Sunday, August 30, 2009


Well it's been almost a month since my last post. I don't think I have any loyal readers, so that might not matter, but I will say that I haven't quite gotten the hang of my new life.

My grandpa bought me a car (that I have to pay him back for) and my new-found mobility has changed a lot of things.

My non-boyfriend and I get to see each other now. It's starting to look like once a week we'll be having either a long and involved phone conversation or an all-night gab session completely with cuddles, kisses, and almost plans. I feel like I'm in a relationship and yet I know that the dynamics of this non-relationship are fragile. We are a work in progress, but I think we'll work. I wrote a poem about it.

I have changed schools. My new school is so much bigger and I have to commute rather than living on campus. But my classes are interesting. Ethnic Lit is fun because of the subject matter and the professor's personality and expectations. Young Adult Lit is interesting because of the subject matter and because most of us are English Ed majors (which channels the discussions toward teaching). It is also challenging because it's only once a week (easy to forget) and the professor is rather set in her ideas. American Women's Autobiography is borderline interesting and boring. I don't love the book we're reading first and the professor lectures a lot about vaguely unrelated topics like psychological language theory. Math for Gen Ed is not as easy as I wanted it to be, but I think I'll be okay. Adolescent Psychology is incredibly interesting, but the book is written with a very biased tone and the professor chooses to teach the book as fact rather than argue with the things that are obviously subjective opinions. Healthy Life Skills is a class that I will almost definitely benefit directly from but I don't love the professor and the class is over-large. All of that plus seventeen hours is a lot.

I also am working a lot at Chili's and soon at Aldo as well. My new goal is to learn to save my money rather than spend it immediately.

I am hoping that since it's been two weeks, this week I'll be able to add back things like Switch and poetry. I have a poem brewing that I'd like to get edited and off paper soon. I want to make sure not to miss two weeks in a row at Switch again. I had a meeting today with the Board of Directors for the Oklahoma Student Government Association. Now I have a new-found desire to keep up with news and do research. We'll see if I can find time for that.

So now that I have logged all my life updates...I'm headed to Starbucks to homework. Hopefully I'll work myself into a better routine after this week.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I Remember This - poem under construction

I remember us.
We are strong hands, closed eyes, open hearts.
You are a scarred mind.
Mine over-achieves.
But I remember this.
It works somehow.

Not everyone gets it.
Not everyone was there at the beginning when it was decided.
But that doesn't change it.
Not knowing what is coming won't stop the bomb from dropping.
Not hearing the birds sing won't keep dawn from coming.

I remember fighting for it.
I know that you finally realized.
I don't remember how it ended.
But that's fine.
Life isn't about the destination,
it's about the ride.

Jen sees me under your needle, being branded willingly.
She sees you hurting me.
But she doesn't see know the difference between the girl who let you puncture me and the woman who was brave enough to pierce herself in dedication to our love.
She hasn't seen it yet.
She'll get it.

Just like you will.
I'll show you.
Perhaps God will let you see it in my eyes.
Perhaps making this work is about finding a new way to fight.
Maybe it's bringing the hidden things out into the light for you to see.
this heart inside a book blanketed by words and simile...
this is me.
And I know you don't read, so I'll have to show it to you in pictures.
I'll have to learn to translate.
Some things are so hard to translate.
Some things like strength
and peace
and memory.

Maybe if I drew you a tree,
told you that the seed was planted long before either of us came to be.
Maybe if I discussed the dynamics and intricacy of a universe's growth,
maybe then you would believe.
You see we are supposed to be fruit,
meant to nourish, to produce more seeds, and to look pretty.
Right now we're just little buds without leaves.

An apple must decide to grow,
to trust the tree,
if it ever wants to be picked with the others ripe enough to eat.
Lucky for us, the Gardener took care of the end before the beginning.
I know how this works out because I watched Him plant the seeds.
I saw, through His eyes, the most beautiful fruit tree.
A tree in which kids learn how to be free.
We teach.
We teach them how to speak, with words and imagery.
We teach them how to climb,
higher and higher until they reach the top.

