Category Archives: Finding Your Voice!

Day of Death Walk

Walking to school was the funniest thing.

Ashley and I often laughed our way to school. The walk alone was never boring; we generally made fun of the characters on the street. Something funny awaited our way to meet our school bus to Miramar Elementary School. We were the most popular girls in 5th grade.

We looked forward to our walks. There was a certain independence reserved only for these times. Any other time, we were confined to the sidewalk directly in front of my house. And once the streetlights came on, my front door was the proverbial limit.

There was much to be seen on any given morning. We looked forward to the funny men and women who graced the front of Jibarito Supermarket.  Ashley and I would ‘round the corner to our right, and head south.

7:30am.

Down 2nd Avenue, we expected to see various happenings: Dogs chasing men riding bikes; Hector’s daily prostitute dramas!

Maria always went back, even though each morning, she would be thrown out while she yelled and screamed in protest.

Hector’s wife was due home from working all night. And although we understood every Spanish word he yelled, it came in rambling, quick-tongue form.

Hector always promised to see her later, once Maria conceded the fight. She would gently gather her things, thrown out by Hector, from the sidewalk, and carefully fold each item. She’d hand brush her hair. Look around. Pout her lips. And proudly walk away.

Then there were the early-morning meetings with drug dealers, and their diligent day-workers. Their meetings were held from their low-rider Cadillacs, gleaming in the sun. Workers hunched in the passenger windows for their debriefing sessions and assignments.

The Jibarito Supermarket, being on our right-hand side, was where we expected the most action. There, an ever-changing, animated group of homeless people who looked like they represented the dingy version of United Colors of Benetton, congregated at its doors, to supplicate potential patrons to make their daily donations to their cause. In turn, they’d dance and entertain. They’d even open the door to help generous ones enter the store.

We’ve witnessed them push the store door close to non-generous ones.

That was funny to us.

Jose, the manager of this motley crew, was Cuban. Jose didn’t appear homeless, though. He was always clean, smelled of cologne and rum, and wore all white. White panama hat. White, crisp shirt. White trousers. White shoes. Jose was heavy set with a huge, square face and a bushy unkempt beard. His wild, salt-and-pepper hair tamed only by his hat. In fact, the only colors which adorned Jose were his generous set of reds, yellow-and-greens, blue-and whites, and other color beads which hung low to his belly.

As we approached, he balanced on each foot like a jester holding invisible juggling balls. He motioned towards the supermarket doors to usher givers in. He bowed as people entered, as if it was an invitation to a show. His show. He held the door with his right hand, the same hand which held his dented flask. It spilled his deliverance with each boisterous arm exertion. His theatrical left hand remained palm up, showing thick golden rings on his pointer and middle fingers. The jester’s smile, gleamed a couple golden teeth and golden crowns, as it tightly clutched a thick Cuban cigar. 

We were finally directly in his path.

“¿Oye, muchachas?! ¿Donde vayas?” He sang through gritted teeth; he twirled and swooped his waist to the right. He hopped to the left.

We veered to the opening right.

He immediately hopped to the right-leaving his scent where he had just stood. His golden teeth blinded us, but gleaming blood-shot eyes connected with us. His movements made him appear almost as a phantom, leaving a trail of white. I wondered if I had imagined it. He was both scary and amusing.

We stopped quickly-and dodged left-and ran. We ran away from the store, leaving his companions in the same uproar. They were laughing.

We were laughing. Holding hands and screaming, we ran down two blocks. Then, we stopped. We hunched over, gasping for breath, laughing uncontrollably.

We blindly walked and laughed as we continued south, down 2ndAvenue.

We passed 32nd Street.

Two days later, we heard that he had raped Carmen, a Puerto Rican girl in our grade.   

 We didn’t know if it was true or not, and our parents always said not to comment on things we didn’t see with our own eyes. And even then, if it wasn’t our business, to keep our mouths shut. You see. You don’t see. Well, we didn’t see-for real. So, we didn’t know.   

That was the last time we saw him.

7:40am.

Oblivious to any real danger, we walked one more block and enjoyed more minor thrills along the way. We saw Madame Union’s pit bulls mating. They seem to be having a group sex party.

I was just astonished to see Madam Union’s all white pack in full swing-humping.

