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say no more (14/30)

prompt: write a poem that takes the form of a dialogue.

what follows is isolated from
e—‘s memories shortly before aya’s mind sweep.

is baya asleep
there’s something to say

she sleeps, she wakes,
it does not matter

my beloved
i cannot give you my life

did i swallow your soul…
and will you stop touching me?

my love never fills you
you want my mystery, my obsession

you hold me like a stone holds water
wasn’t i beautiful just then?

let me always love you
we are more than our bodies

but i can’t look at you every day
and you don’t long for me

then let’s stop looking at each other
through the lens of what we were

i have no other view
than this stark vantage of heart

but you don’t see me
you watch some fantasy, memoir

say no more.
i won’t be without you.
there’s no one else for you in this space or time.

say no more.
let’s be strangers, comrades.
tomorrow is baya’s. not yours. not mine.

Baya (13/30)

Prompt: write a riddle.

i tried to but mostly i just wanted to tell the birth of baya (bay-yah), the first child born to women, the first child of obsidian. composed of stardust from a new solar system.

the reason my back bends
the sweet longing that wakes me from dreams
the seed that bursts into jungle
the miracle amongst miracles between us

why she runs towards strangers
why i run away

my little and fully formed alien
my heart, with her own desires
born hovering in air
turning to fly home to the breast
screaming her name at us

a star beam taking us future

counter lesson on currency (8/30)

write a palinode. And what’s that? It’s a poem in which the poet retracts a statement made in an earlier poem.

    counter lesson on currency

yesterday
queen aya taught you
‘when we came here,
we left behind
systems of getting
without doing’

which is not precise
but you cannot pinpoint
those who forsake memory
and live only in afterglow

the first currency of this planet was favor,
the first value love

the founding queens
played creation games
with each other
everything you see now
results from their vigorous
winning and losing

the first planetians to find here
looked to aya’s glittery smile
after each dusty task

she only saw e—,
and did not notice us

she held seed bursting ideals,
and we held her,
myth and magic…
stories and misquotations

it was never enough to
simply exist, to revel in the
abundance of our miraculous lives

we had to also be marvelous
fantastic and fascinating
complex, kind and mysterious
stunning as the pallique sea

then she would feed you
everything

the first ones to die here
were simply dull stardust
hard workers with no brilliance
they never caught her eye
they withered, reaching for her
she was ignorant
always shifting the center
always in motion

it shamed her to devastation
when she realized what was happening
when she knew that in spite of her pretty thinking
she was money dirty

that currency of attention,
so hard to trace
is why the queen wears the
moonshade veil
so that we understand the cost of immeasurable beauty
and are fair with praise
and always look for the light

revisiting the sugar cleanse

Sugar is snow. Sugar is drug. Sugar is statistically proven to strip me of my dignity and my health. And yet.

Sugar is laughter. Sugar is energy. Sugar is of nature, a perfect sweetness in the right balance.

I’m seeking balance again. I feel like I crawled out of the grief stricken battle ground of 2014 with chocolate smeared on my face, and weight that I’d lost the year before (arduously, hardest thing I ever do) returning so easily that I felt guilty for ever trying to leave it behind. I had the moment that I think all people of glorious size have: is this just how it’s supposed to be? Should I just stop fighting?

I adore my body. I spend a ridiculous amount of time walking around naked saying yes goddess octaviafridanina thank you for this body! And also too, I adore health. I love this body best when I feel like I can make intentional healthy choices that my body likes.

I’m also a bit of a hypochondriac (Oh shit is this celiacs? Diabetes? Whooping cough? Do I have a tape worm alien parasite? No? No? But how do you really know? Oh…health insurance? But I’m an artist. Hmm. But what if it’s…and so on) so healthy choices are my best way to avoid paranoid journeys through the haunted house of Web MD.

The best thing I’ve done for myself related to health, in terms of how I’ve felt, was a deep examination of my relationship to sugar. It’s in all the things I like, and it makes me mindless around food. I can order and consume a pizza with no presence whatsoever. When life gets tough, as it did last fall, I can sort of look up and find that somehow there’s an empty ice cream pint on the coffee table. Then my body and energy are all messy trying to remember who I am.

