I have taught my heart many things in this life: to be still, to heal and to let go. What I have failed to do is teach it how to love. Here I am, standing on the verge of fear and uncertainty, looking at you and hearing echoes of a future, and it is my heart that finds itself at a loss. I learned pain and losing too young, love had not been familiar then, and so I clung to the pain because it was always there. When I met you, I wasn’t looking for anything other than a way to prolong the numbness my heart had become accustomed to. Even in our chats, I communicated detachment and told you with every word not to stay. Truth is, I was afraid you would refuse if I asked you to stay. I want you to stay. Continue reading “Dear you”
Just like Bell Hooks’ book on class, Assata Shakur’s autobiography was an eye opener, to the intricacies of racism, what it means to love ourselves, as individuals and as a collective. We are going to tell these black stories, disrupting the narrative and letting our children know that we were here, we felt, we loved and we died. And all of it is valid. Struggle sometimes blinds us to the moments of joy inbetween. Shakur’s pregnancy was that light in the dim circumstances thrust on her, how she fought to hold on to it, a resilience many of us are all too familiar with. We feel it in the spaces we find ourselves in, where they try to squeeze every bit of blackness out of us. Save for our skin, which holds on and serves as a reminder to us of our pact with the universe. How we are not easily conquered, how these stories will outlive us and echo affirmation to the generations that will come after us and refuse to bend. Her pain, her strength, her refusal to overlook the happy moments is my story. Of what it means to find yourself in a place so violent to your black body, constantly squeezing out metaphors as a way of raging against erasure.
“Only a fool lets somebody else tell him who his enemy is.” Continue reading “Assata Shakur – An Autobiography”
I paint with words
Sometimes the pain is a man, a limping man, not because his legs aren’t strong enough, it’s his heart that has walked a thousand miles, only to be met with nothing that wants it
This is the man in my painting, who hears the word promise and his heart translates it to shattering glass, “Please, make it stop. Tell them I’ve heard of promise before, waited with baited breath, but he’s the second coming, the never coming. All I hear is his name as a scream, a broken prayer, an abandoned temple heavy on my chest.” Continue reading “I paint with words”
My birds and bees talk came in the form of hair salon gossip. My mother, Christian woman that she is, never spoke to me about sex. Her advice on the subject consisted of this one instruction, “Don’t sleep with boys, you’ll fall pregnant, and I’ll kick you out of my house.” So sex was pretty much a no go topic at home, but the curiosity that comes with growing up would not let me go through life ignoring this big part of it. I was starting to see boys as more than just people, and pretty soon, if the talks doing the rounds were anything to go by, I’d start having sex with the person I called my boyfriend.
Going to the salon, as much as I hated getting my hair relaxed, was to be my saving grace. This place proved to be a place of learning as much as it was about making me look good. I hated the effects of the relaxer on my hair and how the hairdresser never missed a chance to burn me with the hairdryer, but the stories of these women, the sisterhood forged through the misty air of hair dryers and the smell of hair food is what made the experience worthwhile.
Sometimes love comes to give us a second chance
I was breathing in commas before you came my way
Stranger with hands that reminded me of God
I was merely a fraction of all the tomorrows I let my yesterdays slip away with
But you came and translated my suicidal thoughts into a language only love understands
Thank you for loving me in ink
I hope to hold your heart with the delicacy of one who tames butterflies
I am naming my smile after you
Because I love the taste of your name in my mouth
Painting by Pier Toffoletti
It all sounds so romantic when they say it, when you read their books and they speak about it, not knowing that that would one day be your dream. Living it is a nightmare, punctuated by anxiety induced hysterics of,”Out of all the potential you have, this is what it has culminated into?”. The pursuit of a dream is an act of dying daily, breathing the only reminder that, nope, you are still alive, and every bit of this hell you’re going through is not the one they preach about in church.
Speaking of, you haven’t been to church in a while because, one pain at a time. It is hard enough bearing the pain of disappointing yourself, you don’t wanna look God in the eye and mumble,”I’m still working on it”. He understands, of course He does, but you don’t, neither do your dreams and your best-laid plans. Are you trying hard enough, is the depression giving you enough room to breathe?Do you still know the meaning of a miracle? Continue reading “Writing: The poor man’s job”