17 May


i am what i am where i am today

because of who i was when i was what i was

back then.

but today –

today, i am different just the same way

tomorrow will be different

because of today.



artwork by lionel smith.

untitled. #63

4 Jun
today i just realized 
that you can’t actually touch the sky,
that it is at least one part illusion.
and i want my heart back.
i want to separate myself,
i want my heart back.
it’s just air.
and what is that?
i want my heart back.

untitled. #63

4 Jun
today i just realized
that you can’t actually touch the sky,
that it is at least one part illusion.
and i want my heart back.
i want to separate myself,
i want my heart back.
it’s just air.
and what is that?
i want my heart back.

love, in the key of “human”

15 May

the moon and venus dance.

the moon
slowly sprinting – still
on his knees.

and venus,
but safe – still
sitting close to the sun.

it is gravity who remembers
the human has a heart
that beats
love, sometimes
almost to death,
almost to pain
endured, anticipated.
eager, erratic temperatures,
that scare seeds into silence
afraid of their own words,
of feeling.
the sort of evils that strangle

everyday, more,
flight defies her.

the moon abandons
his gravity,
venus leaves
her feet.
they smile spinning
into their crashes,
eyes touch familiar faces
mouths meet trusted tastes of fresh breaths
from a past life’s prayer.

their stars acknowledge them –
and know.

they are not of the universe
the universe is of them.

unicorns, mermaids and me…

14 May

i must have been 4.  he was probably 13 – the son of my parents’ friends.  i had a crush on him.  i went upstairs while our parents were in the kitchen, and passed the room he was sitting in as i headed for my bedroom.  but then he called me in.  i got butterflies.  i sat down across from him – he was lying on his side, leaning on his elbows, legs stretched out.  i was wearing a mini skirt, sitting indian style – i didn’t know that this meant that he could see up my skirt.  i didn’t expect him to begin reaching his foot between my legs.  “you like that?”  i didn’t, not particularly.  not that i remember.  but i liked the attention.  or, i liked the fact that he was paying attention to me.

in elementary school, i remember doing my own thing.  going on adventures, and singing songs i wrote to the unicorns that visited me in my back yard.  i remember being in the first grade and telling everyone a story about the bubble fish and the mermaid who used to live in the river that sat behind our school.  the kids didn’t want to believe me, but i swear it – the more i told the story, the more they started to.  and so i kept telling it.  whenever i could get someone over there, i would tell it.  and i started to believe it, and dream about her.  and the fish – it was so real.  running through the fields, trying to get to her, falling – the dream always ended right before the pain.
mermaids are odd, and beautiful.  genuine, and special.  that’s why the bubble fish are mean the way they are, so quick to use their fangs.  they aren’t hateful, really – it’s just that they care so much for the mermaid.  love comes out all wrong sometimes, when you try to protect it.  and so the bubble fish sit underneath the ground and surround the river where the mermaid lives.  if you walk near the river, you’ll feel the bubble fish like mini hills all over the ground.  if you’re not careful, and you walk too close to the river’s edge and step on a bubble, you’ll pop it.  the fish will jump out and bite you.  
piranhas protecting the mermaid who lives in the river, and sings.  they do not belong to her, i’m not even sure she knows they are there.  but she never asks them to leave, and its almost like her songs are for them.  
i used to hop from one small area of flat land to the next, and scare myself when i fell onto a fish’s bubble.
that’s the kind of kid i was.  i lived in my head.  dreamed all day.  i painted the world in black and white rainbows.  i held onto my summer evenings thinking they literally carried promises. and i believed that every single star belonged to someone.   everyone was special.  including me.  
i think i woke up the next day with tears in my eyes.  


6 Feb

i imagine that if a caterpillar
spent her life watching her brothers and sisters
grow up,
and leave home
to crawl into shells
that look like clouds wrapping wings around their bodies
so exciting, so awesome
and that if she saw them a time after
different – better, wiser, as butterflies
and then one day  she finally found herself
in one of those longed for shells that look like clouds,
and realized that after a time
she was
still there,
that it feels like this.

i’m sure that she would ask,
just like me,
how long does it take
for one to be?


16 Jan

an alarm signaled a fire.

i am running,
but my feet are passing me
and my heart
behind me
and i am
in between
doors and darkness
for god
to speak.


