Category Archives: creative writing

Becoming Water for New Seeds

2014-10-28 14.02.07

You are
the idea the African saw through the cracked wood of
the Henrietta Marie
You are
the seed of the new woman
the ecstasy in the fire
the gospel after poetry venues
praised on sidewalks and parking lots
you are now a prophet amongst preachers
burdened with the beauty of the entire rose
pick the thorns or keep them
just stay in tact / you came prickly and prissy
with a rampant river under your feet
your commitment will be constantly tested
through people using revolution to work our personal
problems
they’ll say you don’t fit the role / don’t look natural / ain’t ready to fight
you’re not committed to the destruction of the system
and they’re right
because you are a Creator / never forget that
You are a Creator
and you destroy the idea of death in order to live.

Keeping My Nose This Time

       “It is not enough to be a woman writer. It is imperative that we are women writers who write about other women, responsibly.  Otherwise, we’ll continue to write rebuttals on misrepresentation or the utter absence of our literary presence.”

Recently I returned to the city that grew my art, Los Angeles, California.  It is not the city I was born and reared in, however; it is the city that I consider home.  Where I grew into a woman and an artist.

Not expecting anyone to write my story, a few years back I had the audacity to write a piece of Los Angeles poetry HERstory that was not talked about.  What prompts this post is, during my recent visit to Los Angeles when I spoke about this information in front of a crowd, I was asked to be mindful and tell the “whole story” of LA women in poetry.  Interestingly enough, I’ve never seen the “whole story” written by my male comrades nor during my visit did I hear any conversations that announced the “whole story” of women in poetry.  The four day span I was in Los Angeles, when “the good ‘ole days” conversations came up, there was a repeated rundown of the male figures that were prominent in the foundational game but the women were harmoniously absent from the listings.

Continue reading Keeping My Nose This Time

A lil R&R (a poem)

He said, “as sure as I’m sitting here / I shouldn’t be”
Playing on the devil’s playground / He had 3 bullets with my name on it
1 still in me
scratching his goatee & lifting his chin / he said he know why he’s still here

And it was because of something higher than the roof of that burrito joint
It was higher than the lamp post that shone on us through the tinted windows
It was higher than the billboard telling us what to drink to enjoy our evening
It was higher than the ghetto bird shining on it all
Higher than his weekly 3 g salary
Even higher than the overpopulated heaves of black men that are now angels

It was high enough to take away his foul ways of breath & pump his blood pure enough to unite with his original
7colors&7heavens&7sacraments&7sciences&7spiritual forces

Now he knows what being a G is all about.

silhouletteofaman

a time to celibate

I told her to celebrate celibacy

cause his semen spat
crack and wet rocks
her nipples leaked e&j

A drunken tomorrow.

poisoned tongues for her to swallow karma
his phalyx welt like drowned ivy vines planted everywhere
no sunshine to polish the chlorophyll
just dampened highway underpasses
abandoned by 2 a.m.
strangers.

shadowofcouple

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

stripped (a poem)

tired of waking up tired / after 8 hours of sleep
up all night fighting somebody / even though I live alone
in a white dress / she came to me and said my peace would
come with pain / my peace was letting go of everything that I
believed keeps me sane.
I was naked / but not stripped, like before / misunderstood &
confused with this spiraling in my spine / I gave it all away.
I snored that night / I was so tired.

womaninawhitedress

to the open doors

Many people who say they want their work, writings, critiqued really don’t.  They just want to include your stamp of approval on it.  They want to include you in their circle of same friends, same crowds and same stages where they receive recycled applause.  Unfortunately this will keep them exactly where they are, using their art as a part time hobby and working someone else’s dream full time.

The only thing safe in this game is your vision.  What you ultimately want your work to be regarded as or categorized as.  The voice or narrative you want to represent is the only thing you can control. But that is the opportunity with most writers.  They don’t know who/why they are writing.  It’s as if everyone is falling into the “I write for therapy” “I do this for me” reasonings.  I don’t believe that.  In fact, you will have a hard time trying to convince me of this.  What I do believe is that due to a lack of reading and developing of worth or value for oneself a lot of writers cannot express why this art form has become so tangibly easy for them.

Before I could perform on stage or even write my own work, it was required that I read and memorize the literary greats that had come before me.  I had to memorize and know the works of Gwendolyn Brooks, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, etc BEFORE I was allowed to share my own work.  These were my dues so to speak.  I am finding that nowadays writers are simply encouraged to write and express.  “Write what you feel and then get on stage and kill it!” There is no base, no foundation.  Just quickly constructed brick walls and rubber windows.  Then artists stand hostage inside defending everything they write or perform.

Specifically poets often ask me how to be a full time artist.  I always ask them to identify another poet who is working FT in their craft.  Some of the usual responses are Saul Williams and Nikki Giovanni.  Well, Saul lives in Europe and makes an incredibly living from his music and Giovanni is an educator and speaker in addition to poet.  So I ask them to give me someone else they could contact to be a mentor for their poetry career that ONLY does poetry.  I am still waiting on responses from the majority of them.  See, this art thing is medicinal.  It is not an individual thing.  If your mantra is, “I do this for me” you’re on a paved road, a safe path with lots of company and acceptance.  Not the wild road to discovery with silent strange faces and a million “no” responses. With that being said, poetry cannot be isolated.  Poetry is the word.  Poetry is the color of the sound.  Poetry is the taste of the wind. Poetry is an integral part of the seven sciences connecting to “it all”.  This understanding is how FT artists sustain.

I don’t know any FT artists who at some point do not incorporate education into their lifestyle as a workshop facilitator or speaker.  But what are they talking about?  They are talking about that base and foundation from which they developed their art from.  They are protecting the vision, establishing the livelihood of their narrative.  They are doing something most poets/writers cannot do these days.

So what are you saying?  I’m saying, you need to read twice as much as you write.  You need to study.  You need to know your art form and the cause behind it better than anyone else.  You must let go of the criticism that will come with your art and be more concerned with the status of the people holding together the foundation.  With that knowledge will bring a security and confidence that will open doors and opportunities to you as a writer/poet.

 

 

In the Words of John A. Williams

“Poetry is always good to keep the juices flowing. Poetry is the training for any writer. For fiction writers, I’d have them write poetry for a year. It gives you a sense of voice, rhythm, economical use of words for power and mood. It teaches you to be brief. You don’t want to bore your reader.” John Williams

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