“Ouuu!” Ashley beamed. “Let’s tie them.”

“How do you tie them?”

“Girl, don’t you know anything?!” Ashley asked. “It’s a Haitian thing. Anytime you see dogs fucking,” she grabbed my pinky finger with her pinky finger, “You tie ‘em up by doin’ this. You say my name,” She said as she pushed our joined pinkies towards me, “I say your name,” she said, as she pulled our joined pinkies back towards her. “Ready?”

“Okay,” I said. “Ashley,” I said cautiously, as I yanked her pinky towards me.

“Adrienne,” She pulled back.

“Ashley!” I got excited.

“Adrienne!” She matched my excitement.

We continued this way for a few minutes.

We were so engulfed in our spell, that we didn’t notice the moans of three coupled pits.

We finally looked to our right, where the orgy was, in Madam Union’s dirt yard. We witnessed the coupled dogs attempting to pull away from one another. They fought for freedom and all three pairs were stuck!

We erupted in laughter.

But the dogs were in visible pain. All three dogs pulled and pulled. But they were stuck.

“Ki es sa k’ap fout anmerde chyienm yo la?!” (Who’s bothering my dogs?) Came Madam Union’s boisterously shrieky voice, as she swung her door open hard with annoyance. 

Madam Union was the vodou queen. You didn’t mess with her!

We startled and broke out in lightning speed. We ran away laughing, to the sound of her precious dogs moaning in pain. We prayed she didn’t see our faces.

 7:50am.

Javier and Hector. They dropped out of Robert E. Lee to sell drugs for Papo. Their shift began early morning, I guess. Because they were soon approaching.  

 Instinctively nervous, I walked closer to Ashley as the gap between Javier and Hector and us closed.

“Y’all want some weed?” Hector, the one with slicked back, shiny-with-gel-black hair asked. His wife beater t-shirt was tucked firmly into his tight, light-stone-washed jeans. His belt seemed too big for the ‘fit. But he seemed to appreciate his own style. He switched from leg-to-leg, confidently, and leaned back, peering at us from his angled head.

“What’s weed?” Confused, I looked to Ashley. She knew everything.

“Some bullshit these assholes smoke,” Ashley replied right in front of him with disdain, “It’s like grass and they get all high-acting stupid,” she said as she twisted her neck. She then turned back at him slowly, fearlessly.  She glared at Hector. Then at Javier.

I was still thinking about how much emphasis she put on the word stupid. The word dropped slow and heavy, and the last syllable lingered on her tongue. That sound only comes through clenched teeth, with the tongue pushing up against the ceiling of the mouth. I thought it was kind of harsh. I wondered if she could have simply said, no thank you. But I assumed the stance. Whether she was mean or not, I’m sure she had a good reason for it. They didn’t deserve our kindness, anyways-being high all the time. They were stupid; dropping out of school and stuff. I had to be ready to fight if Hector got offended.  I looked at her distorted face, head cocked-to-the-left, and matched the look. I shared her glare to the boys.

Everyone knew who Ashley’s brother was. He was the king of that block. And you don’t wanna mess with Big E’s sister.

“Dayum, dawg, my bad. We didn’t see you,” Hector laughed, “Javi, let’s go, man.”  They backed up, and walked around us without saying another word.

The feeling of power crawled up my back. I felt protected and proud.  

Astride slammed her fist into her palm.

I thought that was a bit extra at this point.

7:53am.

“Maa-riiii-cooooone!” Wailed a drunkard walking towards us from a distance.

We looked at each other with mouths agape.

I blinked to see if I was hallucinating.

“Maa-riiii-cooooone!” Floated from his wet, dribbling lips again. Our crooner was lazily gliding towards us. His guayabera shirt was dingy and un-buttoned. It was a couple sizes too big, so it only framed his boney, peach-colored chest which looked like a canvas for sparing hairs budding.  His oversized trousers were equally dirty, and his bare feet were so darkened with dirt, it didn’t match his body’s complexion. “Maa-riiii-cooooone!” He yelled again.   

And that’s when I saw it.

A long oblong shaped penis protruded from his unzipped trousers, and dangled left to right with each arduous step the man took.  He was getting closer to us.

