Untitled

Untitled
By Rosalind Guy

There were always too many of us
sharing that one space
Big Mama never turned anyone
away
never enough love to go around
but always adequate space
as long as we were all willing to
share beds and clothes and adult relatives
love was
roof over your head
food in your belly
a yard to run around in
the space in Big Mama’s bed
between your two cousins
reserved
just for you
but sometimes
one of the adults living in the house
would go to the store and
buy me just one pack
of my favorite candy
I would go down into
the basement that smelled like mold
and sometimes urine
so that I
wouldn’t have to share my candy
one thing I could be selfish with
this is how I love
you
I always want to keep you close
enough to smell your
perfume, candy-coated sweetness. To drink in
the elixir of your smile. I keep
closing the door to the world
so I can steal away with you
and keep you
all to myself.

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

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Blood on Your Fingers

The word no
needs no translation
or legislation
just listen for
the resistance
and
know
tears and resistance
are never
signs of
submission

we never accepted
the position
you forced
us into
because
we know
you will one day
claim that we
really wanted it
as if though
we can’t
differentiate
between
love   rape   hate

Did you notice
how I
avoided you?
Why did no one
notice
the blood
on your
fingers? Or how
I worked hard
not to
be
alone
with you?

Forced fucking
is not
a solid
basis
for a relationship.

I never
thought you
loved me or
wanted me or
cared for me or
wanted to do
anything but
fuck me and
leave
and I
never thought
no
could ever
be translated into
me giving
my approval
for you to
use your power
to forcefully
fuck
me.

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

*Note from the poet: I am tired of men abusing women’s bodies and trying to convince them that they wanted it as if though we’re too stupid to know that if we really wanted to be forced to engage in something that in no way resembles love. We have been loved and we know what love feels like. So our feelings about being raped are not up for discussion.

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The Beauty of Chaos

He stood for hours
gazing into chaos
A Banusic painting
hanging on the wall of
a museum or languishing in
a friend’s hallway or
some other space
Later
when he disappeared
I knew he’d started to
unfold himself
into that painting
the afternoon
we first saw it
and that he’d gone back
many times before
and that my presence
had pulled him away
temporarily
but his soul yearned
for chaos, soul-rending pain
the ultimate beauty

I should have known
I’ve always been a fan of
Kahlo

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

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Poem Reminiscing about when Love was True

If I’m completely honest
with myself
I would finally admit that I
miss dearly
that time when I could love openly
that time when love
glowed on my face like the sun
on a summer afternoon
when every day was summer
and winter was far away

A time when words flowed
from my pen like water and
poems bloomed like flowers in my garden
Love once presented me with a bouquet
of poems and I
sometimes still hold them
in my hands, careful to avoid
the thorns

Who would ever believe it was
once okay to long
for love and to feel it reciprocated

I remember longing for love
on a Sunday afternoon
Caress me with your eyes.

Finger my soul, open it

as if though it were the

opening of my sex accepting you.

Fully. Washing me over in waves,

a desire to know you like no other.
I tremble. I shudder with anticipation

awaiting one single touch from you.

 

It was like existing in a dream
from which you never wanted to awaken
like holding your breath and wishing
to never exhale. It was love.
People saw it in our faces
were drawn to the light
like we were but

 

people also wanted to put out the light
so many prefer the darkness to brightness
of a love that shines from deep within
plotting behind closed doors to know
what you know never realizing
it was never theirs to know
looting and rioting stealthily removing
all traces of light
until every day becomes swathed in darkness

 

You can’t always remember to
guard your heart to preserve your light
but you can safeguard the memories
and mine are still fresh
I kept them stored in the freezer
to preserve their freshness
I’ll take them out today and remember
how it felt to long to make love
on a Sunday afternoon how it felt
to bask in a love that was wholly reciprocated
how it felt to cradle a love so full of light
it couldn’t help but touch those around me

 

I’ve decided today to just lie in my bed
and caress my memories like I once
caressed my love and tomorrow
tomorrow I will wrap it once more
in aluminum foil and begin to forget
what it was like to long for a love
that longed for me just as much

