Jan 15, 2014

Brandon

Last night I drove past the old train tracks

In Torrance.

The ones wedged between the high school

And Wilson park.

I thought about the summer nights I would sneak

Back here in the ’93 Toyota Camry

And let Brandon sit in the backseat

And kiss me.

He would open his mouth like

A slingshot

And his arm of a tongue

Would reach out and explore

The soft wetness of my mouth.

His face was clumsy

And his teeth covered in braces.

Brandon was an overgrown middle school

Mama’s boy,

And I was an overweight daddy’s princess.

Neither of us really liked the other.

Our late night make out sessions

were rehearsal for a play

Neither of us were pretty enough

To be cast in.

Two fumbling people searching

For someone else

To be alone with.

I liked his embarrassment,

His unwillingness to talk about us.

To proclaim to no one

That he was never in love with me

Because that parking lot

And those train tracks were not dress rehearsals

They were stumbled lines and script reads

With no stage set, no lights

Or costumes.

Only two people attempting to be the star

Of a show no one would ever watch.

Occasionally a freight train would rumble by

And I’d realize it was past 2 in the morning

I’d tell him I needed to get home

And he’d ask me to stay

And I’d say staying is for girlfriends

And I am not going to be that.

I’d think, staying is for people

Who love each other and I am just a freight train.

Rumbling through your mouth

In the middle of the night,

Not interested in the journey,

Only the destination.

I wonder if the train conductors

Ever noticed the steamed up car

Pulled over on the side of the tracks

And thought about who was inside.

They never thought about how we

refused to hold hands,

To only carry on our public displays of affection

In the backseat of my car,

How I reimagined other people

Across his face,

How we had classes together and never

Once caught each other’s gaze.

That boy was my starter kit for disguise,

An opening act for how

To hide men’s smiles in my throat

He was merely practice for

How to kiss a man

Open mouth

And never

Feel a thing.

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Nov 21, 2013

A Response

NYC's The Inspired Word

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Oct 20, 2013

Verses and Flow Season 3

Watch Ashley Catharine's full episode and video web exclusives from season 3 of TV One's Lexus' Verses and Flow.

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Prayers to Marie Laveux

I wrap 23 cents in a bag

of paper wishes 

and send it into a mardi-gras bead covered

tree stump,

kiss the head of the Voodoo doll,

knock on the stump nine times

send you a message.

Ask for a bag of gris-gris 

filled with beauty shop hair chatter

and love potion.

Clutch a severed chicken foot 

in my pocket

and tell myself I’ll make it 

through this night

because this here high priestess

gone where no Catholic church 

told her she could go.

You be patron saint of everything.

You be fistful of alligator teeth 

and snakeskin,

You be an altar of burning incense 

and human skulls.

They kneel to altars,

burn incense, pray to crosses

and call you crazy.

Paint you she-devil

Dark skinned creole woman 

who always knows too much.

Seduces white men

and peddles his babies.

They don’t know what to do with you.

But you be black cat enchantress,

beautiful historian

who made a few extra dollars

by not letting your own culture

die on a slave ship.

They mad because Voodoo 

is just Catholism 

without all the gold.

Marie, you be forest of bones

and mystery,

Juju filled vixen woman,

Virgin Mary with a simmering cauldron

and 15 children.

Daughters of God,

You’d say.

They say voodoo dolls and hexes

are Satan’s game.

Say you know demons,

say maybe you are one.

They say that about all women.

They think we all cast spells

Diminish high priestess

to witch 

because you can’t be woman

and powerful

without all that magic.

You be everything religion

taught me you not.

You be woman,

Black woman, 

mother and goddess,

beautiful and dangerous,

the fleur de lis unfurled

and blooming,

a jazz alley saxophone

and a haunted cast iron porch.

I’m wishing on 23 cents

for some magic

like that.

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Sep 13, 2013

Poem From Maryland

We laid in bed all afternoon.

It was hot 

so we cranked the fan 

all the way to the top.

stripped down naked.

Too humid for snuggling

just laid on top of the sheets

and watched the lightening,

listened to the harmonizing

of rain beats

and thunder bellows.

Sweat drip sticky

ice cubes melt quickly

this weather 

is so much better than fireworks.

When we kiss I don't see them-

I see lightening.

Thunder cracks loud and ominous,

but we two city girls

from near Hollywood-

a place where weather is fake,

weather is backlot studio,

sprinklers and recorded clash.

Where thunder and lightening and rain

does not mean

hot and sticky.

