Category: Uncategorized

Ghosts In The Talking Boards

Be content the great cloud of witnesses say.

All the mammies

Are dead

But they still speak

Reaching from ancestor

Planes, with burns

On their backs,

Limps, unwhole missing

Skin, Teeth and Limb

From the word no.

It is their strength

To survive they

Provide, while warning

Us of what it

Cost them to

say no–

And yes is better.

Yes to your will

Yes to your way

Yessa…Massa.

Warning us in dreams

Of the 2 faces of this

Life–peace and war.

Yet we war for peace,

And for our peace those

Who value nothing

War for everything!

Be danger of your

Fire because they

Liable to beat it outcha!

Cool yuh in the dark

Of the earth

Or make you new

Branches in juniper trees

Just do what they ask ya

Like they ask,

Yessuh, juss like that

Not everyone can

Run–

But not everyone

Can stay!

They died for our bravery

Bc no greater love

Has no man than this

To lay down his life

For his life for his friends–

Those whom

are alive and remain

And remain to be alive…

This bridge called

My back remembers

The lash,

And feet made flat

To go through grass

And swamp

As eyes water as the

Last memory held

Is being told not

To leave.

We have counted

The cost of fire

And bravery and

Bending the tongue

Of owners and masters

With the lips given

By The Word.

If He is always speaking–

Then so will we.

So will I.

-JBHarris, July 2022

All The Mammies Are Dead

All the mammies are dead
they said as they walk toward freedom with their rifles and Bibles in their hands summoning thunder with each clap
with blood of their fathers
and the features of their mother‘s as they advanced toward everything they were told they could not have.

all the mammies are dead
they chanted
as they charged Citadel‘s
and burn plantations
and overturn systems and tables as their Lord and Saviour who through the support and love of his own mother
and power of His father endured the cross to the end.

All the mammies are dead they said
as they threw down the babies of their oppressors to the dirt by which they are destined to return
nothing more that is vital
will be pulled from our body
for you to only swallow to greed
Spit up because there is no chaser
Or reject because it is not sweet enough.
because it is expected
of us to die dry!

All the mammies are dead
they said as they took their rightful places at tables cut by
the hands of their father in woods
their great grandfather’s had planted… and sons hung from

all the mammies are dead they said as they ruled and reigned
crowns adjusted putting 10,000 to flight

all the mammies are
dead they said
knowing that freedom is now
freedom is present
and we never ever going back

Indeed—

ALL THE MAMMIES ARE DEAD.

Those who are alive and remain

are warriors.

-JBHarris, June 2022

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

“Compromise for what?” -Eartha Kitt

Mood forever. Picture taken by my best friend, M. Southards.

I am 41.

I am now almost half of my grandmother’s age, and 1 year younger than Dorothy Dandridge was when she died. I am also the age my murdered cousin would have been had he just listened.

Had he just listened.

For this completed trip around the sun, I am more confident than I thought I would be, and yet more resilient than I thought I had to become! I am writing more, tolerating less, and aware that the person I make my life with cannot be intimidated by my light.

I have decided to proceed with getting my MFA, at my dream school: New York University! I am raising daughters to negoitate the world, and not just survive it.

At age 41, I refuse to shrink. Why should I?

I am learning to own every space I am in, because my presence is a present! My talents in any situation are assets, and I refuse to have anyone around me that desires me to shrink or be mediocre!

I have been gifted with more opportunities to be great, trusting God in a way I’m sure will leave legacy, and in a relationship that both strengthens and scares me. Part of me believes that I cannot be a wife again because the vulnerability it would require—I don’t believe I can. Yet, I cannot help but to want that again.

I have decided before at the completion of my divorce, to keep my maiden name. The crazy thing? I have to ask the state for that privilege to ask for what I was born with back! As I started writing new work, I began hyphenating my name. The ex didn’t give me the name I needed to move in the world, not really.

My father did. The only man who could ever be bold enough to tell me what to do!

I am learning that joy is a choice. Daily. Sometimes hourly! My good girlfriends (whom know have crossed into the realm of ‘grown’) tell me how fabulous these 40’s are–and I am glad I listened! As I reflect on the 4 previous decades, I am in awe of God! I am in awe in a way that proves just how fragile life is, and the times when I thought not being in the world was the right answer.

