Tag: Poetry Matters

Love Is Still A First Work

Shakespeare may have said “Love is but a madness”, but I believe that love is powerful and takes many forms.

From the romantic, erotic, the nostalgic, whimsical, powerful, and hopeful–the poets contributing to February’s month long Spoken Word event ventures to remind you all that love is still shield, comfort, pleasure and power.

Thank you, Chanel.

Thank you, Tiffany.

Thank you, Mike.

Love is still a poet’s first work.

Follow The Writers’ Block Podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Play, and Spotify.

-JBHarris

The Immovable Trinity

Day-jobbing and listening to MasterClass:

Never think that this gift I have is not demanding. I have leaned into this gift, succumbed to the demand of it.

It is the best restlessness.

It is the most intimate of imagining.

Yet, I am keenly aware, what I do—

Black woman writer
Writer, Black and woman
Woman whom is Black and writer. —

Is an immovable, immutable trinity.

For such designations, I write.

I persevere and preserve.
I remember and reckon.

I reimagine.

-JBHarris, December 2022

From The Crates: Black Writer Poem (August 2022)

They would’ve killed me for what I do now.

the knowledge of the Bible

read, both in person

and on paper

with ink being

the same color as blood

before the fire of oxygen

hits it–

They would’ve killed me for what I do now.

Tongue cut out

hung from trees

as a warning–

as the barbaric English forced

On my ancestors

but demands your English

Be my first language.

When I first was able

to communicate pain

Or how I call my mother

how I wait for my father

it is always been words

that have kept me,

Yet at the same time

I have kept them–

I have grasp them

hold them tightly in

my dominant right hand–

subduing the same language

which has always yielded

strange fruit.

They would have killed me for what I do now.

-JBHarris, August 2022

My Sister’s Keeper (Pt. 2): This Is Not The Time

TW: Transphobia

I do not agree with the accusation of the assailant of the Shanquella being labeled as a ‘man in a wig.’ Or immediately being classified as a Black transwoman.

So often Black women are classified as masculine! Our bodies are ridiculed, only to be mimicked. Black women have meet incredible standards to even be considered feminine, or the ever elusive ‘pretty’. In the forefront of this tragedy is this burgeoning transphobia, and anti-trans sentiment!

No. No, we are not about to do this!

The fact is Shanquella is dead, and the people who she traveled with are responsible! Yet, homophobia is never late! It is never late, never failing to be out of place! What needs to be added in this conversation is how easy sometimes Black women will not examine their own inner circles, but will always seek out ‘the other’ to determine who/where the enemy is.

It can’t be the women in my circle whom are capable of this, but a transwoman would because they are not real women!

No. Not here. Not ever. Not never ever.

Let me say this: I am a cis-het Black woman. I have never looked in the mirror and thought, ‘None of this [heart, body, mind, spirit] is right! I can lend sympathy and empathy to transpeople. And as a woman, I can respect women (cis/trans), and only ask for that respect in return.

This situation has nothing to do with transwomen.

Transwomen are not the enemy. I repeat: transwomen are not the enemy, and should not be the focus in this discussion! The focus needs to remain on Shanquella, and why her ‘friends’ got her in another country, (allegedly) murdered her, and lied to her mother about her cause of death!

If anything, this situation forces us as Black women to look at our own circles! We have to examine who is there and why people are there. Then, be brave enough to make them leave!

There are Black women who say this situation is not, should not be compared to what happened to Kenneka Jenkins. But, I offer to you that it can.

Both young women trusted people whom could not keep them safe, look out for them, or even had the base level care most Black women have been taught to have for one another. And for that misplacement of trust, they are dead.

The remaining questions I have is:

Who really looks for Black women and girls except other Black women and girls?

If Black women have no trust among each other, then were can Black women have it

New Book: Sweethearts & Love Notes

To grab this book on Amazon or Kindle, click here.

I have written fast before, but this? This book poured out of me.

Through the lack of social media, and the uncanny nature of my own life, I have found my childhood sweetheart. For respect, I won’t give his name here, but he knows this book exists.

If you know you know.

I have not seen him in 21 years, and yet he remembers the last thing I wore, and I saw him before he saw me.

I all but ran to him. Hugged him. And the world fell away. No, that is not an exaggeration.

For those feelings, for the power of that connection, I wrote! In being transparent, this was the man I thought I would marry.

There are attributes of this connection I have looked for in other relationships–to this day (I mean #ForeverBae plays Poker AND Chess!)!

This chap book is a reminder to me that…maybe I am still a love poet after all. As and maybe (just maybe) this is a reminder to younger me that I wasn’t crazy–and neither was he.

The butterflies were real and still are.

Favorite pieces:

Love Note #3

Hymnals

When Beale Street Talks

Elegy For A Dean Girl

His voice sounds
like how whiskey tastes
dark and hot
making you forget
all your problems
with one look
or one sip
should you be
gracious enough
to handle what comes
with no chaser—
what girl wouldn’t
want the guy
who was able to
chase the monsters away,
being able to see
what fear looks like
and towards it
in something that
is all American muscle
because as we know:

“Driver picks the music
passenger shuts his cakehole…”

Brother.
Father.
Lover.
Demon.

the embodiment of
wishes and dreams,
In leather jackets
And glass green eyes
Hiding more
Than the mouth will
Ever say

given to us
over and over again
through John and Mary,
big brother to Sam, Cass, Jack & Adam
And the vessel of the
most fearsome Michael—
it is to him that we
owe restless nights
and quiet mornings
and to know that
whatever is in the closet
under the bed
Or watching
From outside
he’s got to go
through him first.

