delighted

Jernee, sitting on my chair like — well, as if she owns it.

delighted

micropoetry

double-trouble
team two,
my favorite girls.

four-legged creatures
two big hearts
intense love

everlasting joy
their presence
makes me feel alive

 
Nala is fourteen years old now. She’s visiting and will be going home soon. Jernee still clings to her as if the world sits atop her head.

*Author’s Note: As Nala ages, I find myself wondering what will become of Jernee when her best friend/cousin has no more strength to fall for her shenanigans. I love to watch the two of them interact with each other. There is this silent code that I am not privy to and will never know. I am amazed that they seem to have secrets from me.

Originally published via Medium.

fixer-upper


fixer-upper

flash fiction

Photo by Rodolfo Mari via Unsplash

“That old piece of junk! Man, it doesn’t even have windshield wipers! What’re you gonna do with that pile of crap, Core?!”

Corey hears his big brother’s words echoing in his ears throughout his school-day and he finally tells himself that he will quell Nate’s voice once and for all. He is going to buy that old Chevy from Mr. Bankman, fix her up, and name her “Judy.” “Pretty Judy . . .” He has been saying this in his head for the last three days. “Pretty Judy.”

Judy needs plenty of love and care: new tires, new windshield wipers, a new engine, spark plugs, front and rear-end alignment, an alternator & starter, and a bit of bodywork, and paint. Corey has been working with his dad at “Cruz & Cars,” their family mechanic shop after school and on the weekends, so he knows a thing or two about building a broken down vehicle back up to a recognizable and suitable state.

He is ready.

Midnight blue — that’s the shade he has chosen to paint Judy. He is even thinking about putting whitewall tires on her too. His mind is racing with all the things he’ll do for Judy to get her ready for their senior dance which is six months away. Phaedra, the Jamaican beauty in his Chemistry and Literary Arts classes, would love him, he thought. He plans to ask her out. Nate’s voice rings loudly in his ears again. He cannot avoid it.

“Yeah, so . . . You fix her up and then what? You think Phaedra gonna like you just cuz you’ll be pulling up in some big-body ’78 Chevy truck painted midnight blue? Man, you can’t even sit two seats away from her without sweating. And, Judy?! You’re gonna put all that hard work into that truck only to name it Judy?! Ay Dios Mio. Kiddo, you’ve got a lot to learn and I’m gon’ learn ya.”

Corey sits in Chemistry class, two seats away from Phaedra. He takes brief moments to steal a glance at her. She is a Goddess, he thinks — something that took so much time to create. Every piece and fragment of her being are well-crafted, she is art in motion. He says a silent prayer. He will ask her to the senior dance. She will say yes. She will say. She will . . .

“Hey, Phaedra. Um, gotta minute?”

“Sure, what’s up, Core?”

“So, the senior dance is coming up and . . .” Corey fidgets with his shirt collar and rubs his sweaty hands together. “I am hoping you don’t already have a date. I mean . . . Would you mind accompanying me to the dance?”

His world shakes a bit as he waits for her to respond. He wipes his brow, takes in a long, deep breath, and blinks twice to make sure he is not dreaming. She opens her mouth and an angel speaks, “Sure. Why not!”

After school, Corey races to his dad’s shop and begs him for $800.00. He was short of the $2,100.00 Mr. Bankman quoted him for the Chevy. He tells his dad about Phaedra — about how the sun sits on her eyelids and lights up the world from her view. It only takes his dad three seconds to retrieve the cash from the safe. He is proud of his youngest son — he has a plan and is carrying it out.

“Mijo, escuchame. If she turns your belly and your heart beats ten times faster when you see her. She’s gonna be your first love. Ten cuidado.”

Be careful. He will be.

He buys Judy from Mr. Bankman on a Friday, five months to the date from the senior dance and builds his world around bringing something that is dead back to life. He thinks to himself, “Dad was wrong. Phaedra is not my first love. Judy is.”

And, she was.


Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium.

Non-fiction Saturdays

theblackvote
Photo by Bruce Davidson via The Civil Rights Movement Archive

Mister Charlie Has No Blues

Flash Creative Non-Fiction

An Audio Piece for Sam McKenzie Jr.

There were some, only a few — they wanted you to believe your best interests were at heart. They cared. They gave you underpaying jobs and called it “honest work” while dipping into your pay. They raped your wives — “sowing wild oats” and pillaging where they could. If you are property, you mean nothing. You are nothing. A calf had more value — a farm over your life . . . You, to them, were subhuman or not human, depending on who was speaking. Your backs — the commonplace for burdens and griefs, yet shedding tears offered you nothing. If you were given what you were due, that did not go unnoticed. It was praised and worshipped.

It hung over you like the holy good deed.

But, let them tell it — they were good to you. You had it all. A shed out back big enough to draw a circle in the middle of the common room and walk around it twice. A rickety shot-gun home, drafty year-round. This was your life until you wanted to live — until you figured out this was not living. And when brains met action, you were dangerous. You figured out a ground was meant to be stood upon and stand your ground, you did. And this was trouble.

Trouble . . .

For “Mister Charlie” who has no blues but too many black folks causing him tension. If you wanted more, knew you could get it, and were meant to have it . . . If you figured out that equality meant “for all,” they had a problem. Your voice was your weapon. Your feet were your vehicle. Your strength was your saving grace. The power of a race built to be resilient does not diminish. When all you have is your heart to guide you, your hands to push you forward, your faith to bless you, and your family to believe in you, nothing else matters.

