Some little girls, with plaits and blemishes, cook rice and jerked chicken, as the heat crawls down their spine, in the shack. They wipe tears of beach water and vulnerability from their walls of sacrifice. They eat dinner, wishing they had a T.V. or mum, or dad, to tell them things will get better: one day. They stroke photos of their mummies, gone to big cities. Mummies who send money every month to buy food and pay the rent. Mummies who never call.
Mother I need, mother I need, mother I need your blackness now as the august earth needs rain.
Some little girls wear the pretty dresses their mummies send by mail. The dresses tarnished with the labor of ungrateful children, but because the first world’s demand for service workers draws mothers from a variety of developing countries often to care for other people’s children their mummies go. Their mummies care for children that will one day forget them, but “if a man don’t work he can’t eat” and that goes for mummies too. So their mummies work hard, underpaid and poorly treated. Their mummies will be ill with resentment, just like some little girls sitting on the porch holding onto silhouettes of their mummies. The nostalgia is captured in the barrels sent back home, with the dresses, the food, the toiletries, and the shoes. Some little girls never forget the shoes.
The doorbell rings and some little girls welcome familiar faces, drowning in Obsession by Calvin Klein. Damaged portals, who secretly stare at them through the window. “Mah sista ain’t ‘ome” some little girls say. But these faces enter in any way. They know that there are some little girls who are unkempt, yet ripe, like the peaches they enjoy after work. “I’ll wait fa she”, these faces reply, grinning. Then, some little girls, naïve and unaware walk the malicious grins to the sofa, so that they can unbutton their bodies on land that’s never been touched. They forbid screaming, and take the loneliness of their victims and mold it into fear. Some little girls lose their aspirations in the chapped of these lips and foreign anatomy. They bleed their youth as the faces say, “tings will get betta: one dey”. And as some little girl’s have had their virtues tainted, they will be more vacant than the past. They will try to force their miniature hands over the bruises, but they will be too ambitious in their reaching.
This is an excerpt from the lyrical essay titled: "Little Girls What Has Ruined You?", which won The City College of New York 2018 David Dortort Prize in Creative Writing for Non-fiction.
Tonight I wonder if God is here:
in the moonlight
scaling the walls of mold
burning this plastic mattress
in the same fire He used
to speak to Moses
I wonder if He can hear the agony
of being un-fleshed
the ripping of the sky;
exposing wounds of earth
upon my ever questionable salvation
& in the morning I wonder if He will speak:
attuned to the agony
that lies beneath my brittle faith
where the anticipation of survival
tries to cross my beating heart
it’s not as easy
as you would think,
to unstitch oneself
of your own desires.
like when you want to call
about their sorrow,
too caught up
how you want to say something
to your neighbor
about their apparent
suffering with your own
your ice cream is melting
and if you don’t move quickly
you may ruin your new shoes.
you begin to listen
to the paint chipping off the walls
& you’re content
& attached to yourself;
the only one that matters anyway
to unravel yourself from you
but you can’t
& you won’t
& there is nothing
that will make you
About this mouth
but is well aware
death is inevitable.
That mouth that
licks the thick sweet syrup
off your lips,
and screams “I need you”
as it welcomes a hearty
The smutty lipstongue,
that articulates unfinished secrets.
The labial vehicle
that sleep talks,
sings Psalm 91
in a barbaric tongue,
and burns glass bodies.
This mouth; the treacherous sword,
is oral in its performance
of raw entertainment.
Muzzle meter, exotic verbalizer,
filthy, pretty, incinerating torch.
These weighty sacred jaws
is a giftcurse; won’t stop
spilling vocabulary vomit.
It wrecks me.
It wrecks me.
It wrecks me.
"Untitled5" has been published by The Write Launch, in Poetry Issue five, September 2017
Maybe, we all got on the flight to America;
our sister and I shared the window seat;
you sat on mummy's lap
and then she left us.
Maybe, you will have your first birthday in Apt 5A.
Cake, ice cream and our sister’s cries
balanced on the rooftop of grandma’s bad temper.
Then, we grow up sitting stone faced on top of the blue velvet sofa,
silent talking, believing’: “mum’s coming back.”
We brave the brown leather straps; eat Dinty Moore beef stew,
and read stories about siblings who were abandoned
but still humane enough to leave bread for the birds.
