Grief

 

it came in waves today

grief did

the sound of Yolanda Adams opening her heart

did it

I was wrong to listen

her voice was a gun

her lyrics, a trigger

me, the victim

she was thunder

my tears

rain

Yolanda knows I can’t listen to that song

it hoola hooped on the radio in ’99

the year we lived with him

and I combed my Barbie’s hair to her voice

as my Dad’s memory rode on the backs of those lyrics

a warrior

the knight and shining armor

of my adolescents

invisible crown on his head

he is bald now

cancer ate away his hair

and I rubbed Witch Hazel on his foot

I kissed his forehead

I am thirteen again and my heart is inexperienced

I am not ready for the lightening on its way to me

My hands are too small to hold the weight of what’s about to happen

“What if I choose the wrong thing to do?”

she sings

and in my warrior walks

the cab driver in nice suits

his words are “hip” like his style and his commandments

“don’t sleep ready rose,” meaning,

“don’t sleep in your outside clothes”

“I feel so lost, I don’t know what to do,”

in he walks

tight-roping Yolanda’s lyrics

In those sharp suits

riding on the back of my preteen memories

and I curl my small fingers into a fist

and fit them inside the center of my Dad’s palm

the way we used to do

the way his hand covered my entire fist

the way he’s tight-roping on my heart strings

the way memory crawled its way into my throat this morning

“I just need to hear one word from you,” 

Yolanda’s voice penetrates the clouds

the thunder growls

the lightning strikes

and I am thirteen again and the year is 2000

the final moan of a passing storm

and James walks out of the door

his name planting kisses on my forehead

and anointing my eyes

with grief

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YouTube: New Poem Added! Listen to “Cheap” #Poetry #SpokenWord

This started out as something I wrote for myself. It wasn’t necessarily a poem. But I decided to turn it into something for you as well. I rewrote it in third person instead of first person. Do not be cheap with yourself. Know your worth. Know your value. Be you. Love you.

Poet Spotlight – 2-Day Special: Grand Prize Winner | Jahkazia Richardson Part 2

Today concludes our spotlight of the runner-ups and grand prize winner of our 2nd Annual Poetry Contest 2018. Choosing winners from such talented writers was not easy so we hope that you have enjoyed our spotlight series on these beautiful sistas. Brothers! No worries, there are poems written by men that will be part of the magazine, no doubt.

Speaking of which, don’t forget to look out for the coming Magazine which will not only feature the ladies you’ve seen this past week but also our poets who didn’t place but whose poems also struck a chord with us. As badly as we want to profile them, we can’t give away all the goodies! But trust, these poems will blow your mind as well.

Introducing Jahkazia Part Two

 

Okay Jae. Go ahead and reintroduce yourself for those who didn’t meet you yesterday. What is your name and where are you from?

Hi! My name is Jahkazia Richardson, and I am from Bull City (Durham, NC).

What is the most annoying habit that you have?

Ugh, I feel like I collect everything! I have a problem with throwing away things with sentimental value. I have more clothes and things in my apartment that I care to mention for that very reason.

It’s hard to throw stuff away for real. Any siblings?

I have one little brother who is 20.

Awwue.

We know you can write but what was your childhood dream?

When I was 10 years old, I wanted to open a restaurant called “Big Momma’s Kitchen.” I believe I wrote out a business plan, menu, and everything. I still want that restaurant actually – just under a different name. Coming soon! Send me some juju, please!

Lol. Okay. Speaking of food, what’s your favorite? (I like “Big Momma’s Kitchen” by the way!)

I am an EXTREME foodie, so everything is my favorite. If I had to choose just one thing, I would say Jamaican Jerk Chicken – extra sauce.

Yaass. Love jerk. That’s favorite food, color?

This is so easy! Yellow. It’s the same color as my favorite flower – the sunflower. Oh, and it looks good on my melanated skin so that is a plus.

If you could shadow your favorite artist, who would it be?

Jill. Scott. Jilly from Philly. She has inspired me so much from her transparency, style, and confidence. There were not many artists that looked like me growing up, so looking up to her as a 5 years old felt like a dream.

I can so get a Jill Scott vibe from you! Speaking of music, what kind of music are you into?

My music taste is definitely a melting pot! Most of music playlist consists of mostly R&B, Neo-soul, and hip-hop. I think that’s why I’m always in my feelings. *haha*

Lol. Single? Married? Do we see children in your future?

