Give Me My Flowers Today

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

I don’t usually post on Saturdays but on discovering a dear blogger friend’s death at the same time the world is mourning Earl “DMX” Simmons, a thought struck me.

“I just wish we could love people when they live the way we do when they die.”

As I scrolled through my LinkedIn page (and I am rarely on LinkedIn), I came across this post and was surprised to learn of Sue Vincent’s passing. 

I know Sue from her promotional posts for authors and her generosity in opening up her space to give others time to shine. I’ve been featured on her blog a few times, and each time that we emailed, she was always welcoming to have me. 

I feel sadness about Sue because I have not been as immersed in the blogging community as I used to be. My schedule is crazy these days, and I have not had the time to dedicate myself to my own blog, much less engage with others. On searching her name, I found tons of posts dedicated to her and posts she wrote about her illness. I am so very sorry for missing it all. 

I also want to note that Sue was a poet, and with it being National Poetry Month, I dedicate this post to her honor.

As per the title of this post, I want to remind us to give people their flowers while they live.

If there is someone you appreciate or someone you love, or someone who has added value to your life in any way, I encourage you to make it known to them now.

Why now? 

Why not now?

Photo by Mel on Unsplash

Last June 2020 was the last time I saw my mother alive. I had taken a quick trip to Chicago to celebrate the life of another person I knew who had passed and stopped by my mom’s place. I was literally only passing through. My husband had to make a run, so I ended up staying with my mother for longer than I had anticipated.

At the time, I was irritated Moshe was taking so long to come back. I did not see how much of a blessing it was he took this run.

Before I left, I put a necklace on her neck that I had meant to ship but never got the chance to. As I snapped it on her, I kissed her cheek and left. This wasn’t out of the ordinary. It is something I did all the time, kiss her cheek and tell her I loved her. The difference this time is I didn’t know this would be the last time I would do it, as she would pass on in September.

I have been away from home since 2009, when we moved to Louisiana. I now live in Georgia, but most of my family still lives in Chicago. That said, I didn’t see my mom daily because we did not live in the same city. If I had not come to Chicago that June, the last memory I would have of her would have been December of 2019 when we celebrated her 60th, and unknown to us, her last birthday.

Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash

We never know when will be the last time we see or speak to someone, but we still take it for granted. We still treat each other like every day is promised. We still love people more in death than we do in life. We see this every time a celebrity passes.

I hope that one day this will change.

I hope that one day we will live with such immense gratitude that hindsight is no longer 20/20 because we will see things clearly at the moment.

I’ll leave you with this excerpt from If My Books Shall Die:

“Give me my flowers today

and accept the life I offer you

in the form of metaphors on silver platters,

for I am feeding you with silver spoons

and all you’ve got to do is eat.

I offer you the best of me.

And when I am dead

no longer among the living

crack open a book written by me

and feel my breath on your skin.

Hear my voice resurrect

from inside an ancient pen,

Watch my tongue dance.

See my lips move

and witness passion soar 

from beyond the grave.

If my books shall die

then my words did not really contain life.

But if my books shall live

What are you waiting for?

Go to your bookshelf,

resurrect me

and carry

my bones.”


Read the full poem in I am Soul

Don’t Forget to Enter this Year’s Poetry Contest. Click Here to Learn How.


PS. I am not a fan of the new WordPress editor. I like the ease of embedding tweets, but I think the blocks are unnecessarily complicated.

The Mistake

This poem was inspired by Maya Angelou’s “We Wear the Mask,” and Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “Mask.”


Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Unsplash

We define grief as tears, not smiles
heartbreaking groans, and complaints
an emotion-gripped body that bends and aches
a display of physical pain is how we mistake
what it means to grieve.

We lookout for people who are visibly sad

a distraught tone of voice, a mind gone mad

a person who neglects to eat, but drinks

or maybe have a hard time falling asleep.

The physical signs of a distressed soul are what we see for ourself

and to this, we say, “careful now, of your mental health.”

 

But what of the people who are not so physically troubled?

 

They wake up each morning

their heads held high.

They could wallow in self-pity but prefer to fly.

They spread their cheeks, so we see their teeth,

and somehow, deep underneath the grief, they smile.

Their shoulders do not droop or bow or lean,

and from their eyes, no tears be seen.

We run to them for advice, and in their ears, we spill our guts

“They are pillars of strength, no matter what,”

we say

and this is the mistake.

 

Right there in those smiling faces, see the invisible rock.

The chains of depression’s coffles

it’s whips and lash and knock

its uninvited entry when our smiling support goes home

and lay their pillars on their pillows 

before crying themselves to sleep.

 

In a world as destructive as this one, 

they need not make it known 

that even the happiest person 

still cries and loathes and moans.

Even the most joyous of us, with praise smeared on our lips

have some load to carry, 

we wish to be helped with.

But if physical anguish is the only measurement

by which we weigh grief

then these people don’t have a chance

of attaining such release.

 

And yet, where would we be without these rays of light

who helps us, if for a moment, to believe all is right?

Where would we be without people with such faith?

Those who pull us from the grave, 

even as they stand on the edge of death and wait?

Too solid to bend and too proud to break.

They go on permitting us to believe 

pain is but a physical thing.

 

This is the mistake.

How Permanent is this Grief?

Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

Something about sorrow sounds spiritual. It sounds like awakenings and revelations. Sounds like pacts and promises. Sounds contradicting too, like hope and despair are twins. We want to shackle ourselves to change. Something about sorrow got us questioning our own mortality. But how permanent is this grief? Where are we two years from now? Is this feeling fleeting? Will we forget our own deaths could be just as close as Kobe’s? Right now is good. It’s all reflection-like. Our throats are full of emotion and saltwater. Only time will tell if this is real or just another ode to the people we worship as Gods. Today, forgiveness is an anthem we sing each morning. Kisses adorn the faces of our loved ones, and the heavens ain’t heard these many prayers since the last celebrity died. And yet I ask myself how permanent is this grief? What have we learned?

There are people we know and love that are close. We can reach out and touch them. Now. Today. Will we? Some of us will Tupac this young man’s legacy while forgetting the promises we made to ourselves to be better people outside of the internet. We will forget those feel-good words we concocted when the world was in mourning. The “every day ain’t promised,” and “hug the ones you love,” we spit into the air as if life has promised our names won’t be the next one carved into the next hashtag. Like our pictures won’t be the ones swarming the internet like the locust currently congregating in East Africa.

Yea, something about sorrow sounds spiritual. Got us thinking about life and truth and family and love. But will this last? How permanent is this grief? That is the question. 

YouTube: New Poem Added! Listen to “Grief” #Poetry #Spoken Word

I wrote this poem in honor of my dad last year, inspired by a real experience. I was listening to Pandora and Yolanda Adams “Open My Heart” came on. I usually turn the station because the song reminds me of my dad who died of cancer in 2000. This time though, I allowed myself to feel. I allowed myself to grieve. I put this video together when I first published the poem to this blog but I am just now getting it uploaded as I am getting my YouTube grind back! Listen to the poem below, read the poem here and be sure to subscribe for more poems!

SUBSCRIBE HERE

 

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

For Rose – A Story in a Single Image

unsplash-04

The city never afforded her body the chance to be this intimately part of creation in the way to which her eyes were now experiencing. The sun danced splashes of yellows on her skin and the light immersed her body into the landscape. Forty-two acres of earth welcomed Chelsea until her eyes were not big enough to hold all of it at one time. The sun seemed to come down from the sky to personally greet her and she felt a closeness to the heavens like never before. It was as if she could reach up to the sky and capture the wings of angels in the palms of her hands. A treasure of luminaries in a bowl of black dirt. The only sounds audible were locust and grasshoppers that leaped through the air like children playing hide and seek with the clouds and the growling motors of cars racing by. The land did not reach any homes on the right or the left for at least a mile or two nor were there any houses in front of her. Chelsea remembered feeling lonely and yet the way the trees stretched its branches wide reminded her of a mother’s embrace. Only Forrest stood across from her, a gate closed her into her grandmother’s inheritance, and community spoke like laughter beyond Sara’s womb. She bent her knees and crouched closer to the ground, plucking handfuls of grass from the rich dirt. She had to touch it to make sure that it was real. How could something so beautiful be the result of something so painful? What Grandma Rose left to her would nourish generations of children and her heart ached that Nana would not be here to drink glasses of lemonade on the front porch of their country home or eat tomatoes fresh from the garden. “Rose”. She said it below a whisper and let the smile crease into her face and wrap itself around her cheeks. It had been weeks since she smiled. Nana always knew how to do just that. Amazing how she consoled her even beyond the grave. The woman let the emotion wash over her and the tears race down her face and drip from her lips. The sun bowed its final curtsy before lowering itself into sleep for the night and Chelsea cried for the last time. Her tears all courage shaped in her throat. Finally, the grief had come to an end.

I’m Sorry

death
it’s sting
produces a humility powerful enough

to find itself a home
even inside the heart of the one

who holds the cup of “I’m sorry’s”
hoping their voice is sad enough

to produce the kind of sympathy
that peels back the brick

that found itself a place

inside the gut of the bereaved
the lump
waiting inside their throats
is this “I’m Sorry” strong enough?
“I’m sorry”
makes me feel guilty
because I know that it is not enough,

in fact
it almost sounds cliché
how can this routine “I’m sorry”

ever guarantee the sincere apology I feel
for the woman
who lost her husband in the hands of doctors

with spines like jellyfish,
the inconsiderate “I’m sorry”

floating out the window of the hospital,
where his breath left it’s good bye on the table

without warning
didn’t want to wake her sleeping gorgeous
so he left in the middle of the night
just to see her smile one last time
for he knew that she would smile

in her dreams

Or the man
who lost his brother with the split of atoms
like storms breaking through to the clouds
like a mother’s arms spread wide enough

to capture his smiles in a bowl

but aint no rainbows today
cause grief
it convinces us that the world

has ceased existing
and molds its rotations to the contours of our hearts

Why are you sorry?!
screams the confused silence of my bones
or the unflinching expression of a man’s face

after a life-time of catastrophes
tainted love
chocking dreams

and memories like the scenic route to civil wars
& he wears it all

with a walk like a stone cold killer

and a face fit for poker
but his heart is pale with grief
I know
cause I heard it in his smile
he laughs
but only because his body weeps
too weak internally

to die physically too
so when he grieves
and when she grieves
when their pain is too deep

to find alongside the outline of their faces
too far to find within the pages of their past
but close enough to smell in the sorrow of their loss
in these bags
filled to the brim with all their stuff
what do you say
when the air isn’t pure enough to breathe
and a routine, “I’m sorry” is simply not enough
to convince them

that the world

still spins