First, I want to thank everyone who shared the original post on their social media’s and all of the wonderful and generous bloggers who reached out. The struggle is real out here and the magnitude of having someone to host me on their blog for free is not lost to me so thank you. As of now I am no longer accepting invitations to be featured on any more blogs. If you emailed me, thank you for your interest.
Below are the blogs that I will be visiting starting next month and into October. Unlike a traditional blog tour, this tour will feature new material per blog stop. This means that there is one new poem per blog so you will get something different on each blog! The tour stops are also one week apart so that you’ll have a chance to catch up in the event you don’t catch it on the first day. You will also be helping the host bloggers out by visiting their blogs and sharing the post on your social media.
I am closed to accepting any more inquiries, however, if you emailed me or if you wanted to participate in the tour I can still use more reviews. If you are into poetry and would like to be gifted a copy of the book, let me know. I would also appreciate any shares of this post in promotion of the upcoming tour. You don’t wanna miss out!
Welcome to Day Four of The WATCH RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS) WRITE Showcase Tour, a branch of The Rave Reviews Book Club.
Unfortunately, I cannot go on with the rest of the tour. This will be my last feature. I do hope the writers go on to do well and that you will show your support and appreciation for the rest of the hosts taking part in this program.
By Beem Weeks
“What’s that word say?”
“That’s an easy one, Daddy. Just sound it out.”
Levi Bacchus can’t read. 36 years old, and he’d never learned the meaning of a single sentence.
“I just ain’t cut out for this, Jamie Lynn.”
The girl’s countenance dropped in disagreement—just like her mother, that one.
“So, you’re a quitter now?” she bellowed, sounding too much like the woman who’d walked out of their lives two years earlier.
Levi took offense. “Mind your manners, Missy. I ain’t never been called no quitter.”
“Reading is something everybody should be able to do, is all I’m saying.”
“It’s easy for you,” Levi argued. “You’re just a kid, still in school. You have teachers telling you what to do and how to do it. I’m just too old for learning.”
The girl narrowed her gaze, jabbed a finger into the open book. “From the beginning,” she demanded.
His heaving huff meant he’d do it again—if only for her sake.
Words formed in his head before finding place on his tongue. Some came through in broken bits and pieces, while others arrived fully formed and ready for sound.
Jamie’s excitement in the matter is why he kept trying. Well, that and the fact he’d long desired the ability to pick up the morning paper and offer complaint or praise for the direction of the nation. All those people in the break room at the plant held their own opinions on everything from the president to the latest championship season enjoyed by the local high school football team.
“That’s good, Daddy,” Jamie said, patting her father on the arm. “That’s really good. You’ll be reading books before too long.”
A smile worked at the edges of his lips, refusing to go unnoticed.
“I’d like that, Sweet Pea.” That’s all he’d say of the matter. If it came to that, well then, he’d have accomplished something worth appreciating.
Levi harbored bigger notions than merely reading books. When a man can read, he can do or be anything he wants to be. His own father often said a man who can’t read is forever in bondage. How can a man truly be free if he cannot read the document spelling out the very rights bestowed upon him by simple virtue of birth? No sir; being illiterate no longer appealed to him.
Of his immediate family—father, mother, two older brothers—only Levi failed to attend college. Oh, he graduated from high school. Being a star quarterback will afford that sort of luxury. But when those coaches from the universities came calling, low test scores couldn’t open doors that promised more than a life spent in auto factories.
He’d seen a show on TV about a man who’d been sent to prison for five years for armed robbery. While there, this man learned to read, took a course on the law, and became a legal secretary upon his release. Eight years later, he’d earned a law degree and opened his very own practice.
Levi didn’t see himself arguing cases in a court of law—defending criminals most likely to be guilty just didn’t appeal to his sense of right and wrong. What he did see, however, is the need for a good and honest person to run the city he’d forever called home.
“Think I could be mayor?” he asked his daughter.
Jamie Lynn always grinned over such talk. “Everybody has to have a dream, Daddy.”
It’s what she always says.
Everything begins with a dream.
She gets that part of her from her mother.
“Once I can read without stopping to ask questions,” he mused, “maybe I’ll throw my hat into the ring, huh?”
“There’s nothing wrong with asking questions,” she answered, weaving wisdom between her words.
* * *
She’d been a girl scout, his daughter—daisies and brownies before that. It’s the other girls who bullied her out of the joy that sort of thing once offered. Straight A’s have a way of making others feel inferior, even threatened.
