in the
whimsical womb world
lets go

Monday, November 20, 2006

harlem is (a reflection)

harlem is
big bodied bricks
legacy rising
like the sun

bathing brownstones
over high highs

the pitter patter of
ten thousand feet
in a dream deep breath
echoing against
the ear of
New York --


"eat your epicurean"

in my
so called naivete
withheld nothing
from you
believing that you would not steal
what was given freely

I cooked.
and seared.
and chopped.
and simmered.
and basted
with the best

I lost
my lover
a latent
who liked tender things
rare and chilled
even a head held high.

I no longer cook your meals
although I am seared with the scent
of your sex

a love
it went down well,
but ended angry;
a spiteful
after taste
that leaves my mouth
bitter and sore with words

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Fusion (coming together)

Tasting the weight of my own
I was satisfied
beacause I was redeemed

How much would it cost you
to dream your own dream?
Live your own life?
Is all that you are and will ever be
Wrapped up in your potentiality
Or are you just yearning
To be free
From the potential
I see

If time were to reach over and touch itself
And all that was left was the
scent of utter expectation
petal soft and sweet
but deep like death
would it smell as sweet once your breathed the last breath
would you even expect to breathe it in
I’m saying this young men
Before you get locked into
Your potential, unrealized

What is a measure of a man’s worth
If not his worth
Not net worth
But expect worth
Expect that worth is worth something
Not because it is assigned
Or taken
But because it is lived

If you go to try to buy your soul
You’ll discover that you will never be able to pay the price
Of something which you live in
But don’t own

Do you live with the
Gloat of your ghosts
Of dreams that your dreamed so well
That you could almost smell
But have not lived to tell?
Is it so easy to live and die
From what we barter and sell
For 30 sheckles and a prize

Is your God given potential
Simply a token prize
That you wear around your neck
To show the next man
That you, could be
That you would be
Can be taken if tried?

With every living breath of
All the tears of mothers who birthed sons who have died
Keeping their eyes on an unwinnable prize

(spoken and sung)
With every prayer that God hears
More frequent than gunshots
And lots
Cast for the man that deep down
You think you could never be
Inked by destiny
Potentially, realized?
Is the man you long to be the one that stares you in your eyes
When you reflect
Or have you become the enemy
You protect?

But oh how I long to see you fly
In your worth
That is so prized
That even God died
That one
The rebellious, unloved son
Resillent repentance is in the way
A father takes his son by the shoulders
And say I understand
I believe you can be the man you dream you can
Think you can
Not by power, or by might, but by the stripes
Of my hand

That mold you
Holds you
Consoles the spirit of what
You gave up so long ago to an enemy
That will take it from you
That keeps on taking it and taking it and taking it
And deny the charge
That sold you an empty bag
And left

Flesh of my flesh
Breath of my breath
God gave you potential
Not to sell it
But to use it
Not to sell it
But to use it
Not to sell it
But to use it
The potential of your soul is already bought

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


looking for the answer
in an ocean
of questions

hope may float
i am without a life jacket

Monday, November 13, 2006

That Feeling (song)

Lovely as a ray of sun
that touches me when the mourning comes
and it feels good

Brilliant as the bright blue sea
when the peace of God washes over me
and it feels good

verse i.
It feels good
Not the kind of good you feel
when you've got money in your hand

It feels good
not the kind of good you feel
when you're out chillin' wit your man

It feels good
not the kind of good you feel when you've got your
hair did, nails did, and you know you're looking fine
It feels good
it's that kind of feeling that's soul appealing
when He says the battle's not yours, but mine
holy and divine

Lovely as a ray of sun
that touches me when the mourning comes
and it feels good

Brilliant as the bright blue sea
when the peace of God washes over me
and it feels good

verse ii.
It feels good
to know that everyday you've got peace
regardless of circumstance

It feels good
To know if you ain't got a dime to your name
you can shout and dance

It feels good
to know you can lift your eyes
and help will come
when it looks like you have lost

It feels good
to know no matter what you've said or done
he has paid the price
He has paid the cost

Lovely as a ray of sun
that touches me when the mourning comes
and it feels good

Brilliant as the bright blue sea
when the peace of God washes over me
and it feels good

It feels good
Lord you've been better to me
than I could ever be
to myself
and I thank ya
It feels good
Jesus you've been
better to me
than I could ever be to myself
and Lord I thank ya

Jesus, real love
Jesus, my real love
Jesus, is real love
Real love, real love..

Some folks
wanna talk about the man that made them good last night
But I wanna sing about the man who woke me up this morning

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

the dust of the damned

of ashes, and only ashes we send them
tall black
men in hats
colored by their smug grins
dreams dressed in ties, a bit to snug

who took the dream
from its box
and made it display
a mausoleum
rather than

who undressed our civil memory
caught in the haze of breezy talk
lifted up what we skirt
and revealed
what men left uncovered?

what won't men steal in the name
of freedom
and hand over for
thirty sheckles and a prize?

people need to believe
in their heroes
so agonizingly
they become their breath
they mold the lie with their hearts
until gold and gleaming
it tarnishes like silver

how are you? my sister, they say smiling.
my brothers who hang their hat on my heart
shine their shoes with my bruise
pay their rent with my debt
but would not offer me a cold glass of water
for my thirst

the truth is,
YOU wouldn't understand if I told you
so instead I will pray
and be patient.

who am I to smother
their lungs
with the greedy kiss
of truth?
who am I to be
cupping and sucking
an open nose
of gods, who are but ashes
men, who are but dust?

the truth, for those who really want to know

i. look

i seem to be lost
in my own integrity
searching for my core

ii. know

It has been said that God knows
The inner person of the heart
we do not need to wear it
on our sleeves
or vests like

Monday, October 30, 2006

just a theory

loving you
takes time;
spent all my energy
from the pull
of your words
by the posture of
bad habits
and the though
cannot be destroyed
only changed
your heart
to mine
body does not will itself to stay in in motion;
one thing overcomes all
all things return to dust
all love resturns to Source
and all theory in the presence of spirit
is partial

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Plot: Sean, a young man looking for salvation his place in life, believes that music will heal his family, friends, and his neighborhood.

Character Descriptions

Sean Jones: A young man looking for his way in life, an aspiring party promoter
Shara Moore: Cousin and best friend to Simone
Pharaoh Conners: Charismatic, bright, but bad best friend of Sean.
Simone Jackson: A young budding dancer, the pastor’s daughter, love interest of Sean.
Reese Jones: Sean’s mother
Duke Jones: Sean’s father
Pastor Art Jackson: Simone’s father
Ms. Calle Jackson: Simone’s mother
Cesar Alvarez: Close friend to Sean.
Mrs. Candice: A teacher
Mrs. Davis: An elderly woman Reese cares for


(Off Stage)
Memory is a funny thing. I don’t remember my father leaving my mother, but I do remember his dancing.

(Lights Up. A couch and coffee table sit in the middle of the stage. Sean, age 10 is dancing with his mother, Reese, and his father Duke. The song “Devotion” by Earth Wind and Fire plays, Emphasis on “We believe that is there is anything you want to do in life, you need devotion.”)

My father was a musician. He played drums for some of the greatest soul bands around. And when he played it was like everything in the world was on time. Mama and Daddy were the class of 1975, so you know they had to keep it real. Mama and Daddy would throw parties every weekend for the neighbors, family, friends. We’d dance and eat and laugh. Nobody ever faught. On Sundays he played for different churches.

(Silently, Reese and Duke begin to argue. Duke gets upset and exits the stage. Sean looks on.)

Then one day, they had a fight. About money. Mostly that they never had any, and he left. And when he left, the music stopped. My mother threw out all the records.

(Reese reaches into the closet and puts on an attendant’s smock. Sean sits on the couch listening to a walkman.)

