After She’s Gone

When your mother passes on,
What happens to you?
I imagine losing my breath
Forever yet
Somehow
For too many days and years my heart keeps beating when I was sure I would join her soon.

How could I go on when
My true North
My first home
My eternal home
First her womb
then her arms
Cradled me safely
Providing refuge from dangers outside.

Even from dangers within her.
Keeping me warm and fed
Growing under her watch
With her help to become who she never got to be
But somehow
All she truly was.

How do you do it?
When she never let you walk away without saying goodbye
And even when you slammed doors and
Stomped your feet she still loved and gave
Everything
Always
Even when she had no more to give because
You
You were her baby and the sound of your cries
The idea of your pain
Was too much for her to ignore.

Tell me how do you
Keep going when she won’t answer the phone
When she won’t ever braid your hair or
Tug the hem of your dress and tell you how good she used to look in dresses loke yours.
Her hands won’t dry the unending tears you shed
For her
Tears that keep coming long after the world says they should stop
How
What are you now

without this woman?

I want to ask everyone I know who moves through this world
Knowing she is not here.

I can’t stop my own tears thinking about being without

My mother

Bless her

Is the sun of my life and

I revolve around her and

No matter how far I spin out in orbit

I know she is here

I am connected

And will always be.

Maybe that is how you do it.

Know that her love

multiplied by

Your longing

are enough to cross planes

Between this world and that one

Where she still reaches you

Her love unwavering.

And when I’m not sure that this could be so

I just look at my boys who

Think I am the sun

And know for sure that

Wherever I am in this universe

This love will reach them

So powerfully

It will keep their precious hearts going

For many, many days and years

Long after mine has gone to rest.

We Are Coming

We are coming for you.
You watch CNN while checking stocks and your email.
The water in your Keurig jumps.
Vibrations.
The drums our ancestors played back home
Drums they played to guide kin to freedom
Drums and rhythms you stole from us
And called it rock n roll.
Our footsteps, collectively
Progressively
We are coming for you.

Slowly but surely,
We rise to call.
We hear the siren.
The ancestors grab us by the ankles
Like the ocean waves rushing over your feet
Propping us up on our path
To liberation.

While you fuss over perfecting your
“Heatless top knot curls”
Lip plumping lip gloss
And self-tanning creams.
Lawd.
Beer pong
Muscle tees
Muscle cars
And parent monitored bank accounts at 22.
We are coming for you.

We name our babies
Adisa and Jabari
We love them hard and unteach all that you taught us.
We raise and grow
Strong, unwavering, unapologetic black children who are tired of
500 years of whiteness
And white shit.
And if you are afraid of us,
Wait til you see them.
For we are their ancestors.
And we are coming to dismantle
Every
Fucking
Thing.

​The Jersey shore is racist as fuck. 
Though some might find the 50s and 60s era retro buildings, signage and music charming, it is a time capsule for antiblackness.
The boardwalk is full of black music and shirts with AAVE, but the shop owners are not black. The hotel owners are not black. The rental shops are not black owned. 
I’ve so far counted seven or so lawn signs that say, “We support our police because they put their lives on the line every day”.
I’ve seen a woman wearing a Blue Lives Matter shirt. 
There was a moment of silence at exactly 11:00am where everyone stopped, laid their hands across their hearts and sang the Star Spangled Banner with a recording of Kelly Pickler. It felt like a twilight zone, like a sci-fi flick where all the people are oblivious to their programming. (Check your calendar, this is not an American holiday weekend.)
And all of this boils down to me feeling uncomfortable as fuck. 
I came here because where the ocean meets the land is where the energy from my ancestors is strongest. I think a lot about them there. I feel most peaceful and powerful there. So I guess its fitting that white American fuckery lies just beyond where my ancestors speak to me. They hold me close and fill me with enough strength and power to wade through.

Amends to An Afro

Dear Hair,

I think that one of the steps of a 12 step program is to make amends to those who were on the receiving end of your wrongdoings. So here I am, writing a letter to my hair.

It’s been 11 years since a chemical straightener has been applied to you. The last decade with you has been an incredibly liberating journey of self-love, self-pride, and self-discovery. I’m sorry for all of the abuse I’ve dealt out.

