No More Hand Me Downs

this weight is not mine
i won’t wear it

you can keep it for yourself
since you want to be down

this weight is not mine
i won’t wear it

don’t care how stylish it is
don’t matter how fine an antique–
don’t nothing that heavy belong to me

keep it for yourself
if you want to be down


-Rahk.

#poem, #poetry, #raw, #relationships, #sons

Rather Than Silence

I’d rather you scream
So long as your scream
Contains the reason
Why your I love you hides behind your teeth

I’d rather you cuss
And belittle my concerns
So long as I know what it is
I have done to hold your I love you hostage

I’d rather you sob
Through confessions of doubt
So long as I bear witness to the certainty of your will

I’d rather yell
I’d rather fuss
I’d rather leave
Than smear silence
In your open wounds


~Rahk.

#poem, #raw, #relationships

With a Note

In 2012, all I had of yours:
a whisper in the dark
a hug behind closed curtains
the questions you left me with.

They belonged to you:
That fitted-cap whisper
That capricious hug
That polluted reality.
I never wanted your things

You gave me:
mixed whispers,
closed-curtained embraces,
subconscious kisses,
Now in broad daylight,
I lay them on your back porch.

I deserved more than your darkness.


-Rahk

#grief, #letter, #poem, #poetry, #raw, #relationships, #water

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

Introducing “Mannah”, inspired by “Copperhead”.

Mannah never seems to notice the uneasy stares as he saunters barefoot across the street from the In & Out Mart off 56. The gas pumpers and the mail-checking neighbors never got used to seeing the young man walking with nothin’ but a pair of jeans cut off mid-thigh. He showed too much knee for a man of color. It didn’t help that he ran a lot in his earlier youth. Chasing dragonflies around the Miller pond gave him legs like an insect. His grandpa called him Grasshopper because of it. Told him, “If we judged by ‘pearances, we’d sing tale of you jumpin’ over Gabriel’s Moon.”

“Gabriel’s Moon” is a fable generations spread like butter on cornbread. The angel Gabriel had a bet with his brother, Jeffrey. Jeffrey swore that he could do a backflip over the moon if Gabriel’d just give him a hand-boost. Gabriel laughed at his lie but agreed to boost him anyway. The time came when the moon was low and hung like a witch’s smile. Lo! And Behold! Jeffrey careened up into the night sky and cleared the moon with a clumsy backflip! Gabriel boosted him but Jeffrey never quite got his footing. His left foot caught up on the last corner of the moon and that off-kilter backflip landed him square on his back. Crushed his wings all to canyon dust. He won the bet but his wings didn’t take him to heaven after that. He could only get as high as the moon when its just above the tree tops and the family always calls it Gabriel’s Moon.

Mannah, or Grasshopper when grandpa calls him, was built to clear that moon without a boost from Gabriel. All from trying to catch dragonflies on the edge of Miller’s pond. The people looked on as Mannah’s shoulder blades reflected the sun like a new penny. His skin always looked like a pre-winter leaf with the sun smiling behind it. June always called him “Pond Water” because he was just brown enough to require a bit of sunlight to see the sparse hair keen on his legs and arms and chest. Not to mention the patch, like down on a baby duck, just below the back of his neck. Save for that hair and his proud eyebrows, Mannah was bald.

He kept on heading down the path toward the old brick church. Dirt and rocks almost parting for his barefeet, like some country Moses. Humming a poem he read when he was a teenybopper, the whispers and puzzled faces becoming the baseline for his song. He felt it to his bones, but never acknowledged a thing. He never did lend an eye to those things people didn’t want him to see. Mannah didn’t wonder about the whispers covered by hands. Didn’t cast a thought to why Banjo tripped over a string whenever he came around the bend. Must not be important. If it was, someone would say something to him directly. Since no one ever did, it wasn’t a matter of life and death. When it’s a matter of life and death even dragonflies speak.

“Banjo, I swear. I put it on everything. The dragonfly spoke.” insisted Mannah.

“Grasshopper,” Banjo knew his friends grandpa, “that damn dragonfly didn’t say shit to you. Stop lying for once!”

“Did to. I was chasing him, a pretty one too. His wings were like black cobwebs carrying him around that pond. Flitting away as soon as I could get close enough to see how his backside was bluer than ol’ Ms. Carnegie’s eyes.” Mannah sat beside Banjo like a frog, hands on the tops of his feet. Banjo theorized that if Mannah used all the strength in his legs he’d probably leap over Pond-Lake County.

“That sounds like a dragonfly alright. But it don’t sound like a talking dragonfly. Did you see his mouth?” Banjo started tinkering with his guitar, a hand-me-down from his favorite uncle.

“Well if you shut up a minute I’ll tell you again. I was chasing him, like I said, and he went to the back part of Miller’s pond…where the bog is,” Mannah hopped on tiptoe in front of his companion, “but I was a kid then. I didn’t know any better.”

