Built Like A Cross (Excerpt from “Copperhead”)

She said I was conceived inside a church, that’s why my body built like a cross. I’m just straight up and down and I like it. I like it ’cause I can be free. Many of these women bound. They are bound to service a man’s desires in one way or another. Whether they want to or not. If a man asserts that a woman ought to present herself prim and priss and she acts to fill up that thought or rebels against it, she’s adhering to that man’s demand on womanhood. And if she spends her life presenting cactus when she is the delicate flower she is still servicing his desires. Giving him dominion over her present self as if Adam didn’t nibble the fruit as well.

Pastor, at the old dusty, block church down the street, preached a talltale about Eve’s body seducin’ the man to go against God. Proclaimung that’s the reason why she’s gotta walk around in a winter coat, even when the sun feelin’ extra proud. That’s why she gotta avoid temptin’ the man, so he don’t go against God. But woman was made like that, and man was made to want her just like that. Well, most men.

Mama told me men are selfish.  I theorize man’s so attracted to woman because she was made from his leftovers, and he wants those leftovers back. (That’s half of what I took from mama’s daily Bible lessons.) So he can’t listen to God because he’s too in love with that piece of himself the woman got. That’s half of what mama’s daily Bible Studies taught me, whether she intended this particular lesson is unlikely.  

That pastor must not listen to God for his word ’cause I don’t know what told him to preach that nonsense. Now, devout women can’t wiggle a toe without worryin’ whether some man gonna be able to control himself during service. Sounds like man got a handicap to me. And God gave it to him, maybe on accident, when he tore that rib from his chest.  Like I said, man so selfish he got to feel himself again and he can’t do that without the woman. And he lusts for that missing piece of himself so bad that he’d bone a woman in the usher board room if his body mirrored his thoughts.

Adam nibbled that fruit because he wanted to. Women tell men to do things all the time that they don’t do; like be truthful and don’t lie about cheatin’ when my chest bleeding from the wound the deed left. I’m a woman, I ain’t gotta catch you in the act. I love you so I feel the piece of yourself you gave away. Because I’m selfish, too. I got one part of you, and I want more. I want it all. I don’t just want to be made- I want to be created. I’ma create myself by building on that rib–give me a hand too, and enough of your heart to keep you living, but half because of me. God gave Eve that rib and that’s where man’s selfishness lies. Because the ribs protect the heart. They’re meant to protect your personal rhythm, not separately,  but together. So to take a piece of that man’s chance for prosperity– he can’t stand it. He just gotta get it back.

And we, we women, gotta get more so we can protect him, protect his heart because we know he missin’ one bar from his steel safe. And we feel like we need more of him to be strong enough to protect him. That’s only because we forgot that God spat on us, too. Doesn’t matter whether a rib was our womb, or not. God put His hands on us, too. We can protect ourselves. God gave us an extra rib because the man, on top of being selfish, is arrogant. But we know better. God made us more humble, that’s why we allow men to govern our lives. That might not have been intended though. We have to use that extra rib to protect our pulses from him, too. Man can’t see beyond himself, and woman can’t stop loving man more than herself, because she feels guilty about having his rib. That’s what God told me at least. If I walk in a church naked as a jay bird and a man decides to play with himself during devotion then that ain’t got nothing to do with me. That’s just how God made him. Don’t make Eve to be the problem, when God the one who took man’s rib.  

And many of these women are bound, like I say, because they want men to want something from them. Be it a way to feel related to common speculations of manness, of Darwin’s capitalism, or religious perpetuations, or some asexual conception born to oneself nurtured by the environment. The man don’t know how to do nothing ‘cept use a woman or control one altogether. Ain’t all that well no matter what the intent: be it modesty or lasciviousness. A woman ought to be something for a man– submissive, sexy, virtuous, a momma or a sister or a mistress; in every case the woman’s supposed to bend if she’s going to be considered loving.

But mama said I’m built like a cross because I was thought of in that church. That’s the moment I was quickened, before a self could even call a name. I don’t bend. It just ain’t in my makeup, being angles with no give. This ol’ head being polished from the last push mama mustered before she decided against being a mother. The fact that I can walk right in front of a badgeman all bare up top and he doesn’t twitch. Pretend his eyes been boiled in bog water, and all he can see is places the sun doesn’t tend to.

Some people scream in the back of their minds so by the time the words get out they’re full of migrains–just want quiet and darkness. The screams they orchestrated about me tends along the lines of me being a shim so they boil their eyes in that bog water to avoid the PC Nazis and courtrooms, not to mention that gnat whirring around their second thoughts drawing attention away from righteousness. The rest of the screams mention things like “That’s just a pretty boy that survived malignance in his life” to “She just sick, that’s all. Them treatments take your hair and your dignity as an adult; as a child it must take your sense, too.”

