I love seeing women at the height of their beauty. The young fresh skinned youth who has just discovered make up and dressing for her body. The thirty something who feels perfectly fine going to meet her friends bare faced sans bra. The woman experiencing hot flashes and taking the brave step to cut her waist length hair-for coolness, and-to be free. Women, who are beautiful outside, but moreso inside, as we grow into our ancient wisdom, power, and glory, celebrate yourselves. Embrace your femininity, even if it's what society declares to be masculine. If it comes from a woman it is unequivocally feminine. Read that last line again. The biggest lie we ever believed is that we had to do anything other than breathe to be a woman. A maiden. A lady. A crone. A human being.
there is a reason why
i can fly
i mean, I can fly
like a bird in the sky...
Nikki Giovanni told me
In her poem to not trip
Stay hip, don't flip
just let my ego rise...
But still I catch cold when I walk down the street
Wishing the eyes wouldn't land on me
Being black female in America is hard
Obscenities stared at me
tear like shards
From those who do not truly see
All that I am
all that I want to be
I am more than an object
I am more than my hips
I am more than the smile you try to coax
from my lips
When you compliment me
The words don't penetrate my soul
You have your mind in my gutter
But inside me
I have gold
Yet, it's been dulled like copper
Because the bronze in my skin
Often makes me feel like I am
at the whim
Of every negative reflection
Mirrored to me from him
I am supposed to be strong
But not challenge you
I am supposed to be smart
But deflect to the
will of your hand
I am supposed to be loyal
But not bring up the pain
Misogynoir frontin as love
Contributes to the strain
Of making her feel like she is never enough
You tell me to lower my standards
that I expect too much
But when I fall a step behind
You call me on your bluff
Tell me I'm stuck up
I'm puffed up
I aint all that
You are the ones who are supposed to love us the most
You call us queens but are so
quick to roast
with our naturally kinky hair
our naturally dark skin
our naturally powerful airs
You claim to be beat down in the world on a daily basis
So when you look at me and my sisters
why don't you see your oasis...
Our shared history and and struggle and pain and hustle
Should make us love each other and be ready to die for the other
Instead you see a conquest
it's no contest
You wanna know what that mouth do
My mouth is speakin knowledge
but it's prolly too much for you
Black woman will love you past the point of
can't love no more
We have 500 years of love brought on ships from Africa's shores
So why is that we all long to feel
That we are valued by you
That we are precious
Take a look in your heart
Ask yourself today
When your name is brought up in a room of your sistas
What does the truth say
<<do you love us>>
#blacklove #relationships #reparatations #poetry
c u r s i v e
take your pen and let the point glide ink from a steady fine point
onto the paper that absorbs the darkness
…of your words left memorialized
i follow the loops and twists of your words
<<deftly tourniquet my heart>>
words flowing in curlicues and flourishes and vines
all connected except for the small spaces you take in-between your prose
…pregnant with silence
your last words are more beautiful being written like this
<<in the gaps my tears come up for air>>
you write your damning words to me in the way
one would please old school
your flowery colloquialisms look elegant
<<too beautiful to savagely rip and tear>>
everyone knows people only use cursive now when writing their signature
forever to me now, your signature will be the last word
thank you for writing that you no longer love me in cursive
…I believe it’s a lost art.
#prose #poetry #cursive #heartbreak #beauty
we often take for granted
what we once held in esteem
the idea of a dream to strive for
for some eclipses
the dream realized
what if you close your eyes
and you have the
but still you sigh?
but still you sigh...
it would be easier to blame your discontent on another
than on you
pensive unrestive erase identity
one of millions marchingrunningshooting out at sea
you tell me to runjumpfightkill
so we can have world peace...
but you all runjumpfightkill
men women children
who look just like me...
ive served my country
but does my country serve me?
ive loved this country
but does my country love me?
who will survive in America
will we ever be free?
this elusive thing you all call freedom
when will it come to me and mine??
