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Poem: Attention Seeker

You have my attention

never lost it, despite

trampling it with dismissive ridicule

What will you do with it now

What have you ever done

To keep my focus and hope

other than laugh and brag with friends

while keeping me in perpetual limbo

Indeed, have you ever given me

your purposeful attention

Focused your energy on me

Strove to be more than

a nice guy liked by all

Did you ever envision yourself

as a man of integrity standing by my side

A man of purpose joining his strength to my vision

Unlikely, as your form of noncommunication

layered with emotional hiding

seduced me into the shadows

I can think all the thoughts or not one,

do nothing, say nothing

and get the same wide-eyed,

“I’m a nice guy” non-response

received when I did everything

to look like a fool out of my depth

A foolish woman

who gathered all my available courage

to speak all my known words

of admiration, love and desire

To a being who sparked the light in my spirit

yet could not comprehend the nature of my offer

Now I understand my vibration

was beyond your frequency

You couldn’t perceive me

beyond the physical appearance

you considered unworthy of your commitment

My attention meant nothing when it was all I had to give

Even though it’s what you wanted most from me.

You were attracted to my light but had no respect for it.

Yet here we are orbiting still

What are your intentions?

Do I willingly enter your rabbit hole

of emotional grief with no hope of any satiation

To allow you to feast off my energy

Watch you eat

As I starve

You bask

I wither

You soar

I drown

You chose someone else

I grew in grace, seeking understanding

from a God who would put you

in my spirit, yet keep you out of my life

Maybe you were never the one

I was to commit my future to

Perhaps the real test is trusting God to provide

beyond what I sense in a life set on orbiting you. 

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Poem: This is a test

this is a test

and only a test

if I do nothing

what happens

if you do nothing

what happens

if I do something

or anything

perhaps one more thing

what happens

if you do nothing still

what happens

if I do everything

all things

reach down to move your feet

or up to puppet your lips

what happens

and if at the end of it all

you still do nothing

what could have possibly happened

your heart and will

are yours to control

mine are mine to protect

for every level of effort

I perform, the outcome remains

no forward motion

no synchronicity

no reciprocity

so I’ve learned to do nothing

like you ….  

flirt with the air

deny responsibility

through inaction

save energy

stay where I am

move forward on my own

momentum with no

expectation or disappointment

after, it was only a test

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Poem: Have I ever loved?

Who am I if not
A creature created in the
Image of love?
But what is an image
If not a facimile?
Non-original
Incapable of being
Authentic
If love is a reaction to receiveing
For we love because
We have first been loved
Then what of the love
That was supposed to pour into me?
What am I pouring out
If I haven’t first received?
In this dimension there has been no
Sheltering arms
Encouraging embrace
No partner or mate
With whom to lay down
Or to build up
What would I know
Of a gentle touch
A tender kiss
A thrusting merge
An expectant birthing
A purposed feeding?
How am I to learn
The deep nature of
Sharing in true
Relationship?
When my existence
At every level
Has been solitary
Relating to myself
Even in
Disagreement
I am right
Though my conclusions
May be wrong
If I don’t even know
What love
Looks like
Feels like
Sounds like
Smells like
Tastes like
How could I possibly
Recognize love
Identify myself
As love
Give what I haven’t
Recieved?
All these years
I thought I was offering
Though I knew I was begging
Trying to avoid my emptiness
Attempting to camouflage
My brokenness
Seeking to heal to
Wholeness
While offering my image
Of wholeness to the broken
But if love is
Absent from my being
How was I ever whole?
How was I ever able
To offer myself?

7/15/19

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Poem: No Straight Lines

If life isn’t linear
Then we’ve already loved
Believing time wasted away
Waiting for what’s
already been

If love isn’t chronological
Surely there are no regrets
Deja vu confirms
What’s come and gone
Past is prologue to future’s past

Reality is never knowing you
Even as my spirit calls you home
Though we’ve only shared shy fleeting touches, my body
Flushes with memory of joys
Yet to come
How can there be certainty of tomorrow while languishing on yesterday’s dead-end paths?

