What Kind of Times Are These- Adrienne Rich

It seems as if every week, there is some new bit of news. That shakes us and shapes us. It may be something scary or horrifying or a reminder of just how much we are intrinsically linked as people. In a world that is changing with every blink of the eye it is essential to remember we should feel compelled to resist anything anyone that tries to divide us. 

Please enjoy this piece of resistance literature by Adrienne Rich. 

There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill

and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows

near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted

who disappeared into those shadows.

I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled

this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,

our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,

its own ways of making people disappear.

I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods

meeting the unmarked strip of light—

ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:

I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you

anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these

to have you listen at all, it’s necessary

to talk about trees.

Still I Rise-Maya Angelou

When ​I was younger, I once read that artists bear the pain of humanity. I probably scoffed thinking that was a bit heavy. However, this weekend my heart does bear that pain. And it is very heavy. In light of the events that have taken place in Charlottesville it only seemed apropos to share the work of Maya Angelou. 

I hope we the people, who are human enough to see humanity in all our fellow people, continue to rise. 



You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops,

Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard

’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I’ve got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.

For the Consideration of Poets-Haki Madhubuti

When I first started college, I had no idea what my major would be. Now it seems so silly but I didn’t have a major until I took a Black Studies class in my second year. When that happened…it was like all the things that people describe when they have an epiphany. All of a sudden, I knew that I wanted to major in English and minor in African American Studies.

I know that my decision was rooted in the beauty that was the reading material for the class.  However, I also know that it was because the class combined two of my favorite subjects: English and History.

I’ve said many times here that poetry is rebellion. It is resistance and a call to arms. Poetry can be a perfectly formed arrow to aim instead of actual projectiles. This poem by Haki Madhubuti reminds us all of that. Although today is James Baldwin’s birthday, and he was critical of protest literature I am sharing a piece that, in my opinion, pays homage to him.

Enjoy!

black arts movement

where is the poetry of resistance, 
                     the poetry of honorable defiance 
unafraid of lies from career politicians and business men, 
not respectful of journalist who write 
official speak void of educated thought 
without double search or sub surface questions 
that war talk demands? 
where is the poetry of doubt and suspicion 
not in the service of the state, bishops and priests, 
not in the service of beautiful people and late night promises, 
not in the service of influence, incompetence and academic 
         clown talk?

The Waking- Theodore Roethke

This beauty arrived in my mailbox and as I was cleaning and organizing, I decided that I had to share it. I love the form and the beauty of the piece. It’s almost rhythmic and I can definitely see it joining the collection of poetry on the door of my office.

As always, enjoy!

20170727_143613

 

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.
Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.
This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

 

Today…

Today is my mom’s birthday. On a day where I usually give myself permission to do nothing and care about even less I have gotten dressed and am doing something that I never do on July 24th. I’m working! While I am trying to be a big girl please enjoy this piece that I wrote earlier this month just for today. 

I am an emotional reader in the way that many people are emotional eaters. In fact, when I am grieving all of my friends have to remind me to eat. Reading is the way that I escape everything. Especially grief. In the days after her funeral, I lay on my best friend’s couch and read. How apropos that this month’s Poets and Writer’s would feature a piece by Edwidge Danticat titled “The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story.” Edwidge Danticat whose Brother, I am Dying had me raving to my own mother about her brilliance. Whose Breath, Eyes, Memory was the basis for the title of my MFA thesis and whose inclusion of Haitian Creole was one of the justifications for my use of vernacular in said thesis. Which my mother sat in her bed and read; telling me how awesome it was. 

In the article, she writes of her mother’s death and when I first read it I recalled my own battle with writing after losing my mom. The article reminded me of my own search for any written thing by my mom in the weeks after losing her. I wanted those last bits of her. But now I realize that I have them. I am all the parts of her.

If you have a chance please give the article a look and if you haven’t read any Danticat; definitely give her a read. 

The Exchange 

This is a poem that I’ve been tinkering with for a bit. I initially wanted to post it tomorrow but decided to put it up today. 

Enjoy! 



I am not really here. Instead 

I am watching my chest rise and fall 

Exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide 

Converting tears to smiles 

As if I wasn’t still grieving

Carrying the weight of the most painful losses

Pretending that my heart doesn’t still

Twist and turn these times of the year 

Like I can still live with the blood gushing through my fingers 

While I try to carry on as if 

Sadness isn’t seeping through my pores

Dropping from me like dew

Covering everything around me.

As if

These losses haven’t compounded

Bruising and battering 

My being in unimaginable ways. 

As if the losses haven’t altered me forever. 

The Changeup

This is another sample from the story Recovery that I am currently working on. This is by no means complete so please bear with me if you find any errors.

As always, enjoy!

 

misty blue

 

 

Two days later, she was walking towards the office when the woman approached her.

“Aren’t you Aubrey Samuels?” she asked holding a piece of paper forward.

“Yes?” Aubrey responded looking for a pen. She was used to people approaching her for autographs. The woman simply thrust the paper at her.

“You’ve been served” she said before walking away.

Aubrey looked down at the papers and immediately wanted to smash something. If Max was in front of her at that moment she would have been facing assault charges.

Instead of heading to her office, she went back to the car and headed into Midtown. When she arrived, she stomped through the entrance of her attorney’s office holding the papers away from her like they were some form of excrement.

