The House We Built

I sometimes censor myself.
There are poems left unwritten,
nothing but unsaid words living
in my mind, afraid to find the air.
There are words I don’t say, feelings
won’t display because I’ve learned
to become the jester of my own story,
the fool who accepts only being half
of me cuz you can’t hold all of me
in the palm of your hands, you sift me
through your fingers like grains of sand
while time steadily slips away.

I have watched stealthily as my words
melt like sugar into water, while
they may be sweet or a necessity,
nobody ever really wants to own them.
Who drinks sugar water without adding
something in to make it go down more easily?
I read your words like empty messages
displayed on a marquee – here today, changed
tomorrow – words that lack staying power or
substance. Just something to draw attention, to
keep me from seeing you have always been missing
in action when I needed you next to me.
Even if you were there, all I owned was your
empty words. Marquee words that lack real meaning.

Tomorrow always brings something different.
So I stuff my true feelings inside me &
become who you want to see. Pretend
I can’t already see that you don’t truly
love or value me. Pretend that this
won’t one day only be a distant memory.
Bits and scraps I’ll remember like parts
of an unforgettable memory.

The bitter truth is love doesn’t live
here in the house we built & never
really has. Instead we welcomed a
caricature of love into our house & pretended
not to notice the exaggerated features of its face,
the floppy ears, the lackluster eye and
the comical lips, lips so big we tripped over them
every time we tried to speak to one another.
We pretended love could exist in the jungle
disguised to hide the lies that have always
lived in the house we built.

Got a busy day ahead lovelies. I’m proofreading the author’s copy of my new book, Blues of a Love Junkie, working on a story for my upcoming book of short stories, She’ll Never Tell, and I have a mountain of papers to grade. So, yes I’m going to be very busy today. But I’m never too busy to share a poem with you guys!

On another note, my giveaway this week was a success! I have another one coming up soon. So keep your eyes and ears open. ;-)

Do something epic today! Take a giant step toward that dream you have, the one that is wrapped up in every beat of your heart. Don’t think, just do it!

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

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Skinny Dipping Giveaway

I’m the type of person who believes there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Somebody has to pay for it, right? Well, turns out there are some things that are truly free. I’m giving away three copies of my poetry book, Skinny Dipping in the Pool of Womanhood. And all you have to do is follow me on Twitter.

Check out the link below and get your free copy of Skinny Dipping in the Pool of Womanhood. Don’t put it off, though, because the contest deadline is April 1. Here’s the link below:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/fe17646153ce5e15#ln-fo

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

author's proof

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Drown

“But love teaches you. Clears your head of any rules.” Junot Diaz, Drown

Since I started working on my second book of poetry, I view things a little differently. At some point, I began to see that every story truly is a love story. Take for instance the book, I’m currently reading, Drown by Junot Diaz. On the front cover, a blurb describes the book by saying that Drown is “stunning…a front-line report on the ambivalent promise of the American dream.” There’s a certain amount of truth here. The characters in the book do deal with poverty, two types of poverty. They are impoverished in that they lack money and sometimes have to resort to eating boiled potatoes, rice and other things, but are too poor for meat. But beneath the surface is the poverty of love. Yunior is the protagonist. He’s nine years old at the beginning of the stories, which weaved together, create one story.

Yunior’s mami is married to a man who doesn’t love her; he only wants the financial benefit of being with her. He wants regular sex, until he doesn’t want them anymore and so he abandons them. Leaves them in the Dominican Republic so he can come to America where he will build a life for his family and then send for them, but he never does. Yunior never received love, in the sense that a child should be loved. His father, who was unhappy in his life, would always take his anger and frustration out on Yunior. Rafa, Yunior’s older brother, never shows him love. Instead he ridicules him and makes Yunior feel smaller than he already feels. And he ends up in love with a teenage dope addict. So as much as the characters are drowning in life because they are financially poor, they all are also emotionally and socially poor.

So, as I’m reading the last few pages of the novel, a line comes to me: “There are days when I fall apart for love.” Here’s the poem:

There are days when I fall apart
for love. Broken pieces of me
stain the sheets of the bed where I
lay day after day, wondering if I
will ever allow myself to be whole
again. Maybe I like being broken,
like always being alone. Like knowing
there will never be anyone for me
to come home to. Like knowing
that everyone I’ve dared to love will
break me into a million indiscernible
pieces. So one day I’ll fall
out of bed & put myself back together
again. My strength is in loving broken
men, men who break me & allow me
to build myself up again.
That’s why there are days
when I fall apart for love.

