i know the rules,
but i don’t care.
i have memorized the stipulations of life,
studied them to find out why they apply
but at the end of the day,
i just want things my way.
is that wrong?
what does your reply matter anyway?
i hate to be rude or hurt feelings
but i’ve finally reached a point
where i can decipher my feelings from fact,
can tell the difference between myself
and how i’ve been told i should act
and i only have enough energy to pretend on stage.
truth hurts others
but to me, it is freeing.
come smile at the sunshine with me,
who smiles for the self that was too scared
to even look out the window,
let alone step outside
to stare at the sky.
i may get lonely sometimes,
question the love of those around me,
long for the feeling of arms around me–
circling, grasping, speaking in the form of squeezing
and making me feel safe in this dangerous world.
but i’m not alone.
i have known alone,
moved into a room in her home,
making my bed every morning
until i was evicted by joy,
pulled out kicking and screaming by love,
and left on the street disappointed by the affirmation
that at times,
i will be lonely
even when i am surrounded by love
from those around me.
loneliness doesn’t depend on the outside conditions.
loneliness is birthed when a piece of your heart is missing.
beats don’t occur at the same time rhythm
and if you stay there long enough,
you become a victim.
i may get lonely sometimes,
even cry sometimes
and i’ve wept sometimes
and i’ve wanted to die sometimes
but the love that i feel at times
make all those feelings a waste of time,
make me feel like if i just had some time
to count all the times
where i received love i didn’t deserve,
was reminded of my self-worth,
succeeded when life didn’t seem to work
and healed beautifully from pain that hurt me,
then lonely wouldn’t even be
i may get lonely sometimes,
but i am filled with love that pushes out emotion
and shines light on truth like
being lonely gives me time to think
and being lonely lets me discover me
and being lonely makes me appreciate company
and laughter and life and love
so here is to my lonely sometimes.
you will not hold me down this time.
love will prevail
and so will i.
one day i’m gonna walk away from it all.
leave squeaky chair spinning in cubicle
and pictures on the wall
and expectations of success
and bill collector calls
and dreams that are too far to reach
and grab them as if all
was honoring me.
i’m gonna walk away,
maybe even run,
not caring if i break the heels on my black leather pumps
or get runs in itchy stockings that were never met to fit me.
i won’t answer phones politely,
won’t smile without meaning,
will cry when i feel like it
and speak the truth as if
life still depended on it.
i’m not happy.
i feel like walking,
jogging, or maybe even driving
til i run out of gas
and can no longer recognize the surroundings
outside of the glass
that separates me from reality.
one day i’m gonna walk instead of sit,
act instead of talk,
speak instead of staying quiet,
scream instead of staying silent,
stop living so publicly and
respect myself enough to be private.
tiptoes are all they see now
but in my soul
i am walking,
drowning but surviving,
heart faint but still thriving
and growing despite being
the uprooted plant that i am.
i don’t want to wait for “one day”
so maybe i’ll just
put one foot in front of the other today
and see what happens.
movement is innate
and i’m spiraling back to my own nature
and the essence of my humanity
crawling, crying, standing,
losing balance and falling
but taking that final leap
this poem won’t be remembered.
i guarantee it won’t be a masterpiece
but it very well may be
the most honest piece
of writing i have yet to complete.
there’s a passion burning in me
so strong and fiery
that i can’t do daily activities
because my fingers are singed with third degree burns
of what God whispered to me.
i would do it for free,
scour the streets looking for pennies to sustain me
and eat crumbs that fall from heaven
if that was all there was to feed me…
the truth is that my pride consumes me
as does fear.
i lack faith that i will ever do any better
than what exists here
and can’t trust that which i don’t see.
does that make me faithless?
or more frankly,
i lost trust in a God that i loved because
He disappointed me
and i can’t help but think that if He,
all knowing and loving
let me face such pain and anguish,
that life can’t get any better
than it is now.
i am Atlas,
pushing a boulder that threatens to crush me.
i am Jonah,
stuck in the belly of a whale of irresponsibility.
i wish i could be Jesus
but sacrifice seems just too much for me.
the passion burns me
and i possess the hose to put myself out
but don’t believe the water will really shoot out.
so i walk with half empty buckets
held by a broomstick across my back
and earn splinters in my shoulders and neglect that causes death
all because i am too scared to live.
what kind of punishment is this?
what kind of nonsense is this?
ruled by fear,
ignited by dreams
that seem too far away to touch
because i am afraid to reach.