Sean! Come on boy, I gotta get to work. (Sean can’t hear her. Reese pulls his arm.) Sean! Now! (Sean gets up and follows his mother down stage to a hospital bed, where MRS. DAVIS lies. Sean sits in the chair as REESE attends to MRS. DAVIS.)

My mother got a job as a caregiver at a nursing home. She didn’t have a babysitter, so she took me with her.
We were a team, but I missed the music. I never asked her about what happened, and that probably was a good thing, because she never offered an explanation. We’d go to church every now and then. I’d always ask mama, what we getting dressed up for? She’d say, “I’m looking for something.” She’d read the Bible to me. Then one day, we just stopped. I used to wonder why if God loved me so much, why did me and mama had to struggle. After my father left, my mother stopped looking for God.

As I got older, I guess I did too. This is the story of how He found me.
(LIGHTS UP. SHARA and SIMONE are talking and laughing at SCHOOL. Enter, PHAROAH, CESAR and SEAN.)
Like most men, I tried to find God for the wrong reason.
(To Shara)
Shara, What did you get for the perameters on number 6?
I got nine.
Me too.

Now Pharoah, --and yes, that is his real name, was the only one I knew who was crazy enough to hang with me. We spent the majority of our days looking for some trouble to get into if it didn’t find us first. Cesar, tagged along, and tried to hang. Now Simone was fine, but off limits. She was the Pastor’s daughter, and even I didn’t have the audacity to overstep my boundaries. Cauze rumor had it her daddy was crazy. He might bless AND beat you.
AY, Ladies, you know if you really want to get an A on that test, you should’ve just called me. I got ALL the answers.
Did you hear someone talking ?
(SEAN stares at SIMONE who looks away, annoyed)
Why you looking at me, I didn’t do nothing.
Anything. Nothing is a double negative, (under her breath) just like you.

Aww, don’t nobody want you, church girl. Why don’t you go on back to reading your little love stories, because we’re playas.

I’m praying for you, Pharoah.

You should be thankin’ me, child, ‘cause I just blessed you with my presence.

Oooh! I don’t believe we asked any of you “playa, playas” over here. You don’t go to school half the time anyway, so since y’all are such wannabe “playas” why don’t you play on?


You know you want some of this, girl, don’t fight the feeling. (The boys break into laughter and pounds. The girls go back to studying.)

Man you got these girls agitated man.

Don’t hate, congratulate!
(More laughter. During the laughter, a record falls out of Sean’s backpack. Cesar picks it up.)

Chaka Kahn and Rufus. Ay, man you be listening to this stuff?

Didn’t you get the memo? Rufus went the way of the jherri curl. Tell me is your wallet plaid, too, man?

I don’t care what you say, this is good music. I’m gonna have a 70’s party for my birthday. (Does a 70’s spin) and we’ll see who reigns then.

(The bell rings for school.)

Whatever, man. Look I gotta bounce.

You headed to the mall?

See you up there.

(Pharoah exits, with Cesar following.)

Wait up!

(Simone and Shara pack their backpacks and head to class.)

Hey Simone. Can I talk to you for a moment?

I can’t be late.

Just a moment.

(Simone hesitates and then motions to Shara that she will catch up.)


I just wanted to see how your day is going.

How my day is going? You stopped me for that?

Yeah. You look like you’re studying hard.

And you look like you’re hardly studying.

I’m just trying to be nice to you. So what does a man have to do to get your attention?

Well, first of all, you’d have to be a man. And secondly, you’d have to have some substance to hold my attention.

And what makes you think I don’t.
Does Pharoah do all your thinking for you. (Sean is quiet) That’s what I thought.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Pilate’s Question

What is truth?

Does it have a name?

Though I have been called many things that I am not
And am many things I have not been called
I am

I have stood before
Rulers and the ruled
Knees bent
To Him alone

What is in a name?

It has been said that in life
Nothing is personal
But what is more personal
than this
Ritual of rites
Than the substance of things hoped for
The evidence of things not seen

What is in a name
That could be of such value
That even the King of Kings and Lord of Lords
Of whom one day every knee shall bow
And every tongue shall confess
Had to prompt his public for their praise
Beg his betrothed for their mercy

Yet is it not in His name that everything absolved by loss
Is restored?

Who, then, does she think she is?
This girl, this not even a woman, this child
That stands before us?

I am my mother’s daughter
A sister to Erica
A grand daughter To Harrison and Mary Rhynes
And Thelma and Walter Milam
Who chased the Hot east blowing wind
From dream heavy red Texas to California shipyards
I am the tears in my slave ancestor’s hopes
I am imperfection perfecting
A public servant
A private dreamer
A practical optimist
a mere moment held by this space
to disappear in the great vacuum of time
Yet in it, my hope is resolved
I was not supposed to survive
Period, not comma,
Period, not comma,
But I live because He lives in me
A woman of few means, but great resources
A child of God
a servant of Jesus Christ
Son of the most high God

And who knows if I have come to such a time
And place as this for this purpose?

So you ask me who I am?

I simply return the favor,
I simply pray that God grant you mercy
Kindness and love
And that you wake up in the morning, knowing
That you are not your own, nor are you here on your own

I answer the question with a question asked long ago

Who do you say I am?

What is truth?

Friday, October 20, 2006

This Bridge Called My Back

verse i. (repeat x2)

There is this bridge
I call my back
and it is where I carry my pain

I've labored
been highly favored
sent to the back
when I was next in line
I've carried
wounded wishes
of the enemy
upon my spine
and I'm cryin'
Lord, don't you think it's time
That I come home
from home
I'm ready to lay my burden
at the throne

I carried it
(Depression and fear)
I carried it
(doubt in my ear)
I carried it
(so filled with fear)
I carried it
(Can't hear the still small voice)
I carried it
(history's shame)
I carried it
(stipped of my name)
I carried it
(I must reclaim)
I carried it
(My soul from all this pain)

And I'm cryin'
Lord, don't you think it's time?
That we come home
from home
We're ready to lay our burdens
at the throne

I'm ready
I'm ready
I'm ready, Lord, I'm ready
I'm ready
I'm ready
I'm ready Lord, oh so ready...

To lay down this bridge(called my)
at your throne!

To lay down this bridge(called my)
at your throne!

To lay down this bridge(called my)
at your throne!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Reach and Remember (For 3rd i)

For every one of you who fought a battle
In her own mind over her own worthiness--

"A moment of clarity where I remember who we were
I stretch my arms to the sky to embrace the sun
To show you that although I will never touch the sun
I can always reach"

This poem is dedicated to the memory of a fellow
Poet who penned those words

Fallen verbs into hungry ears of
A world that loves us coldly to the tender bone
Epitaph of a black woman soul gone home

This is the poem I wanted to write her, but
Ran out of time

You must remember God is with you

You see one august bloodied by too many
Loose words and stolen promises
She clutched a gun to herself
And silenced her wanting heart

I know how she felt; and you do too

And if it hurts to hear this, then you need this word
A hard word
Sometimes a hard word can save your life

You must remember God is with you

Sometimes while reaching for a distant sun you might get burned

By all the people who claim to love you
Love everything about you, but you
Love to handle you like a knob
Until you are tarnished and turned

Because you were just the moment they had before they walked
Into something more important
A forgotten tool that enabled their development
Left for the next man
to hold and release

Can you understand
It is just that you’re so articulate
So passionate
So intelligent

An unexpected concert of unexpected things
Conducted by faith
Accompanied by big sounds
Too big
To be found in a black skinned body
Bloated with stale possibilities
Waiting for the pin drop
Silence to pop

You must remember God is with you

When they say
If only you were more polished
Less rough around the edges
If only your soul was the color of the
rattan sand footstool on which you perch
Waiting on somebody
To acknowledge who you are
If only you were more like us, we’d
Take your sweet song of self
Into our arms and lay you down
Before the banks of the river jordan
and make love to you soul

