There was only one window. The darkness of the night left the room dreary and lonely. The entire space was cold because of the nights eerie sentiment. Closing her eyes she remembered a brighter time. It was just a week ago. She was free to roam. Free to live. Outside of all walls without guidance or instruction she wandered. She stopped only when she was exhausted and that moment had arrived. Resting outside of a small hut she sat next to a bush of green roses. She had never seen such a flower and was enamored by the vibrance. Pricked by a thorn upon attempting to touch she sat patiently looking onto the flowers. In that moment one began to bloom. She watched as the bud unfolded in front of her petal after petal after petal. She couldn’t help but wonder when she would bloom. Opening her eyes the darkness returned and the warmth of the roses became a distant memory. She knew pretending wouldn’t protect her and chill would never keep her mind still. So she sat alone in the dark without a hint or a clue.
NCMAE #1 – Straws, Plates and Troughs
We celebrate her birthday December 8th. No one is for sure when she was really born because it was never written down. It was sometime in the early 1920’s.
She tends to repeat things. I had heard the story many times before but every time she remembers a new element of the story.
The first time I heard about the plate she was babysitting Jason and I in North Carolina. We were in the middle of our daily big brother-little sister altercation. It generally went unnoticed by my mom but she was out of town. Great-Grandma wouldn’t stand for bickering. She nipped it in the bud immediately, inquiring what we were fighting over.
The swirly straw came from a happy meal, or a kids meal at the movie theatre, I can’t really recall but at the time it was special. My brother and I both wanted to drink from it and sharing was out of the question.
She sat us down and said something I’ve never been able to let go of.
“When I was a little girl in Georgia my brother LC and I were fighting over a plate. It was a shiny silver plate and we both wanted to eat off it. My Great-Grandmother came and took the plate. She sat my brother and I down like I am doing you two now. She told us that when she was my age she didn’t know what a plate was. She told us as a child she was a slave-girl and she only ate after everyone else ate. She said older women slaves would put all the leftover food from the big house into a pot and stir it together. Once it was warm they would pour the scraps into the hog trough. My Great-Grandmother sat on her knees and ate from the trough with her hands.”
Neither of us drank from the straw.
Another Declaration of Independence
There were fireworks but the show eventually ended. The more adamant he grew the more I knew it would never really be. He forever had a plan but no execution, no money and no way of making things happen. He was an idea man. A true mad man that could talk a new hole in the head of anyone willing to listen, then leave you there leaking. As he incessantly rambled I knew better. Not this time. Not me. I was willing to crop him out of the picture before allowing him to tarnish my portrait and in that moment I knew I had grown. Naive no more the new me had emerged. I put my foot down. No more being pushed around. I had made up my mind.
Dave was out in the tall grass every afternoon after school. Gloria hated it because of the grass stains permanently settled into the knees of every pair of jeans he could fit. However, it was easier cleaning jeans than cleaning the house after rainy days when Dave was forced to play inside. She preferred him outside, she picked her battles carefully.
Alongside the field there were several downed trees, Dave and his friends from school played by these logs every afternoon. Dave called Jim over as he picked up one of the older mossy logs. Jim grabbed a stick and squished an innocent juicy green caterpillar. Dave wanted to fuss but wasn’t interested in the jokes that came along with protesting bug life. Jim laughed and pushed the guts on the end of the stick in Dave’s face. Dave screamed, dropped the log and ran away. As Jim chased Dave through the field clouds crowded the sky. A short time later the sky was engulfed in grey and began to crack with sounds of roaring thunder. Dave ran back towards the log to grab his backpack. He knew his mom wouldn’t tolerate him being out during a storm.
“You scared of a lil thunder?” Jim teased still waving the guts of the lifeless caterpillar.
“No! But we should go. It’ll rain soon and last time I stayed out during the storm I couldn’t play outside for a week!” Dave began to walk toward the road that led to the neighborhood they both lived in.
Jim sat on the log by the field and stuck his tongue out anticipating the salty taste of a rain drop, he reported “No rain yet!”
“C’mon Jimmy! It’s time and the game’ll be on soon” Dave protested and began to walk away continuously checking over his shoulder expecting Jim to get up and follow him.
Dave was on the road heading home. He could see Jim in the distance as the rain began, he was still on the log playing with the stick. The rain grew more intense by the moment. Dave yelled again, “Let’s go Jimmy!”
His calls through the rain were all in vain. A moment later as Jim sat stubbornly on the log lightening struck and his body glowed in a hue Dave never knew. Dave cried out to his friend as thunder shook the ground chasing closely after the life ceasing lightening. Dave ran home bursting in the back door sobbing incoherently. Gloria wiped her flour covered hands on her apron and unsuccessfully attempted to console her son.
