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.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Golden Delicious Handshake (For Vegas and America At Large)

To Vegas
a different kind of sandy oasis
than I recall
driving cross her valley
with papa and gammo

all the accoutrements

mystique of the pyramids
made in the image of moguls
papyrus leaves
and falsies

gold lamme goals
on markdown

reality is the lie
the lie is the truth
and what happens here
stays here

been drinking milk?
the water
it's golden

got game?
pick pretty panties like promises
from dapper drinks!

old world charm
new world order

shiny silver
hit the
hollow heart

exotic eyeshadows
I'm still deciding...
hit or miss?


that tastes
like good sex
the kind
that blows minds
the reverberations arching across the atlantic
leaving the left leg twitching
and itching

don't have a left leg?
put your good foot forward!

kisses whispering
drunkenly into sweet mouthed
pools before the bellagio

indigo haired man with the smile of sand
is thirst inspired
watch out now, girl...
that might just be your
baby's daddy

glittery women
slick men
shadows and
make pretty
mixed up

Fallen angels
With wing tips
Skinny dip in
heavenly harlotry
nymphs of nod
give the appearance of
holding up the high heavens
with elegant arms extended

archways into the

everywhere in the
you ever wanted to go
in the middle of the desert

Oh, holy Moses
if only God
could see us now