I’m in a relationship right now. Yes, I cannot wait to be married one day but no, I am nowhere ready for a little one right now. Sometimes I have a little baby fever. Then, there are times when I see a child and want to run, so it’s a tossup.

Lol. Jae, we like to be informational on this blog so tell us, what do you wish you knew more about?

I wish I knew more about music. I have such a deep appreciation for the craft, but I sincerely wish I could turn back the hands of time and learn how to play and read music.

Do you have a favorite TV show?

I love “Chopped” which is the show where you get a few random items and have to make a marvelous meal.

I can dig it. I like Top Chef myself. Religious?

I have tried all my life to me a religious person, but I haven’t found a good fit yet. I am very much a spiritual being. I have healing crystals and sage everywhere.

Be careful with that. I’ve heard some bad things about those healing crystals and sage. Let’s switch things up a little bit. After all, we are here because of your writing. Why is writing important to you?

I grew up extremely, extremely shy and insecure. Writing was my only outlet in order to deal with my mental health issues. Writing was how I processed my worry, pain, and suffering in a way that turned chaos into beauty. In eighth grade, I became an entirely different person when I started reciting in slams, and it built my broken confidence. Being able to have the opportunity to express myself in that way changed my life forever.

Your poem is about knowing your self-worth so tell us, what is it that you love about yourself?

Even with my past self-confidence issues I have always appreciated and loved my loyalty to other people. No matter how folks treated me, I have always been there for them and loved them through it all. I guess it is a double-edged sword, but I love loving others.

That’s what’s up. Jahkazia, thanks so much for spending this time with us!


Be Sure to Follow Jahkazia Online!

IG: @chamelaninaire 

Facebook: Jahkazia Richardson

To read Part One of this feature, CLICK HERE.


Missed our other poet spotlights? Please be sure to show our winners some love:

Click Here for Kiyana Blount

Click Here for Nia Elise

Click Here for Nailah Shami

Poet Spotlight: Nailah Shami | Yecheilyah’s 2nd Annual Poetry Contest 2018

This week we are spotlighting the winners of the 2nd Annual Poetry Contest! Today, you’ll get to meet the poets and read their poems. Let’s dive right in with our 2nd Place winner.

Introducing Nailah Shami

Nailah Shami is the author of two non-fiction books: Taking the High Road: How to Cope Your Ex Husband, Maintain Your Sanity, and Raise Your Child in Peace and Do Not Talk To, Touch, Marry, or Otherwise Fiddle with Frogs: How to Find Prince Charming by Finding Yourself. Continuing to fulfill a personal mission to inspire, encourage and entertain others, she blogs on Better for That, a weekly platform of uplifting micro-essays, vignettes, self-care streams and poetry. She is also working on a series of contemporary women’s fiction novels and a volume of poetry. Nailah lives in Washington state in the shadow of Mt Rainier and loves travel, festivals, music, comedy, cooking, pampering, all things lavender, hanging out with friends and family (or interesting strangers) and, of course, writing. She is always writing.

Welcome Nailah! So nice to meet you beautiful! I have to say we loved your poem.  Please tell us what inspired you to write it.

Nailah: My childhood was spent in an abusive, alcoholic household, so it took a while to come to the concept of self-care, or what I have come to describe as intentionally loving and mothering myself. But once I did, it became the perfect antidote for undoing that early trauma. I am fascinated, even addicted to, the power that self-care has to enhance every area of my life. It’s me saying to myself over and over in so many ways, I got you. This is a sacred obligation that I trust completely. Shortly before I wrote this poem, my BFF {Best Friend Forever} complimented me for being the most resilient, self-sufficient person she knows. Extreme self-care is the reason and I wanted to share that in a poem.

And share you did! Loving Myself Full is a beautiful poem. I mean, we loved it. There are several lines that spoke to us, one of them was:

I reverse-engineer my collapse

With unhurried tithes to myself

Can you explain a little bit to our readers about this line?

Nailah: What I was trying to convey there was that there is a certain mindfulness about knowing what it will take for me to burn out, and a wholehearted willingness to counteract that by making small, deliberate contributions to my well-being. Could be taking 10 minutes to choose just the right bouquet of flowers, 30 minutes on my yoga mat, 90 minutes on the massage table, making sure I’m eating right and getting my zzz’s or happily saying no to a swarm of demands on my time.

Very nice. I think that’s a nugget of wisdom we can all take with us. 

Now let’s get into this poem!