I ain’t ever been one to focus on screaming, no matter how muffled by the dark. That’s s big part of that freedom I talked about: they don’t know what to do about me because they don’t know what to do about themselves. I got them throwing question marks at their surest laws. I make them ask the Lord to help them be more like Him. Just because I am like I am, they can’t be who they are. That ain’t what the screams will gossip, but that’s the sun shining right on you at midday, merely the sun’s reflection at midnight. Laying out bare in the noon daylight is the motherly kind of sun, because it’s direct.

Excerpt from Copperhead Manuscript

#copperhead, #excerpt, #faith, #gender-norms, #prose, #short-story

You Do It Different From Me (Excerpt from “Mannah”)

Banjo tasted skin. Not his own skin. Soft, though. Warm. Urgent.

“What in Gabriel’s Moon…” thought Banjo, hazily. He inhaled. The wind forced into his chest roused him gently. Drearily, Mannah filled his vision. He jolted upright. Dust clinging, obsessively, to the back of his old T-shirt. “What happened?”

“You blacked out. You stopped breathing…” Mannah stared like he could meet the sun’s gaze.

“Blacked out…?” Banjo, now aware of his surroundings, searched for his guitar.

“It’s in the spirit world.” Mannah stated knowingly.

“Mannah, what the hell are you babblin’ about now? Where’s the guitar?” impatience strengthening his limbs.

“I just toldja.”

“You’re makin’ about as much sense as a Christian revival. Speak plain just this once.” No longer grounded, Banjo stared down at Mannah. Still half-clothed. No shoes. No dust, except on his fingers from drawing in the dirt as Banjo revived.

“The guitar. It ain’t here no more.” Mannah kept a steady gaze on Banjo. As if he were conversing with a water moccasin during mating season. “How’d you do it, Banjh? I saw it but I didn’t see how you did it. You do it different from me.”

“You sure I blacked out? I think maybe you hit your head and I’m trapped in your hallucinations. I don’t have the cleanliest idea what you’re talkin’ about. I just need that guitar. I gotta return it. Ain’t nothin’ supernatural ’bout getting cussed out.”


#christianity, #excerpt, #gender-norms, #prose, #scenes, #short-story

Confession 1: Poem Against Terror (Excerpt from “The Pulse in the Pews”)

Originally published in print August 2018, “The Pulse in the Pews” is a knee jerk reaction to the terrorist attack at Pulse Nightclub and a particular church’s response to it. It expounds upon a pivotol period in my spiritual journey. One that sought to mediate religious doctrine with personal revelation and tragedy. One that sought to distinguish God’s voice in a sea of loquacious voices. The following is the first entry in “The Pulse in the Pews”, originally entitled “For Gay Christians Who Consider God When the Church is Not Enough” as an homage to Ntozake Shange. Comments are welcome. You can also message me through my Contact page. Enjoy.

Poetry enables us to speak the truths we may not readily communicate in common, everyday language. Because of it’s nature, poetry empowers the individual who harnesses it to discover insights ordinarily hidden in everyday language. As a spoken word artist and published poet, I had performed poetry on numerous occasions in bars and nightclubs, schools, parks, etc.. But one particular venue used to terrify me because I felt as though that place would not receive who I am as I am.

Poem Against Terror

And I’m afraid to perform in church.
In my truth. In my As I Am.
In my burdened and heavy laden
Which weighs more like angel dust and
defeating Satan-
As I Am
I’m AFRAID to perform in CHURCH
Because I am with Pulse
Because I am without my rib and
C R E A T E D
Because my faith has challenged mountains
Because my faith has challenged me
Because my love is created by God
I am with PULSE
And sometimes I CAN’T BREATHE
And sometimes I BELIEVE
that God is so GOD that even ME
Even me
He doth LOVE as I AM
As we are created
As we are hated by the love of god
As we are berated for the will of God
As we are related to the children of GOD
As we are
As we are
As we are
I am no longer afraid to perform in church
I speak those things that be not
as if they be
I am NO LONGER afraid
to perform in church
As I am
I am beloved by God
I am with Pulse
I CAN breathe
And I must breathe whispers
Into the soul
Because whispers are seeds that grow
Because I am a seed I know
Can move mountains
And walk in the valley of the shadow of churches
Because He leads me beside still bodies
that should not be without pulse
They should not be still
We should not be still
We should not be afraid
to seek God in church AS WE ARE
We, too, are BELOVED by God.

#black-lives-matter, #death, #excerpt, #faith, #gender-norms, #grief, #history, #hope, #journal, #lgbtqa, #love, #memories, #poem, #poetry, #raw, #spoken-words

Excerpt from “Master of Silence: Avatar Rahk”

Chapter 9-Toddler Rahk

“Mama, where is the seedgiver?
Am I not given?”

