13 Months I Stayed Inside

Poem

Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

Still, I rise like a cicada
Armored with caution and mission,
Burrowing and nesting through
A pandemic that became a cage.
Shackling stresses and identity
Politics to titanium like nooses.

Remembered, freedoms of life and liberty
My body is beholden only to me.
It can’t be broken and discarded
to the whims of concrete and a knee.

I shed my cicada exoskeleton,
Some crushed it on sidewalks like crockery.
If they just knew what I learnt?
The knee on George’s Floyd neck
Was six degrees of generations from
The Wounded Knee Massacre.

I soar wearing my new skin,
Instinct marching to a familiar comfort;
Love a survival mechanism.
Faces unmasked. Bubbles bursting
With recognition and humanity.

Were we meant to stay covered,
To uncover who we really are?

— — — — —

Note: This poem was written in response to NPR’s challenge and prompt.“As many begin to take steps to come out on the other side of the pandemic, Morning Edition asked NPR’s audience to write a poem using Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise” as inspiration.”

You can read Kwame Alexander’s beautiful crowdsourced poem here. I was not fortunate enough to be included in this list, but I was again inspired by the heart and words of those who participated.

https://www.npr.org/2021/05/28/1000234056/i-wake-with-wonder-a-crowdsourced-poem-of-pandemic-pain-and-hope

The Sidewalk Is Covered

Poem

Photo by Yuri Vasconcelos on Unsplash

With their crushed shells
leaving whole outlines
to continue a life’s journey
to die with hope
to die far from home

seventeen years ago
if only they knew theirs would
be lives with purpose
lives that fascinate yet distilled to
spectacles of fragility

Mine is a lifespan
born to this generation
lived within the instinct of
patriarchy, defined by judgement
gender, skin, and traditions

unclothe to an arrangement
less instinctual
more command
a shell within a shell
transparent and declawed

I see them crawling 
stuck to trees, hubcaps, decks
mingling to a finality
glorious — rising
simply to be more

a cycle cemented
in perpetuity, 
wasted to grass, 
and,
concrete

Doesn’t mother nature recognize
the rubble of time and cement
and the killing fields of pavement
flourishing to cradle
more than horse-drawn carriages

get with the program, Nature
move your cyclical shenanigans
to unpaved plateaus –
leave the black tar streets
and paved alleyways to your

humanoid sons and daughters 
living and dying to time’s whim
believing they are your superior
creations, belittling your winged
children’s worth as less than.

A lifespan lengthen is not
a lifespan well lived,
lead your children with guile
to places untrod and not to
die under soles of solemnity.

A Daughter’s Heart

Acrostic Poem

Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash

And, stay home until 

Danger is no stranger, when
Autonomy is the goal
Under the simplest of conditions
Gratitude is gold
He rescued her heart
The reciprocal token bestowed
Everlasting love, hopeful
Ring of truth sealing a soul

Savoring strength, rejecting shame

Her grace solder with finality
Embrace a walk, predestine
Answering traditions banality
Resetting broken promises, 
Time halts paths of remembrances

I Am A Mother

Poem

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

I am more like me
And less like me

The world is round like me
And flat like me

I awake to morns of flooding discontent
Full to naysayers, and less to gratitude

My ego is a tidal swell
More to likes and less to comments

Hunger fortifies like scales on a bass
And less like the Sequoia’s prickly leaves

My bubble is – home
More to safety, and less to anxieties

I am the anchor of roots
Webbed tendrils to a mighty trunk

I feel the warmth of color when the day is longer
Than the darkening Nimbostratus clouds

After the skies fall apart, I mourn the flight of
Blue rain, but remain joyful of its birthing

Don’t like me because I am more like you
And less like me

Don’t see me because I am more like me
And less like you

My mind wanders, scatting and pulling
Wayward and vibing

I am more like me
And less than me

I am more like me
And less like me,

I am more like me
And more than me,

today

I Dream A World Of Peace

I dream a world

where our courage outpaces

the roar of the mighty

Mississippi

Photo by Terrance Raper on Unsplash

Where the tears of our ancestors will not run red
to 1619, birtherism, and Tulsa

A world view where the palette of our colors
are as appreciated as the rarest of colorless diamonds, 

The hues of our children are inconsequential to their longevity
As shades of green grows to a hope that their futures is more than a dream

I dream of this world where our history is your history and the
courage of the middle passage is not but a footnote

A dream of George Floyd’s mothers tears, cleansing our land,
like rain, as she looks down to bless and innoculate

I dream a prayer, of old, a first like Genesis –
an invocation of that mustard seedlike faith and fruitfulness
beseeching a god, a spirit, an ancestor, to soothe, to encourage, to lift up

Where optimism and hope and love of each other’s innate
humanness prevails – where the ‘alien other’ is only the monstrosity
we create in movies solely to entertain

I dream, in my world, when I’m old and tired, my soul will want to
depart my body in this new place where I was born and my children
will someday die

And, I will not cry to return across an ocean to my forefathers bones,
which dusted and painted the toes of their children’s long walk to slavery

Of all this, I Dream A World of peace.