“You sound like you don’t know any better now; talkin ’bout a talking bug.” Banjo eyed Mannah as he leapt around. He wondered why the man never seemed to have dirt on the bottoms of his feet or sweat runnin’ down his back. He was swimmin’ stark naked in his own skin due to the southern sun. He couldn’t fathom setting a socked foot in that ground, nevermind his bare foot.

Mannah leaned against the brick wall and continued, “To get that dragonfly I started to run right into the bog and that’s when it happened. That dragonfly turned around and said, ‘Gwon now! Get!’ and I froze midstep. He sounded like Big Pa when he said it.” Mannah finally made eye contact with Banjo.

“Nigga, if you don’t get the fuck outta here. It probably was Mr. Washington yelling from the house.” Banjo’s borrowed guitar lay on the ground. Its keeper couldn’t focus on one cord when in Mannah’s presence. Quiet as its kept, Banjo just couldn’t think and play at the same time. Why Mannah made him think so hard remains a mystery.

“No, Big Pa was at this church. I know what I saw…and heard.” Mannah somehow slid down the old brick wall, without smearing his skin along its weathered surface, to sit wide-legged on the sparse grass and ample dirt. Banjo inexplicably noticed his companion’s cut-off jeans shifting, baring more skin.

“Man, I ain’t foolin with you today,” Banjo muttered in annoyance while wiping the dirt from his guitar. “I’m going to go practice some more. See if Ms. June wants a private show.”

“Ms. June is old enough to be both our grandmother’s.” Mannah didn’t move from his spot on the wall.

“I know. That’s what sweetens the tea, Grasshopper. That’s what sweetens the tea,” he winked and said, “See ya.” Banjo hurried away– glancing back once while shaking his head as Mannah rolled on his stomach. You’d think he was laying on a sleep number bed, Banjo remarked to himself. As he turned his head back towards his destination, Banjo observed that there was not a particle of dust dulling the soles of Mannah’s feet or his exposed back. Mannah’s skin was somehow untouched by the complimentary coating of dust that assaulted everything else, even clothes.

Puzzled, Banjo shook his head again. He spent more time than he’d admit to himself dwelling on that peculiar sight. He spent no time at all questioning why he noticed in the first place. Finally, Banjo stared at the path to Ms. June’s; his head was still shaking when the sun blew out.

—–*—–

Rahk.

#copperhead, #excerpt, #prose, #relationships, #scenes, #short-story, #spoken-words, #storytime, #water

Pop’s Fables

Son regret just like a dog with two tails–
he can’t move his ass without waggin’.

So, tell that woman you wanna hold her in a dark room and witness the stars in her eyes.

Love that woman, boy. Love her man-like. Then love her like you a woman too. Tell her

“I’m not as strong as I wanna be and I’m weaker than I think. But I can keep a volcano calm when I choose to hold you tighter than my ego.” Tell her

A bejeweled crown adorns her trust and you have become her tallest throne. Show her. Show her.

Son, a dog with two tails is a sad sight to behold. And son… if you’ve never seen one, keep living ’til you get old.


-Rahk.

#fathers, #poetry, #relationships, #sons, #storytime

The Driest Tears

Dez did always tell me that a Black man’s tears are sand. “Sand in an hour glass, to be exact,” he would say staring at things I wished I could see. And here I am, hands dripping sand, cheeks dry with the dust of my hourglass tears. Again. And again, I’m seeing his skyward gaze, his distant smile. And again, I’m wondering why these tears are falling.

I focus on the task at hand, brushing my teeth. My reflection betrays my attempt at normalcy. The taste of salt mixes with the minty freshness. I spit into the sink, then cup my hands below the faucet. The cool water pools into my palm, I wash away the vaguely rabid foam of the Crest. I repeat, splashing droplets onto the mirror as I wet my tear-dampened face. The water touches a memory.

“You think a lot,” he said almost complaintively. We were in my studio apartment, conveniently located between my job on campus and my favorite coffee spot. I took a breath to glance at him lying comfortably on my bed before responding. “So I’ve been told.” Paying him minimal attention, I continue replying to work emails.

“What do you think about crying?”

I remember how taken aback I was. The question carried the weight of serious thought, yet was hurled at me like a wad of paper.

“I think it’s natural,” I offered, my voice fraying around the edges with uncertainty. He scoffed at my non-committal reply.

Natural, you would say that. Luxe, man, you have to stop being so predictable,” Dez teased, sitting up. I realized, probably belatedly, that Dez had changed positions. Our gazes were at eye level when he finished his jibe. “Being predictable takes away some of the fun in winning you over.”

The mirror slowly reveals a weak smile. The memory offers some relief before the threat of tears creeps right behind it. Remember, a Black man’s tears are sand in an hourglass. They always stop in time to save face, I’d finish. Isn’t that right, Dez?

The bathroom darkened with an abrupt flick! of the lightswitch. In the shadows, my petty reflection held just enough light to showcase one last tear trailing my cheek. With a sigh, I went back to my room to finish dressing.

-Rahk., Between Men: The Driest Tears

#memories, #prose, #relationships