So I declare it here.

I am a Virgo creator in springtime.
I am a self loving human who smashes to-do lists and walks directly towards what I long for.
I imagine worlds and generate possibilities for a living.
I can do this!

So I’m doing another sugar shift starting today. I don’t frame it as a cleanse in my heart, because this is a long long process of unlearning sugar as comfort and rediscovering health. Something like 50 people are doing some version of it too on Facebook (let me know if you want in).

Some tips from last time, and for travel:

– know the possible meals I can have for the day, both what I create and what’s possible when eating out. Time travel to the hardest one and make a plan. Build up to trusting myself to hold the line in the moment.

– be a snack warrior. Have things in my bag that will actually get me through. For me that’s trail mix and tuna.

– decide my adaptations beforehand. Some folks are doing the cleanse with fruit, or with specific grains, or one glass of white wine in the evening. Again, decide what I need to get through it and then lock it in. It’s only 21 days.

– drink so much water. Big glass with fresh lemon in the morning and then keep the bottle in hand all day. When I think of food, drink some water before taking any other action. My skin will praise dance (after the initial toxin flush breakout which I will welcome as indications I’m actually doing it…and not pick at!).

– move my body. Whatever movement feels like a celebration in my body, I’ll do that. For some people it’s running. For me it’s dancing. I’m alive! Act like it.

Those are the main things I can think of as I begin again this humbling daunting necessary journey.

I’m doing this while book touring, so I need all your love and sweetness now. If you see me, you can ask about the cleanse, but mostly ask me how I am, tell me I’m glowing and give me a big hug.

I’m going to seek the pleasure in this experience. Blow me kisses.

Napowrimo 2015

it’s Napowrimo time!! i commit to writing a poem a day for a month. this year I’ll try to have a sci-fi touch to my poems, we’ll see what happens.

first prompt: write a poem of negation.

queen aya regrets

show you love?

i’ll show you everything i know
but these are not the memories you seek
not the softer smile that blurred
as the ship lifted away from time

i cannot show how you survived on laughter and the visible heats of your skins
i cannot show you the small world where you and —-, in the too near sun, became the Queens

tasting batrimatri and stogo and shelmiiz

nothing remains of that period
{you wrote of succulent 17 hour days and adulation that changed the air around you to murder}
except these rumors you reference, from your own historic poems, which you know must be exaggeration

no one loves like that

and anyway
the memories were erased
at your request
my queen

guest blog: cheeraz gormon

while i was in st. louis i met such exquisite humans. one of them is an incredible artist-organizer-healer named cheeraz gormon. she is tenacious and brilliant. a few days after we left st. louis, her book In the Midst of Loving came out. she posted this on facebook that day, and i just wanted to pass on to y’all who she is, how much she is feeling on behalf of herself, her family, the place and people she loves. this is the kind of wisdom you gain by living.

“Today, my mother and I walked in court to endure the last of the painful journey regarding my brother’s death. Part of this process included me reading, “Impact Statements,” one written by my mother, and one from me. For me, this process was like holding a third funeral for my brother, except the person who murdered my brother was present, along with his family, the other victims, officers of the court, a judge, domestic violence prevention advocates, and other strangers. My hands shook uncontrollably, at one point I thought I was going to fall because my equilibrium was knocked off, at points I had to stop, take deep breath and wipe tears away as the prosecuting attorney did her best to support me. And by the grace of God, I got through it.

As to be expected, the young man that took John’s life was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole or probation, and he was sentenced to almost an extra 100-years for the other crimes he was found guilty of.

The judge told him point-blank, ‘You will die in jail.’

These events have weighed heavy on me for various reasons, because just like my brother’s Black Life Mattered, the young man that took my brother’s life, his Black Life Matters. The lives of that young man’s children, three beautiful little girls whose lives he has damaged with his actions, their Black Lives Matter. The young woman, the mother of his children, who had been taking abuse from him all these years, her Black Life Matters!

