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cirque de la nuit

The inky journey of a modern day Troubador

Invisible Woman

I can either be the bitchy black woman
or the meek house girl.

For women of my complexion there is no middle safe ground.

I’ve tried.

I’ve studied the moves, the tone, the ideation of a non-threatening, yet self assured white woman and imitated it perfectly.

It doesn’t work.

It doesn’t work because I’m not the issue, my response isn’t the issue, my womanhood isn’t the issue.
The color of my skin is the issue, the kink in my hair is the issue.

Any man is entitled to me, based on the darkness of outer shell covering.

Imagine living in that.
Imagine living in a shell that gives people power over you. That entitles them to treat you in ways that confound even the most resilient human spirit.

We are at a bar.
A man approaches my white girlfriend. She is wary and uninterested, the conversation is tense and unwanted but ends abruptly and safely. We come out unscathed.
She is my shield.
Her whiteness saves me.

I’m at happy hour alone, lamenting a hard days work.
The first thing I feel is a hand on my ass, I feel a hot breath on my neck.
Telling me how sexy and appealing I am, commentary on my body, and assertions of what is to come.
I shift in my seat and the hand moves to my arm and hardens to a grip.

Or walking along the side of the road with my dog,
and a man stops his car near me, gets out and walks up behind me.
Asking my name, imploring me to stop moving, to come with him, to jump in his car and be with him. Objectionable characterizations of me are inserted ad hominem.
I have to run.

Every woman experiences these horrors on the reg.

But as a Black Woman I cannot win in any arena.
I cannot defend myself without becoming the very thing that invites such vitriol and I cannot hide or whimper and victimize myself.
I cannot seek help from my lighter sisters, because they don’t understand the effect of my dark skin on male behavior.
They don’t see it, they don’t feel it

and in turn
I

am

Invisible.

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Familiar

I want to ask you
why you said that,

Why were your eyes so desperately sad
as you recited the lines
written for you

I want to
sit down with you
walk through

graffiti alleyways
and grungy beach walks

follow your plot-line outside its
celluloid confines

make you real
help me feel

the lie between my reality

and yours.

Droplet

Long, thin,
and pale fingers

reaching
like

dagger-ed icicles
towards me

one pricks the shallow

hollow of my neck and
draws a scarlet pearl of blood

my blood doesn’t run like a river
or flow like a stream
it doesn’t share properties with land, hearth

family

it isn’t

it’s

alien

Gravel Gardens

Lu Terlikowski’s “Gravel Gardens” rocked my heart today. The simplicity of it, the building of tension and the heart rendering ending, all centered around a little tree. Lovely and poignant. I like to think of it as a survival story…

Uncensored

They were complaining and it made sense, because who asks children to plant trees in the middle of January anyway? So they were out there with scarves up to their rose cheeks and hands shaking as they tried to wield small shovels and the whole time I’m thinking about how all the trees will die.

And then, they did. All these little sprouts withered away and the thing about sprouts is that they don’t have grand deaths. The do not crumble to the ground or pronounce death with each graying strip of bark—they just die. So we had twenty or so tree sprouts that faded away and slipped beneath the snow without us knowing they would perform a disappearing act before we saw the ground again.

When the ground showed its face again, all the sprouts were gone. All but one anyway. This kid, Julie, had insisted on planting her…

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Trip Home

 

 

Home.

It ripped a hole in me so deep and wide
the entirety of old me fell out
cold and viscid on the patchwork floor.

My new cheeks hot with shame
I didn’t bother to clean me up.
Bur didn’t profane to divert my eyes either.

I watched my old self evanesce through the cracks
in what used to be my sanctum

my hearth of red stone bricks
my room walls, colored like the tumultuous warm seas
of the South Pacific.

You can’t have both roots and wings
you can’t.
You just can’t!

If you try, one will cripple the other

Those sturdy walls slowly cracked and arched
disintegrating under my feet
and the warped visage of my once-homestead faded
slowly into blackness

Then comes the pain
the Via Dolorosa.
The throbbing hole left by your
departing specter
must force mend
to guard from
desolations potent infection.

Home

It destroyed my once rosy view
and shattered what was left
of my innocence and youth.

leaving me empty, and turbulent
refusing to mourn.

You cannot mourn
because it was
not
true

Maybe

It’s risky, speaking out.
You may be

Maybe misunderstood, maybe shamed, maybe judged..
Maybe you are just a private person, maybe its just your business alone.

Maybe it was a steamy night, a midsummer eve with the crickets chirping outside the open windows of your (then) favorite bar.
Maybe you’d had three acidic bitter beers in an hour. Trying to burn out the pangs of the week.
Maybe you had invited a friend along, because he was smart, funny, and easy to be around. Maybe you’d known him for a year or so.
And then maybe you were perched at the bar in your kick-ass leather skirt, and uncrossed your legs to lean forward for your next beer.
You’d felt it maybe.
his hand, sliding up your thigh, between your legs reaching towards the peak.
Startled, of course, you swiveled on the stool away from the hand and drew your knees together.
The conversation had continued and he never missed a beat.
So you’d re-engaged.
but maybe 15 minutes later you were looking for chap-stick in your purse, and you’d felt it again.
This time forceful, pushing apart your knees and roughly jamming the hand up to your vagina, barely guarded by a thin black lace.

In a crowded bar, maybe you stood up, or rather fell back off the stool away from the hand.
maybe the cold sticky bar floor was better then the seat next to your friend.

Maybe you don’t remember much of the rest of the night except the mad dash home. Ignoring his pleas, and faux concern.

