love in saturn

afrosiswaking into the gray mornings

of many changes

i find myself going back to my family’s home

sitting on my moms front porch

with my thoughts

as I often did as a kid

listening to the birds nestling

into the many trees that lined my street

these meditative moments

offered much peace

from a home of loudness

and movement

violent at times

a home too busy surviving

to make room for feelings

in all their complexity

feelings molded from complex conditions

not of our own making

 

but there was laughter too

beneath the clouds of smoke and pain

and I find myself sitting with those

feelings and experiences now

 

thinking of the warmth

of my mothers hands braiding my hair

as I sit between her knees

precious moments of

vulnerability filled with ease

my mothers hands are magic

that’s what I always thought

and still do

creating and cultivating

life out of concrete

growing flowers in our fears

my mother taught me

you have to be

more than enough

 

thinking about my fathers stories

words drenched in whiskey

spoken late into the night

attempts at connection

that’s hard to hold some times

but my father

my father helped me understand

the weight of history

in our peoples hands

he would sing out

“you can’t know where you’re going

till you know where you been”

 

we are walking in a continuum

and it makes me think

of the many spirits who made me

cells dust particles light

stars illuminating the universe

we are small but many

and worth much more than we are taught.

 

my grandmother told me

that she use to tell her kids

once they were grown

to go outside wherever they were

and look at the moon at the same time she did

and then they would stay connected.

 

Our people have always looked to the universe for connection

 

but sometimes

sometimes I struggle

between these places of longing and belonging

holding my heart and the openings left within it

from lovers who came and went

and it’s not so much the lovers i miss

as much as it’s the routine of love

and the ways we depend on others to provide

what we forget is already within us

our blood

that link to our ancestors

 

and sometimes

sometimes

its with the splitting of things

that must come

that new paths are formed

leading me

us

to new faces and old faces

and embraces

of growing community

and lessons learned

and struggles waged

all over the diaspora

all over this earth

leading me back to myself

tender and soft

and its beautiful

and the people

are beautiful

in our many releases and transformations

ashe.


quite a wonderful thing

flowers

and if i could spend my time

sunkissed high

by a body of water

beats in my ears

smiling at brown faces passing by

loved and loving

in these moments

well,

life wouldn’t be too bad.


thoughts for my grandfather

a very dapper Daddy Herman

a very dapper Daddy Herman

I have never known the experience of having a grandfather in your life to learn from and spend time with. My father did not know his father and my mother was estranged from hers. However, my father’s grandfather, my great grandfather, has always carried such importance in my life. His name is Herman Walder, but we call him Daddy Herman. I never knew him but I know many things about him. He was a well-known and talented jazz musician in Kansas City, a family man, and a sharp dresser. His daughter, my grandmother, says that he used to say ‘sharp like a Harlem sissy’ in regards to his fashion.  A lover of womyn and an ally to the queers. The truth is my grandfather was always down for a good time, and during the prohibition days good times were to be had at the underground jazz clubs, where musicians, queers, prostitutes, jazz lovers, and anyone looking for a party could be found. He was a charismatic person and an artist. Even though I never knew him I have been connected to him all my life. I guess it’s just something in the intuition; I feel his spirit in my own.

He has been gone for 28 years now. I’ve been thinking about him a lot today and it has felt good to meditate on his spirit, as well as my own. Been feeling preoccupied all weekend with thoughts…thoughts for my brothers who are so alienated in this world. Dehumanized as ‘criminals’. Disconnected from feelings. The legacy of our continual slavery. I think about the challenges I have experienced with trying to love my brothers. The disappointment and violence that sometimes greets this love. I think about humanizing them as I humanize myself, so that we can really embrace each other in our many selves. In honor of those feelings and my grandfather I wanted to include a poem by the fierce and important poet Wanda Coleman. Also known as the ‘LA blues woman’. Her words always radiate with truth and power.

Much love for the ancestors.

