Sometimes There Are No Words

Sometimes there are no words, just a tugging feeling down deep in the gut.

These are the words that were in my mind as I left work this weekend. As I was leaving work, I looked over to my left and caught a glimpse of a person hunched over sitting on the porch of the abandoned Celebration Station building. I was going to keep going. I admit it. As I was driving away, something from deep within me urged me to turn and go back. It could be someone who tries to hurt you, another voice struggled to be heard. I ignored the second voice.

I didn’t get out of my car. I couldn’t know who or what I was seeing until I was right up close. Turns out it was a woman who looked up at me. I asked if she wanted money to get something warm. Not ten minutes before, I’d been lamenting the cold weather as I raced from the building where my class is held to the parking lot where I’d parked my car. It was cold out, so my first thought was to offer her money so that she could get something to warm herself.

In front of her on the ground were several bottles of water and she was wrapped in a couple of blankets. But, still, it was cold out there. I reached in my purse and pulled out a $20 bill. Instinct. That’s all it was. She didn’t even look down at what I’d placed in her hand until she’d started to walk away. Then she turned around and the look on her face was one of anguish. “I can’t take this. It’s too much,” she told me.
It’s cold out. That’s all I kept thinking. Tears welled in my eyes. Of course she would take it. She had to. There was no way I was going to take the money back. She’d been crying the entire time and now we both were crying. I didn’t take the money back.

It’s cold out. All I gave her was 20 fucking dollars. She said it was too much and yet I drove away feeling like I hadn’t done anything. I wished I could do more.

(This is one of those times when there are no words. Only feelings. And some tears. So, there’s no poem. There’s nothing other than one heart reaching out to another, hoping to bring some relief. At least for a little while.)

I wrote the words above on Saturday after I left work. All day long I thought of that woman, and my heart broke time after time because I felt like I’d not done enough.

I teach a Tuesday class, as well. Tonight when I was leaving class, I saw a man standing beside his car as I passed the abandoned bus terminal on American Way. He was talking to a man lying on the sidewalk. The man was bundled up tight, but still, he was lying on the sidewalk. Not in a bed.

What I couldn’t put into words on Saturday came to me tonight:

I’m ashamed to admit
I live in a world where
people don’t seem to give
a shit that people sleep
on the sidewalk or streets,
their heads wrapped in
sidewalk spit, shit & you know
sometimes people take a piss there—
all this shit
like a headband to keep out the cold.

The tears you see in my eyes
cannot begin to help you realize
that shallow ass statements like
it could be worse mean absolutely
nothing till you see the hearse
pull up to the bus station lot
to collect the body of somebody’s pop,
pop who wasn’t good enough
for a fucking cot
in the basement or the garage.

That’s the shape we’re in &
it’s almost a sin
that twenty dollar bills
are too hard to come by
so when
my pockets’ nearly empty
all I have are tears
but shit
a dollar bill never will
be able to stretch
wide enough to protect
from the cold & never stretch
far enough to feed a man
who’s outgrown his clothes &
his humanity – Nope, I mean human –ness
cuz it’s some mess when
a singing bird will crow all about
animals left in the cold, but
nobody gives a damn about
a man, woman, child
with no fucking place to go.

That’s not your problem, right
It’s too big of a fight
for you to even don your gloves
so pops sleeps covered with mud
in double digit temps that are trying
to go solo
you know
cuz he ain’t got no fucking where to go.

Do the plethora of cuss words
hurt your ears – oh so that’s what I feared
you’re one of those folks
more concerned with listening to the messenger
than hearing the message, well I’ll tell you this
while you’re trying to figure how to
wash my mouth with soap and water,
I’m trying to wash your soul with the soap of truth.

When I hold up a mirror to look at you….and me too
I see a man just like you, lying in the streets
knowing life has beat the shit outta him &
now he’s lying at life’s feet
seeking a reprieve &
all he got was left in the cold.

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

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Grandma’s Shoes – Again

Last night I woke at three in the morning and I was lying there thinking about my grandmother. For some reason, I started thinking again about the shoes she used to wear. Grandma used to take old shoes and cut the tops off them and wear them like that around the house.

I wrote a poem:

Grandma used to wear men’s shoes
though she never tried to stand
like a man. Like any woman who
carried love for her family in her heart and
Mother Earth determination to hold her family
close to the security of her love, she just
wanted to be free from having to stand
alone, at the end of the day.

Her hands
were rough from years of picking cotton and
her joints stiff from a lifetime of dropping
her self-respect and self-love on the doorstep
day after day, whenever she’d leave the house.
Always they’d be there to greet her when she
dragged herself home most evenings – sometimes
the neighbor’s kids would find them and play
with them until their parents would force them
to return those feelings back to grandma’s doorstep.

One day the neighbor’s kids – did I happen to
mention those kids were white – took grandma’s
feelings and hid them underneath the porch of her
sharecropper’s shack and charged her ten dollars to
go get it. That was her last ten and she just slipped
on those shoes that belonged to a man
at some point and walked tall as the strong black
woman she was.

One day a man was standing on her porch, he
was protecting those feelings she had left on
the doorstep. He said he’d spotted her leaving
the field one day and instantly fell in love. That day
grandma traded in her men shoes and for once
walked like a woman until the day after
grandpa died and she was forced to wear
men shoes again.

 

 

 

grandma alone right side up

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

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Play on Jazz Man. Play on.

Today my heart was broken as I learned of the passing of one of my son’s former band directors. James’ jazz band instructor, like all of his band directors, poured into my son’s life in a way that let me know that, for him, teaching was not just a profession. It was a calling.

Unlike most of his other directors, Mr. Jeff Huddleston, touched more than one of my children directly. My daughter, Courtney, also took a class from Mr. Hudd, as they called him.

The true measure of a person is the legacy they leave behind. This is more than a saying. Someone who just gets up to go to work every day won’t likely touch as many people as a person who feels that it was his or her calling to end up impacting the lives of kids. We pour energy and give time to those things which are important to us. Mr. Hudd poured life and a love of music into his students. Thankfully, while he was alive many of his students expressed their love and appreciation for Mr. Hudd. The briefest glance in his direction would let you see that he knew that his kids loved him and that, in return, he loved them.

Newspaper stories were written about Mr. Hudd and the opportunities he provided for his music students at Overton High School. People were brought together through his love of music. Music was so much a part of his life that even when he wasn’t teaching music, he was playing gigs with his band. He exemplified true musicianship.

I believe people enter your life for one of two reasons: they either have a lesson to teach you or they are part of your blessing. Mr. Hudd brought both of these things into our life. The lesson is this: Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life. He personified this quote. He exuded passion and enthusiasm every day. And those who saw him never got the sense that he had to drag himself in to work. And, the blessing can be found in the love and lessons he poured into both of my children. As a single parent, it is a blessing to witness a man who has so much knowledge and passion for music willingly offer that part of himself to your children. The opportunities he provided James and Courtney (and countless others) are priceless. And a man like Mr. Hudd is a once-in-a-lifetime deal.

Here’s a little something that came to me as I watched my daughter try to digest the news that Mr. Hudd had passed away:

Thread a music note through my soul
I’m the jazz man, don’t you know
Don’t bring me no angel wings
All I need are my music notes, so
I can play the music of my soul
for eternity.

Play on, Mr. Hudd. Play on.

music notes

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

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A Poem for You

For the friend who told me she’s losing faith in love…

Don’t Fall for Love that Doesn’t Fall for You
By Rosalind Guy

Why do you keep knocking on doors you
know will never be opened to you? Doors
that are blocked by the very men who claim
to love you? Why do you keep watching them
walk away, day after day, knowing their intentions
were never to stay with you? Why do you stay
and try to force yourself where you don’t belong?
Stop, okay, it’s not fair to you and you know it.
You should stop and try to see who the real problem
is. It’s not the men who end up leaving you.
Everyone loves to pay clearance price for goods
they receive, and he’s loving not having to pay
full-price for the love you give. Just like the ones
before him, he recognizes the clearance tag. So,
again, I ask you why do you keep allowing yourself
to be devalued when you say you only want to find
someone to love you as hard and deep
as you love them? Time after time, you keep choosing
to stay with men who fail to value you in word or deed.

Why do you let him put your heart on a string, like a
big red balloon, headed to the outer reaches of the moon,
alone? He’s only stringing you along, staring in detached
amusement as you run along to try and keep up with him
while he plays with your heart, plays with your emotions &
stokes your fears of always being alone. Stop telling him shit
about how he makes you whole while he gives you no role
in his life. Stay in your lane, the place you belong.

It’s time to pull out, let the wasted years trickle to the floor
like children unborn, a love unformed. Once you pull out
of that space that was never meant for you in the first place
you can place your heart in the hands of a man who
won’t take your love & loyalty for a broken toy.
Finding love in life is all about the choices we make, and if he’s not
choosing to love you, maybe it’s time for you to move on &
replace your love for what he could potentially be and what the future may hold
with that old-fashioned love you used to feel for yourself. Then
wait for the man who will not only be there to catch you
when you fall in love with him, but he’ll fall too &
while he’s falling he’ll grab hold to you & never let go
until he has you right where he wants you: by his side,
not as a side chick or the other woman, but as the
only woman he wants to come home to.