This birthday is more than cake, more than presents–it is readjusting my crown. It is realizing that I deserve everything I have earned…every joy, every achievement! I am now at the point where I can look at the woman in the mirror and tell her, “We made it! Let’s see how this ends up.”

I will not just exist, I will live.

Happy Birthday to me.

The Burden of The Pen: Say Something

There is a power in saying, “I am a writer.”

In the right circumstances, that title is both intimidating and completely discouraging. This is the dichotomy that writers encounter. It is a calling most odd: you have things in your head (ideas, concepts, characters), and you want to tell people about them.

Yet, when you tell people those magical four words, the reactions you get run a gamut! Either you have people whom think you’re immediately going to be published and win an Oscar; people who think that you have no talent and can’t believe you want to write; people who think they should be your personal muse.

Yet, with being pulled in multiple directions, you must have the wherewithal to own your pen. And push doubt away, while keeping focus on what it is you want to create. You have a right to that…don’t relinquish it to the people whom have no idea how powerful you are, and may never read your work anyway.

Treat the naysayers accordingly.

The Burden of The Pen-Overview

The thing that is interesting about being a writer–and not even a ‘famous’ writer!–is there is always this desire to chime in on the world around you.

And when people know you write, that desire increases ten-fold!

I call this: The Burden Of The Pen.

The Burden Of The Pen.

Noun. The desire to write about all that you see which may be pertinent or pervasive to culture, policy or to add to greater conversations.

-coined by JBHarris, March 2022

This mini-series will reflect on this desire to say everything, when to say anything, and how dangerous it is to say nothing.

May 9: Say Anything

May 16: Say Something

May 23: I Don’t Know What to Say

May 30: Here Is What I Have To Say

30 DAYS OF JAYE-2022 FINAL THOUGHTS

This collection of poetry for this particular April 2022 was personal and freeing. As these pieces were published here, I did 30 days of poetry on TikTok as well (look for the playlist 30 Days of Jaye 2022). This was needed and necessary.

This year I have become the personification of this quote:

“I have so completely given over to the talent, that I cannot bare to doubt its power.”

-JBHarris, April 2022

There were ideas that bubbled up this month, poems written in the matter of hours, and books of poetry found on my phone.

Yes, my phone.

This month was a reminder to do what Baldwin said: do my work. My job as a writer, as a keeper of space, is to fill that space. My job is to keep going, keep creating, keep sharpening the weapons of my warfare.

There is much left to do, much more to say, and there is work indeed to do.

30 DAYS OF JAYE-DAY 30: The Hymn of Black Like Me

When they see us

they want to be us

knowing that only we can be us!

from the swivel of hip

to haircuts

to the box braids

to the colors that

inhabit our skin

are melanin and

I hear that springs forth

as halos from the top of our heads?

only we can be us

because we got us

cause we came from us

the ancestors are

about the future at

our forward and

our eyes are still yet

watching God from

the belly of ships

to the White House

on the front steps—-

we are indeed everywhere!

there was no space

for blackness cannot touch!

and it is irredeemable

from whiteness,

but distinct from whiteness

yet black as where the unnecessary

Thinks is where whiteness

goes to die there—

There is no peace

of my blackness as

they wipe your skin

and have it and not

be touched and transform

The I am straight

with no I am straight

with no pay with

no chase a clear without

apology and I staying

as a non-binary

with me being necessary

the we that got us

is the way they got me

in the way that is

inside of me takes care

of all enemies when

the ancestor said as

we were taken from Shores

I am we

the I In the I AM

with was identity

the we was always their company

we are never by ourselves.

-JBHarris, March 2022

30 DAYS OF JAYE-DAY 29: Grand Rising

We can trace

The fall of any

Kingdom to

Once held together

By love—

Both its power

It’s devotion,

And secrets

The moment

The queen rose,

Seeing the king

Not as comfort

——but as enemy.

Determined to free

Herself from what

Was love

Now made trap

By the bed made

By selfishness,

Indifference and

Apathy which try

To maintain holds

Over hearts and

Minds through the

Joining of body

With the familiar

Lift and lilt of

Love making which

Allows body and

Mind to separate

So both don’t have

To endure the affliction

Of the lie that is

This I love you

At the same time.

For freedom, she must choose violence.

For freedom, she must choose herself.

JBHarris, May 2021