another autumn

musical selection: bilal|love poems

a reflective poem

A photo of an excited, beautiful woman of color with blue hair.
Photo by StockSnap via Pixabay

autumn is still in
the infant stages, but
I can feel the pull of
old things being made
new, and I wonder if
you’ve found work in
the industry you’d be
applying to for nearly
a decade.

I want to tell you I’m
still searching, but
that is a lie. I have
discovered peace in
this section of the
medical field after
twenty years, and there
are better opportunities
ahead.

there is a woman
who speaks about
authenticity and showing
up in spaces where empathy
no longer has a seat, and
I can’t help but be reminded
of your strong voice
and approach to all
things beautiful & just.

I am working on creating
a better me; therapy, stories,
and soldiering onward
with a senior dog who
still has the right
amount of sass to
suss out things and
people who
don’t belong around us
anymore.

we built a rocky foundation
on poetry and kinship,
and I am still out here
using words to clear
my head.
how much of this
is work and how much
of it is pleasure?

another autumn is here — I’m
greeting it with
old eyes and sketchy thoughts.
but it’s here, nonetheless.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

℗2000 Interscope Geffen. Bilal, Love Poems

I Thought I’d Forget All About You

Musical Selection: Bilal|When Will You Call?

A Lamentation

But I was wrong.
I am wrong.
And every autumn pulls
up memories — I have tried
to forget, and I find myself
burying those memories
deeper into my mind for them
to arise at the worst time.

It’s the children …
The children push more
pain into my heart than
anything else.
How are they doing?
What activities do you have
them in after school now?
Your oldest should be going
to college …
College. It’s almost hard
for me to say this out loud.

I have missed three years of
seeing their faces, hearing their
voices, and learning about
their lives as new
things occur. 

I have resorted to denying who
I am; who I was, but
the pain in my heart about
the children does not lie.
It’s there. It is a constant
reminder of what I have lost.

And as I weave through every
year — no longer your toy;
no longer wrapped up in my
own head about what we
could have been — what I wanted
us to be, seasonal depression
sneaks up on me with
your face as its representative.

I am weak.
I am.
I will say this with
no shame.
I am weak, still, for you.

The dog hops up in
my lap — reminds me it’s
time for her to relieve
herself, and I don’t feel
like moving from a spot
I’ve cozied onto in the
chair. 

She still has some
energy even though she’s
past what some say is
too long for a dog to live — she
can spit fire if I am
not quick to meet her needs.

And isn’t that how you were?
Isn’t that what made us
cling to one another?
Your need to order and my
need to take orders.

Weren’t we too blind to
see it could never work
between two women who
were writers so full of
embellished stories?

I thought I’d forget all
about you, yet three years later,
you appear. And no amount
of therapy is sweeping you away
from my heart’s door.

I wanted more.
I couldn’t have it.
I never would have.
At every turn, you would
choose him.
You chose him.

And really, he was the
best decision. My mind
knows this — how about
telling it to my heart?


Originally published in soliloque via Medium.

At 4 am, She Calls for Comfort (Bisexual Flash Fiction)

Musical Selection: Post Malone featuring Doja Cat|I Like You (A Happier Song)

Part IV: A turn of events Cari had not envisioned

Photo by Gabriel Brito on Unsplash

We stood in silence. Teardrops from her big, bold, and dark eyes fell onto my hands. I danced in a circle as I held her close to me. Our breaths pushed from our chests and forced us to stay in sync with one another. How will we deal with this? I don’t yet know, but what I know is this … we have a chance at a new beginning, and daughter or not, I will stand guard against Sabrina if I have to. I won’t watch her break her mother’s heart for a second time.

Once was enough.


After a few moments of standing, holding Cari in my arms, she finally speaks. I feel her body shake. As she breathes in and out, I feel the heaves of her chest. I don’t want to let her go. Her head lifts up and out of my embrace. She speaks …

“When Sabrina was a little girl, I was her everything. I couldn’t even move from room to room without her attached to my hip or tagging along, cuffing my lower legs. We were inseparable. After her daddy left, I hit that damn pipe harder than ever and lost my baby girl for a few years. I try to go back to those days — try to push my body to that time, and I ain’t moving, Rena. I ain’t moving.”

“Cari, you have done all that you can for Bree. I’ve seen you maneuver through various mood swings of hers and her violent attacks on you just a few years back. You have tried. You are trying, babe. You are. And when you have left these addictions behind, you are going to be so much better. Either she’ll see it or she won’t”

“How can she deny me the happiness I have in you? How can she not invite you? Have you not been around for her the last six years of her life?! Even when we weren’t speaking, the two of you were still connected. I don’t get it!”

I watched Cari as she searched for what would make this make sense. And there is nothing. There will be nothing to make this behavior from Sabrina make any of this fathomable. Sure, she has had to fight for her mom’s attention when Cari was strung out on crack cocaine and every label of liquor under the sun, but she has changed — she is changing.