Maybe it’s not the first or last time it happens.
because maybe a friend, if you’ve known him 3 years…or 30….
will feel entitled to your body.

and maybe you’ll still talk to him, be friends with him, have dinner with him.

Because what are girls taught as they become women, if not that their bodies are public domain.

To have a body as a woman, is to own a piece of property that depreciates with every touch, and is subjected to perpetual, unchecked appraisal.

Maybe, there is another way.

Risky
 

 

Forgiveness

Forgive me, lover.
I noticed the battle scars on my weary skin
and took time to heal them
covering them with self-salve
and sewing them up with my writers needle

I wallowed in a muddled puddle
of sorrow and shame
I cauterized the pain with far too much whiskey,
spent late nights at the bathroom sink
burning away all the evidence of the lost one.

and I came through the other-side

with a smile as bright as the stars
and laughter in my spirit
once more

I embraced the world with open and
kind arms.
Chasing down everything
that made me feel alive and free.

And I found you lover.
We tumbled into something
so sincere and true.
That I forgot.

Please forgive me, lover.

I thought the rage was gone,
quenched by the weight of familiar
love.
How could I have known that the pain
wedged itself next to my beating heart
like an arrowhead?
Sealed in by my cured cicatrices.

That it would again be inflamed
by my rational fears.

When I become stony and benumbed
to the ardor of your affections.
It is not you, dear lover.
Not you, whom I spurn.

But the memory of the lost one
who blemished my soul.

temp

I’m not for the now
and constantly have to remind myself of that

an emerald rug

in the silences of conversation
when I say something
that instantly reveals my ancient soul.

an old riverboat

Thousands of lives, both real and imagined
are tributaries
to the ocean inside me.
They cackle and sneer with malcontent
as I pour myself into the needs of society–

maple syrup on the snow

Because water can fit anywhere
it can trickle into cracks
and create puddles in concrete
over time, it erodes all things.

glass beads

The strength isn’t in the drop
it’s in the patient steady stream
drifting through time

well worn phrases

If water is primeval
then so am I.

A Cat, A Cauldron, and some headphones

(。•̀ᴗ-)✧ via Punziella

My mom asked me what I want for my pending 30th birthday.

“Double, double toil and trouble; 
Fire burn and caldron bubble. 
Fillet of a fenny snake, 
In the caldron boil and bake; 
Eye of newt and toe of frog, 
Wool of bat and tongue of dog, 
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, 
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing, 
For a charm of powerful trouble, 
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble. 
Double, double toil and trouble; 
Fire burn and caldron bubble. 
Cool it with a baboon’s blood, 
Then the charm is firm and good.”
-Witches Brew- Macbeth

 

When the first crisp gush of air breathes chilly.
I feel mischievous
and alive.

Its the season of curious black cats
and warm folk beats
It’s the whisper of possibilities
and summers lament.
The crooked grin
that lets me know.
We can begin.

Cicada Heat

I was born in the sandy desert plains

with white snake slithering out the radio

where you had to use a forearm to roll your window down.

Nautical twilight was around 530 am, when I was born.

I was born in a place sans merci.

 

Outlaws escaped with this destination on their chapped lips

they spoke of it in whispers

as a promised land

So I was born with wildness in my veins and lawlessness

in my dusty soul.

which is maybe why my parents had me running barefoot on hot concrete

and sleeping on the floor of my bedroom when summers swelter set in.

I like my hair short.

It froze in icy crystals in the depth of winter,

when I grew it long.

I grabbed a fistful in my hands and it crunched like the black ice underneath my feet.

 

I rode my bike over dirt patched roads

and past empty fountains with bone dry fountainheads

everyone had lawns that were slowly dying

year by year

My throat was parched and my eyes sunburnt.

 

You don’t know how a place shapes you though

until you leave.

 

Which is maybe why I wither in this cicada heat.

 

 

Daily Prompt: Solitary

I grew up immersed in books.
The kind of books that won Newberry Medals in the 70s and 80s.
The kind of books that touched on divorce, loneliness, suicide, depression, and all the confusing things young adults would encounter.
The kind of books that shaped me at an early and pivotal age.
The kind of books that I am sure are partially responsible for my intuitive understanding and compassion for others inner feelings.

The kinds of books I don’t like talking about with other people because they are so intrinsically linked to me, that they feel personal.

I was not a lonely, or depressed child, I was well adjusted, well loved, taken care of and privileged in almost every way save the color of my skin and my gender.

But I still hold these books as close to my heart as if they were words from my own private diary.

One such book I will share, though I hate to let it go– A Solitary Blue. by Cynthia Voigt.

I don’t do book reviews…I suggest you go read it and if you have ever had just a tinge of melancholy to your personality, you will love the subtleties to the writing.

As a child, I adored this book. and the word prompt of the day immediately made me think of it.

 

i feel it all More

via Daily Prompt: Solitary

Sunsets

Stunning, this piece really took me to a certain place and time today. A bittersweet memory moment, I’m so grateful for artists that can paint your past with words!

Eyes + Words

Written by Carol J Forrester

Here,
the city tinges the evening
and pumps the colours brighter,
like carbon monoxide fruit,
laid out in brand new kitchens
on the pages of a magazine,
well thumbed in dentist waiting rooms.

When you asked me if I liked it,
I pretended to smile
and told you it was beautiful.

I did not mention it was different
to the ones back at home,
where gritty haze doesn’t hang
morning, eve, and night,
and the hum of silence
echoes differently in the darkness.

I pretended that here
I was happy,
and that other place
did not matter,
and I think for a moment
you believed the words,
despite the wet on my cheeks
and your hand loose in mine.


Photographer Unknown

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