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

broken image

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I Want You

I want you to encircle your arms
about me, cradle me like a newborn
baby, but crush me to you as if you
want to crumble a mixture of your bones
and mine and scatter them into
the winds of possibilities.

I need you to look into my eyes
as you hold me close, to keep me
from falling. I do not want to
fall alone. Please come with me.

I want you to call my name
like it’s the flowering of a seed
planted way deep down in the core of
your being — a seed of deepest desire.

This is still a work in progress. Once I finish the draft of the story I’m working on, She’ll Never Tell, I plan to work on this some more.

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

*Remember, don’t dream only when you sleep at night. Dream big during the day and hustle your ass off to make your dreams a reality.

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Blues of a Love Junkie Release Date

Blues of a Love Junkie is slated to be released by April 11, my birthday. I’m so excited. I’ve spent my entire spring break doing some last-round edits to the manuscript, getting it ready for publication. I’m currently finalizing the cover.

Today, I finished the Author’s Note, which will precede the poems. Here’s a little sneak peek:

Author’s Note
I’ve never believed in fairy tales. Not even as a little girl. I’ve known for as long as my memory stretches back that there is no such thing as “happily ever after.” I remember things like standing around with friends in the apartment where I lived, talking about the six-year-old little girl whose mother would allow drug dealers to sleep with her daughter in exchange for crack cocaine. I remember the popsicle man who drove through the apartment complex every day, looking to serve up something more than frozen confectioner’s treats. I remember wondering why my brother’s dad touched me differently when my mother was away at work. And I remember how even the park next to the apartment complex wasn’t a safe place to go alone because it was supposed to be home to a monk man, who would hurt little kids.
So, no, I never believed in fairy tales. I never thought some prince charming or fairy godmother would show up one day and change my life so I could live happily ever after. Not even in my dreams did I allow such childish notions to take root in my soul.
But I have always believed in the power of love. I remember trying to do things special to try and win my mother’s love. I remember asking for love instead of material things. Love, I thought, would be easier to obtain. I have always wanted nothing more than to love and be loved.
So the poems in this book are all about love. Because I believe that every story is a love story. Someone either loves, feels unloved, feels incapable of loving, feels betrayed by love, feels unsure about what love is, is afraid to love…Everyone feels something about love. And that feeling has shaped them.
So, I offer you a love story told in the form of poems. The poems in this collection have been weaved together to offer you a love story that I hope will touch your soul as much as it has touched mine.

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

I look forward to seeing the final product and hope everyone will get a copy of the book. Also slated to be released later this year is a book of short stories, tentatively titled, She’ll Never Tell.

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Power

girl with hands on hipsPower

With hands on hips and a bit of a sister sway,
she told him one day, “Sticks and stones may
break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
The defiance of her stance grabbed him up &
tossed him to the side like a forgotten paradise.

He got up, brushed himself off & walked away,
slowly, because he didn’t really want to go.
But what choice did he have once he realized
she’d forgotten. Because how could he explain
to her that words were the lifeblood, blood with
power to heal or power to kill, destroying from within?

Words, he wanted to tell her, sit on my tongue
waiting to melt into meaning like homemade
ice cream.

Words build bridges over which we travel
to find one another and bind ourselves to
one another.

Will you be my friend?

Words pull people close, hold those important
to us, tighter than the tightest embrace,
the one where she let go first. You didn’t want
to let go.

I love you.

Words brush the lips like the sweetest of kisses,
sending shivers up & down the spine.

How can I make you mine?

Words can build walls, better than any other
material, walls so tall they are impossible
to climb.

I love you, but…
Words fill my throat, hesitant to show their face
like a young girl performing on stage for the
first time.

What if she doesn’t love me in return?

Words break down men & build up
nations.
Words can destroy communities &
create men, not niggas.

You ain’t shit. Why are you even here?

Words show that you think you can
play with my heart & that you believe I’ll
one day decide to play along.

I’m not ready yet. I’ll be ready one day.

Words, if spoken loud enough, can carry
toxins out of a bitter & battered soul.

I want to change.

Words can haunt a soul, a place,
a home, a love, long after the speaker
is gone. They linger like the fog
after an unexpected rainstorm.

Who will carry me home?

Words have the power to keep me from
returning to where I escaped from, but they
can also keep me from moving forward.

What if…? I’m scared.

