Standing Rock Thanksgiving

November 24, 2016

 

Absence in Review

August 9, 2015

It’s been a long time since I last posted. Life has been lived. The Seed (he hates when I refer to him as such) has grown. Flowers and vegetables are blossoming/blooming on my balcony garden. The life I am living now is totally different from the life I thought about living in my twenties and early thirties. Letting King Bee pollinate my flower changed everything and I give thanks…and praise.

But as The Seed regularly reminds me, I should share with my anonymous readers what is going on. According to my YouTube aficionado, I should be much more on my writer’s grind. Part of me agrees with him. Another part of me says I am not tied to any contract where I have to produce work according to an agreed upon schedule. I am free. And if, while I am free, words are not coming to my satisfaction, that is, ultimately, okay. I am a literary daughter of Toni Morrison who says “”Wait, wait, wait, wait. Don’t try to write through it, to force it. Many do, but that won’t work. Just wait, it will come.”

So I wait while writing down whatever comes with no current thought of editing or fitting said drips and drabs into a poem in progress because their vibration seems to align. I am okay. I have faith (read I refuse to write discordant poems simply to continue to lay claim to the title of writer). I wait with the understanding behind me of a piece of a poem that I wrote when I was 22. I tried to fit into everything I had written up to that point. Almost 10 years later, devoid of my notebooks, memory kicked in and provided me with the lines that completed, perfectly, the piece I was writing. In other words, sometimes you can write something that is beyond your development at the time of writing and you just have to wait.

So I am waiting and I have faith that this period of non-production (in the writer’s sense) will lead to something that will be worthy of the wait…and the faith.

While I wait, or rather, concurrently with the wait, is the homeschooling of my son and since it is summer, growing vegetables and flowers on my balcony garden. We recently took a trip to the DC/Maryland area.

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At the Everlasting Life restaurant in Capitol Heights, Maryland, a black owned vegan restaurant. They had the most amazing  macaroni and cheese!

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At the National Zoo

 

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Paddle boating on the Tidal Basin at the Jefferson Memorial. We did it during a previous trip to Brooklyn and he couldn’t resist. That face told me now is not the time for discussions of Sally Hemings.

 

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It is said that you leave the best for the last and the best of this trip, selfishly speaking, was attending the Unveiling of the Spring Issue of Reflections Literary & Arts Magazine of Prince Georges Community College.

 

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Passenger side view of Wilbur Cross Pkwy

We drove to Maryland and back. Scratch that. I drove to Maryland and back with my very GPS-able pilot. I was so happy to see the sign that we were back home although the drive through Wilbur Cross Pkwy in Connecticut was absolutely lovely; despite seeing two deer dead by the side of the highway.

 

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While in Maryland, I was happy to meet Khadijah Ali-Coleman, she of the lovely voice and spirit!

 

 

 

 

We were in Maryland to attend the Unveiling of Prince Georges Community College’s literary journal, Reflections. I had submitted a couple of pieces which were accepted so decided to attend…and drive there and back from Cambridge, MA.  The New Jersey Turnpike is something else and that something is not nice. I had planned to visit friends in New Jersey and got so turned around on that divided highway I said something less polite than “forget it” and ended up spending the night at a Holiday Inn in Rahway, a prison town.

The next day we drove home sweet home and I began thinking of what I wanted in my balcony garden this year.  Part II of the Absence in Review will center around the summer progress of said garden.

I am against terror in any of its manifestations. Any of its manifestations? How many manifestations can terror have? Isn’t it strictly Islamic fundamentalist? Growing up as a black immigrant girl child in Boston during the late 70’s and 80’s, I have to say no. In fact, I have to say more than no. I have to say this.

This is how dichotomy works in the US:  there is the legal economy of drugs (pharmaceuticals) and the illegal economy of drugs (meth – or whatever its street name is currently; crack/cocaine, etc). There is legal terror (the pigs) and illegal terror (Boston marathon bombing). The legal is sanctioned. The illegal is not. Everything inhumanely possible is being done to coerce our support for the reasoning behind the legal economy and the legal terror while corresponding attempts are made to coerce us into closing our minds and hearts to the correlation between the two.