“Jimmy…. lightening…. “ was all Gloria could gather between the tears. With her big boy on her hip she raced for the phone and made three of the quickest calls of her life. Her longwinded nature was put in place by the urgency of the situation. First she called 911, next Donna Jimmy’s mother, and finally her husband a local sheriff’s deputy currently out on duty.
During the second call Dave had had enough of her rehashing his erratic behavior and the report of Jimmy’s accident. Dave pushed his way away from his mother and hit the ground running towards his room. Still wet from the rain Dave grabbed his blanket and headed for his only indoor comfort zone. His closet. Once he felt safe and sound inside he cried and cried and cried. He cried incessantly like a starving baby. He cried like a scorned lover alone in the dark. He cried as if he was the remorseful strike of lightening that took the life of a child.
It rained. It rained and rained and rained until it began to pour. The sky fell out and it seemed to be no end to the tears falling from the heavens above. The rain drops were the size of Dave’s tear drops and neither would let up.
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Too Worn Out
Incessantly insisting ‘keep the peace’
and dry my useless tears,
forgetting that I bear
a pain beyond my years.
‘Wake up and smell the weeds’
tomorrow isn’t promised
nor is later,
to be honest.
Holding hope in my hand
until it escapes through these fingers
Simply a shell lingers.
Cardinals chirp atop trees.
without leaves sway
in a dry rainforest.
I’d rather be blind
than watch a leman break,
coming away a lifeless
grey soul to take.
Regardless of the glory,
despite the sweet taste of the sun,
Another victim of the system.
Simply a lesson learned.
For Paul Lawrence Dunbar
Once my world was Cary then it was North Carolina then America and now the world. This life knows no limits. Once I stepped out into the world it opened up and my perspective has never been the same. Truth remains relevant along with everything else real. Good or bad all the things that occur are neutral until I assign a value. I choose positive and what might be misconstrued as negative was simply an experience to help me learn and grow. Memories of people and the distant shores I’ve come across and explored fill my daydreams and my thoughts when I’m alone wondering what could possibly come next. I rule although I’m neither master nor slave. Everyday I remind myself to be bold and brave. Even in the dark and in the morning and on Monday when the world starts over and I have to begin all over again. I reach for more with my hands full and work while they sleep. I want more. That’s just how I feel.
CALL ME CRaZY
I’ve been called crazy more than I’ve been called my name. The latinos call me loco!
I don’t mind being mental.
If my name was Crazy what would be my middle name? It’s questions like this that cause people to think I’m crazy in the first place. But that’s just the way crazy people like me think. Is this what crazy looks like to you? You can’t keep up with crazy. Is this what crazy talks like?
I’m cool with crazy.
There are worse things to be than crazy. I would rather be crazy than ignorant. I would rather be crazy than loud. I rather be crazy than evil. I would rather be crazy than ugly – on the inside and/or out. Believe it or not I would rather be crazy than regular because then I would be the person calling other people crazy when I know nothing about the origins of their distinction.
I might be nuts you know?
For a while I thought crazy was my name. I never took offense to crazy or cray-cray. I never knew crazy was a issue until the world made me feel that way. I never realized the negative connotations with crazy till I heard an old lady talkin about me in the street. She whispered with her friends, “Momma should be shamed. Out here lookin crazy!” I kept swangin up the street and stopped in front of a store gazing into the window looking for the crazy. I cocked my head to the side where was the crazy, was it my hair, my teeth, my skin? I peered into my own eyes and searched for crazy from within.
I couldn’t find the crazy.
So I stopped searchin.
Here goes nothing.
I sojourn until I discover a worthy reason to stop.
In the heat and in the cold.
I was on my way in a hurry no where
when she stopped me and we sat,
on a bench by the beach. The sea was still.
The world just the same rotates,
leaves continue to fall as prices rise.
I told her the truth about heaven and
I told her at the end of the day I’m me.
What’s left when the truth is free?
You won’t know till it happens to you.
I sat and searched for a message in the bottom of the bottle,
until it was time to fallback.
It’s November again and I aim higher.
“What are you worried about?”
She asked over and over.
I still had no answer.
“Your guess is as good as mine”
Unsatisfied with the statement she stared into responding.
I stuttered “It’s the world.”
Excuses, excuses, EXCUSES!
“Spare me the hurt,” she insisted.
I tried to look out my dirty glasses.
Secretive, strange, and salty.
“Don’t worry, it’s a waste of time” she hissed as she walked on by.
Regrets are hard to forget.
Time will tell and pass, as time does.
Don’t expect anyone to save you.
All alone at the end of the day I’m me!
They sky was red.
She practiced her violin by the water’s edge.
I wish someone would have told me it’d be like this.
You learn, you’ll learn, you will learn.
Wondering and wandering.
I tried to open my eyes but I realized I didn’t know me very well.