When We Get Ready

He slammed his backpack on the wooden table, rattling the two glasses of water sitting next to the plates of half eaten meatloaf and mashed potatoes. “And where do you think you’re going?” Evette asked her son, watching as he shoved two rolled poster boards into the small slit of his bag. “Momma, I’ve had enough.” Marcus stated, attaching one loop of his facemask to his left ear. He shuffled his backpack on his back and muttered to himself.
“Cellphone?” He patted his pockets. Upon feeling its shape, he confirmed to himself, “check.” He continued, verifying each object.
“Posters, check, mask, check, gloves, check, first aid kit, check, water, check, milk, check.”
“Milk??” his mothered asked aloud, still paused at the table, her arms crossed on her chest and head tilted in curiosity. “What in the world do you need milk for?”
“For the mace, they always have–.”
Before Marcus could finish the sentence, Evette had already grabbed him by the backpack and pulled him down onto the empty wooden chair at the table.
“Are you really ready to go the protest?”
At some point she had made her way to the front of him. Her stature was small but her attitude enormously serious. She didn’t play any games, and Marcus knew this question was more than what she was asking on the surface. What she was really asking was if Marcus was ready to walk into the face of racism. She was asking if Marcus was ready to take the unasked-for target from his back and place it voluntarily on his chest. She had asked if he were ready to understand that no longer accepting historical injustice could mean a permanent record, criminal association, disfigurement, or even death. Was he ready to admit down the barrel of a gun that he was black, and pray that he be met with solidarity instead of bullets, or a knee to the neck? Ready was a loaded word; nothing simple.
“Momma,” Marcus started, meeting his mothers tear filled eyes, “I have never been ready for this. I don’t think any of us were ever really ready for this…but all I’ve got left is anger. Anger with no justice and no outlet. You deserve justice.” He stood up and cradled his mother, her head reaching just under his chin. “We ALL deserve justice.”
Evette wrapped her arms around the tall man, remembering when he reached only her knee. She took a deep breath and peered up at him. His face showed determination, and that worried her. She knew his feelings, and that scared her. The anger he carried is the kind she carried ever since she realized her skin color made her an enemy to many.  She let her arms fall away from him and walked towards the dishes on the table.
“Well,” she started, as she cleared dinner, and brought it into the kitchen, “I hope you have enough water bottles for two people.”
“Two??” Marcus shouted upwards towards his mother, who had quickly made her way upstairs from the kitchen. He could hear her shuffling around above his head. “What do you mean two?”
Evette flew down the stairs dawning a black fist across her chest, face mask dangling around her wrist, and black sneakers tied in a neat bow on her feet. “Son,” she said quickly packing a bag of her own, “this is OUR fight.” She slid the two straps across her shoulder and walked, head high, towards the front door. Marcus followed, grabbed his mothers’ hand, and together they strode into the streets chanting.
“BLACK LIVES MATTER!”

Common Modifications

Words fly past your ears
to the empty space behind
while your eyes
intend to convince my heart
that it cannot possibly be  how I say, as I say
instead
that I remain a lie
everything about me, for me,
of me
a treacherous untruth concocted to drive you into your personal hell
and all I can do is sink further into myself
and quiet my voice
as it will otherwise go unheard
so
I bury my feelings, my thoughts, and beliefs
until they can no longer breathe or exist
and I become everything you want
to ensure your smile stays
and the smile that I plaster across my face
will cover my tragedy

 

Traffic Stop

In a world of plenty water
Johnny’s mouth was arid, deathly so
for seeing how they hit his mother
made the raging red flames grow
the time got stuck in muddy moments
progress null, eyes peeled to watch
fist tightly curled, his arm went flying
towards the overzealous cop
From his back, the pain went shooting
down his spine and through his feet
Johnny’s mother started screaming
as  he fell into deep sleep
cuffed and crying, soulless, empty
Johnny’s mother tried to fight
the urge to blame this on herself
for not repairing her tail light

Lessons

It was innocent
The way I chose my favorite dress
That flowed to my knees
A soft pink
I’d never think of the time
I’d outgrow it
Because, to a kid
The future exists only for grownups
It takes too long to grow up
And the impatience that
Escaped in my dreams
A place of my own
the different faces in the spaces
I’d see across the globe
It was innocent
So
Dress on, bag on my shoulders
My adventure awaited
In the backyard
Not far, close enough for comfort
And safety
Because that existed
But it gets twisted
When somehow, from somewhere
This,
Some,
He,

Had the nerve and the audacity
To steal from me
My innocence and clarity
peace and joy
Drained from my soul as quickly as the tears
Ran down my cheeks
His rugged embrace from behind my back was taut
And the lesson was taught to never turn my back to the open world
Because my screams will not be heard
As the unknown stabs itself into my memory
And yeah, I will grow up in that future I wasn’t sure existed
Head still twisted, but heart secure
Cause one thing for sure is
I am stronger than your cowardice
I am better than your weakness
I am worth more than you made me feel
And with all my will
I am reclaiming my time
My growth is real
I am ready
With my new favorite dress
Lace that flows down to the knees
A soft pink
Bag on my shoulders
My adventure awaits

I’ll Stay Until I Can’t

Can I stay
and lose my mind in everything that you are
because it doesn’t take much

At some point you’ll feel it
too, the electricity
lighting up my heart so bright

But it’ll be the end of me
the day you realize your current
wasn’t permanent

Just a temporary jolt
to make you realize that what you really need
what you really want

isn’t me.

One Hundred Degrees of Heartache

I don’t think I’ll survive here

Not with this kind of weather

Sweltering heat spread

thin like jam across my cheeks

Burnt pink

A little aloe goes a long way

but won’t take the flames from

your words, which are just as hot

Salty showers soak my forehead creases

While my furrowed brow struggles

to provide shade and understanding

to my confusion

Between you and me, I’ll be gone

by tomorrow

Like the breeze, I’ll blow through

Just enough to say I was here,

But not worth chasing

Cheater

Its stunning
a brilliant disaster covered in
kisses and sweet nothings
A gutsy laugh from the bellows
of regret escapes his tantalizing tongue
He says all the right things
and she feels all the right ways
but honesty is fearless
bold and loud
It snakes into the cerebellum
flipping the switch on the twinges of guilt
felt during each embrace
You are not each others
but stolen time from broken commitment
Beneath the shadow  of the sun,
midday,
you sneak and sway, torturing time with lies
and smiles, unfair
while the suffocation of unreturned love
twists into the lungs of both betrothed
unbeknown to one another that they’re
dying of the same lack of breath

I’m going to say my secrets

That I find too hard to keep

Its

Been like hell, the lies that people

Spew, to make themselves feel equal

But this is about me

About the bullshit that makes my eyes brown

See, I’m not even from this town

Hidden away is slick slur of my words from the intoxicating south

I’ve manipulated my mouth to speak with eloquence

But I’m a Georgia Peach, home of where they sweaty gospels and hospitality

Manners a formality

But in reality the babysitter will sneak a grab of your privacy

Smile to the face of your parents, a bold threat behind crooked teeth whispering murderous lies to me

But I stayed silent

Avoid the violence just act more responsibly and a sitter won’t be needed, then i could look after me

My grief is a selfish sort

Unwanting of your condolences or pity

Away with your casseroles and lasagnas

Ive no belief that my stomach is still there

Only it’s shape, much like my heart

Missing in action

Still alive somehow but barely living now

And you’ll come with your advice

Encouraged words that spark my anger