The Stench

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I recently noticed, this summer, that when I took my dog out for her midday walks to relieve herself that upon doing her business, and no sooner than I retrieved a baggy to scoop her poop that the stench of her business began to attract this small swarm of flies.  This is no anomaly as I have witnessed this dance on several occasions, however the swiftness of attraction to this stench was quite shocking.  No soon as the stench hit air there were already hungry, blood thirsty, flies coming to feast on the delicacy, bleed it dry and then move on.

The occurrence with my pooch reminded me of a conversation I had with a girlfriend regarding the earful she heard when her grandmother was dropping some knowledge to her younger, female, relative.  To paraphrase grandmother, she simply explained that women who continue to date (or something like date) unavailable men whether these men are unavailable emotionally, socially, or otherwise, will never be married…if marriage is the goal.  These women have a stench of desperation on them that alerts a certain type of man to their presence.  These are the women who will accept anything and ultimately bend in order to keep (any kind of) a man in her life no matter the circumstances-albeit cheaters, liars, etc.  These men, as soon as her stench wafts in their direction will swarm swiftly, feast assiduously, bleed emotionally, and move on to someone else.  Like flies to fresh shit.

I have to be honest with myself because as I grow within my own honestly I find it to be quite therapeutic.  I, like so many women, have played the fiddle of a fool and danced to the scratched tune of a man who I thought loved me immensely, but have come to realize that I may have been giving off this stench.

For the last three years (more like 3 ½ years), while doe eyed and clinging to the HOPE of love-the familiar of arms wrapped tightly around my breast and sweet breath tickling the hairs of my neck as we lay quietly sleeping in HIS bed dressed in MY sheets-he inhaled the stench of my desperation while secretly loving someone else.  For three years as our rollercoaster went through its swift hitches and steep drops, our side-rolls and backwards turns in carts with no safety rails or seat belts, and while always finding us pulling into one another’s arms-as if there had been no sign of turbulence-he was sailing, in calm waters, and looking to the horizon with someone else.  For three years as my heart inflated and deflated at the weight of our actions, from loving to shunning, to growing in love and out of it (to in it and out of it all over again), to hating and learning all over again how to smile in a direction tainted with the bitter taste of hurt, he was secretly becoming engaged to someone else.  He fed.  He drained.  He moved on.

This is no anomaly.

I have had to sit in my truth and question my own self worth at the weight of the words spilling out to me from my friend’s mouth, which were tattered at the corner of every vowel with the sign of age and wisdom.  Am I giving off such a stench?  Is this the reason why my love for him had not been good enough to sustain US?  My inner voice screamed, “Yes…you stink of a woman who is only worth a piece of a man, and he smelled you coming from a mile away.”  The depth of this knowledge was nearly worth the sacrifice of the pain I endured; as he was only willing to provide me with 10% of himself, and as I provided a whole me, he maintained his level of comfort-swarming, feasting and draining.

Damn!  I need a shower.

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Why Are Black Women Single (Excerpt)

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***This excerpt comes from a short story I was writing for submission to a  documentary entitled, “Why Are Black Women Single”***

I studied hard and played like the world had my record on a continuous spin. I danced in college. I danced like although I knew someone was watching they couldn’t fully appreciate who I was until the dance was done, but the dance was never done, and I was fine with being slightly misunderstood. So I danced. I danced like tomorrow was going to come too soon and the thought of me dancing would not be received well by those who were placed in my path to shape my future.  So I danced until my legs went numb, and my face went pale, and the hair around my temple curled loosely from beads of perspiration. I danced until Friday became Sunday which blurred slightly into Monday like perfectly blended eye-shadow that only showed its true color the higher the hues went and the more the other colors were worked out. I was a great student because I knew how to have fun-how to let the world come to me and me not sweat anything but the dance. I burned both ends of a rapidly burning candle and these were the best years of my life.

About Nami

                                                                                                    

I write about life and love, about how love is the divine accident when one lives without any conscious thought of love. Love is stumbled upon when your eyes are closed, and you are clumsily swatting the air for something to hold on to as you fall. Love is the net that you never knew was there, the invisible miracle, which saved you from yourself. I write how life without love is a tree that will never blossom a fruit or green leaf, and how a barren tree may never realize its true beauty.

