The Lion And The Cat

The lion, prideful but without a pride, roamed in search of a cave to hide. Hunters were coming to lay him down, hunters were coming with crazy sound. They smashed the branches and snapped twigs; rolled over homes under the plain, and knocked nature about. The lion was lucky in his cool brown and padded claws. He slipped through the trees undetected, hatred reflected in his eyes for all his murdered and kidnapped felines. Into himself he retreated, sprawling out on the dirt, alone, he felt good for a moment. It had been so long that there in the cave, he thought he had dreamed it.

When a perky little cat, Roberta, Bob for short, came trotting by. She heard the loud sigh of an angry lion inside. “Go away small one why have you come,” he roared “can’t you see that with all of you I am done!” She perked up her whiskers and sat lightly on her tail staring up into the jaws of hell. “Out I said, or I’ll surely kill you dead.”

Un-phased, she laid in the shade of a tree trunk across the way and went to sleep. There she stayed. Every day. Listening to the lion storm, bringing warm mice for him to nibble on, leading the monkeys away whenever they tried to bother, singing sweet meows whenever he started to holler.

Until finally one day long after, he cried to the cat “Why? Surely you know the real world is not this kind.”

“We are the same,” she said.

“I am a lion,”  he growled.

“You are a cat albeit a very big one. I am black and spotted, you are tan. You are alone and in pain. I remember once when I was in needing, someone came with love, feeding me bits of kindness. We may not look it, but we are the same. And if we don’t take care of each other who will,…” she began to trail off, and slowly got up to walk away “…the hunter?”

Into the brush she went without a word more.

The lion, so used to her love and affection, followed behind; and thought, in time, I will learn how to be the same.

Three Lettered Word

How can I just sit here, stagnant?

The insomnia kicking me in my side, unable to resolve the issues about which I write. Seems like they grow fast, like the hairs prodding my skin. The future looms. I don’t know where I’m going only where I’ve been. It’s sickening, these three lettered words are inseparable. Tossed through the air without affection. Devotion to the voices within that won’t speak.

This isn’t making any sense. My body paces yet I lack the spirit to leave. The problem lies with me? Alone in the struggle. Questions running rampant as the clock ticks. Still here I sit.

In love and suddenly impatient with these three lettered words. Honey dipped lightening laced with the essence of fresh roses petals. Unparalleled. And it all came down to a three lettered word whispered in the dark for fear they’d actually be true, that maybe light would reveal my heart doesn’t feel quite right. It never did.

I miss him, its just hard to say sometimes. But words hold no weight in a world constantly moving, they can be broken as easily as eggshells on pavement. I guess I had hoped if I stood still long enough and felt my emotion sink past my heart to the bottom of my feet. I could shove it down and keep it there.

Books $4 Sale

Books for sale!chicagodefender

Won’t anyone buy black books for sale!

Come on now people, I’m just a homely poet with books for sale. I’m standing on this corner shouting out a dream, won’t you hear me? I’ve been in the bookstores, soon to be absolute. Might as well cut your losses and buy from me. Nothing in here but fancy decorum and inviting Starbucks sweets, coffees, and treats to dampen your palette while you read. But, needs all that extra when soon the sounds of crisp pages flipping will be replaced by e-note books clicking. Yes folks soon the only sounds you’ll hear are the slow screech of a printing press meeting its demise as newspapers and text give way to convenience. Technology will definitely be on the rise but there is still time!

Come on mister, listen, don’t go in. Beyond those doors is nothing but a heated space for people bumming through books, looking for their next fix, perusing the classics section like looking for loose change in couch cushions. Buying books to dangle on their shelves, framed archaic masterpieces.

