On Returning Home To Nana’s

a small hair sprouts

defying the odds

bursting through the surface

only to crinkle and bend

like palm trees in the wind

coconut oil eases the shaft

from root to ends

smooth, dipping my curls

into the Atlantic

becoming one with the island

and the wave

and the nappiness

of my kitchen

the way she might have as a child on family vacations

her thick black locs hang

like freedom

and nooses

and mangoes

strong and sweet as sugarcane

standing up

resisting gravity

and the box that bottles beauty

this little hand in mine

In case I never get to tell you this

In case you forget who I was

In case we have a fight or stop speaking

Or you have questions

I have always loved you,

Not from the moment you were born or

When you threw up on my favorite shirt

But forever

From the inception of my existence

It was intrinsic that I would love you


Hold you while you cried

Sing Marvin Gaye songs to put you back to sleep

To dream of how much we might look alike

And threaten your first date

To tell you that ma is the best person you will ever meet

Daddy always tries to help you navigate a world of bullshit and lies

In my short time I have failed to change it for you

So I have tried to change myself

I have been fallen been broken lied to lain with

Kicked down left lifted up cherished

I have seen beauty beautiful people ugly things history unfurl

Conspiracy and the truth get rinsed out in the wash

I have hurt people been hurt cried lied been found out abused

I like to think that I know some things

But the brave admit what they don’t know

Openly brazenly and without fear

Because there is no shame in not having all the answers


Learn to cook and laugh at yourself

Find someone who loves to be bored with you and go on an adventure

Know where you come from

Look to the moon for humility

Look in the mirror for strength


And just in case I am not there

When you leave for prom or

Learn how to ride a bike

In case I am not there for your next birthday or class trip

In case I am not there when you need me


Know that your little hand in mine altered my destiny

I love you more than

Peach cobbler collard greens and chinese chicken wings

Past all reason and cognizance

I’d hold on tight and die for you

Because that

Is just what big sisters do


For Nazir Samaira Rachel Rebecca Jazmin and any others after…

For Nazir

My little brother has the sweetest dimples

as if honey dipped happiness puddles on his brown chin

Legs made to run and he’s barely one

I hope he’s quick

burdened by forever fitting the description

I hope he’s fast

with those slave feet

fast enough to beat a speeding mal-intent militant bullet

cruising through your hood in cruisers

I can’t breathe

imagining him laid out

like a Law & Order: SVU scene

flashing on the TV screen

The grand jury content with no indictment

Look, I’m no Al Sharpton


Fred Hampton,

Rodney King, Emmett Till,

Amadou Diallo, Ousmane Zongo, Timothy Stansbury,

Sean Bell, Bernard Bailey, Jahzeph Crooks, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner,

Akai Gurley, Oscar Grant III, Ernest Duenez, Christopher Middleton, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown,

my  father, my cousin, my brother

They all deserve better

than a supped up militarized Jim Crow task force

The truth is

they shoot dissenters and threats down like dominoes

it takes too long to turn on the hose

get the dogs

and lynching ropes I guess

Cops kill boys that look like me

all natural haired and sun baked skin

suspect or not

no one wants to die here

Why does your split decision always shatter his life like porcelain

dolls tap dance on bloodied pavement

that all the world’s perfumes cannot sweeten

They unload clips

We turn on each other with weapons

and the violence

spins this world on it’s axis

What if I have a son…

What if I came home and my husband…