We put on enough clothes to cook dinner

and eat outside on the porch.

Sit below the awning 

and watch torrents of water

stream through the gutters,

down the sidewalk, the tree leaves,

sheets of water fall past the roof

and we sit on the porch

and we smile

and we know

ain't no backlot ever got this right.

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Jul 4, 2013

Letter To Mike Jefferies, CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch

I suppose you think

That because 

I take up more space 

Than you do,

That I do not deserve 

To look beautiful.

I suppose you think

That looking as though 

You've speared your veins

With a heroin needle

And regurgitated more food

Than most third world countries

See in a year,

I suppose you think 

This deems someone worthy

Of beauty. 

Do you count protruding ribs

Like dollar bills?

A savings account you've 

Been dieting for months

To afford.

How can you find so much

To worship,

Fingers that pray down 

The barrel of throats

That scratch fingernail  

To esophagus,

Expunge all of your sins

Because calories 

Are proof of a deviant lifestyle.

Where the breaking of bread

Means the break of resolve,

Where a body like mine

Is a suicide note

Because you've made it clear

That killing yourself

Is more worthwhile

Than owning a body like mine.

It is peculiar that you equate

Fashion to obesity,

As if putting a large woman

In sweatpants or a muu muu

Will actually make her disappear.

Oh but won’t it though?

And that is exactly what you want.

Why clog the streets

With grotesque baby making hips,

With jiggling thighs,

With ample arms and rotund stomachs.

Your opinions, though allowed

Will not stop me from deeming these bodies

Beautiful.

It will not stop me from dressing them

Accordingly

Because this sidewalk

May be the only runway we’ve got.

This weight does not speak for me,

Though you have let it be

The only bit of me you can hear.

These clothes cannot possibly threaten you.

The sewing machine, the fabric, the pattern,

The trims do not scare you.

You are threatened by the fact

That the very body shape you abhor,

The one that stands quivering

And angry before you

Loves herself first,

does not ask permission,

She takes it.

The bodies you emulate

Bend themselves backwards

In conformity,

Attempt to be as thin

As the sheets of paper

They are printed on.

There is no amount of space

Between your thighs

That could ever indicate perfection.

Why not just leave those

most intricate pieces,

the garments of silk and lace

beaded and tailored

with no seam allowance

to possibly let out

Dangling in the closet-

At least the wooden hanger has enough

Good sense to hold its breath.

 

 

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Jun 5, 2013

A Sister's Promise

I know it creeps in while you are alone.

It permeates everything you attempt

To finish.

This depression lays itself across your back

Tells you

Nothing about you is beautiful.

It tells you

No one loves you.

It tells you to lie and steal

And use.

It presses your hand against

The light switch.

It functions better in the dark.

It tells you abusers

Are your friends,

It makes you stop caring

About everything you cared about.

I do not know what that kind

Of darkness is like.

I have seen wild grief

And shaking anger.

I have thrown myself into

Pools of emotion

To come up sputtering and

Breathing hard

But I have never committed myself

To such a dangerous drowning.

I have never swallowed darkness

And let it beat into my veins

Like an oxygen

I am not dependent on.

I have never driven myself

To the wildest parts of my insides

To come violent and screaming

Like a ghost

Convinced of it’s own immortality.

You are not this darkness.

You are not this disease

You may have demons

But you are not one.

You are lost,

But the light has not been extinguished.

You are beautiful and singing

Though you have forgotten what

That feels like.

I have found myself sliding

Into these shadows.

Falling into cracks and wondering

Why I didn’t know.

How did we not see it?

Why did we never search

For the light before?

I was deaf as a child

But I did not realize how

Blind I am now.

Little sister,

I owe you 1,000 apologizes

On tear stained cheeks

And raw knees.

On open palms

And calloused feet.

I am sorry I did not see you

In your own darkness.

I do not know how to recover you.

But that does not mean

I will not learn.

I am a willing vessel

And I am sorry I did not write you

A poem until now.

I am not angry with you.

My heart is as broken as you are.

Your wings are not gone.

Despite its pain,

There is such freedom

In truth.

Such power

In honesty

Such peace in coming clean.

Such joy in knowing

You were never alone

To begin with.

When it is dark inside

When there is too much to bear alone

When these demons come clawing

At your window

In the middle of the night

Telling you

That you are not worthy

that there is a cure

and it is pushing you back into

that gloom,

I will not care if you ask for me.

I will come vengeful and ready

I will see you this time

I promise.

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