If it means that much to you go to the library, it’s cheaper for the consumer. A three ring circus of literature attended by masked and costumed book jugglers with a 5 cent cover charge for the customer. Come see the mastery of tricks never performed before! In town a few nights only featuring an all-star lineup of authors and poets, death0-defying leaps into symbolism and motif threaded through sharp waves of similes and metaphor. That’s what you really yearn for. Go quick before it’s no more than a hollowed tent, a scraped out cantaloupe shell, a discarded and disregarded community center left for demolition. Save the libraries!

old-bookLady, lady wait. Hear this! Haven’t you noticed the separation, the nicely parted Negro sections, labeled African American literature or urban fiction? Why the separation?

Come on guys, pay attention, these matters must needs some clarification, verification for that spark of truth gestating in the back of your mind. Decline what they feed you in search for better food.

But… while you searching, my book’s on sale $4 for 2.

He Said

He said I am the Anti-Christ, as a smile slipped its way across his face. images (4)

The pupil of his eyes twitched and danced hastily anxious to inflict the commands cooking in his mind. I part my lips to stop time to listen, flex my muscles to bend walls around my will be done he whispered as he hugged me almost lovingly. Mark a new beginning in the sands of society. Tie a broom to the necks of the unfaithful to sweep away the steps of the unworthy. He paced the room beaming with the brilliance of his plans holding the world’s fate like a freshly peeled orange in the palm of his hands, and in panicked breaths I could smell the citrus scented death. But, my face was placid and unimpressed by this man, who not too long ago used to grasp my hand.

Now he’s moved to the doorway triumph in his stride, a lion’s pride, a devil hides. Raises his arms and proclaims himself king. And I his daughter as future queen. I stare at his imagined victory over our little hallway, disheartened laughing at the notion of crazy. Just then he jumps forward wrestling with the world’s shadow, mumbling curses as he punches the plaster while quoting something that sounds like what satanic verses aught to. Accustomed and unafraid I exist only as a witness to the effects of cell bars and failed dreams, to un-addressed depression and loneliness that prefers the company of a bottle, to unabashed character flaws when Daddy should have been hero. He has won the battle, cheering excitedly standing firmly the savior. The head of anarchy singing loudly louder until he’s screaming shaking the roots of our building but he is a human being.

From the base of my soul I will smile because he’s smiling. There have been days when the light I see now was a smashed candle on the canvas above his chin wax and wick mixed into the hate and bitterness. From the core of my being I will swallow hard & laugh with his laughter at the powers that we will have as the Anti Christ and partner because I love my father albeit his mind doesn’t have all the chapters. Gladly charter my sanity for him, not to sanction his actions but because I understand it is hard to walk down the road as a large black man. Constant surveillance will make you consider God’s eyes less and less, make you wonder, should I answer the approaching officer or just nod my head yes. Yes I know I fit the profile. Through the procedure of cuffing gruff hands that controlled the sands of time are the ones that would firmly clasp mine, reading Miranda I trace memories along the lifelines of his palms.

They never hurt me.

Placed behind his double wide back. Maybe beat mercilessly the wooden face of a board, the weighted burden of anger heavy eradicated as knuckle met door. Wait, you have a self proclaimed king in your custody. He may have hid the broken bottles of his pride and shattered his relationship with God but I still need him to be the boulder in a world that rattles endlessly. Give me a chance at stability. Enough women already suffer from men coming in and out of their lives constantly.

images (5) This story unfortunately has no ending

Just the unknown future of a world that reduces its fathers to shambles

How can he help raise children when a broken soul just produces a broken one?

 

Knuckles and Knees: Part 1

My uncle, who is not really related to me, says that I shouldn’t have black knees. That no man wants a woman with black knees. I am confused by this, as I sit on the stoop listening to him laugh in his throat with another uncle of mine whom I am sure is not related to me. They seem to agree. One is a drug dealer. Overdue for his next bid and real estate man and property investor and owner of his own construction company. The other is notorious for his drinking binges and odd sightings around the neighborhood with packages of baby wipes that aren’t brand name. I say, but I am a black girl and I already have black knees. They continue to chuckle at me.

images (3)I am lost.

