upon a time,
you saw me, and I
Moved you, deeply from
places you had hidden the
most sacred parts of your self.
wanted me, but
you could not grow fast
enough to hold, my wisdom
In your heart and hand, so you vanished.
And needed me
So you carried fantasies
of we in your head, promising
yourself to one day make memories
Your aim, to one day find me when you became
Jolivette Anderson-Douoning is an Educator and Poet from Shreveport, LA. Her research is focused on Race, Space and Place. It explores the psyche of African Americans in the United States and how their existence has been negotiated according to the racial history of the nation. Anderson-Douoning is a 4th year PhD student at Purdue University where she is studying American Studies/Curriculum and Instruction. She currently lives in Indiana with her daughter.
She has four recordings of poetry and prose: Love and Revolution Underground, At the End of a Rope in Mississippi, Jolivette Live: A Bluesy Funk Life Cycle, and She Energy.
For bookings and additional information firstname.lastname@example.org or DrJolly2015@gmail.com
My Dad never mentioned his grandfather from his Dad’s side. It’s like my grandfather just fell onto the face of the planet with no father. Now, my research finds his Dad in a boarding house as a child. Perhaps he was an orphan or he ran away. But my Dad had an immense love and knowledge of his grandmother and her family fight for their native land in Oklahoma. Anyway, my Dad’s father was a musician. He played the trumpet. He frequented around the jazz scene in Kansas City down on 18th and Vine. He was educated. His back up plan was being an English teacher. He served in the Korean War. He fell in love with my grandmother. They married and had two sons. He loved my Dad and his brother. I suppose that is where my Dad learned that seamless love for his grandmother. Then my grandfather didn’t want to be an English teacher. He wanted to be a musician. But all his friends were in Europe playing in bands. He went to the war remember… Then he didn’t love my grandmother anymore. And he didn’t love my Dad or his brother. I remember my grandfather singing to me. He was tall and thin with a gap between his front teeth like me. I remember khaki pants and a black hat. My father remembered the police being called. He remembers slammed doors and black jack beatings. He remembers empty gin bottles and knives. He remembers kidnappings and abandonment. That’s the first chapter.
My Dad stayed away from home. He ate meals at friends homes because my grandfather cooked half raw hamburgers because the doctor said he would die if he continued to drink on an empty stomach. My Dad was teased a lot. He wore third passed down clothing and the same one pair of shoes all year. So he developed a quick wit and quicker right hand punch. And he was a gentleman because his grandmother would have it no other way. And he knew what praying with purpose meant. And his poker face earned him instant street credibility. And he was a fast runner and loyal to the game of fostering respect. He earned the friendship of my uncles and won the heart of my mother. He loved her. He said I came about after them messing around one day after school. They were 16. He got a job at Church’s chicken and bought my mother food home. Then, some say it was an attempted robbery some say it was my father being witty. But, he was shot. And paralyzed. And then he didn’t love my mother anymore and moved to another state away from me. That’s the second chapter.
He started over in a new city. And later told me stories of girlfriends with snakes and winning dance contests in his wheelchair. He had a devoted love to his mother even though she never came back for him when she moved and his father kidnapped him. He sometimes called me. He sometimes visited when he came back to visit Kansas City. That was very weird looking at somebody who had the same eyes and chin and cheekbones and smile. I would turn my head but he would stare at me. My uncles still had a sincere respect for my father. My mother was married now and I had a younger sister and brother. And my dad’s father was still mean to my father. And one day the time ticked and the gun went off. There were no prison accommodations for my father being in a wheelchair so it was self-defense with no trial no nothing. And my father never came back to Kansas City. And 26 years went by. That’s the third chapter.
After everyone had left the room, he told me he was afraid I was going to come in and slap him. He was nervous I was going to curse him out in front of everyone. Because of the 26 years. That never crossed my mind. I wanted to see if we still had the same cheekbones and smile. We did. We also discovered we prefer brown liquor and we’re not embarrassed to curse wherever. Our combined comedic timing kept the conversation easy and flowing. He wanted four things, (1) that I look him in the eye and say I forgive him (2) that I spend the night so we can talk and he can stare at me (3) we keep the television turned on with his favorite video game, “Call of Duty” on the home screen and (4) his hand held bible stay on the hospital tray. I gave him all but #2. I spent the night over my cousin’s house. My father died. That is chapter four.
He was at peace with all he had done in life. He had space in his heart to justify everything and have no regret. He told me stories upon stories that filled 26 years but in none of them did he try and justify why he wasn’t there for me. He simply thought I would be better without all he was carrying. Me forgiving him was his primary goal in January of 2009. Everyone knew my name at his funeral services. People that had gone on my website and bought my books and cd’s wanted my autograph. He was my public relations person in the Midwest and I didn’t even know. He told everyone about me. I was this mystery daughter that he described as a go-getter. They told me 26 years worth of stuff on me. Things that I didn’t even know he knew. That is chapter five.
And all these chapters have a direct impact on my mental health. My emotional capabilities as well. The chapters set the parameters of how much of a risk I’ll take in life. How much I will let one get away with before I respond. That is why this book will be written. So I can demonstrate to others that parents being there or not being there does matter and generational cycles are as real as the sun in the sky. Love and hate can easily be mixed with the same atoms. The proof is my life paralleled with the chapters of my Dad. That is chapter 6.
from the book, “yardwork”
The rally in his mouth no longer
His ante dotes no longer describe / how I feel
the flavor in his analogies offend me
cause he’s naked and happy,
I’m fully clothed and ready for another love war
I no longer desire the rhythm of his walk,
the gutsy bass of his laughter.
Our relationship is no longer melodic.
No more poetry.
We need to talk.
from the book, “Pocket Honey, Wind & Hips” – nikki skies
There’s something intensely intimate about cooking a meal for a man
then having him hold your hand across the table and say / grace.
In between the “I love you’s”
this is how we reconnect:
I straddle and clutch on to him
for my dear life and he /
recharges himself inside of me with all I have to offer / then
me and my man we go out and change
from the poetry book, Pocket Honey, Wind & Hips
The merlot on my tongue
won’t allow me to speak.
I stain my pillow with attached prayers of something
betwixt the Ghana of my mane.
I walk with a cane looped to my belt to beat a fall
design distance from cerebral lessons
I wear tight shoes to ensure carefully calculated steps
and disavow chances and dances with love.
taken from the book:
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.
Look the way she cares her self
The way her self
Cares and makes room
Look how she holds her own throne
Inside her body—
the way her spirit sits up high the way
her legs enable her standing
the way her belly follows the moon the way her
mind weighs the Worlds that depend upon her spine
Look see how she rules the World
Brad Walrond is a poet, author, activist, and mixed-media performance artist born in Brooklyn, New York to first generation Caribbean parents from Barbados. Brad received his MA in Political Science from Columbia University and his poetry has been published in the New York Times, African Voices, Moko Magazine, and Eleven Eleven. His first collection of prose and poems every where alien will be published on Moore Black Press later this year. Follow him @bradwalrond on instagram and facebook.
This amazingly poetic beautiful song went to #1 on this day. Take a few minutes out of your day to listen… her voice. The one and only Minnie Riperton.