You stomped. You ranted. You raved. You conducted peaceful marches and picketed for justice. Back and side doors, balconies, separate water fountains, the backseats of buses and trains . . . Segregation — separating you from the “better” race for your own good — for their own good. And what good did that do? Remember, the voice is a weapon. You sounded off — refusing seconds, scraps, and the bits and pieces that did not add up to your whole. You took the front seat. You spoke up. You realized that you had rights and rights you fought to get.

Bless the black man who knew he was more than just a black man . . .

Bless the black woman who got tired of being silent. The voice is a weapon. Shots fired. Bullets had no name. Words dig in deeper. Movements sparked up in your favor. The right to vote. Integration. Front doors opened. Floor seats became yours too. Oh, look at that bus now with you sitting up front — ain’t it a sight for sore eyes?

The work you did, have done, no one takes for granted. You washed your hands with the blood of your sisters and brothers who were slaughtered before your eyes. Nightmares haunted you at noon instead of deep into the night. When you are believed to be ghosts, people treat you like one. But you were never invisible.

You were never invisible.

And that’s what scared them.


*Author’s Note: I am currently reading Blues for Mister Charlie, a play, by James Baldwin. To say that it is moving would be a gross understatement. This piece is my “Thank You” to Sam for his tireless efforts and the ultimate weapon that is his voice. He is such a powerful writer & advocate for equality and justice for African-Americans and People of Color.


Originally published on Medium. The link shared is a friend link as this is a piece behind Medium’s paywall.

Featured Writer for January

Anthony Cloe Huie

Anthony has been on Medium for as long as I can remember and I used to edit and publish his work in This Glorious Mess a few years back. Naturally, when I opened up A Cornered Gurl to all writers on Medium, I reached out to him as I wanted to be able to continue to work with him and have his work published in my publication. I knew Medium’s readers would benefit from his lyrical approach to poetry and his rhythmic and melodic refrains. He has a knack for writing about love, the heart, and maintaining relationships. I love what he brings to A Cornered Gurl. The poem that earned him this feature is “You’d Be My Do-Over.”


You’d Be My Do-Over

Daniel Adesina@exileartisan

 Although we said goodbye so very long ago
still the slightest whispering of your name
brings back every loving feeling, every
painful memory
Each and every thought of you
reminds me
what I lacked then in courage to love you
I still lack in courage now to forget you
You are my sweetest thought
my bitterest memory

And yet if life offered me one do-over
I’d be all over you
And if only in thought
a re-do could be true
I’d crawl on my hands and knees
to get to you

Life has not treated me unkind in any way
and truth be known, when I awake
each and every day
I am blessed, having no regrets
glad to know the world around me
has decided to stay

Still those thoughts infectiously
chip away at me
chasing away my rationality
Sometimes I am not the me I should be
the slightest of distraction has me
thinking this way
What is it about you
I just can’t say
But your memories just keep
getting in my way

And yet if life offered me one do-over
I’d be all over you
And if only in thought
a re-do could be true
I’d crawl on my hands and knees
to get to you

Today I chased away
my final memory of you
I know that is exactly
the thing I said yesterday I’d do
but today my glass is dry
the bottles are all closed
I am a different guy
I am on that life’s natural high
Not looking behind me
because I could not stand
to see you waving goodbye

So forgive me, please
if sometimes my feelings get in your way
And if at times you wished you too had
turned the other way
Nothing will ever change yesterday
to become today
And if distance will have to be
the saver way
that’s okay
cause
in my heart, you’ll always stay

And yet if life offered me one do-over
I’d be all over you
And if only in thought
a re-do could be true
I’d crawl on my hands and knees
to get to you


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

Non-Fiction Saturdays

beneath

a haibun, 3 parts

Photo by Sébastien Conejo via Mixkit.co

The wonders of the world lay deep beneath her hair. The very essence of what there is to gain from a stressful day full of anguish and the sounds of beasts rapping at closed doors is nothing. I tell her to press forward and find her strength in the pulse of a tiger’s breath, but she is not interested in climbing up the optimistic ladder tonight. I smell safety around the corner. She runs for cover. I stand with my hands held high — raised above my head. I surrender to the depth of this defeat. She claims my trust.

beneath her red locks
is a star-spangled blue moon
a wondrous new world

Broken babies and haunted Mamas wield their way into our midst. We shield ourselves from their pressure. The room is ice. There is no fire for warmth. I rub my hands together and watch the steam sift in through the cracks. She takes two steps forward, purses her lips against the air, and lets out a sigh of relief. The floor is empty. Patients are packing up — discharged by their residents or attendings. We dance alone. A tango. A foxtrot. A waltz. I simmer in the darkness with her.

lonely in this place
of impatience and patients
dancing the foxtrot

Big Pharma called the shots on the drug saving his life — it’s no longer covered. He’s in room 213 of the ICU. Death is standing by his door. She pulls a mask on to her face, laces her hands with gloves, and walks in to oversee the cleanliness of his space. He is barely breathing. The sun skips on the open blinds — his hair never touches the pillow. There, in the silence of the room, she prays to a God who walks the halls but forgets to open the doors.

on-call patient care
fills up her nightly duties
death is still coming


Author’s Note: I wrote this piece as a reflection on the most recent book I read which was In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope by Rana Adwish, MD. If you’ve not given it a read and you’re interested in knowing what a physician has to say about being the patient who dies, is brought back to life, and lives to see just how medicine needs transforming — this is a book I’d recommend for you. Peace.

*Originally published in The Junction via Medium.