But I have black knees don’t I, I am black. You are brown. Women with black knees have scars from rubbing their knees on the ground. No one will want you if they look like that. He points to the other non-uncle’s skin, dark as charcoal. I am not charcoal, but I am brown. When did I become brown? Besides there’s other kinds of scars I’m talking about that you’re too young to know about. I am nine. You shouldn’t anyways, he says, and then swigs whatever it is he’s drinking. I played football a lot with the boys on the block, that’s why my knees are darker, and they know it already. I’m not talking about boys, he says, I mean men. Men like them?

When you get older men don’t want to deal with that kind of baggage. You all scarred and scuffed up from other dudes or games or whatever, and now he has to deal with your blackness. Wear stockings from now on or something, just trust me. By this point in the conversation Daddy has descended the stairs, and upon seeing the confusion in my little face, asks what we were talking about. Non-uncle number one, the lighter one, tells him. Daddy curses him out and punches him into the street. I wonder deeply. Why can’t women be dark and wanted, why can’t men deal with her scars? Daddy comes back to tell me that my uncle is not really my uncle at all and that he’s a sexist, nasty fool that I should never take advice from. My Daddy is a correctional officer at Rikers Island prison, he was an all-star running back in high school and a college drop out, he has made many mistakes but loves my mom and he loves me.

157d903a50054f232787527c5cd57da3He says that my legs are fine the way they are.

And if not, then find a man in life who likes scars, brownness, and the edges of blackness.  

 

Philly Story #389

The sub rocks me into a slippery self consciousness

So me and Marley fold into my seat and start jamming

We jamming

Blasting through the microcosmic speakers

 riding each lazy beat with euphoric glee

when across from me

this dude twists up his face

the other passengers scramble

like frantic cockroaches about to be smushed

I look

300 pound bowling ball of a man stands with a gun in his hand

waving as if he was princess Diane

I dam near lose a bowel movement

Tripping over people to get to the exit quick

What kind of shit is this that I just witnessed

I was trying to get to work and handle my business

Now I got lateness all on my plate

Damn. It had to be today.

Mind.Body.Soul. Struggle

Am I the sinner or the preacher, student or the teacher, the lover or indifferent?Image

I thought, dug deep into the trenches, the cold globes of earth shifting and settling into my clothes. Wait. I’m starting to see a shape in the distance about three clicks away. I cant make them out just yet, but through the mists, ugly and black, they angrily jab at this writer’s sleep and disturb my mind’s peace. Oh, so you thought you were the thought that could just creep up on me, failing to see that my understanding runs deep, catacombed under the bone, so to speak, since violators were liable to get shot. Someone from far off in the trenches orders me to lay off my defenses.

 

But sir, the enemy is advancing, this is no time for peace!

We pushed then. Through the fields of provoked war to apprehend the targets caught dead in our sights like Osama’s head as it turned to meet the wrong end of an U.S barrel. Couldn’t tell you why I rushed in, I guess for the first time I just wasn’t thinking but the bullets kept flying. One doubled over as the left flank moved around the perimeter. Surrounded and boxed-in, one feel to his knees and began to plead. The last one standing had courage and came towards our heavily armed borders, hands high in surrender as I tapped the trigger ready to fire.

Don’t shoot, she says, I am love, offering my dignity and pride, and my life.

She closed her eyes then and shouted,

Now choose.  

Dream Sequence

I slipped off the couch into my dreams last night. I met a strange man who told me I was going to die. Hesitant, feeling death’s chill rattle my teeth, I mustered a ‘But why as a reply’. Before he could answer, the ground beneath me began to crumble. And I tumble, over the ledge as he shouted at me ‘Unless.’ Wait as my entire life was to disintegrate. My arms and feet flailed in haste as I tried to make sense of my fate. I thought I was meant to do great things or is the future as grim as it seems. The reaper was unclear in his shouts, honestly, my fear of falling, drowned him out.splatter-comics-grim-reaper-small-59374 I can see the ever closing ground now.

The word started to come into focus as I silently licked the air of my demise. It never occurred to me that I should’ve cried for my friends, family, people who loved me. Instead, I thought of swaying into the edge of this cliff side and just ending this. ‘Unless’, resonated through my suicidal thoughts. He must’ve meant it as a sign of hope. Will I live until I am gray and old? How long will it take for my mom to cope? I cannot fly but my spirit floats, maybe I can suspend my impending doom if I can solve this riddle soon.

Unless you change your indifferent ways, there is no hope for us. That’s a heavy load to place on one person. Must I lead this revolution? A cause needs to be inspired first. These words will give birth to the thought that will move people to action, but they need more than a reciprocation of ignorance and violence, or they will tear this place apart. And, bloodshed will no longer be on freedom’s head but rained in the name of revenge on the innocent, the guilty, and indifferent.

Control has to pull in the reins. Set fire to their hearts, then ferment the flames.

Where do broken hearts congregate?

Frida

 

You would think it would be in the corners of lips that are no longer in use, you know. Right around the curve where the edges of other lips are supposed to meet. They hide in the backgrounds of your eyes, that reflection you can see if you lean in real close to the mirror and focus on the image that’s watching itself. Maybe they tingle your skin where hands or other skin or lips had been. Where they had lingered, and kissed a shoulder probably with as much delicacy as they could possibly muster. That you watched, as those kisses got lower and lower, further away from your shoulder, but you could still feel it everywhere. You gotta think that touches like that don’t just disappear.

That this broken heart you hold could be glued and taped, but come on it’ll never be right again. And if you think that all broken hearts want to embrace each other in the moonlight and tell stories, then you’re seriously depraved. But still.

You wonder if carnal licks lasts, drip down your imagination like milky molasses. If everything on the inside can feel just as good as the outside. And maybe look just as good too, so much so that you don’t refrain from asking for the camera to sit on the desk next to the bed next time. You finally got pass the fear of your mother finding the recording on there one day.

You hope that wasn’t too bold or not bold enough or not hard enough or too long or not long enough or if you should’ve turned the lights off first or if bras are like some secret cockblock invention or if you should smile right know, not knowing if smiling would make you like it more or just nervous.

You hope that you’re not going to be alone afterwards filling in the spaces that were previously occupied with a longing for eye contact, for whispers, for laughs, for anything but dead silence, for less light because you probably look crazy with your hair all messed up now, for satisfaction or at least the acknowledgement that you weren’t satisfied.

A heart is a stupid fragile thing anyways. Bodies break all the time and they’re put back together. Bodies heave and hurt, are forced and pulled and pushed. But no one gives a damn about the exterior. The second your heart does it though, everything ends.

Take this one and try to fix it.

Take this one and try desperately to re-adhere the love.

Then put it back in your body and try to reconnect everything.

Reconnect that time you were supposed to be listening and didn’t hear what was said so you asked for it to be repeated. Never was repeated, instead it snowballed into invective curses about how much you will never fucking listen. During which you stopped listening anyways and went back to the pointless assignment on your desk and the annoying pop-up on your lap-top.

Reconnect to the time you guys first met. And there was an immediate something. She was smiling. He was trying not to smile, but smile anyway. And now you’re both smiling like idiots. Your favorite song comes on and the only other person who knows every single word, even the awkward high riff in the chorus and sudden heavy beat bass drop and the face that the guy makes in the video just as he’s about to start the second verse, that person becomes your soul mate for the next three minutes. Then maybe three years. People watch in amazement, some who were there the day that song came on. Some who witnessed the music die in your relationship.

They always watch you don’t they. Wanting to know if everything is on the up and up or just about to crash and burn. Either way it’s entertainment.

Reconnect to the time you guys spent at that fancy Schezuan restaurant on Valentine’s Day because you couldn’t go and order regular Chinese food since that would’ve seemed cheap. It was crowded as hell and it took forever to get a table, then when the table was actually available you got to sit there for twenty minutes before anyone paid attention to you.

But passing the time with you, sitting and standing there secretly joking with each other about the hostess’s dim sum accent, was the stuff great love letters are written for.

