if i could spit a never-ending poem,
i would speak of black womanhood–
of a little girl whose dark-skinned father
looked at his dark-skinned seed and told her
that there’s a secret to erasing their skin:
“Here, wear this cream and the blackness will go away.
Boys will like you more and jobs will open doors
and people will let you in with smiles.”
i would speak of that little girl-child,
how she listened to her father
and observed her light-skinned, beautiful mother
and rubbed whiteness on her skin,
how lightness did not come,
but instead painful bumps and itchy rash
and tears in the mirror and her dad who said,
“Maybe that one was too strong. I will get you a gentler one.”
the girl who shook her head “No”
and accepted her darker fate…
i would speak of that girl
who grew up with big titty-denial,
of the time her best friend pulled her to the side,
looked her in the eye
and told her “Your bra is too small.”
the girl who prayed and prayed for pubic hairs to grow,
who searched her mom’s medicinal herb books
for a recipe to start menses.
“Maybe if I drink a tea or take a vitamin,
blood will come and I’ll be a woman.”
blood came in its time
and so did boys
who ignored her face and got lost in her breasts.
as years went on,
they got lost in her booty, her hips.
more years went on
and they got lost in her smile, her eyes, her skin.
more years went on
and they got lost in her hair.
more years went on and they got lost in her “no”
that was too quiet.
i would speak of her insecurities
that helped men mold her like clay
into a woman who appeared strong with a mean face,
but crumbled like wet sand castles upon touch;
a woman who craved touch so much
that it hurt her
so she exchanged touch for God,
then back for touch,
then back for God,
then back for touch,
then traded it back for God,
and then back for touch,
and then back for more touch,
and then back for touch,
and then who was God?
there was only touch.
and then touch got too much
and then what was God?
and then touch fucked her up
and then where was God?
i mean “Who is God?”
i mean “What is God?”
i mean…”There is God!”
“Here is God!”
“Wait…where is God?”
i would speak of her questions
that rolled on and on,
her definitions that changed,
and how she got different,
but stayed the same.
if i could spit a never-ending poem,
i would speak of black womanhood,
of my own stories,
those of my sisters
and all the things we’ve seen,
felt, loved, cried over, laughed about,
of moments where death wasn’t near enough,
and then those times where love filled us up
but i’m afraid
time just isn’t enough,
our stories are too much,
my voice would dry up.
is it me…or did the boys not really notice me
until i woke up one day
and had a big ol’ booty?
this booty redefined me,
took on a personality all her own,
had me thinkin i was grown
from all the words thrown at me
as a result of my popular anomaly.
once, a man “hee-hawed” as he walked behind me
until i used my small hands to cover up my “donkey”.
often called “phat” even though i was skinny
had me feeling like i was living a double life–
sexy on the outside, shy on the inside;
woman with curves that seduce and scream “Sex me!”
when really, i was just a little girl whispering:
“Protect me…Respect me…That’s not me.”
but this booty
has expanded to be more than just a distant relative.
i have grown to love her,
the sister i got from my Nigerian mother.
now both of us smile when necks turn to admire us
or when girls ask if we know any butt exercises
or when every pair of jeans we try on that fits our waist
can’t make it past all of this
because blessed we are
and forever we will be–
me, the young woman,
and my sister–
i want you to love me,
not in that agape unconditional love type way,
but that “please baby please baby please” type way,
that get on your knees and pray
that God answers and allows us
to cross paths again type way,
that you remember my birthday
without Facebook or Myspace type way.
i want to be the last thought on your mind before you sleep
and that hot, sexy dream that wakes you
to make you change your sheets.
i want you to love me,
to wanna meet my mama, my daddy,
my siblings, friends, teachers, coworkers, distant cousins,
neighbors, acquaintances and fellow students,
not so you can stalk me,
but possibly learn how to have an influence
on my life so that one day,
you’ll be in that repertoire of
people to meet.
i want you to love me past my body
and baby, i know it’s banging
and you want to bang me
but here’s a thought–
make love to my insecurities and fears;
thrust your love deep inside to make me cum so hard
that they shake and disappear.