Holding the Sidewalk Down by wanda coleman

it is an american universal peculiar to certain black men

who hang out on street corners no matter where

making signals to one another

some mysterious juju/communication

worshipping the passing of a life

that excludes them

A young Daddy Herman to the left..holding the sidewalks down

A young Daddy Herman to the left..holding the sidewalks down


slow gray mornings with yerba mate and myself are when i feel the most romantic

foto by my cosmic sister moon: http://fotosrevolutioninmotion.wordpress.com

foto by my cosmic sister moon: http://fotosrevolutioninmotion.wordpress.com

There are moments when lovers reveal parts of themselves

never revealed before

and you are hit with the sudden realization

that things aren’t always as sweet as they seem

and those late night giggles that lead to late morning kisses

are replaced with long silences

and awkward goodbyes

 

There are times when lovers reveal parts of themselves

never revealed before

that release you from old habits

daydreams where security is found

and pedestals that don’t really exist

 

and the hard feelings of disappointment

sometimes carried

are gently unpacked from the truth gained from the release

 

and truth is sweet

as love first felt


where i come from

 Choosing your own name is a righteous tradition

for black people

a movement

closer to Africa

to our ancestors.

I’ve thought about it

but I’ve always secretly liked my name.

Francis

chosen by my mother

my strength

taken from my great grandmother

whose great grandmother was a slave.

Francis

the ‘blackymore maid’

an african womyn

who rebelled against her slavery

during the transatlantic trade.

My name comes from warrior womyn

who guided large bodies of water

against currents of domination.

Freedom in their movement

in their determination to live

and I have gathered enough years on this soil

to want more than just living.

I want to feel in my whole self

what it might be like

to know love.


It’s Been awhile

It’s amazing how so much time can past

and then none at all

where familiar feelings of love and pain settle in my chest.

Mind

restless and contemplative.

You

the father I idolized and watched leave time and time again.

You

the first woman I loved but struggled to hold on to.

I am shaped by the rough contours of our relations

even during long periods of quiet

And then again

during phone conversations years later where we cry and laugh.

I still hear your spark through the crack of your aging voice

pleased to see myself in it.

I am shaped by the rough contours of our relations

even during long periods of quiet

And then again

when I see you smiling across a crowded room

beautiful in black.

You are happy now and this is how I want to remember you.

This system doesn’t teach love in a world

where young men are born without fathers

desperately searching to fill the voids with crack pipes and women

while their own children are left with the pieces.

In a world where young women are taught to take in the men

who are suppose to complete us

while we reject ourselves and each other.

We struggle to learn how to keep each other close

how to keep ourselves close.

There are times when I fear the weight of emotion collecting across time

where I fear the sound of your voice

and my own voice.

And then there are those moments when your laughter makes me whole

and time proves to be an illusion.


2 Poems

For My Mother

She bathes herself in hot water steeped in chamomile.

Flower buds float in the reservoir between

her breasts

the roundness of her belly peaks out above the water

warm and healthy.

Her hair is thin, but soft

wrapped in bright colored cloth

she is tired.

Tired of long days and dirty kitchens

and the boss’s never ending requests

‘can you stay just a little longer?’

And she is tired.

Tired of holding back the desire to rip the fake smile

off of her face and walk out of these hell kitchens

with dignity and freedom and promises never to return.

And she is tired of spending half of the day standing up

feet so swollen she can barely make it to the bus stop

joint in hand

the green calms her racing mind and aching body

preparing her for the next shift at home

where her babies yearn for her

because daddy is not home

and never is.

She heats up large pots of water to bathe her children in

and wraps them in blankets and holds them tight against her chest

hoping they can feel her love

and thoughts of reassurance that everything will be ok.

She is tired.

She sits in bath water soaking her muscles and rubbing lotion

into the cracks of her fingers

trying to find the strength to start all over the next day

and the next

and the next.

She wraps her life dreams away in tiny boxes for her children

and hopes they will understand

that this world never meant for her to survive.

And her daily living offers glimpses into

revolutionary dreams deferred.

Hot Pavement
(For My Father)

Hot pavement aroma fills the thick summer air

as children laugh and shriek.

Hose water sprayed into the black streets to

cool the ground and their burnt feet.

Oldies play out car windows

‘hot fun in the summertime…’

A little girl patiently waits on porch steps

for a father who rarely comes.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

She ask’s

Father why don’t you hoop with me anymore?

Why you so skinny?

Why you bring that woman around when mama isn’t here?

A child’s inquiries become a child’s panic screams

father why you touch mama like that?

Why do you leave?

Why do you always leave?

Little girl screams become a young woman’s strength

no longer asking why you leave

but asking you to leave.

Don’t come around this house you didn’t build

you think the simple act of ejaculating into a woman is fatherhood?

You think spontaneous visits and sports games

makes up for years of pain, neglect and confusion?

The seasons have changed

and the hot pavement cracks with the growing pains of

a little girl becoming a woman.

Learning not to fear the unknown

or herself.


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