Summa Cum Laude

A poem for Bless

On Saturday, May 1, 2021, Bless graduated from college, Summa cum laude, and I had the chance to watch it as it streamed live via YouTube. Images used with my kid sister’s permission.

I wanted to be there in person
but I embraced the fact that
a violent virus is still tagging
along on the backs of culprits
and drifting into the lungs of
thousands of human beings on
a daily basis, so I secured
my place in the comfort of
my home as I watched the
youngest of our tribe 
crossover into the “real world.”

What an honor—the tears
that flowed down my face
as her name was called— watching
her stand to wave at the
camera as if to say, “Hello, world!
I’m ready. So, you’d better be,”
transported me back to
every graduation I’ve had
the pleasure to attend.

But this one is different . . .
This one comes with the
glory of knowing a young, black
woman transitioned from teenager
to graduate, obtaining her degree
with the highest distinction”
in Music Education.

What better way to carry on
the legacy of our family
than to do it by gifting others
the beauty of song?

Bless has been far more
than a blessing to us—she’s been
a dream come true for me as
I’ve always envisioned having
a little sister and after gaining
five brothers, she came thundering
through—swiftly carving a place
for herself within our world.

I feel inadequate when
placing words together to
describe her essence—the 
all-knowingness of her very
presence cannot be scribed.
It is something that has 
to be experienced.

And as she grows, our bond 
strengthens and I am no 
longer the big sister who is 
nearly twenty years older than
her, I am merely, “sis”—a woman
with whom she connects
on a higher scale than 
years prior.

I can see seas parting for 
her—making a way 
for her continued steps
as she introduces herself
to the world beyond 
her peripheral view and
I know she is going
to do great things.

I will be here for
each and every 
one of them.


Originally published via Medium.

Hearing Nothing

Flash Fiction

“Grampy, the plumbers are here to take a look at the busted pipes!”

Elijah yells toward the back of his grandparents’ shotgun house — screams loud enough for the neighbors to hear.

“You wanna give me my pipe? Yes, boy, that’ll be all right. It’s in the den on the coffee table.”

Elijah shakes his head and cautions the plumbers with his right hand and then directs them to the bathroom on the first floor which is where they will begin their work.

“No, Grampy! The pipes! The busted pipes from the storm. The plumbers are here to fix them!”

“Mice!!! When did we get mice?! Lemme get up and find some traps, boy. We can’t have no mice cohabitating with us. No, siree.”

Elijah presses two fingers to the temples of his head and massages slowly. He then walks toward his grandfather’s bedroom and enters the room with a defeated look on his face. He stands near the window, breathes out, and begins again . . .

“Grampy, the plumbers are here to fix the pipes. There are no mice and you stopped smoking that godawful pipe three years ago.”

He looks at his grandfather, places a hand on his shoulder, and smiles gently.

“Well, if you wanted company boy, why didn’t you just say so? Sure, they can spend the night.”

A look of bewilderment shot across Elijah’s face as he tried to understand exactly what his grandfather was going on about now.

“Grampy, for who to spend the night? This is about the pipes, Grampy. The busted pipes!”

His voice was at a measured shrill with just enough volume to alert his grandmother in the kitchen. She came running to her grandson’s aid.

“Gerald! Pay attention to me, please. Elijah said the plumbers are here to start work on the busted pipes from that winter storm! They’re in the bathroom downstairs, that’s where they’ll begin!”

Although she was shouting, Sue’s voice was just as serene and peaceful as if she were speaking calmly to an infant. Elijah thought to himself, surely his grandfather would not hear her.

“Now, Elijah is going to keep watch over them while they work on the pipes and I’ll finish dinner.”

A brief moment of silence waltzed in on them and Elijah and Sue awaited Gerald’s response.

“Sue, of all the things in this world you could call me, I never thought a sinner would be one of them. And if those plumbers don’t hurry up and get here, we’re going to spend another night in this house with no water!”

Sue looked at Elijah, smiled, and gave his hand a pat.

“Today’s almost done, Elijah. Tomorrow is a new day. Maybe it’ll be a good day for him.”

Elijah gave his grandmother’s hand a gentle pat and smiled back at her.

“Maybe.”


Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium.

I’m Running Again

Another shot of my best friend’s plant therapy room. I’ve fallen in love with this room. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

I don’t mean to–I didn’t
mean to but I know
when I’m not wanted
and I get my running shoes
put them on, tie them
up tight, and I start
running.

You’ve seen it before.
We’ve lived through this
phase of mine because you
have Casper in your blood.
Two ghosts does not a
live person make.

I love you too much to
let you see me crumbling
more because of you, so
what’s the best thing to do?
I can’t live on my feet
and die on my back at
the same time.

Pick one.
Which one do
you want?

You come in like
blooms on a plant
and disappear sooner
than later, taking more
pieces of me to
devour–to ravage.
I will never make
your sun shine.

This is what you
tell yourself without
knowing truly what I
can do.
I keep my running
shoes at the door,
ready and waiting.

Because when you come
around, old ways
stir up inside me and I . . .
set my eyes on
fleeing the scene
before you can
break my heart again.