Love on a Platter

A musical poem

Photo by Matheus Henrin via Pexels

The phone rang and her voice
shimmied into my ear.
Every bone in my body
begged her to come,
Lay It Down On Me.

I wasn’t shy in my request.
A recent breakup made me the
rebound — implored her to
Guess Who Loves You More
and she didn’t hesitate.

My mind ached; the time we spent
was cut back, we became
Distant Lover (s) before we
could ever be friends.
Lovemaking was a pastime to
explore ‘Til The Cops Come
Knockin’
.

She’d never been thrown into
a world of wonder without
a ploy behind the scenes and
I had to Take My Time,
Do It Right
.

Deflowered at midnight in
a bed of pillowed trust,
her heart was the key to my
boarded up walls.
I looked at her and whispered,
“You’re So Beautiful.”

She hears me.
She hears me.
I bloom in the midst
of love on a platter.
Scandalous before a naked moon
She understands — decides to
Let Me In.

We sunflowered the days
and moonbeamed the nights . . .
Toujours perdrix— but just
enough for us.


Originally published in Intimately Intricate on Medium.

Loneliness Doesn’t Knock

Photo by Leo Kwan via Unsplash

It shows up unannounced and doesn’t know when to leave


It is not like me to forget to respond to a text message from one of my brothers. We’re close. We usually speak multiple times per week. On this day, we had been communicating during one of my breaks, and I mentioned heading back to work. His response, “Okay, sis. Text me later.” I had all intentions to do so, but then 8:30 p.m. hit the dot, and I found myself buried in a recently gifted book of poetry to ease my troubled mind, and I remembered, “Oh! I have to text TJ back.”

Loneliness had crept in without an invitation, and with her, she brought fear, pain, insecurity, and a general feeling of sadness. I sent my brother a message to apologize for my tardiness. I told him I was having an emotional time and decided to read to curb the anguish.

Naturally, he wanted to know what was wrong. I told him I was experiencing a brief bout of loneliness. It comes. It goes. Sometimes I do have to encourage her to pack her things and set up residence elsewhere, but it was early yet. I did not have to ready the sage or drown myself in encouraging prayers. He said something I would have never expected from him. “You sound like me, sis.”

I shook my head in total disbelief. My brother has never had any trouble connecting with a woman. He isn’t shy. He doesn’t show off. He typically says what’s on his mind. And from my view of being on the outside looking in, he doesn’t have to try hard. I responded, “Yeah . . . but you have no trouble connecting. I’m shyer in that area.”

Loneliness had crept in without an invitation, and with her, she brought fear, pain, insecurity, and a general feeling of sadness.

Apparently, my younger brother was struggling at the same time I was, and I had to raise my ears to the presence of sound and focus more on listening to him. Perhaps now that he has gotten older, connectivity is waning. I am nine years older than TJ, however, between us, it’s always felt like we’ve only been a few years apart. Our bond is that strong.

And he’s one out of the five boys who can really get me upset when he’s out of line. The other is our youngest brother. For some reason, these two and I are linked solidly, and the links of our chain cannot be removed easily.

Sometimes I do have to encourage her to pack her things and set up residence elsewhere, but it was early yet.


He told me he is shy when meeting new people or even trying to approach them as well, and this floored me. My brother has had some challenges, and being a young father is one of them. In my mind, the battles with loneliness or trying to boost one’s confidence cannot overthrow him.

But it can. And it has. And I wonder how many times has he wanted to talk about this but decided against it? How many times has he wanted to just talk about being lonely regardless of the love surrounding him, and felt as though it would fall on deaf ears? At the end of our conversation, we agreed I would have to attempt to be more open to new people, and he would as well.

And this did not bat off loneliness. No, she still stood strong in her stance, defiant and stubborn. But now I have a reason to believe I can kick her out earlier than I normally would. I can advise her to seek another place of refuge; this mind does not have room and will not spare its vacancy for the likes of her.

I will not allow loneliness to sit idly along with the marks of my time, waiting for the best opportunity to pummel me into submission. I will devise plans and invent ways of booting her from entry before she settles in. I can . . . I can do this.

I tell my brother I will speak to my therapist about social anxiety and the loops I have been experiencing lately. He agrees this is the best thing to do; that every step I take will get me closer to where I need to be. And I tell him I am here for him — his sounding board for when loneliness wants nothing but a stabbing chance at his heart. He knows. He says he knows.

I can advise her to seek another place of refuge; this mind does not have room and will but spare its vacancy for the likes of her.

So, the next time loneliness attempts to high-step into the peacefulness I have arranged for myself, I’ll tell her this room is full. I’ll hang up the no vacancy sign and show her the door.

