Tag Archive for 'love'

baya sings (19/30)

prompt: write a landay. Landays are 22-syllable couplets, generally rhyming. The form comes from Afghanistan, where women often use it in verses that range from the sly and humorous to the deeply sardonic and melancholy…a form of poetry often composed in secret, and rarely written down.

my mother says i am all sacred
she whispers this into the blanket that holds me warm

my mother loves the sound of my voice
she follows me with her eyes while i dance in the dust

she tells me that she loves only me
but i see her watch my mother in the field with awe

she says that i am a miracle
but i think the magic is her love which made my life

she begs the gods of obsidian,
whom she created, to carry my heart in their mouths

i’m not afraid of my mothers’ love
emotion overflows memory, fhangda bursts the shell

there is no tomorrow (18/30)

Prompt: And now for our (as always, optional) prompt, which takes us from 2015 back to the 1700s. After all, it’s the eighteenth of April, which means that today is the 240th anniversary of the midnight ride of Paul Revere! Today, in keeping with the theme of rush and warning, I challenge you to write a poem that involves an urgent journey and an important message. It could historical, mythical, entirely fictional, or memoir-ical.

queen aya writes by the sick bed after queen e— begins to heal.

the only journey
on this small planet
with this intimate horizon
is from life
up to the edge of death
to the place where we think
there is no tomorrow
and the journey from that moment
to dawn

the journey happened
when i loosed baya from my body
and my blood
my heart
wanted to go with her

that journey happened
when i knew e— could
no longer hear me
and i wanted to crawl
through the dark corridors of her
to tell her of home

i needed no why
it was the only way

the sun comes from those two faces
mirrors of light
all that i will ever be
my only tomorrows

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

aya and e— speak of emotion (4/30)

day 4 prompt: I challenge you to write a “loveless” love poem. Don’t use the word love! And avoid the flowers and rainbows.

aya and e— speak of emotion

you taste like metal and fire.
i claim you as my blood moon
my favorite of the rare phenomena,
brief and breathless.

you do worse than that, queen.
you dismiss the shadows
til i’m a foolish orbit
i feel so small and imperfect in all that light

gift me darkness

no, that’s a different season, night
here, now
i can only offer you me, selfish and swollen –

but that’s precisely what i mean
it’s that you swallow me up
and i would actually live inside of you
on whatever world you go to

(laughing) but then i couldn’t see you
obsidian, sharp, bright, gorgeous…
anyway, there’s only the world we make.

hold me closer. cover my eyes with your hair.

i’m already dreaming of you tonight.
tomorrow we should turn the field.

tomorrow we should make the map
organize the pantry

and see about the water
and talk with more of the ghosts

yes. we can do all things, or no things.
it’s all exquisite. do you feel that vastness?

this vastness. this this this.

if we are quiet, we can live here forever

that’s what i mean, precisely.
you, you are the forever i always wanted.

e— recalls creating (3/30)

day 3 prompt: write a fourteener. fourteeners can be have any number of lines, but each line should have fourteen syllables

e— journal entry 3/26/R1259

we are building a home we know from dreams and the darkness
it isn’t wood, but it lives, it grows and it knows our names
we whisper up walls which glow when the light is near fading
we learn, forget all the borders and lies we were raised in

aya is a warm stone huddled inside my healing womb
i ask the sacrifice of the fleshed up m’xjulls, feed us
we lay on the shifting floor sucking meat from our fingers
she says we could never be lost, dull, lonely or easy

she laughs when i call her queen, mounts the throne for my pleasure
we are so deeply alone, but i don’t miss the others
she sings me songs that she plucks fully formed from her memories
if the new world is in us, i can hush and be hopeful

aya’s own stars (2/30)

today’s prompt: take your gaze upward, and write a poem about the stars.

……

e— wore the grav belt
even when they were alone
on a field like shards of silver
her back gentle and solid
on the bright dirt

even when aya was naked
floating just above the planet’s surface
the whole three hours of night.
aya would let e— shape her against the darkness,
making of her arms and legs and mane
new constellations

‘but now i’m just orion!’
aya would eventually protest,
done with the game,
reducing e—‘s flesh art
to belt, four corners, phallus,
just to feel something familiar on her tongue

e— would pull aya down through the air
into kisses that sent aya’s toes towards ocha (the vermilion moon)

saying,
‘and from here, from the back, orion could be anyone we say she is.’

meaning,
‘i am your only familiar.’

