some days i feel like, angela bassett

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there are so many adjectives synonymous with her name. when you think of her pristinely manicured appearance and pout formed lips. or the fiery dance in her eyes that’s the tango or perhaps it’s the Chicago two-step. her acting is like a highly trained opera singer with undisputed range. undisputed. composed of multifariousness, angela bassett.

it’s usually mid summer when I feel like perfectly ripe melon. any melon. the one that is the life of the party and mixed with salad or cut as pretty decoration on a toothpick for some spirits. both will be used with a multitude of adjectives for the salty and sugary mixture of the palates. and I am the desire to entertain the crowd. yes, this is around mid june when I ripen.

angela bassett is not the summer. she is mother nature. meaning she is seasoned with acknowledging her purpose and poignancy, some days I feel like angela bassett when my shine lasts beyond the party or stage lights. an amazing talent and my absolute favorite actress.

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some days i feel like, Goddess Auset

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tenacious and stout would describe her love for him. or even, whole. this love predates all the great love stories. the kind that makes great movies and transcends love beyond the ordinary. their love defined truth, justice and righteousness.

it was not the contained love in a “faithful” box. in fact, it was not faithful. it evaded being self served and accepted deliverance for another being. it is the reciprocal love that most people say they deserve. There is no complete inscription of their relationship but they all seem to speak that Auset and her love, Ausar, had a legendary love.

The land of Egypt succeeded in enterprise under the leadership of Ausar. He provided laws and education and taught the people the art of agriculture. Auset championed the interest of his reign and they were both highly respected as rulers. When Ausar was murdered by his brother, Auset took to the land of Egypt to gather his body parts as he had been dismembered. She is primarily noted wearing a throne headdress to illustrate her representation of power. Auset is often called the Goddess of motherhood, magic and fertility.

Later in life I’ve realized how important it is to continue to wear my crown even in relationships. It is important to continue to revere my purpose in spite of who I am in a relationship with. This actualization came with maturity as I began to re-define what my societal constraints determined for me.

I have yet to feel safe and supported with my confidence to be an intelligent and sensual woman in a relationship. But when I observe the relationships around me that have survived both people remaining individuals, and not committing to the “relationship”, I know it can be accomplished. Some days I feel like Goddess Auset and breath fire and light for my love to come.

some days i feel like, ntozake shange

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some days I feel like ntozake shange. in the most simple sense of what EVERY artists dreams… to have a timeless piece of art that can transcend across generations.

her award winning play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf was first produced off broadway in 1975. it moved to broadway and continued to win awards and marked her place in the literary world. some 35 years later, this same play was turned into a movie. timeless art… this play is rich with emotions and complexity. shange’s work is also where I learned the literary style of writing and performing prose. my all time favorite, ellington was not a street.

I always say, ‘I want my art to be able to live without me. To feed my children’s children.’ 39 years after it debuted in new york, her play, ‘for colored girls’ is currently being produced on two different stages in atlanta, ga. some days I feel like ntozake shange and just trust my heart through my pen. trust that this is the piece of art that will transcend time.

some days i feel like, elaine brown

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some days I feel like elaine brown. I feel like I have the courage to love what feels right. I feel like I can stand in front of whomever/whatever and move past the criticism of my past with a smile. like elaine brown, some days I feel like I can change the world and by doing that sometimes you have to start over.

elaine brown is particularly known for her involvement in the black panther party in Oakland, Ca. while many haven’t had interest enough to read what her contributions and positions were in the party, they seem satisfied with knowing and saying, “she’s an ex-panther.” I had the privilege of meeting her twice and opening for her during a lecture in los angeles a few years ago. she was very emphatic with her intent to tell her side of the story. to make sure we left her with more to say.

she wanted us to know she believed in the black panther party with her entire being. she helped the panthers set up its first Free Breakfast for Children program in Los Angeles in addition to the panthers Free Busing to Prisons Program and the Free Legal Aid Program. she had a progressive intent for her people and herself as a woman/spiritual being. in her book, A Taste of Power, she made mention that she eventually left the panther party because she could no longer tolerate the patriarchy and sexism.

and I remember her speaking of love. I remember her sharing personal photos of her and Huey P. Newton and talking about how much she was in love with him. as I was holding one of the photos, she pointed to him and said, “he was fine wasn’t he?” her entire face smiled.