i wish i was brave enough to throw shoes
and yell out the truth.
i am a quiet soldier,
one who wears a uniforms with ribbons of
one who marches and stomps loudly
only when among comrades
but when in enemy territory, holds back,
fearing that people might get mad and attack.
i have guns that i don’t know how to use,
and am still too scared to throw shoes,
bullets i am scared to load
and fingers that are too shaky to pull triggers.
i get smaller as fear gets bigger.
i shrink and my mind deadens
and my heart slows and the next thing you know,
i am not even a fighter at all,
would be exaggerating to even call myself
i am by no means perfect.
if i wanted to be fair i would
write out a list of my flaws
and hand it to all who wish to get involved
in any shape or fashion
i want to guard my heart but
feel i should be straight up–
stop eager and expecting souls
from getting their hopes up,
shrink their enthusiasm
so it can’t change to disappointment
as they wait for phones to ring
and emails to be answered
and schedules to clear up
and get disappointed
like a teenager waiting up
for Santa Claus.
i wear a costume of love,
the cape of the concerned
and my powers are proving to be ineffective.
i want to care
but i am stretched in so many ways
that my strength is diluted.
my mind is polluted
with thoughts of me and what i need
and when i see how many times i have hurt others,
my eyes bleed.
i apply the hydrogen peroxide of pride
and keep it moving;
regret leaves me stuck on dance floors
but i keep on grooving,
two-stepping toward a brighter tomorrow.
maybe next week, i’ll be able to balance my life
and the hearts i have borrowed
and forgotten to return
like old library books
whose fees are increasing.
i feel the urgency caused by time decreasing
and life depleting
and relationships screaming for attention.
i write notes to confess to them:
the individuals i have hurt
and those who haven’t felt it yet
and somehow when they are read,
the ones who truly care
love me no less.
maybe there is hope.
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
i sometimes find myself moved by
the misery of others
and in these slivers of time,
i now wonder
if my emotion is birthed from true sympathy
for what they are experiencing
or the fear that their tragedy
will happen to me.
an honest answer is like a kiss
and as someone who likes to lock lips, i can’t resist.
if you ask whether my tears and sadness
sometimes come from selfishness,
the answer is
he’s just not that into me
i’m just not that into me.
i invest in the exterior,
keep up images and expectations,
but when it comes to treating my inside,
i’m deaf, dumb, and blind.
i am spiritually numb,
which back in the day would have bothered me
but recently more often than not
i shrug it off–i’m way too busy.
i stand on my feet and grind all day
and the thought of dropping to my knees
to close my eyes and pray
doesn’t hold much priority.
this kind of disturbs me.
my sister said to me that
i’m a precious gem
and i believed her
until i became a rhinestone
just to get next to him
and he pawned me in
for another stone
who knew her own value.
i want to be into me,
have the ability to live and speak freely,
not censoring myself and my identity
to suit those around me.
my life depends on it,
my mind depends on it,
my heart beats pulses of hope
that resonate and reverberate.
i gotta truly love me fully
before it’s too late.
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 thought i’d be OK just
living a normal life
for a little while.
but i’m abnormal like 6 toes
and backwards clothes–
i kris kross emotions
like it’s in vogue,
haute my job
as i lean uncomfortably to fold
myself into a box
i was told
i’m supposed to fit in,
knowing that i’m too large
to be contained.
i just wanna work somewhere where i
could walk around barefoot and talk to artists about
not office work!
this is not my life right now.
underneath my skin i sense a scream building up,
a bravado in the back of my throat.
aspirations knock on the inside of my forehead
and slide past my eyes so that
i can’t see what’s in front of me clearly.
what do i do now?
i got bills to pay.
i can’t move–my feet are glued
to an office floor
with brown carpet and on three sides of me
are bluish-gray walls with pictures
of what makes me happy
so that i can maintain my sanity
for 40 hours of a week
that i spend feeling weak
but appearing strong.
i should be happy–i perform all day long.
it starts around 6:30 in the morning when my alarm goes off
and i play someone who really cares about
getting to a 9 to 5 on time.
then on my train ride,
i read books and listen to my ipod,
attempting to blend in
with other discontent, dressed-up people
with heavy eyelids.
then i arrive at the office.
if i were just playing a character, i’d be on this.
but the truth of the matter is
that i desire to be on stages,
in rehearsal rooms and in classes.
i am fire and this life is ash.
and it’s cold.
i shiver in my too-cold cubicle
and figure that maybe i’m not
cut out for this climate.
