Archive | May, 2010

falling stars, shooting.

24 May

i would like to step
into the footprints
of falling stars
just so i can know them.
those bright
uncertain
things,
with their short lives
and their erratic stares.
sitting above
the ceilings
that cover our ears
from their burning journeys
and moon sky conversations.
and their secrets.
and wisdom.

musing among themselves.
hoping to connect
with us,
still having faith
in the worst
in us.
waiting
for us
to (re)discover them,
despite the gravity
of each of our jaded parts,
which bind us here.
which have grown
to refuse love.

on days like this
i’d like to go up there.
or down there –
wherever they are.
so deep inside of me,
i am beyond myself.
outside of the clothes
that bear all my stains,
and the make-up that sits
on top
of my mistakes.

free. burning bright,
and slowly falling
to join
the pools of dreams
rising
with the histories
of those of us
who wouldn’t stop
believing
in those strange things
that fall,
carrying faith
in their arms
and love riding
on their backs.

falling stars, shooting…

(artwork by chidi okoye)

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what i learned in school today, no. 2

17 May

i asked a few of the young women i work with if they thought it would be helpful to have a session on healthy relationships and safe practices in light of our upcoming prom. of course, they all laughed. “you can try ms. b, but people are gonna do what they wanna do,” one of them said. another student also reminded me (and how could i forget) that students have been planning whatever they are going to do for the entire year – “it’s goin down regardless of what you say.”

i suppose i wasn’t surprised by their responses. just disappointed. and scared. i remember the night of one of my proms. and i was super naïve – things happened that didn’t have to. as a senior in high school i hadn’t spent the year planning an extravagant outro that included sexin it up with some dude. but regardless – even though i didn’t ask for it, or even consent to it for that matter – it happened. and i suppose that while i am concerned about all of my girls, I am even more concerned about those girls who have gaga eyes for some close friend they’ve known their whole lives – that guy who is definitely thinking more about the night after the dance than the prom itself, and is sharing secrets with his boys about what he plans to do. i worry about her.

and so i told my students what happened to me the night of my prom. sort of out of desperation. it was like i was screaming, “but you don’t get it!” and the conversation that developed after that was much different from the conversation that inspired the confession. one by one, each of them began sharing their stories – experiences with rape and molestation. emotional abuse, manipulation, and the men and women in our lives who did not or could not help. i am no longer surprised by the frequency with which such violence occurs. but each time i meet this same portrait, i become more and more irate. and sad that these things happen to so many of us. i am over trying to understand it – i abandoned the question, “why?” years ago – though that is certainly a task for someone (who isn’t me). at this point, i’m in survival mode – more like, what i am i supposed to do now? the only thing i have been able to settle on is aggressively battling the silence that is so easy to nestle in.

after the prom that year, silence was home to me, and it was an ugly hell. i looked like myself, but i was the worst in me – for sure. when i finally shared it for the first time with my mother – nearly a year later – i was relieved. crying to purge the weight of wounds is not cliché. or dramatic. for me, it was necessary. human connection and empathy are my unsung heroes. to be clear, this relief (however amazing it felt) did not manifest in any miraculous healing. but i discovered that the more i talked about it, the stronger my language became, and the better i was able to identify the places that experience still lived. i am grateful for my mother, that she is who she is and that she listened – and understood despite the fact that i have made decisions that depart from how she raised me. she gets me. but everyone does not have that. and i literally cannot imagine what it would be like to carry my own experiences alone.

coming full circle (hopefully)… this is what truly inspired my asking my students whether a healthy relationships/safe practices conversation could be useful. an hour after I asked my students what they thought, the five of us decided we needed to have that conversation. and that i would tell my story with every girl attending prom, small group style.

i have to admit that (just in case someone has anything to offer about it) while i believe in this process, and i trust in it, i am incredibly vulnerable – and for that, i am nervous. my students having access to this particular part of me causes me to be naked in a way that opens me up for attack – and anyone (young people especially) can use that against me in moments of anger or frustration. but the discussion we had, needed to happen. and the possibility that the discussions these girls and i are planning could help a single person far exceeds the risk that i will incur any injury. i would like to think that it didn’t matter, but instead i will admit that it does and pray for the best…

(see also:  https://pdotberry.wordpress.com/2010/02/23/what-i-learned-in-school-today/)

haiku #15

17 May

love is standing at
the edge of my tongue, waiting

for him to catch it.

more (a haiku)

15 May

more than i don’t want
to share, i don’t want to be
shared. you don’t get it.

haiku #14

11 May

resting next to my
thoughts – your smile is sitting there,
i thank god for you.

seasons.

11 May

have these been your rations,
parceled out
and stored in the pockets
of your favorite pants
full of memories
of everyone else too?
pulling me out
in pinches of lint
to dress your back
in collections of me
like a sweater,
like a fad.
certainly,
i will stay for your season
and warm you through your winter
but measure me carefully
every portion
makes me smaller,
or less here.

i would like to last.

haiku #13

11 May

war, in defense of
what? to protect humankind
or your kind? tell me.

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