But Jamie Lynn isn’t the type to pine or fret. She chose to tutor—and not just her father, either. Kids come to the house needing to know this and that among mathematics or English or science. Her dream? To be a teacher one day.
And she’ll accomplish that much and more.
Her mother had that very same sense about her as well. She knew what she wanted in life, and cleared the path upon which she traveled.
High school sweethearts they’d been, Jamie Lynn’s mother and father. She’d been the pretty cheerleader, he’d been the All-American boy with a cannon for an arm. She went to college, he didn’t.
But she returned to him, joyfully accepting his proposal for a life together. Her degree carried her back to the high school from which they’d both graduated. This time, rather than student, she became teacher—American History.
Levi went to work building Cadillacs in the local plant. It paid well, offered medical benefits and paid vacation time. Life settled into routines.
Then came their little bundle. This didn’t sit well with the newly-minted history teacher. No sir. It’s as if Levi had intentionally sabotaged his own wife’s career in some fiendish plot to keep her home.
Words of love became “stupid” and “ignorant” and “illiterate ass.” She walked out one evening and never came back to the home they’d built together.
A former student, he’d heard—five years her junior. They’d ran off together, supposedly making a new home somewhere out west.
Levi didn’t challenge it. He received the house and the kid in exchange for his signature on those papers he couldn’t even read.
Jamie Lynn, she’s the light that shined in his darkness, showed him there’s still so much more living to be done. And learning to read, well, that just added to the adventure.
* * *
The night came when he read an entire chapter from one of Jamie Lynn’s old middle school books—straight through, unpunctuated by all those starts and stops and nervous questions. By the end of the month, Levi had managed the entire story—all 207 pages.
“We have to celebrate, Daddy,” she insisted.
It’d been the silly draw of embarrassment that twisted his head left and right, his voice saying, “No need to make a fuss, Sweet Pea.”
But fuss is only the beginning. “Dinner and a movie,” she ordered. “Then we’ll stop off at the mall and pick out a few books that you might like.”
There were stories he recalled from his boyhood; books other kids clutched under their arms and took for granted. Stories that stirred so much excitement in those young lives.
They’d belong to him now.
“You’re finally blooming, Daddy—just like a flower.”
And so was his daughter.
A teacher in the making.
Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA“ WRITE Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan. WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent! Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:
Welcome to Day Three of The WATCH RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS) WRITE Showcase Tour, a branch of The Rave Reviews Book Club.
By Laurie Finkelstein
The bulk, padding, and steel plates weigh me down. The protection of a bulletproof vest is necessary. No matter the weather, I wear the cloak. The weight is a burden, but I trek on because wrapped is the only way to navigate my journey. The jacket protects my heart from being blown to crimson shards of death.
A direct hit is avoided for days and nights, lulling me into calm and complacency. “All will work out fine,” I tell myself. The truth tells a story I want to change. All my will and might does not make an impact to stop the bombardment.
Experience and time separates me from tragedy. At any moment, the bullets strike. Inside or out. My house cannot provide security, nor can a million people surrounding me. With nowhere to hide, I am a target. Shelter and safety are nonexistent.
Discharges are held back while luck and grace harbor me. The slugs will come, however, in a piercing barrage without warning, and will pummel me.
Knocked to the ground, I am immobilized and rendered helpless. My breathing is halted. My movements are stopped, and I understand what assaulted me.
The shockwave subsides, and in small increments, I am able to take in air. Incapacitated, I continue to lie until I am rescued by the rational thinking buried under an avalanche of pain, doubt, and fear. My thoughts check my vitals to make sure I am in the here and now. “Stay in the moment,” I tell myself. “I can manage this. I will persevere.”
“Rise,” I command. The mass of the garb constricts my movement, but I stand, analyze what must be done, and begin to act. The warrior in me comes out. Battles will be fought. My impervious attire gets me through another crisis, and its weight comforts me. Without the guise, I am unable to prevail against the onslaughts, which pop out of the dark corners of another day.
Yes, my vest is cumbersome, but without my swathe I will not withstand the painful projectiles. Clips are filled, ready to punch and knock me down, disabling me should I forget for a moment to cloak myself within my protective armor.
My bullets are not made of lead, surrounded by a dense metal. The projectiles do not come from terrorists intent on decimating me. The ammo does not come from a police state or a dictator’s command. A barrel is not involved.
