The Thing about proof

I will not be the first to say it or prove it because of the legacy I claim. The legacy of black women’s intellect. The legacy to exist as a whole person as I breath this wind no matter how sharp or cold the inhales. A legacy of black women who have been pioneering theory and knowledge creation inside a world of balance and beauty.

In this PhD journey I am becoming more comfortable with the process of framing any claims I am wanting to make with theories. Luckily for me, I knew the sound and feel and of my art being embodied with a language that respected the ground my ancestors toiled and turned. Also lucky for me I studied Africana Women’s Studies at a HBCU and was introduced to a platform of scholarship that affirm the holistic agency of black women. So now that I am back in theatre, I am waltzing with a world that has no problem thickening the boundary of marginalizing me as an artist and budding scholar.

Theatre, you do not exist without drums. Or the quilted curtains that open and close a world designed from black women’s comfort and smiles.

I am in a program with no black people appointed on the faculty. No Professors to offer seminars on their research interests that would most likely be host to discourse on the borders of gender, race or class from a centered perspective. With no one to rally for the social and political interests of black students, the curriculum adheres to hegemony and the unwavering white imagination on blackness. So I have joined the “how do I sift through the compost of oppressive constructs and still have energy to find the same paradigm speaking my language?”

Theatre, you are not monolith. Don’t believe history or the curriculum. Turn off the spotlight until they all are voiced.

Re-Membering Katrina, “When Chris Met Katrina”- a short story

The boat whistled its’ way through the waters and soon the screams of the women faded. The air was now filled with the constant yells of families sitting on roofs screaming for help.  They approached Memorial Medical Center and Chris decided to seek refuge there.  As he got closer, he could see through the lobby window hundreds of people camped inside.  Every seat was occupied and people were sprawled out on the floor with blankets.  Police were patrolling the doors.  Chris knocked but the policemen just stood and shook their heads in the negative.  Chris trudged through the water to the other side of the hospital and policemen were standing heavy guard at those doors too.  He knew besides the sore bones and loose teeth, he had no serious injury and they were not going to let him in.

Chris double tied his bag of food and treaded through the water on his tippy toes.  He began to reminisce on the summers growing up in New Orleans.  His father worked as a mechanic in a neighborhood shop and in the summer Chris would help out by washing the cars once he was done.  Afterwards, instead of joining his cousins down at the local swimming pool, he hung out with the neighborhood knuckle heads and smoked weed.  Or they convinced one of the older drunks to buy them liquor.  He was all of nine years old.  With the water slapping up against his chest and occasionally splashing in his face, he wished he had taken those swimming lessons instead.

A few blocks from the hospital, Chris found himself pacing in the water side by side with a dog.  The dog was a dark brown cocker spaniel probably looking for a dry place to rest his feet.  From atop, the dog seemed to be relaxed.  But he knew underneath he was probably  paddling his legs wild as the devil!  Chris remembered how easy it was to tread the dog paddle when he was younger so he picked his feet up to give it a try.  He quickly dipped in the thick, murky waters and emerged panicked.  He struggled to get his stance stable but soon regained his pace and continued down the street with the other stranded people.

A little ways down, Chris spotted the small boat and whistled to get their attention.  They acknowledged him by waving.  Other people began to whistle and try and make their way to the boat too so Chris picked up his pace.  The eyes of the dog swimming nearby were showing signs of exhaustion.  There was no telling how long the dog had been in the water.  The dog let out a bark, then went under the water.  Within seconds, his head reappeared and he began to bark in desperation.  Chris was mindful to stay as far away from the dog as possible to avoid being bitten.  The small boat reeved it’s engine as they waited for him.  The dog’s bark now became aggressive as he continued to swim towards Chris.  The men on the boat splashed water towards the dog to slow him down and distract  his concentration on swimming.

“Come on man!  Dat dog look mad or summin’!,” one of the men said.

Chris turned his head to witness the dog go under again.  He started to run on his tip toes because he knew he would get sprayed with the dirty water when the dog came back up.  He reached the boat and threw his bag of food aboard.  He could feel the water spray on the back of his neck as the dog shook its’ head.  The men reached down and pulled Chris on the boat.

“They wasn’t lettin’ nobody in down at the hospital huh?,” Gunner asked.

“Naw,” Chris simply replied.

The boat pulled away and the dog continued to swim behind it.  His eyes were bulging as he barked pleas of help.  There was nothing in sight for the dog to take refuge on.  The dog’s shiny, brown coat disappeared under the water a third time, not to emerge again.

a snippet from the short story book, Mississippi Window Cracks.

Purchase your copy today

Mississippi Window Crack

after all

She said all it would take is $10
to sense the spirits around me
and read my future.

voodoowoman

But I tried to tell her it wasn’t me I was worried about

my prayers are blown to the
sunset gray ridden waves
that have washed my wishes and haunts

my prayers are for the
street prophets freestylin’

thinking they showed me love and let me slide
ignorant to the active place of genocide
in his backyard and her bosom.

I pray for abandoned children with two parents

I pray so long sometimes I fall asleep
and dream of the ancestors

I dream of heaven

I pray for women with deep
uterine itches
that only her missing child can scratch.

I pray poets with purpose
plant potent seeds for
progression with poise

I pray the baroque docks
so other poets can simply stop.

I pray this teaches those that know
that they don’t
so we can hold each other.

The incense hypnotized the seconds
as she checked her clock

she ended up
giving me $20.

  • nikki skies, from the book, “Pocket Honey Wind & Hips”

thin line between theory

This is for the thin line between womanism and black feminism. They both speak to our social and political intersections as black women. Black feminism is everything that womanism is… I really black women are hesitant to claim the word – feminism.

But label or box or symbol, it doesn’t matter. Black feminism is to womanism as purple is to lavender.

Sister SOS (Inspired by Kathleen Cleaver)

She’s heard more eulogies than poetry so I wrote this for her.

Amidst the sips of licorice tea, I asked her
“what would she do differently.”

She replied she’d “love as fearlessly as she fought
take more time,
soak the greens instead of rinse ’em”
research his heart as she did antiquity.

She truly believed that for years she had a melody
but never a song
no vibration
no balance
“conquer your souls duality” she told me
the world is depending on you to love
surrender, Sister.

kathleencleaver

Nikki Skies, ©2007 Published in anthology of “His Rib: Stories Poems & Essays by HER” by Penmanship Publishing Group

where have you been?

Well… hello to you too! I know, I know… it’s been quite awhile since I have been consistent with this writing the blog thing. I mean, we have been through a pandemic and everything! But if you’re reading this… YOU SURVIVED! Maybe barely like me but we’re here.

And I am still writing. I am still creative. and if you remember last I informed you all I went back in for my PhD in Performance Studies. That is what is consuming my life. But unlike my MA experience, I must stay creative during this process.

It’s summer so I have a lil bit of time on my hands… what have you been up to?

I am a lover of perseverance. I am folklore. I am consistency and contradiction.

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