< my life in its name>>
~a black female veteran's dilemma
because even lions are soft
in the spots behind their ears,
their bellies, and their manes
because even lambs can draw blood
with rough wools and hooves
and bleating tongues that bray
so which of us will tame our beasts
and which one of us will slay...
<<i feel at peace in your violence>>
~the lion lies down with the lamb
turning 32 in 5 days. it's a thursday this year. wednesdays are always my lucky days... oh well.
most people get hype about their birthdays. that's never been me. i get contemplative. i like to think about who i am today versus who i was when i came into this world, 20 years ago, 13 years ago, 1 year ago, 6 weeks ago, yesterday...
i've been thinking a lot about shoulda, coulda, woulda's...
would Bernie Sanders really have brought world peace or would he had been just another charismatic fat cat in a suit?
should i have smoked that black before yoga class yesterday and said fuck it i'm just gonna continue to be a walking contradiction? smoker yogi. dark light. fire ice. shy bold. here gone. oscillating between all of the two's... that is the gemini way.
would i be a better friend if i didn't learn at a young age that i like being alone with a book under a tree overlooking some water more than anything on this earth? should i continue to revel in solitude like i am my own nation? would you believe me when i say that i love all of my friends even if i don't always see you?
should i keep grinding for the dream when no one but me can see past the trees? when white men with millions tell me it sounds better coming from someone just not like me?
should i have run from his harsh words when his eyes begged me to stay? should i hate him when he says i am the one who got away? should i bless the new fruit of their unhappy bliss? he told me he sees me whenever they kiss.
(karma collects; my girl, she's a bitch...)
should i believe the words any of them are writing or speaking? would allowing love in my life be as simple as breathing? could giving my heart be the Secret, Life's Meaning? when i laid on your chest we heard our souls speaking...
imagine my surprise...
it is rare.
it is truth.
it is us.
i have no answers to any of the questions.
all i have is more questions.
my niece fell asleep in my arms the other day. i looked into her face that is so much like mine and the veil lifted. for the first time i truly understood the purity of that kind of love-the love between a mother and her child. she is not even my child but i now understand what makes a mother be able to move mountains to make sure her child will never feel pain. that realization pierced me to my core and now i long to know that for myself.
do you realize that only a mother knows what it feels like to carry two souls in her body at one time? how are you ever the same once you have felt the gravity of that truth for yourself? it is not a choice i would make lightly. but it is a choice i would lay my life down for once made.
so, should i? could i? would i?
my soul has always been old. my mind has always been fluid. my face seems like it will never age. these truths are both gift and curse.
and this year has been the best and worst year of my life.
i've hurt. i've cried. i've hurt others. i've made others cry. I've smiled. i've laughed. i've leaped. i've yelled. i've been brave. i've been a coward. i've won. i've lost.
i've lost. i've lost. i've lost.
but i learned the lessons. i have seen the beauty and the ugliness. i have realized you can't have one without the other. it's about how you shape it and how you let it shape you.
i have grown into my skin. it is dark with no wrinkles and it drinks up the sun. my soul whirls and twirls with a tambourine in the light of the moon.
i now know what my true name is.
it is a four lettered word but that doesn't mean it isn't beautiful.
~on being 32
I am called lucky.
My skin is the color of the burnt sugar Grann stirs with her old wooden spoon as it bubbles and then cools to make sweeties. They tell me I was born the color of new butter, but Grann raised me up to worship the sun, and until my first blood, she placed totems blessed by loas under my bed on every new moon. This, she said, is what sweetened my blood, pulling up the yellows, oranges, and reds to color my skin’s surface.
My hair is the color of sunlight filtering through a wood’s dying leaves in the Fall. I witnessed a true Fall once, as a Philadelphia child. One Fall jumping in dead leaves I can remember before we were chased back to New Orleans to escape the shame of a baby like me coming out of a mother like mine.