make my soul and future curl so tight
that if this is wrong,
i don’t wanna be right
and if this is dark,
then God shouldn’t let there be light
and because you always make my day,
i never want it to be night.
i don’t even know who you are yet
but i want you to love me,
to confirm that love lasts and exists
outside of stories and movies.
show me the positive side of life
that accompanies love
and maybe you’ll reaffirm my faith
with the Lord above
if i can see right before my eyes
just what it is that He does
and be able once more in my life
to let go
and let love.
i remember the day when
one of my theatre teachers proclaimed
in a his usual loud, harsh yell of a voice:
“You’re all prostitutes!”
i took it as a joke,
cracked up about it
like the daily comics
but now it’s no longer funny
as i try to figure out
how to use my art
to make money.
am i selling my body?
maximizing my curves for that role of a vixen
or encouraging my unhealthy addictions
for “character research”
so that on that day
when i have to be vulgar and curse,
it’ll come out naturally like it’s been with me
am i offering blow jobs
in the form of words
accompanied by sweet smiles and mediocre verse?
do i even know my self worth?
i shudder at the thought of becoming a whore,
at throwing my talent out
for whatever it gets me
because i’ve seen so-called artists do so
and believe me,
one particular street poet,
seeing my afro and dark skin got me
by being conscious when he first met me,
spittin’ lines about the black man’s plight
and how America don’t really treat her citizens right
but after he caught my eye,
he would whisper to me poetry about sexual fantasies,
paint rhythmic pictures of what he wanted to do to my body
and how his tongue would make my hips dance
and ultimately tried to use his art
just to get in my pants.
i refuse to be a trick to an artist’s self-seeking antics
and can’t muster giving myself up
on a dirty squeaky mattress
or walk the streets at night
for the purpose of filling my veins
with fortune and fame.
so i’ll hang on tight to my goods
and respect what i do
and die before i can be labeled
we are fake lovers,
spinning on a broken record
that’s our jam
that causes us to dance
when we jump out of our crazy,
lonely lives to listen
to each other breathe into phone receivers
and wish for more.
we had more, baby.
we were Bonnie and Clyde
speeding down a highway
where reality chased
and there was no damn way
we were stepping on the brakes.
we were the Red Sea before
Moses lifted his staff to separate,
but now we live on two different sides–
there is dry land in between the wetness
that once lived in laughter that birthed tears
and bodies that danced in sheets without any cares
in the world but which one of us
will cum first.
“us” had come to an end
with no satisfaction
and now i wish i could wrap back then
in saran wrap or a silk napkin
and save the memories for when i am hungry.
i would eat them crumb by crumb for every night
i have to sleep alone with no one
or watch romantic movies
and end up sentimental and crying
or ponder the reasons
why love always seems to be dying
and dine on the times
when you and me were “we” thriving.
our love was alive like
Lazarus after Jesus wept
and we took steps
on a spiraling staircase that never seemed to end
until we tried to climb to future heights
and fell down to hell.
now shit is fire and i think you’re a liar
but even though you burned me
you’re still the best i’ve seen
with my near-sighted eyes
and i wish i could feel once more what we had.
and i wish we didn’t move so fast
from strangers to lovers to soul mates
to exes to strangers
to this phase
of sporadic late night phone calls
and empty promises
and reminiscing of good night kissing
instead of hanging up with uncertainty
of when we’ll speak again.
i miss my friend.
you say that you enjoy my presence in your life,
but for some reason, i can’t figure out why
you only wanna see me
i prefer nice lunches
and holding hands in the street
but you seem more into
groping hands on my curves
at hours when most people sleep.
i don’t get it–
i look at myself in the mirror
and see pretty staring back at me
but when you stare at me,
all you see is pussy.
i think you need glasses maybe,
bifocals so you can experience more than one type of sight,
so you can really see clearly that my heart is light,
my mind is bright,
and that i am too full of treasures
to only be desired
am i mad?
why do you ask?
think i am
but not mad,
just a little
in the head.