Long as you
Ain’t misbehavin’
Yet because I chose me
The only sound you hear afterwards
Is the soulless silence

Love was never meant to be battlefield
And though perfect love casts out all fear
In her defiled name every gain has been wagered and won

Still, you must remember God is with you

This is for every colored girl who has considered suicide
After being forced to watch her hope dropped out six story windows
Like schoolbooks, and wedding rings, luck
And babies

This is for every colored girl who has
Been the water bearer
drunk the
Bathwater to carry the dream high
In her belly
For every woman that has kicked her way out the belly of the beast
Which hunts her happiness daily
Who has cried a red sea of rivers
Who has eaten the last supper

And like Old Mother Hubbard
Found her insides bare
From the brutal truth

That we are a tea set

not meant to survive
For anything outside of service
A compliment to the crumpets, but not the chef

You must remember God is with you

When wounded by words and tears you’ve held under your breath
Because when they all walk into the destiny you trained them for
You’re left

You must remember God is with you

No matter what man has never been man enough to love you
For who you are
Because he feared his own betrayal
For every spite you endured like a spider bite
Until it formed a depression in you smooth skin
And needed filling
But how can you fill a hole that once held who you are?
How can you smile in the face of a world that loves to love
Everything about you, but your ownself
How can you carry your cross that marks the spot
Where they even took the life of God himself
`Cept but to

Remember God is with you

after loosing your sons to your sorrow
And your daughters to your shame
And your men to the hate for the womb they feel cursed their existence

Seek repentance
Without silencing your own hurting heart

you must remember that no matter how many battlefields you
Are on you are somebody’s hero
Somebody is alive because you nursed them
Somebody is free because you lived
Somebody walked within your womb through wildernesses to build this country
Remember what is wonderful to the wise
Is meaningless to God
What good are towers when compared with the magnificence
Of the ocean?

Stand up, then, like a woman.

Like David, come in the name of the Lord
Let God’s sling shot
Cast its heart on all those who refuse to let you shine
Because it blinds their eyes to the truth

Don’t be ashamed of your everyday use, but use it
Until it nourishes the brilliance He plans for you.

though it may be hard to touch the sun
Put your weapons away
from you own heart
back away slowly
And remember

Monday, October 02, 2006

There is a Rose in the Valley

Scriptural Basis

Psalm 23 (NIV)
A psalm of David.
4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;

Song 2:1,6-8,16 (NIV) I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys...

Luke 12:27 (Wey) "Observe the lilies, how they grow. They neither labor nor spin. And yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was as beautifully dressed as one of these."

A Rose in the Valley

There is a rose in the valley and it grows
There is a rose in the valley and it grows
Though I may walk
Though I may walk
Though I may walk

I know I’m not alone

There is a lily in the valley and it grows
There is a lily in the valley and it grows

Though I may walk
Though I may walk
Though I may walk

I know I’m not alone

Give in to the wind
And lean in
But never allow my joy to be stolen
Or my legs to become unstable
I know that I can walk now only because
He’s able
I trek because He tries
I smile because He cries
I live because he dies
So I rest my laurels on no one but
Him whose head shall be crowned
I’ve been forgotten so long in lost
That I don’t know if I remember found
But I believe that life breathes
Releases my promise in my pain
Even the forgotten earth calls out his name
His name

Verse 11
I have struggled
With God and man
Victory is in His hand
I have labored
Been favored
But Lord I have
Fought the good fight
Entrusted You with my life

I am a rose in the valley
And I grow
I am a rose in the valley
And I grow

Though you may walk
Though you may walk
Though you may walk
Though you may walk
Though you may walk
Though you may walk

You are not alone
Not alone
Not alone

Monday, September 25, 2006

Black Graduation

Dedicated to our valedictorian, you know who you are…

To understand this story
You have to remember
I wasn’t meant to be here

If you were,
Your humanity may let you understand
And be chilled to the marrow
But if you weren’t you will
Cry streaming songs of

I wasn’t meant to be here

I wasn’t meant to dream
to be born, reborn to even be birthed
But to be used, sacrilegiously

I woke up this morning
In a world
That does not mean for me
To survive

And so I fight with
All the winds of a subtropical
Storm that wants to rip every bit
Of my character and countenance
Until no part of me
is in tact

I am the daughter of a people
For whom the cross has more than one meaning
And all roads lead to
Questions for God,
But still, we pray, Lord when you come into your kingdom
Remember us

I don’t want the world's love,
For if I were of this world I would be loved
Because the world loves its own
Your adoration is fetching
It waits for me to feast
At a dinner which I can
neither stomach
nor afford

I will lick the burnt breadcrumbs
Of self
And drink the bitter waters of
Half lucid dreams
Today, I will walk on water, and through fires that purify
Because I know that
More than bread alone is required
And where my well is
And who it is calms the storm

I am drenched in 40 times 10
Numbered desires
Today I exist for every black woman
Who didn’t
And doesn’t and couldn’t
And even for those who won’t
Someone else will

I endure the chastening rod
Of thanksgiving
Even when my back
Was colored
With the battle scars of a war
Without weapons

A silent savagery
That left not even the most intimate parts
Of my soul

And still, I stand.

In a world that
Celebrates my demise
that waits for me
To tiptoe into the gauzy veils of its past
Until I trip my own inadequacies

God please...

If I have to claw and scratch my way through
My own self loathing
If I have to sell every stitch to my name
to keep my name
If I have to use my flecked fingernails to dig a
Hole through that unmined mountain of womanhood

By God, I will.

I’ve wrapped my mind around my abandoned history
Around its neglectful tendencies
minted it
So that it sits on a pillow waiting for
No one else but me.

Today I survive
Not only for my great grandmother who could not read
But for my grandfather who could
and never would read his own name
on a diploma
for my mother
who struggled because with three jobs and a degree
she was still a poor black single mother
with two kids

I survive for every
Every shade of broken glass
On streets named after our heroes
I survived every indignity
my love
when I am invited to
The dinner table
Because of the need for polite conversation

I survive despite so long a letter
And soliders
And the south
And semi-automatics
And enslavement

I survive, to sing a song of salvation, and justice
In a world that where my victories
Go unsung in the light of the tragedies I am cast

I survive for colored girls
everywhere who have considered the rainbow
like God told Satan to consider his servant Job
and decided to trust God

And yet,
With all my bravery, a part of me is standing in my own puddle
still just seeking to be free

But see,
I am the mother of my future
And the child of my past
And my past is a people
And the people are called by God
A God of the living not the dead
And because he lives
He walks among them

So even when my mother cries
God hears
And he walks they said she could never

To understand this story
You have to remember
I wasn’t meant to be here
I am the voice of ten thousand
That never entered the promised land
That were hard pressed
and short hoped
and downcast
And discouraged
and so alone that after they had battled
all they could do
was pant
and pray and
be still
praying on their knees
But standing on their feet
rising with all power

And so today, I stand, watered by
The tears of those who place
their hope
in my hand
And my small hand
in His
And I not only survive,

I live.