I Prayed

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(Click to Listen- I Prayed)

Here is a little background. I began this poem months ago, maybe earlier this year…January I’m thinking, and tucked it away for a rainy day. I finished this poem last night, in the middle of rehearsing another poem on marriage. Interesting how the mind never lets you forget some things. This is my rainy day poem. Enjoy

My mother was a Christian who drank Miller Lights and smoke cigarettes religiously
My father, although believes he believes he believes in GOD, runs to his pharmacist in times of despair
They never married
So my birth was not coveted by the church
So when I pray the Lord’s Prayer
Every night
On bended knee
Praying that HIS will be done
bathing in these words
cleansing my spirit
and showering my insecurities between the lines of this testimony
In the hopes that my fears would not resurrect in the pits of my stomach
Claw its way out my mouth
And stand in the presence of me
as me
in the hopes that I will not walk back to you when my days become dark
And my flesh weak
For a moment of playing house in plagiarized love scenes acted out with lines of temporary truths
Set in sheets stained by some other bitch
Performing our own rendition of What Love’S Got to Do With It
And then the phone rings
And your words pierce my ears like new diamonds
tattoo my skin with goose bumps
and there I am again
in the presence of you
Entangled in the wrath of you
Rehearsing these scenes all over again
Losing my divinity’s virginity all over again
And realizing at that moment that I most have gotten the words wrong

And that my birth is not coveted by the church
So instead of praying
I wish to GOD

I wish my heart would stop beating
Free from palpitations and momentary hiccups just stopped
And the wells of my eyes became fruitless and barren
Emotions embalmed with shit and grit
So the words ‘Fuck You’ flowed free from my tongue
Just like your name and at one point in time the words ‘I Love You’
And mean it just as much
I wish that for a moment I could sacrifice my soul
Nail it to a cross
Pierce these words to my side
Bleed blood of not giving a fuck

So that I won’t give a fuck
Walk a way not giving a fuck
Run on not giving a fuck
Instead of memories
Of your eyes
And my smile
And your touch
And my love

I wish you never existed
In the creases of my finger
tips of my tongue
where your name replaced taste
I wish to GOD I didn’t remember those times
That you made feel
Everything
And these tears would
Just
Die

But then I remember
That my mother was a Christian who drank Miller Lights and smoke cigarettes religiously
And
My father, although believes he believes he believes in GOD, runs to his pharmacist in times of ware
They never married
So my birth was not coveted by the church
So when I pray the Lord’s Prayer each and every night

He never hears me

Through the Night (Decatur Book Festival Submission)

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This is the fictional/non-fictional story that I sent in for the Decatur Book Festival and although it was not selected I am proud that this subject matter is the platform from which I will build to become a better storyteller.  Please read and leave a comment with your thoughts.

 

Through the Night

Sleep was a night time ritual that seemed to elude her every night.  The thought of the news she had to deliver to her children the following day haunted her waking hours, but hit her most when her house was the most quiet and her mind the most clear.  Angelia laid there barely conscious, reciting in her mind the terminal news, “I have cancer, and do you know what that means…do you have any questions?”  “Of course, they have questions; they are children for heaven’s sake…they are my children and so young; who will be here for…” her thoughts deliberated as her mind drifted to a grey area.  She rolled over to her dresser drawer, withdrew a small pouch, and perched herself on the large, brown, leather, chair her father left for her which now sits in front of her open bedroom window. 