Too shocked to laugh. Too shocked to scream. Ashley and I looked at each other with inquisition marking our faces.

“Maa-riiii-”

Thwack! Came a loud blow to his head by a nearby savior. He had hit the Maricone guy on the head with a green Heineken bottle.

Maricone laid motionless on the floor, with blood pumping out of his head.

Ashley and I grabbed each other at the impact of the blow. Too shaken to speak, we hugged each other tightly.

The savior seemed to have come out of nowhere.

Everything went silent. And we froze. Heart stopped beating. Tears spilled from our eyes. We couldn’t move.

It was not funny.

7:56 AM.

We have to go. The bus is set to arrive at 8:00am.

I don’t remember catching the bus.

I don’t even remember the ride to school.

I heard or learned nothing that day. We floated through the day.

Every time we attempted to begin the conversation, we found no words.

We shook our heads on it. I shook my head to shake the images out of my head. I didn’t want to think about it.

5th grade felt like a container to suppress our womanhood.

Later, we learned that Maricone died.

That same day, Hector and Javier died. Got shot for stealing Papo’s weed.

Fat Cuban jester died. Carmen’s dad had a gun.

Our walks to school were no longer funny.  

Ingrate=Miserable

You know someone.

You know someone who is always miserable.

They complain about life, work, their spouses, their children, or lack thereof.

They come across as never being satisfied.

They’re annoying.

An ungrateful person will turn any situation into an opportunity to play victim.

They are conniving, but come off as sweet and helpless.

Beware.

No need in wasting time with these ones.

Their lives suck because they don’t know how to look at their situation as opportunities to do better.

They cannot get out of their place of lack, and imagine that each failure is a step towards their goals.

They don’t think that someone is doing much worse than they are.

They cannot imagine their situation can be worst.

We’ve probably all been there. I sure have. I’ve been the ingrate.

Misery.

Misery is linked to being in a space of ungratefulness.

If this is you, change your attitude.

Know that counting your “bliss” will help your chakra ascend.

Go to that place of peace.

Oh, there’s nothing to be grateful for? Your life is the shits?

  1. Are you breathing?
  2. Do you have access to clean water?
  3. Do you have a bed/couch/floor in a warm place to sleep?
  4. Do you have clothes?
  5. Do your legs and arms work?
  6. Does your brain still work?
  7. Are you able to eat?

If you answered “yes” to the majority of these questions, you are winning.

Most times, our situation changes with but a thought.

Change your thinking. Make plans. Today is not tomorrow.

Stop driving yourself into the ground with negative thoughts. Drive those away!

Remember, no one owes you anything. But you owe the world your gift. Find it. Share it. And that step towards your life purpose will change everything.

Remember to be grateful for the little things. That way, the universe rewards you with more to be grateful for.

Never forget a hand that helps you. Be loyal to those who are in your corner. Be grateful for the friend who is always there to help you, listen to you, put up with your shit.

Stop playing victim. Be honest to yourself. Analyze your situation and take ownership of your own decisions which have put you there. Then, design your plan of how to get yourself out. There is ALWAYS a way out.

Be kind to yourself. Stop bad-mouthing yourself. It’s pathetic, actually. You are born with special gifts and talents. Being special is a choice. If you do nothing with what you have, “special” doesn’t just fall upon you. Be great! Be special. However, sitting around moping about lack is actually diminishing your light. You’ll make yourself sick. Stop it.  

So, let’s go over this again. If you want to get out of your misery, start being grateful! Challenge yourself-keep going. You deserve peace. You deserve happiness. And we deserve to not put up with your crabby ass!

The Attacker

Tom Hoops

Faded screams and yells melted into the rhythmic drumming in sync with the bloody fists pounding against Carolina’s head. Her vision blurred, and she faded in and out of darkness and the prism of colors.

Her attacker continued the thrashing despite the screams of onlookers.