 

Loving Myself Full, Copyright©Nailah Shami

2nd Place

 

I turn off the phone, turn on the sauna

Dial down stress, dial up serenity

Gather my wounds in a circle,

Sing them the tender lullaby, years cultivated

And love myself full

Hush, I whisper

Until they trust me to gently paint over their grievances

With a mosaic of sunshine and light

They vary in age

Strolling through a lifetime, I nod to each me

Spending extra moments with Inner Mother me

She knows how all of this tenderness will play out

My eyes close when a melody from another world caresses my ears

The massage therapist pulls tension out of shoulders, arms, legs, spirit

Hot stones, aromatic oils, mindless bliss

I am AWOL, refusing to be needed

Lost in the valley of me, myself and I

Vowing to return to more simple things

Coloring, skipping, daydreaming

Hula hooping for breakfast

Beach dawdling for lunch

Lovemaking for dinner

Months before I am raggedy meat on a bone

I reverse-engineer my collapse

With unhurried tithes to myself

Casually buying roses with the groceries

Spraying lavender on the sheets,

Rose water on my face,

Wonder in my heart

I practice forgetting disappointments

And I do not have time to doubt the power of this spell I am casting,

The voodoo poetry of peace, stillness, and self-care

Of vowing to do the hardest things in the softest fabrics

And then have someone ease the memory of the fight from my muscles

With Zen music and hopeful scents

I lose time, but do not miss it

A fair exchange to put stars back in my eyes, silken my soul

From far away, I hear the massage therapist tell me to take my time getting up, and I do.

Oh, I do.

Be Sure to Follow Nailah Online!


https://betterforthat.wordpress.com/

 

Books by Nailah

 

CLICK HERE to learn more about Taking the High Road.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Do Not Talk to, Touch, Marry, or Otherwise Fiddle with Frogs.


Stand by for our 2-Day Special Feature of the Grand Prize Winner taking place tomorrow (Mon. 8/27, and Tues. 8/28)!

Who took home the grand prize and why?

Stay glued, Jahkazia Richardson is next.

Poet Spotlight: Nia Elise |Yecheilyah’s 2nd Annual Poetry Contest 2018

This week we are spotlighting the winners of the 2nd Annual Poetry Contest! Today, you’ll get to meet the poets and read their poems. Let’s dive right in with our 3rd Place winner.

INTRODUCING NIA ELISE

Nia Elise is a 41-year-old single mom of two beautiful girls. She currently resides in Covington, Ga after relocating from her hometown of Silver Spring, MD. She is currently a 4th-grade teacher and has spent 19 years working in education. Her love of poetry began in elementary school when she received a signed copy of “Honey, I love” by Eloise Greenfield. She began writing her own poetry in middle school. After her divorce, she took to the stage and began doing spoken word. She is currently working on her first book of poetry and vignettes titled “Lessons on Love.” Be on the lookout for her book, and read more of her poetry by following @PoeticallyPurposed and on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Welcome Nia! So nice to meet you beautiful. Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired your poem, Self-Love?

Nia: Upon deciding that I would enter the poetry contest, I opened an episode of Red Table Talk where Jada Pinkett Smith discussed her views on self-love. I began thinking about what that meant to me, and more importantly my struggles with learning to love myself, and how I want my daughters to view themselves differently than I did growing up. That was my inspiration to write “Self-Love” for this contest.

I love it. It’s a powerful poem. “The unattainable plight of a woman” was a beautiful way to open and sum up the piece. A few lines caught our attention:

“to break down the expectation into bits she can eat.
And she swallows
her pride, tears, fears, and the expectations of her peers
And spits them back out at her baby girls feet.”

Tell us about those lines.

Nia: Society has placed these expectations on women of what we should look like; Our size, the clothing we wear, how we wear our hair, the way we walk and talk, how we should or should not cater to a man, or how we should mother our children. It’s a lot to take in, or rather to “Swallow”. Every time you open a social media page, there is a meme about what you should or should not be doing to meet these expectations. Through my journey of learning to love myself, I have had to set them aside and understand that I can take in what I think is best for me, and just throw the rest away. I want my daughters to understand this same thing. They do not need to meet the expectations of the world, but only the expectations they have set for themselves.

Well said.

Now let’s get into this poem!