She won’t get in if I don’t hand her the keys.


Originally published in Age of Empathy via Medium



Musical Selection: Erykah Badu, Bag Lady

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Hearts of Burden

Hearts of Burden, created with Canva.

Musical Selection: Bishop Briggs|River

Hearts of Burden

Fiction

She examines the tips of her fingers — her nails . . . she’d let them grow too long once again. Tonight, she’ll clip them. That’s what she’ll have on her schedule for a Friday night. Among watching whatever series her perusing eyes land on, courtesy of Netflix, and washing two loads of clothes — she’ll clip her nails. She lifts each finger closer to her eyes, scrutinizing them equally. The beds of her nails are splitting. There are hangnails on at least three fingers on each hand. What do they say about hangnails?

Most people experience hangnails when their skin is dry, such as in the winter or after being exposed to water for a prolonged period. A hangnail can become infected if exposed to bacteria or fungus. — Healthline

And this is what she gets for pruning in the tub several times this week. Mika’s body had been aching — her left leg shot twenty seconds of intense pain through her entire lower limb hourly. Her old high school athletic days were coming back to haunt her: iliotibial band syndrome, arthritis, headaches, and neck cramps. On top of all this, she and Zee had broken up just two weeks ago. She promised herself she would not sit around and sulk on her days off. But what is she doing? Sitting around . . . sulking . . . on her days off.

Just as she was thinking about Zee, her phone rang. The Rolling Stones’ Miss You blared through the device’s speaker louder than normal. She’d changed the ringtone three days ago. It seemed fitting at the time. She blows a huff of air out of her weakened body and answers the phone.

“Hey, Zee. Did I leave something at your place?”

“Hello, to you too, Mika. No, you did not. I called to see if you wanted to go to The Ladies of Neo-Soul concert on Sunday. Regardless of what we are now, we still love a good time.”

“This Sunday?! As in two days? Who’s headlining?!”

“Yes, Mika. This Sunday . . . Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Cleo Sol, Alex Isley, India Arie, and Amel Larrieux.”

“Are you shitting me?! Of course, I want to go! How much are the tickets?”

“The not-so nosebleed seats are $115.00 each. If you’re up for it, truly up for it, I’m on the promotional page now. I can buy the tickets.”

“Yes! Lock it in, Zee, please! I’ll get the money to you next week.”

“I didn’t ask to be paid back. I offered. You accepted. Let’s leave it at that.”

The tone . . . It’s always Zee’s tone that crawls up the spaces of Mika’s temples and crushes them until they throb. Why is there always a snide attitude? It’s not just with her — it’s with everyone. But it was also this same tone that attracted her to Zee — Zinobya Adamson. She fell for her within moments after meeting at a Funk Festival four years ago. At the concession stand, she’d purchased a corn dog, waffle fries, and an iced tea. She turned around to get some napkins after crowding her food on her chest and ran right into her. Iced tea, a mix of ketchup & mustard, and waffle fries’ crumbs landed on Zee’s The Roots’ T-shirt.

Mika apologized profusely, but Zee dismissed it simply with, “It’s no big deal. I have two more shirts just like it. I purchase multiples of my favorite things for this very reason. I mean . . . you just never know, right? I can change after I get my order.” Mika recalled that day just as it was yesterday. She jumps out of her mind and back to their current conversation.

“Zee, do you always have to be so dismissive? So . . . whatever-ish to people? I know you offered, but it is also good manners for me to offer to pay my half, especially since this isn’t a date.”

“So whatever-ish?! Mika, please don’t start. This hypersensitive shit is one of the main reasons we aren’t together anymore. For the love of God, you’re from Yonkers! You can take a few blows to the chest and give them just as well as I can. Let’s not act like you can’t.”

Mika sighs into the phone. Another argument. Out of nowhere. And it hasn’t even been ten minutes. She licks her bottom lip, sucks in a full breath — straight from the diaphragm, and quickly gets the details for the venue, time, and where to meet for the concert. She doesn’t want to waste her night seething in anger from this conversation.

“I’ll come to pick you up. The show starts at 7:00 p.m., so I’ll be at your place by 5:30.”

“Nah, Zee. I’d rather drive myself. So, we can meet up at the front entrance of the venue and I’ll spot you unless you spot me first.”

“What the hell, Mika? I can’t come to pick you up now? Wouldn’t it be wiser to take one car, get there, get parked, and already be with each other instead of looking for one another?!”

“Just the same, I’d rather drive myself.”

“Okay, fine. Meet me by the two columns in front of the center by 6:00 p.m.”

“Cool. I’ll see you there. Thanks for offering.”

“Whatever.”


