love is becoming a safe word

love
is becoming a safe word
one i use
precisely
when the risk is greater
than my courage

and i mean
slow down with me
and i mean
take my hand
and i mean
i want time with you
to see you whole

from this miraculous portion
we call a life
i want to give you truth
i want you to see me
off stage
and outside of wonder

love is becoming a safe word

i can taste the near-loves
with discernment
and say
oh that is unparalleled desire
oh that is a broken bowl who senses the gold in me
oh that is a new sibling
and
oh that is the future

and moving through
fields like curtains
i find what love is:
reflections of my self
that make me uncompromising

i find what love is:
a house where the windows
are gone
and the doors are all open
and i feel contained
and content

i feel what love is:
growing from gut heart
intelligence
to the edges of my body
an ecstatic yes
to who i have been
am
and am becoming

saying absolutely no
smiling visceral yes
showing this, not that
a very specific please
and so much thank you
all this love in action
gives me more of my life

and with this
aliveness
i write more poems
i grieve with my whole memory
i rage from the root
i care with no bitter edges
i accept what is
i surround myself with
sweetness, and excellence
and i create
with each next breath

and it is all delicious
it is all exquisite
it is all opening
it is all
love

Lemonade Screening: A Step by Step Guide

tonight Celeste Faison and i hosted a screening of Beyoncé’s Lemonade at Sole Space in Oakland. before during and after people reached out to us asking if we would do it again or if we could stream it or bring it to them. and the truth is it was so beyond incredible and healing – and very much a live experience! so i wanted to share how we did it as a template – here’s how to create your own Beyoncé Lemonade Church:

1) realize you need a communal experience of this gift. not everyone does, but if you do? don’t deny yourself.

2) logistics!

– find a place that can hold big emotions (we were at Sole Space, where we also mourned Prince and sang Purple Rain for hours two nights ago, where the first Octavia Butler and Emergent Strategy events happened, where many many community events have blossomed).
– make sure you have a screen or sizeable blank wall
– a projector (this should be screening in theaters, bigger the better)
good speakers
– figure out which of your friends was Ready and has tidal.
– load the film beforehand so you don’t experience any unnecessary crises during the screening. if need be, withhold the wifi code from everyone, or demand they go on airplane mode cause this is a meditation and a journey.

3) create an invite that articulates who you are calling into conversation and ritual with you.

here is our invite:

Come gather to watch Lemonade and get your entire life at Sole Space and be in conversation about this blessing.

For: those who have been grieving Prince, who are feeling fragile and grateful for black art, who find this offering from Beyoncé a gift. There is so much room for other conversations around this work, so do honor our celebratory space for this one.

adrienne maree brown and Celeste Faison will host this love in, and continue the work of the album to center the voices and hearts of black women in a shared experience of this masterpiece.

We wanted to be very clear with our invitation: this space is for black women to have a moment together to process this gift from Beyoncé.

beyonce lemonade 6
photo credit destiny webster

All are welcome, but we ask that you self assess ahead of time and make sure you understand what ‘black women centered space’ is and why it is important that we just get to hear from each other right now. if you are like ‘what is that?’ or ‘why black space?’ or ‘all responses to lemonade matter’, then we can totally do a workshop for you at another time 🙂

(helpful reading related to this)

With black and purple love!

Get in formation.

i could imagine screenings for:
– side chicks, humans who have cheated on other humans and folks who practice intentional nonmonogamy
– black men!!
– black girls
– everybody

4. provide appropriate refreshments – you don’t want anyone to fall out for the wrong reason.

we offered purple lemonade to honor this complex moment of grieving Prince and celebrating Beyoncé, with options to spike it (rum, tequila, etc).

we also served popcorn because it’s cinema.

5. begin with a brief welcome that reiterates your invitation. if you came to praise, let it show so folks know they have permission to really feel what’s coming.

beyonce lemonade 5

6. start on time. Virgo respeck.

beyonce lemonade 2

7. throw in some centering breaths, because you about to go through an experience together and it is always great to center in collective space.

we used a breath i just learned from someone who isn’t even in the beyhive, the breath is called brahmani pranayama, named for a Black Bee (!!!) where you inhale through the nose and exhale with a buzz. yup.

8. play the visual album of Lemonade and let it take you where you need to go.

with your own behavior as a host, embody and encourage testifying between songs and rapt silence during warsan shire and beyoncé’s poetry. there will inevitably be people seeing it for the first time so don’t let them miss any of it!

folks will think they are done by the end of ‘don’t hurt yourself’, but then serena will appear. and when you think it’s about to end, She will come with the freedom song. i am just saying this is not an emotional sprint.

9. when the visual album finishes, shift the room structure into a circle, and place 4 chairs in the center.

