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.

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Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Storm Wrack and Spindrift (Remnants Book 3) by Margaret Pinard

Title: Storm Wrack & Spindrift (Remnants Book 3)

Author: Margaret Pinard

Print Length: 259 Pages

Publisher: Taste Life Twice Publishing

Publication Date: December 2, 2019

 

About.

The MacLeans have suffered being thrown off their land, emigrating to the New World, surviving in the forest wilderness, and losing their father Gillan in a bizarre murder. Now, ten years later, the two youngest emigrants will split the family across an ocean.

Sheena pursues a future back in Scotland with her husband Gordon Lamont. Alisdair dreams of university and a chance to reform the political system in the colony that denied him justice for his father’s death.

But the British Empire of the 1830s has yet more obstacles to throw in their path. When the only school in the province only accepts Anglican students, what will Alisdair do? When Sheena finds herself in a role of authority over families like her own, how will she cope with the isolation?

And when both their hopes of peace and stability are dealt a telling blow, how will they stay true to their fighting spirit?

STORM WRACK & SPINDRIFT is a dramatic story of family survival and personal struggle set against social upheaval. While voter enfranchisement was advancing in London, and slavery finally outlawed in the Empire, the tiny stage of rebellion in a backwoods colony farm could still have deep repercussions. Every life is precious, every decision important–which is why the early struggle for Responsible Government and other civil liberties continues to encourage us today.

 

I enjoyed reading about the MacLean family, especially since the author did such an excellent job transporting readers to the era of the 1830s. The descriptions and dialect are authentic, and any lover of historical fiction would enjoy the natural flow of reading. I enjoyed the back and forth between Sheena’s experiences in Scotland and Alisdair’s challenges with the family on the farm. I sympathized with his conflict with wanting to study law but not wanting to leave the family who needed his help. The characters are undoubtedly the stars of this book. I love children, so I am fond of Mairi and her bond with Grannie. They are so sweet together, and even though Neil (Mairi’s dad) is sad, the author did an excellent job portraying his misery. Speaking of grief, prepare yourself. This book has its moments.

Suppose a Historical Fiction novel is going to be set during a time when slavery was alive and well. In that case, the author will do well to mention it in some capacity to make the story even more authentic (because of slavery’s worldwide influence). Thus, I love the mentioning of the Slavery Abolition Act that “abolished slavery in most British colonies, freeing more than 800,000 enslaved Africans in the Caribbean and South Africa as well as a small number in Canada. It received Royal Assent on August 28, 1833, and took effect on August 1, 1834.” (Latasha Henry, Slavery Abolition Act, 2020) The government compensated slave owners for the value lost from freeing enslaved people and Sheena was not having it:

“And is there any proposed fund for the slaves, since by abolishing slavery, we admit we had no right to own other people in the first place?”

“Well no—”

“No, of course not.”

I liked the detail about Rhoda, Sheena, and Gordan’s widowed housekeeper, taking part in abolitionist demonstrations and the mention of Wilberforce’s death. Passing in 1833, William Wilberforce was a “British politician, philanthropist, and leader of the movement to abolish slavery.” (Wikipedia) I liked how the author connected Wilberforce to the family on a personal level by adding the detail about Rhoda’s involvement with him and showing readers the impact his death had on her.

While I enjoyed this story, I do not think it can be read as a standalone novel as marketed. As the third book in the series, I felt a bit lost in the beginning because it felt like something was missing, i.e., everything leading up to the MacLean’s family’s life on the farm.

The epilogue is intriguing, and I wonder if the author would consider adding another book to the series, possibly centered on the experiences of Mairi.

 

Plot Movement / Strength: 3/5

Entertainment Factor: 3/5

Characterization: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 4/5

Thought Provoking: 3/5

Overall: 3/5

Storm Wrack & Spindrift (Remnants Book 3) is available now on Amazon!


My book review* registry is OPEN. To learn more about my registry be sure to visit the Blog Book Review Policy page here.

*Note that poetry books and non-fiction books will have a different rating system than fiction books.

The Wait is Over

I’ve been working on this collection of poetry since I released I am Soul three years ago. So much as happened in that time that most of this year feels like it happened years ago. It feels like Kobe Bryant died in 2019, but then I remember that tragedy happened earlier this year. I have to remind myself that Kobe’s death is how we opened the year!

It feels like I went to Spain for the first time last year, and then I realize that it was just this past February.

Sometimes, it feels like Friday, and then I remember it is only Tuesday. I find myself looking at the calendar more just to remind myself what day it is.

This is 2020.

The most significant change is the COVID-19 pandemic. Usually, we focus on our individual struggles, trials, and tribulations, so it’s funny to think about the world around us being just as chaotic as our internal struggles. As if a global, deadly virus isn’t enough, the rest of the world is just as upside down.

Black men and women continue to be gunned down in the streets. Historical monuments are being demolished as people awaken to the truth of its origin. The traditional school experience for our babies is all but gone. Sports games do not have an audience.

Oh, and we are all walking around wearing masks and shaming people for not being “productive,” enough during a pandemic.

*Queue George Orwell’s 1984*

We are eight months into 2020, and I sense we haven’t seen anything yet.

But there is always hope.

There is no better time than to release this collection amid such a revolutionary era. Revolution only means change, and while most of the changes we’ve seen have been negative, there is a lot of good happening too. The good is harder to see because hope doesn’t make the news, but like the wind, it is there. I had my first school visit this year, where I spoke to 15 ELA classes about writing. I also had my first keynote invite and welcome this year by the Queenz Circle of ATL Bookclub before the pandemic took away the freedom of face-to-face events.