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.

a season of love (for all those killed with impunity)

it is our duty to fight for our freedom
it is our duty to win
we must love each other and protect each other
we have nothing to lose but our chains

– assata shakur

first, we must love ourselves enough to believe in the fundamental rights we have to breath, to be children, to grow up, to love and protect, to walk and play and disobey, to live until we die, not because our skin scares someone empowered by the state to kill us, but because our bodies are appropriately tired from all the living and loving we did.

we must love ourselves like spring, bursting through any containers that cannot grow with us.

i freed a thousand slaves
i could have freed a thousand more if only they knew
they were slaves

– harriet tubman

second, we must love everyone who shares this lineage of being on the dark side of white supremacy. to ferociously, obstinately, loudly and unapologetically love the majority of the planet. to be unafraid to see every black and brown person as a potential comrade. because as patrisse, opal and alicia teach us, black lives matter.

we must love like summer, storming, burning off the surface, sun and rain in the same moment, double rainbow style inspirations, wildfire alchemists.

if you come here to help me
you are wasting your time
but if you come because your liberation is bound up with mine
then let us work together

– aboriginal activists group, queensland, 1970s

third, we must love those who open themselves up against the trajectory of their lineages, who learn, who teach themselves to love us when they have been socialized not to. this means loving those who benefit from a system that doesn’t love us, but work against it in their hearts, beliefs, families, jobs, and actions.

here we must love like fall, stripped down to the spare truth with each other. let the assumptions and projections that keep us from each other be bright enough in their dying to make us gasp, and then fall away – they are illusions. the construct of race is deadly, but it is still a construct. let history give us rich soil to hibernate in – each other. we need each other. we need everyone to stand up for their own humanity in this moment, advancing the work of black lives mattering on all of our divergent front lines.

love has within it a redemptive power…there’s something about love that builds up and is creative. there is something about hate that tears down and is destructive…love your enemies.
– martin luther king, jr

and finally, especially in these moments, we must work to love those who place themselves against us as our enemies, our oppressors. this doesn’t mean forgiving without due process, or allowing to move forward without accountability and critique. in fact it is the opposite, it is loving in the highest sense – compassion.

we must learn to see that the violence they walk with is, all the time, inside of them, make them so so sick. we cannot let them slip by, killing us quietly. we must put the light on them – those images of modern day lynchings, the memories of that violence that brings us to tears, to raging in the streets…that death energy is a toxic poison of guilt festering inside of those who fear and kill us, and they in turn rot our communities, our societies.

racism is a sickness, viral in our species. and it is tricky, reducing the mind that carries it to the least viable, least sophisticated of world views. if we cannot be compassionate for violently racist people, recognizing this behavior as a sickness, we are at risk of confusing their violence and control with the power we seek to gain and share.

to be the worst of humanity is not a power, it is a trauma.
to need lies and corruption to protect your power shrinks the soul.
to be the most inhumane and racist among us and be unable to receive the balm of justice, the release of a genuine apology, the embrace of other people who feel safe in your presence – it must be unbearable. i would not wish that on any human being.

for these people, mostly white men, who are pulling these triggers…for their humanity, and for our species to move beyond this fatal sickness, i want them to feel the righteous hand of justice that comes with real love. i want them to feel the kind of justice i watch the best parents in my life offer the children i live for…’because i love you, i must stop everything right now and give you my attention, to correct you, i cannot let you behave this way, hurt yourself and me and others this way. you must apologize…do you understand what you did and why?’

this kind of love stops everything, so that the violence, the misbehavior, cannot be normalized.

this kind of love yields transformative justice, it reaches all the way down to the root, the part of the wound that is tender and swollen and full of pus and smells like the end of everything. this kind of love is not saintly, it is pragmatic. it is the nurse, midwife, doula, doctor, healer, shaman, witch, magician, neighbor, sister, friend willing to touch, clean, soothe, amputate, say spells, exorcise, journey, listen and find the possibility for healing.

and in this season, this last love feels like winter. when a loved one has to turn away from the violence and leave the violator to contemplate himself, or reach like an icy wind under the collar and through the ribs, or to shut down all the systems that allow the violator to normalize his behavior, it is a cold time.

we must freeze racism and white supremacy – armed and unarmed – out of our system, give it no place to grow. the love we offer here cannot be meted out in half measures. everywhere, winter.

we are the anomaly. our actions must be as unyielding and show stopping as that wall of snow in buffalo.

and of course we know, in the cyclical intelligence of our cells, that winter is a season of abundant nourishing for the land, water piled on top of water just waiting to be swallowed. love made visible.

when you see our rage piling up, snowballing, know that it IS our love.