what really happened?
went on a couple dates
and now i’m
but it’s summer.
why am i so cold?
it’s hot in here
but i’m shivering.
i can’t believe
what just took place.
you invaded my space,
took advantage of my weakness and forced yourself upon me
like i was a pair of tight shoes
or a seat on a crowded bus.
you squeezed into my crevices and corners
and i’m sitting here cold
cuz i thought
you were a gentleman.
i do it because
i have lives inside of me
that would commit suicide if they couldn’t get out.
their stories scream out whenever i come out from backstage
and the stage is a second home
that i don’t get to visit all the time,
but every time i have a chance to come back,
the space is all mine.
i do it because
i refuse to live a normal life,
love the excitement and unpredictability that accompanies
the lack of sensibility that comes from choosing to be
i do it because
it beats any buzz, high, or debaucherous night,
puts shame to the best sex i’ve ever had in my life,
and takes control of intangibles like…
making it flow so smoothly that i think i just might
slide through reality and end up in a place i’ve never dreamed.
i love performing!
it’s become a part of me like my skin:
smooth and glowing in summers,
sometimes rough and crackly in the winter
but always an indicator
of what is inside of me
and inside of me
is an artist who has to speak.
inside of me
is a woman whose destiny
is to transform, refuse to conform,
and above all things,
i have a secret, but don’t tell nobody.
i want you to…
maybe it was the spark in your eye
or the fact that night was crawling upon us,
tickling the side of my neck,
but as i glanced at you,
i wished i could be honest
and reach over and speak to you
with my lip language
to find out if you were fluent.
but maybe you know more than me.
open up your classroom and i’ll be your student,
the one who knows everything and nothing
at the same time.
i will be first in line
to register for your class and sit in the front
every Monday thru Friday
and pass notes with drawn hearts connecting
your name and my name
and raise my hand always
so you can look my way.
i have a secret, but don’t tell nobody.
those who know me well know
that i don’t like to be controlled
or told what to do,
but i want you to…
do with me what you wish to
as long as i get to…
connect my sense of touch
with the mental satisfaction you’ve thus
provided so far because
you’ve pulled my desire like a shoe string
and i’m secretly hoping
that the next time i see you,
you’ll see through
what my eyes try to hide
and honor me for just one time
and promise that this secret
will be yours and mine
and our lips combined
my big sis who i admire
laughingly told me that she’s thankful
God married her off early
because truth be told,
if He didn’t, she would be
a hoe and a half.
then i laughingly, but honestly told her
that it’s better God didn’t marry me off early
because if He did, i would be
a headache and a half.
and not only that, but also
i’m halfway ashamed to admit that,
to confess that i still view life as a candy store
and every day my tastes change:
sometimes i want chocolate, lots of it….
smooth, rich and soft.
the kind so delicious
that i let it melt in my hands on purpose
so i can lick it off
my fingers then let it live on
right before i lay down to sleep
so that when i wake up, i still taste the
flavor in the morning;
darkness so attractive and velvety and sweet
to the point that it kind of hurts my teeth
when i bite into it.
i sometimes want love so strong
that i get in fights with my dentist
because each time i visit,
i have more cavities and he keeps warning me
to slow down as to not rot my teeth
with the indulgence of one
who is just too much for me.
then other days,
i’m in the mood for bubble gum.
the kind that is yummy and fruity
when i first taste it,
but after it gets stale in a little while,
i can without reservation
just spit it out
and unwrap a new piece.
no commitment because each taste
is just a piece
of a sequence of satisfaction
ruled by the cravings of me.
i can hang on a little longer than necessary
if i want
or discard the love i have chewed up
and not even have to listen
when he is asking
why our love has dried up.
i want my love to be sweet and colorful,
sugary and tangy,
different with every taste.
so the idea of marriage at this time
sounds like kind of a waste.
i do not by any means
view this type of union
as absurd or senseless
for one day, i want to be a Mrs.
rather than an M-I-S-S
but as i grow to know me,
i see that less and less
do i want to be held down
by having the same dessert daily.
