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…
A stench of rubbing alcohol
mixed with the aroma of indifference
He isn’t old,
married but never knew love,
tugging at his waist and ankles
but never a father.
Get up! Mr. Fool!
Your legs may be broken
but your heart continues to resonate.
Get up! Show Harlem
that you are a man…
"Father" has been published in the book Brown Molasses Sunday: An Anthology of Black Women Writers, May 2015
you’re gonna walk into this house,
and I won’t be here.
I would’ve taken all the pictures
off the walls,
and you’ll sit down and say,
“Damn I miss her.”
You will start to familiarize yourself
with my thickness in your nostrils,
and my brown skin wrapped tightly
‘round your butterscotch,
and you will kick yourself in the ass,
for not noticing me much at all.
Your hands won’t want to construct,
nor your tongue the desire to taste
and while I’m moving around
some place in a poem,
you will take both your shoes off,
and want to go find me.
the way I see it is
I won’t be available
and this situation won’t need my tears,
you’ll stop and say:
“Damn I miss her”
and then you’ll notice,
you’ve been trapped,
gritty, reckless, graffiti-colored nomad,
surfing the subway in kaleidoscope dreams,
always expecting more, giving less,
to women and baby boys
who took your face,
and examined your edges.
My lips won’t reach for you,
you’ll just sit down and say,
“Damn, I miss her”
tugging on their Levi’s
with public atrocities.
They stay awake
each summer night
boiling in mistakes;
clinging to opaque secrets
hanging in their windows.
of being one step
closer to no where;
from the hotel rooms fuming
showers of cold water,
and vile faces void of sentiment.
empty of support,
cover their faces in meetings that
assassinate their character.
Conferences held to question
whether they know
which man fathered their children.
I cling to them.
We remind ourselves
of Jesus’s return.
We tell ourselves
He will carry us,
up the dusty four floor walkup.
What will you do when you get out?
And I answer: take a bubble bath, while my son sleeps in a bed of his own.
"Privacy" has been published by PRONG & POSY Fall 2017
Don't cry. Don't scream. Don't get angry.
You’re wrinkling your shirt.
Have a nice day; don't miss the bus.
Have lunch, with salmon and rice and strength.
No yelling. No calling. Spend the night alone.
Don't talk too much. Give all you got; get nothing back
and forth through seasons and holidays.
I get it now.
Don't smirk. Don't breathe. Don't be sad, or happy.
Just exist. Don't tell anyone. Hold it in. Wait.
Don't be you. Fall in between statistical hysteria.
Eat until overstuffed. Watch TV. Go to bed. Raise children.
Don't feel or know anything. Get dressed.
Don't wrinkle your shirt.
Give them a kiss; accept their betrayal and lies,
‘cuz life lies in between realities.
Comb your hair. Wash the dishes. Buy groceries. Hate vegetables
and bastards from hotels. Don't cry. Don't scream. Love your mother
and father. Miss your sister. Feed your children, kiss their cheeks
and remind them of God and Africa.
Wear red lipstick.
Don't cry. Don't scream and remember;
Don’t wrinkle your shirt.
"Don't Wrinkle Your Shirt" is part of a lyrical essay titled: "Little Girls, What Has Ruined You"
and grandma staying up
to talk to silhouettes,
tall, dark and ugly.
Harlem fathered me
mothered my anxiety
and without loving arms
and afternoon snacks
Harlem took my innocence
and left me
than my past.
Harlem stood beside
all I didn’t know
and got me familiar
with Avenue after Avenue
Smells of failure
and botched healings,
there were no recoveries,
no cream colored faces,
dying with the music
and abandoned babies
left to be taken care of by grandmothers
missing their dark lovers/fighters
and misplaced daughters
who pierced the flesh
with white teeth
and ruined hands
"Harlem" has been published by Moko Caribbean Arts and Letters July 2016 Issue 9
For this lust,
rocking me tonight,
catching each drop of sweat.
giving me unease
in the apprehensive purple;
front seat of your mind,
perfume stampeding the air:
“te quiero ahora”
and we are collectibles,
evading the dust,
in this small place,
this funroom, this foreign exchange
where there are always scars:
“hold me papi”,
rock the sweat of summer in my thighs,
sway this beat:
“Baila dentro de mi”
Let the world see us
Fight for what makes you victorious,
Fight for what makes you swim,
Fight for what’s full and ripe.
or “what do you want to be when you grow up?” stories,
just grandma trembling,
seasoned with dilemmas,
looking for love and pain, in New York City.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
"Sisters (for Melissa)" has been published by Moko Caribbean Arts and Letters July 2016 Issue 9
a book bag; universally colored, tucked inside an orange jumpsuit, arranged as a jacket to metal doors, and bed bugs chained to delinquents. The souls of hungry men, guilty or innocent, are built together with frantic eyes, caught on the edge of paper-thin cots,
kill beat kill.
This is the day lonely eyes are seized, ensnared on an island in a room intangible but authentic with blueblack feelings and disarmed manhood on suicide watch.
I take the #42 bus to BCC and wonder if we have ever smoothed the edges of our faces against books and noise.
I know you.
You are tongues of sanity, urban sidewalks littered with segregation and televisions that avoid speaking our truths. You are mangled atrocities, an unchecked mailbox, a registered voter, left in a facility of shame. And as I pray, I can’t hold you, I can’t capture your beginnings.
A book bag, an orange jumpsuit, a language of injustice, a memory of valor. Be still now and
"For Kalief" has been published by The Write Launch in Poetry Issue five, September 2017