Category Archives: black arts movement

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

She Chronicles presents: AmberMarie~La Femme Creole~

STICK OF DYNAMITE (FREEDOM)

I took a stick of dynamite and through that bitch into my life
Family Blown up
D words like cuss words up in here
Dynamite…divorce
Damn!
What makes somebody do something so dramatic?

Wings clipped head dipped
Shackles around my feet
I can’t fly I can’t breathe
Head towards the sky
Feet cemented to the ground I have to fly
Sticks of dynamite thrown into my life
So that I can fly I can breathe
I can do I can be

I haven’t been me
Deep inside I feel the essence of
What used to be me
I have become but a shell
You might not understand
You might not understand taking such
Dramatic action

But
I could not breathe
I could not fly
Dynamite was all that I could cling to
Dynamite was my friend
I’ve got to blow this shit up and start again
I can’t do this

Everytime
I think that I am soaring
Chains heavier than heavy can be
Weightier than weight can be
Have been pulling on me
And I’m supposed to just be
I’m supposed to just settle
With life
Being the way it will be

But, fuck that, I need to be free
I need to breathe
I need to fly
I need to soar
I need to dip
I need to dive
Like a phoenix from the ashes
I shall rise
Up

I must be me
I don’t know who I have been
But what I do know is that
There was there was little reciprocity.

Why must all responsibilities be on me?

My shoulders like a 400-pound gorilla Has been just sitting on me
Shitting on me I can’t do this anymore I must be free so
Dynamite became my best friend
Threw that bitch right
Into my life
So that freedom
I could be

________________________________________________________________________________

AMI La Femme Creole Pic

AmberMarie ~La Femme Créole~ is a poet, spoken word artist, writer, author, inspirational speaker, dancer, singer, actor, painter…she is an artist. Her loves are those blissful things that tantalize the mind and senses. AmberMarie is the founder/creator of The LA Showcase, a Los Angeles based open mic established in 2008.  She’s also a member of the eclectic band Stanky Gumbo, La Famille Creole.

AmberMarie is Creole (Black, French, Spanish, Cherokee and Blackfoot Indian). Her mother’s side of the family is from Shreveport, Louisiana and her father’s side of the family is from Houston, Texas. She was born and raised in Santa Maria, California. AmberMarie has lived in Palo Alto, California; San Diego, California; Honolulu, Hawaii; and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.

AmberMarie is divorced and has a beautiful, intelligent 16-year-old daughter, Ava Marie; a talented and brilliant 8-year-old son, Marvin “Tre Boogie,” and a smart and precocious 3-year-old son, Malachi. She also has two bonus babies, gorgeous Shaquay, 28, and talented Jaleel, 26, and two grandsons by way of Shaquay, Kameron, 9, and King, 4, with another little grandbaby on the way due in August 2019. AmberMarie is an ordained Kemetic-centered reverend who unashamedly and fiercely loves Mother/Father God and her family.

Contact Info:

ambermarie@stanfordalumni.org

Litany For Survival

audrelorde

“and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be shared
nor welcomed

but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
remembering
we were never meant to survive.”
Audre Lorde

learning audacity

image
(my autographed copy of “The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni”)

I was introduced to Nikki Giovanni through the poem, “Ego Tripping”

“I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended
except by my permission”

“I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
the filings from my fingernails are
semi-precious jewels”

I was maybe a senior in high school when I found Giovanni through this poem at my local library. And I remember the embarrassed feeling I got after I read the poem. I thought…”who is this woman bragging on herself?” “who does she think she is to be referencing herself a Queen and being the mother to Hannibal and Noah?” I remember it felt great but it was also foreign. I almost didn’t want to be caught reading it.

What I realize now is that may have been my first time being introduced to an African American feminine narrative.
The poem wasn’t about doors or boats from Robert Frost.
The poem wasn’t about hope and feathers from Emily Dickinson.
It wasn’t the blues from Langston Hughes.
It wasn’t Walt Whitman or Anne Sexton or Paul Lawrence Dunbar…
or my beloved Maya Angelou and her Caged Bird…

Nikki Giovanni was the first time I read an African American woman refer to herself as beautiful and being directly connected to all things beautiful in the art world of poetry.