we have been learning to practice love in actions of collective rage, collective redistribution of resources, and collective healing. our actions stop traffic, stop business as usual, close the schools, interrupt the speeches and the holidays – we love in ways that localize our brilliance.

we divest from the system that refuses to provide justice. we love each other by investing in each other.

join the efforts in any way you can – let’s each be clear about the things we are best at, the things which give us the particular joy that comes from being in our purpose – don’t worry, it can be multiple things. do these things as part of the larger effort for black lives.

if you are a creator, create in ways that ‘wage love’, as charity hicks taught us, that challenge small thinking and uplift black lives.

if you are an organizer or an activist, fill yourself up with righteous vision, take leadership from those most directly effected, stay hydrated, and disrupt the system at every turn. ‘turn your rage into love’, as keith cylar taught us.

if you are a parent, model and speak the message ‘black lives matter’ to your children all day, and make sure to be a presence for black lives mattering in their schools, day care, everywhere.

if you are a healer, donate a day of your work’s earnings to the efforts in ferguson (december 18 is a first day that healers will be doing this, sparked by leah lakshmi piepzna-samarasinha), or answer adaku utah’s call to offer healing to those putting their bodies on the front lines.

invest your time, money and energy into black organizing, black wholeness, black arts, black lives. this battle requires every kind of action.

and yes, some of the most direct actions may seem violent, disrupting business as usual, destroying property. think of it as survival. when someone is choking, drowning, dying, the body becomes very intelligent and willing to do anything to continue. individually and collectively, we are trying everything, and we are being brilliant, so that we, and our children, survive.

because our root cause, our root purpose, is love.

this is not the beginning, this is not the end. but this moment is ours, to ‘bend the arc towards justice’. this battle is a devastating and crucial place to be intentional about how we are showing up, what we are embodying. the superpower we need to be cultivating now is love. radical, unapologetic love.

hands up, pull it down.

#nojusticenochristmas #cancelchristmas #buyblack #blacklivesmatter #blacklove

i move therefore i am

i just completed moving out of the detroit apartment i have lived in for five years. i moved into the apartment directly above it, with my sweetheart. i learned some things during this move.

1. five years is actually a major chunk of a life. one seventh of my life thus far. so much happened in that home. when i started to let the memories come, tears flooded my face and i had to stop and catch my breath. the heart is so much more resilient than the mind. my mind cannot handle my life at all, but my heart cannot forget even the smallest instance. i remember the first time my niece siobhan visited – holding her in the dark in the living room because she wouldn’t sleep and my sister needed rest in the desperate way only new mothers know. i remember lunch meetings with charity. i remember each of the sci-fi writing salons. i remember love, heartbreak, healing, love, growth, healing, love. yoga. and learning who i was, in conversations, in that place between midnight and dawn, in that space. writing stories that i thought were brilliant and stories that i knew were horrid. needing a sabbatical, taking it, coming home, leaving, coming home, leaving, coming home – i have been the heartbeat in that little wood and brick flesh. it took the better part of a year for me to be ready to let it go.

2. i am a virgo. not that i have doubted it. but it is amazing to feel the righteousness of organization in my heart – the thrill of an empty closet or cabinet, the titillation of seeing a perfect layout behind my eyes. yes, there are other ways to do things. but it is amazing to feel the ‘right’ way like a bell ringing inside! i want to send a special love shout out to my partner because…i cannot imagine trying to land in a new space next to such wild perfection.

3. i have a thing for: matches, stationary and any other kind of paper including post-it notes, sage, sci-fi books, most other books, small decorative elephants, sentimental vhs tapes/dvds/cds, images of beyonce, unread books related to buddhism, candles that seem to have lost their wicks, emotive collages, magazines that hold the potential of collage, shoes and jewelry that i never wear but absolutely display as art, postcards, things my family members gave me, frozen homemade soups, turquoise nail polish, ginger dusting powder from lush (seriously does anyone want some of this? i took it too seriously when they discontinued this stuff, forgetting that i too would change), chopsticks, mugs, and anything that could be considered an altar item.

4. i am overwhelmed. my birthday is coming up (and all i want is to know people read this stuff sometimes, so become a member at any level if this crosses your line of sight) and there has been so much change this year – death and new life and love and health and all the biggest things. i have been pretty sure i was overwhelmed for a little while now, but the move really brought to light how deeply i can only do one thing at a time right now. i apologize to everyone who i was supposed to communicate with or do something for during this time. working to meditate, be in my body, and write daily. working to travel less, cook more, sleep deeper, breathe deeper, slow down. this home will help with each of those pieces of work.

5. it is good to shed. our whole lives become skins we wear. if we don’t grow, life can become this mess we are trying to fit into. i have outgrown the self i was in my old home. i will outgrow the self i am now with any luck.

6. i have abundance, i have a bathtub!!!, i am grateful, and that is all i actually need.

love scholarship lessons 14-20

14. if i want love, i can’t hurt love.

i used to be very cavalier about the idea of boundaries in love. ‘that’s not how humans ARE,’ i’d insist. ‘we must be free, we are mercurial, we are porous, chemistry moves between us, everyone works the systems of human interactions to get what they need, you can no more own a person than you can own the planet, etc.’

i still believe all of this to varying degrees.

but/and! lovers make agreements with each other, agreements that grow trust and transparency as they are held. trust and transparency that lay the foundation for the kind of mutual transformation that i believe can only happen in relationship (not necessarily romantic relationship, but definitely authentic relationship).

lao tzu teaches, ‘if you don’t trust the people, they become untrustworthy.’

if i want to give and receive the kind of all-inclusive trust that allows for transformation, allows me to actually feel loved in real time, i have to be trustworthy. with my boundaries and with the boundaries others set. crossing those boundaries, even if – especially if – i can’t understand them…makes it that much harder for me to trust anyone to hold the boundaries i am learning i need for my own transformation.

grace lee boggs teaches us to ‘transform ourselves to transform the world’ – love is a front line. transforming how i love, and how i treat the love of others, transforms how love can work in the world.

15. each time i name, hold or respect an intimate boundary, my understanding of the purpose of love grows.

self-love first: self-love is not about accumulating a galaxy of ever arching incoming desires, sexualizing every experience. self-love is being able to see every part of myself with compassion. to feel tenderness for all my ways of being, how i was shaped, what i have done with my gifts, where i disappoint myself.

love with another, or many others, it is not hunting. love is a fertile ground for growth. one crucial purpose of love with others is to have people to grow with. to grow out of obligations and depression, to grow old, to grow wise, to grow babies, to grow home, to grow creatively, to grow analysis, to grow freedom, to grow justice – to have another person, or other people, with whom to grow.

when i tell someone i love them, i mean: ‘i am growing with you!’

16. if we are not growing, we are doing something else…often regressing. and there are probably a million good reasons for that – the only one i understand is that there is something in my past that i haven’t really seen. and it is going to keep creeping up until it becomes unbearably present behind me, and i turn and face it, and i truly comprehend it. then i can move forward. if i try to run away, or only cast a glance over my shoulder and keep walking, it will not go away. james baldwin teaches, ‘not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced’.

17. what you withhold of yourself becomes your prison. love is also a process of getting free with another person. and along the way you learn all the cages that can develop within you and between you. one of those cages is built of lies and half-truths, knowing something your partner should know, something about who you are or what you’ve done, and withholding it from them.

i have thought of myself as an open book, but that doesn’t mean my words are in a common tongue. too often i communicate in passive aggressive dishwashing, directive playlists, abstract poetry.

i have had to learn to translate from my heart the truth of what i am feeling and what i need, walk another person through my secret garden, discover the fruits i have grown from desperation, believe in the abundance that makes sharing easy. and most of all, not to leave any part of myself in a cage, being unuttered…left there, my forgotten self creates what prisons create: criminals, humans centered around survival.

no more prisons, not even inside.

18. truth seeks the light, and love is a lightbearing emotion. the more i love, the more i want to show my wholeness. secrets come leaping through my mouth because of love. i can’t hide in the face of love. and as i love myself, i feel no need to keep hidden. healing and moving forward become possible in ways that were not available in my periods of resentment, hatred, insecurity, secrecy.

19. i learn to love in various directions simultaneously, inwards to myself, outwards to others, back to my ancestors, forward to my great great great grandchildren. i learn to love my flawed self as i fall for imperfect others. to love my communities as i become unconditionally lovestruck for my nephew and nieces. love has shown itself to be a liberating, generous and universal emotion. when i feel it in one direction, i remember that love in every direction is possible, is always present.

i would venture that part of what is happening in ferguson is an outburst of love. love of children getting to be children, love of black and brown children, is making the truth of this moment in the american racial construct come to light. this love has our eyes and our hearts extended to where michael was shot down, standing up for him, for the people murdered before him and those who will continue to be killed on this 28-hour cycle until we become too loud to ignore politically, socially and spiritually.

20. love requires practice. listening, speaking honestly, caring, surprising, grounding, calming, supporting, nourishing, pleasing, receiving, declining, creating, teaching, learning. there are so many skills to develop, simultaneously. wax on, wax off. love, love. love, love.

love, love.