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

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Struggling to Find Your Treasure

“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”
–Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

I just finished reading the book, The Alchemist by Coelho. The story, like many of Coelho’s stories, touched me deeply. After I had finished reading it, I lay in bed for hours contemplating the overall message of the book. Being that I am a person who doesn’t believe in pure coincidences, I believe I picked that book up when I needed to. That being the case, I have to wonder what message I was supposed to take from the novel. It has been said that no two people will read the same book. And that is true. I will receive a message based on where I am in my life experiences and another reader will receive something totally different.
Many people probably identified more with the shepherd in the book, the main character who spends the entirety of the book learning how to read the language of the universe in order to find his treasure. And, while I received many life lessons from the shepherd, I cannot shake the image of the man at the end. The one who admits that he didn’t follow his vision or destiny through till the end. The one who contributes to the shepherd’s final understanding of what would be required of him to see his dream come true.
It’s so easy to give up of achieving a dream. Many things make it possible: fear. I finally can understand how a person could be afraid of finally attaining the thing he or she has prayed for all his or her life. It’s so easy to convince ourselves that it “won’t get greater later” and that it is better to go with what we know. After being knocked down two or three times, some people simply choose to give up. Why keep going right? Then there’s the dilemma that arises when people try to chase dreams that are bigger than anything that the average person could ever imagine.

You have a 9 to 5 job that brings a steady stream of paychecks, so why give up that certainty for that big dream you have? You know, that dream that’s so big, you can’t imagine how it will ever come true for you? I can’t answer for anyone but myself. I don’t want to, but, yeah, I can see how it’d be easy to stick with the familiar and just not risk the impossible dream. Another thing that keeps people from trying to make their dreams come true is complacency. We don’t want to change and it’s easier to just let things stay the same. Change is hard for everyone, even when the change is positive.
The most important lesson I took away from The Alchemist: It’s not enough to have a dream. You have to be intentional in trying to attain your dream. In those intentional steps, the universe will rise to meet you and help carry you through to seeing your dream manifested in your life.

Untitled
A treasure sits
forever waiting
for the eye of Heaven
to behold.
Beneath a tree
buried deep
a treasure awaits
me.
I will walk away
for today
I am not ready
for the blessing
that awaits me
so
I will simply
throw it away
and hope
it returns
another day.

Peace & Love,

Rosalind

treasure chest

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Soul Love

“When two souls fall in love, there is nothing else but the yearning to be close to each other. The presence that is felt through a hand held, a voice heard, or a smile seen.
Souls do not have calendars or clocks, nor do they understand the notion of time or distance. They only know it feels right to be with one another.
This is the reason why you miss someone so much when they are not there — even if they are only in the very next room. Your soul only feels their absence — it doesn’t realize the separation is temporary.”

“Can I ask you something?
Anything.
Why is it every time we say goodnight, it feels like goodbye?”
—Lang Leav

I drowned in my own tears last night
trying to understand how
a dream became a nightmare so quickly.
In the beginning the words whispered
were forever I’ll be true
now all I hear is I can’t talk to you.
You promised to never be the cause of pain
& yet I’m swimming in my own tears again.

I cannot tell what is real
I truly have no idea how I should feel
when everything has shattered to pieces
right before my eyes & all I can do is cry

Should I heed the call of forever true
or just realize it’s the end for me and you?

I call out to you and receive only empty silence
My response to the silence is the truth of my tears

I drowned in my own tears last night
crying my eyes out over a lost love thought true

Is this a final good bye or are you just
in the next room?

–Rosalind Guy

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

breaking heart

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He Touched Me

                                                                                       He Touched Me

 

He touched me

in a forbidden place,

left the remnants of

greed & disillusion

in his wake. I was just

a child (inside) so why

did you blame me for

being hurt when

he touched me

over and over again,

knowing that his rough

touching & shoving

would leave me bloody

 

I bleed tears

from my eyes; they leave

a scarlet trail that carries

me to a place where

little girls aren’t free

to do anything but swing

from a tree

like forbidden fruit

that has been consumed

before its season & even

when you see me

right in front of your face

you know without a doubt

the essence of me

still hangs from the low

branches of that tree –

within reach, but too far

away for me to ever

be truly free

 

Like a zombie

I stalk the streets

looking for something

to satiate me

knowing nothing will

ever really fill me up.

I’ll always be empty.

