Poetry is my language of love, because for me, my poems are mostly love poems to the world, and prayers. It’s the best and biggest beauty I can give.
And in those love poems, one of my main ingredients is longing. I wonder, are human beings in a constant state of longing? Is to live in the world to experience this reaching, whether it’s for a quiet mind, our younger days, or a past love? My former poetry professor and mentor, Dr. Heather McNaugher, said that poets tend to write the same poem over and over, and I find myself having plenty of notes of longing in this current collection I am working on about motherhood and aging, even through I feel so fulfilled in my new role as a mother.
I can’t believe I’ve reached blog #25, the final blog during this grant period for Creative Pinellas. For this final blog, I thought I’d share some poems from the current collection I am working on. All four poems were published in Denzel Johnson-Green’s Neptune Magazine, which features art and poetry from local artists.
The Stress Train
stopped at our kitchen table,
lights shining on our faces;
I got on—choo-choo.
It was Thai Thursday, too,
takeout, a pandemic.
I brought up bills,
the writing on the calendar,
next week’s election.
Teddy smacked his lips,
drummed his high chair tray.
Maya meowed by her dish
of hardened beef bits.
Candlelight blessed our wooden table.
Tell me, when was the last time
we prefaced a meal with grace?
Thaddeus dipped a spring roll
in peanut sauce. Shut the door;
look at the moon, he said to me,
the other day, when I was worrying.
Now I was stations away, and the Thai
tasted nothing like usual.
I thought, what am I doing—Stop
the train, then returned to my plate.
Teddy flew his hand like a kite,
or maybe he was reaching for me.
A smattering of tiny turkey flowers
sprouted around his lips.
The floor a field of buttercups,
bread tossed at our feet,
colors more divine than usual.
So I started clapping,
then Teddy joined his little palms
again and again, fingers spread,
all eight teeth showing.
Then Thaddeus, too,
his long lovely hands,
and we three clapped
until our bellies were full
and it was just us
beside vacant linoleum tracks.
Grandma’s Brown Spots
a found poem: from Aunt Cheryl’s Facebook comment under a picture of age-spotted hands with bright pink manicured nails
my mom always lamented
her brown spots, yet
when she passed,
the only organ
she was able to donate
was her skin.
I was told
was a burn victim.
Black is Beautiful
Oh, how my grandmother soaked up
constant compliments, wore bikinis
until her seventies, daisy dukes and crop tops,
blonde curls bouncing as she raised one shoulder,
then the other like Marilyn Monroe
in that famous white dress.
My friend Danielle and I were teenagers
when we sat at the kitchen table
flipping through her makeup artist book:
glossy pages of white faces.
Except for one.
Grandma saw and said She’s pretty
for a Black girl.
Later, in my bedroom,
Danielle said, Gorgeous
for a human being!
and pointed to the model
with shimmering cheeks, a spirit
that leapt off the page.
Two decades later,
I look up at the sky. Finally,
I say to Grandma, Black is beautiful.
I say to my seven-month-old son
who still doesn’t need to unlearn anything:
Black is beautiful.
And when I see dark skin
in a magazine or on TV, I want
More. On covers,
with lead roles,
in positions of power.
rivers of Blackness.
Black person, Black pen, Black chair,
Black sand, Black stairs, Black sky, Black cat,
Black butterfly, Black person,
person, person: universe.
*First appeared in Cordella Magazine
had me writhing
on the ground
to the world.
Palms on the floor
I cried to the nurse:
I don’t know what to do.
my slipper sock and said
That’s what labor is like.
On the monitor we saw
the contractions had gone from hills
Breathe through it
but you wouldn’t try to go sailing
Before the contractions
were too steep to climb
I was dancing through them,
in my olive green hospital gown
joking about my new vintage dress
belly full from Thai.
The nurse said,
Normally it’s jello or popsicles,
I was dancing
any which way I felt
my hair dashing this way
to the song I put on repeat
as I belted out the refrain
I bet you wished you never burned that bridge oh no
‘Cause now you’d like to cross it.
Later lying on the crooked bed
the pain clawing its way through me
it was clear
Bodies are bridges,
and there’s no other way
Dear reader, thank you for taking this journey with me these past months during my first (and hopefully not the last) blog writing experience.
Here’s to loving through all life’s longing—
Peace, love, and a big cozy hug,