If life were a straight line
Perhaps we would have missed each other in the rush to reach all the next destinations

Perhaps it’s better that we met on this long winding road and continued our separate paths

Perhaps combusting too early would’ve been mutual destruction
Fire that once consumed may now simply keep us warm
Comfortable enough to sustain life
Not enough to turn back time
Maybe we needed to learn to control passions, hopes, expectations
Maybe we needed to unlearn biases, roles and assumptions

Is that reductive reasoning?
A function of call and response?
If existence is a squiggly fifth dimensional experience
Suffering must be an element
Necessary for elevating consciousness

I see you. I feel you.
Yet you’re always out of reach
Present in mind, absent in body
Still, I am here. Where in the continuum are you?

How do we reconcile space, time, and
Waiting through choices that made
Parted ways divergent lives?

~ by LaShawnda Jones, 2022

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Quote: “Parted from me yet never parted.”

Last week’s Star Trek: Strange New Worlds used a beautiful greeting between lovers that really spoke to me. It was repurposed from the original Star Trek series, Season 2, Episode 1.

T’Pring: “Spock. It is I.”

Spock: “T’Pring. Parted from me, and never parted. Never and always touching and touched. We meet at the appointed place.”

T’Pring: “Spock. Parted from me, and never parted. Never and always touching and touched. We meet at the appointed place. I await you.”

(Star Trek, 1967; Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, 2022)

Shortly before hearing this greeting, I had written a poem with a similar theme (see next post for full poem), snippet below.

Reality is never knowing you
Even as my spirit calls you home.
Though we’ve only ever shared shy fleeting touches, my body
Flushes with memory of joys
Yet to come.
How can there be certainty of a future while languishing on a broken detoured path?

#startrek #starcrossedlovers #poem

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Poem: Bury Me in a Free Land by Frances Harper

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Make me a grave where’er you will,
In a lowly plain, or a lofty hill;
Make it among earth’s humblest graves,
But not in a land where men are slaves.

I could not rest if around my grave
I heard the steps of a trembling slave;
His shadow above my silent tomb
Would make it a place of fearful gloom.

I could not rest if I heard the tread
Of a coffle gang to the shambles led,
And the mother’s shriek of wild despair
Rise like a curse on the trembling air.

I could not sleep if I saw the lash
Drinking her blood at each fearful gash,
And I saw her babes torn from her breast,
Like trembling doves from their parent nest.

I’d shudder and start if I heard the bay
Of bloodhounds seizing their human prey,
And I heard the captive plead in vain
As they bound afresh his galling chain.

If I saw young girls from their mother’s arms
Bartered and sold for their youthful charms,
My eye would flash with a mournful flame,
My death-paled cheek grow red with shame.

I would sleep, dear friends, where bloated might
Can rob no man of his dearest right;
My rest shall be calm in any grave
Where none can call his brother a slave.

I ask no monument, proud and high,
To arrest the gaze of the passers-by;
All that my yearning spirit craves,
Is bury me not in a land of slaves.

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Poem: Death is passive. Killing is not.

This poem came from frustration with the passive language most media use to report state-sanctioned murder and police brutality. They say “the death of” this person or that person, as if the person died in an unremarkable way. They speak of people who “lost their life” as if the opportunity to reclaim lost life is available. A more accurate wording would be “life was taken.” Life was stolen. Life was destroyed by someone who had no right to take a life.

Death is passive. Killing is not.
On the lynchings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breyonna Taylor and George Floyd

Death is a passive word.
There is no story attached to death.

Killing is an active word.
Someone does something:
Killer killed.

There’s always a story attached to a killing.
Who did the killer kill?
Why did the killer target the victim?
How was the victim killed?
Will the killer be prosecuted?
Is the killer still breathing?
Why do killers kill?

People who kill inherently believe
They are judge, jury and executioner.
They are the law,
Inhabiting space above, beyond
and around societal norms.
They enjoy an extrajudicial existence.
The law as we know it
needs to be eliminated.
We need to write new laws.
We need to establish new societal norms.
Killers need to know
Murder is not something else
Because of their badge
Skin color or family connections.
Murder is an intentional act.
It is purposeful destruction of an active life.
Murderers think they have the right
To take away life.
To steal another person’s breath.
To extinguish a human being’s light.
They do not have that right.

Witnesses need to name names.
Supervisors need to hold perpetrators
Accountable for their violence, brutality
And abuse of authority.
Administrative leave is not enough.
Job termination is not enough.
Payouts to injured families is not enough.