 

Words have power and it seems that those who don’t realize this seem to wield more power with their words. Maya Angelou famously said, “I may forget what you say, but I will never forget how you made me feel.” This is true. But think about the kid growing up hearing that he is nothing and never will amount to anything. Words. And think about a woman telling a man she’s pregnant. His actions will be dictated by how he feels about hearing those words. Or think about the young girl who is told that she is beautiful, that she’s a queen. Words. Think about the young man who’s called a nigga and the one who is called a god. Words. Think about young ladies who are called ladies and the ones who are called whores or bitches. Words.

Words have power because they have the power to make the listener feel some type of way.

This poem was inspired by a conversation I had with my son James last night about why I loved a passage so much in Cynthia Bond’s  novel Ruby, which I’m currently reading. He said, of that passage, but she could have just said….And I responded but she didn’t and that’s why I love the passage so much.

Peace & Love,

Rosalind

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There is Nothing Wrong With Me

We’ve all seen it or heard about it: self-hatred or self-loathing. Women and young girls appear to be more susceptible to the images that are inundating them. Air brushed images of celebrities convince us that we should hate our imperfect bodies, that we should be ashamed of our average faces.

But there’s another type of self-hatred, the type where we are forced to examine ourselves and, for whatever reason, find that we don’t like what we see. Acceptance of these negative perceptions is a choice. We don’t have to accept them. We have the choice to love our natural selves and realize that behind closed doors those seemingly flawless celebrities have flaws. They just have endless amounts of cash, make-up artists, stylists, photographers, etc. who make them appear flawless. So, when we understand this, there’s no reason for us to beat up ourselves, right? Right. And if we ever look at our own self and not like what we have become, we, of course, can change. One of my favorite quotes is, “If you don’t like where you are, get up and move. You’re not a tree.”

Still, though loving our self is a choice, there are still people who choose to dislike themselves. I wish I could find every one of those people, especially the young ladies, and tell them how wonderful they are. This poem came to me because I had a vision of a young lady standing in front of a mirror and worse than loathing herself, she detested the person she had become. It wasn’t a lack of physical beauty, but deep-seated unhappiness with the way her life had turned out.

The woman staring back from inside the mirror
is not me. She is a stranger to me, the type of person
you are embarrassed to say you know, but
still you hold onto because…

I do not like her, though she resembles me, she
has dimples so deep on both of her cheeks
that it seems like I could fall in and become lost,
she has a face framed with perfect red
ring curls, and glasses that rest on the bridge
of her nose, but her eyes reveal something that
disgusts me. And that’s why I dislike her.

If I passed her by on the street, I would not stop
and speak, unless she spotted me before I saw her and
forced me to acknowledge her by speaking to me first.
People tell me I should forgive her, but they don’t understand
all the ways she has hurt me. She has never loved me, doesn’t
even try, no matter how much I implore her to.

She loves others more than she has ever loved me.

The person staring back at me from the mirror
accepts other people’s trash as if though it were treasure.
She is nothing like me, at least, nothing like I’ve ever
wanted to be. Do you know she once fell in love with
a man who said he could never love her, not the way
she was. So, she tried to change to be someone he could
love. Just another one of those people you hold on to because…
And, do you know, that she’s even had the nerve
to stand in line waiting on her turn to be loved ?
Not just once, but many many times.

Love is not a buffet.
You don’t have to wait your turn. It’s a full-service diner.
When you’re in the presence of love, you just know it
because there’s no waiting in a serving line. If the love is true,
the person who loves you will leave all others behind
just to hold on to you, because…of love.

Yes, she loves others more than she has ever loved me.

And that woman, she keeps me up night after night
trying to figure out how to win love, even though
I’ve told her that love is not a prize to be won
after a competition like climbing a mountain in the
snow or carrying the most burdens to show
that she’s no average woman. She’s a Super woman.

She loves others more than she has ever loved me.
And that’s why tonight, while she’s sleeping or pretending
to sleep, I’m going to sneak out of the house and I’m
going somewhere where the mirrors are cleaner. I’m leaving.
I’m going to find a better me. One who is able to see
that the reason she doesn’t like what she sees in the mirror
is that the fingerprints on the mirror cloud her vision and
keep her from seeing who she should really be in love with. Me.

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

* Note: The title of this post and the contents of the poem were purposefully meant to convey contradictory messages because hating self is rarely a full-time job. Instead, it usually comes in highs and lows. Sometimes we hate ourselves and sometimes we are proud of who we have become despite all that we have gone through.

woman at table

woman at table too

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

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All Stories Are Love Stories

All stories are love stories, even though it may not seem like it. Either one or all of the characters are searching for love, aching because of a lack of love, disturbed because of a lack of love, forever heartbroken because love hasn’t been kind, and on and on.

