My mother taught me how to make a living.
My father showed me how to create a life to live.
She was deemed responsible.
He was deemed selfish.
… I want to be selfishly responsible from here on out.
Saturday afternoon truth
told by thick brown hands,
stories of survival and struggle until both
sound like all the names of the black mamas in the neighborhood
Hymns and laughter
imparted in between sections of greased scalps
that smell like coconut or yesterday’s frying oil
Here, little girls get to disappear
feel their mother’s heart beat
as her fingertips massage away her little girl worries
not turning the jump rope fast enough
getting picked last during recess for dodge ball
on the floor between her mother’s legs
the little girl’s father appears in a new light
fresh and foul
like discounted gizzards
she learns why to save
why the pulled out back seat of her grandfather’s Cadillac is a
treasure in the garage
safe Saturday rituals become
sanctified Sunday religion
and all this from sitting in between her mother’s legs
getting her hair
40 Words of Wisdom Every Parent Needs to Give Their Child
“I was raised on stories of return and that hope is still alive in my father’s eyes.”
I am the great great grand daughter of
Reversed breath and dared visions…
Gulps of darkness
and wind drifts of honey tamed coagulated blood
with sounds heavy / held in hallow fields.
I let life stain my ashen legs
with streams of flowers and foul
Ball cramp symbols under the folds of my toes
So the scorpion trails are sensible to children’s eyes.
Great grandmother’s conversations with a pine tree snake
He feared her gray eyes as I did
So we both kept our distance / mesmerized with her patience to catch a fly.
She was magic
And one day I sold her show for a rollercoaster ride
And a tongue kiss
I bought it back with my grandmother’s apron
…the one smeared with fish scales and rabbit guts
now I pay $6.89 a pound for whiting fillets
it used to be free after an afternoon at the lake
I am still her granddaughter
And her mother’s great grand daughter
And her mother a great great sunrise before…
dreamt of me.
20 Life Lessons My Mother Taught Me
“… you’re like a super hero that lifts me up when I fall / you bring me up when I feel 5 inches tall…”
I don’t have her name but I’m sure when she read this to her mom, it was absolute MAGIC.
Rose curves in her eyes
at the entrance of a woman’s laughter
Her oversized cuspid seductively graze her bottom lip.
heart pumps catapult
marry her into utopia
piano plays of fingertips on her inner thigh
the suckle of nipples in her mouth longing
for the protective touch she once knew
someone once told her women couldn’t be friends, she believed her. her mom. she believed her mom / actually.
a vacant crime for a child’s ears
cause she’s loved women since glowlights on stormy nights.
nikki skies copyright 2013
If you could talk to one person from the past/present for one hour, who would it be?
I would take just one hour with you, Dad.
and memorize your knuckles
and count the pace between your jokes
look at the stance of your earlobes
allow the electricity to race through my veins as we touch hands
and allow my eyes to connect your pores that capture your
favorite after shave
attach the scent of your breath
have you explain.
ask you the really tough questions
in this softly short period of time
tell you why I chose this place. next to this tree. I love silver dollar trees.
answer more. give me more detail. this is when you’ll see yourself. and know I am so much of your explosive hustle.
and then I’d let you see me cry for the first time ever. for two straight minutes. until your eyes that are mine meet again.
nikki skies for NATIONAL POETRY MONTH
I don’t know about you but I welcome them. I am not afraid.
I believe they come to give. / not take.
He left in 2010 and tried his best to prepare me. I wanted my optimism to be greater than his thoughts. And this wouldn’t be the first time the will of my optimism won over his years of experience. Now looking back… I wonder if he handed me those victories? Declaring my optimism for me solely.
So I walk into a room and there he is. My father. The room is full of other people but when I walk in, it’s as if he has been waiting for me. He does that stare.
/ the one where he makes me blink before him.
/ the one that makes everyone else follow his gaze to me.
/ the one that embarrasses me.
/ the one that validates me. yea, the stare that matters.
He announces to himself, but aloud, that I have arrived.
“There she is!”
I am excited to see him. I remember a gift exchange (that I wasn’t prepared for), some sort of event that moved everyone outside and some buses. Then morning came.
And he was gone / again.
I’ve been wanting to see him. I’ve been wanting to ask him about my play and my new book. I didn’t get a chance. Time went so fast and so much was going on.
I got his smile and his stare and him announcing me to everyone in the room. I believe when they come in dreams, they come to give. / and I did receive.