And if you lived, you too, would sing, America.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Grandmother's Pearls

don't fight
over the corruptible

or bicker over her pearls
when she's gone

your grandmother
was once a woman


like you
she danced
with life

she walked down the street
the world stopped
and swooned
in the fullness
of her youth

that she raged
and reigned
and prayed
and loved
and lost
more than you have found
but not more
than there is
to be

remember that your grandmother
a woman

that she danced
shiny and gleaming
what if..

warm with the
flushed face
filled with secrets
and sorrows

then, joy.

that years
do not erase
but deepen

remember that your grandmother
is a woman

that time is but the
passage of light from a distant star
but the soul is the brilliance
of who we are

remember that your grandmother
was fine
somebody's brown betty
somebody's baby daughter
somebody's prodigy
somebody's fantasy
somebody's worst nightmare
somebody's greatest hope
long before you were hers

Now she's
somebody's sparrow
on whom
an eye
is cast

when the feathers
echoing in your eyes
and ears
mounds of new

remember that
she is you

a voice stepping back from solo
to accompany

cannot be contained
in hourglasses

Every hope she had
bedsides Him
is in you

strung together
like little
shiny prayers
in succession
by living waters
hand of God

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Restorative Justice

Wrapping you a gift
so that the picture of you and I
taken so long ago
is fully developed
In renewed faith
And hoping you find

Joy period
Not joy
But everlasting joy
That needs no reason
Nor an excuse
But joy

Wrapped in the faith that I shoved in a bag
And left homeless
on your doorstep
Many nights ago

That faith didn’t belong to you,
So I must reclaim it
But this joy does.

I gift you
All that I have left
To give
So that one day
You may finally feel
The love that was always there
And smile

I am releasing you
From your failures
Because no matter how
Much I wanted otherwise
You are only a man
And I am only a woman
And even if I am not your woman

I am mine.
And His.

I gift you
All the love
That we had
And all the love
That never had us

I release you from doing penance for
the sins of a human heart

I am lovingly
you to the man you were
The first time you looked at me
And said, “You are so beautiful”
With hopeful hands

I am wading through

Every shared laugh
And tender moment
Offering the cold thirst
In my palms
In the spirit of reconciliation
And love

You see,
it was never about me
And I forgot that.

After many nights
Of hating you
Loving you
Missing you
crying for you
Kissing your fading face in my dreams
I finally
Have taken to my knees
And prayed

That you find
That you are loved
That God is merciful

That love lasts beyond the longing

That the spirit is saved
And enters into rest

And, that you are blessed.

Beautiful Life

I heard a rumor that she
was invincible--
stunning beauty
aching for

The lingering lover
shadow hip hugger
improvisational conversationalist
she never sleeps with those
whom she's already bedded

Old love
New love
Often borrowed
And sometime blue
An evolvement of the sum total of
space, time and opportunity

A convergence of two souls
A union of remittance
And no matter how cold she leaves you
Get this
She gives
The longest
Kiss goodbye

Friday, September 08, 2006

poprocks and pepsi

The chain linked fence
remembers our wounds

skinny arms attached
subject to verb
you are me
the first valentine
crooked letters: be mine?

was there
ever such a thing
as inner innocence
back when your best friend
was a first love
not an alternative or a superlative
fighting over who got the last pack of grape pop rocks
who did the bump better
until you fell over with laughter
hitting the fence
separating asphalt from Mr. Chin's garden
ripping elbows, thighs, and knees--
if anybody else pushed me I would've
kicked their butt
but that was us
we pushed for each other

drank pepsi with the purple poprocks
or red punch
an oddly peculiar exploding
sensation ripped dewy lips

splashed me first
and it splattered on
white keds

missed the magic telepathic quality
of the mood ring
when you went away
that summer
I wishing I was blue every day
I wrote you letters.
Did you get them?

you came back
your black braids were streaked with white
Upstairs I heard your mama's
serenades of swearing
at the pasty no good so and so
who made her baby a woman
because he wasn't a man

did it feel like? theothergirlsasked
but I never did
your silent eyes
black and pearly
as your ring
told it all

the weeds by the fence have now overgrown the garden
I have learned to tend
a few spring flowers
of my own
I watch them play
in the yard, and smile
I watch closely

and although
we are past the age of
pop rocks

you are me
the first valentine
crooked letters: be mine?

even with the weeds,

The chain linked fence

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Enlightenment (In the key of Funky Blue)

I see you got an education
Can tell your nouns from all your verbs
You can add,divide,and multiply
Are you hearing what I heard?
You can tell me about Egypt
tell me why stocks rise and fall

But my friend, if you don't know HIM
you don't know nothin' at all

Whoa, nothin' at all
Whoa, nothing at all
Not a thing

Do you know?
Do you know?
What do you know?
Do you know?
Do you know?

(Verse 2)
See I was lookin' for some healin'
but the healing must be lost
Cauze every man had a different brand
and y'all know how much it cost
Now I ain't trying to be discouraged
cauze I know who it is I call

But my friend, if you don't know HIM,
You don't know nothin' at all--

Whoa, nothin' at all
Whoa, nothing at all
Not a thing

Do you know?
Do you know?
What do you know?
Do you know?
Do you know?

Not a thing


The one who helps us through our pain
appointed to rebuke the rain
Jesus, he's a keeper, and he'll reach ya, if you call

But my friend, if you don't know him--
You don't know nothin' at'all

Oooh at all
Nothing at all
Whoa, at all

Friday, August 25, 2006

i, too, dream. (for 3rd i. rest in peace)

If you are considering taking your life, please know there is hope, beloved ones...Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem

the wonder
of winds
the kiss of the soul
a cold word
breaks, but won't bend

breath of my breath
skin of my skin

yet hungry to the bone

she leaves behind a packaged
soul, gone, home.

a pause between her eyes and the dream

the resident muse
has moved
but her things remain among us

what if's make me
why then's over take me
predicated on my futile fears
that seem to grow with gusto

captured by
the swell of the song
before the movie moment

i, cry to hear you laugh

i, pray to hear you dream

i, long to see your life

i, too, dream.


I hear you knocking
by 3rd i

i hear you knocking but you can't come in
it's time i said no
stood my ground like an old oak tree that will not be moved
nor swayed by the dripping of honey that come from your lips

oh...i hear you...but you can't come in

Isaiah 61:3 To all who mourn in Israel, he will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair. For the LORD has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Two poems


You claim that I have
Been derelict in my loving
But the dereliction
was in the delivery


The heart is
a slippery creature
but it like to be held just the same

Monday, August 21, 2006

Moving day

I try to 'cop a 'tude/ like I don't care/because it hurts less that way/because the risks are so great/the returns so infrequent/because they never love me, but the idea of me/beacause i always said it would be the man that couldn't walk away who would have me/cauze walking is a man's sport/and I have known the stars/cauze above all else I come with my own things and i don't need nothin' on nobody's lay-a-way that i cannot afford

and then--- you.

maybe it is

the ripple of your
as it hits my ear
and I flinch
from the reverberation
of your pen


the poised
syllables strong as Armageddon

or the fact that you boldly
call me out on my own porch
them fightingwords
pulling me close
until the sultry moment sticks
to my clenched fists
like cologne on your skin

but I
I breath heavily, pause, and lean in
to the dampness of you

maybe it is

the prolific pause
of your lips
kissing life
drowning me in volumes of
words I wouldn't even whisper


simply that
I need
to need

All I know is
I'm in that kind of mood right now--
them fine lines
are cracking
me like the break before the rush
reflective gaze is blowing my limbs
like trees swallowed by a storm
I'm aching for your awe


if you stand up
in your full majesty
if your eyes search to know me
if your fingers
my face
I just might break
I just might return
I just might be moved

Thursday, August 17, 2006

good fairies

Who killed little Miss America?
the flaxen haired
tawny curled beauty
that so many secretly adored?
Was it an
of hand
cutting through the night
or was
it the sight of her
an angel


in her family photo

innocence and knowledge
dancing on her forehead
like sizzling beads of sweat?

who will dance for us now
who will bw the coveted dream
that no one has
but we all long for
like the ache to the tooth
before the good fairies come

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Somewhere between Heaven and Earth

I lean into the sloping curve
of a naveled nexus
and lick
salty, like lime on the lips
of a glass
where the drink has taken
to the human valley
somewhere between heaven and earth

it is
the in between
that gets me every time

the sin and the reconciliation
the love and loss
the faith and fear

"All the evil and all the love" as Shug Avery says

that keeps me
for something more

Monday, August 14, 2006

To Be Gifted...

