Back from my self-imposed sabbatical

I have not been on this site for a little over a year. My mother passed away and I put down my writing pen (again) and wrapped myself in sadness. I’m not over being sad, or missing her, and I don’t know that I ever will be, but writing is what gives me strength, fulfills me, and defines me. So I’m back.

The first time I signed up on this site and created this blog I said I would write everyday. I realize now that such a commitment takes time to work up to so for now I’m just saying that I’ll write when I’m inspired. Hopefully that will grow into an everyday thing.


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Blame (in progress)

I blame you really
though you’d never know
behind my plastered smile
the broken heart acknowledging
the me I didn’t get to know
glaring past the who I am
because of you
screaming soundlessly
over the din of past hurt and wants
chained down and rotting
like a corpse inside
the wish you weren’t borns
the hush
the shut up
the why are you here
followed up and reinforced
by cords and water hoses
slaps hits kicks
that came so easily
like habits hard to break
they follow into man choices
that work like thieves tiptoeing
across the floorboards until
i hate you
hate me
finding peace
in genuflecting bedside
shadows growing long and longer
until I am swallowed up
and spit out whole
on the other side.

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My Son’s American Hero

Today I am not posting something I wrote, but something my son wrote for school. He was asked to write a paper for Black History month about a Black American hero. He chose my father who died in 1972.
My American Hero:

My grandfather Clarence Henry Clipper is the hero about whom I am writing. He died on October 27, 1972 and he was an American hero. He was born in West Virginia in 1925 and raised in Pittsburgh by his mother Louise Goodlow. In 1939, when he was just 14, he lied about his age and joined the Navy as a mess attendant. He had no idea that he would become part of the group of Black mess attendants who, in 1944, would break the Navy’s color barrier and become official Navy men.

From 1923 to 1944, African Americans could join the Navy only as mess attendants. A mess attendant would work in the kitchen and cook the Navy men’s food. In 1944, the Navy fully integrated so that African Americans could be Navy men and officers. Books about Navy history say that mess attendants faced humiliation, were beaten, and treated like slaves. Their living conditions were terrible and they worked long, hard hours. In 1944, the discrimination did not change, but African Americans were allowed to participate in World War II on the battle front.

My grandfather fought from 1944 until the end of the war. In between then and the start of the war in Korea, he would meet my grandmother and later marry her. He fought in the Korean War where he was captured and held as a prisoner of war for a year. He survived and was awarded the equivalent of a Purple Heart because at the time they did not officially award Purple Hearts to African Americans. My grandfather did not set out to become a hero but it was just a part of who he was as person.

When he left the military, he would help Brownsville, Texas integrate its schools, help start a Rio Grande Valley Chapter of the NAACP, and serve as a deacon in Brownsville’s only Black church. He died from cancer when my mother was only three and received a full 21 gun salute in honor of his military service. I did not know him but he is my favorite American hero.

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Just a start of “The Bleeding Tree”

Sabrina woke up to the sound of a chainsaw burring in the front yard. She jumped out of bed and ran to the front door screaming, “Daddy, please don’t cut it down! Daddy please!”

She was too late, huge pieces of trunk and limbs lay across the property and her father stood looking self-satisfied, convinced he had done a good job. He turned to his daughter, “None of that screaming. What’s done is done.”

Sabrina stared first at the tree, then at her father. “How could you Daddy? It was Momma’s favorite.”

“Get your tail back in the house girl,” her father said sternly. “It’s just a tree. Ain’t ever been nothing else but a tree.”

Sabrina felt the tears welling up in her eyes and turned around so her father wouldn’t see them. She felt empty, not for the first time. She missed her mother and now the last piece of her was gone forever. She winced as she heard her father start up the chainsaw again, determined, she knew, to grind the stump into the ground along with all her mother’s memories.

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I should have known the day
would turn out like this topsy
turvy out-of-sync roller derby
when I woke of feeling jazzy
at odds with my normal bluesy
sit down at the counter with coffee
attitude so humming Wynton I poured
orange juice in my cup overflowing
into the saucer then walked past
my collage of Ibrahim Ferrer
and Billie Holiday cd covers
wondering where the contents
would find themselves maybe
in the car under the seat
with the sippy cups from last week
or at work inside my desk who knows
but the snow outside painting everything
white and the slight bit of blue air
sneaking past the rubber sealant
on the front door makes me nervous
so I hum a little louder putting rhythm
in my step while I wait for the house
to spring to life so i can tell them
mommy’s home all day.

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I am not the person I was then
so you look at me strangely
“but why” you ask like a plaintive
child but my answer will only make
you more confused maybe angry
“because” i want to say to you
“simply because” i don’t want to be
that person who says “yes” and “sorry”
and “I’ll help you” because it hasn’t gotten
me very far so far and I sit empty
sometimes empty of me having given
and given and given to almost nothing
in return except the resounding echoing
ever-repeated “can you do more?”

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I started this blog today and posted a few pieces I wrote recently.  BUT, as part of building this post I said that I would write something new everyday and post it.  A monumental task, but one that I’m hoping will make me a more disciplined writer.

Today’s piece:

One day I will miss these

Elmo-building block-playstation-school book days

where me-time is metered out in those

seconds I count before the patter-pat of little

feet echoes down the hallway looking

for the lost toy or the late night snack or a misplaced

pencil for tomorrows homework assignment

assigned four weeks ago but forgotten

along with the request for six dozen brownies &

four dozen cupcakes that you tell me about

just as I am putting on my pjs.

I’ll miss the mommy pleases and the mommy whys

the midnight kisses and the i didn’t mean its doled

out daily and met with smiles or frowns or sometimes

stares of wonder.  I’ll miss those, miss you

two one day so now I laugh and joke and fuss and cry

in preparation for the days when all I do is wait

for holidays and summers and phone calls.

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