Chocolate, my butterscotch, my beige dream. Do you know what you mean to me, and the world you house? Do you know the fire your cause as your hands go … Continue reading In The Company Of A King (Love Letter To Black Men)
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.
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,
Eating blood and gold,
Letting kids die.
Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi
Kids will die in the streets of Chicago
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.
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]
Nights are long without him
Because he is the lingering
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
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
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
Being sensitive enough, with such a
Discernment to what lies different
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
“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
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.
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
“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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
*-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.
For so long, I
forgot what strength
was and the ability to
realize what it truly is
I have been shattered more
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
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
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
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,
(c) Jennifer P. Harris 2004, 2017
*Performed June 2017 at The Center on Vandeventer at a book signing event hosted by Southards Art Studio.