10. start a conversation – we just went up as hosts and testified for a while.

beyonce lemonade 7
photo credit valerie troutt

open space for people to respond. reiterate at the beginning of the talk back time if your invitation is specific.

ex: all are welcome in this space to love and support this moment, but these chairs are for black women, as we are trying to take these clear instructions from the queen, and those are the voices we needed to prioritize tonight.

we invited folks to keep it short, but testimony has it’s own time.

11. hold the people in the circle for whatever they may need. this album evokes a lot of emotion – around relationships, around betrayal and heartbreak, around being used and unappreciated, around the blackness we have been gifted – and that we have been denied, around the rituals and spirits we need. help people move through the confession of being slow to the hive or ‘not even being a Bey fan’ but being in tears.

beyonce lemonade 3
photo credit jocelyn kay

we offered blessings to young people, received blessings from our elders, laid on hands and called in ancestors, offered love for those struggling through this pain, called in fat and disabled bodies for the next evolution, generated compassion and sisterhood for all of us who have been Beckys, and scream-leapt through a ton of testimonial and ecstatic praise for our own strength, transformation, resilience and vision as black women.

we spoke of orishas and transformative justice and forgiveness and shame and loving ourselves and open relationships and queer love and black excellence and Prince and complexity and solidarity and intergenerational healing and so much more.

12. when someone speaks their truth, affirm them. when someone takes a risk, welcome it. do this enough times and something larger than any one person will come in the room, and when you feel it, praise dancing and sangin of all kinds is the only right move. take however long this takes.

13. close with the oldest voice in the room.

our circle closed with elder enid pickett, who spoke right after her healing/weeping daughter sierra pickett. enid told us the code was in each other’s faces.

then she asked us, (you want to click through this time) ‘what kind of ancestor are you going to be?’ that question was so undeniable that we paired up and we asked it of each other.

and we asked, ‘how do you have to change now to become that?’

there were tears and there was great laughter.

14. sing a song to close the circle.

we sang:

oh i love being black
oh i love being black
love the color of my skin
it’s the skin that i’m in

oh i love being black
oh i love being black
love the texture of my hair
and i wear it everywhere

oh i love being black

15. end with three more brahmani breaths and buzz joyfully into the night.

beyonce lemonade 9
photo credit danielle drake-burnett

beyonce lemonade 8

lemonade. masterpiece.

‘beyoncé is fully in her power and is inviting you to be in yours.’ celeste faison, sitting on couch of the house im staying in in oakland where we are watching lemonade.

with love. this is not a review and this is not for folks who ain’t see it yet.

this is my third time watching and i am looking for a flaw but all i see is

warsan shire poetry
kahlil joseph’s eye
blackness behind and ahead

beyoncé’s heart and brilliance and collaborative spirit
lemonade

mervyn marcano said ‘lemonade on HBO was a visual masterpiece. beyonce’s curation is on another level. some of our best living artists collaborating to make magic. streaming the music now, but that visual piece stands on it’s own.’

y’all. y’all.
it’s black love
the next chapter of Her visual album, with direct responses
to partition and jealous and drunk in love and blue and to herself
just then
across both the visuals and the lyrics

‘grief sedated by orgasm
orgasm heightened by grief
god was in the room

sometimes when her nipple was in his mouth
she’d whisper oh my god
that too was a form of worship’

black womanhood and our pain and our irresistability and our grief
from serena’s perfection
to the mothers of the slain

the adoration of the natural world
water everywhere
moon to flood
reflection to truth

nina and malcolm
zora neal and toni

the journey all over black america
the love of black girls and griots
the use of witchcraft, magic, dreams and spells to heal the heartbreak

jay-z’s eyes

transformation, transformative justice
the power of love, vulnerability, walking away until you can be seen in your wholeness –
truth and reconciliation
‘there is a curse that will be broken’

daniel jose older said ‘beyoncé wrote the great american novel and made it into a music video.’

celeste said, ‘thank you Bey- from this black women. this is surely a part of our story. the relationship, the dad, the slain boys. this conjuring, setting prayer, this is the prose of a spell and the breaking of curses. yes. y’all – this is a prayer. a testimony and a fierce warrior call.’

to reiterate this is not a review, its a godbless and thank you after three days of tears, knowing how important it is to give artists the glory and gratitude they earn while they live.

idrissa louise said, ‘Prince had a premonition and said “they gone be alright”‘. she is not speaking in hyperbole.

i know beyoncé had to consider delaying this because we just lost Prince and to go thru with this she had to know she was offering something that would be good, now.

beyoncé took us inside. herself and ourselves and all the women before us. through love and politics and spells and fashion and mirrors. and babies, here and lost.

orgasm and grief.
miscarriage and release. resurrection and life.

‘so we’re gonna heal’