My bullets are made of depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Composed of irrational thoughts, insipid ideations, and ignorant rationalizations, they are crushing invisible forces. The capacity to shatter my resolve and render me dysfunctional invades me.
My unsociable enemy is treatable, but never disappears. My therapists validate my experiences of being trapped, resentful, guilty, shameful, ill-equipped, grief-stricken, lost, uncertain, and disabled. My growth in therapy helps me accept the challenge with compassion and empathy in my heart.
Throughout my lifetime three stages will haunt me.
Stage one is the onslaught of rounds. The crisis mode. The shock and pain.
Stage two is being slammed down, breath taken away. Sabotaged. Terms and feelings of the emergency are acknowledged.
Stage three is advocacy for myself. Stand. Breathe. Make decisions. Tools in hand to counteract the depression and anxiety and OCD. Utilize appropriate response and care.
Encouraged by others, I enroll in Toastmasters. Time for me to improve my public speaking and thinking on my feet. Professional and compelling ways of expressing my views is a talent I want to possess. Persuasive interactions are in reach. My computer with Google as my guide, I find the Toastmasters website. The rules and guidelines answer many of my questions. Ready to take on the challenge, I enter my credit card information and become a member. A direct thrust knocks me down.
At first, I don’t understand what attacks me. My heartbeat begins speeding up. My gasps for air speed up. My head spins with dizziness. The mighty effects of terror hammer me to the ground. Despair sinks me deeper into the attack.
Stage one. The thought of standing before people enunciating in a clear voice avoiding “ums” and “ahs” strikes with negative force. In a semi-frozen state of fear and regret, I struggle to make sense of my attacker. Groups of Toastmasters are warm, safe environments to learn public speaking and leadership skills. “Warm and safe,” I remind myself. Still my heart beats faster and my breath diminishes by the second. A ghost of recognition appears before me. Panic is familiar.
Stage two. My history tells me to take an extra Klonopin. Scared to death is not an option. Upon reaching my medicine cabinet with weak, wobble-producing legs, I discover my pill case empty. In my next move, I check the bottle. Empty. My heart beats faster and my limbs go numb. Sweat trickles down my forehead. My last attempt before I collapse in a heap of despair, I call my pharmacist. My trembling voice separated from my body explains my attack and lack of pills. “How fast can you fill the prescription?” my quivering voice speaks out. “Is ten minutes okay?” the pharmacy technician asks.
Stage three. My inner voice tells me to be brave. Think of a serene place. My happy place. Take deep soothing breaths. My toolbox is ransacked for more options until I come to grips with the present. The dispensary is too far to hike, so I must drive to pick up my pills. Cranked engine. Foot on pedal. Brake released. My self-talk takes me on a wild ride to the drug store. My trembling legs walk me to the back of the aisles. The friendly face of the tech reassures me. The credit card transaction is signed with a jellylike hand, completing the purchase.
Back in my car, I down the remedy with tepid water from an old bottle sitting in my trash. My panting is steadier, my heart pounding a little less. Within thirty minutes, I am relaxed, able to pursue my day. Ready to reassess my decision to become a Toastmaster. The choice is sound and important.
My bulletproof vest is worn as a badge of honor and survival. Without my garb, I would be a prisoner in my house, hiding in bed. Sick to my stomach. Useless.
The stigma of mental illness must be broken. My vest is worn with pride. I am a survivor. I am the voice of one in every five Americans experiencing the assailant. I am not alone.
Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA“WRITE Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan. WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent! Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:
It’s almost time for the convention, and we are super excited to have all of you with us. We have updated the attendee list, and expect many more to sign up. Today, we started advertising to local book clubs, event forums, and even local new and radio stations. Soon, everyone in Tampa will have heard of this event.
If you want a tour of the venue, check out this video. It’s going to be amazing!
I took a week off to unplug and to spend time with my family. In addition to camping, we visited the Cane River Creole National Historical Park in Natchitoches, Louisiana.
Reading and watching movies about slavery is one thing, but touring a former slave plantation is a completely different experience. I didn’t get very emotional but what I did feel cannot be put into words. I will say for now that appreciation is my best way of describing it. As the sun lowered and we prepared to leave, I thought about what my ancestors would be doing at that time of the day. I thought about how they’d just be coming in from the fields to prepare for their nightly routines.
Originally called Bermuda, the founder of Oakland was Jean Pierre Emmanuel Prud’homme who began farming the land in 1785 and received a Spanish land grant in 1789. The land’s first cash crops were tobacco, indigo, and cotton.
