Freestyle in Blue

July 22, 2018

 

Indigo indicates topaz retreat
and I am summoned
to a repast of blue treats

A birthstone blue kind of night
a sapphire surprise sky

Nonviolent violet
amid surrendering slivers
of yellow

I would claw my way
back from ten thousand deaths
just to witness

these blues

 

 

© 2018 Photo and text by Tichaona M. Chinyelu

Beauty

February 17, 2018

Beauty is in the eye
of the beholder
and I be holding beauty
when I glance upon them
theoretically shaping
the future into an afro
centric sharpness
that shook
the white power structure
into confronting
black consciousness
organized and mandated
to dismiss
that old time religion
that said everything in its place
especially the black race.

A new paradigm of blackness
rooted in a communal soliloquy:
ghetto equals colony
and racism is the bastard child
of fascist economies.
Fanon, Malcolm and James
became antidotes
for antiquated theologies
and anti-social pathologies.

In the belly of the imperialistic beast,
in the macro-and-microcosms
of streets and prisons
a new paradigm, a paradise
of struggle
created by ex-soldiers
high school and college students,
whores, pimps, drug dealers
NASA employees,
doctors and number runners
heady, ready and willing.

From Watts to the Congo
white power has gotta go
burn baby burn
no ashes in the urn
time for the tide to turn
and put an end to the yearn.

Discern:

Panther power was here
turned the police into pigs
and nigs into blacks
figuratively burning effigies
with tactics and strategies
that earned them freedom’s mind.

Freestyle #1, 2018

January 2, 2018

Freestyle #1, 2018

Stymied by the weather
words coalesce and collect
like dust, like soil.

I am an archaeologist
unearthing her hidden story.
A grain of sand, a paragraph
is all that history provides.

To the victor belongs the spoils

I guess…

 

Drafted and Shafted

May 29, 2017

Everyday, the street sweepers’ contempt
swept us, nothing and nobody exempt.

The whites of their eyes forecast doom
in their matrix soundstage of a room.

They insisted on incising my rights
with a language full of curses and slights.

You won’t catch me on the front line
being one God says is all mine.

It’ll be prison time you’ll reap
or on this floor, your blood will seep.

Either way I’d be gone, nonexistent
so I chose the path of least resistance.

For the first time, the gun in my hands is legal
which surprised me into feeling regal.

I wanted to swagger around like John Wayne
but everyone treated me like Major Payne.

To make sure I was constantly outdoors
They sent me on senseless missions to explore.

When my grumblings became a roar
MP’s dropped me in the real war.

One day their bombs blew my body apart
destroying my will to depart.

Hercules

November 25, 2016

The crisis is arrived when we must assert our rights, or submit to every imposition, that can be heaped upon us, till custom and use shall make us as tame and abject slaves, as the blacks we rule over with such arbitrary sway.

–  George Washington

 

 

Hercules (possibly) Slave prettily pretending
on the promenade.
A plethora of coins
pushing a false narrative
But then

he was sent from the city
of brotherly love
to break rocks
and dig in the mud
for material
to shore up a house
he can only enter from the back.

Hands that used to craft meals
which earned him accolades appropriate
for the free
are now stiff, swollen
and seditious.

Back on the plantation
the enslaved called low vermin
his six year old daughter was asked
if she missed seeing her father.

“He is free now.”

 

For more information about Hercules, check out the following links:

http://www.npr.org/2008/02/19/18950467/hercules-and-hemings-presidents-slave-chefs

Recollections and Private Memoirs of George Washington

http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/hercules/#note4

Homeschooling Journey #2

November 20, 2016

It’s been two years since I posted about homeschooling. Yes, we are still doing it. When it comes to my son’s education, I claim unschooler more than any other identity in the homeschooling universe. I admit that when we first embarked on this journey, I was still in the grasp of traditional schooling and therefore, printed out copious amount of worksheets, bought books that contained things I assumed he needed to know, etc, etc. We, my son and I, both struggled with the workload I wanted to assign him. Eventually, as we got into the groove, I let go of a lot of traditional education thinking that was, truthfully, handicapping the process. That was year one.

Year two, my ideas were still muddied about the whole thing but I had to consistently remind myself why I pulled him out of school and what I wanted to accomplish with this new process. I wanted him to be a free-thinker. As I said, over and over, to family and friends and acquaintances, I’m not raising a slave. If unschooling was something that required a mission statement, that would be it: I’m not raising a slave. Of course that means he is free to disagree with me and frequently does; which sometimes raises my parental ire. As I tell him “sometimes, it’s just best to say yes, mom” and leave the “battle” for another day when I’m more open to his entreaties.

Heading into year three, I have to say that I am simply amazed by how much my son learns if I step outside the process! As a result of him sharing what he’s researched, I’ve learned things I had no interest in learning but still…I am amazed and proud. Not only is my son intelligent but he has a sense of self I didn’t have at his age (12) and he feels free to share his growth (although he doesn’t yet see it as such) with me.

Of course, I can’t totally let go of things I think he should know; especially as high school creeps up on the horizon. At this point, I am thinking he should go to the local high school and experience what that is all about. But I am not sure. I don’t want arbitrary standardized testing to negatively impact on his educational growth. I also am firmly opposed to some educational bureaucrat trying to track him. When he was still in traditional school, a teacher called me to advocate for that and I shut that down. Quick, fast and in a hurry.

