Category: Poetry

When Kids Die

 

 

This work is not my own, but written by a Father Oracle, Langston Hughes (1902-1967). In keeping with the theme of this month, I thought this fitting. Let us be reminded that life is precious–and black children are entitled to know and see theirs are just as precious as anyone else’s.

Thank you.

JBH.

 When Kids Die

This is for the kids who die,

Black and white,

For kids will die certainly.

The old and rich will live on awhile,

As always,

Eating blood and gold,

Letting kids die.

Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi

Organizing sharecroppers

Kids will die in the streets of Chicago

Organizing workers

Kids will die in the orange groves of California

Telling others to get together

Whites and Filipinos,

Negroes and Mexicans,

All kinds of kids will die

Who don’t believe in lies, and bribes, and contentment

And a lousy peace.

Of course, the wise and the learned

Who pen editorials in the papers,

And the gentlemen with Dr. in front of their names

White and black,

Who make surveys and write books

Will live on weaving words to smother the kids who die,

And the sleazy courts,

And the bribe-reaching police,

And the blood-loving generals,

And the money-loving preachers

Will all raise their hands against the kids who die,

Beating them with laws and clubs and bayonets and bullets

To frighten the people—

For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people—

And the old and rich don’t want the people

To taste the iron of the kids who die,

Don’t want the people to get wise to their own power,

To believe an Angelo Herndon, or even get together

Listen, kids who die—

Maybe, now, there will be no monument for you

Except in our hearts

Maybe your bodies’ll be lost in a swamp

Or a prison grave, or the potter’s field,

Or the rivers where you’re drowned like Leibknecht

But the day will come—

You are sure yourselves that it is coming—

When the marching feet of the masses

Will raise for you a living monument of love,

And joy, and laughter,

And black hands and white hands clasped as one,

And a song that reaches the sky—

The song of the life triumphant

Through the kids who die.

-Langston Hughes

 

[Google images]

*NO DAYS OFF (For US)


I’m tired.

I’m like Fannie Lou Hamer,

My mama, and a mama with three

Kids and no job tired.

I’m tired of bleeding, crying,

And sleeping with my fists

Balled up, and my eyes just as tight.

But for this kinda anger,

Rising inside of me?

They’re are no days off.

I’m tired of sirens, tears, signs,

No shoulder support and jail support to

Go to court because my existence

Is a fight to exist, but I can’t call off

No more to do this work because

I ain’t got no days off.

I’m tired of paying attention.

I’m tired of fighting to be relevant to

People that don’t love me, see me, or

Think me real, relevant, valiant or available.

I’m tired of benches, jumpsuits, my name on lawsuits,

Hotel kitchenettes, bail funds, because

Don’t no body Go Fund Me or

Stay close because they claim they

can’t stay when they ain’t got no days off.

I’m tired of the quiet to make room for the loud.

I’m tired of pretending I’m alright

After I see my brother my brother’s color

Whose bleeding is feeding the ground.

I hate cherries I can’t eat while

I’m driving, I hate I can’t stop crying.

I can’t stand everything around me

Dying, lost, and  limping

But I can’t keep lying ‘cause I’m really

Trying to be alright, but ain’t no way to

Stop the ache, and breathe at the same time,

Because I work at nine,

I don’t get no days off.

I focus on the Cross that carries,

This legislation that varies,

Watch those that decline Movement,

Because they are scary.

I watch who records.

I watch who eye rolls.

I watch the low polls.

I watch the media who

Treated my blackness as

Disease and my voice with

Its roar as fodder and noise.

My life is not nothing.

My being is not for sale.

I take my blackness everywhere

Because there are no days off.

(c) JBHarris, 11.3.17

*-The title of this work is from State Representative Bruce Franks, Jr. from St. Louis, Missouri. At the end of a battle rap session, he had a black hoodie with a silver Superman emblem on it. On the back of the hoodie, were the words “NO DAYS OFF.” That phrase, and his passion were cemented in my creative conscious. This work is a nod to all of us, no matter the capacity, doing what is called in this social justice movement, “this work”. There is enough to do, that we don’t have time to point at whom isn’t doing something. Be a support. Love on one another. Care for one another. We all need it.

Thank you, Mr. Franks. Thank you to all those that do, did and still are alive and remain. I love y’all and I love us. In the immortal words of a shero, “We lit.”

