“Tell me why you love me.”

I’m listening to Marc Rebillet sing that line. I’m listening to last Sunday’s “Brunch” FB stream. Rebillet fascinates me. Fascinates me in the way getting to watch any artist create in real time fascinates me. Watching him is scary. He just does anything, does everything. He’s so … visible. I can’t fathom letting anyone watch me in the way he let’s himself be watched. Crazypants. And beautiful and amazing. And terrifying.

I tried something with tonight’s poem, and it didn’t really work, but I’m leaving it as is and posting it anyway. The source text for tonight comes from Lucille Clifton’s poem, “my dream about being white.” I want someone to create a silent meditation retreat — maybe only for Black women — where all participants do is read Clifton for hours and hours every day and see where their minds go. Yeah, definitely only for Black women.

What I Might Want (Take 2)

It's more than a year and
I'm wondering where we go. I'm
wary, perhaps even scared. I'm wearing
confidence, self-assuredness -- a mask that looks like a white
flag. I'm giving up, giving in -- to you, to history.

Giving in, giving up. But
still, there's
magic in this surrender. No,
not defeat, not stagnation. A glimpse of a future.

National Poetry Month 2021: the Golden Shovel

As I’ve done for the last forever, I’ve chosen a poetic form, and I’m going to try to write a poem in that form every day for the month of April. I don’t always succeed, but I always give it my best shot. The “Golden Shovel” was created by Terrance Hayes in tribute to Gwendolyn Brooks. I learned about it from my friend Sonia (aka Red Emma). I’ll be using Lucille Clifton’s poems as my starting point this month. Here are the rules:

  • Take a line (or lines) from a poem you admire.
  • Use each word in the line (or lines) as the end word for each line in your poem.
  • Keep the end words in order.
  • Give credit to the poet who originally wrote the line (or lines).
  • The new poem does not have to be about the same subject as the poem that offers the end words.

If you pull a line with six words, your poem would be six lines long. If you pull a stanza with 24 words, your poem would be 24 lines long. And so on.

Should be interesting!

Taking Time, Making Time

I am tired. I realized yesterday that I have spread myself beyond thin, that I have said “yes” too many times to too many things and that I haven’t left enough time in a week for me to just sit and think and be with myself … except late at night when I’m already sleepy. This isn’t tenable. I started making a list last night of all my commitments, and today I started sorting it into the ones I need to get rid of first, the ones I probably need to get rid of but want to think about for another minute, and the ones I need to get rid of that won’t be jettisoned so easily.

This won’t be a simple list to check off. All of the things on the list are things I want to be doing/participating in. But I also need time to write, time to think, time to finish everything early enough to go to bed before midnight (before 2am, if I’m honest).

I wish me luck seeing this one through.

* * *

On the Golden Shovel front, I’m still slogging away. Choosing a line or a few lines to use has gotten easier, and I’m absolutely enjoying reading through Clifton’s work in search of source material, but … I’m not feeling more in love with the pieces I’m producing. A line here or there, but that’s it. And some of that may be my physical and mental exhaustion, but it’s more because of the “forced-ness” I feel with these poems. I can’t seem to get past that sense of the things I’ve been writing not really being mine.

Sigh. It’s been a strange month so far. This isn’t a way I am used to feeling. I may not always love the poems I write in April, but they always feel as if they are my own work.

The source text for tonight’s poem is Clifton’s “leda 1.”

What I Might Want

It's more than a year and
I can't call up your voice. I look at
your pictures, think of the night we met, the night
we drank and laughed and I put my
wariness away for a minute, let dreams
secret themselves in. Now I find they are
still there, buried deep, hands and mouths full.

National Poetry Month 2021: the Golden Shovel

As I’ve done for the last forever, I’ve chosen a poetic form, and I’m going to try to write a poem in that form every day for the month of April. I don’t always succeed, but I always give it my best shot. The “Golden Shovel” was created by Terrance Hayes in tribute to Gwendolyn Brooks. I learned about it from my friend Sonia (aka Red Emma). I’ll be using Lucille Clifton’s poems as my starting point this month. Here are the rules:

  • Take a line (or lines) from a poem you admire.
  • Use each word in the line (or lines) as the end word for each line in your poem.
  • Keep the end words in order.
  • Give credit to the poet who originally wrote the line (or lines).
  • The new poem does not have to be about the same subject as the poem that offers the end words.

If you pull a line with six words, your poem would be six lines long. If you pull a stanza with 24 words, your poem would be 24 lines long. And so on.

Should be interesting!

Hey baby, hey baby, hey!

Hey baby, hey baby, hey!
Girls say, boys say
Hey baby, hey baby, hey
Hey baby baby

Can you make it make sense? Why would anyone think sending me a private IG message trying to hook up was a good idea, was a sensible idea, was an idea that should actually exist in any reasonable version of a universe that I inhabit?

I love that Gwen Stefani song, and those lyrics fit this dude so perfectly. Let’s factor in some additional data:

  • You “met” me in a zoom meeting this morning.
  • During the course of that zoom meeting, you twice mentioned your wife. TWICE.
  • While I do have the most gorgeous virtual background in the history of fake rooms, there is absolutely nothing about me in that space that looks anything like flirting or an invitation of any kind.
  • To open your message by saying, “I sure had to do some digging to find you online!” is super creepy. Yes, I’m sure you had to make some kind of effort to find my IG. Why would you do that?

Ugh. Needless to say, I rejected the message and creepy dude is blocked. I am most definitely too old for this nonsense.


It’s the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!

Original Slicer - GirlGriot

What I Don’t Want to Say

Since Wednesday, I’ve been thinking about all of my Asian friends … but I haven’t been checking in with any of them. Not directly. I’ve certainly clicked “love” or “care” or “angry” on their FB comments. I’ve shared articles they’ve posted. But I haven’t reached out.

And, clearly, I feel lousy about that, or I wouldn’t be writing about it now.

Last year, people started checking in on me. Sometimes more than once a day. Lots of people. Close friends, not-so-close friends, people who weren’t really even friends at all. I got emails, texts, notes on Messenger and IG. It was a lot, and I had no idea what to do with any of it.

It was early June. It was right after the murder of George Floyd. Yes, because that’s why everyone who knew me was checking in.

(Of course, when I say “everyone,” I am lying. There were some unsurprising and conspicuous absences from the cavalcade of “How are you doing?” messages. The folks for whom Floyd’s murder didn’t register, didn’t matter, the ones who were entirely pissed off and threatened by the uprising that spread across the globe but couldn’t acknowledge the wrongness of the killing that sparked the protests. Those people didn’t check in. And yes, I have those folks in my various “friend” lists. I leave them there so I can get the occasional glimpse of what’s happening in that mindset. It’s bracing, to say the least.)

I appreciated that my friends and everyone else were thinking about me. I mean, I mostly appreciated it. I was also really frustrated by it because, often, the checking in was accompanied by a request for me to do something — when was I going to start posting about it on FB, when would I write some essays? And yes, people had reason to expect some kind of written response from me, since that was a way I’d shown up after so many other murders of Black people. But I went silent last year, so a lot of the people who reached out also asked when they were going to hear from me.

And that didn’t feel good. It felt, instead, as if I couldn’t just rage and grieve in private but had to share, had to do some rib spreading, let everyone see my feeble, shredded heart.

And I really am not trying to sound as much like a jerk as I sound right now. I love my friends, and they love me. I imagine they struggled with what to say to me just as I’m struggling right now.

I haven’t been contacting my friends. And that’s because I remember how I felt over the summer and don’t want to pile on. At the same time, I have to be honest and admit that I have no idea what to say. I certainly don’t want to say, “How are you doing?” because how can anyone be doing right now? What would I have wanted people to say to me last year? What would have felt less like pressure and more like love?

And maybe that’s all there is to say, maybe that’s what I would have wanted to hear last year. My love feels thin today, though. Doesn’t feel like nearly enough, though it’s the only thing I have in abundant supply.

There’s no neat and tidy bow to tie around this. I’m sad and angry and angry and angry. And I feel like a bad friend right now. Raging and grieving in private feels selfish today.


It’s the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!

Original Slicer - GirlGriot

Making the Heart Grow Fonder

When I have conversations about quarantine — which is, unsurprisingly, all the damn time — there is always a moment where I mention that I haven’t visited my family since February. (Presidents’ Day weekend, to be exact.) Whoever is in the conversation expresses some level of sympathy, and the conversation moves on.

I realized the other day that saying I haven’t visited my mother, brother, and sister since February doesn’t mean anything. I said it in April, said it in June … But some of the people I talk to maybe visit their families once a year, so my lament doesn’t hold any weight in their understanding, while it’s huge for me.

For the last several years, I’ve been visiting my family once a month. I’ve missed a month here and there, but generally, I’ve held my schedule. I visit because I love them and they are a few states away from me, and I miss them. I also visit because they love me and my being in the same place with them eases some of the tension in the air there. It gives us a chance to have conversations we don’t have over phone or email, let’s us do the regular maintenance requires on those ties that bind, gives us opportunities to laugh at foolish inside jokes, to look at old photos … and just be alive in the same space, together.

And I haven’t been to visit in five months. It’s starting to feel like a year. And the virus is still rampaging, and my job is staying virtual for the fall semester, so it might really be a year.

In these five months apart, I’ve missed each of their birthdays: first my sister’s early in lockdown, when we thought it might not last too long, then my mother’s, and just over a week ago, my brother’s. In about 6 weeks, my own birthday will be coming up. It’s on a Friday this year, so I would definitely have been spending it with them. My mother turned 84 last month.

Yes, I sound whiny. I am whiny. I know that I’m incredibly lucky. I am safe and healthy and working from home. My family is safe and healthy — even though my brother and sister are both officially “essential” and still have to leave the house and work. Our broader circle of immediate family are mostly safe and healthy (our Texas family is in the hot-zone with the virus creeping closer every day). I’m lucky. But that doesn’t mean I’m unscathed. I don’t make a lot of noise about what COVID is stealing from me, about the ways my life has changed since the start of lockdown, but that doesn’t mean I’m not feeling it.

Absence is purported to make the heart grow fonder. I suppose. But I’m already supremely fond of my family. All this absence is adding up to sadness and frustration.

I need one of my mother’s hugs.