You only get one mother.


I look at Cari. The tears fill up in her eyes and do not drop. My heart breaks into pieces. She is so much and so little and everything under the sun all at once.

“I am going to call her. I’m not going, Rena. If you can’t come … If she doesn’t want you there with me. I am not going. I’m just not!”

The room fills with intensity, and the silence between us is thick and long. Cari wails at the top of her lungs and I stand helplessly feeling all the years we have endured adding up right before my eyes.

“Cari, you need to be there for Bree. Her high school graduation? She needs to see her mother there. I’ll be okay.”

“NO! If she tells me when and where I can bring my partner now, Rena, it will never end. Do you want to be removed from all other aspects of my life with Bree? Do you?! Who does she think she is?!”

Cari has a point. If I cannot come to the graduation, what next? Her wedding, the birth of her first child, her first child’s christening, etc. It will never end. I wish we weren’t in this predicament. Something happened. Something shifted. Sabrina loves me.

“I’m calling right now, Rena!”


“Sabrina Melanie Janssen, just who do you think you are?! Telling me I can’t bring Rena to your graduation — what kind of shit is this, really?”

“Hi, Mom. I … it isn’t my idea. I … Daddy’s paying for the extra tickets cuz the school only gives me ten and he said he’s not paying for Rena to come.”

“I see. Why didn’t you just say that?! Why would you tell me she couldn’t come?”

“Daddy was standing right next to me. Mom … I don’t know what to do or what to say around him. I love Rena. You know that. He hates it when I talk about her or when I say how happy she makes you. I didn’t want the stress of it all. As soon as I said she couldn’t come, though, he smiled.”

“Okay. I’ll fix your daddy. Don’t worry about him. How much are the tickets, because I’ll just buy one for Rena and that’ll solve that.”

“$15.00. I have three left. I’ll put one to the side for Rena. Mom, tell Rena it wasn’t me, please. Please.”

“We will handle all of this. I’ll send the money to your CashApp for Rena’s ticket, and I’ll come and pick both of them up tomorrow. I’ll deal with your daddy at that time, too. I love you, baby girl.”


A turn of events Cari had not envisioned greets us. The look on her face is enough to turn a frown upside down. I hear the joy in her voice as she tells me what happened — why Bree had said I could not come to the graduation. And I guess some bridges do need burning even if we still have to cross them.

“How dare that son of a bitch put our daughter in the middle like this?! I hated him before, but now?! Rena, I could gut that fool. I’m so angry right now!”

“I know you are. But we have bigger fish to fry now. Bree isn’t mad at you. She isn’t mad at me. She is still open to making amends and being a part of your life again. Cari, that’s big. That’s huge! The universe will deal with Marcus.”

The universe and everything good and beautiful will deal with Marcus.


Part I, Part II, and Part III

Originally published in Prism & Pen via Medium.

I Had a Dream About Oprah Winfrey

And she was writing a book I would love to read

I rarely dream about celebrities. It is a rare occurrence, and in order for it to take place, I would have had to watch a movie or read a book about that person right before going to sleep. And I certainly have never dreamed about the incomparable Oprah Winfrey before; the woman whose net worth is 2.5 billion dollars.

The dream I had early Sunday morning on September 11, 2022, struck me as peculiar, yet intriguing. I was in a dark room and the only area with an inkling of light was the small space where Oprah sat.

She wore her famous square-rimmed, flashy glasses, her hair was pulled up into a neat bun, and she donned a white blouse and brown slacks. She was shouting, “I am writing my book in Chicago about the children I never had, and I will need my fucking space!”

It echoed throughout the room. I simply stood there in awe. I could not move. Both my body and mind knew exactly what was taking place. I was in the company of one of the most influential Black women who was shouting repeatedly at the top of her lungs about a book she would need space to write, and I could not move.

There aren’t usually smells in my dreams, but in this one, I could smell a sweet and earthy scent. It was welcoming — a scent that provided safety and peace. Could it have been a signature perfume of her choice wafting from Oprah’s body? I don’t know.

I just knew that there I was, watching one of the most beloved women in the world declare frantically of the book she was writing. And it was both painful and motivating to witness.


Oprah does not have children and neither do I

Why did I have this dream? What does it mean? I do not fancy myself as someone who analyzes dreams. I simply try to understand them in my own way. Of late, I have had my share of weird ones, though, and this one is no different.

Oprah Winfrey does not have children. She has been open about this in many of her interviews and speaks about it candidly without regret. Her career path did not have room for the time, support, nurturing, and care she would have needed to allow for children, so she passed on that opportunity.

She endured giving birth at 14 years old to a baby boy who was the product of familial rape from an older cousin. The baby died after just two weeks.