If you can't see it for yourself,
just believe me.
I'd never lie to you.
I remember this.
We succeed.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

a prayer poem under construction

i don't want to use Your word as a weapon
i don't want to use Your name as a sword against anyone but the teller of lies.
i just want to serve You.
i just want to make You happy.

i want my hands to touch
reach out like the hands of Christ
and i want them to be clean
free of the death of innocent people
free of the blood of innocent children
free of the pieces of hearts broken by a lack of self-control.

cause my hands to see the pain people are trying to hide
and by the power You gave my before You went to that cross and died
let me use these hands to heal

i want my feet to be those that go where others fear to,
that stay planted when others fall.
i pray You bless me to walk where only the angels are usually brave enough to tread

Sisters/Pearls - poem under construction

A sister is someone with whom to share your heart and life
She is there for midnight panic sessions,
afternoons laying out by the pool,
fun, mischief, and challenges of every kind.

But I have always believed that my sisters are also my best accessory.
They are those diamond earrings you received for graduation or sweet sixteen,
the ones you save for special occasions
when you feel like you're onstage before the whole word.
Sisters are that ancient and timelessly beautiful, family heirloom strand of pearls.
They have been preserved by satin casings,
hidden in the bottom drawer at the back
so that not just anyone could find them.
They are in all the best family photos,
showing off both their ability to be preserved and the wearer's good taste in jewels.

A sister is a pearl.
When she's around you stand up straighter,
speak clearer, smile bigger.
She is all the good parts of you magnified
and all the unpolished places out-shined by her caring, protective lustre.

A sister, like a strand of real pearls,
should not hang around your neck like dead weight,
dragging you down,
making you feel the pressures of society.
But in her embrace,
you should feel and want to be your best self in her presence.
She should motivate you to shine, as does she.

So take your sisters with you everywhere you go
as a reminder to behave as though she were with you.
Say only what you would say might she overhear,
act only as you would were she near,
and in so doing let the most elegant and beautiful you shine through.

Dear Inner City High School Students - poem under construction

I see you
I know why you cry
I know why you act out
You just want someone to care
I know because I was there
And not even a long time ago
Don't write me off as being old
It's only been five short years since I was living your life
I know exactly what it's like
to just want people to care
All you want is for them to say they'll be there
All you want is for them to listen and to validate the struggle you're going through
You just want them to prove they can see you
And I see you
I hear you
I care about what you're going to live through
not just because I was there too
but because I see the things you face that you shouldn't have to

I believe in what you can do
I believe that you don't have to stay where you
I believe you can move
You can grow
You can be or do whatever you want as long as you know
that you'll only get there by your efforts
It's not me,
it's not my grades,
it's not this system or money you may or may not have to pay.
What matters is your drive
You have to decide:
this is what I'm going to do
this is why and this is how

There's nothing anyone can do to hold you back once you learn that
There's nothing anybody can say to keep you down once you're bound and determined
to keep going
to keep fighting
to keep living
to keep striving
Not to die before it's your time
once you decide, there's nobody who can take that life away from you
it's yours to do with what you're called to,
what you can
which is anything
I just hope you know that

I have to make sure you know that
it's my job to tell you
if I have to look into each pair of eyes
and banish forever the tears you refuse to cry so that you'll know
I'll do it
I'll fight your demons with you everyday to make sure you remember that not only is there a way
but there are plenty of ways
you just have to pick the one that's yours
all you have to do is prove that you have something to live for
and I know you do

I see it in you
in the things you try to hide from me
I see it in the doodles in the margins of your papers from class
I hear it in the way you talk back
You're practicing being defiant,
learning to fight the system before you become a victim of it.
And I love it.
I thank God for your spirit and the challenge it puts on me.
Just make sure you learn the right time and the right place.
That's how you'll get from where you are to where you want to be.