 

A shell of a woman

whose no longer a girl

and all because

he touched me

 

Peace & Love,

Rosalind

 

girl with bear too

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Psst! I Have a Secret: I’m Just A Little Insane Too

Life is too short to be living someone else’s dream.

Most of us spend a great deal of our lives killing ourselves (physically and mentally) to make someone else’s dreams come true. We spend more than half of each day working a job we don’t even like, much less love, then go home to people we don’t love either. Life seems to be one obstacle after another, we lament, not ever realizing we have become our own obstacles.

A great many relationships today were entered into to satisfy someone else’s dream, whether it be the parent who pressures you to settle down and start a family, the person who you were dating who began pressuring you to take things to the next level (of course you eventually submit to their wishes because you do love them, right?), or the societal pressure to conform to a misguided belief that one can never be truly happy and complete alone.

“A little bit of pleasure’s worth a whole lot of pain.”

Why do we work so hard for others when we are clearly neglecting our inner selves? Do we not believe that we deserve to live a life fulfilled? I mean, we were given the same chance at life as the next person, so why not chase our own dreams? Well, because…It’s the “normal” thing to do, right?

“Good morning, heartache. Sit down.”

It’s not normal to follow your own dreams, especially if it’s something that will take a while to manifest itself in your life, such as writing a novel, writing music, becoming a play actor, being an actress, or becoming an artist. (How will you pay your bills?)

“I’m catching hell living here alone.”

We convince ourselves that a good credit rating, driving the newest car, living in the biggest house, and earning one fat paycheck or lots of average-sized checks will make us incredibly happy. Well that is until it doesn’t.

“We got to prepare for some heartbreak.”

So many people eased behind the wheel of that expensive 2014 car today, deposited those checks in the bank, used their keys to open that McMansion, and then cried themselves to sleep. Or they spend hours drinking, trying to chase away the blues. (“Why am I so blue?”) Anything to fill that hole in their soul.

Back in the 80’s when I was trying to grow into myself, I listened to a bunch of songs that convinced me that it was a noble gesture to suffer for love. Being the teen who I was, one who desperately wanted to feel that love she didn’t have at home, I ate that shit up. “No Pain, No Gain,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “I Wish It Would Rain,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and, of course, “Saving All My Love For You.” Self-talk. I was telling myself that it was okay to put myself through a whole lot of shit in the name of love. Well, what kind of message is that to give myself? Sorry, but I call bullshit on that one. I don’t have to suffer to show I “deserve” love. My anthem is no longer some lame ass love song that tells me I need to prove I’m worthy of love or that love is worth having after someone has hurt you as much as possible before getting an epiphany that he/she can’t live without you.

“I know you wanna leave me, but I refuse to let you go.”

No one ever says it’s okay to walk away from any relationship (business, person, or any other relationship) that doesn’t fulfill you. That’s why in the book/movie “Eat, Pray, Love” the narrator struggles with her decision to leave a marriage that on the surface seems perfect. She thought there was something wrong with her because a marriage with no real problems wasn’t fulfilling to her. Annihilation of self to accept what others deem as significant experiences, yes, that’s the killing of self we so willingly accept.

“Sunshine, blue skies, please go away.”

Luckily, she realized there was nothing wrong with her and she ended up experiencing life in a way that ended up resuscitating instead of killing her inner self. A life fulfilled. For her.

“It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.”

I started thinking about this when I went to court earlier this week. I was leaving the Criminal Justice Complex downtown when I saw a man leaning over a sewer grate, yelling at people below the street. He was yelling, “What the hell y’all talking about down there?”

“If You Think You’re Lonely Now, Wait Until Tonight.”

Another person’s initial response might have been to shake his or her head and mutter about the man being crazy, but that’s not what I thought. Instead, I wondered why it’s so hard for people to give in to express their true selves? We do things all day long so as not to appear crazy, but really we’re all a little insane, right?

“Take me to the other side of town

In Veronika Decides to Die, a guest speaker comes in to speak to a group of the mental patients. He tells them, “…stay insane, but behave like normal people. Run the risk of being different, but learn to do so without attracting attention.”

“It’s only fair that I let you know that the man you’re in love with, he’s mine from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet.”

Ah, so, that’s the key. Be different, just don’t let others know. It’s okay to be insane. Just keep it a secret. Ooops! Guess I blew that, huh?

It’s No Secret, I’m Insane

What the hell you talking bout
down there, he yelled at the

ground. People stopped to stare
at him & to write him off as crazy.