The scene was chaotic at least. Cars zoomed by, and honked at the onlooking crowd- which had all but spill into the street from the shadowy alley where most were suspended; they watching what must have been an epic event. The crowd jumped, hollered and pumped raised fists in the air; but it had an interestingly ominous feel. One couldn’t tell if what they were watching was exciting or dangerous. Passerby-ers couldn’t tell if the crowd was happy or afraid-the excitement and mayhem was that of something gratuitous being given, or some type of cock fight. One couldn’t tell by their reaction. From behind, a new comer can only see that many had pulled out their cell phones-that prevented any newcomers from seeing the event.  These lucky ones, who had gotten to the event early, were recording. Some continued to scream at whatever they were watching. Some ran out of the alley. But most stood, cell phones capturing the atrocity being committed, too immobile to decipher what was actually happening, with their mouths agape in a silent scream.

Carolina’s body weakened under her attacker, moribund and motionless. Her face sunken by broken skin and bones. Blood splattered everywhere and revealed white flesh, and muscles from her exposed cheeks and vertically split lips. The cartilage from her broken nose protruded from her disfigured face.

The Attacker grew tired. His hands were bruised and the blood which hid his knuckles was a mixture of his and his victim’s. He leaned back against his heels as his knees were hot and sore from the hot, asphalt pavement. He took a deep breath. He looked around at the cellphones in the air, and seemed deaf to the screams. His eyes were dark, glossy, but empty of emotion-they reflected the horror stained upon his audience’s faces. His break seemed to come from fatigue, rather than remorse. He rocked himself up slowly. His right knee came up as he planted that foot on the ground. He looked up again, with his right elbow propped upon his knee, and held his chin. He lifted that arm and wiped his forehead with a bloody backhand. He winced with pain from the contact of his forehead with his bruised knuckles. He then placed his hand back on his knee to support himself as he pulled his left leg up to finally stand up. He squinted as he leaned his head back to look directly at the sky, partially hidden by the flanking buildings. He didn’t shield his eyes from the protruding, yet glaring sun. He then placed both hands on his hips and inhaled slowly. He exhaled harshly, and coughed his head back down as his chin met his chest. He slowly raised his head and looked around. He wiped his mouth with bloody fist.

The crowd seemed to stop. All noise. Stopped. People became frightened and put their phones down. A few who dared to continue taping slowly backed out of the alley, pushing and stepping on whomever was behind them without so much of an ‘excuse me’.

The Attacker’s chest heaved up and down. His faced screwed back, as if he remembered his anger. He flashed back to his victim who laid there. Lifeless. And with the gasps and screams of a climaxed crowd who could take no more of the brutality, he gave Carolina one more swift and hard kick to the ribs. The crack of her bones muffled by his loud growl. And without so much of a glance at his environment, nor victim, he stalked away.

No one followed him.

“Call an ambulance!” broke the silence from the confused crowd.

 

Image borrowed by Emmi Grace’s article (Pinterest)

Numb.Dumb.

Am I numb or dumb?

The question is valid. One term does not negate the other.

Numb to your words-swords wielded to hide, abide, impose a belief, a lie.

Dumb to what is real, ideal, what you reveal, in every breath of your life.

Numb to what I should feel, what you steal like your ancestors taught you.

Dumb to what I deserve, what you serve, your nerve, to observe me

Numb to what ought not be, us, you and me, makes no sense in any reality

Dumb to what ought to be, queen, me, king, you, seeds, us, royalty

Numb to pain, gain, freedom, slain, heartbeat, sustains, life maintains

Dumb to loss, the costs, the contracts, the con, the tracts, bad deals, intact

Numb to love, hate, fear, fate, possibilities mate, lovers abate

Dumb to what’s left in the wait, bait, a date, to relate, my choice to vacate

Numb to reality, real lie, spy, cry, die, deceive, receive, a pile, of bile

Dumb to levels, degrees, merits, values, assets, carbon, magic, cosmic channels

Numb to justice, it’s just…us, what is just is, just is, nothing

Dumb to pockets, dockets, sockets, holes, deepening the space of where carbon molds

Numb to you, inflated glob of goals, moles, trolls, roles, no soles, because you have no soul.

Dumb to yield, relinquish, power, my ore-my skull, my mind, mine

Numb to relation-ships, friend-ships, court-ships, owner-ship, rider-ship, space-ship-dumb shit

Dumb. Numb. Mum. Mute. Voiceless. Overlooked. Disregarded. Dumb. Numb.