I care about you.
I wouldn't be here if I didn't.
Please don't believe that this is easy, because it's not.
I've given up so much for you.
I sacrifice all day, everyday for you.
And I'm not asking for your applause.
I'm not asking you to join my cause.
I just want you to have some respect for yourselves,
for me, and for the sacrifices we have made to teach.
We ask that you learn.
We ask that you listen and believe.
We ask that you reach inside yourself and understand
that there's more to life than where you've been.
Where are you going?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

trapped by now - original poem

right now i feel trapped
by my skin,
my body type,
my hair texture, this depression,
trapped by smiles that don't last,
by my voice,
and the personality i can't get past.
the mind's eyes view of me is
fit, toned;
and happy.

but right now,
i'm trapped by society's image of a belligerent black girl
in a cookie-cutter upper-class world.
i know that inside her is an intelligent, strong, courageous african (and panamanian) queen.

but right now,
i'm trapped under a layer of fat that sugar keeps tricking me into indulging.
when i run, i know there's an athlete in here waiting to be set free.
someday all will see what's trapped inside of me,

but for now,
i'm trapped in the house when it rains; i avoid humidity
when others have proven that hair can testify to the life i am working to achieve.
time and money are gifts given to those who will use them wisely,
and there isn't enough of either to fit straighteners and salon stylists into the routine.

right now,
i'm trapped by all the things i'm not supposed to say.
i feel guarded when i should be able to use words to stimulate faith.
i know my voice has value when i use it the right way.

but right now,
i'm trapped by the desire to be someone you will understand,
trapped by standards with which i wish to comply but can't.
and yet i know the uncommon are the ones chosen to make a stand.

i'm trapped by now.

i am a snake ready to shed dead skin,
a butterfly hat has yet to crack open her cocoon.
i am change waiting for the brave to usher me in,
and a land that longs for daytime while staring at the moon.
i am a pregnant woman in her third trimester, ready to be free,
but knowing she'd better wait
if she wants to give birth to something better than now.

dawn is breaking.
people are learning.
hearts are awakening.
heads are turning.
some are being born
while others are re-creating.
i see it coming!
the future is tired of waiting.
the first battle is over
and victory is so close there's no more anticipating freedom!

we're trapped by now,
but with each breath we take, now becomes then,
and the trap gets further and further away.
one day we'll wake up in the future
and have our God to thank for getting us out of the now.

words are weapons - original poem edited

i want to forget my competitive drive.
if i don’t change, i’ll be damned by the mind that never thought it was good enough
unless it was showing someone up.

in that big movie, denzel washington as melvin tolson said words are a weapon.
but i’ve known that since i learned to talk.
what if instead those words were used to build bridges we could walk across?
a bridge that leads from the lonely space in my heart
to the hungry space in your belly,
a bridge that leads from the silence behind your queer gear
to the manhood protected by the cup in my jock strap,
a bridge that leads from inside a book only he’s smart enough to read
to the space she doesn’t fill up in her jeans because she no longer eats.

he said words are weapons;
but who in the world are we fighting?
why would we use something so beautiful
to undercut someone who is already crying?
if we are going use this gift to destroy,
let us only be capable of tearing down the walls we’ve built around our humanity.
may i be damned if i shoot down someone else’s words
just to hear myself speak.
if we’re going to use this blessing to kill,
may we be incapable of taking the life of anything that has time to get it right still.

but may the universe allow this:
let us rip to shreds every parchment that has ever decreed
that i hate someone who’s not like me.
let us smash to bits every box we see so they can no longer close us in.
let us pull down the religious structures here
that only teach us how to hate and how to live in fear.
let us bulldoze the emotional monuments that stand for greed, and pride, and division,
and plant a garden that will only grow fruit healthy enough for eating.

i’d rather use my words as seeds,
plant them in the garden of this world and let them be watered with divinity.
i hate my competitive drive.
in fact, may i be stripped of my very life when i become so busy getting mine
that i forget to save the world.

what it seems - original poem

I was taught to enunciate,
taught that it's "Jennifer and I" not "me and Jen"
and that the proper contraction is "isn't" not "ain't."
It was important to my grandmother that I had good diction and spoke well.
I appreciate her efforts because they became part of the story I'm in the world to tell.

