Saturday afternoon truth
told by thick brown hands,
stories of survival and struggle until both
sound like all the names of the black mamas in the neighborhood
Hymns and laughter
imparted in between sections of greased scalps
that smell like coconut or yesterday’s frying oil
Here, little girls get to disappear
feel their mother’s heart beat
as her fingertips massage away her little girl worries
not turning the jump rope fast enough
getting picked last during recess for dodge ball
on the floor between her mother’s legs
the little girl’s father appears in a new light
fresh and foul
like discounted gizzards
she learns why to save
why the pulled out back seat of her grandfather’s Cadillac is a
treasure in the garage
safe Saturday rituals become
sanctified Sunday religion
and all this from sitting in between her mother’s legs
getting her hair
Speaking of conquer
Only she can spit cuss words
and cum seeds
For tomorrow like that
She conquered your weaknesses and put you back in the game / of Living
Like that last prayer from Samson
You can now knock down pillars that make a mockery of you
cause she just split and birthed you a path where you can re-live all you didn’t have
and be born again/get it?
Wash your hands and face with the placenta
cause afterbirth/ she snatched the puppy out of love and said,
“now you need to get your shit together.”
“A Word with You Please” – Nikki Skies
“Let’s go ahead and be, Betty and Malcolm to infinity
not boo and nigga to never,
Me Ruby Dee and you be my Ossie!”
– excerpt from the poem Make We by Nikki Skies
They existed before we could quit. Before we began to measure faith. And I don’t know what their arguments were about! I don’t know if they ever went to bed mad at one another! But I can’t find an article of them speaking ill of the other or talking about giving up.
I see a complete picture. It’s like they’re looking at the end. They spotted the pot of gold and this is the best poker face they could deliver to hide their joy! I imagine this picture is after the blessings of their families for them to unite. After he promised her family he would now be the provider. This is after she agreed what he would bring to the table would be enough.
Perhaps this is before Malcolm X began to rise. This is a still when our antiques were their current treasures. This is a still of the black arts movement! If you stare long enough Ossie begins to sweat and pulse points on Ruby Dee’s neck palpitate subtly.
They look like they are ready to conquer the world.
They look like they will create their way out of any situation.
They look like a purposed love.
and I stand on their shoulders.
Ossie Davis and Rube Dee
We have to take back the trees.
Arouse the hyenas to distract the thunder so we can scratch our backs on the blades of grass.
Rub baby powder on the chest of slumber so they can dream pure. Denounce titles and all this other foolery you have adopted to be our family structure.
That silence is not mine! I am the threatening crashes of waves you belittled to sand. Because… because I believed them too. I bought the lemonade recipes and choreographed a dance to sour times. Framed my “S” shirt for company to count the stripes I’ve endured and marvel at brown brave. Outside of ourselves we have once again been led to puppetry. And I hate you too.
This is not us. There is no book. Only 81 of those songs are ours. Come unprepared with bread so we can dip away the excess. It is me. Re-member…
Listen to him no more. Let her voice be of distant space. We have to take back the trees, we have to take back the trees.