It's a new day!
(It's a new day!)

It's a new day!
(It's a new day!)

Your gift
from God
is your debt to the world
you give because
it was given
to you
free of charge

To whom much has been given
Much is required
The requiem of a dream
rooted in God's desires
No matter how hard it gets
keep that inner fire
And God will take your talent
use it for something higher

It's a new day!
(It's a new day!)

It's a new day!
(It's a new day!)

Your gift
from God
is your debt to the world
you give because
it was given
to you
free of charge

Don't you bury your talent
you got to let it grow
if God has given it to you
let the people know
Much is required
We were are given purpose
so let your purpose show
and when the spirit leads
you'll feel that warming glow!

It's a new day!
(It's a new day!)

It's a new day!
(It's a new day!)

If you're a writer (write on)
If you're a mother, be strong
If you're a singer sing praise
If you're teacher, show the way
If you're dancer, jump high
If you're an actress make them cry
Use your gifts, don't let life pass you by

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Marcus and Patricia

(sometimes the characters come alive..)

Oriole Slugger
Cat in the hat lover
Lives to paint

He’s gotta heart of thunder
And lightening
That frightens her
Into fierce defense
Ready for the pitch

He waits
And wants
Cotton candy mouthed
For her

Never has such a whole
Made him feel more like a man
Bold, bodacious brassiness
So warm and real
He watches her
With a quiet awe

This woman he’s been fussing with all his life
This woman who knows his every scar
From roller blade to handlebar
This woman who tells him
The truth even when he’d rather hear the lie
This woman who has leaned into the curve of his lonely arm
And made it a home

Beautiful women must camp out at your doorstep
She says
What would you want with me?

He smiles
Woman, awiite.

If only she would let him love her
With the lights on
Love her changing seasons
The rushed
penciled in notes to herself
The butterfly wing tips that span her dreams
Wider than she thinks
Her hips are, when she smooths them
Self consciously
And pulls on the short wisps of her hair

This woman who lives loud
And is ashamed
This woman who survived the cruelest love
This woman who knows his heart like the back of his hand
This woman who was done wrong
Yet did right
This woman he has been fussing with all his life
He knows her every scar
Butterscotch kisses each truth with love

As they stand there in the
August rain
White walls parted by a smooth black sky
His heavy heart longs to remind her:

His lips long to taste her
Beautiful women camp outside his door
This woman is
the one
the only one
He lets in

Sunday, July 23, 2006


it is the hottest summer on record

the concrete

I want some ice cream
she said sheepishly
long legs
bare feet and delicate toes
kissing the dashboard

pretty baby,
look at you
spoiling that baby already
he whispers
his hands rubbing her thigh

You know what that means,
my son gonna be black
as that chocolate

Or black as you
she teased and rolled her eyes

go get us some
rocky road
he'd told her
I'll wait right here

he was
dressed in a
clean crisp white
cabana shirt
and pants
which his mother
sent from the islands
sweat from
indian summer colored
as the subwolfers blared

"trying ta catch me riding dirty...."

as she walks into the supermarket
she is enveloped in cool
she stands before the chill breath
of the freezer
forcing her to decide
wondering if she should get
georgia peach instead
yet she lets that thought go
and pays

Dressed in a short white
peasant skirt
and sweat
full swollen brown belly
peaking from under
her white t-shirt
reddish tinged
hair fried dorm the 105 degree heat
she exits
in front of the
standing on the sun
her right foot
pointed south

upon existing
her skirt sticks to her skin
liquid white
she sees nothing
no suburban
no kealen
nothing except the flat ugly parking lot
full of people
swarming like flies around her

Thursday, July 20, 2006


I lost my right breast today
no longer will it
or wilt
It is faith interrupted
The casualty of a silent war
that treads heavily on my mind

I lost my right breast today
the doctors tried to save it
but it was too heavy
empty from feeding an unruly world
the yolk of peace
and axis of six nations that know my name
but not me

a monument
that no longer stands
yet still speaks

even when my face is glowing
and my arms are bronzed
and my smile is forgiving
like the bend of the dawn
I know the raven
is there, waiting

I lost my right breast today
the one they call faithful and true
the one that gives
to those who do not ask or appreciate
the one destroyed from within

I lost my right breast today
and yet
when I turn over in my sleep
as the heat creeps up my neck
as the sweat sneaks down my back
as my breath is labored with my past
burdened with the sheer weight
of the future
like my sheets

I reach for it
and feel it
and I know it never really went away

Return To Source

For the Children of Jacob

I step over mountains
and rivers beg to follow my feet
I speak--
oceans dancing with wrath stand still
en pointe

I am the changing seasons of the universe
raining gently like rose petals
my spirit green, wild, and lush
like the tropics

I sing in B flat
my voice a sand filled flask
my tone deep like a full bodied wine
and the sands of time still, and become
drunk with my light

I remember like the
Though the eye knows not where it goes
it takes with it all it touches
and all it touches desire
to return to it's source

You ache for my presence
--a chilling beauty
leaving you longing
even in the sun

Bone of my bone
and flesh of my flesh
and yet even in your strongest moments
you are weak for me
and despite your protest, you know it.

In heaven to earth who is like me?
Who can wrestle with God and win?

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Smoke Tree

On the cusp of world war....

In the beginning
there was a word
and the word was
with God

The earth was formless and empty,
darkness was over the surface of the deep,
and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters
And God said,
"Let there be light,"
and there was light
God saw that the light was good,

and He separated the
light from the darkness

And the earth was green and lush.

Today, there is a tree
sitting on the axis of land of the six peoples
of mankind:

The people of the papyrus
The people of the olives
The people of the dry grass and juniper
The people of the date palm
The people of the fig
The people of the laurel

and the king of pecans from the land of fire

and yet despite the many branches, there is only one tree
that never blooms
it only bears leaves of red

from heaven
huddled at the cusp
of morning and night

From afar comes the calvary
doing only as the Romans would, when in Rome
sojourning on
saris dipped in sulfer
swords of truth blazing
claiming in God they trust
and all others are sons of darkness

But if the light within us is darkness
how great must that darkness be?

And yes,
red leaves
will be falling

staining the foot of the soilder
on the road to Damascus
the conflict of our souls
the soul of our struggle

the wrath of
the merciful
in deaf ears

In the end
There is a word
dressed in azure
and pitch
unveiling itself

the earth is formless and empty,
darkness is over the surface of the deep,

but the Spirit of God is hovering over the waters

And God says,
"Let there be light,"
and there was light.

And God sees that the light is good,
and He separates the
light from the darkness

the kingdom of of lilies prepares for bloom

Come out of her, my people
come out of her
the harvest is near
and leaves are turning red

“I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't and die to find out there is.”
Albert Camus

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Coming out of Mourning


or when

not just us,
but them

he forgives,
not only for the given
but to the offered and for the refused

preserving integrity
in the sea of the perused and used

more than the verb
but the core of the word
splintered adjectives and nouns
stand still
as he moves

Lovely as a ray of sun,
that touches me when the
mourning comes
and it feels good
Lord you're so good

Beautiful as the bright blue sea
the way your love washes over me
and it feels good
Lord you're so good

It feels good
And it feels good
Lord you're so good

Verse One:

It feels good
Not the kind of feeling you get
when you got money in your hand
(Spoken: Like payday?)

It feels good
Not the kind of good you feel when
you're chillin' with your man
(Spoken:Uhh oh, now)

It feels good
Not the kind of feeling you get
when you got your nails and hair did
and you know you're looking fine
(Spoken: Well, you know how we do. I was looking good..)

It feels good
The kind of feeling that's soul appealing
When He says the battle's not yours, it's mine
Holy and divine!
(Spoken: Hey!)

Lovely as a ray of sun,
that touches me when the
mourning comes
and it feels good.

