Love Deep Down in Her Bones

She leans over him
so close she can
still smell her milk
on his breath.

Inhaling deeply, she parts
the shroud of silence
that separates them
Is love an emotion
   or a choice?

She hears her mother’s voice in her mind,
the words cracking her bones
letting her know the aching heartbreak is real.

He’ll grow up one day and leave you

Doesn’t seem to matter that her mother
has been dead all the years
since she has been born, died in childbirth.

She struggles to stand
slides to the floor & the blade
glints in her hand,
the truth of what she has come for
slices through the night.

But the loneliness suffocates

She is tired of singing the blues
as if though it were her birthright

When she hears the key slide
in the front door, she knows it must be done
quickly. That love is a choice.
and she must make it.

The knife almost glides across
the curve of his neck. She expects to
have to stifle his screams as the blood seeps
into the pillow lying beneath his head
But one deep exhale is all that comes.

Then the sound of her lover’s voice
“I’m home.”
She smiles to herself knowing
he will be proud of her for what
she has done and that he will
finally allow her to know love.

Peace & Love,

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Snatches of a Friday Afternoon Conversation

He said
But I don’t want to hurt you

She said
Don’t worry my love is bulletproof

No bitter lies steeped in desperate loving
     can destroy
     No burnished, hollow love masquerading
     as true

Carry me in your bosom
he said
so close my heartbeat will mirror yours
And then you will know

She said
I know all I need to know when I
look into your eyes, I see
all the reasons why my love needs to be

He said
I’m nothing like the others
She said
You’re all they were and more

When he smiled, she felt his attack like bullets
to her soul
But because she was bulletproof
she knew she was protected, not loved
but protected

Peace & Love,

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The Woman in the Mirror

I recognize the woman, the one
who spends her lunch breaks
napping in the park

Every afternoon she parks beneath
the umbrella of the oak trees &
removes the drape of shame that
weighs her down every day

Away from everyone she finally
sleeps. The elusive embrace of Pasithea.

When she awakes, her gaze sweeps
her surroundings to see if anyone
has noticed her napping.

Afraid that she has somehow revealed
the secrets she’s kept folded in the creases
of her twenty-minute naps in the afternoon.

She digs the crust from the corner of
her eye, not realizing the revelation of
her secrets lie in the hollowness that shades
her eyes like heavy pleated curtains
in the winter time.

Or the way she hugs herself tightly to
disguise the trembling whenever her husband
calls her at the office, 9:15 every morning
without fail is when the trembling begins.

Or the way she cowers and folds in on herself
whenever anyone asks about the dime-sized scar
underneath her eye. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s cute
but I just wonder how you got it.” To keep
from falling to pieces, she goes inside herself
yet another place where she cannot find sleep.

It is the daily naps that to her seem a sacrilege
& that’s how I came to recognize her, the woman
in the mirror who’s too afraid to sleep at night
so she takes naps in the car at the park
the only place she can begin to know
a semblance of peace.

And before she pulls the car away from the curb
she looks up in the mirror and that’s when I see
the desperate look in her eyes, a look that hopes
for the day when she can be free. Until then
she continues to park beneath the trees
lulled to sleep by the song of the birds &
running away from memories that keep
her up at night, keep her from being able to sleep.

Peace & Love,


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Breaking My Own Heart

A poem in the works:

I have broken my own heart so many times
I no longer trust myself to love.

I’ve spent years learning what it takes to unravel my love
and then I am guilty of tolerating people whose full intention
it is, to disentangle my love.

I lurk in shadows of those who claim to love me,
watching and waiting,
knowing full well those are only words. I hear
the empty pauses behind the words and, in my mind,
fill them in.

I never allow myself to suspend disbelief.

Peace & Love,

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She found Heaven in his eyes so
she stripped herself naked and
became a planet in his universe.

As if by magic – really it was love –
everything aligned easily
within the shifting of their universe.

Love was easy finally and they knew
they were wrapped in God’s grace.

There were nights, many, when
he fingered her with the sun and the
moon on the tip of his fingers.

Oceans would rush through her belly
when he touched her and though she
sometimes felt overwhelmed by their love

With him, she never prayed to be saved
from drowning, but always, always to be
taken under. Because she’d found a love
that made breathing underwater easy. Finally.

Peace & Love,

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A Rape Victim’s Memory

She knows there are some things
a body must forget

like the feel of a stranger’s hand
prying knees apart like a stubborn door
whose hinges scream out for oil

or the rancid smell of breath brushing her neck,
presenting a string of overused curse words
to be placed about her neck like a cheap necklace

or the pressure of a foot placed on her bed
after a window was jimmied open as if though there was
no mother to caution against such childishness

or the feel of calloused hands
laying across her mouth and
the taste of the screams she was forced
to swallow

or the urge to vomit, her throat contracting
as the muted screams scratch against her throat,
something trying to come up
the screams or yesterday’s dinner

or the incessant wondering how he
could fail to translate the hatred she knew
lived behind her gaze – She refused to close
her eyes, wanted him to see her falling apart

or how each thrust felt like a violent ripping apart
of her body, ripping flesh from bone

will she ever be able to forget
any of those things that it’s necessary to forget
or will she continue to carry them along
behind her like a name she never learned
to form her lips to utter

Peace & Love,

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She learned silence
in the womb of
her mother’s screams

Becoming invisible
wasn’t hard
when no one wanted you
to exist. She became
proficient at
making herself small
around people she loved
because she learned love
was quiet & unassuming
like her daddy,
existing in the lining of
the life he created
from his cotton candy dreams.

That’s what he called it.
Cotton candy, sweet
at first.

So like him
she settled for
existing in places
where no one could
see her. Just one of
the lies she told

Then one day
she met a man
cuz that’s what happens
in a love story–
boy meets girl–
& this is a love story
in a way.

This man was intrigued
by her silence, he knew
there were stories in her
just waiting
to break free.

But a prisoner don’t hardly
know how to be free.
And she’d become a prisoner,
locked away in the fear
that if she ever spoke
loud enough to be heard
she’d start screaming too
like her mother.

And she couldn’t remember
a time when she
didn’t want to be
anything but
like her mother.

So she kept silent
No matter how
that man who loved her
tried to free her
she refused to be set free

Cuz a prisoner don’t hardly
know how to be free.

So that man, he
had no choice but
to buy his own freedom, but
he dropped the key
by the door of her cell,
even though
the door stood wide open
& he walked away.

So you see this is
sort of a love story
because there are stories
where love is an emotion
but just not enough
to buy freedom
cause freedom ain’t
always free &
a prisoner don’t hardly
know how to be free

Peace & Love,

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The Phone Call

She thinks,
I wonder if her knew
before he left.
I mean,
did he have any idea
before he left the house
that day.

Did he know
that he would murder
a mother’s soul,
an unknowing mother
who always knew?

With that one phone call
two people ceased breathing.

Ma’am I have some very bad news.”

A hashtag.
A headline.
That’s what my son
had become, she thinks.
Even though
I raised him to
be a man.

Who decided the best
to let a mother know
her only son has died
was a phone call?

Did They not know
that a mother prepares,
especially a black mother,
for that call to come
one day?
From the day she holds
her baby boy
in her arms–
how she longs
to hold him in her arms–

And now this detached voice
on the phone,
delivers words like a hail of bullets
with no escape.
Maybe if she refuses to speak,
refuses to hear
the words that have been
a throng of silent whispers
echoing in her head
since the day he was born,
maybe then
the pain now coursing through
her heart will
go away.
She can refuse to hang up;
she will hold the receiver
with a grip that refuses to
let go,
like she couldn’t do
her brown skin,
brown-eyed son.

Holding this voice hostage,
refusing to accept
the barrage of bullets
to her soul, she
wonders if her son
already knew.
She wonders
Did she say ‘I love you’
Did she teach him
how to die gracefully?
She taught him to read
taught him the ABCs
They struggled through
lessons he needed,
stuff he’d need
for the rest of his life like
how to tie his shoes.
And struggled through
math too.

But did she teach him
how to see
his own blood
pour from his body
but not to panic
not to react
just to die gracefully
like the man
he’d never be?

The thought pricks her memory
and she picks up the burden,
shoulders grief ensconced in
She forgot to remind him
that the air of mystery
surrounding him
could be
mis—taken for
a weapon and
the knee jerk
of some racist
neighborhood watchman or
overzealous policeman
who wears his manhood
on his sleeve
could kill him.

She thinks,
I didn’t warn him
that the cowardly actions
of some other “man”
could become the knife blade
of reality
to remind them both–
if the dead can remember–
They have always hated him.
But she,
she has always
loved him
how could she not?

Peace & Love,

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He Knew. She Knew.


The day she saw him in the park
she knew.

but don’t all women?

He asked to
photograph her.
Wanted to take her picture.
Just one—he pleaded.

She paused       not because
he was a stranger
but because
his smile  had been created
just for her – she knew.

losing that smile – worse than never
discovering it



Sit still. Smile.
She tried to relax
but she anticipated the
flash and she covered her face.

He pleaded for her
to present him
with the gift of her

And they ended up
exchanging words.
She accused him of
trying to
steal her soul. “You’re trying
to rob me of a piece of me
when you don’t plan to leave anything

“If I let you
take my picture
you’ll leave and
take that piece of me
forever. Eternity.”

She suggested he
doing a painting instead.
A painting
would give her time,
give them time together and
that’s all she really wanted.

Time to be warmed
by his smile and to
hold his sweet words
in her mouth; he became
her dessert.

He easily agree & she knew.


It took nearly a year to
capture her expressions
& features on his canvas.

He captured the way she
turned her head, just so
ever so slightly when she was
listening to him talk.

He knew. She knew.

The closer he got to
completing her portrait
she began to feel
the detachment settling
in. He’s leaving for sure,
she knew.

And he did. He left.
Told her he loved her.
And left.

No one ever knew
how tenaciously
she guarded her love
for him. She couldn’t bear
the truth
that love just sometimes
isn’t enough.

He carried her with him —
he and the portrait
covered many miles
as he searched for a place
to settle.

He found many
settling places,
ones that
almost made him forget
what he’d discovered
one afternoon
in the park.


He presented the portrait
to her
on their tenth anniversary.
She stared fondly at
the picture,
but all she really wanted
was to be sure he’d never

All he could give her
was the portrait,
the symbol of his love.

He knew. She knew.

Peace & Love,


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Bitter Fruit

standing on the razor blade
of indecision
she was afraid to move
forward. the past
taught her that love was
a bitter piece of fruit
that grew in a tree
up out of her reach.
one step forward to grab
what she could see,
not feel
could break her or just break
her heart
and the memory
of the pain of love, the
pain she felt before when she
dared to love
kept her balancing
on the razor edge
of indecision
where the only possibility
was that she would
cut her own self
bear the fruit of her
own misery

Peace & Love,

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