My eyes are green as the grass grows on the first true day of true Summer. Granpapa says green is lucky, like money, like the alligator in the marshlands that once saved his life, like the lushness of the jungles from where the First People first sprang.
Yet, I am not called lucky because my hair, my skin, my eyes worship the Great Mother, Erzulie, and all Her glorious Creation.
My mama named me Chanse, meaning lucky in my family’s old tongue of Creole, despite these things.
I am lucky my family’s name protects me, a half caste baby conceived by a Black woman and White man. There are many who wish someone like me dead, who still want people like me to be disposed of as abominations. That a Black woman like my mother would lay down with a man of the inferior race and conceive a female child is inconceivable. Everyone knows that females of every tribe carry the power and the name. What my mother did was an affront to her power and her name, and to the blood that was spilled to cast the White man back across the sea.
I used to wonder, but I now understand why I am lucky. I now know. In a country where the worst thing you can be is a White man, and the second worst thing you can be is a White woman, I am lucky that the White blood of my long ago ancestors and the White blood of my father did not fully manifest itself in me.
I am lucky, that despite all of the bright colors running through me, I was born Not White.
It is my 12th year in school and my 18th year within this body on this earth.
We have never celebrated Euro history before, but this year my school must observe it. With the integration of our school system to include Whites, instructors encourage us to learn with them and understand their history.
We have been taught that before the Great Cause, all White people did was kill, rape, pillage, and steal. They did nothing worth celebrating. All achievements were reached off of the backs of the civilizations they conquered and stole from.
All Not Whites across the world know these truths, yet here I am, listening to Instructor Lee talk about White people’s contributions to our society.
I roll my eyes and look around me to see if my classmates are as bored as I am. Most roll their eyes or make faces back in agreement.
Yet, many of them do not.
Since integration, some of my friends look at me like they are seeing my true colors, the ones I have been told to demure my entire life; the glint of emerald in my eyes, the pearly undertone of my skin, the fire shade of my hair that does not kink no matter how much wax I use or how small I make my braids every night. These colors remind my friends that I have more Europe than Africa running through my veins.
As I find myself often lately doing, I rejoice inwardly, thankful that my family’s name is in the Great Book.
I am great. I am important. I am protected.
A White girl named Tansy, always asking foolish questions, raises her hand and says, “We Euros aint all bad people. Abraham Lincoln was'n the last White Pres'dent of Old America. Abolishuns ended slavery fore the First People revolted. Why all the White people still paying for what our dead great grands did?”
She nods her head toward me and points, “Look at Chanse’s skin and lookin at me. She looks like that; she so bad then?”
I feel the red in me rise, prepared to call her the name we are forbidden to call them. But then, I remember the plans of my grandparents for me, and the expectations of the Elders, and the sad eyes of my mama.
I remain silent.
My best friend, Kaima, throws her pen at Tansy and tells her, “You smell like a dog when you’re wet and you burn in the sun. You lived in caves, ate each other, and had sex with animals. You are stupid and evil.”
She gestures to the Not White people in the room, even Instructor Lee. “Meanwhile, all of our people were kings and queens. We built pyramids, created modern mathematics, and recorded the foundations of language. That’s why, slaver.”
The Not Whites in the class laugh. Kaima never lies.
She is my best friend. She says what I cannot. Her skin is as dark as the night sky during the new moon. Her hair is as soft and billowy as cotton. She wears beauty and strength as her colors. I sometimes envy her freedom. I always love her.
Instructor Lee just shakes her head and tries to finish her lesson. I’m sure she doesn’t want Tansy and her kind here either. Whites are not as smart as the rest of us, and they are always causing trouble. Bussing them in from their neighborhoods to mix with us two years ago caused a storm all over the country-from our nation’s capital in New Orleans trickling down to instructors’ lodges in the 32 states. Quite a few teachers left the profession in protest.