I’m sorry for hating you. I’m sorry that when I was six I begged and begged my mom to throw a perm on you and fully expecting you to stretch to long lengths. I’m sorry that a year later, when I contracted ringworm and lost 60% of my hair, I begged her again to perm my hair because being bald AND nappy would just make my life even more miserable.

I apologize for tying you to my scalp with synthetic hair. I know the plastic strangled you, made it hard for you to absorb what little moisturizer I applied to you.

I’m sorry for shaming you and wishing I had long, water and brush slick hair like my sister. I’m sorry I didn’t appreciate you for you.

I’m sorry for tying the same tired weave to you week after week in middle school. I’m also sorry about that time when some asshole turned off the lights in the locker room in 7th grade and snatched a bit of you from my scalp.

I want to apologize to you for blow drying you to death. No, I really, really apologize for applying blow dryers and combing through the most tightly coiled parts of you with a fine-tooth comb attached to a searing hot blow dryer I’m sorry to have not respected you and to have tried to forcefully separate you from your kin.

I am sorry.

I celebrate you today.  I am proud of the growth that we have made. You’ve taught me how to love myself and to love you. I am grateful that you have shown me how beautiful you can be when I just leave you alone.

I thank you.

Thank you for showing me how to love myself and my hair and for teaching me how to love you and to love and to help other women love themselves and the hair on their heads. I also think back when I see bits of you on the head of my son. In the event that he or a child I might have in the future, has hair like mine I hope to help them having self-love and awareness of the divineness of kinky coiled hair and that they won’t find themselves someday writing a letter of apology to their hair.

Love you.

Me

Men Are Brothers Wherever They Go

A woman stood near the door on a train.
Full figured
Pink dress.
A man stood opposite of her.

She stood, waiting as the train chugged along.
She stood, beside me, as I sat.

He called to her.
Asked her name.
Told her his.
Robert.

You fine, you know.
I like your shoes, you know.
Can I get your number?

I’m married.

Tell your husband I love you
Just from the look of you, I love you.
If you ain’t have him, you’d like me more than him.
Tell your husband I love you.

I sat next to her.
I wanted to tap her warm brown hand
Wrapped around the pole for stability
Ask her, “you okay, sis?”
But I was scared.
Frozen to silence
That somehow me asking if she was okay
Would make me not okay
That he would be threatened
By our sisterhood
And hurt us both.

So I said nothing.
She pretended she couldn’t hear him
His words
His comments about her body
And her husband

His name was Robert
And I let him take our sisterhood.

He exited the train.
I saw a man sitting behind where he had stood
Who heard the whole thing
And chuckled at the one-sided exchange.
He found humor in her discomfort.

Men are brothers wherever they go.

Forgiveness

I am tired of black women being asked
Or expected to forgive.
I am tired of black women crying over their
Boyfriends husbands baby daddies
Partners
Girlfriends wives
Sons daughters
Brothers sisters
Whose beauty and resilience and strength
Incites fear in those who pale in comparison.
We are always left to pick up the pieces
Left holding baskets full of sadness and pain
Otherwise as empty as the souls of those who
Won’t
Stop
Snatching
Us.
From arms
From wombs
From lands
From the living.
Left to clean up
Shattered glass
Pools of blood
Broken spirits
Fractured communities
And wiping the wet cheeks of children who have questions we can’t answer.
Full of pain and regret
And still asked to give.
We give our flesh
Blood
Tears
Sweat
Dignity
We give our children.
And you want forgiveness too?

Failure

I can’t save you.
I grew you
Fed you
Taught you
Loved you
Protected you from
The neighbor’s dog
Cars in parking lots
By locking doors
Putting scissors up high and behind closed doors
Locking medicine cabinets
And I cannot save you.

My love is not enough.
My passion is not enough.
My fear and anger
Are not enough.
My hands are tied.
I scream to you
To stay safe
To remember what I’ve taught you
But there is nothing that
Either of us can do
When your fate rests in someone else’s hands
And how kind and merciful they chose to be
With the life I gave you.