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