some days I feel like elaine brown in wanting to be whole. wanting to be accepted as an intelligent and critical thinker as well as a lover. and for all of who I am to be safe enough to share as part of the human experience.

some days i feel like, jada pinkett smith

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some days I feel like, jada pinkett smith. I think together we would chase storms. we would roll the thunder in a sports utility vehicle and run down the eye of the storm! we would shave our heads and dress up in an evening gown and pose like “on purpose planted sunflowers”. we would yell into mics and blend our blues and hip hop to heavy metal music in front of an audience of thousands!

I can only imagine her quest for rearing independent thinking children. I can only imagine her desire to remain a desire to a handsome and witty man. jada pinkett smith has seemingly lived the way her childhood friend tupac shakur explained, ‘telling the truth before about yourself before someone else does.’ Her choice of work parallels her mindset as she now lends the influence of her spirit to philanthropy work and activism.

I remember watching her give an interview one time and she mentioned she considered herself to be “viciously ambitious”. yes, some days I feel like jada pinkett smith, especially when I feel beyond my skin!

love marks the spot

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I spilled my heart here.

and in gym during 6th hour.
and in the parking lot of Dairy Queen.
and on the phone when long distance calling cost extra.
and I meant every word I said.

and for you I’d do it again.
for your smile.
for your time.
for the exchange of our secrets.

in the name of love.

some days i feel like a skyscraper (part II)

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Somebody had to do it. And somebody had to re-member. I was there. And it’s not that I want to be given some glory or plaque. I just want artists to know that it wasn’t 1961 when the Los Angeles poetry scene displayed this disproportionately approach to female poets. And now it is so natural for females to get features and travel but not too long ago we were blatantly denied this. And Jaha, Bridget, Rachel and I really changed the perception of when female poets should be allowed to eat.

Did we pave the way? Call it whatever feels good to you. But I know I was there when humiliation and doubt was given to us from our male peers. I was there when the men performers would get paid a different amount than us at the very same show. I was there when our male peers thought the best position for any of us would be next to them in a relationship and when he was denied he campaigned a “she’s gay” rally to save his reputation.

I saw Roni take poetry to the Hollywood comedy clubs.

I saw Sandra, Alice the Poet and MstMuze operate the longest running all female poetry venue in Los Angeles to date.

I saw Deana produce/host sold out poetry shows inside restaurants on Sunset Blvd.

And all I’m saying is, this happened after she/we shared stories and almost cried because we thought we were alone in feeling so indigent for expression. Some days I feel like a skyscraper in the Los Angeles poetry scene. Standing bold, cold and razor sharp with the moods of mother nature, not being erased from the series anytime soon. My love for Jaha, Rachel and Bridget is beyond an ordinary means of measurement. We were there, when it felt like 1961.

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some days i feel like a skyscraper

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I feel part of the smaller story. I feel part of the larger story. Skyscrapers are like small cities with thousands of people that live and work there. Their foundations and superstructures provide different appearances. These tall buildings are seen as symbols of power and greatness. They are improved in live time to stand the test of weather and the moods of mother nature. Yes, some days I feel like a skyscraper… especially when I began spoken word in Los Angeles.

It was clearly the congregated movement of griots and sages before us that declared the time again. Only the shadowless and their corners really thought “they started something new” or “took it to the next level”. Only time would be able to determine those thoughts just as the medu netter has spoken for centuries in the pyramids. Only time, still will reveal that.

One would have thought the time was 1961 and women were still only allowed to be house attendants. When in fact it was 2001. Writing and performing poetry was not new to me. I was shocked that it was being critiqued and shared in seemingly ‘non art environments’. Coffee shops, lobbies of recreational centers, after hours at businesses and theatres in need of publicity. The art form was taking on a new timeframe and would need new walls to hold it’s voice.