“Charlese, do you see this” she cried barely able to control herself. After everything that he’d already put her through she couldn’t believe that Max was trying to take her son.

Her family attorney Charlese Powell quickly approached her and reached for the papers. If Aubrey was this upset then she knew it was something major.

After she looked at the papers, Aubrey gave her a breakdown of her lunch with Max.  Charlese promised to get started on a response and sent Aubrey home.

Later that day, Aubrey was at her house with her parents hovering over her. Her mother had been ranting for over twenty minutes.

“Nerva, now you’re working my last nerve!” my dad said.

She glared at him but remained silent.

“What?” I asked when she switched her glare to me.

“Why aren’t you doing something. You’re sitting there like you’re just going to let him take the baby” she said.

“Ain’t nobody taking him Nerva” my dad told her.

“Delroy, I want to hear your daughter say it. She’s sitting over there looking lost, like she already gave up” she said.

“What I’m doing is wondering who put this idea in his head and why. He didn’t say anything about it when we met. We all know that he’s never wanted Lucky so I have to wonder where is this coming from. But, I am not worried”

“You’re not? Great! Then, prove it! Go ahead and call that lawyer and ask her what her plan is. Do something” her mother urged. The caramel curls she’d passed on to her daughter bounced against the headband holding them off her face. The freckles that spattered across her nose and cheeks stood out as she moved her close enough to drop onto the couch and hold her daughter’s hands.

“She’s not worried cause she a damn genius. Remember when we got the test results? On her worst day, she could still outsmart that fool in her sleep” her father said from his seat in the armchair.

“Daddy!” Aubrey said.

“What? Didn’t I tell you that boy was dumb the first day I met him Nerva? As soon as they left, I told you that boy is too dumb for my baby girl” he said. Aubrey’s mom nodded her head in agreement. I knew that she never liked Max and if my dad did then that left the moment he cheated.

Aubrey exhaled harshly and shook her head. Her parents, if they were really her parents, she’d always had suspicions that she’d been switched at birth were so frustrating at times like this. She guessed she should be lucky that her father hadn’t called his brothers and her godfather yet.

“I’m going to handle it!” she told them.

“You know what, I’m gone call somebody to make sure you do. Talkin’ bout you gonna handle something sitting your ass on the couch. You think that Malcolm X died for this?” she asked as she jumped up and walked out of the room.

She looked at her dad and shook her head. This was going to be something else that I would never forgive Max for. He knew how Nerva was; I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t try to get a couple of her nephews to take him out.

“You should have just let me, Dwight, Troy, and Jay handle this when I wanted to. Then we wouldn’t be having these problems. He wouldn’t even be breathing oxygen right now” he told her before tapping her on the knee and leaving the room.

Aubrey was still sitting on the couch hours later when she realized that her mother had really called in the big guns. She looked up into the face of one of her best friends, Sincere Owens Clay. At 5’11, Sin was the tallest of the friends. Her honey colored skin still held some of the bronze hints left from the trip to Fiji that she and her husband had recently returned from. Her hair was in five large golden cornrows that hit the small of her back and she was dressed like they were about to fight. Aubrey scrunched up her face to match the glower that Sin’s almond shaped eyes were already in as they engaged in an epic stare down.

“Let’s go heifer” Sin said from her space at the end of my sofa.

“Sin, I do not feel like…” she said.

“Did I ask you about all that? Let’s go. Or do I have to go all Lydia Grant in here? Cause you know I will” as I watched she looked around for something to use as a prop.

“Fine!” I said before going upstairs to my room to change. After throwing my hair into a sloppy top bun I pulled on a sports bra, a long tank and distressed leggings. She was waiting for me in the hallway so I grabbed my bag from the closet and followed her out to the sweet Range Rover HSE that Sin’s husband Damon gave her when she got pregnant. Before that Sin drove a five-year-old Chevy Tahoe, that she mainly used for work stuff. Damon insisted that she upgrade since she’d be driving his baby around.

We pulled into the parking lot behind Dancing Machine and entered through the back door. Sin nodded to Manny who smirked at me and pointed to an open studio. The three of us had been dancing together since we were four. Manny’s aunt owned the dance studio where we started taking classes, we even taught classes there as we got older. Before modeling pulled me and then Sin away. When Ms. Jackie decided to cut back, Manny took over running the place and upgraded the schedule of offered classes there and eventually expanded the number of studios in the area.

We went in put our things down, I stretched while waiting for the music to que. When the opening notes of Janet Jackson’s “I Get So Lonely” began I smiled and looked over at Sin. My body smoothly went through the routine we’d choreographed to the song. The song segued to Musiq’s “So Beautiful” and we continued to dance. Sin was right, this was exactly what she needed. Dance had been a comfort to all of them for a long time; Aubrey couldn’t believe that she didn’t realize how much it would set her at ease.

“Heifer tried to tell me what she needed. Can you believe that Manny?” Sin asked after we’d cooled down.

“Yeah, you know how she gets” he pretended to whisper. His brown skin glistened from dancing to an old routine to Gang Starr and Nice & Smooth’s DWYCK we lay around the studio chests heaving as we sought to recover from nearly two hours of dancing.

Aubrey shot them both the bird and took another drink of cucumber water. Sin and Manny broke into laughter.