Reconnect that time that a no was said and meant and wanted, but it wasn’t recognized or understood. That it hurt, and nothing was ever said.

Sometimes you try to find the ‘why’. Nothing was said. The Why nothing was said. The Why your body was broken and your heart imploding, but you said nothing.

When you think about it, his hands never really held yours the right way. You’re supposed to clasp them, individually holding one another. Not wanting to let go. Or she didn’t look into your gaze at the right moments. She was always off in her own head, staring out of the window and daydreaming about finding the cure for ultimate world suffering or some shit. When all you really wished was that she would look at you with a look like you mattered.

But all that was a few months to a lifetime ago, when you thought that it did matter.

 

It did, didn’t it?

Philly Story #15: A short fiction

A small hand reaches up, searching for a warm grasp, only to be jerked down the street. Old city is flat and long, stretching along the water. The buildings are cursed with age, hence the name, yet people gather there.

imageThey shove and spit. They sing and laugh. But it alone, witnesses this child cry tears so heavy that she wades in her own sadness through the amassing crowds. Her slanted eyes glance at her father’s grip pleadingly. Across Market, down 4th. She wants to wriggle but that will cause a foreseeable rage with even more dire consequences than the paper stamped with the failing grade she clutches in her free hand. Her mother and sister, a spitting image of one another, obediently float behind them in silence. They are sheepishly pale but aware. Down 3rd. The mother doesn’t speak, but the little girl’s accent is thick as she audibly starts to cry for her father to let go. Wide eyes whisper for her to stop. Down 2nd. The city tenses, desiring to drown her in the river so her tears will wash away. It rumbles the subway devoid of trains. It flickers a lamp on the corner in the daytime in protest. It even ignites a cable no longer used by trolleys that’s hanging across the intersection. No one notices the city’s or the girl’s distress. They stop under the light. Somewhere a bus driver stops for an elderly woman as she hobbles to the bus stop late; a man robs a Wells Fargo at gun point; the theater packs in an audience thirsty for entertainment; but here, here a portly and distempered man, red with freckles that extend to his bald head and over his sharp nose, here this man, in a sweaty sports T-shirt, pulls a rope from his back pocket and efficiently begins to tie the weeping child to the base of the lamppost. She cries louder, and through raspy whimpers, manages to say, “I’m sorry.” No one notices. Infuriated, the city darkens the unusually bright sky for mid-Fall, and whips the wind into the man. Unappeased, he continues his work, stapling the test to her front ropes. “You will not bring another 66 into my house. Stop with all that crying,” he says. He steps back, surveying what he has done, then steels a watchful eye over the other two in the background. The city quakes.

The girl disappears into her own grief at public shame. She is the pig at slaughter. She is the geisha. She isimages the nigger and a slave. Diminishing into a place far from herself, her little body shakes with sobs. This place is somewhere between the hiss of a brand and the signing sting of seared flesh. It is hot and magenta. It burns with unrequited love, trying desperately to soothe the girl. She feels like she is everyone and

everyone is staring. But here is the only place no one is.

The concrete, to which the crowd diligently ignored, breaks open at the command of the city, unable to suffer her suffering any longer. The hole lunges deep into the earth, yet shines with an inextinguishable light, and swallows the family whole.

No one notices.

The festival goes on giving out beer and ice cream, cleverly packaged in Chinese take-out boxes. A man, dark and lovely, sings in the middle of the street, rather loudly and out of key, about his longings for egusi, salted plantain, and the Nigerian sun. He bounces there, thinking about his home while being a homeless American before the guards shoo him away. Women walk the streets in packs to feel safer. Men roam the streets in packs to look dangerous. A painter sells weed alongside her works from college, wanting nothing more than to make it to Amsterdam before she dies. And, a poet walks to the stage, stifles a nervous butterfly in his stomach, brushes his dreadlocks to one side, and stares into the lighted audience, faces cavernous and bright, searching for the red-purple inferno to comfort his sorrowful story.