Tag Archives: #history

Missing Rifle / Missing Woman (for Harriet Tubman)

quilt2

sky readers / moon believers
before the sunrise prayers
Wisdom Born Mamas sew star, sun, earth, heart shaped
patterns on
quilts to warm babies
and free souls
hearing from the wind when to hang ’em
high on the clothes line
Before rooster crow / before master know
patterns on quilts mapped out which way to go
to wade in the water
Missing Rifle / Missing Woman.

**Dedicated to the courage of Harriet Tubman and the slaves and quakers that made quilts and hung them to slyly map the way to freedom**

quilt
quilt3
harriette tubman

from the poetry book, Pocket Honey, Wind & Hips

 

Advertisements

more than all our fingers and toes

It’s enough of us.

It’s enough / for some of us to write the voices of our past

continue the deliverance of our voices from the antiquity of Africa

document our grandmother’s old wives tales and spiritual songs from the fields

it’s enough to tell our current urban tales of survival / struggling to survive / and losses at surviving.

It’s enough of us.

It’s enough / for some to visualize and write our tomorrow’s.

like prophetic bone tossing          because you can read the temperature of the streets and the height of the water’s tide

 

Did you realize that? It’s enough of us to be re-membered.

it’s more of us than all our fingers and toes.

 

 

(this was inspired because I become bothered with: “i can’t read another slave book or see another slave movie!” “that’s what we DON’T need is another urban writer!” “now everybody is a poet.”  the survival of our literature cannot be an option.  so let there be another and another and another.  may the village judge what stays and what goes. just encourage another and…)

Freedom Summer 50 Years Later

I’m sure it related to them wanting to feel human. Or perhaps be recognized for breath. That stuff that holds shoulders high and chins parallel to horizons. Yearning for something opposite of sleeping with one eye open. The word next to God was “freedom”. If we re-member correctly, it still should be.

On the heels of so many other campaigns such as Little Rock’s desegregation of schools. After the world saw the body of Emmett Till. After the Montgomery bus boycott. After the sit-in’s in Greensboro and Nashville. After the Birmingham bombing of the 16th Street Baptist church and the infamous March on Washington. Stood Mississippi… gotdamn. The campaign known as Freedom Summer began the planning phases in February of 1964. It continued the original demonstration designed by the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee that organized a mock “Freedom Vote” to illustrate the will of Black Mississippians to vote who had a 5% voting rate for African Americans over the age of 18. (The lowest in the country.) Freedom Summer campaigned an attempt to register as many African-American voters as possible in Mississippi and also organize Freedom Houses, Freedom Schools, and resource centers in small towns throughout Mississippi to aid the local black population.

freedom summer

Continue reading Freedom Summer 50 Years Later

some days i feel like, Goddess Auset

auset

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, elaine brown

elainebrown

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 a skyscraper

laskylineblackandwhite

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)

wpid-20140302_185831.jpg

some days i feel like, attallah shabazz

attallahshabazz

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.

rural me

ruralstreets

Ors Jacques was my paternal great grandfather.  He was half African and half French/Canadian and somehow made his way down south and fell in love with my paternal great grandmother from Birmingham, Al., Willa Mae.  Together they had six children and found their way to Omaha, Nebraska where they reared them and the majority of their families still reside.  She was his second wife.

I’ve always had this strong fetter with the south and have been fascinated with the simplistic beauty of rural life.  Us city folk buy nicely crafted flower pots and arrange them for balance in our yards and porches.  We re-fresh our curio cabinets with the seasons new symmetrically cut vases and treasured memoirs from recent travels.  And we call it home.

The homes on the rural back road yards are decorated with rotary mowers that stopped in that very spot some 40 years ago and now house the annual bloom of black eyed susans in April.  A garden of fall vegetables grow in the back yard near the separated garage every year.  The porch houses coffee cans of “particularly” favorite flowers such as tulips and mums.  The chipped paint on the homes reveal their age just as the rings on an oak tree.  And then there are the songs, and sometimes screams, that command the wind.  These and the trees.  Church bakes and the lakes.  Wooded water pales and old wives tales.  I’m finding pleasure in tracing my family tree.

ruralporches

My great grandfathers’ family has been traced from Wivelsfield, England to Canada to Iowa to Alabama to Nebraska.  And it was easy to go back as far as the 1700’s to find them.  I look forward to finding when the name changed from Jacques to Jakes.  It appears to have happened somewhere from Iowa to Alabama.  Now my great grandmother… I can’t get past her mother in 1892.  Where does she come from?  Did she know?  That is why that rural part of me loves the south.  Because there is so much to learn and hear.  And imagine.  Turning the dirt is like shaking a bag of bones to tell your fortune or in most cases, explain your past.

I have a covenant to write of the south to encourage people of color to speak a resolve within themselves of not knowing where and who.  While many probably don’t even think of it, I believe this is a part of our psychological warfare that effects our mental health.  While I will continue to trace my family in England, I will also continue my love for the rural south and listen for the voices of my families names of Nash, Michaels, Browns, Clays, Curtles and Mills.