I was tracked as a kid. My mother, an immigrant, assumed that the educational professionals knew something she didn’t know about her troublesome girl child and let them put me into “special” ed. As painful and contradictory as that decision was, I don’t blame her. I understand, now,  that she didn’t understand the context in which such decisions are made. The minute, figuratively speaking, I graduated from high school, I started reading about education. As “troublesome” as I was, I was never anti-education. I was, simply, anti-school.

One of the books I still remember was authored by Jonathan Kozol. Savage Inequalities changed my educational life but still, I couldn’t totally repudiate my mother’s sensibility because I was raised to respect and honor the elders in my family. The fact that their reality  didn’t correspond to my reality was neither here nor there. It is only now, as I approach 50, that I have the ovaries to say a respectful  yet direct no. I refuse to put my son through what I went through. I will not sacrifice him as I feel as I was sacrificed.

So here we are, approaching the third year of unschooling. I find myself starting to think about the high school on the horizon: whether I actually want him to attend in this current environment and what I need to do to prepare him if the mutual (yet parental-directed) decision is for high school  or to go straight to community college as a readying environment for a 4 year college.

 

 

 

I Represent

July 21, 2016

I Represent

I represent the oppressed black womb
penetrated too early in its development.
No one takes the time to explain abortion
before I am strapped in the clinic gurney
to have the baby he planted scraped out.
One day, I was watching Dora and the next day
my teacher said I was a statistic. I don’t know.
I just know I’m not a little girl any more.

I represent the oppressed black vagina
smothered under an endless stream of men
who push and push but never take the time
to differentiate me from girl 6, 5, 4, 3, 2,
or even the one they call the bottom.
You only see me to call me names:
whore, trick, bitch.
One day I’ll be free of this stroll
and will only respond
to the name my mother gave me.

I represent the oppressed black woman
former stripper, former whore, former convict
who came through hell and back
yet still exudes sulfur.
Five children but crack obliterated
the memories and names of their fathers.
They look at me when I come home
smelling of a hundred billion sold
and say they’re hungry.
My response, before I close the bedroom door is
so am I, babies, so am I.

I represent the oppressed conscious black woman
who has all of her eyes open to see the world
but yet only inhabits 6 square blocks of the concrete jungle.
She sits at night with her seeds reworking homework lessons
of Christmas, Columbus and colonization.
She transforms the three R’s into righteous revolutionary rebellion.

Sometimes, I am allowed to sit in and participate in all of their lives.
Sometimes, the door is shut either angrily or in the silence of defeat.
Either way, I am still a poet and my pen represents the oppressed.

20160627_122507_E 6th St

 

Here, I eat the chips
of childhood;
salt in the air
and salt and vinegar
in my mouth.

Salivating stillness
after the turtle-like triumph
of treading to the top
we put a period
on the promenade.

Proudly private people
we prostrate ourselves
in lounge chairs
designed for that express
purpose.

This is one of the views
that reduces reaction
to irrelevancy.

 

© 2016 Tichaona Munhamo Chinyelu (photo and text)

(Originally posted on my book review blog, Diary of a Mad Reader)

I am someone who reads books that break my heart, time and time again. The Book of Night Women broke my heart. Apparently, A Brief History of Seven Killings, which I’m 14 pages away from finishing, is going to do the same. And they’re both by Marlon James.

I so want to say that I hate him and his damn novels but that wouldn’t be true. They resonate too deep for hate. The Book of Night Women stayed with me so long I was extremely reluctant to buy A Brief History. I waited; saw it in my favorite bookstore, saw it win prestige and still said I ain’t buying fucking bullshit that breaks my fucking heart. I nah fi do it.

But…

Marley

whose music reached me before Prince.

Marley

whose reggae connected me to my family in a way no other music does.

And so I bought it…and started reading.

Fucking Marlon James, man. I mean, damn.

I can’t fault him for his knowledge, or sense, of history. I can’t fault him for me reading past the sick ass murder that occurred in the first few pages. I can’t fault him anymore than I could fault Dylan for Masters of War or NWA for Fuck the Police or War for The World is a Ghetto because neither him or Dylan or NWA or War are the originators of this violent ass world I’m raising my son in.

I can’t even fault him for my reaction to a book that I haven’t yet finished, although I only have 14 pages left out of a 686 page novel. I can’t fault him for me feeling sorrow for the fictional psychopath Josey Wales. I can’t fault him because he’s an honest writer. His research is solid. His writing is beyond great. I can’t do anything but finish the novel, post this review and this song…

Selassie I Jah Rastafari

Addendum: I just finished the book. Considering the deranged violence that occurred throughout the book was that I would end it smiling and happy but I did! I’d read the whole tome all over again just to read that ending but first, I need a year or two to recover, just like I did with The Book of Night Women. With this ending, I do believe Marlon James has joined my very small list of favorite writers.

3 Poems Published!

March 11, 2016

3 of my poems were selected for publication by The Moxie Bee! Head on over there, check them out, leave some feedback!

TMC