Mothers-Nikki Giovanni

I don’t think an explanation is needed for this one. I stumbled across this one while looking for Mommies by Nikki Giovanni. Instead, this popped up and as always her work hit the mark for me.

the last time i was home

to see my mother we kissed
exchanged pleasantries
and unpleasantries pulled a warm
comforting silence around
us and read separate books
i remember the first time
i consciously saw her
we were living in a three room
apartment on burns avenue
mommy always sat in the dark
i don’t know how i knew that but she did
that night i stumbled into the kitchen
maybe because i’ve always been
a night person or perhaps because i had wet
the bed
she was sitting on a chair
the room was bathed in moonlight diffused through
those thousands of panes landlords who rented
to people with children were prone to put in windows
she may have been smoking but maybe not
her hair was three-quarters her height
which made me a strong believer in the samson myth
and very black
i’m sure i just hung there by the door
i remember thinking: what a beautiful lady
she was very deliberately waiting
perhaps for my father to come home
from his night job or maybe for a dream
that had promised to come by
“come here” she said “i’ll teach you
a poem: i see the moon
the moon sees me
god bless the moon
and god bless me
i taught it to my son
who recited it for her
just to say we must learn
to bear the pleasures
as we have borne the pains

Plotting and Planning

person writing on white book
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So far, this year has been one that has caused me to reevaluate my processes. It seems that another thing that I’d been failing to do so far this year was to plan my blog posts for the month and schedule them. Last year, I was committed to batch planning my posts which for me meant ensuring that I was posting consistently but also staying on top of what I posted and being more present in my blogging. Batch planning allowed me to pick a theme and stick to it (National Poetry Month, Black History Month, or even a regular month like July). Without that, I’ve found that it leads to sporadic posts with some months only having three posts which isn’t ideal at all.
Since I’ve started blogging, productivity has been an issue that I’ve worked on so that I am growing the blog but also growing as a writer/poet and curator of poetry. When I stumbled upon the concept of batch planning, it seemed like just what I’d been looking for and I enjoyed it. I know for certain that when I follow the tenets of batch planning that I am a better blogger.

I am more than halfway through planning for the month of March and once that’s done, I will move on to planning for April.


July 4, 1974-June Jordan

This week, has been an especially difficult one. I’ve been bogged down with family and student obligations, grading and doubts about everything. It is in times like these that I miss my mother most. Those moments make me just want to vent and have her say something to make me laugh. Coming across June Jordan’s July 4, 1974 was like a big wonderful hug from my favorite Leo. And that was enough to make my week okay.

As always, enjoy!

At least it helps me to think about my son

a Leo/born to us
(Aries and Cancer) some
sixteen years ago
in St. John’s Hospital next to the Long Island
Railroad tracks
Atlantic Avenue/Brooklyn
New York
at dawn
which facts
do not really prepare you
(do they)
for him
and running through the darkness with his own
becoming light

For Rashan Charles- Raymond Antrobus

This is another poem courtesy of Poets.org. I was so enamored with the poem and the explanation/inspiration that I had to share both. “Excessive police violence against black people isn’t just occurring in the US, but in the UK, too. I was in London in 2017 when Rashan Charles was killed by a police officer in my local grocery store, and during the riots in 2011 when Mark Duggan was killed by police. Both men’s deaths were portrayed by the media as their fault, and it seemed that many people outside of my community assumed Rashan deserved to die. I wrote this poem after attending the protests surrounding Rashan’s death, and wanted to use couplets to slow down the intensity of the situation, give the poem the air to ask its less reactionary question.”
Raymond Antrobus

person holding volume knob
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And after the black boy is
strangled by police, after

the protests where the man,
his Rottweiler on an iron leash yells,

let’s go mash up dis city

and another crowd bulks,

the parents of the murdered
beg us not to become

the monsters some think
we already are—even when

the barista shakes her head
at the banners, says actually,

police be killing whites too.
Look how scary it is

to be here and know
if we die someone

will make a sound
like her before earth

is tipped over us.
Who hasn’t had enough?

Enough burning
bins, pushing

shopping trolleys
into static and sirens?

Who isn’t chanting
enough, enough,

enough, throwing spells,
the rebellious

holding what they can
in front of a supermarket

or police stations
or voting booths—I am

kind to the man
sitting next to me

in C.L.R James Library, even if
his breathing disturbs me.

Can we disagree graciously
I am tired of people

not knowing the volume
of their power. Who doesn’t

some silence at night?


Tender Buttons[A Long Dress]- Gertrude Stein

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Today’s poem is an ode to womanhood that landed in my mailbox via Academy of American Poets. It’s a poem that I would love to cover with my students just because of the composition.  Right now, I plan to throw it into a class in a few weeks and have them write a reaction/response to it. Or maybe I will offer two different poems that they can choose from.  I love the imagery that Stein paints in the poem without so pouring in extra words and lines.

woman standing on orange and blue smoke
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What is the current that makes machinery, that makes it crackle, what is the current that presents a long line and a necessary waist. What is this current.
What is the wind, what is it.
Where is the serene length, it is there and a dark place is not a dark place, only a white and red are black, only a yellow and green are blue, a pink is scarlet, a bow is every color. A line distinguishes it. A line just distinguishes it.


The Habit of Writing


Lately, I’ve been putting off writing. Not intentionally, it just happened. So, after a rather productive fall of creating new work along with compiling a collection I am now stuck. I have started several new pieces that have gone nowhere so far and now I am caught in a place where I should be writing but I am not. I can’t blame it on anything else. Not a nearly full schedule, not my family life nor trying to launch and plan other ideas. I am just caught in a space now where I am not writing which is extremely unusual for me.

One of the things that has become more apparent to me as I’ve developed as a writer is that creating is one of the things that you cannot take a prolonged break from. It has become, for me, an inherent habit. It is a thing that I have to feed in order to continue to benefit from it. In the past few months, I have spent time tweaking pieces and ensuring that my manuscript is a cohesive piece which took a lot of time away from creating new poetry or fiction.

I feel that more than anything, the inability to create right now is a product of foregoing writing for the past two months. Instead of leaving it to chance (muse or inspiration), I will be working hard to get back to creating. I am going to be working on some new pieces using writing prompts and I’m thinking about journaling lines as a means to ensure that I am working on new pieces.

I’ve been telling myself that it’s not writer’s block or a slump. Just a slight hiccup in my creative process and while I’ve been thinking about turning back to fiction as a way to jumpstart my writing; but I haven’t done that in a meaningful way either.

Please feel free to offer any tips that you’ve found helpful in the past or things that have been suggested to you.