In an already big city. A city with the most highly structured designed skyscrapers, one would think she could just pick up where June Jordan left off. Just take the notebook from Gwendolyn Brooks and turn the page. But it wasn’t like that for Jaha Zainabu, Bridget Gray and Rachel Kann, my “come up” crew. None of us were novices to the arts. Together we were decades of stories, poems, lectures, theatre and visual art. Together we split the city and nestled our art amongst those who neighbored our homes. We supported our venues week after week and then by bequest, politics were engaged in our arts but this time the agenda was to undermine. From history our community arts had a focus of meeting weekly to “build and feed each other”. These new politics were of division because all of us would not be able to eat. In fact, it happened so fast we weren’t even able to decide on our seasonings! And many owned microwaves and had never lit a stove or practiced patience with a crock pot. But she/we stood there.

One would have thought it was 1961 they way we were over looked to perform feature poetry shows. One of us was even told, “women can’t hold the audience attention to do a feature segment”. And week after week, we went and supported the self served. And we began to see the bending of the art. This was called open mic, to disavow the necessity for us to hold one another accountable. We were allowed to do and say anything and not read or study and some times not even demanded to practice. Our art scene became like loose, dangled dred locs from an unhealthy scalp. Her voice strewn like sidewalk abandoned Christmas trees. With the desperate opportunity for manhood to be demonstrated, she/we were overlooked. It was not 1961.

Now about this, She was given the mic and then cut short by loud music playing in the background to a host dancing behind her begging for a laugh and a few smiles. She wasn’t given the same time limit, as he. And She, was given time on the stage to express her newest and most intimate poetry piece. She was accepted by the audience with warm applause and finger snaps. Capsized with emotion, she stepped away to gather herself only to have the host scold the audience clapping for her by saying, “We don’t do that here”. And then She, was too serious and her voice was too loud. “You should write some love poems”, he declared to her after she received thunderous applause when all night he received scattered rain drops. And then She, was a performer amidst reading writers. And while both are styles of interpretation, it distinguished her natural flame to a fire and cast her away feeling lost and unheard.

And she/we were paid less. And she/we were heard less. And then one night we all talked. And we almost cried. And we all had the same story and we all reaffirmed it wasn’t 1961. And Rachel decided we should do our own. And we did. And we sold out a night club on Hollywood Blvd with an all female poetry feature show. The first of it’s kind during this wave of poetry in Los Angeles. And we ate. And then our four corners of the city saw what we were made of. That temblor thwarting technology that doesn’t fall during earthquakes. That strong wavering skyscraper that houses thousands of people working and living with stories to tell.

(part II tomorrow)

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a zen note

One day, as the big temple bell was being rung, the Buddha asked Ananda, “Where does the bell sound come from?”
“The bell.”
The Buddha said, “The bell? But if there were no bell stick, how would the sound appear?”
Ananda hastily corrected himself. “The stick! The stick!”
“The stick? If there were no air, how could the sound come here?”
“Yes! Of course! It come from the air!”
The Buddha asked, “Air? But unless you have an ear, you cannot hear the bell sound.”
“Yes! I need an ear to hear it. So it comes from my ear.”
The Buddha replied, “Your ear? If you have no consciousness, how can you understand the bell?”
“My consciousness makes the sound.”
“My consciousness? So, Ananda, if you have no mind, how do you hear the bell sound?”
“It was created by mind alone.”

COMMENTARY
True form is without thinking. Truth is unmoving. Name and form, appearing and disappearing – these things never existed. Time and space are always moving. The world of name is the world of opposites. See, hear smell, speak, act and think clearly.

from the book I’m currently reading:
zenperfect

some days i feel like, attallah shabazz

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the oldest child. the one who clearly remembers. I am the one who appears to have “kept it together”. the one sought for direction and clarity.

Attallah Shabazz is the daughter that can silence a crowd with her commanding beauty and strikingly visible resemblance to her father, Malcolm X. Attallah became the artist to this family that was thrown in the political arena. She is a lecturer, playwright, director, producer and performer. She mirrors her art to her father’s message to continue to elutriate ill perceptions. She has found her own voice to preach her own gospel of human rights and self-esteem.

In an interview, Attallah speaks of having coloring books and reading books that depicted persons from black history. She continued, “So when I went to school and parts of me were omitted from history books, I knew the hole wasn’t in me, it was in the books.” Some days I feel like Attallah Shabazz because even though I learned the hole wasn’t me later in life… when I did find out, my art began a path that had a natural commitment to preserving my community and its’ vernacular.

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

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