The Prud’hommes were the first family west of the Mississippi River to farm cotton on a large scale.
The Overseer’s House
Overseers were the middlemen of the antebellum South’s plantation hierarchy. Sometimes they were white men working for the slave master and other times they were enslaved men hired to rule over his breathern. In any event, the masters expected them to maintain a workforce of slaves to produce crop. The slaves were the overseer’s responsibility. He was to keep them working by any means necessary. In return, he got to live just a few scraps better than the enslaved, such as occupy his own cabin.
Close Up: Check Out this Old School Stove!
I also noticed the mud and straw still preserved from the original building of the house.
Slave Quarters turned Home of Sharecroppers
After the Civil War, sharecropper and tenant farmers continued to live on the land up until the 1970s. They worked 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. A tenant farmer is a person who farms rented land, like a sharecropper. The only difference is that Tenant farmers sometimes owned something (a small home, farm tools, a horse or mule) whereas sharecroppers were practically slaves and owned very little to nothing at all.
Martha Ann, an enslaved Laundress, worked in the wash house in the 1850s. In the 1940s, her descendant, Martha Helaire earned $4 an hour working here as a Laundress.
(All we have to do is walk a few steps to the washer and dryer. Can you say gratitude?)
Opened after The Civil War, sharecroppers and tenant farmers continued buying their supplies from family and farming from this store until 1983.
The Prud’homme family owned and operated the store. They also operated the Post Office located inside.
Slaves built and repaired plantation structures from this workplace.
Smokehouse turned mule barn. Built by the enslaved, they reused the smokehouse to accommodate the mules when the original mule barn burned down.
Cane Syrup Pot
Used to make cane syrup.
On some plantations, these style pots were also used to punish the enslaved and to boil them alive (as depicted in the movie Mandingo. CLICK HERE to see the clip.)
The Big House
Porch and perimeter of The Big House, or the Masters House. We could tour everywhere except the house. We were not allowed inside and was not given a reason as to why.
It was something just to look at the trees whose thick branches bowed low. Shading the big house, cooling it from the Louisiana sun and sheltering it from the River breeze, these trees line the walkway to the entrance of the gate and were planted in 1825.
I don’t know what the strangers room is (Guest Room?) but it’s a room in the big house. I tried to take pics of the inside from the window. Looks like the original furniture is still preserved.
The carriage house dates to 1820. In its earlier years, the east bay was used as a horse stall. The overseer had the horse saddled each day and tied to the chain so that it was available for riding and checking the fields.
Square Corn Crib and Cistern
Built around 1821 of hand hewn cypress logs, the corn crib was used to store grain for the plantation. Rain water was channeled from the crib roof into the cistern, which was 16 ft deep and held 4804 Gallons of water used for watering stock.
There are several Pigeonnier’s on the land. The Prud’hommes harvested young pigeons for a delicacy called “Squab.”
Hubby checking out the Chicken Coop.
Chickens were bred, hatched and fattened in this area. Turkeys were also raised on the land.
What I carried home with me was an even deeper appreciation for those little things we take for granted every day. I was headed back to the campsite to sleep in a tent, but I knew that eventually I’d be going home to a hot shower and a warm bed. As we packed up to leave the plantation, I considered what it would be like to be forced to stay. What it’s like not to have a home to go back to and nothing more to look forward to tomorrow than the same back breaking work.
I looked at the children as they played and thought about how any of them could be taken away from their parents and sold at any moment. All of this is truths to which I am already familiar. But being there and standing in that spot produced a greater understanding of what it may have been like to live in that time.
My revelations were not just in relation to the dark history. As I looked around the land, I saw how the enslaved built almost everything on it. It reminded me of how skillful and resourceful we are as a people. From our own shelters, to clothing, food, and shoes, I thought how empowering it would be to get back to building our own.
Often deemed ignorant and illiterate, the truth is that Israelites, so-called Blacks, were not as ignorant as we are taught. It occurred to me that many blacks were only lost when it came to adapting and assimilating into American culture. Otherwise, we were expert farmers, inventors, midwives, carpenters, and chefs. Thus, I left not just in appreciation for the physical things in my life, but for everything my people have endured and the knowledge they’ve passed down to me from generation to generation.
Being that I drafted this post when we got home so it can be ready for you today, I’m going to crawl into this bed and get ready to catch up. A week off for me is like a month so let me get this sleep in now so I can get back to work. In the meantime, I’ll be scrolling your blogs to see what I missed. The grind continues.