Full accountability and prosecution
of killers is necessary.
No matter their uniform.
No matter their perceived goodness.
No matter their community.
A killer is a killer. Their victims
Don’t just die. They are killed.

Breathing is active.
Breath is sacred.
Air is life.
We are all created beings
with the same Right to Life
and unhindered breathing.
Access to air should not depend on
Assumptions, opinions, political views,
Occupation, wealth, social status,
Skin color, mood, hatred of fellow humans
or self-hatred. Access to air should
not require legislation.
Yet here we are.

There is a great lack of understanding in America,
An astonishing general ignorance across the continents,
Of an elemental natural truth:

The deeper you grind US into the ground,
The stronger OUR roots become.
One day, your tsunami of brutality
Will wash you and your generations
Out into the sea you brought US across,
While WE who are deeply rooted in the soil
Will not only still be standing,
But will be flourishing. Gloriously.

~ LaShawnda Jones, May 2020

#newpost #blog #poem #wordpress #policebrutality #murderbycop #murderismurder #kill #death #media #biasreporting #passive #active
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Poem: Gwendolyn Brooks: America in the Wintertime by Haki R. Madhubuti

Gwendolyn Brooks: America in the Wintertime

in this moment of orangutans, wolves, and scavengers,
of high heat redesigning the north & south poles
and the wanderings of new tribes in limousines,
with the confirmations of liars, thieves, and get-over artists,
in the wilderness of pennsylvania avenue,
standing rock, misspelled executive orders
on yellow paper with crooked signatures.
where are the kind language makers among us?
at a time of extreme climate damage,
deciphering fake news, alternative truths, and me-ism
you saw the twenty-first century and left us
not on your own accord or permission.
you have fought and fought most of the twentieth century
creating an army of poets who learned
and loved language and stories
of complicated rivers, seas, and oceans.
where is the kind green nourishment of kale and wheatgrass?
you thought, wrote, and lived poetry,
knew that terror is also language based
on denial, first-ism, and rich cowards.
you were honey and yes to us,
never ran from Black as in bones, Africa,
blood and questioning yesterdays and tomorrows.
we never saw you dance but you had rhythm,
you were a warrior before the war,
creating earth language, uncommon signs and melodies,
and did not sing the songs of career slaves.
keenly aware of tubman, douglass, wells-barnett, du bois,
and the oversized consciousness and commitment of never-quit people
religiously taking note of the bloodlust enemies of kindness
we hear your last words:
     america
     if you see me as your enemy
     you have no
     friends.
Source: Poetry (June 2017)
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Poem: Gwendolyn Brooks by Haki R. Madhubuti

 

Gwendolyn Brooks

she doesn’t wear
costume jewelry
& she knew that walt disney
was/is making a fortune off
false-eyelashes and that time magazine is the
authority on the knee/grow.
her makeup is total-real.
a negro english instructor called her:
       “a fine negro poet.”
a whi-te critic said:
       “she’s a credit to the negro race.”
somebody else called her;
       “a pure negro writer.”
johnnie mae, who’s a senior in high school said:
       “she and Langston are the only negro poets we’ve
       read in school and i understand her.”
pee wee used to carry one of her poems around in his
    back pocket;
       the one about being cool. that was befo pee wee
       was cooled by a cop’s warning shot.
into the sixties
a word was born . . . . . . . . BLACK
& with black came poets
& from the poet’s ball points came:
black doubleblack purpleblack blueblack beenblack was
black daybeforeyesterday blackerthan ultrablack super
black blackblack yellowblack niggerblack blackwhi-te-
       man
blackthanyoueverbes ¼ black unblack coldblack clear
black my momma’s blackerthanyourmomma pimpleblack
       fall
black so black we can’t even see you black on black in
black by black technically black mantanblack winter
black coolblack 360degreesblack coalblack midnight
black black when it’s convenient rustyblack moonblack
black starblack summerblack electronblack spaceman
black shoeshineblack jimshoeblack underwearblack ugly
black auntjimammablack, uncleben’srice black
       williebest
black blackisbeautifulblack i justdiscoveredblack negro
black unsubstanceblack.
and everywhere the
lady “negro poet”
appeared the poets were there.
they listened & questioned
& went home feeling uncomfortable/unsound & so-
       untogether
they read/re-read/wrote & rewrote
& came back the next time to tell the
lady “negro poet”
how beautiful she was/is & how she helped them
& she came back with:
       how necessary they were and how they’ve helped her.
the poets walked & as space filled the vacuum between
       them & the
lady “negro poet”
u could hear one of the blackpoets say:
       “bro, they been calling that sister by the wrong name.”