 

Being Yourself

We’ve all heard the adage, be yourself. As if people have an alternate choice than being themselves. What someone really means when they tell another person to be him or herself is, “Whoever you’re reflecting right now is not you.” Usually, this correction comes from adult to child. However, it is also given to friends from friends, to audiences from “experts”, and even to patients from counselors. But what is that? How are we to know when we’re not ourselves? We continue to try to fit ourselves in molds which we believe to be our true selves. It comes from beliefs, morals, our values, and even our upbringing. However, I believe that all the facets we are, in different situations, are our true selves. Embrace your selves. For you are not just what you think. You are ever flowing, growing, learning and evolving. Being yourself, is many things. And that’s okay.

My 8-year-old self healed me last night

I saw the gleam in her eyes first. She was short, but her slender appearance made her seem taller. Her dark chocolate skin shone and the sun’s rays bounced off the glistening fine hairs on her arms. She was me. And I watched her with curiosity. At first, I didn’t realize it. It was the familiarity of her smile, her spirit, that drew me in.

I did not realize I was in a dream, alternate universe-even. And at the moment I recognized the little girl I was staring at, I thought I had surely died, and all my selves were coming together…

She spoke first. “I know you. You used to always visit my dreams. Did you come from New York?”

Then I remembered how I had always believed I would move to New York. Live in Manhattan. Make a lot of money. Live in a high rise with floor to ceiling windows with panoramic views of the city. I’d have three boyfriends. Wow. Had I failed in life? “No-no,” I stuttered, focusing back to the little girl. “You know me?” I looked at her questionably as I cautiously approached her.

“Yes.” She said, decidedly.

I looked around and passersby without faces hurried to their unknown destinations. Traffic ensued busily as normal. But the space between us was incredibly still.

 

As I studied my young subject with a deepening curiosity, it all came back.

 

I don’t remember being so confident at that age. I gasped at her-grief-stricken, and awed at the same time. I studied her smiling face, and tears welled up my eyes. My nostrils burned and flared for air, and my palms sweated.

 

My heart galloped, and my voice lost its musical notes to what seemed like its final sigh of epiphany. Of course! This is precisely the time before I was molested. This is the Me before my innocence was ripped from me-when I was trusting, shining and lovely. This was the brilliant little girl all the teachers loved. This was the one who dreamed of being a mermaid, a TV anchor, and Supreme Court Judge. This was the one who fantasized about feeding all the hungry children in the world, and find some kind of ecological way to end famine and drought.

 

“Ah,” Little Me said with a wisdom that mismatched her size, “I see you remember.” She walked up to me, and gently took my hand. Her gaze and sweet smile never leaving my face. She said, “I’m glad you remember. And I’m just here to remind you to let it go. It’s okay. All that has happened to us, has made you who you are. You are okay.”

Then, she guided me down the street of our familiar neighborhood, and continued talking, “I remember you” she said again. “You were so helpful. You would visit me in my dreams. And tell me to be strong. You told me that I would get through it. That I would be fine. You told me that, He may touch our physical body, but we are spirit. And He couldn’t touch that. Don’t you remember?”

The tears streamed down my face incessantly. I listened to Little Me in silence. We walked.

As she talked, I remembered Me-that Grace Jones-strong-Black-woman-with-the-Mohawk, look-alike, who would come talk with me in my dreams, give me strength each night that I had silently cried myself to sleep.

I stopped and turned to her, “I do remember,” I said quietly. “Wow. I do.” And I hugged myself so tightly.

Then, Oya, Yemeya and Oshun formed a ring around us. Their light was blinding, but I their warmth and love permeated my being. Captured by their pervasive light, we were absorbed by it, transforming into it, and pulsing in the love of light which now blanketed us, fusing us into one, turning us in the fire, that I now recognized as the sun. We had become the sun.

The light of peace. The light of love. The light of the Sun.

And like that, I was peace.

I was love.

I was the Sun.

I was whole again.

 

The Journey with Creativity

 

You called me, creativity

I’m here, creatively

You’ve called me

But I’m yours

Yours to mold, creatively

You were never alone

But felt lonely

You were never lacking

But felt cold

What did you seek?

Did you think I was absent?

I’ve watched you grow

I’ve watched you learn

I’ve watched you become

Me.

You are, me.

I am, you.

And together, creatively, our journey will never be,

Lonely.