Category Archives: literature

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.

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Mississippi Window Crack

a Brown Girls Privilege

here is some of my privilege.
I believe they were thinking of me
wearing myrrh and adorned in silver
and that is not selfish
we share the same sun
– the kiss on our skin
we share a love of puzzles
– arrangements of letters
we turn into poems – plays – books – speeches
and laughs.
literary legends

a Brown Girls Privilege

here is some of my privilege.
I believe they were thinking of me
wearing myrrh and adorned in silver
and that is not selfish
we share the same sun
– the kiss on our skin
we share a love of puzzles
– arrangements of letters
we turn into poems – plays – books – speeches
and laughs.
literary legends

Becoming Water for New Seeds

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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.

 

from the book, “Pocket Honey Wind & Hips”

Re-Establishing my Journey

Years ago I decided I would not never become a teacher. I envisioned it as confinement. I am a creature of routine BUT I do not want one imposed on me. I always saw being an educator as someone who was doomed with routine and rewarded with low pay. That was not the life I wanted to live.

As time and the ancestors would have it, my poetry created a platform for me to engage my art at colleges and universities. Not just as the “entertainment” but additionally as an educator to young writers on the importance of preserving the black vernacular. My art eventually evolved to focusing on the feminine narrative. Encouraging the black feminine voice expressed and written from a holistic perspective and not just as a presence to move a plot forward. These discussions exposed two things, (1) I had more questions than answers and needed to do more research to educate myself (2) I was pretty good at this teaching thing.

My community knows me primarily as a performance poet and from the theatre. Both of these creative platforms allowed me to express undivided and intellectually intact. I had the company to be beautiful and the security to laugh at myself and others. As I immersed myself more with the writing community, plays and novels, I felt absent- invisible even. I was stifled with this feeling once before when I studied film at Howard University for my M.A. In screenplay writing, I didn’t have the company of voice, meaning the character written or represented on film, was not a bridged visualization of my existence as a woman. A black woman, a woman of color living in this country. My questions about the presence or the acceptance of what was represented as the black feminine narrative, now became a plaque of concerns. That was until I got my hands on Toni Morrison’s “Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination”.

Continue reading Re-Establishing my Journey

Happy Birthday Tananarive Due!

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I was introduced to her work during a book club I was a part of when I lived in Los Angeles years ago. The book was, “My Soul To Keep” –

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First of all, even with all my theatre and poetry literature knowledge, I did not know of any black women that wrote in this genre. So not only was the book AMAZING, I was intrigued that our storytelling entailed this! I credit Due with broadening my curiosity on this genre and re-thinking/re-reading Octavia Butler. I had only read Butler’s “Kindred” at the time but now I dug deeper into both of their works. Thank you Tananarive Due!

Do yourself a favor… make sure these titles are in your library…

My favorite?

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HANDS DOWN!!! Like Butler, Due is probably writing before her time (for us right on time) and later down the line her work will be considered for more television/film production. Until then, Happy Birthday and we honor you!