Note: This poem was written in response to NPR’s challenge and prompt honoring MLK Jr.’s Birthday.
https://www.npr.org/2021/01/18/956827920/poetry-challenge-honor-mlk-by-describing-how-you-dream-a-world

Why Are We So Blah?

Maryland

We walk on the right
and pass on the left,
and drive on the right
or pass on the left.

Policies, procedures, rules –
enforcing behaviors, traditions;
robots, automatons, humans.
One foot forward,

one foot backward, gauging.
We are thirty, fifty, or
seventy-five, without our
ducks in a row;

plucked of our feathers –
of autonomy.
No deviation from
the rules.

Rule breakers go to prison –
shunned – divorce,
even worse, 
single.

Obey the unwritten rules.
The unspoken rule benefits whom?
Eating from a styrofoam plate,
or a paper plate. Misguided.

Practicing veganism,
or pescatarian,
or flexitarian,
or…ovo-vegetarian. Choices.

Why do we obey?
Safety,
fulfillment,
enlightenment.

At the end of the day, we are
just shucks discarded
like porous memories, to age and
unfulfilled desires in a graveyard of libidos.

Not courageous, or brave
or bold enough to denounce, 
disobey, or anger.
Why are we so blah?

History tells us, our ancestors
were beyond complacent.
Must the next century find
us still mired in the muck,

exploring the absurdity of
discovering our hopes and
dreams, while grasping
with open fingers, greedily,

for the all elusive
pleasure-seeking nirvana?

Must we only live for new experiences?
Why not break the rules?

The Past Isn’t Dead

Photo by Smitty on Unsplash

“Bootylicious brick body”
“You a scandalous sacrilege”
“Hot hooting damn”
“Go girl”
“You are one bad b…”

The sidewalk is my catwalk.
Then, the stares — glares, and snares.
Penetrating to cajole, confuse, and cage.

“You got it babes”
“Oh baby, you so fine”

“Well, I never…”
“Think you better than me”
“Horse face piece of …”

Inhaling. Exhaling.
Concrete stilettos shuddering.

The sidewalk ain’t my friend.
A path paved with forgotten wisdom.

Cracks filled with weeds of regret,
from curb to truncated dome.

‘Leave me alone’
‘Don’t touch me’

Shadows in my peripheral
amass to solidify –
stalking this maze without end,
calling the past to gorge on
the present.

“Ma’am, are you ok?”

“Don’t look at me.”

Quarantine and Me

I pocketed a scream.
This ‘other’ within myself

rabidly watching the news,
pacing in quarantine, and

quarreling, and silent, and
eating the honeybuns, and

the sour cream and vinegar chips,
and the pepperoni pizza bites.

Infantile steps, tracing
the perimeter of the yard –

Hurried, humbling, dignified
dreaming of six feet

apart hedges instead of stickers,
in the grocery store aisles.

Admonishing –
never to have suffered, gone hungry

or homeless, or be without.
The penance of the stay at home orders 

mangles perceptions and forfeit denials.
Put away cell phones and turn off

the television. Sing and dance, and
be unburdened into freedom.

Sleep a little more or a little less
and the winds of anxiety

will change colors and
let the Lords will be done.

Essay/Review of the novel Night by NetaQ

311 × 500

We think we know of the horrors of the Holocaust, but this first-person account is more than compelling. It captures you by the throat with such descriptive words, shatteringly normal words, that I find myself perturb and wished that the author and survivor Mr. Wiesel was not given those words by God to reveal his experiences. 

This book was highly recommended by a colleague. I was told, “you have to read Night right now.” I knew of the subject matter and decided that I was not mature enough at that time to read and not allow the narrative to overwhelm me. Now ten years later, I still feel that I am not strong enough to absorb this incredibly horrifying story. The tenacious, insidious, and slithering descriptors shook me to the core and occupied spaces within my emotions that I didn’t even know existed. 