It feels good

Beautiful as the bright blue sea
the way it washes over me
Lord you're so good

It feels good
Not the kind of feeling you get
when you've been promoted on the job
(Spoken: Partner! Yeah, that could be good.)

It feels good
not the feeling you get
when your dreams are taking off
Spoken: You mean like this?)

It feels good
not the kind of feeling
you get when you see your child born
Spoken: She was so beautiful.)

It feels good
The feeling that you get
when you look back
and know who led you through your storm--
so you don't have to mourn!
(Spoken: Yes!)

in his absence
they mourn his rays
calling the world to wake

his hands bear the hate
her eyes believe the hope
and his seasons never fail

he washes the face
of fear
still knowing it has a time

the act
the stage
the soul of the star

in his true form, omnipresent

the sister to hope
the mother of faith
only as happy
as His saddest child

Verse Two:

Cause Lord you will be there
when the money's gone
when the dj plays the last song
when the man has packed his bags and gone
or through this life, passes on
you will be there when beauty fades
when I have no more tears to cry
Just like the little sparrow
I'm always in your eyes

Lovely as a ray of sun,
that touches me when the
mourning comes
and it feels good
Yes it feels good

Beautiful as the bright blue sea
the way the love washes over me
and it feels good
It feels good

It feels good
And it feels good
Lord you're so good

It feels good, good, good, good,
good, good, good,
good, good, good, good,

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Bearing All Things

or when

not just us,
but them

he forgives,
not only for the given
but to the offered and for the refused

preserving integrity
in the sea of the perused and used

shhh.. it's a secret

more than the verb
but the core of the word
splintered adjectives and nouns
stand still
as he moves

he is the light on the dark face
of men who seek
their own salvation

in his absence
they mourn his rays
calling the world to wake

his hands bear the hate
her eyes believe the hope
and his seasons never fail

he washes the face
of fear
still knowing it has a time

he is
the act
the stage
the soul of the star

in his true form, omnipresent

the sister to hope
the mother of faith
only as happy
as the saddest child

Friday, June 30, 2006

Better Hot

For all the Black men who still love Black women
No disrespect to anybody else

Had a scoop of chocolate
Treasure once
And I savored every drop
Until somebody
Came along and said
It melted; would you like something else?

A song
A song
an etta song

I sing of you in my sleep
Sing of your smile
As it shadows my skin
Belt out your soul
In my grin
And like the ravenous
To the meal
Dig right in

You won’t leave me a goodbye letter now
After I had your babies, cooked your meals
Paid the bill

You’re not buttering me up
For the scrape
Not decying the virtues of vanilla
But is that your final answer?

Wish you
Were wishing now
The summer swallows
The bayou blues
The emerald green ivy
Of your creeping spirit
As it embraces me
With good natured

Not afraid to hold my arm
Not alarmed by the born brown
Of my skin

Because I loved you first
Because I loved you most
Because, beloved, like Paul D, you love my past.

At last..

Had a scoop of chocolate
Treasure once
And I savored every drop
Until somebody
Came along and said
Its better hot

Twelve Stories

woke up this morning
and heard that last night
a woman just jumped out of a twelve story building
and I know why she jumped

twelve stories

Stories filled with forgotten playthings
and footsteps on all the men who walked out on her

Her first broken heart
Her first broken dream
her last dollar
and her last hope

Guilt over her self indulgence
when dressed in her mother's hopelessness
and her ancestor's shades of tragic sorrow

a plane ticket from her ex
that was never used
the ring he never gave her
tucked in her mind

castles of accomplishments
whittled to the gains like sands in a storm

salty little cubes of responsibility stacked
round her unhealed wounds

the visceral verities of liars and accusers
that stand before her, drunk with their own stupidity
raping everything beautiful

Her own redundant failures, failures, failures
Her desperation to struggle, to sojourn, to search
never surrendering
to "Still, not free?"

The inability to be all things
and the capability to know the implications
All the moments she said no to because she always said yes

The sharp edge of time grating her optimism
into something sprinkled on salads
or peppered over soup
that she eats despite the stones

the last listless kick of a little foot
a lamb in a stilled womb

Asking God for directions, angry for
her inability to understand them

woke up this morning
and heard that last night
a woman just jumped out of a twelve story building
and I know why she jumped

Though she is not me
and I am not her
I know

Monday, June 26, 2006

Retrospect 1995

I wish I had enjoyed

Held on tighter
Kissed longer
Questioned more
Laughed louder
Listened harder

I wish I had stopped
Fighting so hard and pushing so fast
To have my two minute
On stage

Left with lovely longing
Silken, shifting, stockings
Into a pile at the feet
Of the dancer

I wish I had relished
in being eight

instead of counting the years ‘til

Waiting for my bus to arrive
Imploring the NEXT BIG THING to blow my way
Chasing the ends of the earth
Only to find, that despite Columbus,
Time has an edge

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Nobody's free till the last one is free
free at last
the people shout...

The beauty of my people
is deep
like the foot of the ocean floor
when we waded on through our private Mississippi
like the trod of a horse's hoof
when it steps into rain warmed mud
as they followed

Nobody's free till the last one is free
free at last
the people shout...

The beauty of my people
is deep
like scripture
like lightening doing calypso
like the spread of the sky
as smoke from a grill whispers
to the nose, and wanders by
Like the way of the wilderness
when you're wandering

Nobody's free till the last one is free
free at last
the people shout...

The beauty of my people is deep
like Lumumba's lost song
like the refrain in Billie's ear
stronger than her gardenia
like the sound of nueve africa
like the clip of the drum
as it pauses in prayer
for the spirit to fall

Nobody's free till the last one is free
free at last
the people shout...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Black Butterfly

Photo By Ellen Gailing

Dedicated to the Survivors of Hurricane Katrina
And Everyone in the Struggle…

Scriptural Basis: Isaiah 43:2
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze

Looked at black waters the other day
Phoenix rose and fell in a ‘Nawlins summer
Leaving beauty for ashes
my soul gotta be well, soul, well, gotta be a well, soul well
well is it?
Gotta dip into my mind and make it whole
The waters echo as they make their way
Through hundreds of years of history in a single hour
Echoes of our ancestors heard in the streets
As the water sweeps over
Homes, Lives, Roofs
Ah the blackness of the blues
swirls around us, unrelenting power
Brown skinned and thin grinned
We huddle close in
Standing and waiting to be delivered

Nobody came for three days,
But didn’t God say he hears
Jonah in the whale
Jesus in the grave
The woman in the world
Pregnant with the word
Didn’t the Lord say he came to serve
Didn’t my Lord say
Do not be afraid, for I am with you

(whispered) and I said to myself
all is well with my soul

Lyrics: Beautiful Black, Butterfly
Beautiful Black…. Beautiful Black….
Beautiful Black Butterfly
Beautiful, Black Beauitful Black

(whispered) and I said to myself
all is well with my soul

Lyrics: Beautiful Black, Butterfly
Beautiful Black, Beautiful Black
Beautiful Black Butterfly
Soar High….So high….

My mind is filled with spring
reminding myself not to get beside myself
knowing that my help comes like payday
no matter how low budget my reality gets
Whispers of civil unrest
And like others, civil has been resting lightly for some seasons now
Sometimes these seasons of black reasons
are enraptured like jazz
hope shed like the fall leaves
Fall from learning trees
Or eases into summertime
Easy living
But despite the moods of life
I fight and pray

(whispered) and I say to myself
all is well with my soul

Lyrics: Beautiful Black, Butterfly
Beautiful Black…. Beautiful Black….
Beautiful Black Butterfly
Soar High….So high….