If you need it said poetically to get what I’m saying: here it is.

Twin Towers

We are reflections of each other
except I’m on the top
and refuse to look down.

We are reflections
except I’m on the bottom
constantly looking up.

We are reflections
but I stand in the sun
which lights the way.

We are reflections of each other
but I stand under the moon
which lights the night.

We are twins
yet I stand tall.
We are twins
yet I crawl.

We are the twins towers
of poverty and privilege
connected
by an umbilical cord
which pumps
only bad blood.

Oh look!

A plane is coming our way.
Come, plane, come!

We are the twin towers
of poverty and privilege
and there is nothing
permanent
that one plane or two
can do to us.

We can be tortured.
The steel that structures us
can be made to scream.
Cities can be blanketed
in the ash
of our destruction.
Thousands upon thousands
can die.

What is that to us?

Once the wind clears
and time has silenced the cries;
once we have sent our own
to kill and be killed
we will be rebuilt
even higher

as a single monument
to the twin towers
of poverty and privilege.

Abstract #1 (1/30)

April 2, 2013

She cried me a river
which I populated
with salmon.

She then fished
up my nose
for coke fiend
dreams

to tell her
unstoried friends

but I was unpowdered
like puff the magic dragon.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Dear Sewafe,

For the first time in a very long time, I am not coming to see you. I am taking Funmi to see a play called Desdemona in New York City. It is a reworking of Othello. Well, that’s not a totally accurate way of describing  it. It is more a reappropriation or retelling. Instead of Othello being the main character, Desdemona is. It’s written by Toni Morrison and is, apparently, the result of  her fulfilling some sort of contract she had with a white theater director.  You know that I’ve long adored Toni Morrison’s writing although I am not one for plays and such. However, I have to give Funmi an alternative to Shakespeare. She’s been driving me crazy. If her head isn’t buried in a bible-sized edition of the complete collection of Shakespeare, she is her room practicing, out loud, her role.

Yain Kain 

Dear Yain Kain,

What do you mean you’re not coming to see me? You know how much I depend on the visits. They keep me sane and help keep at bay some of the demons in here. To top off that bad news, you’re taking our daughter to see one of your womanist writers? You know I never approved of  your reading them and have told you so time and again. If these were the old days, I would forbid you from taking my daughter to the city where I was captured.  But these are not those days. The only thing I insist is that you contact and stay with one of the brothers, preferably Sundiata.  

Sewafe

New York? My name! New York! Who is Sundiata?

In Prison Town, USA, quiet, farms and a very white social order dominate. In New York City, cars, noises and smells on top of smells proliferate.  I’m too old to hold my mother’s hand but still, I stay closer than I do normally. Instead of flitting my eyes all about to take everything in, I keep them locked on her.  Out of the blue,  she started shaking her head and muttering under her breath about my father’s protective tendencies. Before I could ask, she was swept up in big bear hug by a man with the longest locs I’d ever seen. My mother was laughing and at the same time saying “put me down, Sundiata. I’m a grown woman with a daughter!” But I don’t think she really meant it because on her face was pure pleasure.

Next thing I know, I’m being swept up into the strongest arms I’ve ever felt outside of my father and hugged just as tightly as my mom was. I think I fell in love with him right then and there. Of course, I couldn’t express that or show how shocked I was that my mother was being so girlish and soft. Instead, I stiffened and ordered him to “put me down!”

He acquiesced without that wide smile leaving his face. “So you’re Funmilayo, huh? Sewafe has told me all about you!” Before I could respond, my mother pointed out our luggage. He picked up our bags easily and with my mom chatting his ears off, walked us to his car.

Land of Lincoln (They Say)

January 1, 2013

They say that Illinois is the land of Lincoln
And that Springfield is the heart of that land.

They say that Lincoln was ugly, morose and awkward
And that despite his character flaws he should be honored
For keeping the country together
For freeing Africans from chattel slavery.

They say, they say, they say
Until I can’t help being sickened.

Yes, Lincoln signed his name on a document
That nominally ended the American version of slavery
Once and for all

But he took a long and winding road to get there
And part of that road included a path off the beaten trail
Called the american colonization society
A society that didn’t want to participate any longer
In sucking the blood from Africans
A society that just wanted us to recross the Middle Passage
And take our black asses on home.

