ANNOUNCEMENT: My 1st Collection Available Now

I’m thrilled to announce the publication of my first collection of poetry, What Us Is.  You can purchase here.  Paper and Kindle versions are available.  I made the decision to just put it out there as I’ve begun working on my 2nd collection and need to stop shying away from the risk of putting my words out there.

book cover

I’m proud of the menagerie of struggles, life lessons, stiff cocktails, sex, fear, and joy that brought this work to life. This collection explores the deep pain and profound joy of my journey thus far; from loving assholes to hating myself, from police brutality to partying in Memphis.

Oddly, I’m more proud of the cover than I think I am of the poetry. The cover is a print version of the mixed media collage that I created while home recovering from my breakdown. The piece features my grandmother, Oneida Felton, in one of my favorite images of her. I loved seeing her in her nurse’s uniform.  She was so stately and classy; always polished and prepared to drench any disappointment in faith, fragrance, or food.  Sometimes, even all three. I wrote a pantoum in her honor, “Grief,” that I included in the collection. Her spirit is ever present in mine because she literally wrote the playbook of how I learned womanhood and the art of sumptuous and soulful cuisine. Miss you, Granny.

I crave your support and your feedback on this work.  Also, if you buy the paper copy you can download the Kindle version for free.

Brown Betty out.

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A Poem: Set

I offer this in deep respect and gratitude to Carrie Mae Weems and her journey to completing this piece. Her conviction to bear witness to the Black experience inspired these words. I was drawn to it because of the way text was used to over the image; and began to explore the way words have and continue to shape the narrative of oppressed people.

Set

Set.
Decided.
Grounded as a stone’s belly.

I have been named!
Designated with steel resolve
And bloody whip

Before a crowd.
In a book.
On a slab.
In a laboratory of cruel strangers.
Before my mother’s mother was a babe

I am the supply bred for demand
For beck and call
For sport and feast.
For pontification and jest
For leverage of the least.

You constructed me
From an economy of lust
Stripped me of agency
Assigned me the sole task
Of function
Work horse. Harvester. Pacifier.
Scapegoat. Wet nurse.
On call companion. On call mistress.
Carpenter. Blacksmith.
I was a fucking footrest!

Because of the labels.
Murder cloaked in science
A taxonomy to support the sickness,
A cancer turned birth defect.

You selected me for submission
to interrogation

Front. Side.
Laid out. Bent over.
Split open.
Spread eagle.
Restrained. Infected.
Observed. Probed.

To identify, classify, specify
The root of my inferiority;
To rationalize a brutality
So utterly shameful
Your offspring refuse to claim it.

You found my predisposition
to endure,
an orientation towards servitude,
without considering it was God’s gift
And not yours.
Jettisoned my humanity to feed
Your allure for dissection,
Rationalizing depravity
In the interest of public good.

It’s them labels.
Designations free from spirit but
Fueled by White power plays
That still slice this earth
Like I once sliced sugar cane
Baby sleep on my back.

I conceded. We conceded.
My feet remain soaked

in the labels
I step softly in and out of

the boxes you’ve created
To spare myself pain,
Spare myself lashes
Stay out the hot box
Keep breathing.
Keep awake
Stay woke.

So persistent and acute is
The pathology of your qualifiers
My great great great grandchildren will
Own the compass through this land
They too will walk through the minefield
of your labels
Dodging implications and hate
As best they can.

Those god damned labels!
They are born to yearning;
The bastard child of desperation.

You put a word behind the wheel
Declared it law
Drove my legacy into a homespun
Springboard for separatism.

The labels have taught your children
Entitlement to me
and to mine

my thoughts, my body, my prayer
my hope, my dance, my hair

as if my pilgrimage from
Mali to Maputo
to Middle Passage to Mississippi to Mobile
to Missouri to Minneapolis to Miami
Is a story woven for your consumption
You, always at the center,
Feeding on me.
Just feeding on me.

This is not behind you or I
This is still us
This addiction to labels
for the good of
the pale and favored.