Looked into the wilderness
And yesterday I saw it
Our destiny
Browned, glowing and blowing
Taking wings; multi-colored hues of Caribbean greens
Like fields of joy
soaring over our slings and arrows
with the eyes of sparrows
Yesterday I was pregnant with pause
everything absolved
the shade of sorrow
painting my blackened past

“Free at last, Free at last, thank God almighty we are…”

(whispered) and I said to myself
all is well with my soul

Lyrics: Beautiful Black, Butterfly
Beautiful Black…. Beautiful Black….
Beautiful Black Butterfly
I'd like to see you fly
I'd like to see you fly
Like to see you fly.....

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

From Urban Christianz, one of my favorite sites

If you have not had the opportunity to visit Sonya's site, you have to. It is a ministry in itself. The following is an excerpt from the site. For more visit

Fruit of the Spirit: Peace

Peace? Yeah, I remember peace. It's that feeling I get when I wake up in the morning. It's when the day seems all new and fresh - filled with possibilities. It's what arrives in large measure as I pray to God. He renews me. He touches my life. He reassures me. And, many times, He chastises me as He sets me (yet again) on the right path.

It's that feeling that hits its pinnacle as I cast my cares on God - tell Him all about my problems, ask Him what He's going to do about them, and then listen as He (yet again) reassures me that everything is going to be alright. And then tells me what I need to do.

And everything is just fine.

But then I get out of bed.

And get on that daily treadmill called life as I begin my daily hurried, rush-rush type behavior that sends me zooming through the house to iron my clothes, shower and run, run, run to my car to get to my bus stop on time.

And that feeling of peace slowly dissipates as I avoid crazy drivers who I am convinced are trying to kill me (okay, I may be one of those drivers on some days). And then I run to the bus stop so that I can hurry up and wait for my frequently (very) late bus. And my foot taps. And I rock from side to side. And once again fantasize about the joys of driving to work before high gas prices and high parking put those dreams (temporarily) on hold. But it's all good, right? (At least that's what I try to convince myself)

And that peace thing? I may regain it a bit later as I read my morning Word and listen to my 'Morning Joy' mix on my Ipod (cuz, no matter how late it is, the bus eventually shows up), but it quietly begins to fade into the background as I reach my stop, face my office building and start that long walk that takes me through security, up the elevators and to my anonymous 'pod'. My place in the world for the next eight hours (excluding lunch).

And that feeling of peace? It flickers out of existence as I go through eight hours of conflict, strife, tedium, trivial matters, frustration, faked bonhomie and relief as my day finally ENDS!


Yeah, I'd like to have a little more of that. Wouldn't you?

I'd like to take a look at what the Bible says about peace, but not in anything approaching a typical manner. If I hear one more cliche about 'eace like a river' or 'peace in the midst of adversity', I think I will SCREAM. This is real life we are talking about, and it's rare that I feel anything initially other than anger in the midst of my own personal adversity. Sure, God, eventually gets through to me and I calm down, but if left up to my own instincts, I would be one sad and frustrated sister.

So I will be looking at a hands-on, clear-cut, practical application of this whole peace phenomenon. For my sake and for yours (so that you can hear me stop complaining about it). Okay - here we go.

Romans 14:17 has an intriguing take on peace to me. It says that "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. " (I talked about the 'joy' aspect in Fruit of the Spirit: Joy)
It seems to imply that not only is peace essential to the Christian walk, but it is actually part of the 'kingdom of God'. And what is the kingdom of God? Is it a place? Surprisingly, no. The first mention of this kingdom is in Matthew 6:33, where Jesus advises us to seek it first (before all other things). So, from this we can gather it's something we can find. Then Jesus talks about it in Matthew 12:28, where he says if he casts out devil, the kingdom of God is come upon us. So it seems to have a lot to do with the power of God. In Matthew 21:43, Jesus says that this kingdom can be taken away from us. So obviously it is not a tangible place or thing.

This 'kingdom of God' best corresponds to the 'power' of God. When we think of the God's power, we tend to think of all the miracles He performed, the plagues against the Egyptian Pharaoh, the parting of the Red Sea or Jesus healing lepers and the blind. But much of the 'power' of God is also contained in the power of salvation, the work and existence of the Holy Spirit, our righteousness through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the grace and mercy that He has given to us (time and again).

Jesus says in Mark 4:11 "And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:" So, as Christians, we are able to discern these mysteries, but to non-believers,it will always remain a mystery.

So how does peace play a role in all this? Paul said (in the above-quoted Romans 14:17), that the kingdom of God was, in part, made of peace (along with righteousness and joy). So, if the kingdom of God is the power of God and peace is one of its building blocks, then our having peace in our lives allows us to access the powerenables Wow! It endables us to be the conduit through which the Holy Spirit can work. To operate in our uniquely given spiritual gifts. To heal and to teach; prophesy and preach. Peace is an integral part of the working of the power of God in our lives.

I believe this to be true simply because when I don't have peace (defined by Strong's Concordance as quietness and rest), I don't hear from God. I don't clearly feel the touch of God and cannot clearly identify the leading of His Holy Spirit. So, peace is much more than having a 'restful' state of mind - it is the very gateway of our access to the power of God. Without peace, we cannot truly operate in our spiritual gifts or carry out the work of God.

That's deep.

I've always thought of peace simply as a state of mind, but from the above research, I see now that it is 1)a spiritual gift; 2)part of the kingdom of God and 3)the way we gain access the power of God. Definitely something I want to have.

So how do we get this 'peace'?

In John 14:26-27, Jesus first tells his apostles about the coming of the Holy Spirit and how He would comfort them. Then he tells them "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." So peace originates from God.

Romans 8:6 says that to be spiritually minded is life and peace. So, to have peace, we must be followers of the Holy Spirit (allowing Him to lead and guide us).

2 Corinthians 13:11 admonishes us to "Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you." 'Perfect' means "seek after perfection in knowledge, grace, and holiness, and in the performance of good works (John Gills Exposition of the Bible)", 'of good comfort' means to exhort (cheer up) and pray for others and live in peace means just that. So in order to obtain peace, we have to seek after God and maturity in our faith, do for others and live in peace with others.

And, finally, Philippians 4:6-7 says: "In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. (ASV)" So we have to stop worrying, let God know all that is in our hearts (and turn them over to Him), and peace will be ours.

The Simple Life

From folklore: One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between two "wolves" inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:

"Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."


A simple house
well lit and warm
A couch offers rest to those who carry the heavy load
A stove cook meals
for the hungry soul
It is filled with the sweet
songs of praise
and hope
that causes others to move
despite their aches and pains

For men have unwittingly entertained angels
through the simple act
of kindness

which has little worth here on earth

And although the kind
act is a weak moment
in the eyes of the unbeliever

the kind act is a weak moment
in the soul of the unsaved

For the laborer, his wages here are few.
His crop is tiny
His words simple
and his honors small

yet God took the simple life
to redeem all

Friday, June 09, 2006


(bass, xylophone, harps and piano)

Scriptural Basis: "Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things are passed away; behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Theological Definition of Reconciliation: We are naturally children of wrath (Eph. 2:3), and are at enmity with God (Eph. 2:11-15); but, "...we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son..." (Rom. 5:10). Because of the death of Jesus, the Christian's relationship with God is changed for the better. We are now able to have fellowship with Him (1 John 1:3) whereas before we could not. So, we are reconciled to Him (Rom. 5:10-11). The problem of sin that separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2) has been addressed and removed in the cross. It was accomplished by God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:18).

Verse 1:

Can we just stop?
Can we just listen?
Can we just reconcile?
Why can’t we change?

Can we just stop?
Can we just listen?
Can we just reconcile?
Can we just Change?

Lord I know we need a change
Lord we’re calling out your name….

(Xylophone and harps over guitar, light and airy)

Lah La, La, La, La, La , La
La, La, La, La, La

Verse 2:

We need a change
Lord we need a change
We need a change
Lord we need a change

Oh if I could change
If I could be changed
If I could just
My ways, My ways….