There are rumors that Ms. Lee is also half-caste, but it is not as much of a shame on her as it is for me. Whites in Old America didn’t quite enslave her people. Asiatics came here willingly, and got paid for their labor. Still, during the Great Cause, they, along with the Aztecas and Natives joined the First People-free Blacks like my ancestors and revolted slaves-in battle for the Great Cause.
Today, Not Whites comprise the four Great Tribes of our country. My family sits at the table of Elders in New Orleans along with the other great families. Our names are in the Great Book for helping to end the scourge of slavery and freeing this nation from the evils of the White race.
The First People killed the slave masters and sent those they pardoned back to Europe. The Euros that stayed were placed in servitude to build a new nation. Their debts were eventually paid, but their sins will never be forgotten.
The way I look is a daily reminder of these sins. The sins of my mother for laying with a White man and the sins of my father’s people for existing as a virus on this earth.
I leave History class with my skin feeling hot, and feel the brightness of my colors stifling me.
Kaima and my other friends call my name, but I run down the hall to escape into the sun.
Brandon Branch and his friends stand in front of the exit door at the end of the hall. They are wearing shirts with old flags of their ancestors’ native countries on them. Ireland, France, England, Germany, even the old flag of this country before the Great Cause set us all free.
White Pride they call this, wearing old flags, talking about the White tribe as inventors, thinkers, and emperors from a time long ago.
They know these stories they believe are all lies, but they do it anyway. They should let it go. They lost. We won.
We won because we are the First People from where all life sprang. We absorb the sun’s power while all they ever do is feed on our light. We won because we had the might of the Natives, Aztecas, and Asiatics on our side. We won because the drums we brought with us from our homelands in Africa were steadily building to a crescendo of war while they sat fat and lazy in their big houses out of the sun. They beat, maimed, raped, and stripped us of our identities. Yet, we raised their children and cooked their food and built their country with our blood, sweat, and sacrifice.
The songs we sung while in the fields were filled with promises of freedom and vengeance. We used the drums and their silly religion to mask our plots and schemes. We danced at night to rejoice about how we would time soon come fertilize our lands with their blood.
The ancestors looked to Haiti as an example, a nation shining as a beacon of hope that the masters could be defeated. Toussaint Louverture’s victory inspired them to first throw off their mental chains of bondage. They waited one generation, prepping their children to slowly poison and make complacent the White masters.
When the war drums sounded, the melanin tribes of Old America rose up. We killed the first borns, the fathers, and the mothers. Most of those left were the babies who knew more of the slaves than they did of their own dead families.
The slavers who lived, they either fled across the ocean in defeat or stayed and became servants to us. We rebuilt this country in our images. Their numbers will never again swell. The Elders ensure this.
They can never be trusted again, and they never will be.
To know I come from that blood disgusts me.
For that, I sometimes hate my mother.
For that, I will never acknowledge Brandon Branch or any man like him.
He winks at me, blowing a kiss as I push past him and his friends to find the sun. He foolishly flirts. He must not know that I could tell my Granpapa and by dawn he would be hanging from a tree in the bayou, his penis stuffed into his mouth as both a warning and a curse.
I wonder that I won’t.
I look down at the ring on my right hand. Its colors glint in the sun. Mama gave it to me the night I first danced with Oshun in the swamp like all the women in my family have before me, even before we were free.
The sun I was raised to worship comforts me as does the ring winking and twinkling on my hand. Its gems are the colors of the flag; blue, green, red, black. Blue for the ocean we crossed. Green for the land. Red for the blood. Black to honor the ancestors.
Colors comfort me like sweeties or prayers or a song.
For some reason, I think of my daddy. He saw me once a year in secret until I learned my name’s true meaning. That is when I asked Mama to stop taking me to see him. Then I asked him to stop calling. Then to even stop writing.
Then he died.
The last time I saw him he told me it was good my skin had darkened from the sun. He said it was good that my hair curled, even under water. He told me to press my thumb down hard on my nose every day to make it rounder, flatter, less like his.
I laughed at him, but even then, I could see in his eyes that he hoped it would work.