She tries to remind herself what caused her to fall for Zee — it comes in and out. The reasons hover over her and she remembers: she’s confident, smart, independent, originally from Miami, FL, can cook like her late grandmother, and never hesitated to show her public affection. When she was with Zee, people knew it. They had been a beloved couple — there was no hiding — no sneaking around. They were free, and she loved that feeling.

Sunday arrives quicker than she imagined. She has belly butterflies, a nagging headache, and her sinuses decide today is a good day to be annoying. She will let nothing keep her from this show. A chance to see Zee again so soon after the breakup — a chance to be near her . . . she wants this. She even thinks she needs this. The headache and sinus issues will be combated. She is going to this show.


Mika steps out of her midnight blue SUV. Her multi-colored Dunks match her tie-dye Peanuts T-shirt. Her jeans are fitted with patched holes in the knees. She has medium-sized bamboo earrings in her ears and is carrying a rust-colored clutch. She spots Zee just as she locks her car. Zee struts toward her — body wrapped in a sky blue sassy romper with matching color stilettos. She is carrying a black clutch with accompanying black accessories. She looks amazing! Mika nearly trips over her own feet, walking to meet her.

“You . . . You look good, Zee. You look damn good.”

“Thank you. You look good yourself, Mika. But then again, you are always sharp in anything you wear. I like the Dunks.”

“Thank you. I like that romper. You better be glad we aren’t the same size cuz I’d be raiding your closet for that one.”

“Ha! Your words only. Are we gonna be civil tonight?”

“I think we can manage that.”

“Okay, then. Shall well?”

“We shall.”


The ladies make their way to the entrance. Zee presents the tickets for scanning. Their clutches are briefly but thoroughly searched. The night is young, and the music settles into their hearts. Zee locks her arm around Mika’s and plants a kiss on her cheek. Burdened by their past, could they be stepping into a future?

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Originally published in soliloque via Medium.

If I Blink, He Disappears


I want to tell him that the days of us
growing together sneak up on me
at times — unexpected. I still love him.
I find myself searching through 
old arguments to see where we 
missed the point of clarity.
How did we not understand what
was right in front of us?

I have gray hair in places unthinkable — 
everything is aging and I’ve lost 
my way from him. I thought,
I couldn’t catch up to him — 
he wasn’t my speed. I ran
and ran and ran and kicked up 
dust in three different States, yet
we never saw eye to eye.

If I blink, he disappears. 
I want to hold on to the memories
of us for as long as my chest
heaves up and down and as far
as my legs will carry me, but time
is no longer of the essence.

Everything is aging.
I find myself searching through 
old arguments to see where we 
missed the point of clarity.
Our wrinkles tell the story of us
and the past lives we’ve lived.
He is still my fantasy unfulfilled,
my wants go unnoticed.
Should I tell him my heart 
still has space for him?

A friend of mine said she 
hopes one day I meet someone
because I’m such a great human. 
But am I, though? Is there something missing?
Something that could make me more?
I struggle with these questions — 
these questions of me and who
I was and who I should be.

If I blink, he disappears.
I want to tell him that the days of us
growing together sneak up on me
at times — unexpected. I still love him.
I do. I wonder if he knows this.
Should I tell him?


Originally published in soliloque via Medium.


Musical Selection: Luther Vandross|Better Love

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Writers: A Challenge

What makes you Unique? In “Five Words.”

Me and the crew. I’m missing one brother (Jontae) in this photo. It was our kid sister Bless’s high school graduation. This was nearly 5 years ago. It was the first time in an extremely long time most of us had been captured in a photo together. Left to right: Me, Joshua, Maurice, Bless, Michael, and TJ.

I was reminiscing a couple of days ago, thinking about how my sister is the last one to hit “all grown up” status in our sibling crew and it drew a few tears from my eyes. I am the eldest of seven children and I am also significantly older than all of them. No matter how many years pile on or what happens or who thinks they’re more adult-like or mature than me, I am and will forever be the first child. That makes me just a tad bit unique — just a smidgen. Just to give you guys an idea of the gap from the oldest to the youngest; I am 41 years old, my sister is 22. The boys (who are really men now but will always be, “The Boys” to us) are in the middle from 30–33.

So reminiscing sparked the challenge. Writers, what makes you unique? How are you different from everyone else? What special thing can you do that you believe no one else can do? Tell me this, but use five words only.

Here’s mine:

First born of
seven — always.


Writers, bring it! Please tell me what makes you unique? What is there so special about you that you believe is so different from anyone else? I’d like to know, in just five words.

This is the last challenge until the beginning of next year. I love you guys and how creative you all are. Peace and blessings.


And now, the music: Gabi featuring Missy Elliott from Vivo, My Own Drum

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Originally shared via Medium.