Angelia’s father passed away a few years prior to her receiving the news about her own condition, and although she was an adult, she remembered how empty the world felt without him in it and how lost her days were without his voice calling to her in the mornings; he was a fixture of normalcy in her day.  Willie George was a spry older man who hosted weekly parties in his family room and played disc jockey from the microphone of his 1970 Techsonic radio.  He loved life and refused to be “placed” somewhere where his love of life would be altered and charted by meal, medication, and recreation schedules.  After his first stroke, his daughters moved him from his home, 30 miles from the center of Dallas, TX, to Angelia’s home, which was closer and easier for everyone to keep a watchful eye.  Willie always resented that eye, because he was a free man, and his freedom had to be carefully calculated in someone else’s home, however that calculated freedom beat scheduled recreation any day of the week and he never complained.  Every morning Willie would call to his daughter and ask how she was doing almost as if he was checking to make sure he was not a burden on her life and every morning Angelia greeted him with a reassuring resolve and a special breakfast.  One day, while the family was away, Willie worked on his disc jockey routine, making tapes for his friends back in Ft Worth, which he planned to visit the following month, and his heart stopped beating.  Willie slipped quietly away, listening to Marvin Gaye, and clinging on to small fragments of his own normalcy. 

Angelia fumbled with the small pouch.  Feeling the cellophane wrapping between her thumb and index finger she questioned the decision she was about to make.  Just as the thought entered her mind, the smell of sulfur dioxide came wafting in from her just struck match, and then the inhale.  The light from her freshly lit cigarette, competing with the light from the moon was everything a moment could be for her, especially now when moments are examined so carefully.  She took another drag of her cigarette, balanced it skillfully between her top and bottom lip and hit the clock’s “time button”, which laid in peace on her nightstand.  The clocked blinked 3:11 a.m. twice in big, bright, fluorescent pink, numbers and stayed illuminated.  “Huh, it’s only three in the morning” she murmured and went back to the diligence of her own thoughts.  It was three in the morning and Angelia was sitting in her father’s chair, with her flirty night garment, and fuzzy duck slippers making life decisions.  She often believe that important decisions on life are not hammered out at the kitchen table over dinner, but at this hour, three a.m., when your thoughts take over your sleep and force themselves to the top of your “to-do list”, even when to do them never was a matter of thought. 

Feeling a little nauseous from the chemo medication and her cigarette, Angelia dangled her half-smoked cigarette out of the open window and gazed around her now dimly lit, soft pink, room and her eyes landed on a table which held pictures of her family.  Although she could not make out the happiness in the smiles and quirkiness in the eyes of each photo, in such poor lighting, she knew there was a small, frameless, wallet sized picture of her mother that rests against the family portrait of her and her children.  “Why was I never good enough, mom?” she said in such a bruiting tone that even startled her a bit.  She had to remember that her children were asleep in the next room.  Climbing out of the chair and making her way to the table, she demanded with her scissored hands confronting the photo, “How come I never measured up to the lowest standards you set for the rest of your children, mom?”  She tore into the image, ripping the photo to shreds, hoping to destroy with it the feeling of abandonment she felt as a child growing up under her mother’s roof. 

Angelia was the second of four children growing up in a strict, Christian, home where GOD was at the head of the table, and church was the family’s near nightly activity.  Every morning Angelia’s mother would walk her three daughters and one son, in full Christian regalia, around downtown Dallas catching bus after bus, in the blazing sun, to get the local magnet schools, in full display of what Helen believed were watching eyes of her parenting.  Helen Claxton could not afford a slip up from her children, she was the chair of every notable board in the church, and a minor clink in the chain of her household would spell weakness and lack of faith.  Peering through the keyhole of the Claxton household, everything and everyone was perfect.  She had a faithful husband and four beautiful children who were good students and who participated in every church ceremony she bulletined to the church’s announcement board, regularly.  And although Mrs. Claxton may not have been the head of the table in her own home, she definitely was the second in command.  She ruled with a swift, open hand and made sure that everyone in her home, including her husband, prayed and fasted for their sins real and imaginary.   The tight grip Helen had on her family, created the cracks necessary, which made it so easy for them to slip through her grasp.  Her husband Willie’s behavior became unmanageable.  He first started coming in late for dinner, which lead to missing dinner and finally missing from home altogether and then from church.  Rumors began to circulate around their small neighborhood and finally it all ended-divorce!  Helen’s world began to spiral and she started clinging on to the children she could save, which left Angelia in the wake of her own emotional tornado.  Rebelling against the “Word of God” and pregnant as a high school sophomore, Angelia was on her own to defend her sanity in a world she knew so little about. 

“You taught me nothing!”  Angelia exclaimed at the torn photo, unconsciously ignoring her emotions and her children sleeping in the other room.  “You never prepared me for this, how can I face my own children when WE never had a conversation?”  “You taught me nothing!”  “You abandoned me, and you abandoned your grandchildren, you selfish b….” and in one swoop, as if she was conducting a symphony, all the pictures clashed to the floor, in harmonious rhythm.  Falling to her knees as if her legs had become weighted down with cement, Angelia opened her mouth and began muttering the words of the only prayer she remembered, “Our Father, which are in Heaven, Hollowed be thy name…” at each stumble she began again, “Our Father, which are in Heaven, Hollowed be thy name…” and again, and again, until the words flowed as if the prayer never left her.

 After what seemed like an eternity, she rose and dusted the glass fragments from her knees.  She examined the mess she had made of her room and snubbed the ash shaped cigarette which dangled from the edge of the table that use to hold the memories of happy smiles and quirky eyes.  The warmth of the sun swept over her face and she realized that she never slept the night.  It was morning.  It was a new day and a new moment.  She gathered herself, wiped the sweat and tears from her face, found her robe, and with bare feet, she set off to have the most difficult conversation of her life with her children.

THE FLOOD

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(Click to Listen-The Flood)

Our relation ride waves of change like New Orleans refugees
No FEMA teams
Just injections of depression when our tide rises
And emotions flood our better judgment
We fight for our own surface
Drowning one another with the words weighted down
By the half dead bodies of our past
And those that continue to float into our present
We hurl rocks of disrespect
like prized female cleanup pitchers pitching for game-changers
fast
underhanded
and on target
we ride pieces of drift from our own ruins on the fragments of our own happiness
and grasp for security
clinging to one another for safety
only to be tossed aside to fend for ourselves
and then to again grasp for security
again only to realize that we are all we have
We scrap for position
ripping each other out of our smiles
and leaving scars that only heal in half smiles glossed in insecurity
we wrap what’s valuable in plastic to keep the water from tainting the love that we carry with us
but we poke holes in the plastic allowing small trickles of water to seep in and contaminate
we neglect the size of the storm not because we are in it
but because we create it
small rains are now hurricanes
because we failed to repair the damage done when the damage was manageable
we failed to board our feelings to brace for the coming torrential
we are damaged
being carried by a current on temporary slacks that will not sustain us
and from a distance we hear that another storm is coming
but we don’t evacuate because home where our heart is
So we stay
and drown each other in the rising flood waters of our own discontent
With no relief in sight.

The Familiar

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(Click to Listen-The Familiar)

Have you ever played the game memory?  You know…the card game where you lay all 52 playing cards down on a flat surface and you flip the cards over, one at a time, remembering where you may have seen the card  that you’re holding, previously.  It’s a mental stimulation game that some believe will help ward off the signs of mental degeneration as we grow into our old age.  Or what about, have you ever placed your favorite item in a box for a few days, weeks, months and out of nowhere you get this wave of unease as though you may have left something behind…something important… something that brings about a sense of comfort, or peace, or happiness and you go seek that “item” out-vigorously…that’s the game of “Familiarity”.  Familiarity is a tricky, emotional pull, that sometimes subject the soul to unjust and unrelenting torment because if attempting to get back to a place where comfort was more than a smile and happiness was more than just a feeling, but a tangible face, a whisper in the dark, a sliding of fingertips down brown skin, you may find yourself in an emotional padded room with a reflection you barely recognize.

