Tag: writing

River Deep, Mountain High (Elegy for Tina Turner)

It is of the rolling of

Water in muddy rivers

That give the rebel

To the Belles along

Mississippi banks–

Give roar to what

Should have been


Gave power in havoc

Passion in chaos

And Anna became

Tina to tell us

How to get over

And the end of

One life is the

Gift of another.

The ancestral is God’s memory after all.

that is memory

Is gifted as


-JBHarris, 5.24.2023

Written after the passing of Tina Turner at age 83. STL KIDS CHANGE THE WORLD.


On Mother’s Day

Note: The line “No Black boys die on Mother’s Day” is taken from the poem of the same name from the book A PECULIAR PEOPLE by Steven Willis.

On the Internet,

there’s always

a thread going

that wishes mothers

happy Mother’s Day.

the one day

of the year

that the women

who are charged with

running the world are

supposed to put their feet up–

and yet the feet are up

and at’em

making sure kids

faces are washed

Breakfast is made

and coffee may be

sipped cold–

if at all.

on Mother’s Day,

we celebrate the

mothers of queer children

Disgarded and forgotten

By family of their births

the mothers who

are aunties by blood,

mothers who do

the job of mothering

when no one else would

whether it be in classrooms,

boardrooms, or in laundromats.

mother is both

noun and verb–

and because it is both-

–a thing and an action–

it is constantly needed

I know there was a poet

that one time that said

“no Black boys die on Mother’s Day”

because life is present

wherever a mother may be

Or lay their heads.

Happy Mother’s Day

to the women who

decided to mother,

even when they did

not know how

happy Mother’s Day

to the women who

stand in the gap,

and fill the gap,

and know how

to slap

away all things

by which attack the

children that are

in their charge.

Because trust and believe

no village is complete without a mother…

It is the women of your blood

that have gotten you this far.

It is the women of

your understanding

and of your ancestral forgetting

who have gotten you

to a place

by which you,too,

can step into the realm

known as mother.

Whether your womanhood be new

Forming, learned or Ancient,

because we know the ancient of days is also an us…

Happy Mother’s Day

is the whisper of breezes

through open windows

on summer nights

is why we fight

it is how we rage

against the dying

of the light…

go on mother we see you.

-JBHarris, 5.14.23

Final Reflection

This year was introspective for me.

I was forced to think about things I was scared to, while making room for myself. I think the presumption is poets will have this never-empty, never-ending reservoir to soothe or settle those that read our thoughts.

I’m always humbled for it by anyone who reads my work or is inspired by it. Sometimes the wells we pull from for others, are dug by our own hands–watered by own tears!

Yet, we write.

We create.

We serve. Make no mistake: a poet is a servant. Perhaps this is why Baldwin said it is a horrible tragedy when a nation ceases to produce poets.

The poet remembers what everyone else forgets—and gives light when all is lost. On this, perhaps, hangs humanity.

30 Days Of Jaye – Day 23: Ghosts

What do I do

Now when what you

Left me with

Haunts me…

And with all resolve

As faith gives

I send it back to


The love was mine—this is mine.

I give this back to you!

I will not leave you to rest!

When it calls to you

from the depths of

what you thought

was dead

to quicken you

with kisses warm

and love a deep

reminding you of just

what you held on

for the glimpses of

future hidden in

past if I were

To just give you

more time

“You know

I love you

You know

she cannot be

what you are to me…”

Wait for me

you are my heart

love of my life…

there’s a chance

wake me from

summer willing my heart

to start all over again

so the wedding

won’t be so hard

this time perhaps

-JBHarris, July 2021

30 Days Of Jaye – Day 13: Our Hours

Note: This piece will be in THE DEATH OF PETER PARKER & OTHER FAIRY TALES (August 2023).

In the myriad of hours

that I count since

counting you

as part of my hours

And days taking

your smile

your laugh

your joys

into all considerations

I wonder

is there ever truly room

for me in your hours

And days

to be counted

important among?

Counted enough

to be worthy

to be chosen.

From the pondering

I find myself wanting…again

-JBHarris, December 2021

For This We Praise

Taken from Hannah Drake’s Twitter (4/7/23)

when they tell you

to write your bio,

tell them your pronouns

are try and me.

when they ask

your job description

your designation,

your pay rate

tell them you are

a troublemaker,

and you were

born to be a problem.

Show them your skin tone

the color of sun–

of the most excellent Earth,

by which your ancestors

were chained to,

brought from

you have every right

to exist

to challenge

to be

and be outspoken

even when your voice shakes.

be in the room

to bring others in

the room.

Let nothing be the same after us.

In this the holiest

of representation

of the I in us,

and we in them,

no, and we be the people

by which they represent.

We are going nowhere.

We are whom your ancestors

Warned about:

Melanin-wrapped memory.

Whom are called and unbowed

We are here and are coming.

There is no door locked us

because we will

bust out windows.

Change is here.

Let it continue with us.

-JBHarris, 4/7-2023

Written in response to the 2 Tennessee Representatives expelled from the Tennessee House of Representatives in April 2023. They were expelled because they were demanding gun reform. On 4/7, they were reinstated.