After writing this morning’s haiku, my thoughts continued to meander down the path of discovery. I’m working on this story about a young man who has been scarred because his mother didn’t love him. As I was thinking about the story and other things, I started to think about certain students who have come into my life. Students who I recognized potential in and spent day after day, week after week, and month after month trying to help to see their own potential. Some of these students had another need, one either I didn’t recognize or wasn’t equipped to satiate. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, until certain needs are met, some of these students will not be receptive to what is taking place in the classroom.

If a student needs stability at home, a place to live, food because he/she is hungry, someone to confide in about being abused, a good night’s sleep because they’re up all night listening to their parents argue and fight, to wash their clothes because they only have two outfits and no washer and dryer in the home, then until those needs are met, teacher and student may as well be bumping heads. It doesn’t matter that I am a good teacher and know my content. That’s why it’s important to understand that teachers do more than disseminate content. We have to love and educate the whole child, each and every one of them. No matter how good a teacher you are, if a child’s needs are not being met, they will not care about other things they think of as low on their hierarchy of needs.

So, no matter how good a teacher you are, if you are not giving a person what he or she needs at that moment, he or she may not be able to receive what you are offering. Likewise, no matter how good a person you are and no matter how loving your actions may be toward your someone, if you are not meeting his or her needs, he or she may never choose to accept what you are offering.

I used to be the type of person who would say, “But I loved you. I was good to you. You should appreciate that.” I understand, now, that every person has his or her own needs and those needs may not match mine and that’s okay. The same goes for the women who meet the protagonist of my newest story. The women who meet Victor online are all trying to forge a relationship with him. Some believe if they love him hard enough, he’ll ignore his own needs and realize they are what’s best for him. And that’s never true. So, the story I’m working on must be a love story, though the protagonist is a psychotic and narcissistic jerk. It all starts with love. And even Victor realizes that, even if he doesn’t know that he realizes it.

I opened my heart to you,
and watched as you closed
the door. You left. And closed
the door behind you. You didn’t
slam it hard, but closed it gently
as if though you didn’t want to wake the
sleeping baby. As if though you
weren’t ready to let me know that you
stopped loving me, stopped wanting my love.
Though you still sought to use parts of me.
I stood looking at the closed door, willing it
to open, but knowing you didn’t want me
anymore. Not like I wanted you. And a part of me
believed you loved me more than you knew and
just needed help to show it. So, I pried the door
of my heart open once more, placed a block of
my pride near the bottom to keep it propped open.
I hoped the memory of our love would drift
through the open door like the music that
drifts from our neighbor’s house every Friday night.
We never attended their parties. It wasn’t our type
of scene, but somehow that never occurred to me.
I just hoped the memories standing on the other side
of the door would be enough to draw you back to me
because it’s been enough to hold me here,
trapped in the past, avoiding my future.

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

I’m off to finish working on my love story, loves. Hope you’ll do the same. And, remember, if it’s important to you, you’ll make a way to do it. If it’s not important, you’ll make excuses. If you find yourself making excuses about something you think is important to you, maybe it’s time to re-think what you call your passion.

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When Love Left – A Haiku

Love left me behind.

I stayed long after Love left me.

One of us is dumb.

Peace & Love,

Rosalind

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Heaven & Hell

Heaven & Hell

If Heaven & Hell are created
right here on Earth, why does Heaven
always seem so beyond my touch?

Heaven is staring into your eyes for
hours at a time, getting lost in your forever
gaze. Heaven is falling softly into your embrace,
knowing in your arms I’ll always be safe.
Heaven is waking up being able to always
look upon your face & knowing yours will be
the face I see before I fall asleep every night.
Heaven is you. It’s being and sharing life
with you. Heaven is the promise that dreams
do come true. Heaven is me when I’m with you.
Heaven is the merging of our two souls; Heaven is
when we two become one.

Knowing that Heaven exists & experiencing
Heaven’s bliss is not simply a given. Heaven
seems always to exist outside the realm of
possibility for me. It makes me wonder if
it’s the sin within that keeps me outside Heaven’s
door, or is it something more keeping me
from entering Heaven’s gates? It seems I’ll
never know, but will always ask the question:

If Heaven & Hell are created right here on
Earth, why does Heaven always seem beyond
my touch? And what did I do to remain in the
endless circle of Hell of existing without you?

Peace & Love,

Rosalind

heaven and hell

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