I cried for the little boy, Elie. I cried for the mothers and fathers, boys and girls, uncles and aunties who lost their lives. I cried for the inhumane treatment and our deplorable and seemingly ongoing human condition to spread hate and fear. And, I cried for the German people and their enablers, who watched this happened under their very own their noses and their hearts were not moved and their limbs were paralyzed, and their mouths were seemingly sewn shut by their own hands, with neatly closed sutures made of primitive plant fibers and needles of wood or bone.

This historical account should live on in perpetuity. We should never be allowed to forget that in our humanness, we can love, and hug, and give life, but within our physical and emotional selves, we could also become polluted and excavate that ‘other’ part bringing forth anger, and fear, and paranoia, and hate, warping the mind and transforming us into painless apparations of ourselves, insular to our dialogue, seeds of negativity, and modes of conduct. That treacherous part of ourselves that feeds on depravity, ego, and delusions. We can become a society of erased dreams, only sated by death, lust, or greed: From human to the alien, feet running without gravity.

In his Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance speech, Mr. Wiesel said,Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices. And then I explain to him how naive we were, that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent when and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides.”

I highly recommend that everyone read Night by Elie Wiesel. Do not depend on second hand or third-hand accounts of the Holocaust or the sanitize internet snippets to understand this truth. Mr. Wiesel’s powerful and soul-piercing memories could not be written by just anyone. We escape today into the bowels of our microwave society self medicating to soothe away the negative and entertain ourselves into our bubbles of oblivion forgetting that history tends to repeat itself. 

We must never forget, for in the vestibules of our hearts, we are capable of so much more.

 

Writer In Motion – Week 0 – Brainstorming

https://images.app.goo.gl/xB7THVW38MVu5Ffj8

When I decided to participate in the WIM writing experiment, it was a daily leap of faith encouraging my inner muse to be brave and to believe in myself. I knew the prompt was coming, but could not have imagined or visualize such a beautiful setting. Moments of apprehension ensued. Can I do this? Can I write a short story of 1,000 words – reimagining, interpreting, or otherwise, the details or nuances of this picture?

My Process

The brainstorming process for me starts with that familiar feeling that takes hold of my mind and body, imagining myself becoming – another me, a character, an object, a deity, an apparition.

The image depicted with its otherworldly glow, dark and bold and shadowy greens, spectral mountain ranges, shrouded trees, undergrowth, with bursts of light white flowers – all setting the stage, illuminating a structure, against a placid skyline – intrigues the senses. 

How does it make me feel?

The emotions evoke thrills my senses. My gaze is captivated by the distant echoes of the mountains, yet my feet sink into the brush, the undergrowth, my hands caress the limbs of trees, and the satiny leaves smooth and velvety to touch. My senses parse the details.  

Do I want to be there? What would it feel like? Would it feel cold, hot, humid? Would I see only dark, gloomy, or aggrieved circumstances in a blight infested coverage? Or would it be a feast for my senses, a buffet of nature’s best courses? 

Would my ears hear the torment or laughter of the crickets, battling bullfrogs, or the mating calls of insects, musical, comparing them to the lyrical cadences of Reggae or the Beatles, or the foot-stomping Soca rhythms? 

Would my nose discern the different scents that permeate – the dank dirt, mosses with that weather-beaten rain scent, or some honeysuckle or peppermint geranium, hoarding secrets in the undergrowth.

Would I feel comfortable just standing in the rain, soaked, arms out in praise, face upturn, and welcoming the drops with tongue outstretch? 

Could I be renewed in a place such as this?

Gain energy from the elements, the purity, sanctity of this space, regain a part of myself, be nourished… or would visiting this place be the impetus to seek revenge, gather for the coming storm, sow seeds of further discontent, or depressed to diminish.

Who, What, When, Where, Why?

My characters are now taking form in my head – a couple – with problems of course – conflict – human vs. human, human vs. nature, human vs. self. A midlife crisis? This time last year I visited Canada. What about the undeniable beauty of Albany, New York. Yes! My first time passing through Albany I was astonished at the beauty of the region and how nice the people were…

Would my MC experience a rebirth, some transformation? What would they sacrifice? Ego, dignity, career? What would they gain? Love, career, ego, independence, freedoms…

Secrets – confusion. It’s all about secrets. Those we hoard believing that they are only ours to share. Secrets we do not dare share to explore. Secrets we would deny to our last breath while standing on our pedestals of shame still judging and abraiding to keep… secrets.

I love a happy ending or a satisfying ending. I cannot wait to see where this goes… all love is madness and madness is human. This is my mantra for this WIP.