the living


The Living



Wears the tongue down

The very nature of speaking

Drawing breath



It’s the living being retold on worn tongue

Frayed vocal cords

The overuse

The redundancy of words

In the very beginning words

Birthed life

Sparked light

Gave darkness home

Wet to water –

Fins to fish, wings to birds

All birthed from language –

And then there were those who sought to climb into the mouth of God

Not content with miracles

The divining of dove bones, the reading of tea leaves, the blood of sacrifice –

Silence the language of God

Is not the balm sought and so tongues are worn with prayer, exhaltations, the living

The repeating

The recitations

The calloused fingers from the rolling of prayer beads between finger and thumb

It’s the living

That beseech

Plead – weave amulets into prayer shawls, bury afterbirths, wash the bodies of their fallen in blessed water and scented oils

Only the living

Wear thin the brick steps of temples

Only the living

The living practice the ritual of


drawing breath


The worn soles of language walking across the bridge of tongues

Only the living

Speaking endlessly

Finding no comfort as the


In solance


The language of God





the voices in their hands

19745529-black-female-handThese two unknown to me

Crossed a sea with their hands

Sliced through

a void with words formed by talkative fingertips

with palms

given the power of tongues

they spoke – this mother, this daughter – speaking to her child – singing to her mother

in front of me and I wondered

If the daughter

Young as she was

would ever long for the sound of her mother’s voice

the rise and fall of language spoken aloud

given life

by infinite variances of voice

words arising from the basin of belly, moving across the muscles of the throat and collapsing on the tongue –

Words knitted with tongue and teeth

baptized with the heart and breath

springing from the soil of memory



reshaped by time,

would she,

literally hunger for noises to crowd her ears

and fill the spaces in her mouth


longing was my own –

I offered my greetings through transference

breathing desire through the veil of memory

The mother I watched

trying not to stare

or become a vampire intrusively taking the life from their lives

creating my own versions of their realities














A mouthful of ashes

A mouthful of ashes

When I birthed my daughter

I dared to kiss the face of God

tasted the saltiness of him and felt the roughness of his skin beneath my bold lips

witnessed him blush at my touch

In this moment

I was his equal

more than his son

usurping the trifecta

I did not sit on his right hand but resided in his palm

for nine months I had two lives

one heart residing beneath another

It was as if I had placed a golden idol on my tongue

swallowing and shitting blasphemies

Here I was woman


young poor


too naive to be shamed/not blinking as nurses passed my sterile manger,briefly checked my wrist band as evidence of me becoming deity

now momentarily goddess

having birthed another woman

one who would not protest her arrival and whose entrance would not be resisted

She would settle quietly into her existence only


to dual herself for control of her feminine mystique

protest the hypocrisies of the devout and humble

from whom should she wrestle her claim to identity – sacred land – promised land

she did not need affirmation


the mother who remained unabashedly naked or the omnipotent distant father

I could not fathom

I was the same woman who had caused God to blush

and had resided in the unlined meat of his palm

For a moment he had turned from the son to acknowledge daughter

I was more than a



a borrowed part

I was whole in his sight

my daughter with the universe in her veins

never faltered in her being

she protested cold, hunger and loneliness

she demanded to be heard

As I pushed against the world – the wall between void  and substance- with fingers splayed and calloused hands to preserve our place

I anointed this woman child

with blood


anger – violation- frustration and love always love

I picked from the tree of knowledge and she did not cover her nakedness in shame

but rather picked the arrows hurled  at her psyche as lint from a wool coat

Is it any wonder that she is now

Goddess – having inherited the grace of that first daring kiss

Is it any wonder she is not to be supplicated with insincere altars of hands piously touching

fingertip to fingertip

not to be dishonored by mouths that are springs of salty and sweet water

Is it any wonder she now boldly kisses the lips of God

leading others to dare to do the same?





















The color of grass is less green

When us the people darker than blue

Dance in light

Walk in shadow

Shed skins and walk naked

Rejecting social structuralism simultaneously celebrating and


The black girl that is rumoured would rather be called brown – says her blood runs thick with Portuguese and this is the reason

The singular reason

She says I am not colored – this I am told by someone purchasing for Colored Girls Who have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is not Enuf

Holding Nzoke Shange in weathered lined pale, palms as balm for a girl uncomfortable with being darker than the color blue – living in a space in between – a social construct of which she has become master architect

I suspect with wisdom gathered like nits, weeds grown too wild in my garden

There is more

I suspect her rejection of blue/black is seeded by inherited struggle making the sky less blue – the tastes of sugar less than sweet on bitter tongue, the passing of days carrying heavy poignancy marked by a general

Conservatism of joy


The blaspheming of faith with worry

She sows these seeds as I do in front of mirrors that are no less than objective – barely observant – unblinking – breakable but



The Color of Grass is Less Green



Excerpt from The Color of Grass is Less Green – Act One/Scene One


Act One – Scene One


Scene: A City Street.

A woman stands beneath a street light apart from the crowd of angry protesters holding signs and pushing against one another. She stands apart, quiet, hands turned upward, palms toward moonless night sky. Police stand facing her – but she does not move. She is still, almost as if carved from stone, until she speaks and the tears are barely perceptible – glistening on her face beneath the singular street lights – her voice rises against the steady hum of discontentment and anger coming from the crowd she has separated herself from. She is dressed in a long dress and flat shoes, she appears more prepared for a summer picnic than a protest.


Protester 1:

I don’t know how I have arrived here. I am just here to bear witness. I figured if I showed up here, hands empty – mouth closed, I could be a witness to my life – to another life. Just see me, look at me and of course, I reasoned – you could never kill another, not having looked at me – not having born witness to humanity. This is the reasoning of a mother. I figured that these police would see that black skin is not armor, it yields – gives way metal intentioned on destruction.

