Kenny the Leo

my hand ached.  my right hand gripped the pen with mission.  I had to write down everything he was telling me.  can’t miss a single adjective because I had not been there and he would not be here.      /soon

jake or jacque?  what tribe in Oklahoma?  who is still there?  do we have land?  where is your mother buried?

‘nik, memorize the smells and sounds’,    ok… slight hint of ben gay is embedded on his heating blanket, his body reeks of medicine excreting from every pore, … I smell water…

his face / his face, looks so worried when the doctors enter the room.  his eyebrows raise with storyline spaces for someone to hear him until the end.  he wants his bible near by and his playstation on the television screen.  (some army game, the name escapes me right not)  still so tender towards me, he entertains everything except my conversations of him barbecuing in the summertime.  he never says it from his mouth, but his eyes tell me / beg me… accept he is leaving soon.

so I write the secrets he kept even from his brothers.  I write about the alcoholism.  I write about the child abuse.  I write about the abandonment.  I write about his mother’s beating with a black jack.  I write about the robbery.   I write about the players ball.  I write about the love he never lost for my mother.  I write about his fears of being a father to me.

notepadandpen

I write about his girlfriend with the snake.  I write about Tall Mike.  I write about his grandmother’s pet ducks.  I write he never speaks of his father.  I write he never speaks of the shooting.  I write about the look in his eyes when I finally mention his father’s name, Big Kenny.  I write about him overcoming paralysis and living a life he loved.  I write about his voice cracking when he mentions how often he thought of me.  I write the definition of dead beat dad.  I write it doesn’t fit him.  I write he was afraid I would be mad at him.  I write how proud he was of my books and poetry cd.  I wrote until after his funeral… then stopped.  and cried.

my dad was true to his word and true to his heart.  viewed selfish by some but he passed with no fear or regrets.  he has given me a great story.  he has given me beautiful cheek bones.  he has given me a golden smile. he has given me an example to live true to my heart.  Kenny the Leo.

Advertisements

a Meter for Matter

Matter Matters

….

Catch the memories like fishnet

too many to hold in my palm

and too capacious for the thesaurus description

Matter Matters

Now that I carry the tales behind my 100 year old cheekbones

and my cheap heart you repeatedly bought with

sincere laughs

yet made strong with your explosive hustle

Matter Matters

When the matter is your Dad in the wind.

For Kenny, transition 2/20/09

A Poet’s Handbook by Haki Madhubuti

nikkiholdingbookI have been asked so often various questions on how a poet is supposed to act, where they are supposed to perform, who they are supposed to support… I answer the question and conclude with, “this is my perspective.”  I try to remember my conversations and dialogue with various artists and crowds at educational institutions to be better prepared for these “life of a poet questions”. Recently as I was browsing the shelves of the poetry section of a used book store…

“Run Toward Fear: Poems and a Poet’s Handbook” by Haki Madhubuti

An elder, award winning poet, essayist, educator, founder & publisher of Third World Press and founder of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center at Chicago State.  I suppose he too became bombarded with questions from our generation on this art form now once again prominently (cause this ain’t new people!) in the forefront called poetry and wrote words of refreshing encouragement and guidance.

Pick the book up!  Writers and performers PERIOD not just poets! I have to share a few things until you get to the bookstore!

____________________________________________________

“You may not be able to earn a living exclusively as a poet or writer, but if you persist, work hard and nuture your talent; it is almost guaranteed that you will earn a life.  To choose to be a “poet” as a professional endeavor is not very high on the preferred or most lucrative career path in our nation, therefore as a poet, you must adhere to a few standard and not so standard rules.”

ONE Learn to run toward fear. Understand that-even with the emergence of performance poetry and poetry slams and the increasing number of individuals who profess to be poets–few people actually read poetry.  Understand that although smallminded individuals rule the world, it is always right to question, challenge and hold them accountable for their actions.

TWO Think about, read, and study more poetry than you write.

THREE Repeat number two.

FOUR Minimize the praise given to your poetry from parents, friends, lovers, siblings, spouses, running buddies, cheerleading squads, creditors and former lovers.

TEN Write your truth and you will seldom have writer’s block.

ELEVEN Most people think that they can write poetry. Many of them are right and need encouragement.

THIRTY-NINE Poets must be acutely aware of “fame” which is like a flame in the brain and will cut serious writing potential by 85% and turn most of the poets it consumes into game show participants and other cultural embarrassments.