The Villain Is A Black Woman

This nation has spent the majority of her history, all of her history, getting free labor from Black women: skilled/unskilled labor, child labor, and emotional labor.

This nation does not know how to function without the suffering of Black women; us having to shrink to fit a white aesthetic, or into a white room. So many times we as Black women have to adjust to the climate of a room, to dial back our blackness, to hold our tongues, or change it in order to appease whiteness.

Yet, we know that whiteness can create nothing, but mimics everything. That which you cannot mimic—it will erase. The speed it which this nation will try and honor Black women, whether that be at the end of their lives, or posthumously, so as not to see their faces. To not honor that which they have already born life, limb and blood to accomplish, despite everything being said against them!

The Villain is always us. The villain is always us because this nation does not know what it’s like to not have a nigg3r.

Did not Baldwin in his prophetic genius warn us about this? This nation needs to reckon with why it needs such anunder class! Also, why it needs its underclass to be Black.

The villain is always Black women, because the pedestal was never made for the weightiness of blackness… It was only made to exploit it. The fact that Angel Reese is the most current victim of this country’s villainization is nothing new!

This nation, it is most important that white women protected. In order for that to be so, it must save them from savage,uppity Negresses.

Yet, who is really the savage?

Amy Garvey wrote in 1925 in her essay HISTORY IS A WEAPON that if there is any woman that is worthy of honor and respect, it is the Black woman. As quickly as black women ascend to pedestals—even if they build them out of the mud themselves!— the moment that we do not perform as the three ring, circus known as America, wants us to, it is quick to snatch us from it!

As if we are dependent upon it.

Whenever a Black woman makes her space, owns her space outside of whiteness, the moment that whiteness does not receive gratitude or believe our gratitude to be insincere, it dismisses us.

Yet, we have no need to be defined by whiteness. We have no desire to have our standard be based in whiteness! Black women are now rejecting this. The question really is, what kind of Black woman makes you safe? Because whiteness is known to kill those Black women too.

-JBH, 4.3.2023

One Day 6 Years Ago…

This photo was taken by Rachel McShane on April 1, 2017 at Blissoma in STL, MO. The celebration of the first cycle of The Awakenings Project (Awakenings I)

This day is powerful because my best friend asked me to contribute a work to her project. I started blogging 4 months before, and had published 4 books via Amazon with the decade old poems that I had (Love Songs Of The Unrequited, Volumes 1-3).

I had no idea how all this would shake out, or go forward. I was stepping into a place familiar and foreign.

I was asked to add my voice to something—and I was honored. The Awakenings Project was an incubator for me as an artist, space holder, platform builder and…griot.

That piece (FIRST, AWAKENINGS) gave the mantra: “I AM SHE, SHE ARE WE.

After that reading, I got the confidence to start this ever April. This is now year 4.

I consider this my spoken word birthday!

It was my introduction into a world I had dreamt of as a girl with the active imagination! It is a mixture of love, relief and power whenever I remember this night.

I am grateful to my best friend who believed more in me than the man whom wanted to spend his life with me. Who still does believe in me.

Thank you, Marissa.

Thank you, The Awakenings Project.

Part 4: “Anything You Can Do, I Can Write Better”

The written word will always have power. No matter if it is in pen and paper, light in screen, or pencil etchings, and a notebook. As long as human beings have the power to record their own narratives, there will always be two sides to every story!

for the cars, it is essential that we understand just how important gatekeeping of language is, that language will still always invite intimacy, and it is important for minority people to have their story told as well.

it is for the want to control the narrative that Christ was made white, right?

as long as I as a writer, who identifies as black and female, have the resources at the ready to tell my story? I am going to tell it! I’m going to tell it because it needs to be told. There is an intimacy that goes along with this black, female experience that can only be reconciled, and understood by other Black people, and especially other black women. My language lends itself to, and towards that intimacy and experience!

If you take my words for me, you are actively engaging in my erasure! just because you can use a word that is used by people in a community that you are ingratiate it in, that you grew up around, does not mean you have the freedom to use that language, those words in a contacts reserve just for the people in that community and experience!

It’s deeper than, “You can’t say that.“

You can’t say that because you haven’t lived that.

Part 3: “You Can’t Get Like Me”

“Language invites permission.” -JBH

My best friend is Sicilian. There are words she and her family says that I can’t. It is the for the respect of her, her experiences, but I don’t repeat those words.

They are not mine to say.

Most communities have trauma-inducing words: some language has a history of harm. Because language involves intimacy, acknowledgment, and intelligence, it is essential that we understand that they are just some words you don’t say. Or if you do say them, you have to deactivate the trauma, they may be within them.

Then the greater question becomes: who owns language? While there is no easy answer to this, there is a resolution to it.

The resolution to this is found in respect. The person who is speaking, who has the experience to convey their thought, and share their intimacy, through conversation. They are the ones who own the language of that space.

if you were not the person in the space, by which the language, the idea, or experience is geared toward or taken from, you are not essential to the conversation – you are a participant and an active listener in the conversation.