Illustration by Martin O'Neil  (www.cutitout.co.uk)

Illustration by Martin O’Neil (www.cutitout.co.uk)

on love. and the walls that fear it.

19 Nov

there aren’t air bubbles in concrete,
but i can sho nuff stuff love in between my walls –
couture, made to fit.
i got walls tall enough for clouds to stand on,
strong enough to hold all of my dead weight.
and they really do hold
of my
dead weight.
but they remember i’m living,
at least
just enough
so i can pretend
i’m living.
these damn walls,
like saran wrap for my dreams.
like my down coat with the fur around the hood,
it ain’t the prettiest
but i never get wet.  

i swear i love this man.  god knows i love this man.  my heart understands, but she thinks she is smarter than god.  she thinks she can control it, manage it.  but it is bigger than her entire life, than all the air she will ever breathe.  she don’t know what love is.  cause, damn.  if she knew…

if she knew that love could make her clean, and make her whole, and all her ugly and all her pretty and all her crazy and all her poetry and her intellectual dances, everything she knows, and everything she wish she did, it’s all the same to him – if she knew what love was, more than what she felt, more than what she saw, well then… i suppose she wouldn’t cry so much about loneliness that never existed.  and distance.

if she could see what love knows, and what faith trusts… well then.  i believe she would probably float.  or whatever non-heavy things do.

if she could see what love sees, she would know god.  and life would be different, all of it.

love colors your eyes so that even when it rains, the sun is always standing next to you, holding your hand.  probably dancing, if that’s what you’re into.  and you really get lucky if love makes you laugh.  and you are truly blessed if he can move your spirit with his smile, and you let him.

i sat up in my bed, and thought to call him.  but instead, i let myself meditate on my mountaintop, so that when i came down, i could take him with me.


buzzkill (re: april, 2008)

13 Sep

unintentional intense intimacy
amidst fake affection we imitated initially…
we couldn’t fake the fuckin
while i was fakin and frontin on the feelings i was duckin
i think maybe i felt what i wasn’t supposed to
i think its cuz it wasn’t love makin, and i loved you
(or wanted to)
for the record:  it was me –  not you
tried to keep what i was feelin inside
but it was like my heart refused to hide
and it was its most vulnerable at the worst time
you know? those moments while we’re trying to get ‘high’
emotions can be the worst buzz kill

let me be here (a haiku)

22 Aug

now let me be here
alone in this room.  indeed,
wherever i end,

there is you.
i want to see you,

  • love.


8 May

love colors your eyes so that even when it rains, the sun is always standing next to you, holding your hand.  probably dancing, if that’s what you’re into…  

number 3.

29 Feb

(written to “number 3” by ben harper)


the first one,
he couldn’t hold me
we had too big eyes.
the second one,
he couldn’t trust me
his love was in his smile.
and number 3,
well she,
was the one
the one who
who helped me
find you.
it was she,
me loving me.

it was she,
me loving me.

conversations with god.

28 Feb

you speak to me,
but i don’t listen.
i mean,
i go through the motions –
i hear you, and
i understand, and
my chest swells with tears
and they promise something new,
but my feet –

they never take me there
my heart has yet to move me there.

are unwilling
to do the work.
too attached
to too weak substitutes
strong enough
to distract me.
and i am like an addict.
i poke at my skin
fill up
with what is passing,
and never raise an eye
i know you see me,
but i won’t look.
i am running.
i am boldly avoiding you.

1 Feb

Revolutionary Petunia

(artwork by laurie cooper)

after school today, a ninth grader i had never met came to me to talk. at the moment he introduced himself to me i had not anticipated that he would begin narrating the last 5 years of his life.  but he ended up telling me about his first girlfriend – a relationship that ended when she died two years ago while he was in the 7th grade.  (imagine.)  and then he told me about his first boyfriend – a relationship that ended abruptly last night and “not on good terms,” as he explained it.  and with all of that, he also described to me his experiences relating to others, or others’ experiences (not) relating to him.

he was surprisingly calm, and maybe it was only because he already exploded earlier that day in his last class (hence his impromptu visit to my office – his way…

View original post 708 more words

sneak peak of the book…

29 Jan
we have learned what it means to love without ownership.  to commit to another person, and not to a relationship.  to resist norms for the sake of ourselves.  we have learned that in a relationship, the most important part is relating.  communicating honestly.  being open-minded, and considering each other’s very different, sometimes contentious, perspectives.  relating prioritizes the person over the relationship, rejecting the idea that exclusivity has a universal definition that cannot be shaped to fit.  and for over a year, we have been trying it on.time has taught us that traditional structures make things easier.  fences that mark clearly defined boundaries facilitate the establishment of trust.  security.  fences make homes feel safe.

but fences are not always honest.

Protected: i dare you. (a work in progress…)

28 Dec

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:


14 Dec

i could nina simone this page all over itself.

i mean,

i could write your gospel better than your heart could spell your name.

(artwork by paul goodnight)

this i believe.

30 Oct


i believe that change is hard. and everyday i think it is impossible. and everyday i believe we’re almost there. i believe that learning is for everybody. school is not. and i believe that for most of us, while some of us are better at it than others, our approach to schooling is not working. i believe that we should start all over. blow up and make strange all the things we take for granted and assume to be just what they are. that students of the same age should be in the same classrooms. that the best way to assess what whole populations know is by having a piece of paper ask questions, and allowing test takers to guess the best response from three, four or five options. that textbooks are the best way to carry mass amounts of information. and that classrooms require teachers. that teachers require classrooms. i believe that within this rote and archaic structure, and that at this pace, we are losing. all of us.

every other arm in america has evolved with the changes that have emerged over time. industry. technology. music. art. people. but at least two things have not changed apart from switching seats around the same small circle – our politics, and our system of education. and the two are related. i believe that more than history and racism, the hate we learn, and the ignorance we inherit, people are attached to power. and power is attached to money. and it is power’s attachment to money, and itself, that has maintained a system of systems wherein people are perpetually without basic things they have rights to. a system that teaches its constituents to (unknowingly) endorse it, and fight against one another – a battle which ultimately sustains it.

i believe that changing how people think will be the only thing that changes what people do. and the one thing that is capable of changing how people think is the hardest thing to accomplish. experiences with diverse populations – experiences, that is, that nurture understanding and empathy, and sincere connection to humanity. one can raise awareness, by occupying wallstreet for example, or lighting up watts. but until awareness breeds spaces where people are talking to one another and not against each other, and it includes the poor and black and brown among us, awareness will always fall short of influencing action.

and it is at the point of action, which after people have aha moments, and revelations, and begin to see the world differently, that change occurs.

i believe that change is slow. and there are lives among us who do not have time for it. and so we grasp at what we want and need, and steal small, subversive victories for ourselves in other ways. and sometimes these victories manifest in little defeats. sometimes talking back at a teacher gets us suspended. and sometimes one suspension makes it easier for the next, and the next, and then expulsion, and the life thereafter. sometimes if we don’t meet someone along the way who we believe in, and who we trust believes in us, we lose the point of it all – which was saving ourselves.

(artwork by paul goodnight.)

your hand in mine.

20 Jun

(inspired, while listening to explosions in the sky’s, “your hand in mine.”  started when the song did, stopped writing when it ended.)

i swear i heard the moon cry
i swear the air started to twist and turn.
and i swear i saw the pacific
float across the sky
and the street lights cave in on us.
and though the cars around us were sprinting,
we kept time.
and i swear,
i swear
i saw one moment worth
of everything.
my heart traveled the world
and met the deepest part of it.
like where gravity rests
and hides for peace of mind
holding us up,
and letting the world fall.
i swear i moved somewhere else
like, everywhere.

i want to fall in love forever.

(artwork by paul goodnight.)

summertime reminds me of home.

9 May

this morning, i could smell summertime in the air.  and immediately, i felt love.  

i remember my elementary school summers, and waking up to sounds that hugged me like long, grandmother squeezes. familiar, comforting, but maddening interruptions to my deep-sleep, sweet dreams.  the sound of you pulling our past from our cabinets, and closets, and throwing what we had forgotten in big trash bags, sitting on the kitchen floor.  saturday morning funerals for the memories you called junk.   you always called this cleaning, but it was always one big mess to me.

i remember our summer afternoons spent in libraries.  my adventures in the corners between book shelves and pages, hiding in my head for hours  everyday.  i remember your “stone soup” and “three billy goats gruff” storybook voices, and how you took us on long walks down your childhood, up southern dirt roads, past tennessee farms and wild white horses, all the way to the honeysuckle you helped us find in our own backyard.

i have been carrying gifts, traveling my entire life with butterfly cocoons in my pockets full of tomorrow and collections of you.  thank you for your stories.  for your guitar playing and piano pounding, and the church ballads you wrote, and made me sing.  for the fake summer, schoolwork assignments i begged for, and the paperdolls you made us.  i thank you for your love.  and your selflessness.  i wear your sacrifices like award medals around my neck, and i am proud to know you as mother.  i am blessed to have you as friend.