In total he offers his golden wisdom in 40 rules.  I am positive this book will help any writer/poet in their endeavors.  I know I will use it as a resource for my performances/lectures!

just passin’ some water along for the ’forever thirsty’!

speak on love,

inspiration confirmation

image

I remember the day I got this letter!  I stood in the post office and the world stopped… then I sat in my car and let the world stop again…

I was working on my first play and wanted to use a snippet of Lady in Purple from Ntozake Shange timeless piece, “For Colored Girls…”  Out of all the things she could’ve been doing, out all the business she was tending to, she wrote me a letter of approval.

This letter meant the world to me!  Everyone wants to write the classic piece that can live without them.  And Shange taking the time to read my material and send this letter confirmed I had true passion for this.

I want to inspire someone someday.  Provide that encouragement when they want to run for security to plan B.  I hope to keep them on track to want to perfect their craft and believe in it.

Thanks Ms. Shange,

passing it on…

Together Again

Her conversations wrapped around hope like a Kentucky porch

dreams drenched in newly released fiction

she pinned her children’s dew to her shoulder pads to stand tall

yet

convinced her eyes to swallow intuition.

She simmered her saucy sway to disappear in his abandonment

But the thunder crashed her calm

and streaked her breath wild and array like cheap paint.

She prayed she hadn’t just birthed her seventh child for the third time

as dubious matter surrounded her conversations with God

and gasps soiled her pillows.

Move

Blue shelled tortoise
caught me crying really hard today
Wrapped in humid cypress tree breath
     / caught me
Ripping through history books trying to remember the beginning of divide and conquer
the meaning of integration

I got the paper cuts to prove it
I was ripping through history books trying to remember
why
was it so important to move out
the hood.
Nikki Skies

Move

Blue shelled tortoise
caught me crying really hard today
Wrapped in humid cypress tree breath
     / caught me
Ripping through history books trying to remember the beginning of divide and conquer
the meaning of integration

I got the paper cuts to prove it
I was ripping through history books trying to remember
why
was it so important to move out
the hood.
Nikki Skies

The best of my Mom, I am taking with Me

She is a first generation city girl. The advantage is she is the beginning. The disadvantage is she is the beginning. No one ahead to show her how to make a sharp turn left or that stop ahead doesn’t necessarily mean to quit. This is the personal genius she created from Mounds City, Arkansas to Kansas City, Mo. The mistakes she hides behind stones in the garden. The best of my mom I am taking with me. Indeed, all of her.

There are parts about her that are silently me and other parts I defy loudly. I am her history and sense of being. We both long to feel we “belong”. She is avid in knowing the parents of her parents parents and when and how and why. I love history. I have always been intrigued with before, the first and alpha. She is an artist. She is a writer and singer. Characters and voices move about in her head. She can differentiate them into various connotations and dictions. She is the inner shell, poked and laughed at. Mocked at for “thinking” she could be a singer. However, she is my outer shell. Protected me from these family discussions that killed dreams and independent thinking.

She signed me up with free modeling lessons at the community center. She helped me with my lines for the black history shows in elementary. She went outside her budget and bought me stickers to visualize my second grade poetry book. She allowed me to pretend and be “Coco” when I needed to escape my reality.

I defy her silence. For never speaking out just keeping me away. Keeping me separate from courage or confrontation. Keeping me safe but not protected.

I am her fear of not trying again. I am her fear of “once burned” so don’t do it again. I live her fears because I was taught to follow someone’s example, literally. I live her fears because I was taught how to live religiously not religiously live. And I was taught how to cope and cover pain and carry brick buildings on my back. At 20 years old I vowed to “not be like her.” Now 20 years after 20 years old, I would be an insane person to not embrace all of what she is… for her to be whole. For her to know I love all of who she is.

With three nieces looking to me and two nephews listening to me, I pray I give them the tools to accept my duality and love me 20 years from now. Love me through my contradiction. Love me past my fears. I pray they continue to break shoddy family traditions, take the best of me and grow themselves closer to God.

roadpic

for You on Our day

I’m with you swaying

standing next to you during that moment of silence

seeking to find me in Martin Luther King, amongst Garvey, between the Panthers so I

collect afros and scraped down

heels from marching

surrounding myself with titties and thighs

cause I know I did something more in the movement than take notes and mix lemonade

Where’s my day?  My stamp?  My park?  My street?

no building/no parade/no libraries

but I know the shoulders I stand on

and today is our day.

 

 

angelaandalice

I am a lover of perseverance. I am folklore. I am consistency and contradiction.

%d bloggers like this: