Pencil Icon

Freewrite Prayer 8.12.14

Father,
In the end if I remember anything, let
it be everything, but if my memory
of my human life is going to stay here
in my body after I leave it behind,
please help me ease into the when in which I will
remember nothing,

I pray, I ask
let me spend my last moments
not fighting, unless it is for you,
not fighting, unless it’s with you,
not fighting, unless it’s to get to her to kiss her goodnight,
I’m so tired of fighting, Father. I don’t
want to do it anymore
but I will do it forever until I know my sons
and daughters won’t have to
but whenever I lose this here
I don’t want to feel it slipping through my fingers
I don’t want to be scared anymore

I don’t want to leave my last movements as
empty grasps at the memories of their valuation,
swatting at the cold hands gripping the back of my neck,
or resisting wherever they’re trying to guide me

I don’t want to feel empty without my anger at
the silence of my friends who stood
quiet as we bled out in the streets
of the country they. call. home. too.
as they walked by and looked at us turning a color
we should not be able to turn,
and cocked their heads slightly
and said “howdy neighbor” before returning to their
text messages.
and as we hung like tire swings with natural hair from the trees
they let their kids climb like they were their own, and
said: “it’s just a tree,
you didn’t invent it.
nature is for everyone.”

I wonder if they pray like this.

I hope
the last thing I see might be of you,
or of her,
of someone who’s love has not given me pause
of someone who has already given their life to the kind
of love worth dying for.

Pencil Icon

freewrite 8.6.14

i don’t know how to
comfort humans, I don’t
always understand them, us, we
don’t find history or truth
to be gentle, respectful of the sweet,
the way we prefer
our medicine; our neighbors don’t
lend out even spoonfuls of sugar like
they used to, and all the gates and triple-locked
doors make the transition from momma’s house
to the warden’s all the easier,

i wouldn’t have known how to
tell him his momma wasn’t coming
she was going to find out about this from
a phone call from a doctor
who wouldn’t pronounce his name
right, no familiar hands were
going to help carry him into his chariot

but when he was laying on
the cement, having been dragged
out of the car that flipped twice
by people who were “basically
paramedics, and knew they
didn’t have to stabilize his spine before
moving him,” who were basically just
used to paramedics not showing up
when they called, when he was
laying on the cement, he never called for his
mother or father or sister or
any one else who might have found a way to leave him, he
just screamed out
at
or
for
God,

and either way, I just kept mumbling
“preach.”

Pencil Icon

Bridge to Somewhere (freewrite 7.13.14)

even with hands built
to carry peace
over troubled waters,
i am only steel and
concrete; only submerged pillars
breaching, desperately reaching
toward heaven so
painfully accustomed to coming up short —
misdirected suspended roads,
i am a bridge to nowhere unless
I have your shores
to land on and name
destiny.

I look at you and see my mortal leave
and my lover —
teeth and also your lips,
claws but also your hands, the palms
that showed me what could happen
if I just trusted and prayed.
I see all of the parts of you
that they see, and the reasons
they are too afraid to catch you
when you jump into their arms, we
are such a delicate balance of want and
need and fight
and
flail, it’s hard
to feel like feathers and
freedom could ever be the product
of our exponent

It might take the rest of our lives
to let this love stand
still, but I will wait
as long as you will
and if this kills me
I will have died for
you, they laugh when I tell them
that lions
are people too

Pencil Icon

freewrite 6.27.14

how many have
died trying to
save you from
the hurt you hold;

clutched close like
a wallet you can’t afford to lose
again because you barely survived
the last time you were robbed, like
a hand you won’t know how to
get home without;

clutched close like
your past is the only
person who will ever know
the real you?

Pencil Icon

Freewrite 6.23.14

sometimes i sit
elbows on my knees,
phone sandwiched between
hand and ear waiting for
the other end to small miracle her
voice into a psalm; i wish
prayers worked more like
microwaves, yet still fed
like your grandma’s hands,
she always seemed to be
at peace watching the
bone boil into proverbs like
deathbed confessions were dripping
from the marrow, said it ain’t right
to rush last words — I just
wanted more gravy.