I remembering sitting on the floor in the middle of the aisle at the library and reading the poems in her book and imagining a Tennessee cloud looking like cotton candy… women being judged for the length of their Sunday school dresses… summer love… and even to this day when someone mentions her name… it makes me smile and remember meeting her in the library that afternoon.

When I walked across the Pettus Bridge in Selma for the 50th anniversary earlier this year, Rev. Al Sharpton said something in a sermon that struck a cord with me. He said, “We praise our dead and condemn the living.” It made me want to acknowledge everyone that has served as inspiration to me before they left this planet!

So today, I acknowledge Nikki Giovanni! I speak her name for inspiring me and making me feel so embarrassingly, wonderful and warm about myself one afternoon at the library 🙂 The audacity of learning from poetry!

Loving moments from the book, “Letter To My Daughter”

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“In an unfamiliar culture, it is wise to offer no innovations, no suggestions, or lessons. The epitome of sophistication is utter simplicity.” Maya Angelou

“My soul should always look back and wonder at the mountains I had climbed and the rivers I had forged and the challenges which still await down the road. I am strengthened by that knowledge.” Maya Angelou

When she was once being “timidly attacked” by a Hollywood producer who was interested in developing one of her short stories into a television show: “I promise you, you do not want me as your adversary because, once I feel myself under threat, I fight to win, and in that case I will forget that I am thirty years older than you, with a reputation for being passionate.” Maya Angelou

she continued in this chapter:

“I am never proud to participate in violence, yet, I know that each of us must care enough for ourselves, that we can be ready and able to come to our own defense when and wherever needed.” Maya Angelou

“Racism still rages behind many smiling faces, and women are still spoken of in some circles, as conveniently pretty vessels. Macon, Georgia is down south, New York City is up south. Blithering ignorance can be found wherever you choose to live.” Maya Angelou

“Southern themes will range from generous and luscious love to cruel and bitter hate, but no one can ever claim that the South is petty or indifferent. [In the south] black people walk with an air which implies “when I walk in, they may like me or dislike me, but everybody knows I’m here.” Maya Angelou

Gifts for Mother Maya by Jolivette Anderson

 

 

Maya Angelou’s works have been criticized as works of “uplift” and not genuine art. What are your thoughts on this?

Jolivette:  Art must be functional. Artist must be critical thinkers who observe, analyze, interrogate, and offer solutions to the problems within their (our) communities. As a poet, Dr. Mother Angelou observed the pain of her people.

She analyzed the conditions of her people. She interrogated herself to see how she could best contribute to the ongoing work, begun before she was born, to help heal the hurt and pain of her people. It is obvious that her answers came in the form of ‘be positive’ and ‘uplift’ your people with your work and words and your work-in-words. There is nothing more genuine than seeing ones own humanity and the humanity of others and being positive in the face of treacherous negativity.

How would you characterize Angelou’s style—her language, her tone, her choice of metaphors, and so on?
Continue reading Gifts for Mother Maya by Jolivette Anderson

Gifts for Mother Maya by Reverdia da’ River Woman

 

 

1) Although Angelou writes almost exclusively for African Americans, she has a huge following from other races.  Why do you think this is?

The Honorable Mother Maya writes from her experience as a human being first.  Yes, I know that sounds cliche’-ish… “same-ing”, if you will, the initiation of a struggling explanation, but if one listened to ‘Mother-Sister’, you can sense what was an insistent appetency to set right and at the same time comfort in her addressing us… all of us. Although her literary gifts to us were addressed from a woman’s eyes, simply because she was one, she was the glowing and towering, vibrant, flowing seductive and insistent, yet sweetly confident member of this human race first and wanted us all to feel that same sublime rendering of naked and free’d expression of self.

Little girls, givers of life- [where her story and destiny begins] come in all colors and influences and each deserves love and encouraging and protecting.  If the opposite is present, the difference dissipates and only the commonality of pain and tragedy, joy and ascending, remain- none of which is specific to any particular race, opinion, or culture.  Her living is / was certainly on common ground with the human spirit set in each of us regardless of  our location or station or not; as well as her truths. That kind of naked, bold, unencumbered, raw, vivid, biting and sometimes seducing caressing, and loving truth in her writing, sets us all on common playing ground.

How would you characterize Angelou’s style – her language, her tone, her choice of metaphors, and so on?
Continue reading Gifts for Mother Maya by Reverdia da’ River Woman