i want love to entertain me
like a court jester where i am the queen
who can yell “Off with his head!”
whenever the excitement is dead.
i am selfish and a little gluttonous,
kind of greedy
and hate the monotonous
but slowly, i am maturing,
hoping that i will surpass the days
when i am a little girl
with eyes bigger than her stomach
and care about my diet–
cut out the unnecessary sugar
and focus on nutrients,
feed myself on what is good for me
and only have time for what nourishes me
and treat those i encounter
rather than distractions on a counter
of a life that i have not even begun to live yet
and still have a little room
he wants to unwrap me like
because my skin reminds him
of a dessert kind of like
luxurious, smooth texture
and expensive enough
that not everyone can afford
the opportunity to touch.
just what is it about me
that causes him to look so longingly?
why does he desire me?
maybe it’s the mystery,
not knowing what surprises lie inside–
if i’m smooth and sticky-sweet like caramel
or rough and nutty like the lover from hell.
only time will tell
as he stares so hard at my wrapper
that i start to melt
and i have to remind myself
that i am the desired
and even though his sweet tooth feels like it requires
a taste, i must maintain
my posture as a sweet delicacy,
wrapped in a shiny teasing wrapper of celibacy
but still quietly
Hi everyone! Here is another video of me performing. This is my poem, “Exotic Beauty” (click here to read the poem) at an event in Washington, D.C. I did last week called “Women, Words, and Power!” (done in association with The Essential Theatre). I was one of nine female spoken word artists who performed.
I’ll warn you that the video quality isn’t great, but hey… 🙂 Enjoy!
there’s joy in being pursued.
the prey doesn’t have to convince the predator
that she is food.
i’m a fine plate
so all who are hungry
better get their minds and their lives straight
before they think about dining on me.
besides, i have too many calories
for those on intelligence diets,
am way too rich for ulcer-ridden men
to stomach me
and too damn sweet
for weak ones with cavities.
i stalk the earth,
or rather walk it simply
and my natural scent attracts
the brave ones to me.
but they can’t get too close too fast
or make too much noise,
for i’ll run off before they even muster up the voice
to express interest.
or if i stay, chances are
i’ll lose interest.
i am flighty to say the least
in this forest of wild beasts,
loving the attention fully,
but still doing me…
i am beautiful prey parading past predator’s territory
without getting painfully pounced upon
until that wild, brave one
who is strong and smart enough
finds his target in just enough
time to conquer me.
he will enjoy this dish mightily.
naked as the day i was born,
i am alone.
there is no one to touch and play
and most times when i’m clothed i say
that this is ok.
but as i lay in my cotton sheets in the buff,
i know that my solitary existence is not enough.
i feel like doing a dance,
not one i can do all by myself.
with this choreography,
i’ll need a little help.
when i put my feet down here
and my knees out there,
you groove your movement
to make sure the dance floor is clear.
then we will find the tempo and key
of our soundtrack.
i believe it begins
in the falling and rising
of the small of my back,
the beat can be found in the rocking of my hips
and the melody lives in the curve of my lips.
our ballroom dancing is like none other
because it a dance that occurs in no other place
than my idle imagination.
others do this dance,
but not me.
i move alone and trust nobody
to two step with me.
my nudity is no longer a performance
but a mode of relaxation,
devoid of the sensation
of movement penetration.
i have dancing shoes in my closet but
won’t put them on.
hopefully by the time i do,
they’ll be playing my song.
i’m so aloof about this love thing.
something has shut off in me–
i only care about sex in this regard:
as a release
i can provide that for myself.
i’m stressed, i play, i release
and then i move on
or go to sleep.
it’s that simple these days.
and if i need to connect,
i phone a friend or watch a good movie,
write a few poems and enjoy being home.
i go outside and breath in nature
and enjoy the softest, gentlest, most loving touch there is.
the air was always there,
but i never noticed.
the flowers and trees were always alive
but went unappreciated.
now i make love to mother earth
as if it were a sin
and it’s more beautiful than whatever it was
that i was doing with men.