I will step back into the darkness
denying the cold denying that I ever knew
what it was like to love and to
want to make love on a Sunday afternoon

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

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Survey Says

Forty-five percent
of men surveyed
said
they feel
trapped
in marriage/ so
what does that say
about the state of
love
has it been
gentrified or
marginalized or
just abandoned
Love
like our brown girls
seems to be missing
but no one is looking
for it/ the last time
I saw love
I could tell something
was wrong/Love
avoided looking in my eyes
but held me
extra tight
I should have known
something was wrong
but now that I know
now that we know
what are we
gonna do?

Forty-five percent
of women not surveyed
just might
have the answer.

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

 

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The Final Flight

I can’t remember whose idea it was
which one of us chose flight for our first
sojourn away    maybe the decision
derived from mutual desires to face our fears
head on or at least give it the old Facebook try

No parachutes were stored aboard for a hasty
escape   all exits signs were ignored
as we folded ourselves into the
safety of our seats at the front of
the plane     with my headphones
stuffed in my ears I could not hear
your deep sighs at once the audible cries
a last-ditch attempt to save who we’d been
unable and unwilling to accept defeat

We soldier on ignoring the piles of artillery
surrounding us. Bombs fall from the sky
lies construct walls too burdensome
to lug on the plane as our one piece of carryon
luggage  so much already in our memories

When the plane finally lands like starving
abandoned passengers we sift through debris
of our lives together unable to identify the pieces
so we leave the rubble behind for someone else
to look through searching for something
to salvage when everything’s already ruined

One day I know I’ll have blisters to
show for all the walking away I’ve done
but I’m tired of pretending I know how to fly
and I’m tired of pretending I wasn’t always alone

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

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Vocabulary of a Rapist

You cannot use
kind words
to fend off  a rapist
even the romanticized
rapist, when preceded with the adjective
date – you must use
vocabulary he
understands
curse     yell   scream
otherwise
he’ll use your
cotton candy nos
to choke you &
silence your protests
so no one ever knows
all you ever wanted
was to walk away.

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

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When Breath Becomes Air, Book Review (sort of)

“I can’t go on. I’ll go on.”– Samuel Beckett

The only way to avoid the inevitable truth that I will one day die is to live with my head buried in the sand. As Paul Kalanithi said in his memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, “all organisms, whether goldfish or grandchild, die.” Because of this undeniable truth, over the years I have become obsessed with the idea of living my passion in the hope that it will give meaning to my life. It seems impossible that our time on Earth should simply be spent living the predetermined path “they” laid out for us: birth, school, work, pay bills, buy a house, and if you’re lucky get married, etc. There must be more. Something so profound that your existence and absence will have mattered, truly mattered.

I first started to feel this way while I was on maternity leave with my youngest son, Cameron. Before that, I’d decided that I had been born into my family because they needed me. Yes, I had colored myself as quite the martyr. I needed to be there to care for my younger brother as he died from cancer. I needed to be there for my mom as she struggled to find value in who she was. I needed to be there as an anchor as both my ex-husband and dad struggled with drug use. And when my marriage fell apart, I needed to be there for my kids to love them as I never had been and to help pave the way to a life that would different from what I’d lived.

But when I was pregnant with Cameron, I began to want something that wasn’t so draining. Something that offered me the slightest glimmer of hope. And I became a school teacher. I’ve been teaching for eight years; next school year, I begin my ninth year of teaching.