I awaken a few months ago feeling like I may be missing out on something that I previously put away.  Something that may be life changing.  Something that I felt that I could not live without.  This particular item was special.  It was comparable to Linus’ security blanket-seasoned, worn, warm and available at that split second when life’s boogie man threatened to impede my child-like nature.  I placed this something in a proverbial box insisting to myself that I had outgrown this item and that my mature SELF was enough to face life without the need of its warmth.   So a few months ago I awakened, cold, shivering and missing my item.  I awakened with that nagging sense of unease I mentioned earlier.  I was missing Linus’ blanket and that inner, unsettling pull beckoned me to go retrieve it from the hidden space in which I felt I remembered I left it.  I went back to my box.  That box.  In my house.  In the corner, remember.  That rustic, wooden box, passed down to me, from my grandmother, given to her by my grandfather which housed all the hand written letters from Him when writing letters, in foreign lands, of distant desires was the only thing that kept his mind at peace and closed the gap of loneliness. The one that safely kept the still photographs of ancient cousins, and uncles, and aunts; of faces I would never meet, but who I uncannily resembled, and admired, and who wore shoes I could purchase a hundred times over, but I could never fill.  The box that held the trinkets of places where I had smiled, laughed and cried; in places where emotions were freely exchanged, where tears flowed from loving eyes and created trails down blushed cheeks, and the hand that erased those trails lingered , for just a second in case another trail began.  This is the box where I placed my special something.

I pulled the box from its corner, unhinged its brass clasps and begin to dig.  I dug through the neatly, nearly, calligraphied writings on parchment paper and came up with a paper cut.  I dug further and soiled the photographs of my ancient relatives.  Further and tainted the memories of my happier times. Even further and bruised my knuckles from frantically and manically digging and scraping my bare skin against unfinished wood searching for the familiar.  I was desperately seeking the familiar-hoping that the familiar remained in this box and that it had not been moved, misplaced, set askew or modified by being placed aside in my quest to break free of its dependence.  I vigorously sought this item while flipping over my world, one item at a time, looking, but also hoping that when I found this item that we still matched.  So I continued to be battered by old trinkets and rusty nails and I cried from the pain and patched the bruises and I dug some more, being sidetracked by the similar, but not quite the familiar until finally I was knee-deep in a box which barely made room for my two hands.  It was at that point that I realized my item had been there the whole time but because I dug and dug and picked and soiled and moved and disturbed that the familiar had been modified by me to the point where I no longer recognized it and it no longer recognized me.

SHE

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(Click to Listen-She)

She has a smile that is unmatched
Not even by the light of the sun
A smile that could melt the Arctic Glaciers of the Bering Straits
that wraps like silk from the banks of the Nile around her round face
She is light
She is light in a thief’s shadow of unwavering pity
Confident and Self-Assured
Yet she awakes to a world that has no room for her to blossom into her
Carnations’ petals of purple
And pink
Perfection
If purple
And pink
And perfect is what she desires to be
or maybe green and brown hues of a strong cypress
deep in its roots and tough skin
She Awakes
Black Girl
In all her imperfections never told by her own reflections
in her own mirror
in her own home
but imperfection heard by a world
that secretly stands to read her book, and drinks from her cups
without so much as leaving a nickel for the tip that has been stolen
yet curses the natural way her clothes has maintained its close and personal relationship
to her hips
close
unbashful and unapologetic
hugging
every curve and dimple
that smooths into a muscle
that flows into a picture
perfect
pose of passionate
and purposeful stride
She Walks.

She walks the dead concrete roads of her own Oz
where the yellow brick
has been stained and treated with the grey grit
of the wayward strolls
of the dead souls
who have walked and strolled this road before her
there is no fucking skipping in her Oz
there are no linked arms
or white girls smiling
cowardly lions crying
farms of a hay stuffed arm scare crows
or indigo skies that beseech eyes of a perfect tomorrow
this is not
was not
and never has been
her Oz
and there is no goddamn Toto
there is just the whistles and cat-calls of the wizards of the ghetto
where the stains not only show but glow to a world
who believes you can’t grow from
to move out of grey grit hell holes
this world won’t plant the seed in she
but will taint the soil to kill her Cypress tree
to kill her Cypress tree