Haki Madhubuti, “Gwendolyn Brooks” from Don’t Cry, Scream © 1969 by Haki R. Madhubuti. Used by permission of Third World Press, Chicago, IL.

Source: Don’t Cry Scream (Third World Press, 1969)

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Update: I AM WOMAN Essay & Portrait Project

I spent the summer photographing women.

In February, I quit my corporate job with a determination to pursue my creative interests. Specifically, writing and photography. In the late spring I decided I wanted to chronicle this moment we’re living in by putting a camera and a mic in front of everyday women and asking them what their womanhood means to them.

I AM WOMAN is an essay and portrait book project that was born from a desire to give Women a platform to describe themselves. The catalyst for the idea was the state-sanctioned assault by police officers on Chikesia Clemons at a restaurant in Alabama. In the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3eI5F-AUVw) you can see two male officers yank on her arms, pull her out of her seat, throw her to the ground, sit on her, threaten to break her arm, choke her, expose her breasts, then flip her around by her neck and belt to put her face down on the restaurant floor. A third officer stands over her the whole time. Unfortunately, these videos are not uncommon. However, what stung was seeing male patrons in the background continue eating as if a dehumanizing physical, racial and sexual assault was not taking place in their presence. The only person trying to help Chikesia was her female friend who also filmed the assault. I am hard-pressed to imagine men sitting by so calmly had a white woman been so brutalized in their presence.

The foundation of the project is the desire to combat the idea of women as sexual objects. There has long been an extremely visceral hyper-sexualization of womanhood, girlhood, and the feminine form. For Black Women and Girls, we are sexualized, used, abused and discarded without even the defense of our humanity. We are inundated with images and words that render women as no more than shallow, one-dimensional receptacles for men/boys to deposit their disdainful waste into or to fixate on as a waste depository goal.

The title of the project derives from a combination of Sojourner Truth’s 1851 speech, “Ain’t I A Woman?” and the “I AM A MAN” signs used during the Civil Rights Movement in 1968. It’s unsettling that anyone still needs to declare their personhood in 2018, but here we are.

As a Black Woman, I want to explore and present the experiences of Black Women in America as the first stage of the project. I want to share the every day woman’s perspective of herself in an environment, culture and country that is intent on not acknowledging her except as a dehumanizing stereotype. Basically, I am tired of hearing and seeing what the world thinks of Black Women. I want to know what Black Women think of themselves.

Overall, in the larger Sisterhood of Womanhood, I know the struggle is universal. Across the United States, no matter what demographic groups we fall into, Women are essentially telling the same story. We aren’t seen. We aren’t valued. We are not respected. We have to fight for any measure approaching equality to a standard set by men. We may have different starting points, but for the most part we are all chasing the same goals: love, acceptance, appreciation and respect for our contributions.

I didn’t have any defined expectations for the contributors when I began, but I am surprised and humbled by the messages (read: heart) shared by the Women and Girls who have participated in the portrait sessions and submitted poems and essays so far.

Though the written submissions for Phase 1 is focused on Black Women, the initial portrait sessions were open to all women. From June to September, I offered free portrait sessions open to anyone interested in participating in the I AM WOMAN project. During this time, I photographed fifty-five Women and Girls across the country, including New York City, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Phoenix. The goal of the photo-shoots was for the Women to represent the word they used to describe themselves. “I AM WOMAN. I am _________________.” Quite a few used more than one word. Of the sixty-three words collectively used to describe the participants of the portrait sessions, I’m glad to report “sexy” was not one. The most common words used for self-description were: Strong, Powerful/Power, and Love.

img_1969-e1538082503936.jpg
Word cloud of words used by portrait participants to describe themselves.

Happily, I have more than enough photos for the portrait portion of the I AM WOMAN book project. However, I am still seeking written contributions for Phase 1: Experiences of Black Womanhood in America. If you would like to contribute, please email Shawnda@Spirit-Harvest.com.

img_2001
Gallery of I AM WOMAN images.
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Gallery of I AM WOMAN images.
img_1390
Gallery of I AM WOMAN images.
img_1389
Gallery of I AM WOMAN images.