“You are. And your father
gave all he could muster
before your roots
grew too thick for my womb”

“So where is the seedgiver, mama?”

“Dear Rahk, had I an answer
perhaps I would have carried you
on dry land
rather than a sea”

Rahk contemplated her words
while studying the power “to be”


I want to read Chapters 10-11.

Chapters 10-11 (Excerpts from “Master of Silence”)

Chapter 10-Bible Study

and the esteemed master teacher

bent the pulpit to his will
in the name of the spirit, saying:

“Woman must be clay
to leave room for a husband

Woman must be clay
to leave room for a career

Woman must be clay
to leave room for her children

Woman must be clay
to leave room for God”


Chapter 11-Sunday School

“Master teacher?”

“Yes, little Rahk?”

“Why must woman be clay?”

“To leave room…”

“But what about her womb?”

“What about it, son?”

“–It expands as life grows.
But the room woman leaves
seem to keep doors closed…”

“Well, I’ll tell you this, I’ll tell you no more than twice.
Woman must certainly leave enough room
to open the door for Wife.”

“That’s not what The Spirit says,” insisted Rahk.

“Oh, I can’t wait to hear this!”

“The Spirit says she is water
and man must make room for her mist.”

Chapter 7: Spirit World (Excerpt from “Master of Silence”)

Avatar Maya turned a sunray inside out,

smiling big as she sewed the fragile thing to a cloud

The wonderful thing about rainbows does not lie in its sheen

But in how often honest souls smile when a rainbow is seen”

then she shimmered and galaxies shimmied in the wind as she smiled a solar flare

and baby clouds giggle-glowed

while weaving laughter in her hair


Rest in love, Dr. Maya Angelou

Possible Opening Scene For “Water: The Play”

Setting the Scene: Curtains open. Three women of varying ages and three men of varying ages face each other; a pair of women, a pair of men, and a pair with both. The lighting shifts from ample light to low light, mimicking the performers’ voices.

Males: We are told that we are flowers–

Females: That should bloom a certain color–

In Unison: So that we might

Male Facing Female: So that we might

Female Facing Female: So that we might

In Unison: …Be picked. We were told that we are flowers that should bloom a certain color, so that we might be picked.

Females: But why must we die for someone else’s sorry?

Males: But why must we be cut to sprout another’s smile?

In Unison: But why must we grow to bloom a certain color if we cannot die as ourselves?

Female Facing Male: I’ve lain I love you at your feet one too many times…

Female Facing Female: My I love you is not a bouquet to lay in the dirt!

Male Facing Male: My I love you is not a spider to be smashed in fear!

Female Facing Female: I’ve lain I love you at your feet one too many times…

Male Facing Female: My I love you is not a bouquet to leave unwatered.

Female Facing Male: My I love you is not a roach scurrying in the shadows!

In Unison: My I love you does not belong at your feet, but here it is again…

Female Facing Male: I expect more of you
because I see you as
a reason to believe
that love can transform
boys into men
who do not run
from hard conversations

Female Facing Female: My expectations
are not laws to imprison u
for living. U commit no crime
against me. Though,
sometimes your silence
is an ache in my stomach.
U are not my child. I cannot
carry you. Look how u shine.
I am no god to raise the sun,
though I grow from the light…

In Unison: We grow from the light.

Male Facing Male: Talk to me.
It’s the silence that
fathers this Distance.

You are not my father.

Talk to me.
Your constant silence
fathers this Doubt.

Female Facing Female: I need you to talk to me.
Your silence fathers this Distance.

What are we now?

Talk to me.
Your constant silence
fathers this Doubt.

And I am with child…

Female Facing Male: You told me
that you were my first
underneath the white light
of a blue door
on a dark night
with poems between us
knowing I had no trophy
to give you.

Male Facing Female: With years between us,
you allowed the silence
to stand. While I boasted,
certain of my place
on the empty stage
of your auditorium.

Male Facing Male: What didn’t you say
the night I caught you
considering me, smiling,
hand on cheek?

Female Facing Famale: What didn’t you say the night you clung to me,
saving your tears
to pour in my glass?

In Unison (louder): What didn’t you say the night you clung to me,
saving your tears
to pour in my glass?

Females and Male Facing Male: The same glass
we shattered on a whim,
with poems between us…

Alternate Females and Alternate Male: I did not duck
when your tears
splattered like acid
along my cheek.

Male Facing Female (with revelation): This is not the scar of friendship–

Male Facing Male (with revelation): This is not the scar of friendship–

Female Facing Female (with uncertainty): This is not the scar of friendship…

In Unison (with conviction): These are not the scars of friendship!


(Scene description and roles added to original post on February 23, 2019)

#brainstorming, #relationships, #scenes, #spoken-words, #water