i’m too warm for this cold shit.
too alive for this dead shit.
too smart for this bullshit.
too passionate to live as if
i really have to settle for this.
i got 3 degrees from 6 years in a university
and have experienced trouble
for as long as i can remember
so this simple series
of 8 hour days, 5 days a week
should be nothing.
i’ve dealt with bigger numbers than this,
been through days where i wanted to quit on life,
wished i would flat line
but even that extreme seems more alive
than the gray i live in now.
how did this happen?
when one lives in dreams
without intermissions of reality,
all they really are is asleep.
waking moments are really life.
and all this time i thought that the
existence behind my eyes
was already mine.
there’s something freeing about admitting
that what you’re doing
even if there’s no solution in sight
and it feels uncomfortable like
your shoes are too tight,
like this environment is too narrow
for your dreams,
which like toenails,
can grow too long with neglect.
i object to being constricted by these shoes,
by these rules that dictate what i can’t and should do.
maybe i’ll start breaking them and then i’d be free–
only then could i untie
these laces that hold me.
i’ll walk around with bare feet
and ignore the rules of society
cuz my soul and heart have been ripped apart
with callouses and corns
from trying to squeeze myself
into maintaining the norm.
to hell with these shoes–
the right is on my left foot
and the left one is on my right.
to hell with this boring, mediocre life
that really doesn’t fit me.
i don’t want to resist me:
the actress who prefers to be on stage
than in a cubicle during the day,
the poet who has learned to write her pain away,
the woman who is declaring that today,
it’s time to stop delaying her plans
and allow her feet to be
as naked as her hands.
i am so frequently on the edge
of inconsiderate acts
that if i got my act together,
i’d get my facts together
and proceed to jump off the cliff
of “I don’t have to take this”
and lightly land in a place
where foolishness doesn’t exist.
i am so tired of being taken advantage of
that i yawn disappointment
and dream resentment
and if i were a cartoon, i wouldn’t snore Z’s
but a never-ending sequence of “Negro, please.”
i don’t want to be a mean but
i’m so used to the hurt person being me
and i wonder just what about my identity
causes me to be more prone to this activity.
is it my smile?
perhaps it is too inviting.
or maybe it’s my honesty
honesty is so rare these days that
most people treat it as if it were fake
or hold the truth-teller to the same standard
of that lie-teller who played with their mind the last time.
so here i am left feeling
when that person has moved on
to the next interesting pawn
in the chess game of their intentions.
i don’t want to be captured anymore.
just let me be
because these arms are sore from extending love.
this throat is raw from opening up.
this mind is exhausted from pondering the possibilities
that could never be
and my heart is bewildered that i even bothered
to risk again.
so goodbye, my friend.
i bid you farewell for
it is time for me to depart from this height
to a new land where i demand
to be treated right
and hopefully one day you might
muster up the courage, consciousness, and capacity
to be able to join me.
some scholars wrote long ago
that there’s no such thing as an original thought.
i hate to agree with this sentiment
but as i look around me i discover
identical clones lying constantly by denying resemblance to one another.
i see black people
with hair in braids, weaves, and locks,
i see a multitude of the generation defined by hip-hop,
blindly bobbing their heads to BS such as “Lollipop”
and refusing to get any information
from any source other than
a rapper’s sound bite, the radio, or Fox.
i feel funny pointing fingers to tell the truth,
sitting here claiming that there’s been destruction of our youth
because i too have been infiltrated,
spoon-fed lies to control my militant mind turning to mush,
signing away my life to join the army of the uninformed,
claiming to be original but at the same time feeling torn cuz
even my natural hair ain’t original if that’s how i was born cuz
i am by no means the first to claim to be conscious
while being an active consumer of the same objects
that have been used to oppress
not just blacks, but all people.
searching for answers i run toward the nearest steeple,
fall to my knees praying to God to provide
and He whispers in my ear and commands me to realize
that both my positive and negative actions are first birthed in my own mind
and if i really want change, it’s up to me to decide
what i accept.
today i accept
because regardless of what scholars say, there has to be,
there should be,
at least i hope there could be
a way to make change,
rub the chicken grease and sunflower seeds off of my tainted brain,
eliminate the tick tock of my CP time watch
and turn down the bass so my stereo system in the trunk stops
drowning out my knowledge,
numbing my creativity,
and allowing the media to define what i am to be,
what i should be,
or at least what i could be.
today is the day that i break free!
i wish i could live in a poem.