But don’t you know that people
are living in the sewers and we’re

too crazy to notice. Even when we
hear the low rumble of voices from

beneath the streets, we choose to
ignore them, believing we’re free

from being labeled as crazy. So we
become zombies who march through

the streets like simple-minded sheep
being led to the slaughter, halfway asleep

at the wheel, just trying our best to not
appear too crazy. Doing our best to ignore

the voices of the people living beneath the streets.

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

crazy pic

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Why I Will Never View “The Fault in Our Stars” Movie

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter came into my bedroom and dropped a book on my bed. It was a book she’d just finished reading, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. She told me, “You have to read this. You will love it.” I took the book and added it to the large pile of “to be read” books beside my bed.

I finished reading Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho on my first day of fall break, which lasted all last week.  (Yay!) As I sifted through my TBR pile for a book to read next, I remembered my daughter telling me that I would love The Fault in Our Stars. So, that’s the book I chose.

And she was right. I love the book. It’s a tear jerker, but more than that, the book provides some very honest insight into the mind of a person who is battling a terminal illness.

From the very beginning, I have created a very real picture of how the main characters, Gus and Hazel are. I know them like my daughter knew me enough to suggest I read the book. That’s why I don’t want to see the movie.

The book is always much better than the movie because movie directors shatter the image we create in our minds as we read. And, we always prefer the images we create in our minds. That’s why people remain in situations long after they should, but that’s another topic for another time. I’m comfortable with the images I’ve created of Hazel and Gus. There is not an actor alive who would be able to pull off Gus’ quirkiness or Hazel’s vulnerability. They are characters I truly love and value. As they are. In my mind.

There’s a famous quote that says you have to let go of the life you’ve created in your mind to enjoy the one that’s actually unfolding for you. Or something like that. Anyway, I think you get the gist of what I mean. Sometimes the image we carry in our mind of the way things should be can cause us to ruin what we have. In the case of books though, that’s never the case.

I know that if I see the movie, the story will be ruined for me. Hazel won’t appear quite fragile enough on the movie screen because the movie directors are aiming for a different audience than John Green was when he wrote the story. And Gus’ quirks, I’m sure, won’t seem so quirky on the big screen. (Who else will be able to hold an unlit cigarette between their lips and express the metaphorical significance of not allowing the cancer stick to have the power over him?) I’m afriad to lose the image I have in my mind of two people who have become very important to me.

I know the danger of watching a movie after reading the book because I watched the movie “The Color Purple.” I can recite lines from that movie on demand.

“You sholl is ugly.”

“You told Harpo to beat me!”

“Girl child it ain’t safe in a family of men.”

“See daddy, sinners have soul too.”

“Until you do right by me, everything you even think about gonna fail.”

I could go on and on. Because I love that movie. The problem is I saw the movie before I had a chance to read the book.  So, every time I have sat down to read the book, I have had difficulty getting started. I already have a cast of characters in my mind. And I’ll never be able to shake those cinematic images from my mind, images I carry with me even now. I mean, come on, who can forget, Oprah Winfrey storming through the corn field and confronting Whoopi Goldberg. “You told Harpo to beat me!” The anger and confusion coloring her features, so palpable, the viewers couldn’t help but feel what she was feeling.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to let go of the images I have in my head of the way the characters should be (because of what I saw in the movie), but right now, I still love the movie too much to ruin it by reading the book. Because I’m more than certain there will be a difference. And I don’t know that I’m ready to live with that difference yet.

So, no, I will not be viewing the movie, “The Fault in Our Stars.” Instead, it’ll become one of those books I pull out again and again to re-read in its entirety or just those parts that are significant to me.

Happy reading and writing peeps!

Peace & Love,

Rosalind

 

 

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Swimming to Safety

Swimming in memories is a dangerous feat.
Six feet deep in memories of you and me,
I nearly drown as they encapsulate me,
wash me up on abandoned shores of misery
with my body responding to fatal memories
of your yam resting inside of me,
filling me up, touching and destroying walls,
a distant memory; my body folds under the weight
of memory, refusing to acknowledge what I can see,
that when you touched my body,
you failed to touch my soul, didn’t even
act like you knew I existed outside what you found
between my legs, spread wide,
welcoming your company,
trying to fulfill my soul needs, empty physicality.
I was too blind to see, you didn’t value me &
too lonely to care. Now I just wanna be free
but I don’t want to be alone, so I cling
to distant shores, littered with selfish vanity,
hoping one day you’ll change and come back to me.

Please don’t.

Happy writing and reading peeps. Got a whole week off for Fall Break and that’s all I’ll be doing. Hope to catch you out on the freeway of creativity!

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

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