While that young man may be sentenced to life in prison, he has not been sentenced to death. So as long as he has breath in his body, he has the ability to change, to atone for what he’s done, and to be a different type of person. The choice will be his.

On this Spring Equinox evening, I ask you all to hold my family and all families affected by domestic and community violence in your heart and to send us love and light, as we enter this new chapter and energy.”

blog changes

hello loves

first, skim your eyes up! the new blog art was created by my dear friend joshua gabriel, a sound and visual artist and father living in brooklyn. he tuned in to all the things i love and created this blog mural for our viewing pleasure.

i am also moving away from calling the blog ‘the luscious satyagraha’ – while i love the concepts in those words (being a sensual force of truth and light), i have also been sitting with the idea of my cultural responsibility, and that it is fine and abundant to claim that which is of my own lineage, and my own language. but satyagraha, while personally inspiring in translation, has a context i cannot pretend to grasp.

also too, people just tend to call it my blog. so it’s just adrienne’s blog, and the new cover art can let you know more about what it concerns – magic, space, emergence, change, leaving/existing beyond this plane of existence, transformation.

what isn’t changing is the ‘write what i like’ spirit of content here. and if you like it you can always become a member so i know you’re reading.

enjoy :)

thank you octavia

so now the most anticipated thing in my life thus far has come to pass. after a five year gestation period where it appeared the child/project would take on various forms, octavia’s brood: science fiction from social justice movements is in the world, and co-editor walidah imarisha and myself are tour planning, about to travel the country and read, workshop, dance and celebrate.

the book itself feels good.

skintoskinwithbook

and it’s so beautiful, thanks to the incredible cover design from the prolific graphic artist john jennings.

i have been thinking of octavia butler all weekend, the black science fiction writer who we honor with the title and spirit of this project. i just wanted to take a moment to offer up my deep and sincere gratitude.

thank you octavia, for being such a dedicated and complex being. you are my positive obsession.

thank you for seeing outside of the now you were living in, for imagining beyond this moment, imagining new problems, solutions, social formations.

thank you for the directness of your writing, for being so accessible.

thank you for being so beautiful and strange. for demanding space to be seen and heard, shaping the world, shaping god.

it is a gift to have such an ancestor in the lineage of my calling, and i hope that this collection makes you proud, if pride exists in whatever dimension you’re currently exploring. if not, i hope you feel a burst of joy, of love, feel immersed in the waves of appreciation that those of us living today and working to wake ourselves and others up feel for your alarm bell brilliance.

this is not the beginning of honoring you, and it is not nearly the end.

at one of our early octavia events, in seattle, poet-goddess christa bell spoke of how ancestors who are remembered live in light and warmth, and those forgotten are left in the dank cold. we hope the fire burns particularly bright for you now.

thank you.

a time traveling emotion

in the moment, i was not ready to feel the feeling, my skin too firm, my faith too solid. when the future all seemed ahead of me, it was easier to fold an emotion into me and believe it was gone, or at least silenced.

when my feelings started to work their way back out of me, to the surface, i was overwhelmed. i put my hands over my mouth to hold it in, but it didn’t matter, i was brimming, screaming.

i am not the only one like this, it may be a human condition, or an empath condition, or a black girl magic. it may even be an epidemic of consciousness. i am not convinced we get to know that.

but in my twenties, when i was gutshaking about things that were leaping out of me like emo tweens, that’s when i learned about the time traveling emotion.

it is like anything else that traverses time, both fully of another time and fully present in the place when it appears. in the case of grief, the time traveling emotion touches into your sadness over a present day experience of absence, and then drags forward a living satchel of the most tender innocent moments, the smallest memory. or perhaps sucks your heart back in time.

my grandfather, impossibly big and godly, hugging me, in his own garage, just out of the near-georgia sun, with the smell of hay and horses around us. it isn’t just the senses, but the complex spectrum of a moment completely felt.

the more i learn to feel, the less time it takes a time traveling emotion to catch me. years instead of decades, hours instead of months, seconds instead of weeks.

i am even learning, sometimes/more often, to feel in real time. and to survive feeling a whole emotion in real time.

with less shame, i say no to anything that wastes my time. i gather and give myself hours that belong to no one else, alone or with healer types. i claim time when i can be in my body and self. and in that solitude, or healing company, i become a defined place for a time traveling emotion to locate, an x on the nonlinear map of my emotional life.

the emotion is a living thing – showing one face when it arrives, and as it leaves i see it’s really a pattern, delta-ish, blood in veins connecting aspects of myself as disparate as lung and toe.

music is one of the systems by which emotions traverse time, both in tone, content and something as simple as age. some emotions stay in the soundtrack of their root memory. there is a janet jackson song that opens the way to an emotion of innocence. a new song can surprise me when it opens the way to something dusty and eager to be felt.

each time traveling emotion softens me, especially those that return often. it’s so humbling to feel something in spite of logic, time, circumstance and thinking the feeling is finished. grief is a sharp visitor, her long nails a surprise in my chest. heartbreak is heavy and fireworky, like full body tears, swollen eyes. joy melts my jaw.

it’s all waves though, moving towards and up, through and beyond. and once i’ve survived an emotion that has reached across time to demand my attention, i feel so resilient. that resilience makes me soft and wide enough to handle the complex mercurial existence of the present moment.

i trust myself to feel, to grow from what i feel, not to run when i sense a feeling coming.

i am a student of this phenomenon that makes time a shape shifter. i still fold moments of particular intensity into me. but now i do so with a bit of a spell attached: i promise, i will be ready for you when you find me.

report back: loving on st louis

“we need this. we have needed this.”

spannaltaderrek

that is what we heard over and over from the people who showed up to saint john’s church on grand avenue in st. louis this past week. i am now reflecting at home after an incredible and intense week as part of a healing justice team from generative somatics and BOLD who flew in from detroit, new york, cali, hawaii, miami.

lisaalta

deniseprentis

we were invited and anchored by patrisse marie cullors-brignac, cofounder of #blacklivesmatter, founder/co-director of dignity and power now, and general sister goddess extraordinaire. she collaborated with the brilliant ashley yates, one of the first st. louis activists to call the nation to attention. it’s something else to be in either of these women’s presence. both at the same time? black girl magic.

patrissestarsky

ashleystarsky

our host at saint john’s UCC was reverend starsky, who really does give me andre 3000 pulpit edition, and president marco, who gives hugs that feel like rearrangements. they are flanked by uncle/brother cornelius and kara, who took care of everything we could need, and camielle, who hung in with every single thing we did the whole week.

these blessed people have been offering up a space and structure for healing, gathering, song, prayer and growth for a long time. seven months ago their church became one respite in the war that the st. louis police department is waging against the people. so that’s where we went.

i tried to write y’all while we were there, but i couldn’t. the place is both too beautiful and too heavy. and i actually wasn’t even alone to write or reflect the whole week, except for a few ten minute showers. those who know me well will know how incredible the week was, because i didn’t notice not being alone, i just felt love, love and purpose, the whole time.

adaku

octavia butler reminded us that ‘god is change'; st. louis is a city overflowing with god. the conditions and mood change constantly, and each person we met showed that same ever mercurial energy, along and under the surface. they had other jobs, and loves, lives and grief, often very fresh grief, when they were called on to become the front line of a defensive battle.

that is, when mike brown was murdered.

mikebrown1

i have to share with y’all about where mike died. not anything new, but something deeply felt. it is different to see something on the news, and then to touch and breathe it.

on our last night in town, after days of healing and loving up on st. louis, we went to the place where he was gunned down. i always knew it was out in the open, i’ve seen the pictures and film. but there are so many windows looking at the street he ghosts. there it is…on a major street in a housing complex where a thousand eyes of all ages were able to easily look out from their living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens.

as we pulled up, a young boy walked across the street. as he stepped off the curb i wanted to build a fortress around him, knowing it’s impossible, knowing there are so many boys like him. one of the grown men we did healing work with wept as he spoke of being young, large, awkward and black – feeling the fear people had of him in the face of his innocence.

