The waters were calm when the face peered from the deep. The sun generous on brown skin. But this was no reflection. A gasp escaped.
He never knew sea nymphs had noses, round and wide. He never thought to dream one would show up with blue locs and a full mouth. Gap between proud teeth, with terracotta smile and scales tinted burnt sienna.
Anchoring his boat. He sat back, considering. For the sea nymphs he’d drawn from the words of renowned authors did not resemble his father. They did not have his mother’s mouth, or his great aunt’s cheek bones. They did not have heads shaped like pharaohs.
Figuring he’d imagined things, he peered back into the water. He saw himself again, but not himself. He saw his brother again, yet he did not. The sea nymph danced in the current just below the surface. The sea nymph shouted and sang in his native tongue.
The sea nymph’s observer sat stunned, but somehow attuned to the rhythm of underwater drums. His bare soles began to mimic the beat on the boat floor. He noticed, and stopped. He peeked over his modest boat again and grinned. The ocean heaved for the sea nymph’s kin had joined his dance. They’d flowed right into his song. The young man laughed as images of family reunions flowed into his vessel. As he watched an elder sea nymph, scales worn like sea turtle skin, her locs pale as sea froth, twist and whirl in the current created by her descendants. He was certain the first nymph was her grandson. She smiled at him through the deep blue and a gap stood proud between her teeth.
The young man’s boat, now heavy with memory, continued to sink. The young man treaded water as if trying to dance. He felt a hand graze his hand. He felt his toe balance on a current. He noticed a breath offered by the salty water. He took it and he danced as his boat descended, returning home. He danced. He forgot his feet. His clothes, heavy and sodden, floated to the depths. He darted between currents. And the sea nymphs circled his graceful descent. Their movement like praises of prayer. He began to glow, brown skin casting shadows on passing fish. He began to sing and the language was a loving kiss on his lips. One he had once loved, and now loves again. The language was his, as was the sea and the people who knew him.
You say you love me
(For the Bible tells you so)
You say you love me
(For you are a child of God)
You insist you love me
But your love hits like hurled stones
But your love stabs sole of foot
It’s hard to walk
It hurts to walk
When your love vehemently rejects my shared need to breathe
Such a peculiar love to offer sour fruit to starving children
Then stand repulsed, willfully withholding aid, when their bodies inevitably protest
How have you not choked on all the dust your love collects?
1. It’s ashamed these businesses just reopened
And now they have to pay for damages
Yeah, Philip said his shop looks like a skull, all shadows and caverns.
And daddy always told us that floor-to-ceiling windows catch the eye…
I told Philip he should have chosen that other location…
2. Lord, have mercy! Why is this still happening?
I don’t know, bae, but it’s got to stop, it’s got to stop.
But how can it when this country is rich with graves,
smoothie shops as tomb stones?
3. I did not march with a million men for this.
I did not withstand hosed tsunamis for this.
I do not carry the teeth marks of Officer K9 for this to still be America.
4. What are they protesting? People die all the time.
But at the knee of police? But unarmed?
Well yeah, sure. They can’t all be black.
And are any of them white?
Who knows? But those police officers certainly aren’t black.
I suppose you’re right, but what can we do?
Yeah…this is America.
Yeah, this is America.
Go to Baptism Lake
Sit on the water, take a seat
Dip your feet
That hand on your scarred back
Is an inquisitive wind
That coolness is the sin of your obedience washing away
That warmth is praise for your skin
That sunlight is not a whip
That bird song is not an alarm
That splash might be a tear
But that’s okay, it’s okay
Rest does not require strong arms
If we discarded egos
as quickly as we discard people
We might be able to build that tower to God
Inaugurate this address
This petition of just cause
This foremost amendment
that predates the deadbeat dads
who hated us as much
as they lusted after our
mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s curves
Still, we rise above poverty lines
police stations and prison cells
and projects and culdesacs
and estates and dorms
and factories and sawmills
and diners and churches
We faithfully await more than a night
of living slaves, leaving severed hands
in their shackles.
You will know that a reckoning is afoot.
And there will be no hooves pounding
Wall Street warning of invasion
We are already here
We Malcolms and Kendricks
We Jasons and Patrisses
and Alicias and Opals
We Derays and Olivias and
Kamalas and Sandras and Shondas
and Baracks and W.E.B.s
We will never be moved
and our discarded egos
will staircase our tower to God.
Not our brown bullet-laden bodies
Not our blood striping the American flag
We are children of Babel.
We will no longer let deceitful tongues divide us,
Rather we unite with forehead kisses
Kisses lacking the viscous spit of betrayal
We will be redeemed as we weep in the clay
that formed us, we will construct visions
rather than undervalued dreams
Our name is America for we have been,
and will always be, the brave.
Because you are human, I greet you.
But because you are racist, I do not greet you dearly.
Because you are racist, I cannot appeal to your sense of morality.
You have spat upon the flag of freedom. You have denied the pursuit of happiness. You are no patriot.
Having tainted history, both past and living, with the bile of your existence in a world that was never your own.
You do not seek to reconcile. You do not seek to understand. You hold on to the hoods that hide you from yourself.
You are no godsend. You are not divine. But you are a spook, preferring to possess people rather than truth.
Oh racist, no patriot holds you dear. But how can we when you are ashamed to show your confederate face?
Remove your hood.
What do you have to fear, don’t you claim a god is on your side? Don’t you have righteousness burning crosses inside you? Remove your hood.
A born American would.
like sunflower seeds and cigar ashes and Bic lighters in college apartments
like a new mother’s worries, single or not
like my father’s children
sunflower seeds and cigar ashes
Bic lighters in college apartments
dust in the suburbs dust in the hood dust in the pews of full churches
new mother’s worries new father’s misconcerns
good cops good politicians honor among priests
the right to due process
privilege among thieves
sunflower seeds and cigar ashes
Bic lighters between bishops
Walmarts and cockroaches when the switch is flipped
dandelion seeds in Franklin county fields
Wafflehouses and hip hop clubs in the city
cigarette butts and futile scratch offs
like our Father’s children
like my Father’s children
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
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
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
The mask I wear envies
the dark side of the moon
and eclipses the sun
So I leave it in a box
beneath some ill-fitting clothes
I’ve been meaning to throw out