and she doesn’t just take,
she gives me gifts back
like beautiful birds and rain
and sunshine and breeze on my back.
i searched for the joy that comes from all of these things
through habits and vices and actions that caused pain,
but after that long journey,
my advise for everybody
is to value the world around you.
hold it close within your reach
and extend yourself to receive it all.
and above all,
all of what is me.
my booty holds the power
in this butt-clenching society.
in a world that is straight and narrow,
my backside is characterized by curves.
it stays full even when i am empty,
keeps me conscious of what’s behind me
as i move forward.
this big ol’ booty of mine,
a source of self-consciousness at one time,
is now where i hold my pride.
each cheek is a container for my accomplishments.
i am woman all the way
as this convex cavern of flesh sits heavily
between the stretch of my hips.
oh the miles we have seen
as we traveled one step at a time
and sometimes sprinted
on journeys of discovery:
stopping to rest on sex
and then rising on beauty,
making trips again and again
to find and redefine my identity.
today this version of me
loves her big ol’ booty.
i embrace it in all of its round glory
and know that i don’t need
affirmation or compliments
to be content.
even when i want to be stiff, it shakes
causing an earthquake that makes heads turn
in the aftershock of my presence.
i used to call it a curse
but now unwrap it like a present.
God put His foot in it when He made me
sweeter than molasses and thick as an oak tree.
each curve on me
represents the hurdles i complete.
one day all women
will turn their necks to look
at what rests between their backs and their legs
and re-awaken that section
that we all at one time
allowed to be dead.
there is power in resurrection
and in the connection to my beautiful body–
my skin, my smile, my hair,
my breasts, my eyes, my hips
and even my belly
but most of all
this big ol’ booty.
on a sunny spring afternoon
during my freshman year of college,
i found my voice.
not the voice of assertion or anger,
but the true revolutionary in me.
it was as if
someone dropped a piece of burning coal
inside my arteries
which steamed my soul,
sizzled in my mind
and simmered on the tip of my tongue.
the flame was sparked
and i spoke!
little old me who was used to letting things slide
opened up her mouth with eloquence
and spoke with pride as i openly identified
the ignorant sin committed against me and others.
i was so excited that i told my lover,
sharing every detail about the incident.
i reenacted my response and waited for him
to affirm what i had expressed
but instead, he said
“Baby, the world ain’t that serious. Who cares about all that?”
my strong black coffee self
turned into decaf,
i was diet store-brand cola with melted ice,
a deflated balloon.
he turned and kissed me
and said, “Forget about all this silliness and focus on now.”
and when he pulled my pants down,
my whole psyche dwindled to the ground.
my victory now felt like personal defeat
and i realized that i had made a fool of me
by attempting to connect with one
whose consciousness flowed
on a different frequency.
our love was static and instead of changing the station,
i got used to the white noise,
kept quiet each time i was ignored,
beat down the fighter i wanted to be
all for the sake of him loving me.
thank God i’m free.
for reasons unanticipated and uninvited,
sexual freedom has become
an oxymoron to me.
perhaps because i am locked in a cage
or more truthfully,
because the freeing of this pleasure
ended with a nightmare turned memory.
it’s nearly impossible to enjoy events
that are now associated with pain.
one who loses a loved one on a holiday
always feels bittersweet feelings–
birthdays and thanksgiving are not the same.
and that’s how i feel.
passion runs through me
but the thoughts of actually releasing it
die before conception.
my body is no longer aroused
and sour memories are housed
in the roof of my mouth
and the flesh of my heart.
i understand how i arrived at this ending
and it pains me to think of my start:
daring to be curious,
thriving off of taking chances,
naive without worries
and most of all,
the possibility of trust
now cuts my brain.
my warning alarms go off
and my eyes sprinkle rain.
i watch others who claim to be free
and shake my head in sadness
and reminisce on when
they used to be
i feel so pent up.
sometimes i just burn with lust
and it hurts.
it scathes and scars the continents of my mind
because these thoughts of mine
exist below the equator,
equating to a level i don’t want to admit exists.
