My father died in February. Around the 22nd or so. I purposely misplaced the obituary and forgot the date. It was the year 2008 or 2009. It was such a blur but I know I was living in Atlanta at the time.
He was my biggest fan but I didn’t know. He was consistent with inconsistency. Or maybe it’s “we” were consistent with inconsistency. But usually the child is allowed to blame the parent so I said “he”. We weren’t consistent like the hurricanes that you expect every year. We were more like tornadoes in the south. It can happen but it would be a surprise. Except we never made the news. Not together at least. So that was the weather of our relationship.
I called in December, around the holidays cause that’s what you’re supposed to do. His girlfriend answered and told me he was dying. They had given him a few months to live. He told me he was dying a few years before that, so I kind of didn’t believe her. I can’t remember where he was or why she answered the phone. But then he picked up and said, “hello”.
Continue reading the memories in February →
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.
40 Words of Wisdom Every Parent Needs to Give Their Child
Madear is short in stature. She speaks in gentle tones with a high pitched voice. Her skin is dark. I liken it to the color of the blackberries growing on prickly vines in the Louisiana summer sun. To get those berries when they are plump, juicy and sweet, we check on them daily and hope that no one else beats us to the tree or field to pick them first. Plump, juicy and sweet –just like my Madear– are those blackberries, and their darkness makes them pretty and inviting to my heart.
Those blackberries make me anxious to be near the source of their sweetness. The darker they become, the more my mouth waters with anticipation to pick them, wash them, and put them in my mouth, if I can wait long enough to reach running water. Continue reading Louisiana Blackberry Summer a prose by Jolivette Anderson-Douoning →
It’s enough of us.
It’s enough / for some of us to write the voices of our past
continue the deliverance of our voices from the antiquity of Africa
document our grandmother’s old wives tales and spiritual songs from the fields
it’s enough to tell our current urban tales of survival / struggling to survive / and losses at surviving.
It’s enough of us.
It’s enough / for some to visualize and write our tomorrow’s.
like prophetic bone tossing because you can read the temperature of the streets and the height of the water’s tide
Did you realize that? It’s enough of us to be re-membered.
it’s more of us than all our fingers and toes.
(this was inspired because I become bothered with: “i can’t read another slave book or see another slave movie!” “that’s what we DON’T need is another urban writer!” “now everybody is a poet.” the survival of our literature cannot be an option. so let there be another and another and another. may the village judge what stays and what goes. just encourage another and…)
I remember when the Nobel Prize winning book, ‘Beloved’, was made into a movie. I was relieved I was finally going to be able to understand what the book was talking about. Like other Morrison fans, I understand that to indulge in one of her books you have to completely abandon yourself and become involved in the art. ‘Beloved’ was one of those books I had not been able to finish because I found it too complex. Or maybe it wasn’t complex at all, perhaps it was the direction that didn’t allow me to finish the book. I remember the narrative being very haunting when it spoke to me. There were times in the book when it spoke directly to me and I felt like I had to protect or defend for myself.
The other day when riding in my car, my 12 year old niece wanted desperately to listen to a hip hop radio station. Even though the language is altered to be radio ready, I cannot stomach the majority of the new hip hop music today. I agreed to let her change the channel from my jazz station and we began to listen to a song, “hit her with a left, hit her with a right, I’mma knock her out like fight night!” (those aren’t the exact words but definitely the intent and close to it). My niece knew the words and sat happy smiling and bouncing in the passenger side dancing to the song.
When we got home, I got on the internet and pulled the song up. I called my niece in my room and let her hear the real lyrics, “hit her with a left, hit her with a right, I’mma knock that p*ssy out like fight night!” The expression on my nieces’ face changed solemn. It was a mixture of embarrassment and disappointment. Needless to say, I was pleased to see that the narrative disturbed her and she didn’t want to listen to the whole song.
Continue reading B-E-L-O-V-E-D | hip hop →
I remember when this first happened. My nieces and I went to a rally here in Atlanta to show our support. The public uproar lasted all of 3 weeks maybe. Here is an update:
Remember #BringBackOurGirls? This Is What Has Happened In The 5 Months Since
My younger brother hadn’t heard from his father in a few months. But this is not unusual for their relationship as they could go months on end without talking. They had a unique way of communicating. They usually communicated through other people in the streets, “Have you seen my Dad around lately?” or “I saw your father he told me to tell you to come by and see him.” Well, the fall of 2013, my brother had been asking around about his father for a few months and everyone continued to tell him, “no, I haven’t seen your Pops.” Christmas morning of 2013, after the kids opened their gifts and everyone enjoyed a light breakfast, my brother said he was physically moved to go to his laptop and type the words, “homicides in Kansas City” to do a search for his father’s name. I imagine he held his breath as he waited to be satisfied that this intuitive notion was simply a crazy thought. However, the search was conclusive, September 16th his father had been murdered.
My brother was screaming in the phone. I haven’t heard him scream since he was a young boy perhaps frightened by a spider. The sound of this chilled me to my bones. A piercing baritone is not melodic. It shatters the musical science of healing and bends wavelengths. My breath sat in my throat. His father was stabbed in September and died a few weeks later in early October. A search for funeral services or posted obituaries turned up nothing. See, his father was a loner, a rolling stone. The online documentation stated he was stabbed several times in the chest and once in the heart during an argument on 39th and Main. My brother was flattened at the thought that his father probably went into surgery and never gained consciousness to give the name of a next of kin. He died alone. My brother’s Christmas turned into Memorial Day.
Continue reading Tears are for Clowns →
The 1870 census states that my great, great, great grandfather, Isacc Nash, was a farmer and married with four children in Virginia.
The 1880 census states that he died in the Nottoway County jail “a lunatic and idiot” at the age of 40.
Fast forward 2014, his great, great grand daughter (my mother) wept when she read those words. Of course she didn’t know him. We don’t even have photos. “A lunatic and idiot”… is pretty harsh. What happened in those 10 years?
And history isn’t important? And black history isn’t important? And you want to know why if I’m not reading, I’m writing?
another reason why I do what I do.