Rest well Dean.

-JBHarris, October 2022

The Death & Burial Of Kanye West-III

III.

Is going to be slow-singing
and flower bringing
If My burglar alarm starts ringing
is what the Notorious BIG said
and protecting his space
and all those in it
clocking these dollars
and not worrying about
who hollers—
at the same time
now we must celebrate
the death of the Only One.

the death of his blackness
the death of his heart,
his vision,
and what we celebrated
in him…
has now died.

because it is now died
there is no need for repass.

We saw this coming.

There is no need to mourn,
because even Mary and Martha,
when they fell at the feet
of the Master were
told that on the last day
that their brother
who had died,
Christ would raise!

They had faith. We do not.

the same God of the universe
who gave alphabets, dialects,
and dreams, muses and music
with visions of the ability
to count all the stars in the sky—

We close the casket.
We lower hope and faith
Into the earth so that
Blackness is all he will know.

But we go on because
there is work to do
work to be undone.

The betrayal most complete in death walking around, as if nothing is wrong.
all things Black, boy, and joy
being erased in favor
of the lies the Only One
and his fellow betrayers
have swallowed because
scraps from the masters’
table you deem better
than feasts in their own
houses warm with dark faces
Which open and grant peace,
….And yet his mother is dead.

The one who believed
in him first the
one who believed him last
in it is fitting that the last people
that believe in him
are both Black and woman.

did the space
with free thought
exist in the same plane
As whiteness?
Where your Blackness goes to die,
Surrendered to by
Those who only know
Lies and thievery?

We commit the Only One
To his mother, Donda—
Let her open her arms to
The Only One.

There is no room for mourning
for this is celebrated!
because now you have
gotten what you want—
And there is no way back.

No one to open doors,
wipe tears and
pour back into you
what the world strips.

The Jesus you walked with doesn’t know you.

That old song
says ‘diamonds are forever’
but yet with this
one now returned
to earth?

It was always coal.

Will be turning our eyes to the East,
lifting our heads up from which
Comes our help—
there is no morning for Mr. West.

-JBHarris

The Death & Burial Of Kanye West-II

If,
from the combination of all things, knowing and Black comes this abomination of what we knew of him
whose very name,
translates to “Only One”.

how befitting it is
the Only One be unrecognizable— indistinguishable
apart from the oppressor.

with the same palm
which gave rhythm
and popped collars
now recruits fingers
to make hand
punch out and down
everyone else who he thinks
opposes him
and his pursuit of whiteness—

The Only One asks
Why we will not come with him?
Why we will not rejoice with him?

Why we will not betray
all that we know
and follow into the Sunken Place
with him when Chris had
his own friend
who was Black and male
to rescue him
because he had to GET OUT.

In this gospel
told by Jordan Peele
we find ourselves
In flashing lights hoping
What was there before
he fell, could be found
again—
to find nothing but carcass.

A house swept clean
Which the Only One
had the only, one key
And had the
One One’s had vision
wide enough
deep enough to keep
the Chicago River blue—
To keep the eyes of Black
and Brown children sparkly
because he looked like them…

now we have a relic
of what it means
to be both free and Black
but neither Black nor free!

and yet we are
to dispatch the angels
of our present warfare
to fight on his behalf?

No.

For the extremism
he is embraces
Before us all
draped in White Lives Matter
With his Balenciaga Binky
wanting power, comfortable
and luxury custom to him
By his own mouth.

Are we are supposed
ignore this…
because his mother is already dead.

But yet he spits
in the face of all our dead mothers
dead forefathers,
who fought for the right
for him to be the Only One
to walk in the spaces
do what he does best—

And here we are here
and here we will remain
be the evidence of
things spoken
those things hoped
for the evidence
of things not seen—
seeing him,
and all his glory,
because this is who he is now.

No longer an urban prophet,
but an urban myth,
and like all myths—
they must be disproven

-JBHarris

This Pen

A girlfriend of mine
said that my pen
gave her life—

I took it to mean
Life was in my pen,
which means that
there is Legacy
attached to my name,
and the words
I write have to
be indeed in cursive
so people see
what I’m saying.

it is to this pen
I have dedicated
life and love
the luxury of time
and lack of sleep
heartbreak
and philosophy
that make Black girls
Black girls even
when they are Black women.

Due to this philosophy
to this ink-inspired divinity
I have given my all to,
strive to give my all to—
bending of language
breaking of rules
to give myself
the freedom my ancestors died over.

The ability to
tell my own story
like I want
when I want
whenever I want
Being light, heat and matches.

To this pen
I bequeath everything in me—
Give everything in me
push everything in me
So what is in me
May come out of me.

I mean you only go across
this grass one time
so I want to make sure that
I stomp all the way to
the grave leaving a paper trail
as long as the linen Hatshepsut
was wrapped in,
Legacy wrapped in story.

You can’t spell immortality without I.

-JBHarris, October 2022

As I Go

When I was

Called from

Eternity–

I was

Baptized by water

Then, fire.

-JBHarris, July 2022