Pencil Icon

Freewrite[s] (3.25.14)

(I)

It feels like I’ve spent
every morning since I learned
how to bleed or
cry or
scream
or whatever this thing we do with pens is best described as;

watching the place where land meets sky
as if the dawn I slept through and missed might
backspin if I ask nice enough,
might sunrise one more time;
just for me,
just for you —
might mercy mercy my hands,
show things how they used to and
show me love like the first breath you take
after feeling your lungs cry Mother Mary when
your kick-off lame ducks and it takes too long to find the horizon —

if I am the sun, submerged,
then you are the sky I see:
prayerful for another chance to breathe you,
kicking twilight into last night
and spending my day in your arms —

you are a dream worth fighting away the dark to chase.

(II)

I can never remember the song,
only hearing it
I can never remember the words,
only the hair that grew and stood straight along my spinal column when they landed in my ears,
if you hold me when I dream at night
you’ll feel the goosebumps come and go,
my lalaland is more of a merry-go-round:
surrounded by circus clowns and yeti,
and cops,
and white people standing their ground
and tyler perry
and other shit that niggas like me tend to fear, and
wedged between Madea and Zimmerman and Krusty is a speaker
playing our song,
and for 3 seconds of every orbit I make through my nightmare —
around our planet —
I can hear only the words to a tune that I know if I could remember to tell you
would keep you here forever,

so if you want to know why I wake up in cold sweats every night
and I tell you that “it’s fine,”
and promise you “it’s fine.”
I just need you to remember that I’m doing battle
with all the things that scare me, hoping that
every night, in 3 second increments,
I’m learning the thing that will teach me to sing
in a key that opens locks
on doors you had forgotten.
could open and
release millions of paper planes
chased by enough wind to carry them across the
ocean.

Quote Icon

The cat bumped an encyclopedia and it fell to the ground, cover first.

The CLAP as twenty-thousand words kissed the hardwood sounded like a gun-shot, and we both turned bullet.

She dropped to the ground and had fired three toward the bookshelf before she hit the floor.

We’ll get a new cat this week.

We’ve gone through three during Obama’s terms-to-date. She leads on the scoreboard, 2-1, but honestly it’s because I just plain missed last time.

And no matter how many funerals we wake, each morning she smiles like sunrise.

PRTSD in love. NMH
Pencil Icon

PRTSD

One of the rarest sights in America is a black person who doesn’t suffer from post-racial traumatic stress disorder (PRTSD). Our whip, and hose, and rope, and bite-mark-scars have grown over. Black don’t crack, and we believe in Shea butter. Our memories have not re-built so cleanly. A cultural topography covered in fault-lines and abandoned homes. We are refugees in our own country. We are a walking messy-bundles of nerves. A ticking time-bomb.

We have seen terrible things, and done terrible things, and been treated like terrible things, and learned to call ourselves terrible things just to try to somehow make terrible things something that we could find love in inside of our homes.

We have become so used to gunfire. But no one quite knows how to react. They tell us, every day, that the bullets aren’t real. But everybody has watched someone fall dead after one hit them in the stomach. We’ve held people as they bled out. How do you combat an enemy who claims not to be fighting you?

1) coil, strike — v. a refusal to cower in the face of incessant danger of stray-and-well-aimed bullets, often characterized by bullet proof vests, disregard for authorities we did not appoint, and a high murder rate. celebrate those risen before their time. A response marked by a quick reaction time. Sometimes inappropriately forceful. High-risk of mistaking falling plates, and books, and doors slamming, and balloons popping at celebrations for gun-shots and reacting instinctively. Stray bullets are likely.

2) cover, pray — v. hide in the bathtub. teach your children to do the same. wait until the bullets stop flying. cry for the dead. cry again that your tears didn’t bring your brother back. your son back. your daughter back. Reconsider option 1, where at least you didn’t die with your eyes closed.

everybody loves the sunshine. we just all have different ways of ensuring that we get to dance again.