I can see us all now; checks stamped to our foreheads,
overweight and voiceless;
Maybe we will love each other?
Subsequently, mum will return with war stories
by courtesy of her husband who proudly smashes her face against the seasons.
But then again, you can always pretend it never happened;
slip out of mummy’s lap,
cry on the white beach of Barbados, pick up your packages from the Mail service,
eat Avocados out of your backyard
and write Christmas cards to the 17-year-old that birthed you…
"Maybe" has been published by Free Library of the Internet Void, June 2018
I dare you to leave.
Un-hold my hand
and pack your regrets
in the black bag with yellow lining
and remnants of my heart.
The kids will watch
and I will cry uncontrollably
in the corner
where the cup
of very black
and strong coffee
just barely missed your head.
I am not yours.
This life is not ours.
I cannot compete
with the beauty of your secrets.
Take your toothbrush
and don’t forget:
This is not a love thing.
This is not a revolution.
This is us…
It’s so hard to be myself with you,
combing the bookstore
excited about the lyrics of
Kafka, Baldwin and Alvarez,
knowing you want me to hurry
and get back home
to where you can be disappointed with the dinner
and my sadness.
you will sit in your chair and forget
to wash the dishes,
forget to comb your hair,
forget to return calls,
and forget that once I was part of
the things that made you happy
Sometimes in between burning the rice
And being sad,
I forget that
"I love you as certain dark things are to be loved
in secret, between the shadow and the soul"
I will always love you…
Because you appeared just when
the books collapsed,
stood at the table
the top layer of my woman hood,
and the frail points of every angle
I have formed.
I took you in,
biting your flesh ‘til the ugly parts showed.
You liked it.
We read the pages of life,
colored faces with no identities;
masculine versus feminine
and broken unions
swept under the dust.
My legs warned you.
I will not break here.
So, I fold you in my creases and save you for later.
What are we doing?
How did it come to this?
I’m tearing the pages from the books
and reading the stories in breaths.
The light is on
and mahogany arms grab you,
to where I can’t reach.
You told mommy you hated her today,
but I knew
that was a lie.
You held that Heineken bottle tightly,
like your nephew
clinging to his favorite blanket.
Your sturdy hands were shaking and I witnessed the privacy of your afflictions in your dialect
and sweaty forehead.
There is a story to tell,
I promise one day I will tell the world that all the odds were against you
and that Barbados raised you alone.
I will not leave out the flawlessness of your swaying body
against Kartel tunes
or the cod fish and rice with lentils
in the winter.
The liability isn’t all yours.
I know the pain rides you.
But we are loners, brother.
We live in a land where we must "honor thy mother and thy father"
or we won't live long enough to see our tears trace the city like bridges.
There are no morals to your story,
only a restricted beginning
forging an appetite for women
But, you are not the “Prodigal Son”
you are a father and brother,
rising before day
to iron your clothes
and begin your hustle,
because “the early bird catches the worm”
and you are destined to fly above lifeless expectations
speaking the language of the stars.
You were never an illusion, or fiasco,
you have not failed.
When you spoke to mommy today,
those lies didn’t bandage my revelations.
You wanted to be held,
you drank your Heineken and sat down.
Mommy, sobbed in the corner
and I smoked a cigarette at the table,
as our sister was yelling something about telling you to leave,
while our children were asleep in the back room.
Who will tell your story?
There are Bajan dreams dying
on the inside of a man.
There are remnants of his nightmares
stirring his nostalgic sorrows.
Marijuana stained secrets
relating to his
insensible one-night stands
and there are people walking by,
We are loners, brother.
We rip the flesh off bones of truth;
There are hills in our backs and jungles in our souls.
We walk on frayed ankles,
born as Bajan pariahs
and American misfits;
we scream quietly.
We know no mothers
or the love that comes in between.
No one understands us.
I sung a black girl’s song today,
I will tell your story.
"We Are Loners (for my brother)" has been published by The Write Launch in Poetry Issue five, September 2017
These are my hands
And how it will come-
if it will
And when it will leave-
when it does.
and I have never been certain
about what these hands could do
if they could scorch
those who have broken my heart
if they could nurture what’s been left
unopened in me
if they would tell my secrets…