wouldn’t it be cool for life to flow to a smooth rhythm
where word play could translate into laughter and
word choice would dictate just the level of happy that
you could potentially reach every single moment of every single day?
each time you alliterate you would illuminate
a fresh new idea.
every letter used in each stanza could help you dominate
and with each syllable, synonym, antonym or homonym,
you could levitate.
you could simile smile
as people around you inquire “Metaphor?”
and you can personify
that after laboriously looming in a long line for the loo for lingering moments that seemed like eternity,
you purposely onomatopéia’d your pants in front of everybody
and it feels
nouns would represent loved ones and
adjectives would equal fun and
for every punctuation mark used, you would get a kiss.
rhymes would mean impromptu trips
to the land of free and
double entrendres would demand that you get two scoops of ice cream.
verbs would reify daydreams
and adverbs would be your favorite movies
looping in conjunction junction
with your favorite songs on a never-ending playlist with no repeats.
whatever tones set in the poem would indicate your moods,
but not to worry–
this life creates beauty even out of blue.
and here, tears are valued and glorified,
which basically means that you can rejoice and shout “Hallelujah!”
every single time you cry.
life will become oxymorons and parodoxes busting out of boxes
and reaching truth as each moment passes
life as poetry in motion
would be like a vacation
where you get to see exotic animals, mountains, beach and the ocean,
where you could hopscotch from one continent to the next,
simultaneously experiencing the cultures of Nigeria, Greece, and Tibet
and the coolest thing of all is that
you don’t have to spend any money or even go anywhere,
you just have to open up your mind, eyes, and ears,
ride the wavelengths of your imagination and fantasies
and from there
that life really is a poem
if you allow it to be.
i was a vegetarian for 7 days,
walked around on a high,
bragged about the 5
pounds i lost,
the extra pep in my step in the mornings
and my glow that was noticeable to strangers.
but after those 7 days,
i was no longer fulfilled
because the food that i needed to fill
was not vegetables but
peace left so much that i needed a piece of a peace pill
just to make it through the day
and a whole of the peace pill so i could be sure i’d sleep the night away.
vegetables no longer sufficed.
i was hanging on strings like a marionette
head bobbing, soul vacant,
arms moving one way and legs moving another,
disconnected and needing to be pulled together
the vegetables were so good!
they gave me leverage and confidence in a
society that is fast food-fried, overrated and hydrogenated
but my nature was gone.
i was forced to turn processed because life is a process and i am in process and
i see little progress
that are normal to most people but affect
books are too much, life is too much,
screens are too much, looks are too much,
closeness is too much, rain is too much,
truth is too much,
i tremble at accidental touch.
i need more peace.
my daily life
if there was a sign to tell me that i would experience such things
i would have bucked a U,
made an illegal turn to
get the hell up out of dodge from hell
but it was too late.
i got sucked
into suffering shivering solitude
scrutiny examinations hollow moods
and for what?
i was a vegetarian for 7 times 7 days,
then i became a pescatarian
because it was supposedly time to celebrate
but despite the cards and family and gown,
i did not graduate
from this experience.
they say experience
is the best teacher
so please, if you happen to see her,
tap her on the shoulder and tell her she’s out of control.
tell her i’m reporting her to the Board of Education because
i was a child left behind in the cold.
i was still shaken or maybe stirred
but somehow things got a little brighter.
i let love lead me
but less vegetables feed me
imaginary peace fooled me
and the quest to move on ruled me
i had to prove to everyone and me
that i had made it,
that i was strong,
but little did i know that this was not over,
that it may never be over,
and that the peace that once existed
i was a vegetarian
back at a time when i had peace
and 82 days later, i ate a piece
of chicken and as i felt the grease
get stuck in my throat,
i realized i was unsatisfied with meat
because my life, my body,
was viciously stolen from me.
i identified with the chicken!
i was slaughtered
and ran around with my head cut off.
my case was wrapped up,
my vegetables were hidden,
i was robbed at heart-point
and i don’t know how to get my stuff
or my nourishment
*Written July 8, 2008*
what if i
promoted him like my favorite rapper,
quoted him to fit every situation,
tried to convince others to tune in
when people talk about him on radio stations,
said day in and day out that he’s the best alive and his words are so hot
and that they should listen and try to give him a shot?
what if i
talked about him like he was a new man
who surprisingly made my life so great that i can’t complain?
what if i rubbed him in the faces of everyone around me
so that they would be all too familiar with how his love is insane,
so much so that they don’t even have to ask why i’m smiling,
they just say “There she goes again with whats-his-name”?
