I bleed words for a living. How did this come to be? At what point did I decide that I would write? That I would be a writer. Since I have always loved to write, it is challenging to pinpoint the exact moment I felt compelled to confide in words as a source of strength. My life has not been perfect in childhood, and having attended eight different schools before High School, I developed a love for reading. Ah, there it is. I write because I love to read. There are deeper reasons why I write but this is the starting place. Reading has always been my foundation. I could not trust in people so I trusted in books. Ironic isn’t it? For authors are people too. Nonetheless, by the age of twelve I developed a love for stories. Understand that my love for stories and my love for reading are two separate occasions. I have always, and still do, love to read. But it is that moment I took notice of how stories were written that I began to love stories. The emotion of the characters, the surrounding landscape, and even the way the words tippy toed across the page fascinated me. I wanted to be part of this process on a level that went deeper than reading. I wanted to become an architect of this kind of skill and just like that I began to write stories of my own.
Today my love for writing and my purpose for doing so have spun into greater depth as I have experienced many different things, traveled many places, and interacted with many different people as opposed to when I was a girl. I write today not so much to merely entertain, but to do so while also educating. I write to free individuals from the limited ways we tend to think and to feel. I hope to provide a kind of “edu-tainment”, a made-up word meaning to educate through entertainment. Everyone wants to learn but it does not have to be dull. We all wish to enjoy ourselves as we learn and I hope that my books can provide and has provided this kind of nourishment. In short, my reasoning for writing has developed but at its core it has remained the same. I love writing because I love reading and every book I read is inspiration to write.
It was in the early 90’s when the image of clowns changed for me. Not that I was much of a fan anyway, but one event made it that much more clear that clowns were creepy little creatures; cowards who hated themselves so much that they hid behind make-up. What grown man or woman wants to bounce around with a red nose? And why do you look like that? Anyway, something was going around the projects about a serial killer dressed as a clown who went around kidnapping children. At the time I was only about seven years old and I can remember being released from school early. Everyone had to have someone to pick them up from school and walk them to their building. While there was no adult to pick me up, being a twin always had its perks; it’s called having a lot of friends. So a large group of us walked home together. I even had a weapon, a super sharp pencil that was prepared to slice and dice the first orange or red Afro I saw coming. It didn’t occur to me that the pencil could break. And how would I sharpen it again? Nope, never crossed my mind, nor did my second grade education prepare me for such an event. I suppose I could just pencil stab him to death, not sure how that would work. Maybe he’ll get lead poison or something, who knows.
According to the rumor, the killer targeted children by standing next to mailboxes and eating bananas. I’m not sure why he would be eating bananas; an obvious indication that someone had probably just watched Stephen Kings IT and made the whole thing up. But that didn’t stop us from believing it. As we walked passed the first mailbox, our hearts caught in our throat, trying to walk as silently as childhood footsteps would allow. In the end we would make it home safe and sound. But when I went to sleep that night there he was, that ugly looking clown. I was looking out the window of Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes to the building next door where someone else was also looking out the window. Yea you guessed it: the clown. He smiled until his cheeks almost reached his ears and his teeth looked as if he had painted them yellow. Suddenly however, he ran away from the window. “Oh no! He’s coming over!” Before I knew it a clown was in my living room chasing me around the couch. Even though it was just a dream this was a very serious situation. Yea, looks like someone would definitely not be invited to the next birthday party.
This poem is based on a true story. A sista I know requested I write a poem based on her childhood. And after hearing her testimony, this is the result.
Silence lingers on every street corner of her heart
surrounded by the sounds of her own heartbeat
the only child
who knew that loneliness could be so loud?
Never remembering ever being a girl
womanhood emerging from her mother’s womb
responsibilities following her home wrapped in soft blankets and warm booties
yet infancy is kicked off too soon
and replaced with scavenger instincts
tearing away at empty cupboards
hope falling asleep like heroine nods
quickly replaced with the tears of a three year old
silence tearing away at the soft eardrums of a toddler’s pride
never remembering ever being a girl
Quick paces of little feet turned nine
gotta get the cigarettes on time
unknown eyes that are watching me
(at least somebody’s watching me)
careful now these little feet
having never been a girl
Twelve times twelve,
sadness in mommies cancer eyes
watch him do it and do it right
gotta give the medicine exactly right
the internal cries of that youthful voice (never really having been young)
somebody please tell me,
where is mommies tongue?
gotta carry cause mommies gone
will someone sing her daughters song?
The woman with the pink ribbons in her curls
the woman never having been a girl
Restaurants to wash myself
weed and drinks cause I watch myself
who cares for cute sinks when nothings left
seems like childhood just up and left
me sitting beside myself
empty benches now colored with the stench of my pain
smelly armpits reach out to beg for change
while relatives sit at home and count my change
whose willing to see this woman change?
Never having been a girl
Hustle proved its source of love
where does an instant woman find true love?
inside the arms of an abusive man she seeks her refuge from lazy hands
money giving light to dark places
apartment buildings giving substance to misplacement’s
where has it gone? My love? Where’s your part?
where oh where have you hidden my heart?
Numbers fade away like living water upon dirty dishes
this daughter of mine the result of these stitches
Entering the world as if she owns it!
Gotta hope another woman has not entered this world
praying my first child has the chance to at least,
Children have a tendency to think under the realm of simplicity. For this reason, we are encouraged to be in our mentality as a child, so that we maintain the humility necessary to receive the discipline of wisdom. Especially since there’s been awhile since many of us were children, so we have to be reminded of this kind of meekness, and to understand that most of the answers to the questions we look for are right here before us, but that we miss seeking “profundity”. Indeed, some of us need to seriously regress back into childhood and understand how simple things really are. But children also have a tendency to be unstable in their ways. They are more apt to move from place to place easily, despite danger. But as adults who have gained a certain level of experience, we cannot afford to be led astray by the elementary matters of childhood, in which we continue to trip over the same mistakes over and over again before we attempt to change them.
Change itself is difficult, for it is buried under years of routine and tradition. However embracing change when it is occupied by truth can cause great discipline, and create a greater understanding for the individual who is willing to grow up. It is a light that comes with maturity, illuminating the path of the elder. But not everyone of age is wise, for many of us are still easily led astray and stuck in our ways; plagued by the unchanging traditions of our youth. (There are countless old fools) And as some children are afraid of the dark, so are we who have yet to put off the instability of childhood; still heavier than darkness are we to ourselves. We can remove this burden however, if only we are willing to embrace change, and all of the gifts that come with it.
Two things always made me think of adulthood when I was a kid: Coffee and Car Keys.
I always loved holding the keys in my hand after returning from some car visit I was sent to by relatives. It made me feel adult, as if I was actually the one driving. I think mentally I associated it with adulthood because every time adults came around they had car keys in their hand! Or maybe it was because it gave them the freedom to come and go. In any event, I came to hold my head up a little higher whenever I could walk around with those keys.
Coffee also reminded me of adulthood. It seemed that it was something that only grown-ups were allowed to do. If they weren’t drinking coffee they were drinking liquor lol. All this represented adulthood for me.
Feel free to list some of the things that reminded you of adulthood when you were a kid.
“Wish I could capture your laughter in a bottle, and breathe in its beauty when I’m out of breath.”
Humility is loving that which is poor
it is bringing oneself down
becoming a servant to an innermost consciousness
to appreciate that which is forgotten
to relapse back into a state of childhood
where even something as great as a piece of broken glass
where it is not glass
it is not dangerous
it is just a mirror into which we see ourselves