Dear Daddy

Dear Daddy,

Hi daddy! This is your little girl.

I’m all grown up now, but still yours.


I don’t know that much about you, except that you didn’t stay.

I’ve never known if this was true or just what people say.


I’ve always wondered what you look like, since no one has a picture.

They say that I’m your twin, I look nothing like my mom or sisters.


Mom says you played the guitar, that you were sweet, and very gentle.

That must be where I get it from, I can be so sentimental.


You’ve taught me so much in your absence, like how to be okay without you.

I can fall down ten times, but get right back up because that’s what I’ve learned how to.


I’ve done so much with my life since you’ve been gone. You’d be so very proud.

I’ve become an excellent mom, gone to college with honors, and just like you with your guitar, I can steal a crowd.


My sister used to tell me, before she passed away,

that if you heard me sing for just one second you’d be here to stay.

She told me that you loved me, even if you don’t know how.

That one day if we meet, you’d be sorry for your doubts.


I’ll be one year older soon, and there’s nothing I want more,

than to meet you and to hug you, and no longer wonder what I’m looking for.


I have a little girl now too, and her father isn’t here.

For her to feel what I’ve felt all this time is one of my greatest fears.


Sure, she’ll probably be okay. I turned out just fine.

I’m happy and unbroken and I’ve stood the test of time.


But my worry is not what will happen if you or her father are not there.

It’s what could she be, what could I have been, if life wasn’t so unfair?


You see, we didn’t ask for this. To live the life of the forsaken.

It’s not our choice, but yours and his to be so sadly mistaken.


I’m not asking you for much, and I don’t expect your love.

I just want to meet you, that will be enough.


To see your face and feel your touch, that is my elixir.

No one knows, not even her, why the love she’s never had can always fix her.


Spelling Lessons

A young girl the other day asked me a question.
“How do you spell ’strength’?”
I smiled.
I wanted to tell her it was more complex than she thought.
I wanted to tell her strength is one of those big words,
what was wrong with the word ‘strong’ I spelled for her last week.

..Or maybe she understood that these words are kind of different.
She used strong to characterize that body builder on the tv
strength hits a little closer to home.
I wanted to tell her strength is spelled like painting smiles with what was once tears,
in hopes that these tears are somehow made of a chameleon-ated substances

That brighten lips enough to hide cracks.

Cracks that label this woman as broken.
I wanted to tell her strength is spelled like standing in death’s face shouting “today is going to be a good day”
after you just lost your son in yesterday’s potent red, white and blue.

Death warned you of such threats beforehand,

Yet you refuse to take anything from the unprivileged.
Strength is spelled like
“Honey, God will bring us food”
after your child asks for the fifth time when she’ll eat.
I wanted to say strength is spelled like
hands that go side to side with grief because they are too fragile to hold the air that sits in your palm when your hand is still.
Strength is spelled like
“Jesus!” and
hundred dollar bills that would else wise pay a fourth of the rent that’s been due for a week now.
Strength is spelled like Jesus in a crowd of Judases.
Strength is spelled like silence
in a room of noise spitting knives as if you could stand to hear the cuts your heart already whispers,
strength is spelled like hate spitting its life as if you can already stand the hatred your life already whispers to itself,
Strength is spelled like “I love me”.
Strength is spelled like walking, head held high so you can see past the heads held low enough to slash insides.
Strength is spelled like “no I do not have a father in my life

But yes I will still seek the knowledge he was supposed to introduce me to,

Make connections where his ends didn’t meet,

Didn’t touch enough for me to be included in the loop.”
Strength is spelled like repeating the fact that you are a queen even though people are trying to reduce your title to “just a person”,
like “no thank you” after hearing

“oh you’re so pretty for a black girl”,
spelled like “Yes, I have a problem with that!”

after being interrogated for some internal heroin that must have “got you too high to take a compliment”.
Strength is spelled like serenity in the presence of an angry black girl stereotype.
Strength is spelled like my hair is beautiful even though it looks like barbed wire,
even though it looks undid,
even though you tell me it looks nappy in a bad sense
cuz confidence is spelled like “um, yea. That’s the point. ”
Strength is spelled like the
to be intelligent in a pool of ignorance,
knowing they will talk you down for being too smart.
Strength is spelled like black inside of cracks that should have only been red, white and blue.
“And now because of you we have to go colorblind” whereas if you just stayed silent…
Strength is spelled like standing proudly understanding and demanding respect in a world that will kill you for not being
anything less.
We live in a world where it costs too much to save a life.
Strength is spelled like living anyway.

But of course, that’s too much for a little girl.
So I told her
“Strength is spelled like
b-l-a-c-k w-o-m-a-n.”



High Blood Pressure

The military industrial complex grins its evil grin.

Having cagily plotted to kill me in a conspiracy

so nefarious, I wake up fluttery-eyed.

So diabolical, that even my paranoia died.


Somewhere in my DNA. trapped,

Like a vicious sliver of transparent candy

between two shiny-white American teeth,

my predilection for high blood pressure plots.


Hiding everywhere there’s salt.

Realer than any rumor about Jesus.

Concrete longing. Addiction. Bitter.

Ten times harsher than my wife’s tongue.


Salt. You fucker.

Didn’t consider it ever, till I’ve been forced to do without.

Nothing to look forward to but fruit and vegetables.

Compote, slushies, ecstasy over a good stool and death.


High Blood Pressure, baby.

It’s killed more Yids than Zyklon B.

Tonight I think I’ll live dangerous. Eat some pizza..

It’ll be better than sky-diving or shtupping a skanky whore’s ass bareback.


Who Am I?

Who Am I?

                Am I the girl lost in someone else’s shadow,

                Have I not found my identity?

                Am I mistaken for someone else?

                Do I take on a presence that is not my own?

                Looking to the world to give me identity,

                Is like walking into a brick wall,

                Expecting it to move,

                But knowing my identity is in Christ,

                Is all I need to know,

                Which gives me room to improve.



I used to stand by

Watching all of the commotion

Without moving my limbs

Staring in the distance

And wondering why

Paying attention to acts of foolishness

Locked by hesitation in my motionless muscles

A bougie boy of African American ethnicity

Clothes tighter than a rubber band around a pole

And a ghetto girl who is multiracial

With that long good hair and nails long and sharp

Are physically fighting about

Something unknown

Collision of the fists to the face

The ghetto girl has her karate moves down pat

But the bougie boy attempts to dodge the blows to the body

Trying to keep the pretty face of his scar free

I notice a little girl

About five years of age

African American and gorgeous of course

Pick up a broken but colorful pencil

With that in mind I wonder

How the physical fight can be solved effectively and defiantly peacefully

Maybe I could use the source of the fight to solve this issue

The little girl comes up to me

Stands beside me

She motions me to kneel

Then whispers to me

What are you going to do about this situation

I reach for the broken but colorful pencil

Which I showed to the bougie boy and ghetto girl

The bougie boy mentioned it was his pencil

But I was resourceful in using the pencil to visually show them the result of the physical fight

By elaborating how things such as a pencil should not be blown out of proportion

And that’s how I became a solution to a problem