To be free
from my inequity
Have struggled to find my way through my own personal wilderness
To find myself lost inside myself
Stumbling in the struggle
But my soul gives a rebuttal
And pronounces my future bright
Lord you are my beacon light
"Therefore if any man is in Christ,
he is a new creature; the old things are passed away;
behold, new things have come."

La, La, La, La, La, La , La
La, La, La, La, La

We need a change
Lord we need a change
We need a change
Lord we need a change

Oh if I could change
If I could be changed
If I could just
My ways, My ways….

Oh My, Oh My,
We need a change
Oh My, Oh My
We need a change

A change
A change
not just pocket change
but people change
people can change
I believe it
I receive it
We can change
our ways, Lord, our ways

Saturday, June 03, 2006


(With love)

I was told once that can’t isn’t a word in a man’s vocabulary.
Either he will or he won’t.

And love bears all things
Hopes all things
Believes all things

Love never fails.

If our love had a soundtrack
It would be the sweet strings
Of a guitar

The Definition of Can: Used to indicate physical or mental ability
As in, (nervously) “Can we hang out tonight?”

Can: Used to indicate possession of a specified power, right or privilege
As in, (softly) “Can I ask you something?”

Used to indicate possession of a specified capability or skill
As in, (transcendently) “I can get lost in you; you’re so beautiful.”

Usage Problem. Used to request or grant permission: Can I be excused?

How can we be, if broken?
Eyes, avid
Lips, paused
Ten years of tendered friendship, potential, suspended in the echo of
the moment that the next note plays

Can: Used to indicate that which is permitted, as by conscience or feelings
As in, (inaudibly) “ I can hardly hear you.”

Can:Used to indicate probability or possibility under the specified circumstances:
As in, (indifferently) Can you understand, I’m dating someone else?

Can: Used to indicate possibility or probability
As in, (achingly) “Can it ever be like it used to be?”

I was told once that can’t isn’t a word in a man’s vocabulary.

If our
love were a soundtrack
It would be the sweet strings
Of a guitar


Falling away

It is the note that
in the great
and its twin



Friday, June 02, 2006

CD News....

From Chip Johnson's column in today's San Francisco Chronicle
Singing for the kids of Richmond
- Chip Johnson

Friday, June 2, 2006
There are no A-list singers performing on "The City of Richmond Sings Gospel,"and it wasn't recorded by a Grammy-winning producer, but it is nothing less than the city's version of the 1985 hit "We Are the World."

And like that album, which raised $50 million for famine relief in Africa, it is no less ambitious. But instead of helping children half a world away, the artists who raise the roof on "Richmond Sings Gospel" are helping children in the city they call home.

Every one of the performers on the 13-song compilation of gospel music and spoken word poetry is from Richmond, and a handful of them are city youth workers who hatched the idea about six months ago while trying to raise money for the city's annual summer youth employment program.

"We were a conglomerate of agencies working toward a single goal, and the idea was suggested at a staff meeting last December," said Mary Billups, a pianist who recently retired from the city's Richmond Works youth employment program and performed on the CD. "The forces just all came together."

The project started as a lark when Malinda Claiborne agreed to hum a few bars
for her boss, Mike Warwick, the city's director of special projects."I told him I would do a little something-something for him right here and now," said Claiborne, whose accent and gospel roots reflect her upbringing in Clayton, La.

When Claiborne showed her chops, Warwick was blown away -- as is just about everyone who hears her sing. Warwick suggested recording Claiborne in a small studio at Richmond's Police Athletic League facility, and the project was born.

Claiborne, a church-going lady, called up some friends. So did Billups and Demitrea Foster, who also works in Richmond Works. The project grew, and so did the number of people who wanted to take part. By the time the CD was finished in early May, a dozen artists and two backup groups had been recorded, and Wayne Organ, co-chair of the music department at Contra Costa College, had spent more than 200 hours coaching and recording the performers, then mixing and arranging the CD.

He recognized the talent the first time they walked into his offices and
volunteered to help out."There is a lot of rich tradition in gospel music in the East Bay, so it's not that surprising to find this level of talent," he said. That said, he was quite impressed with Claiborne.

"Malinda isn't a professional singer, but she certainly has a professional
voice," he said. Claiborne's voice captures and conveys the struggle for righteousness amid a sea of trouble, the very essence of gospel music. Her booming refrains lift the rafters on "I Won't Complain."

Claiborne isn't alone. Consonance, a local choral group, performs a searing
rendition of "Come on in This House and Praise the Lord." Then there's Cynthia Harris, an administrative minister at St. John's Missionary Baptist Church in Richmond. It wasn't so long ago that Harris was a vocalist with Clarence Clemons' E Street Band. Harris sings the lead on "Ordinary People" and "Near the Cross," and, yeah, she's really good.

The project turned out so well that Warwick has sent copies of the CD to local
retailers and even Starbucks, which promotes, sells and plays the music of
local artists.

The CDs go for $17.95 a pop, and all proceeds benefit the city's summer youth employment program. All told, the group hopes to raise $350,000 through corporate sponsorship, donations and CD sales to provide six-week jobs to as
many as 350 teenagers who will earn $1,000.

The idea of a community finding the power to lift itself up is powerful, especially in Richmond -- a city that's seen more than its share of crime and economic struggles in recent years.

"I saw it as a chance for me to help the people in my community, and that's exactly what these folks are doing," Organ said. "This is a community coming together for a project that is not self-aggrandizing."

The project seems to be working so far. Since the CDs were delivered less than two weeks ago, more than 300 copies have been sold. For Billups, who retired in December after 37 years, the project was a great note to go out on.

"Projects like this show that it's not about how much money you have, but the
work you do with it and the lives you touch," she said. Amen, sister.
Richmond gospel music available "The City of Richmond Sings Gospel," a 13-song compilation recorded by city employees and community volunteers, is available for $17.95 online at; at the city's Finance Department, 1401 Marina Way; and at the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, 3925 Macdonald Ave. It also can be purchased by calling (510) 307-8023. All proceeds benefit the
city's summer youth employment program.

Chip Johnson's column appears on Mondays and Fridays. E-mail him at
Page B - 1

Surprising stars sing on Richmond's benefit CD
SING OUT, RICHMOND! Her co-workers at the Richmond Workforce Investment Board knew Malinda Claiborne could sing, but it wasn't until she belted out a number a cappella one day that they realized she could really sing.

"I was blown away," says Mike Warwick, head of the Richmond Works program. "She was phenomenal."

Warwick persuaded her to record a couple of demo songs. Then, other people started showing up who could really sing. The little demo turned into a full-blown CD featuring some of the greatest -- and in some cases, the unlikeliest -- talents in Richmond.

A group of volunteers led by Contra Costa College Music Director Wayne Organ (yes, that's his real name) volunteered more than 200 hours of recording, mixing and mastering to produce "The City of Richmond Sings Gospel."

The CD showcases 45 voices, including the Contra Costa College Gospel Choir and Consonance, a group led by McKinley "Mac" Williams, who, when he's not letting it all hang out, moonlights as president of the college.

Warwick is talking to Starbucks and Barnes & Noble about carrying the CD. Proceeds benefit the Richmond Summer Youth Jobs Program, which is another heartwarming story. The program aims to find meaningful work for 250 youths, who each will earn $1,000 for their work.

City businesses that don't have summer jobs can donate money, and the program also gets support from the city. The jobs program handles all the paperwork, pays the youths and places them with nonprofit groups such as UC Berkeley's Watershed Project, which works on wetlands restoration, or the city of Richmond Recreation & Parks Department.

You can help out by buying the $17.95 CD at the city of Richmond Business License Office, 1401 Marina Way; the Richmond Chamber of Commerce office at 3925 Macdonald Ave.; or on the Internet at For information about the CD or the program, call 510-307-8006.