Pencil Icon

Cliff Freewrite (Prosetry 6/30)

When he stood in line for so many hours that they counted into days; taking one step (writing one word, every two minutes like clockwork) towards a destination unknown and in a direction that no one returned from; west — toward sunsets, and his-or-maybe-just-every lonely face reflecting in the moon at night:

When the head-or-tail of the line (I can never remember which is which) opened to a set of parallel and disparate cliff faces and fanned out along it forming a delta, fertile with a belly full of hopes and fears and panting and stomach grumbling, “shores” lined by squinting eyes, dry and desperate:

When he couldn’t hear the questions (“what would happen if they saw the person they came here to find on the opposite cliff?”) and when he never joined us in questioning a God (“who would lead us to a place triangle-wedged between a return journey, a fall, and a hunger we might not have sole enough to walk, or wing enough to fly, or faith enough to stave off?”):

When he stood so close to cliff-edge he teetered back and forth — the only thing holding him upright the tension from being wedged-snug-shoulder-to-shoulder with the other dreamers, each of them looking across a faulted crust (cracked deep enough that they could still hear echoes of heartbreaks they weren’t here or maybe even alive to witness), each seeking a smile worth trying to become a miracle for:

When he locked eyes with her cross-fault: and they each, without thinking or speaking or looking back to let us know how it felt, smiled (if her’s was any indication) one of those unburdened smiles at each other — the kind that we all got in line and chased sunsets and moon risings, and strafed cliff-edges for — before they stepped out into nothing, and never broke eye contact on their way down:

When he was gone, I knew that he loved her, because I wanted to follow him, and taste whatever freedom was on his tongue before he swallowed and became insatiable. I almost chased him over the edge to ask him, but I looked up and saw your face across forever.

Pencil Icon

FreeFragment. Prosetry. 4/30

We walked past a large canvas in the living room that I’ve spent years covering and priming and recovering and re-priming, releaving, reliving, re-again-ing.

The surface of it is thick, at this point, with years of layers spread across it like farm-hand callouses. Covered in my failed attempts at self-potraits and self-love and self-proclamation and self-determination; painted-by-the-numbers of times I’ve failed before this moment. I pointed out all of the missed brush strokes and shaky lines and indecision and all of the places the palette slant-blended two colors that didn’t match.

She stepped back and smiled and turned her head sideways as if the angle might help her decipher me. She walked up, close enough to hug it, and couldn’t figure out how to, because it was so much more than was fair to expect her to hold, and then she turned to face me, and for a moment compared my face to its and hers and every other one she had seen before asking what it was called, like she thought I was some kind of new art.

I have never loved more.

Quote Icon

I looked down across my chest at her. Couldn’t tell how long we were there, because I failed trying to count time watching the frequency with which she blinked. Smirked for all of the times she had feigned anger at me because my eyelashes were longer than hers.

I watched her trace whatever cut or contour she could find south of my collarbones. Thought about how lucky I was that she wasn’t the type who needed me to be in shape. Maybe she thought a fat guy would be easier to chase.

I watched her drown out the noise we always tried to fill the room with; watched her press her right ear against my left lung like Martin was inside of it preaching about his dreams, or maybe Stevie was singing about ribbons or bad math affirmations. I watched her try to learn new rhythm, like she only knew how to translate love into a movement or a song. She struggled trying to hear my life for melodies that had bounced enough off of soft things that they were little more than heavy air.

I wondered if she thought less of me when all she could hear was the aftermath of a rally, my insides home to little more than tumbleweed blowing across the feet of the Lincoln Memorial — when I was more clean-up crew than concert.

But she stayed, listened to my heartbeats strike and kick-drum through my ribs — echoing like her high heels in long empty hallways. I watched her try to calm them silently, like she could hear ventricular wings growing, like she hear from flutter that I’d fly away soon.

NMH, Freewrite 1.9.14
Pencil Icon

Freewrite 11.12.13

She says she wants to be caught;
that she’s tired of running faster than
the men chasing her with nets and rings.

I asked,
what have you been training for?
Why have you spent your entire life
photosynthesizing and blossoming and
uprooting yourself into such beautiful freedom,
if getting caught and plowed and
planted was your end game all along

confusing, maybe,
because to see her running — to see her in bloom
is to learn why we should never thumb our noses at roses or
toward heaven, and why we should scream and cry the sky for joy
that we were given legs
and not wings.

and yet i’ve never been her even for a day of my life;
I’ve never been a Monarch,
so I can’t tell her that she should not reminisce over cocoon