Lincoln found out that wasn’t feasible
the day he took office
and southern state after southern state
seceded from the union.

See, president after president
from the first to the fifteenth
consistently passed the buck on the question of slavery.
None of them had the werewithal
to disrupt the economy of the country
by dismantling slavery.

Northern mills manufactured the cotton
Produced from Africans enslaved on the plantations.
Coffee drinkers had their coffee sweetened
With the sugar produced from Africans enslaved
On the plantations.
No president could conceive the building of this country
Shouldn’t have to rely on the whip, the dogs, the blood soaked earth
The all-encompassing misery of African people
To make this country’s destiny manifest.

But they say that Lincoln had the courage of his convictions
And they say his convictions were inherent in the words
Of the declaration of independence.
They say he was The Great Emancipator

Lincoln signing his name on a piece of paper
Couldn’t stop Northern whites from rioting
Because they had to go to war
To free Africans.

Lincoln signing his name on a piece of paper
Couldn’t stop the South from beating the North
In battle after battle.

Lincoln signing his name on a piece of paper
Was a strategic move
To break the South economically.
If the South didn’t have the revenue produced by Africans
They wouldn’t be able to keep up with the cost of war.
That was the real reason behind Sherman’s march to the sea.

So on this day
When they have closed downtown Springfield
For the grand opening of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
When they say that Illinois is the Land of Lincoln
And Springfield is the heart of that land
After I get up from praying to the porcelain god
And rinse my mouth out
I take up my pen
And try to give you the real deal.

 

Excerpted from my book, In the Whirlwind

 

Requiem for L

December 24, 2012

Requiem for L

Days of wine and roses
were never a part of my twenty-four
except once.

Understanding my need to sip and sniff,
he brought me Ethiopian honey wine
and Somali Rose incense.

Understanding his need to make a dollar
out of fifteen cents, I stood beside him
on Oakland corners selling good smells.

One hundred and thirty two moons
older than my post-summer of love birth,
he was my alpha.

Joyfully submitting, I laid under him
matching him movement for movement.
My lips curved a half moon when he said,
Sis, they told you wrong, you can dance.

I loved him so much
I laughingly sidestepped shyness
when my sister said I heard you two
smacking lips in the kitchen.

He was the beginning of my womanhood
and I turned out to be the end of his manhood.

Several copper-wire conversations later,
there was much sorrow in his voice
when he said, if I had known
you wanted to be a married woman
I would’ve married you.

Devoid of my essence, he took a header off
of a rickety staircase. I didn’t believe anything
anybody told me,
until I called his sister-friend.
She heard my name and went silent
and I knew…my alpha was dead.

Grief is perennial. It walks with me daily.

 

 

Excerpted from my third book, Contraband Marriage.

June 25, 2012

This is a tremendous public service Sarah Webb is doing. Hope it resonates with you as well.

June 12, 2012

Apt quote

Over the past few days, I’ve had several blocks of time when I was all alone. Just me by my lonesome. And I loved it, every single millisecond! It tempts  me to issue a request of the universe and ask for one week; one week when my son is somewhere safe where he can have as much fun as his 6 year old self can handle; a week where I am totally alone: no 5:30 am wake-ups by bright brown eyes which look confused when I say it’s too early to go outside. Oh a week of not having to explain daily that during summer, Ra wakes up early and goes to bed late. A week of not having to plot and plan out meals. A week of watching stubby lil fingers zero in on the meat/chicken/fish to the exclusion of everything else. A week of not having to say eat your food or explain why it’s important to eat fruits and vegetables over and over again. A week where I wonder what on earth I was doing being a mother; let alone to this child who can manifest my best and worst qualities (mule headedness, intelligence, compassion, selfishness) in the space of one hour. A week where I learn to love the sound of my voice again.

So. Yes. So consider this my request, Universe. One week; a week, I want to specify, where my son is with someone who has his best interests at heart and who understand this parent’s need to not here daily reports. A person who will just send me pictures and not call me in a panic because mule headedness won out over other emotions.