But yet and still she walks

She walks
To find love in a man who doesn’t deserve her as a woman
To use and be used
To wipe her love away as if it has stained the side of his face
By lingering too long to be beneficial
to breathe the air of a woman who loves to be loved
To give love from a place where only few have visited
Yet he decorates with arrogance and vile
Disease of deceit and indiscretion
Poisoned tipped lies that resurrects with no confession
Words spoken and hoarded like black roses
Kept fresh through cracked vases and osmosis
on display for the world to see
To speak about the love of she as if it never existed
Through persistence love grows distant
But persists is the only way she exists in a world with few exits
So she loves hard and with no direction
Dead ending on a familiar street as if that’s the only route her love knows how to go
Never growing in love
Just growing from it
Never staying in love
Just visiting
She seeks warmth in her own words when his has grown so cold
Never too old to play the fool
And never too young to learn
She walks back into the fire as if she’s never felt the burn

Yet and still she walks

…and she keeps walking and she keeps walking and she keeps walking
Until the world not only recognizes Jesus footprints, but recognizes hers too

Through it All (pt 1-From my Soul)

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(Click to Listen-Through it All-Soul)

I loved him from my soul
A soul so old that stories have been told
That it channeled those through underground railroads
And boat loads of passengers through middle passages
That it kept the spirits of shackled men
and nursed the bellies of hungry babies
and was known as Mamie from children whose eyes were as blue as the ocean
but who had no depth like the ocean
whose lips spoke words of love and hatred through the years
until they realized that my tears flowed from brown eyes and trickled down black skin when I cried
until they realized my body was somewhat a commodity on auction blocks to be sold to the highest bidder goes
but not my soul
see my soul persevered the move from the big house to the out house
from physical lacerations and verbal degradation
to being spit on by white men in the morning to be being licked on by white men at night
to hiding in plain sight the emotional scars of being locked in a caged field with no bars
and praying nightly and worshipping daily that death
death be the key to comes to set my soul free tomorrow
but see death never came to me and my soul still grows old
and this
this is the soul that I loved him with
and If my soul survived this what make him think that my soul wouldn’t survive our split

 

Therapy at Target

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Today was a relatively somber day in Atlanta-drastically contradicting the days of yester-weeks which were bright, hot, and attractive to my skin.  Today was muggy and dark and gloomy which coincidentally described my sub-conscience although I had not realized that until I had a need to go to Target for a few toiletries and some pineapple juice to make my pineapple upside down cake martini-a great nightcap to my already long and sober day.  That’s all I wanted: body wash, lotion and pineapple juice.   I parked my car in Target’s relatively empty and wet parking lot and made my way to the door when I saw this handicapped gentleman slowly making his way to the electronic doors by way of a walker.  He was young and his journey did not seem painstaking.  His feet were turned outward as to suggest he had been born with a disability which he had grown to accept and therefore his demeanor read,” when I make it to the door, with only the use of this walker and no one else, I will make it to the door so please don’t rush my journey”.  Because this young man looked so comfortable with his lifelong situation there was no need for me to be saddened by his plight (as we all are crippled in this world one way or another-some unseen) so I gave no hand to help him along or no exhalation as to suggest he was holding up my day, but rather I smiled and said “hello” to him as I used the manual doors to walk into Target instead of the automatic doors I normally use when entering the store, without interrupting either of our day with our respective disabilities.  The young man stopped slightly and his face lit up as he smiled brightly and said hello back to me which was the most genuine reaction I had seen from my smile and my hello in a very long time.  I gave a smile back to him and continued to walk through the second set of doors, turned a corner and began to cry.  I don’t know if my hello made this man’s day, but I can definitely say that his reaction absolutely made mine.  It was the purity without expectation that came across his face when he reciprocated my greeting that touched my heart and made me realize how absolutely sad I really was in that moment.  In that moment I felt like I let go of my own selfishness in trying to find my own happiness to make someone else smile and God granted me a moment to heal just a little.  I shed a tear through every aisle I walked in Target and at every keystroke of this message because that man showed me how to smile through my circumstance.  Although I have heard the song a half a dozen times from Kirk Franklin you can never know how to smile through it all until smiling is your only option because although things may seem bad for you they are rarely unbearable.  I saw the young man again as I was wiping silent tears and making my way to the checkout and this time I said nothing as I walked by, but if he had asked me if I had everything I needed from my trip to Target today I would have turned to him and told him I could definitely use a hug.