I think about what she must have lived through — how she had to cement herself — become hard enough to keep moving, and I tear up.

I realized, ‘Whoa, I’m talking to a lot of messed-up people, and they are messed up because they had mothers and fathers who were not aware of how serious that job is.’ I don’t have the ability to compartmentalize the way I see other women do. It is why, throughout my years, I have had the highest regard for women who choose to be at home [with] their kids, because I don’t know how you do that all day long, Nobody gives women the credit they deserve. — Oprah Winfrey

I do not have children. Not for the same reasons as Oprah, but my reasons are also valid enough for me. I have always had an incredible fear of not being able to love my children how I would need to or losing myself enough to forget my past and not burden my children with my baggage.

I also found out in my early 30s that it would be difficult for me to have children naturally, so I did not take that risk. Not to mention, I have yet to have a partner worthy enough in my eyes to share such a responsibility as parenting.

“I am writing my book in Chicago about the children I never had, and I will need my fucking space!”

I have watched many women give their all to their children — love them unconditionally — lift them up where they have faltered; teach them right from wrong, and these same children grow up to leave their mothers crying senselessly about the choices they are making or have made.

How much of it is nurture? How much of it is nature? One can never know who or what their children will become until it has happened. That is a weight too heavy for me to carry.


And there was music and tears and nervousness too

I am no stranger to music in my dreams. Music seems to be the way I love — the way I lean into life when everything else becomes too tough to tackle. I speak using music and the world around me silences itself to hear me.

The song that played in my dream was Maze featuring Frankie Beverly’s “We Are One.” It repeated the following lyrics:

Sometimes I feel
That we try and make each other sad
(I don’t know why)
The things we do
How we make each other feel so bad
We’ve got so much
We could all be having so much fun

This song sends me to a space and time that is both nostalgic and a sad reminder of my past. My mother’s family always had these wild cookouts and family gatherings. I say wild because there would inevitably be an argument, an altercation, and someone or more than one person would head home in tears or angered by the day’s events.

Her family frightened me. So much anger. So much intensity. And oddly enough, amongst the pain, so much love, too.

Funny how the mind works, huh? To have this song on repeat in a dream reflected around the non-existence of children, Oprah Winfrey, and me as the voyeur — there’s more here, I know it.

I try to dig a little deeper. A fellow writer left a comment for me after we’d been conversing regarding my most recent article in An Injustice Mag, stating, “Exactly my point, leave their table for yours. In fact, write a book about the hypocrisy you face to become a writer. Be the change you want to see. Prove them wrong and exceed their limitations.”

His suggestion sent my mind swirling, and several moments of creativity flashed before my eyes. I can do what he is suggesting.

In the dream, I was nervous. I have yet to figure out if it was because I had been standing in the presence of the great Oprah Winfrey or if it was because of all the things I have lined up for me in the coming months. I am excited. I am full of fear. But it all will be worth it in the end.

I have always had an incredible fear of not being able to love my children how I would need to or losing myself enough to forget my past and not burden my children with my baggage.

And there were tears from both me and Oprah. With Oprah’s frantic shouting, came free-flowing tears that streamed down her face gently. Her declaration hadn’t bothered her. Her voice bull-horned without the bullhorn. Everyone, I am certain, who was anyone, could hear her.

I cried. Watching her in this intense state shout about needing the space to write about the children she never had, moved me — both in the dream and when I woke up.


The truth is in the details

We miss, sometimes, what we never had. And perhaps, that’s our link in this dream — knowing we have not and want not, but we sometimes regret it, even if we tell ourselves we don’t.

The truth is always in the details if we’re willing to plow through the dirt of us and retrieve a cleansing state.

I had a dream about Oprah Winfrey, and she had been writing about the children she never had while I stood there as a witness, which led to me thinking about the children I never had. Maybe it is a coincidence, this dream. Maybe there is nothing there and nothing I need to search for within it.

But I would love to read that book.


Originally published in The Narrative Collective via Medium.

pushers

Musical Selection: Dionne Farris|Hopeless

I can’t dote on the team
I get to share frustrations,
stressors, and accomplishments
with on a daily basis enough.
we may split at the edges
sometimes, but we will
never crack.

we have endured system issues,
glitches, irate patients, and an
overall pressure that packed
itself heavy into our bones,
yet we stayed above water–
humorous in our near-defeat.

if I were a betting woman,
my cash would be on them.
my trust is in them.
I wouldn’t want to do
the days I spend spiraling
with any other group of
people–we are perfectly matched
for the work that we do.

and on the days when
calls push us hard against
the wall, we push back with
a vengeance that comes wrapped
in fire and bold presentations.

we are not your average
team; we wear remarkable on
our sleeves–clever human beings,
slaying the trenches of the
scheduling world effortlessly.


Originally shared via LinkedIn.


Hopeless by Dionne Farris