[image belongs to author]

Evernight

Nights are long without him

Because he is the lingering

Everywhere.

I close my eyes

so the dark envelopes,

but never quiets.

When I wake, the light

Will kiss me as he should.

As I have lived one more

Day without him.

(c)JBHarris, December 12/23/17

How I Came To Be

The Aged asked the Ancient of Days,

The Great I Am, why He created man.

He answered by showing man’s

Nature to subdue, dominate-

To be Provider and to protector.

He showed the Aged the deft of

Skill that went to make his body,

The strength of his hands,

And the greatness of his eyesight

And his capacity for vision, and

Artistic prowess.

However, as the Ancient of Days

Looked out over what He had created,

Watching man, this creation He now called

Human, He saw all He had equipped

And endowed man to do.

However, with life shut up in man,

There must be a way, a form,

To be created that would allow

Man to release all that he held inside of

Him as well.

The Aged then asked what more

Could be done to help this creation

They know knew as man.

What could be given to man

That would help him.

Clearly all that the Ancient of Days

Had charged man to do,

Could not be done alone.

The Ancient of Days poised in power,

Explained to the Aged that He would

Make one suitable for him.

Strong enough to withstand the mortal

And the divine happenings around and about

His creation.

Being sensitive enough, with such a

Discernment to what lies different

Between them.

The Ancient of Days said,

“I will make something that will

Display all my creative nature.”

“What I will create, no manifest, will show the

Connection I have to man.

It will show that I am and share a oneness with him

Because the ability to reproduce life and like

Will be held in its center.”

“I will mark my creation with my spark,” and

The Ancient of Days smiled as he continued

Thinking exactly what he would call

This nuanced human.

“She will embody the rainbow.

The Aged asked what would the creation be called.

“What majestic thing of man shall this be?” they asked.

Still, the Ancient of Days smiled as he reached

Towards man, putting him to sleep,

before the Aged,

Needed that which was rooted

In the earth He made to

Reengage man, to not just root, but anchor him.

In taking his rib,

Man yielded to the complete

Control of His Master once more.

“This is my last creation, none shall be like this.” He said.

Through intuition, the Ancient of Days

Evolved man to its unprecedented form.

“I will call this creation—woman.”

“She shall be alive as man is,

Able to carry the power of rebirth

Inside her as man does, as well as stamina and joy.”

As the Ancient of Days fashioned her

From bone, and flesh and dust,

He told the Aged of what she housed.

“I will make her with the eyes of

Fire and hope, being able to see

What is and shall be—she shall have empathy.”

“I will give her the nature of life, in three places.

She will be the only created being

Capable of evolving.”

“Through these same eyes,

She will bring and give light.

The ability to shine-

Fierce and resilient

To what may come.”

“She will need this as she is

Partnered with man, and others like her.”

The Ancient of Days fashioned

Her face, while the aged watched

As He molded her features,

Diligent towards her beauty,

Crafting worthy wonder in the face

Of the Aged.

“In here, her spine, I will place My resilience.

Making her flexible and tender when it is

Called upon her to be so. She will be

Both tenacious and steadfast.”

“There will be times when man is weak,

And her strength may be seen as different

Or weaker, but it is really an intuitivecharisma.”

He smiled again as He continued the steady work

Of woman, saying, “I will not only make her

Able, but brave.”

The Ancient of Days returned to her mouth,

Creating her tongue, throat and teeth.

“With her mouth, I give her the first place to give life.

She will be able to tell of love, be loved, and to master

What we know as language. For you see, I will have her

All over the world, no part of it shall exclude her.

Where there is man, there will be woman.”

“I will give her power and position to rise resilient

In the face of what has come to resist her. Her tongue

Shall be as a warrior.  Being able to convey the knowledge of

A nurturer, to be persistent and interfere when nihilist discourse

Is found.”

“You see she is incapable of not caring, for I have made her

Free of such weight that apathy would bring.”

He closed her mouth,

gave her lips and said,

“Life is within her, all that is her

Is empath, her life would be a testimony to those that follow her

And will learn from her as students.”

The Aged asked, “Ancient of Days, you said

She will have life in three places, and we

Have seen but one. Surely, she is not as you have

Said—she is imperfect. Not as sovereign and

Dauntless as man.”