(artwork by keith mallett)


rewind a lil: “on deception”

11 Apr


rewind a lil: “i have a confession”

11 Apr


rewind a lil: “if i knew i couldn’t fail”

11 Apr


i’m love. (a haiku)

7 Apr

sometimes he forgets,
he doesn’t have to prove a
thing to me. i’m love.

(artwork by chidi okoye)

getting past the “F” word…

20 Mar

March, 2010…for women’s history month

There was a time when celebrating Women’s History Month was an uncomfortable experience. Celebrating my “womanhood” meant also accepting a host of other things I didn’t necessarily want to. Most of it was my fear of being called a “feminist” – that ‘ugly’ perverted stink of a name. I resisted the identification, wanting little to do with the leg hair growing, angry people who constantly beat up on men.  Or so it had been presented to me.  Claiming it, the name and the association, actually made me feel less “feminine.” Aggressive and hard, “too strong” I think. And I hated it.

Because I was affected by popular (mis)representations of Feminism and femininity, I wasn’t able to imagine a woman as both intensely ‘political’ and gracefully beautiful. As being simultaneously bold and without unnecessary offense.  I wanted to be both Harriet and Billie. But I had to pick a box – check one. I chose the ‘prettier’ girl. She generated less trouble, more friends, and it was easier that way.  But of course, this particular compromise was expensive, and cost me a very significant part of my identity. I’ve had strong opinions since birth, but people – teachers especially, have always chastised me to silence and stillness, mold making me into some more suitable version of myself. (And I willingly obliged.)  If I had a voice, it had to look a certain way.  I got, “don’t be so loud” far more than anyone ever helped me in shaping thoughts and developing ideas.

I believe the first time I was told to channel my energy in some form outside of dance and song was when I met a complete stranger during my senior year in college.  Lisa Delpit.  Our conversation was probably no longer than an hour, yet she left me with more than I had accepted from most people at that time:  “You have to write.”  For my grade school teachers, I had been too sassy, too assertive and consequently, I started wearing the face of a femininity that never belonged to me. And while that face is probably true for someone, I resent that it was presented as being without any desirable alternative, and maybe also that I was so preoccupied with becoming whatever would make me more tolerable.

It took me until 2007 to finally understand, that Feminism and I (despite our flaws) stand for many of the same things. The root of which is humanity – people. God forbid. And… I’ve decided, feminists aren’t ugly. Oppression is.  In mind and spirit, and in politics.  Patriarchy is ugly.  Sexism, domestic violence – ugly.  Male chauvinism, sexual abuse, entitlement, unrestrained and ignorant male privilege.  Those are ugly. I think I must have quietly participated in some of those evils all those years I was ducking the “f” designation. I still loathe boxes though.

So here I am.  Grateful that experience has afforded me this wisdom: trying to make people understand you by masking who you are will not help them see you. Nor will it help you see yourself, or them. If anything, it cultivates greater misunderstanding. I get that now. In an effort to become agreeable enough to occupy enough time and space to express an opinion, I suppressed my ideas.  Running from one name, forced me into another and neither of them belong to me.  I lost myself altogether.  I am truly glad to have recognized that being me is inherently political. And even more inspired to have identified purpose in helping myself and others develop language to describe ourselves and our experiences, and mark a space from which we can declare them.  So for now at least, my current status remains: “Working Title.” Though let me be clear, Feminist or some variant is in the mix.

My whole point has really been this…  March is Women’s History Month. And I’m celebrating, as a Lover/Supporter/Defender of women and people everywhere.  (Feminist does not sting as much when it stands next to its definition.)

Thank you to all the women in my life, and in this world, who understand human value and self-worth, and have had the courage to invade silence to aggressively protect their names. To those who seek to learn themselves, but search more than their own faces. And to those who are after more than Self.


%d bloggers like this: