Tag: loss

Firestarter Hotsheet: If All It Takes For Evil To Prosper Is For Good Men To Sit And Do Nothing, Where Are The Good Men?

James Baldwin said it best: “As long as white Americans take refuge in their whiteness…they will allow millions of people to be slaughtered in their name.” During 72 hours, there … Continue reading Firestarter Hotsheet: If All It Takes For Evil To Prosper Is For Good Men To Sit And Do Nothing, Where Are The Good Men?

The Parable Of The Water Glass

It’s just a glass.


Melted and shaped rock that was formed and that I can drink out of. This glass was given to me by the Director of FLOW: Where Writing Moves, one amazing Ms. Amanda Wells.

I have not drank from it, and cried when she said I could have one of the many she has on a brown shelf on the wall in her cozy office. I turned it over and over in my hands, tried not to cry. One would ask, “Why cry over a glass? It’s just a glass.” These are the people whom cannot relate to me–they are not acquainted with loss or pain or passions.

It was about two years ago when I decided to forgo nursing school, the goal of becoming a nurse, in favor of pursuing what I loved: writing.

I decided to let go of the safe to do the extraordinary, the unsafe and unheard of. I listened to my heart and the leading of God and have seen my life transform. Since giving up nursing school, the false self, I rediscovered my artistic bent and nature. I began to love me again. I loved creating and words again…I found me.

On this journey, I found myself in rooms I did not unlock, with people I would have never met, and was allowed to have this little Dollar Store water glass.

Which I am allowed to fill…

All my years of trying to please people, of not being accepting of all I was, allowing other people to define me and what I needed–has ended.

I define me now. And only me.

This glass sits in a place where I can see it daily. It reminds me of my potential, my power, my choices and beliefs. It holds only what I allow, and releases only what I say and will. I reminds me that my journey is not over…only just beginning.

And I shall be brave enough to finish it.



[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

Virtued Presence:  The Unsaid 

My grandmother was the first person to teach me the power of the unsaid. One of my first memories of her is in her kitchen cooking, no music, no television.

As powerful a presence as my Nana was, she said very little. She would have tells, like Poker players do, which let us know what she wanted. At the time I thought she was so mean and standoffish. I wanted my grandma to be more open and talk more. I wanted more from her.

In that pain, especially not hearing her voice for 4 years, I remember the minutiae of her: how she smelled, what her bedroom looked like,  the color of her kitchen, and what her garden grew.

…and I remember what she didn’t say.

I didn’t hear her talk about her childhood, being married, or raising children. I didn’t hear her talk about what she went through doing all of those things in the racist nexus of Mississippi and Missouri.

It would be, and is, easy to dwell on what is she left with, but it’s amazing to think of what she gave.

What my grandmother, my last loving and living grandmother, gave to me is stability. The ability to present and acknowledge. She showed me how, when I spoke, to measure my words. In measuring my words, I can be a presence not just a body.

I could go to her and know it would be okay, much like when the children of Israel saw the veil over Moses’s face—even when he wouldn’t have the time with God that would grant him the evidence he had indeed been with Him, the people he cared for knew there was still a God to know. From that, they too could know this God and know He existed.

My grandmother showed me that God still existed. Her voice was thunder:  distinct and commanding. Exactly what writers can be.

Thank you, Nana.

The sepia color photo is from my new book, WriteLife, to be released in December 2017. It is a picture of my grandmother Aeceal Williams’s front porch in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. She was an anchor person in my life, and, in the writing of this book, I did remember how influential she was.