 

Self Love Copyright© Nia Elise

3rd Place

The unattainable plight of a woman
The mask she carries is not her own
Under it
Lies
Expectation
Made into self-deprecation
Caused by
Society, men, magazines and molds.
In her youth she may have had the physicality
but not the mentality
to sustain what they thought she should be.
After birth
she struggles with the physicality
but now owns a mentality
to break down the expectation into bits she can eat.
And she swallows
her pride, tears, fears, and the expectations of her peers
And spits them back out at her baby girls feet.
She tells her
these folks’ expectations are not for you to meet
They are for you to beat
They will gnaw at your mind
Pull on your spirit
And you need to push it aside baby girl,
Don’t hear it
Be the best version of you
That is more than just the view
That is the drive to be alive and to continue to push through
That is the understanding that
God’s got you
That is the realization that
you are beautiful no matter what
That your beauty is more than your face and your strut
That what matters
is in your heart and mind
That it’s more important to be gentle and kind
Especially since we are all going through
The seemingly unattainable plight of learning to love YOU.

 

Be Sure to Follow Nia Online!

IG: @poeticallypurposed

@embodyingpurpose


Stand by for our 2nd Runner-Up.

Nailah Shami is up tomorrow!

Poet Spotlight: Kiyana Blount | Yecheilyah’s 2nd Annual Poetry Contest 2018

This week we are spotlighting the winners of the 2nd Annual Poetry Contest! Today, you’ll get to meet the poets and read their poems. Let’s dive right in with our 4th Place winner.

Introducing Kiyana Blount

Copyright©Kiyana Blount. Used with permission.

Kiyana Blount is a mother, wife, and friend who has a heart of pure gold. She is 27 years old and has a passion for the arts. Kiyana loves to write, dance, sing and act and every time she walks in the room has a light that cannot be dimmed. On her journey through self-love, she is learning how to not only uplift herself but those around her. Kiyana is a hard worker and believes she can accomplish anything she wants to!

Kiyana, so good to meet you beautiful! Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself and what inspired your poem.

Kiyana: My life is what inspired this poem! I am currently on a journey of rebuilding my inner Goddess and going back to loving myself and being the best version of myself. This poem is my truth!

I love that. I understand that you have a business. Tell us a little bit about that.

Kiyana: The business I am apart of is bringing awareness to little black Kings and Queens through reading the truth about themselves. One of the books is called I’m Naturally Beautiful and it shows little Black Queens that they do not have to conform to what society says and shows through media. They are beautiful the way they are and can do anything they put their mind to!

Excellent. Clouded Container is a powerful poem. How did you come up with the title and what does it mean?

Kiyana: I came up with the title with some inspiration from a book I’m reading called Warrior Goddess: Become the woman who you are meant to be by Heatherash Amara. In the book, it talks about how you are a container and in your container you take things out and put things in. Whether it’s negative or positive! Sometimes the things we put into ourselves is not always good and it clouds our judgment. It causes nasty smudges and debris and you have to scrub real good to clear it out. I am guilty of many insecurities and making myself feel bad and on my journey of self-love, I have eliminated that. I have grown to love me and everything that makes me, flaws and all. I gave myself a good scrub down!! That’s how I got the title Clouded Container.

Wow. I like that container analogy. Well Kiyana, there are several lines in the poem that caught our attention. One was:

“Conditioned to see cracks in a broken mirror that never fell.”

Can you, briefly, explain that line to us?

Kiyana: It’s funny because that’s actually one of my favorite lines in my poem! What that line is saying is that in our society and the world we live in, they make it their duty to set a standard and make you feel like everything is wrong with you. That’s when insecurities and doubts and negative thoughts about yourself begin. You start to see yourself in this broken mirror. But once you remove the glasses that society prescribed to you, you realize you are so amazing and magical and that the mirror never moved, never fell and was never broken. It was just somebody else trying to define who YOU are!

Girl you betta speak!

Now, let’s get into this poem!

 

Clouded Container, Copyright©Kiyana Blount

4th Place Winner

Love

The universal chord to everything

We only see the clouded container without seeing the internal contents that we thought were nonexistent.

Conditioned to see cracks in a broken mirror that never fell

Finding folds and creases in a painting that never left the frame.

Society polluting the consciousness of the reflection I am reaching out to grab

That inner gut feeling saying to stop hiding behind the shadow that doesn’t show at night.

Listening, deeply to the silent thoughts of my mental.

Light shining through the judgmental audience sitting in the sky box of the windows to your soul.

Wow, I can feel the warmth of it. The molded embrace around my higher being.

No worries, no doubts, no questioning; but only the remedy to a strong woman’s dis-ease.

Self-love.

Caring to uplift myself.

Envisioning a powerful Goddess grooming the strength, courage, compassion and fearlessness of her spirit.

