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

Advertisements

Memories

nature-river-1080p-wallpaper

Nostalgia’s a nauseating

sickness

like four little girls

still trying to tear down the brick

painted on the sides

of their heads

Pocketbook scriptures still dangling

from underneath

their tongues

like a scorched covenant

under burned fingernails

still trying to get me to

remember

Truth be queasy

like first trimesters

be painful

like birth pains

I heard

a roll of thunder

and laughter more frightening

than decomposed bodies

at the bottom of bi-racial rivers

whispering

like the voice of Emmet

till when?

It asked me.

Before strings of voices erupted from some place

beyond the banks of the James River

from someplace before William Lynch’s arrival

somewhere marchin

stomping on my roots

somewhere printed on the back

of the forbidden fruit, I still

got between my teeth

a string of voices

sprung up

from the oppression

marching down the streets of Birmingham,

Chicago, Georgia, Mississippi, Harlem.

Willie Edwards,

James Chaney,

Michael Donald,

Michael Griffith,

Michael Brown,

Yusef Hawkins,

James Byrd Jr, and Trayvon Martin’s voices

sang hymns of “I told you so’s”

for my memories

like women giving birth

to still born children

Till when?

said Mr. Till.

Will you people continue to give birth

to death

still lying on the bed

of Martin’s dreams?

They sang with an authority

like rolling thunder

and butterflies in my stomach

like truth on top Moses mountain they sang

like earthquakes

cracking my memories into lynched question marks

they sang

like blood-thirsty whales behind slave ships

like ripping flesh

torn open

with Hebrew scriptures

in their veins

they sang

like diseases written into the sky

and prison chains

their voices roared

like a million I told you so’s they sang

like voices do

and they asked me a question

but their words

were few

Till when?

Screamed the segregated

Set-apart

and unequal lungs

of Emmett

Till when?

He sang.

Like the lyrics of Deuteronomy

carried up

Till when will Malcolm,

Booker T.

and Martin King

still dream

before

they wake up?

When I’m Gone

novel-writing

You don’t have to mention my name
Waste not your resources
Carving my initials into the ground
Or on street signs and buildings
Not near corners
where future Martin Kings
Will sell dope and brawl
Until their quarrels leak
With the accidental stench of death
Over dice games
I’m sure King didn’t expect his memory
To be synonymous with the street
At which the next ghetto is named
Remember me not this way
Not on the front of your t-shirts
And flyers
And flowers as if my nose can still
Smell them
In your thoughts
You don’t even have to say my name
Build no fancy statues for me
Sing no sad songs
Instead
Remember me in ink
No need to write me down
In history
Just write me down in ink
Admit that every time
I opened my mouth
the earth moved
that I did not sugar coat
the splitting of the sky
when it birthed the rain and that yes,
I drowned a time or two
be sure to mention my mistakes.
But at least you can say that with every base in my voice
I played the truth
and that with the thrashing
of every key board my fingers
exposed the secret
behind
why every heart
beats.

 

I’ll Carry It With Me

047

From the bowels of the deep south
To the place of the rising sun
She’ll stretch her roots to the ends of the Earth
And her scent to the universe edge
From the Nile
To the Euphrates
Her soul is Langston
And has grown deep like the rivers

On her bark
Are the names whipped out of her ancestors skin
Pocketbook scriptures ripped out from underneath their tongues
And she stands there
Towering over the people who pass her by
Singing their song in the wind

She remembers the scratchy fiber
It was course and woolly
Like Nyongo’s hair
When they tied her arms
Around the Magnolia

She was there when Moses died
They buried his bones under the shadow of her roof
Tied bright yellow ribbons to her branches like shackles on her arms
So that Tubman can tell that she was a slave
And carry her falling leaves to freedom
She sings her song
From the bowels of the deep south
And the deep North
clean across the Atlantic
And on up to Spain
Where the ships of Tarshish came first

But you will never know of it
Not when you see her standing there
All tall
And full of pride
her petals are soft and delicate
and burning passion like the sun
But I won’t forget
I’ll bottle her scent and carry it with me
The history of her children
The memory of the hanging tree

Writer’s Quote Wednesday – Bernice McFadden

Good Morning Lovelies and welcome back to another segment of Writer’s Quote Wednesday as hosted by Colleen of Silver Threading. This week I am quoting from Bernice McFadden:

900x400_BW2“I write to breathe life back into memory and to remind African Americans of our rich and textured history.” – Bernice McFadden

I had to reread this quote a few times. I understood it well. I had to reread it to make sure they were not my own words. Its as if McFadden had found a way into my head. Maybe the ancestral blood that links our DNA pulled from the genetic instruction and spoke our hearts into words. Maybe she just heard it in my bones, but this is one of the many reasons why I write: “To breathe life back into memory and to remind African Americans of our rich and textured history.” The quote suggests there is something not living among us, something not honored, not recognized, not praised. It is my hope that my work can be part of the resurrection

About The Author: From Her Author Website

BERNICE L. McFADDEN is the author of nine critically acclaimed novels including Sugar, Loving Donovan, Nowhere Is a Place, The Warmest December, Gathering of Waters (a New York Times Editors’ Choice and one of the 100 Notable Books of 2012), and Glorious, which was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. She is a three-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of three awards from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA). She lives in Brooklyn, New York. The Book of Harlan is her latest novel.

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

010516_2129_writersquot1

Writer’s Quote Wednesday – Aldous Huxley

For this week’s segment of Writer’s Quote Wednesday, as hosted by the lovely Colleen of Silver Threading, I take inspiration from Aldous Huxley:

Aldous Huxley“Every man’s memory is his private literature.” ~Aldous Huxley

The influence of memory in our lives is thought-provoking. Even if it’s just the name of a character or birthplace, memory plays a part in what we write and often even how we write, which is what makes this quote so interesting. A lot of the stories in my books, for instance, take place in Chicago because I know Chicago. This is where I am from, where I was raised, and it is the city that I know. I do not have to make up the names of streets and towns and shops because I know them. I’ve been to Ford City, shopped at the Food & Liquor on 63rd and Western (it’s closed now), and lived on 47th Street. I’ve rode the Red Line through the loop, touched the people, smelled the food and heard the voices. As long as I have memory of Chicago, I’ll always have some story to tell.

About the Author:

images

What I enjoy about this weekly prompt, in addition to the inspiring voices of authors who compel us to keep writing, is the search and discovery of new authors to explore. Sometimes it’s best to understand more about the quotes you use. I discovered for instance, that Aldous grandfather, Thomas Henry Huxley, was known as a controversial naturalist in his time, nicknamed as “Darwin’s Bulldog”, which made me think twice about whether or not to use this quote since I don’t believe in anything with the words Darwin in the same sentence. But anyway, I decided to play nice though and let Aldous hang around a bit longer, so here’s his background according to The European Graduate School website:

“Aldous Huxley, was a British writer. He was born on July 26, 1894 and died on November 22, 1963. He would become most specifically known to the public for his novels, and especially his fifth one, Brave New World, written in 1931 and published in 1932.

Aldous Huxley would come to be known mostly as a novelist and essayist but he would also write some short stories, poetry, travelogues and even film scripts. In his novels and essays Aldous Huxley would always play the role of a critical observer of accepted traditions, customs, social norms and ideals. Importantly, he would be concerned in his writings with the potentially harmful applications of so-called scientific progress to mankind” 

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

That’s it for this week’s segment. Be sure to check out the other #WQW posts from other  bloggers this week. Just look for “Writer’s Quote Wednesday” in your readers :).

writers-quote-wednesday

http://silverthreading.com/2015/08/12/writers-quote-wednesday-roald-dahl/

Living vs. Existing

Live this moment. It will soon be just a memory.

Write, Live and Love

I heard this question in a movie once:

“Are you living, or are you existing?”

To this day, I find it to be one of the most thought provoking questions I’ve heard.

It’s good to take moments to evaluate how your life is going. You need to ask yourself constantly if you are truly living or just merely existing. Many people have found themselves more in the category of existing, rather than living, and sometimes, once they realize it, it’s too late to turn back.

I have existed in this world for a long time. I would talk about my dreams and goals and everything I wanted to do with my life and how I wanted it to play out. I had a great life on paper, but when I asked myself what I was doing to actually live that life? Nothing. In order to truly enjoy life, you have…

View original post 154 more words