There is a young
with a navy coat
giving light to a burgundy dress
sitting on an orange square.
Images stain my mind like the chocolate ice cream
that fell from its cone
and hit the pavement,
She is time
the moon of mercy
and the shadows of an opaque
unable to comprehend the connection between her
love and war.
hopes too much.
She is pregnant with delusions
and peaceful train rides to hell.
She is there and I am here
looking at my past;
seeking the familiarity,
no red lipstick,
no short hair,
or tiny wrinkles.
She is flaunting her adolescence
wearing her burgundy dress;
single with unoccupied desires,
and two muscular hands,
minus the hitting of fists
against her cheeks.
Her womb is not yet full.
She is a woman,
not yet tainted
by one second lovers
or no mother/father syndrome
in a home without heat.
She is the past.
Everything I wanna forget
but keep on embracing.
She is marriage
who carries the rain in her hips.
and riding the night winds.
She is a womangirl.
Young brown skinned
hiding in a navy coat.
Then I remember,
Her burgundy dress.
I remember that
this used to be a poem
I am no longer dancing
I am not even in between…
"Girl in Burgundy Dress" has been published in the book Brown Molasses Sunday: An Anthology of Black Women Writers, May 2015
I think I may know
about your dreams
around and around
Cuz’ like you
America was never
America to me either
I have imagined what it
would have been like if
is mines and yours
(And everyone else who looks like us)
would've been a land of freedom
or real democracy
and something besides
just a lil' girl's imagination
Oh what a world it would be
But I guess I have some of those basic dreams too
the ones that spin around and around
and kinda go nowhere
and even the ones that seem to play themselves out
and like you---- I wonder:
is there is any land where we are all free
from the emotional and physical entanglement
of a dream deferred?
Cuz’ I am too
stretched and called ugly
but like you,
I won't stop dreaming
cuz’ we never dream in vain
and if we allowed America to defer
it would really make me wonder
who is it we are dreaming for anyway?
We the people are the people who hold our own dreams
and they don't always have to be in tears or sorrows
mines are in my legs
cuz’ I'm walking with victory
So they can call me ugly
most of the time they can't say it to my face
and even if they did
my America is the dream the dreamers dreamed
and there is nothing ugly about that
"America (for Langston Hughes)" won The City College of New York, Esther Unger Poetry Prize, May 2015
I’ve been in the habit
of writing things that burn
& I imagine one line
at a time,
plus my smoldering voice
against delicate lettering,
so raw, so black, so explosive,
and the little girl,
hiding inside me
peeking out of her hefty body
wondering what kind of woman am I
kind of man loves me
and what kind of America
takes these immolation chants,
and call them freedom,
or maybe these are single mother scripts
gradually resurrected from the ash
having their way with me
my two sons aren’t born yet
and I have yet to form any good feelings
towards careless black men or boys
and so, there are always questions
and then answers
and then silence:
the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed (Exodus 3:2)
What I’m writing will not die.
Now this, you are more broken than you can understand:
like Van Gogh’s Starry Night hanging in some famous
person’s living room while their hiding in the back
closet ripping to shreds the thinness of their
heart. The war cries bob off your chest
and there are mystery noises
draining from your belly.
I’m tired of writing about you
this way and like this and
that and every thing else
that is sin and ache and the possibility
of you aimlessly in love but never getting to me.
I caught you sleeping with your mouth open last night
and I smelled the inconsistency of love and war. You can’t save
yourself or me, from you. If I don’t give up now I may never see you smile.
Who will tire from writing about me?
It happened that wisdom
was a prophetess
and her discernments bore war
where the palm trees
and man relished her fruit
and where the vertical view
and each chariot
creaked her judgment
where she spoke
between Ramah & Bethel
in the hill country of Ephraim;
a tender verdict;
a seized sanction;
a command of virtuous oaths,
stitched in the pursuit of Sisera,
where God came
and where victory
was handed to a woman
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, David Dortort Prize in Creative Writing for Non-fiction, May 2018
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