At one point in his memoir, Kalanithi describes the delivery of twin preemies. “With their bones visible through translucent skin, they looked more like the preparatory sketches of children than children themselves.” After reading this, I think of the time, as a reporter, I wrote about the NICU unit at the Regional Medical Center here in Memphis, how I immediately started to wonder how I could be a part of this. I wanted to volunteer to hold the newborn babies, to provide that vital human touch. But life happened and I moved on to the next story and didn’t think about that until some years later. It was clear, though, that I felt a special calling for working with children. After reading about the babies in Kalanithi’s book, I also think about the students I’ve been teaching. At the school where I used to teach, many of those children were just like the newborn babies born too soon. A lot of people in the community view them as helpless and hopeless cases, but it was there at that school where my life developed meaning. Kalanithi, who loved literature as much as neuroscience, spoke about how important words were and how words develop meaning only when exchanged between people. Here, I think about one of my former students, LeKendrick. I think about how frustrated he was when we began our Shakespeare unit. Shakespeare’s words helped us forge a bond. And through that bond, we’ve shared many more words over the years. He lets me know when he does well on his report card, even though I’m no longer teaching at that school. I let him know how proud, but unsurprised I am. “I always knew you had the potential to do what you want to do.” He’s going away for an aeronautic program this summer and I can’t wait to hear about all his new experiences. And I think about Raven. How through our love of words –reading and writing—we forged a relationship, one that has continued to thrive years after she left my classroom. And there are so many others.

Like Kalanithi, I am no savior nor do I want to be. I just allow myself to exist fully with my students. I heard their words. I heard their frustrations. I have listened as they tried to navigate through trying to discover who they really are. “Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still is never complete,” Kalanithi said.

What does any of this have to do with dying? Well, in facing and accepting the fact that I will die, I am more concerned about knowing that I have lived a life that matters. And that means to focus on my living. Trying to make decisions that make my spirit glad. Doing a lot of small things in love. And as I close out another school year, I hope that I encouraged at least one student to believe in his ability to succeed at whatever makes his spirit glad. I hope that I made at least one student see that if no one ever told him/her, that, yes, they are more than capable. I think of one of my students, one of my SPED students, who I had an opportunity to have a hear-to-heart with before the school year was over. “You have become one of my better writers this year,” I told him. “But you got a slow start because you refused to try at first. Just imagine how much more you can grow if you work hard from the very beginning. Show your teacher next year just what you are capable of because you have made considerable growth this year. Don’t let that go.”

Just as surely as every day, we get closer to dying, I hope that every day I’m living and not just existing. And that in the grand scheme of things, I am creating a life that has meaning. And that when my breath finally becomes air, I will have left behind people who know that I loved them. And everything I ever did was done in love.

Paul Kalanithi’s book is an excellent read. It was full of profound and illuminating statements. It was about focusing on the living and not the dying even in the face of a terminal illness. I’d recommend it for anyone to read.

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

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Lost Innocents

For Kingston, Tyshawn, and Relisha, as well as the countless others whose lives have been taken from them with guns that have become gods and evil masquerading as love.

The darkness
has always been there
an eclipse
waiting

The light extinguished
two damp fingers
to snuff out the flame
eternal darkness
continues to pervade

a six-year-old is dead
in the back seat, killed
a shower of bullets rained
from a child’s toy gun
the other’s eyes forever dimmed

Google six-year-old killed
an avalanche of names, overload
the hits you see today are only
the ones that are trending

A hierarchy of hate
killing off the children
who were never supposed to
live

Phantom images of
lost innocents
crouch in hidden spaces
nowhere for the children
to hide

Let their memories breathe

My soul
has threatened to give up many times
too hopeless to exist in a space where
six-year-olds drown in blood
too deep for them to swim

We have lost our children
our children have lost their way
the blood of our children     too deep
to wade in, don’t go back
to the shore   without the children

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

Above all else, we must protect our children. This we do through love.

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Love Letter From Me

Sometimes love is like a fist, it
can break through the veil of eternity

A faint feathery whisper that brushes
the cheek like the back of a hand

The tip of Love’s fingertip tracing
against an unsuspecting cheek

The dizziness becomes delirium, a
rising fever impossible to extinguish

Yesterdays and tomorrows blur into
infinite possibilities of never being without you

Chasing memories out of darkness
calling on the gods to right the wrongs

Unable to say it enough, I love you.
I love you. I. Love. You.

Peace & Love,
Rosalind

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