Caring to unravel the negative wraps around my illuminating golden brown skin.

The love shines through my pores.

Being able to move through self-love helps me to care and cultivate the container that was once clouded.

Releasing the contents that almost became buried treasure.

Be Sure to Follow Kiyana Online!

Facebook: Kiyana Blount

IG: kueen7


Stand by for our 3rd Runner-Up.

Nia Elise is up tomorrow!

Winners and Runner-ups! | Yecheilyah’s 2nd Annual Poetry Contest 2018

 

First, congratulations to ALL of the poets who entered this year’s contest and to those who sent us the required information in case of a win! You certainly did not come to play! My judges and I have read and reread and read again! Some of your poems had us reading out loud and going over each line. Thank you so much for pouring out your heart and soul.

We have read EVERY single entry MORE than once!

We had not one, not two, but three sets of eyeballs on this thing!

The poems were so good that we are STILL choosing a few of the poems that didn’t place to feature in our debut online magazine!

How it Works

Tomorrow, August 23, 2018, we will profile our 4th place winner, Friday, our 3rd place, Saturday our 2nd place and then finally, Sunday AND Monday we will be featuring our Grand Prize Winner and learning more about the poet and the winning poem.

Below are the names of the winners and the names of their poems. Remember, over the next few days, we will be profiling each of them separately so make sure you are staying glued. You’ll learn more about them and read their poems.


Our Runner-Ups will Receive:

 

CONGRATS ARE IN FOR


4th Place (3rd Runner-Up)

Kiyana Blount for Clouded Container

YASS!

3rd Place (2nd Runner-Up)

Nia Elise for Self-Love

YASS!

2nd Place (1st Runner-Up)

Nailah Shami for Loving Myself Full

YASS!

******************

Our Grand-Prize Winner will Receive:

  • $50 Amazon Giftcard nested inside a specialty gift box, no fees, no expiration date, and redeemable towards millions of items storewide at Amazon.com

  • Signed paperback copy of I am Soul poetry book by Yecheilyah Ysrayl

  • 1 Writing Custom Designed Journal and matching pen to encourage your writing journey!

  • Publication in our online Magazine

  • Publication and Promotion on this blog and SM, email list, and across social media

  • Special Individual Blog Promotion + Interview

 

AND NOW….

DRUMM ROLL

ANOTHER DRUMM ROLL

OKAY OKAY! 🙂

*

*1st Place, Grand Prize Winner*

Jahkazia Richardson for

What If I Knew My Worth

YASSS!

CONGRATULATIONS ALL OF YOU!!

BUT WE ARE NOT DONE…


WE STILL HAVE A FEW POEMS THAT WILL MAKE IT INTO OUR MAGAZINE!

POEMS OUR JUDGES ALSO FOUND AMAZING:

 

S.R. Graham, Love in its Simplest Form

Olayemi Ifeoluwa, On Self-Love

Zerahyah, Reflection

Khaya Ronkainen, Running Brook

 

You will get to read their poems soon. Stay glued for details on the mag debut.

A Word from Yecheilyah…

I just want to say that I am so proud of these poets. It’s something refreshing and authentic about reading someone’s words and seeing the beauty of the person without having seen their faces or knowing much about their life. When we decided on the winners we didn’t know what these writers looked like or what their lives were like, just their words on the page. When their photos and bios came in it was heartwarming for me personally. We did not intend to choose all women for our finalists. We were so focused on the poems (they had us studying child!) that we didn’t stop to think about race or gender or any of that. Personally, I think that’s what I enjoyed the most about this contest. It was all about the heart and what spoke to the judges the most and I cannot wait until you get to read their poems! Here’s to many more contests to come. Let’s do it bigger next year! Yess.

I can’t leave without extending a special thank you to all of the women who made this contest possible:

Lisa W. Tetting
Dr. K.E. Garland
Tinzley Bradford
Tehilayah Ysrayl

Thanks beautifuls! Guys, please be sure to support their work. They are all so powerful in their own right. Click on their names to visit their sites.

Best,

-Yecheilyah

Host, 2nd Annual Poetry Contest

Runner-Ups, our sponsors will be in contact with you shortly on your gifts!

The rest of you, be sure to return to learn more about our winners.

 

Thursday, 8/23 – Kiyana Blount
Friday, 8/24 – Nia Elise
Saturday, 8/25 – Nailah Shami
Sunday + Monday, 8/26-27 – Jahkazia Richardson