My family wanted me to go to private schools.
They weren't elitist.
They didn't think that I or we were any better than the rest.
They just wanted what money could buy
so they pooled theirs together to give me the best.
I thank them.
Those schools taught me that everything is not what it seems.
Those schools and the kids that attended them are more fuel for the fire in my dreams.

Ever since eighteen and my first tattoo,
I've been trying to use the self-inflicted pain and the ink
to wash away the blood left on me by the world's reality.
Now that I've discovered my purpose
and permanently recorded it on my back and my right wrist,
I know that I am yoked to this and bound.
There are too many lives at stake to ever turn back after now.
I’m no longer trying to write love on my body.
I’m writing it on paper and passing the poems around for free.
My life and my skin have become the canvas on which God can tattoo dreams.

One day I looked in the mirror at my relaxed, colored, and perfectly coiffed head.
I decided that authenticity needed to be a way I lived
not just words I said.

I've always been into fashion.
I take pride in the way I look
and people tell me when I look good.
I relish the compliments, but I see vanity as a vice.
It just happens to be one of those easiest to hide behind.

I lost thirty pounds because I wanted my body to fit.
I refused to be limited by too much baggage.

So now I can really stand before you naked,
nothing tightening my tummy,
my hair complete with all its kinks,
a jazz song on my lips that my suburban middle class white choir director taught me how to sing.
And I can honestly say,
What you see is what you get.
Everything about me is a statement
and I know you'll misread it.
So I write to create a subtext for the life you see but don't understand.
I write so you'll have documentation of who I really am
when you see me with my nappy hair and my "ghetto" friends
bumpin' our music too loud
and using vernacular that doesn't seem to make sense.
It will be easy to judge,
easy to call my boyfriend a thug and me a hoodrat,
easy to justify our car getting shot at,
easy to blame it on the streets that made us and the neighborhood,
decide the cops had a reason and it must have been good.

I write so that if I become a casualty
while digging through the gutters trying to wash them clean
you'll know that I did it all intentionally.
The news story failed to show you that things aren't always the way they seem.
I refused to look, talk, act, and be like the main stream
in order to be understood by the ones who really need me.

One must learn the rules before they can be successfully broken.
I learned to use my circumstances to show I'm more than just the token.
I'm an ambassador to the streets from the life they deserve to pursue
and I'm the voice for the silenced to those who still refuse to see the social discrepancy.

Nothing is really what it seems.
Who I am and what I write will prove that you know nothing about the streets.

i can't perform this poem until the things i state have come to pass. i can see this being my staple poem, my personal statement.

this is where i'm going. this is the future of my now.

it's all in the hands of the LORD.

Monday, August 3, 2009

teachers of the world unite!

my best friend, jen, goes to emporia state university. apparently esu is a teaching university, just like the university of central oklahoma (where i start in two weeks). jen transferred there (rather than university of kansas or kansas state univ.) when she decided she wanted to teach. Her roommates are both math education majors, like she is. i met three other english education majors and a history ed. major. i felt so happy and purpose-driven while i was with them. it was interesting to have that many people together who want the same things.

when i got home, i watched lean on me and cried.
last saturday at church, pastor craig used the backdrop of the movie coach carter for his message. i cried throughout the whole message because i love that story so much. freedom writers, mona lisa smile, the dead poets society, and the breakfast club all make me feel the same way.
there are times when you definitely just know what you're supposed to be doing.
journalism was fun and it engaged my mind, but i never cried while imagining the possibilities of it.

"in His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. ...if you are a teacher, teach well." - romans 12:6, 7b

"but now let me show you a way of life that is best of all. ...if i had the gift of prophecy and if i understood all of God's secret plans and possessed all knowledge...but didn't love others, i would be nothing. ...let love be your highest goal." - 1 corinthians 12:31b, 13:2, 14:1