Category: fear

Ode to writing

I wrote a thousand different poems.

Each one, pressed like flowers and leaves

in dictionaries, my parents told me to read.

Some days, I think there aren’t enough words

in me. I used to chew on the margins of my

grade school notebooks, so when I talked- a sound

came out in the classroom. I wrote a song for a

girl whose hands are as warm as the steam

against my face, when I’ve opened the pot’s lid.

For this sensation, I remember the places and

people who’ve made me feel warm. My hands

are cold, with my self-deprivation forming

rings around my fingers. I wrote a letter to

people I’ve never met because I would have

liked to know them. Their words seep into the

graveyard’s grass, and shower a mist in a

mausoleum of urns. Somewhere, I learned

that if I think my words are important, I can

never say them directly face to face. I wrote

a paragraph or two for my parents on how

my childhood left me with an unrealistic

perspective that my younger self was the

only self I could be proud of. I wrote a

lullaby for my aches and groans, when I

held my arms tightly across my chest in the

night. Silent decays of belief and hope are

mine to keep. I wrote a song for a man I

knew who would never love me, and now

I think of how I don’t want him to. I wrote a

song for sex, afraid that when it happens, I

won’t like it at all. I wrote a song for rain, add-

ing an extra refrain for the days it never stops.

I wrote a limerick for myself, because the day

laughing gives way to sickness of a tearful mind –

I’ll read it again.

 

Birthing fragile flowers

My unborn children are wilted flowers.

I fear their feet will touch the frigid floors,

where I trail my sadness behind me.

My unborn children are potted plants,

because I am afraid I will fail them –

if I let them see the world –

where I have become a failure.

Incarnate god,

God, whose face rests like a lotus,

brow  not furrowed by calamity,

I weep for them.

My children, whose ribs ache of hearty tears,

I promise I have thought of you-

since I knew I had twigs in my uterus

capable of building nests.

My children, whose chromosomes are half,

my love is afraid to make you a whole being,

so I shall wait.

My children,

I was born in the flower bed,

where my parents used spoons

instead of a small spade to till soil.

My unborn children,

I hold my hand against my cheek,

and think how my love breathes only a few feet in front of me,

as a frost cloud when my lips are parted in winter.

Because wishing makes the room feel crowded

In another life,
Transcending past glazed sunsets,
And frosted night skies,
I hope I remember what now feels like.

I hope I never forget
The creases of my mouth,
And the casual hand hiding a smile
Nor the placement of my hands
Out of sight
and neatly in my lap.

In another life,
I hope it’s beauty that I remember
When looking for the faces of people in the past.
This beauty which cradles faces to weather the storm,
And this beauty where compassion overflows.

I hope time buries itself in the ground,
And all who walk here years later –
Know that this feeling of contentment existed.
Trial by default,
I harvest my doubts
And reap them alongside the fresh seeds of my future.
I plant these tiny memories in places,
Where I hope to come back
And live them once more.

In another life,
I hope that what happens here
Blooms under rocks
Bursts bombastically out of tree trunks
And says that my compassion is built
On nothing less than hope.

New school racism cloaked as old school roots

Remember sitting at the cafeteria table and one person would leap up announcing that they had a joke to share. That person might have said something along the lines of “you’ll get a kick out of this” and “you guys,this is hilarious” while following with a rebuttal that they in fact are not racist.

We sat side by side in many classrooms; homeroom, math and biology. I looked at you with my eyebrows tightened. In one minute, I would have to decide whether or not I would look past your “indiscretions” or retaliate that I was anything but amused. The jokes ranged from how we never saw black guys in the dark but when they smiled we saw their flashlight teeth. There were jokes that said the lawnmower crooned “run n**** run n*****” and each time you told it people slapped their knees how funny it was. Outnumbered and alone, I laughed falsely not because I wanted to. The need to feel safe lodged a sword in my esophagus and I said nothing then.

Remember tracing the binds of books with your fingers and wondering if there were places where racism did not exist. The quaint bookstore with wire mannequins wearing wool shelves could not be untainted. In fact, men who are indeed average bloat themselves to be larger than life. He stood close and I remember feeling crowded and cornered. Out in the open, my mother side steps closer to his other side because she knows of men like him. The many fathers and mothers with black skin know him too. As the children grow up, prejudices are born alongside of them. As our people give birth, as the doctor pulls out the placenta, out comes the stigmatization that again we must say we have worth.

Blood ran through the streets. Bullets laced the sidewalk. Evidence began to disappear when it was there before. The eyes of witnesses  were plucked out. The eyes of witnesses  silently strained with pain with reddish clouds. 

Before I took a secondary education course, I knew psychology. Children, do not touch the shelves. Do not longingly look at things that are not meant for you and nor should you ever need them. Your worth. Your compassion. Your softness. Your entity. 

Remember the women who wore fabricated ambition, stringing fake pearls above you when they looked down at you. As fast as you run-chasing a life that is pulled away from you, remember who they call fast. “Do you want to know why racism does not matter” they utter yanking you by your hair. “That was a long time ago but it’s over now.” I stood in a house where the water gushed in from every side and seeped through the windows. I stood there hoisting my dress up so I could wade through murky waters but when I did they said I was fast. 

Remember how you thought love could be bought and you tried your hardest to become what everyone wanted and needed. You contorted in all sorts of ways and every night to undo all of it was a chore. Remember sitting in the classroom, and the people who had snares in their mouth too said anyone could say n***a as long as it meant paying an ode to hip hop. Yet, what is an ode if uttered with false pretense that the lash has whipped you. The searing gaze has pushed you into the corner. The red hot stove is a gigantic furnace and you’re handed a tong to keep the fire burning. The pushback when going forward. The stance where both of your fists are up, but you’ve been taught to be the bigger person-so you do not swing but block reverberating blows. The ode to hip hop of I won’t take it anymore, but I must leave where I am now and go where the birds who have trackers hooked to their leg are. I must go where a bird once caged sung, and ask myself too if I carry a tune.

Remember sitting where you are now, and recalling countless times how you gave yourself the short end of the stick. Remember getting up from that good, old, dependable chair and saying “I have waited for peace but now I will claim it for myself. I have waited to be treated right, respectfully, while speaking of past scars. But now I swing with a closed right hook and swiftly fly with my wings over hot coals of fire.”

Tangible invisibility

To understand desire,
I peeled the fibers out of flower petals
And pressed them to my mouth.
One by one,
I rubbed their scent on my skin.
Yellow pollen,
I was decorated in –
Began to attract the bumblebees.
I feared the job they must do –
Extract from me what I have taken.
Patches of sun formed lopsided shapes on the grass,
With the sun lowly present,
The shade covered most in its path.
Like a tattoo gun,
Bees vibrated against my skin,
The hairs on my arms pulsed to their rhythm.
I closed my eyes and kept my mouth shut,
This is how I want to vanish.
This is how I want to overcome what scares me the most,
Intimacy.

One foot in the water,

I took my walls down.
Taking a chisel to the layers of rock,
Hammering holes in the dry wall,
I emerged into this world.
Bewildered and frightened,
A rush of wind caught
The words of the past.
It swirled and looped,
All that I had known challenged whether I was ready to become again.

Flight into a new era,
A stumble on to the stage
And a glance back,
I tucked my fears into my suitcase.