The Ancient of Days only smiled,

Irrepressible to His task and

Needs of His creation. “She is a changeling,

Her ability to be humble is in her need to adapt.”

“You see her freedom is in her forgiveness.” He

Said while fashioning woman’s hands and feet.

“Her hands shall give peace, facilitate liberation,

And her feet will show

What it is to be valiant.

Her passionate nature

Made genuine as she will be demanded of many

Things of those she will be made guardian over.”

“These hands, as man’s can turn to fists, as anything

That is how to hold or sustain and protect life

Must be able to be a fighter.

That is a requirement.”

“From those same fists, she is able to let go

Of what no longer suits her. With hands open,

She is able to give hope to the oppressed,

Ambition to those that desire growing and space

To the explorer.”

It is at her feet where she will

Be able to learn, become empowered

By all the innocent and seeking in her and of her.

She will possess a saged wisdom.”

As the Ancient Of Days, put more muscle

And bone within her, tethering her together

With arteries, ligaments and tendons, He spoke

Again to the watching Aged.

“I have made the skin thick on her

Hands and feet, to provide and anchor

To stand, to pray, and seek Me.

In times of hardship,

This thickened skin, such as mans, but softer

Will allow her to continue, this grit that will

Not deter her, even if it momentarily stops her.

This toughness will be done compassionately within her.

The Aged spoke again, saying, “Indeed she is remarkable,

And beautiful, but where else shall she have life? We still see only

Two places. “

Again they wondered, “ We see nowhere else You can

Fit any more into her.”

The Ancient of Days then smiled as He included

What He called her womb.

“She will house what those of other humans would

Call genuine magic, Mystic (mystjk) starstuff, “the Ancient

Of Days mused.

But here I will give her the capacity as I do,

To hold and create life, both male and female,

Using the life I have shut up within man.”

“Here, on the very inside of her, she will be able

To create community, perfectly determined

By her own will. This is her second point of created life.”

The Ancient of Days attached the womb into

Woman, creating pathways from it, and below it

To where life would come from. “She is every bit

the total being that man is. Her center of gravity is

housed within her, right here, because life is secured

within me. I must make sure all

she houses will be protected.

Her body will be as a temple,

More sacred than man’s even. ”

“She must be created to be as

I have made her, to bring forth

The revolutionary, evolutionary, and the

Enchanted.”

In closing up what the Ancient of Days called

Woman, He crafted her heart before the Aged.

“Here, look. Just as man’s, but this is the last

Place she shall be able to give life.”

Holding it before them, He squeezed it

And it began to beat.

“She will hold the hearts of Kings, Princes, servants,

Silly-seekers wishing to know better. She shall hold

Her children here, both living and unknown, and

Those whom I bring to her for love and tenderness.”

“I have set it above her womb so that the life

She hold, does not challenge the life that she lives,

And I have charged her to care for. She almost must

Take care of herself.”

In closing the woman, perfecting His creation,

This woman, He spoke to her in the very

Ears He had made for man.

He spoke to the mind He had given her,

With connections specific to the mind

He had given her.

“I have made you excellent.” He began.

“Able to speak blessings of what you will know as

Being candide (candid) and in times of deepest

Sorrow and change, I will give you grace

To share the nature of hope. I will make

You a l’Optimisme (an optimist).”

At His voice, her eyes opened,

Aware, and sharp.

She turned her head to the Ancient

Of Days whom still spoke to her.

Looking His own divinity wrapped

In flesh in the face he crafted.

“I will endow you with what

You will know as child like faith,

A wonder of Me worthy that will

Ease fears and will allow you

To trust Me.”

He smiled at her again

Smoothing her hair,

“I will give you the peace that comes

With Hakuna Matata—no worries.

I have made a harmony in you that will

Sync your essence with moon and tide.

See, there will be nothing that

You cannot overcome when I am present

Or when I give you to man.

You are

A force of nature, with space to heal,

And an agent of change.”

“I have made you tall and strong

As the myths of Amazon women

Are noted to have been.”

“There shall be no others like you,

But all life shall be given and gotten

Through you.”

“You are a gift to man,

Needed by him, at his request.

Man will need your clarity.

He will need your intuition.

The world I send you to

Will need a persistent believer

In its evolution towards all things good.

Trust that all I have given you,

You will in turn give back to the world.”

From that, woman was given to man.

-JBHarris, September 2017

Featured in the compilation book, The Awakenings Project Writings, available on Amazon. To purchase, click here.

For more about The Awakenings Project click here.

Ache


The sleeping hours are
As mornings,

Quick and unexpected.

Here in the fullness

Of time together,

No rhyme or reason

But heat as one would

Expect as the temperature

Of the blood that rushes

When you touch me.
Ooh, when you touch me…
Fire answers you.

Mouths sweet and volcanic…

Drowning in the under of you.
Time stands still, willing my sleeping self

Awake and willing for you.

Those hungry, slick and open spaces.

Those spaces that when I wake

Won’t be stretched or open or

Have the remainder of your love there.
The sun greets me as your eyes should

Gentle and subtle, warm and knowing

What I held inside…
I shut my eyes and remember the us,

The warmth I belonged to when I was yours

And you all mine…
Love too small a word,

And lust cheapens it.

I am yours…even when light comes.
(c)JBHarris, 11.4.2017

*First, Awakenings…

First, Awakenings…

In this daily grand unveiling

Between mirror and man,

I present as goddess, mortal, and woman.

 

More invulnerable than I would like

The woman is choked out,

Voice stolen in the awakening of

Constant responsibility,

And the duty of the service to others.

 

In this moment, both bare and naked,

I embrace the most excellent now.

I see me as I wished I could

When girldom and life we before me.

I seize and reclaim all that is me and you

In the legacy of all whom are female

And woman to follow,

To be resilent  and thankful.

 

From my crown, I see hair of

Radiance

Free and authentic as lion’s wool.

Indicative of the she-warriors before me,

And to be descended from me.

 

Eyes as clear as summer blues

And regal and brown as earth,

Housing passion, hot and molten

As moved by the whims of God Himself

To Gaia in love  and justice.

 

Skin as luminous as clear moons,

To the luxe shades of ebony alabaster.

Because you see, I too am

And am made by sacred fire.

 

I stretch hands, open and warm

Towards sunshine, surrendering to

All the day will wield and hold.

I remember the strengths of

Them that bore and shaped me.

Proud of my blood—beyond family.

Sharing wisdom beyond years

And years lost.

 

Those forces both male and female

Whom have poured into my

Mortal divine,

Have given ear to unapologetic secrets

That make girl-women invincible

In times proven to try our souls.

 

I house, we house courage limitless

When none are left,

But we who see and defend

Them, too, whom bare the

Weight which is accustomed

To the bold-believing to effect change.

 

I am she.

               She are we.

 

In this light, in this place

Before one but my Creator,

Whether in locker rooms, offices,

Beaches or quiet nights,

I can at last admire His complete

Handiwork.

 

The deft of the skill of

A sovereign power, that

I be made oracle, over this life

Given, without hesitation,

Chose to live.

 

I am a vessel divinely written

And breathed that exudes

Joy  and hope unspeakable.

The creative power of the

Almighty is infused in every

Sway of hip, slight of hand,

Full use of tongues and dialect

I seek and speak.

 

The worthy harmony of my voice,

Our voices, together remind the world

Of the tenacious beauty harnessed

In the presence of the impossible.

These things hidden in my, our, souls.

 

I am more than breasts,

And curve of hip, plump with oh’s and ah’s.

I am more than the hunted and unconquerable pussy.

 

I will not be stifled by boxes

Meant for those without truth.

I am human, I am present

And I will not fade away.

My voice, my sound, as echo

Is joined with heavenly choruses

From my belly that sing in

Ancient tongues, fit and fluent.

 

Ancestral wisdom I greet

In my reflection, reminding me

Of all that is priceless to those

That listen to the whispers of

The aged:

IMANI (faith)

KUJICHAGULIA (self-determination)

 

I embrace the non-smootheness,

Thickness of my thighs,

How they gape, tough or rub,

As they end and become calves,

That attach to feet,

Fearless as thunder.

 

I am aware  of curses sent by

Conjurers of this world,

Conspiring to weave a shroud

Around the path of whom I will

be, in favor of the steady seducing of

Whom it is easier to become.

 

I embrace that sentient

Autonomy that has made me

Unstoppable as water.

I own all that has been owed to me,

To be able to transcend this

Shell that the soul inhabits

And let go of all weight and waiting.

 

Such vulnerable, soft dignity

To live life embracing scars from

Wars future and past—capable, compassionate.

Yet, I smile, still beautiful, with

Healing presence offered to those

Found weary along street corners,

Bar stools, and the Jericho road

Fallen among thieves.

 

It takes a survivor, to know a survivor.

 

After I have imbibed perseverance,

               After earnestly suffering awhile,

I can breathe deep and easy, as naturalists do.

When the new, fresh journey is set before them.

The world outside is home,
Carpe diem its theme.

 

Now, peace  for the life after,

For now, always now,

I can awake, and look at whom

I always was, to whom I will become

And know I matter.

Know I am special.

Know I am engraced and equipped to journey.

I know to this world, I belong.

 

(c)-JBHarris, 4/1/17

*-This work was performed in February 2017 at the unveiling of The Awakenings Project (now known as A1), and is my own work and copywritten. All words from this project were used in this work. I was asked to create a piece for the unveiling, and the artist included the entire poem in the first volume of The Awakenings Project. For ordering information, please go to http://www.southardsartstudio.com or follow The Awakenings Project here on WordPress, Facebook or Instagram.

 

Seeking, Sought, Fulfill

For so long, I

forgot what strength

was and the ability to

realize what it truly is

I have been shattered more

than once,

being forced on such

occasions to put shards

back together on instinct

not truly knowing how,

and at the same time knowing

that the whole, once I make it

so will be different than

it ever could hope before

somehow along this path

the fire that I relied on was misplaced,

the passion was taken

what I once saw in myself was

falsified, made a mockery of

I had no way of knowing that it was

gone until I made attempts to

find it once more and could not

understand why I could not draw upon it

 

such things cause the heart to cry,

force the spirit into dark confusion

yet, hope remains…stable and true…pure beneath the underneath

lying in wait for me to find it once

more, whispering softly that I can, I shall, I will

and it can be done

I find these shards, moving past the fear of

losing them, and even looking for them

fearing that they may never be what I wish, will and want

them to be again

I find them in weeds, among the sands, in murky waters

and in roses, they were always here

 

as the pieces are found, they are put together

slowly, glowing in faith…the faith that was never taken

my spirit heals, begins to hover

the embers surrounding this jewel that I
hold, glow and crackle

it has never been extinguished, merely smothered,

smoldered, and unsuccessfully snuffed…somehow the

embers…these small certain things remain

they will burst forth soon

I find more shards,

more lost pieces of me that I thought

I would never attain again

the charm, the wit, the sureness of self…

Hidden in tall grasses, behind the vacant and

unused potential

these embers become small flames then

soft burning begins

it whispers louder now

telling me that all that I need, I have

and I will always have

 

I am not my circumstances, stumblings, shortcomings or laziness

 

I need not look to those who

have no intent on showing me whom I may

be, who I am or what I am capable of

my spirit becomes whole

again, the fire returns, the fire that

I have sought in others through word

and deed,

I find more shards to this jewel

this ever-present and precious gem

it is mine to protect, and I have not done so

at the best of my talent

as I realize these things, the more shards

appear,

I am half done with it now,

each time I acknowledge where I have fallen

I know that I cannot remain amongst these that still remain

wallowing in what they may change but have

no desire to…they have lost themselves

just as I have…just as I did

 

I wipe my brow, bandage what is broken

and I continue, I have no

choice but to do so

I must find all of me…I must seek my jewel

my own power

my ever-present being…I must prove to myself
that the eyes that peer back into mine

in mirrors are truly mine and

I am a worthy and able to look back into them

they will no longer be chilled and distant

passion will return, faith will be

squared and solidified, the fire will fuel this drive

I will not linger, or tarry where I am not

able to keep this jewel into

the light where it must be

to allow the light to decorate the many

facets, spilling and dispelling the

darkness that wishes only to

draw me into its fathoms once more

where there is no warmth

no trust, no love, only deception and stagnance

I must arise from this from which

I have fallen into

preserve the jewel that has be given to

me, I must find all the shards

the light must return to it

it must in order to heal and soothe my

aches, and wash away bruises and tears

once it is whole, I will be

whole, I will be me once more,

lost nevermore

(c) Jennifer P. Harris 2004, 2017

*Performed June 2017 at The Center on Vandeventer at a book signing event hosted by Southards Art Studio.