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…
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 my grandmother)
You think about how you needed that one thing to work &
come together, gadget by gadget, to figure out, how it will possess a gravity
of its own.
& then you seem to expect it to blend into the “unrealistic” expectations
you keep at the back of your throat, you know, the ones you refuse to say
aloud because you know no one is listening.
& then you get it.
The thing you’ve been waiting for is happening somewhere else
& you won’t be able to see it. It’s approaching what you need without you,
&you’ve lost the full use of your reasoning mind; the only part of you
that was whole.
& so you decide to pretend you’re not watching although
it’s quite hard not see everything even when you’re eyes are closed,
and if only it didn’t hurt so bad every time you blinked maybe
you could have rearranged the gadgets in functioning order,
no one is listening…