We have settled

Into the grooves

Of this dimension

 

We live in deference

to the labels.

 

the seduction of security

restricts and relents

able hearts from disrupting

 

from choosing

to know me outside of the labels

Freedom can’t ring

In a house of lies

You can’t taste my truth

In a big

Bowl of conditions

 

We will roar and ring around this clock again

and again, and again and again

because the love doesn’t really matter when

what you say ain’t what you mean.

And what you speak

ain’t really who you see.

Freedom is choice

That manifests

In self and wealth

I don’t need your privilege

To navigate my own.

 

Freedom is a life

Without labels.

 

 

 

When You’re a Girl

When You’re a Girl

When you’re a girl, something is inherently public about you. Directives, mandates, unsolicited advice and demands are your life. Give him a hug. Fix your hair. Straighten your hem. Be nice. Be sweet. Be happy. But none of these things will ever make you happy.  They didn’t make me happy. I was quite sad in fact.  No, angry.  I was angry at the barrage of opinion. Though I was small I was put off and pissed at the world’s determination to craft, frame, and mandate all of what I felt was precious about life:

Food.                   Fun.                      Frock.girls

Food

When you’re a girl, food is something you cook but don’t eat. It’s what you use to establish your place, prowess and power in a house you rent. It’s how you find a niche to get invited to parties you actually loathe but must attend to ensure you are invited to more parties. Food is a skill. Food is the language we speak without voices in the kitchen. We speak through seasoned cast iron and bamboo spoons with cracks down the middle. With the scratched grease stained pyrex. This is only dish in which you are allowed to make Muh’s cobbler. Ever. Sometimes new stuff is best.  Other times, only old will do.  This is truth and law.  And it is annoying.

Fun

When you’re a girl, fun is redefined a revised a thousand times for you. And you must keep up. Keep up with what’s up. It’s fun for girls to have fun.  Girls just want to have fun.  That’s what the song says, see. Fun is girls only. No boys allowed. But it’s fun to talk about boys. Want them. Attract them. But not fun to fuck them. Ever. THAT is the opposite of fun. If you fuck them, you’re fucked.  Your girlfriends unfriend you and you are left alone to find your own fun. No fun.

Frock.

When you’re a girl, you dress out of consideration of others. Like with manners. Like elbows off the table and napkin in your lap. But instead of a salad, you are dressing your body.  But it’s kind of like their body.  And they want your/their body to remind them to not look at you.  Because you are a girl. Girls can be the death of a boy. And girls like to chase boys. It’s fun. See, sometimes fun and frock meet in the middle of a girl.  This is where it gets interesting. You and the girls go shopping (fun), and find fashionable yet modest outfits that remind boys not to try (frock). Exasperating.

When you’re a girl, you sit. You sit for so many things. At desks and church pews poised for instruction. Waiting for curls to set and for the doctor to return. You sit at trials to defend your son and yourself. And you learn very early to sit in judgement. Mostly of other girls. Girls are the worst. I want to be a woman.

 

Sight: Sensory Series 1

Hi Loves,

Missing our time.  So Imade time to reach out to you. I am exploring our senses. Directly and indirectly, through their aestheitcs or function; individual recounts or oral interpretations.  I’ll post a piece each day which highlights one of the 5 senses:

Monday – Sight

  Tuesday – Sound

Wednesday – Touch

Thursday – Smell 

Friday – Taste

I welcome your comments, feedback and input!. Be sweet and wise.

BB

  
Sight

I can see.

I am not blinded by the failures:

Mine, 

yours

theirs. 

They are not the marrow…Or the bone. 

I am solid. 

Fragile heart,

Heavy hair. 

chesnut eyes. 

I hurt and weep; seethe under the crumbs hate leaves me. 

 I drink. 

 To stay out of jail I drink. 

And pray. 

For a break;
a pause in the pain. 

And while I wait, I smell every flower I see.

Because  they remind me love lives 

despite death,

and the evil that feeds
on our fear.