i am sizzling, smoking, sputtering, smoldering
hoping for the day where i feel something colder than
what i feel now.
wishing for water to put this inferno out.
imagining a time when i can speak these thoughts and not pretend
and the beloved listener who is also my friend will understand
and extinguish my embers in the name of love,
fan the desire in my flesh and even watch my flames spread.
then once the wildness in me burns all that is around,
hold me until the next time this spark comes around
and i won’t be scared of the heat because he’ll be around,
coming to my rescue
as the sirens sound.
handsome white guy
with the nice smile and brown eyes–
oh how you surprised me
when you told me
you liked my my body.
you explained to me how you’d
never been with a black girl sexually
and asked if you could get down with me
and i was like…
you want me
not for me
but what i represent:
so after our conversation
(which ended abruptly after your sexual solicitation),
i wondered what would have become of our relations
if i would have succumbed to your fantasy
and thought for a moment that it’d be kind of fun to become
what it is you want of me.
i am your exotic beauty.
my eyes are precious stones for you to appraise
with the magnifying glass of your mind.
lose yourself in the kinks of my hair
as you try to count the innumerable strands.
then take your hands
and trace the contours of my cheekbones,
moving inward to the peak of my nose
and down to the lusciousness of my lips.
close your eyes and wish for an exotic kiss
from yours truly,
your exotic beauty.
tickle my brown skin softly with the tips of your fingers,
grazing my flesh slowly and allowing your touch to linger
on the abundance of my breasts, the wideness
of my hips, the roundness
of my behind, the thickness
of my thighs
and experience the fullness of my foreignness.
just stop and stare for a while until i
get uncomfortable because i have never been looked at
never been put on display
in such a way.
i’m used to being an around-the-way girl
and to you, i am something special,
someone to be desired and pursued secretly,
an exotic beauty.
request dances from me
and i’ll sashay my sexy silhouette your way
and spread my smile and my legs with flexibility.
take me, love me,
touch me, see me,
i am yours–an exotic beauty.
i am no longer human, but property,
a resident in your world of fantasy
that you carefully consider making a reality
just so you can really see how it would be
to conquer me.
my blackness is dangerous and exciting,
scary yet inviting you to
request a piece of my dark meat,
to be honest with me about your curiosity
to the point that in your effort to confess,
you devalue me–
simplifying my existence to mere ideas and notions
and taking for granted that i am a woman,
i have a brain,
i have intelligent thoughts and words to relay
and that my body is not the defining factor
but to you,
i am only
an exotic beauty.
is blackness a curse?
they’re trying to kill us.
the darker brother and sister are put on display
in an open market.
they’re trying to kill us,
letting us choose our own death
whether it’s how we ingest, protect, or have sex,
it all results in the same effect.
Uncle Sam is the overseer,
lashing us with the whip of the economy,
sugar cane is liquor and weed,
cotton and tobacco is money,
our diet is poison
and we are our biggest enemies.
we are trying to kill us.
is blackness a curse?
a voodoo magic trick
to be put on display for the world?
as much as and as often as i
would like to deny
connection to what is plaguing us,
i am part of the family put up for sale today
and there’s no possibility of hiding,
my dark skin gives me away
and there’s no way to move past
calls from bill collectors every day
so i too am a slave,
moving between the field and the house,
moving between my dreams and security,
between reality and fantasy,
fighting the notion
that blackness is a disease.
but perhaps we are airborne
because parts of us spread into society…
we all breathe
in the blackness,
breathe out the oppression,
in the beauty,
breathe out the lessons,
in the answers,
breathe out the question:
is blackness a curse?
*Written June 19, 2008*
we don’t have to stand or fight,
just live it up,
smoke it up,
drink it up,
sex it up,
but don’t forget to
wrap it up,
rap it up,
two step and snap it up,
tote gats and lock it up,
sell snow white on the block it up,
serve time it up,
booty pop it up,
become young moms and pops it up,
change the world it up,
teach the young boys and girls it up,
take the shackles off our feet it up,
classrooms instead of the street it up cuz