All yesterday, my head ached. I had to leave work and lay down – my eyes were almost swollen shut…this is all before I knew. That’s a whole day of pay gone.  All before I was a witness, there was indeed a before…funny… (Laughs sardonically) …there was a before…this shit is like a collective after life, a purgatory for black folks – aint that were the Catholics say some go – a place between heaven and hell. Just seems like there is hell where there is no rest.

(Steps forward) – I know you saw what I witnessed.

Him slumped against a seat. Shirt bloodied and her, calm and praying with her eyes and hands clamped on the steering wheel. I bore witness and went back to sleep. What the fuck is this on Facebook, I thought? And this is bullshit… it’s too early for bullshit – but it was early morning and I was not prepared for the worn truths of living. I assumed he lived and this was some world star hip hop bullshit. More Love and Hip Hop propaganda. How the fuck did I fall back to sleep after seeing that..shit.

I saw him only once. Did I see him wrestle for life? Reaching trembling hand to recapture himself, to pull his spirit back into his body – did I glimpse a battle of before and after or did I see birth and death collide?

For sure, I thought or imagined this was a mistake or that at least, surely he had lived. I don’t know how I have arrived here. Feet just took from my bed..from my here.

As Protester 1 Speaks, another woman emerges from the shadows, a protest sign held limply at her side – to stand with this one woman. She stands quietly beside her, she drops the sign at their feet and also turns her hands upward – she whispers into the ear of Protester 1. Together they face the Police Officers, who remain stoic – silent, they too are carved from Stone.

Protester 2:

How you going to prove you alive to the Dead? What is more a testament to life, dying in front of a man? You think standing here silent is louder than blood splashed against the inside of a car, spattered on the face of his daughter. You think they going to listen to you….we not here for that… we here to take …

Protester 1 – Take what? Our lives back? Can they breathe life into our dead? We can’t take shit. That’s the point. But we can been seen with life in us.

Protestor 2 – They seen life in us. You think they killing Zombies – they seen life in us.

They are too afraid of us to listen. They don’t listen. Why do you bother? Why do we bother to appeal in this manner? We have our dead to worry about, to send into the next life. We have our dead marking our paths, tombstones mark the freedom trail and have led us to here. We should leave.

Protester 1: Leave? I won’t leave. I grew here in this spot and this place. I’ll be damned to try and explain how I got here other than I grew from this tar as black as me, as worn as me, as broken as me. Should they not see our faces? If we are silent and show the palms of our hands – show that we bear witness to life, these lines from thumb to pink evidences we come from a womb, we rested beneath hearts and drew first breaths just as they. We are not magic or myth – we are real.

I want them to see us – just as this. See we are human. We are of flesh and blood. We are Christ. Take ye notice and do this in remembrance of our first breathes – the hearts we have rested beneath – the first cries – the grasp towards our own souls, the reach executed to save ourselves.

Protester 2: You think your poetry will save us, you think they will remember your face in the end? You think we are more than a sea of black faces. They have been trained to see past your face, my face – we don’t imprint on lens nor are we captured by the flash of synapse connected to neuron. Let’s walk away, before someone is standing for us and soon forgetting us. Someone gotta tell the story…you just another face in this crowd. I am here and I don’t know why either…just come with me.

Protester Two begins to pull the arm of Protester One to come away with her, the sounds of the crowd are rising above them. There are warning shouts that the police are coming.

Protestor 1 – Then how will we honor our dead? I come with you and how will we honor our dead?

Shall we gather the bodies of our dead together?

Shall we anoint their heads with sacred oils and press coins into their battered palms for passage fare to the other side? Shall we kiss fingertips still marked with bloody testament to the path of least resistance? Have they paid enough or is there further debt and indignities to be suffered?

Why you here then? Why you come out pull me back. You going to pull me from the afterlife?

Protestor 2 (leans forward and wearily picks up her protest sign) – My mother says, the dead need not our help. The dead care for the dead.

Forty Years In the Wilderness – by JoyceAngela Jellison

Write Out Loud - Stories from the Frontline

This city is silent. Everyone is mute and I am turning up my eardrums to tune into thoughts – capture truths. I am the harbinger of the first and last words – everything inbetween fucks with my mind.

Did you ask me if I was happy about Michele Obama being in the white house? Did I cringe? Wasnt Sally Hemmings a black woman – what about Condelezza Rice? Are you not a black woman if you work under a republian administration?

You tell me you dont see color – I say color sees me. Technically color blind is the inability to detect red and green – shades of black, gray and the absence of color are detectable. Does colorblind mean you cant see folks of color? Can you see me if I shed my skin? Can you see me if I dont oppose your truth – if I cross the…

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My Revolutionary Pussy – by Joyce Angela Jellison

Write Out Loud - Stories from the Frontline

There was a season when I lost my mind. A wintering of my logical self  and the hibernation of reason.

Purgatory – death – hibernation – there is no distinction in my mind. Roaming without purpose is insanity snarling at comfort. My insanity came unexpectedly and as is often the case, without invitation but perhaps some provocation.

Insanity is death or it is the courting of death without the courage to marry it. I am not afraid of commitment, but Iam afraid of death – the silence of the whole affair – the void – the absence of light and the prospect of an eternity in a questionable void  are infinitly terrifying.

I went insane over a man or should I say under a man – the weight of his ficklness and indifference. This is the mania of womyn like me – those who write and feel more than they should. …

View original post 1,404 more words