mike was murdered in a neighborhood ringed by three story apartment buildings, many of which now stand empty. he was murdered on a road folks speed down, between a busy parking lot and a slew of yards and balconies. there are two monuments where he died, one long and slender in the middle of the street, the other a mountain around the base of a streetlamp nearby. they are primarily constructed of stuffed animals – teddy bears, toy elephants, soft floppy birds, pink puppies. mixed into this pyre of toys are candles, letters, protest signs, sandals and shoes, v for vendetta masks, flyers, folded banners, cardinals hats, jerseys, photographs.

mikebrown2

mike’s face looks out from the pile, his beautiful young face. his familiar stranger face.

the fur of the toys gives the effect of a muted rainbow in the yellow lamplight, pressed upon by time, slumped, tainted. these teddy bears have been through the first winter mike missed. toys. it’s so sad, so devastating, so enraging.

rage. there is no other way to speak of it. i can’t find anything beautiful in it.

when i stepped from the sidewalk onto the street, my gut started shaking and didn’t stop until we drove away. it’s a stained tar middle passage – the body knows when it crosses a place of hate.

“we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”

after the memorial we went to the ferguson police department, one night after the police chief stepped down and two officers were shot. there were black activists holding the center – ‘if we don’t get it, shut it down’ – white activists, clergy, politicians.

i have been many places where we yelled ‘no justice, no peace’, and then, for a million reasons, we went home. but in st. louis right now, the truth of those words is so palpable – i feel it in my bones. this is the gift st. louis has given the nation. this small, tight knit, intimate, imperfect place has been showing us, for 216 days now, what it means to deny any myth of peace in the absence of justice.

brittanycamielleprentis

being black and loving black people in an armed and militarized police nation infected with unchecked institutionalized racism is traumatizing. the shivers that journeyed my body standing across from the ferguson police department felt like intelligence. i could see the fear, the desperate longing for control on the police faces before me. armed and dangerous humans, and they are in a war against people who are…living and black. some of us are flagrantly and radically living, resisting and calling out the truth.

but the ones getting killed in this war…there’s so much innocence in the murdered ones.

and in the survivors.

“it’s so much scarier when it’s just in your head.”

the people who came to sit with us each day are the heart of this local movement that has captured international attention. they are warriors, comrades, beloveds and people of faith. many of them are young in that way that feels lit from within. several older folks came to check us out and it was humbling to see them look the younger activists in their eyes and say ‘you changed me’.

wiwo

every single person who came through our doors had trauma before, after, inside and outside of the moment on august 9 when they learned mike brown’s name and story, when they drove to ferguson and wouldn’t go home.

spannprentis

our team was led by lisa thomas-adeyemo and included alta starr, denise perry, prentis hemphill, adaku utah and myself. we centered, taught, did one on one sessions and story circles, sang, saged, practiced, listened and held everyone we could reach. we worked with people as individuals and groups to move trauma out of their bodies, and to give them practices for bringing what they care about to the center of their lives and decision making.

theteam

each day was emergent, and each day we learned more about each other’s capacity and the place we had come to. there was a lot of awe, wonder, resilience and love.

adakulisa

denisepatrisse

the work we came to do, somatics, is not about healing for the sake of individual wellness, though that is a radical act for any people slated for extinction. it is about healing trauma such that individuals and communities are not operating in reaction to oppression, and not relinquishing control over and over again because of changes outside their power. it is about organizing our lives, ourselves, around what we most care about and long for. and then living positive, generative, whole lives from that place.

ambandprentis

there is always going to be so much devastation to react to, especially for those of us on the wrong side of racism. the trauma won’t stop. if we hope to advance, we have to find ways to move through and out of the vice grip of trauma that so drastically limits our choices.

it felt like a beginning. so much more is needed.

lisa led us in a song the last day that keeps rolling through me:

‘we gonna rise with the fire of freedom
truth is the fire that will burn our chains
stop the fire of destruction
healing is the fire running through our veins’