what if i
wore him like a fly outfit
that i wanted everyone to see,
purposely walking past perfect strangers three times with him on
just so they could note the beauty that is he,
and how he looks just oh-so-great on me
like an expensive pair of jeans that make my shape look oh-so-right,
that they could all benefit from if they’re willing to pay the price?
i just kept him all to myself and hid him away?
i think that is what i do because every time i begin to feel unashamed,
i face different setbacks and life pushes me astray–
my pride, my doubt inside, and my emotions all cloud my view
so that by the time i think of mentioning him,
the time has passed and conversations are through…
i no longer want to be a fake fan, a false lover, or perpetrator…
i wanna shout out my love for Him to every friend, family member, and hater
promote him like he’s sunshine after seven days of raining,
wear him on my heart, stop hiding and start proclaiming
that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life
and maybe if i stop keeping him secret
more people will want to give Him their life
and maybe if i speak up
i can truly honor the one who changed my life
and maybe if i share what He’s done for me
people could find purpose in their life
and maybe if i just open up my mouth and share
they can know
*Written July 1, 2008*
i’m so scared to open up my mouth and speak
i guess for fear of the responsibility that comes with using my words.
words are so strong and so powerful
and i’m afraid of misusing them, of abusing them
of them being weapons of mass destruction in an effort to just provide instruction
or at least inclusion into the mass of thoughts in my head that run
cuz for real, who am i to be teaching anyone?
my areas of expertise are sheisty at the least:
i can show someone how to fall, get up, and fall again,
i can show others how to lose touch with close friends,
i can teach others to put themselves in dangerous situations
and have to learn things the hard way,
i can teach people how to live with pain,
i can teach people how to run from dreams,
i can teach people to put up fronts to convince others
that they are really as happy as they seem,
i can teach people to be numb,
i can teach people to play dumb,
i can teach people to love,
i can teach people to trust,
i can teach people to express,
i can teach people to digest,
i can teach people to accept tests,
i can teach people that they really are blessed,
after examining this list, maybe i am kind of equipped.
i just want my tongue to be an impetus for growth and not an invitation to diversion.
i want my tongue to be medicine for brokenness and ointment for hurting.
i want my tongue to be an extension of God, evidence of His miracles and truth.
it’s done so much damage in the past–
broken hearts, cut people it claimed to care about
but now i want my tongue to represent a voice that represents my choice
to love, to build, to change, to teach
and to speak.
*Written June 18, 2008*
i feel like i’m meant to be a voice in the world.
a force like Oprah,
like an effing tornado, u know.
like a halo over the evil world.
like a bright light in the midst of a blackout.
like “Lights out, niggas,”
but time is transforming,
lives are reforming, souls are rejoining,
art is dominant,
present in the lives of many.
pearls from pain, blood in veins,
refrain after verses of hurt.
the stopping of thinking and beginning of living,
bringing truth to the masses,
making families for bastards,
becoming a global pastor
reaching the congregation of the unreachable in the past,
reaching my hand thru the glass of prison visitor rooms,
taking over the lies told in classrooms,
i see it.
and it’s not for the spotlight
but so i could sleep at night,
so i can turn what was wrong before in my life to right.
i wanna effect change,
enter brains and leave feelings of un-same.
enter the lives of many, show them a way,
show them hope, show them love,
show them them–the beauty that they already have.
i want to mirror the beauty of the world.
these dreams seem outlandish but they exist in me
meaning that they are me-landish
not he-landish or she-landish
cuz i am the sole passenger on this mental plane.
i was once afraid to dream.
thinking that the thinking of it would
make it disappear, no longer be real.
i was afraid to fly, only taking trains on land
and limiting my visions.
why is it that we hold the keys to our own prisons?
that we are voluntary convicts to our hopes,
voluntary ropes to tie nooses around our own throats?
why do we sabotage ourselves?
run espionage on ourselves
allowing doubt and warnings from others to dictate how we live?
oh i feel like a speecher or a preacher
but i’m merely speaking what’s on my mind.
oh my mind is like a marathon, like a 5k
cuz it stays runnin like Jackie Joyner or
Marion before the steroid confession,
it’s on top of it’s game.
taking care of its frame,
observing all that goes on around me like security cameras
my mind is surveillance.
my body is surveillance.
my life is surveillance cameras on display
so that customers could see,
stay away from me
or be influenced,
be taught, be brought to reality.
be exposed to truth.
come by and never leave the same
once you join me
on my mental plane.