A lot has happened this year not just for me but also for you, so here’s what I’ve learned.

I’ve learned nothing we go through is without a purpose. No pain we suffer and no trial we experience happens without reason. It all ministers to our education and the development of ourselves into the people Yah ordained us to be. It helps to cultivate in us a spirit of patience, faith, humility, and self-control.

I hope these poems are a reminder that in our darkest moments, there is still hope. And I hope this collection will invigorate and renew your soul.

I am excited to share this with you!

My Soul is a Witness ❤️

Dear Indie Author, Don’t Let People Rush You

It’s easy to get caught up watching everyone else publish their books when you are still writing yours. In the Indie world, people publish frequently; some writers are churning out hits every month. And as we sit there, watching them hit Best Seller’s Lists and USA Today Best Seller’s list, we must fight the urge to rush our WIP (Work in Progress) just for the sake of getting something out there. Some people write best-sellers in a few weeks or months and some people, a few years.

It’s not just watching others publish that can make an author anxious, but it is also excited readers. Authors love their readers and rightfully so! Without a reader, there is no book, so authors cater to the literary needs of their tribe, listening to feedback, praise, criticism, suggestions, and recommendations. But, even in this instance, the author must hold ground!

Authors, lean in close…

No matter what these people say to you, stand firm because the compliments are captivating! Readers know how to stroke the ego. They are truly good at what they do. Do not underestimate it. Suddenly, you are the best author they’ve ever known (yes, more than Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison, JK Rowling, and Maya Angelou), and your book will give them life. Like, literally give them life. They will die without your next read.

Everyone breathe.

It is going to be okay. I can assure you, the reader is not going to die.

Simply smile, nod, and inform them the next book is coming, but it is not here now.

Trust me. Everyone will live.

Take as much time as is necessary for your masterpiece. Make sure it is as polished as you can afford to make it, and then, when no one is paying attention, it is done.

Your people will love the surprise!

Here are classics that took longer than a few months to write:

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley  (1 Year)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (2 Years)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling (6 Years)

The Lord of The Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (12-17 Years)

 


Looking for more Indie Author Basic Tips? Check out this page for more!

If My Books Shall Die

jez-timms-unsplash

I read James Baldwin today

and realized I was carrying his bones

in the crooks of my arms,

and that if my books shall die,

then I have labored in vain.

 

I have swam through centuries

and ran years in someone else’s shoes,

I have climbed mountains

and crawled under valleys

only to bleed death.

I have wasted my time

carving obsession into paper

with invisible ink,

Words fallen like stars

on deaf ears.

 

If my books shall die,

then let me not be born.

Take me back to the safety

of my mother’s womb,

the privacy

of not yet existing

if my works have been in vain.

 

If my books shall die,

then I do not exist.

Not on the tops of your shelves,

or faced down on kitchen counters,

or underneath your children’s beds.

Honor me

in the palms of your hands

and not standing next to Grandmother’s old picture in the living room—

Grandmother is dead

and I do not wish to 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.

Black History Fun Fact Friday: Guest Writers Wanted

Updated: 4/27/2020

On January 17, 2015, I started a new Blog Series in honor of Black History Month called Black History Fun Fact Friday. I planned for the series to run from January 2015 through the end of February 2015, but two badges and 70 weeks later we are still going strong.

Black History Fun Fact Friday is not just a Black History Month segment anymore. It has carved out its own space on this blog. I want to get back to publishing Black History articles every Friday and would love to have some help.

I am reaching out for help from individuals who are interested in helping to contribute to this series.

Requirements:

 

  • Must be at least 18+ to write for The PBS Blog.

 

  • Must be original work. Do not copy and paste the article from other blogs unless that blog is your own. If you have a Black History article to share that you published to your site, I welcome you to submit it for Black History Fun Facts. I have no problem with that as long as it is your work. You can also link back to it so readers can follow your blog.

 

  • Because of the nature of this series, interested writers must be Black/African American.

 

  • Topics must be relatable to the history of Blacks/African Americans, African diaspora, e.g.

 

  • Articles must be emailed to me for approval at least one week before publishing. If you email your article on 4/28 for example, I will publish it on 5/1 if there are no needed changes.

 

  • Please send articles as an attachment in a Word Document, 12p Font, Times New Roman text.

 

  • Please do your best to self-edit your work for basic typos/spelling/grammatical errors before submission. Grammarly and ProWritingAid are good free self-edit software programs to use.

 

  • Please include at least one image with the post. Canva is a good program to use to make your own images.

 

  • This is Black History Fun Fact Friday not Black History Opinions so do your best to submit articles covering accurate historical information. I will vet the submissions to make sure they do. If you have links to sources, please include them. If you quote someone else, please cite your source. Articles that plagiarize will not be featured on this blog. (Note: Writers, as a heads up, if you are quoting people in your Social Media graphics without giving proper credit, this is plagiarism. Putting quotation marks around the quote does not make it yours. Don’t leave off the name of the person who said it first!)

 

  • Please include a photo of yourself, social media handles, website, or links to books you’ve written on the topic. This will be added to the end of the post.

Benefits of Guest Blogging:

 

  • Increase traffic to your own website/blog
  • Build Relationships/Online Influence
  • Build Domain and Search Engine Authority
  • Capture Wider Audience (go hand-in-hand with the 1st point)
  • Develop Your Authority on a topic
  • Improve Your Writing
  • Opens the doors for paid business opportunities

Email articles to yecheilyah@yecheilyahysrayl.com.