Naked Reflections Poetry: Shameless and Unapologetic

Ancestral Dreams (Choose art for Hispanic Heritage Month and write a poem that speaks to the artist’s work.)

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My poem was inspired by Carlos Almaraz’s pastels on paper called, “I Dreamed I Could Fly.” © 1986, Carlos Almaraz Estate

"I Dreamed I Could Fly" Carlos Almaraz, 1986

 

Ancestral Dreams

Standing tall and old
in front of my childhood home
was the tree that held the faces
of relatives long gone
of ancestors in chains
who called out to me
soundless
hands reaching
with love
eyes like guiding lights

Divine powers cloaked me
into sacred sap
down to invisible roots
“Fear not the flames
Nor the storms.”
Fires burned rooftops
Smoke billowed from windows
But heaven’s hallowed haze
Shifted to show me myself
Flying and free.

Chocolate, a Relative, and a Diploma (a 3-Elements poem)

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Everyone graduated from college

My village of educated relatives

Framed diplomas adorning our walls from

The UC’s, the Cal States, and the HBCUs

 

But no one talked about

The pain or the insanity

Of trying to fit into petite square boxes

With our plump chocolate hips

 

No one sat us in the family circle

To discuss how divisions

Destroyed mama and daddy

And how he never wanted her to work

 

And we walked on cat’s feet past the door

Where mama’s light began to dim

Where her song shallowed

And daddy always left at night.

An Ode to Legs of Long Ago

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You were always beautiful

Even as newborns with folds and creases and extra layers of fat

I am grateful for the quiet ways you carried me

The way you walked the paths set before me

The way you bent and stretched in my youth

The way you opened like polar ice caps

To sexual pleasures and child birth treasures 

You knew what my future held

The life of a teacher who rarely sat down

A mother who would chase little ones

Who would attempt to roller skate

and ride bikes with teens

Who would bake for hours on tired holiday feet

And who would ignore you late at night

As you cried for a gentle massage

I wish I had cherished you more then

When you were the strength and tautness of my roots

When your canvas of caramel coffee

Had no strange blue and green streaks

When your smooth surface wasn’t lumpy and bumpy like curdled milk 

I miss you

Legs of long ago

But I am learning to love the new you

Learning to listen when you’re hurting

Learning to laugh when you slap each other or stick to each other

From the heat that burns within

Dying to Live

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A Blackjack Poem: 3-Line Stanzas with 7 Syllables in Each Line

Dying to Live

She filed for divorce one day

But it took forever to end

Twelve dark months to be exact 

 

But twenty-nine years married

Ripped bloody holes in her soul

And bulldozed her emotions 

 

A woman dying to live

Will eventually choke time

To cocoon herself with God

Back to School Nightmares (BTSN)

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My friend said he’s still having nightmares

After 23 years teaching

I thought

Every year of my entire teaching career

Before returning to my classroom

BTSNs devour my sleep

I’ve misplaced my classroom

I can’t talk when the students say hello

All the preparation is suddenly gone

My shoes are missing

I wore pajamas instead of my new clothes

A boy hits me and I hit him back

The principal decides to fire me

My lunch is rotten

My car is stolen

My alarm awakens me

I’m thinking I’ve found my car

But all I find is it’s time to wake up

And I haven’t even

Fallen asleep

Narratives of a Black Woman: Unappreciated

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Narratives of a Black Woman: Sick

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That Kind of Mother

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Cleans the house with bleach while the children play outside kind of mother

Finds ways to make meals when her money is tight kind of mother

Works two, three, and four jobs when she’s a breadwinning kind of mother

Hides her pain to make cookies and cakes at midnight kind of mother

 

Cries at 2:45 a.m. when her child is struggling in school kind of mother

Prays to God at 3 a.m. for strength to carry her children through kind of mother

Takes her children to the altar kind of mother

Teaches them not to lean on their own understanding kind of mother

 

Knows how to use a needle and thread kind of mother

Asks for help when math gets too hard for her kind of mother

Tells the truth about why they can’t have new shoes kind of mother

Is never too proud to go without so her children can have more kind of mother

 

Looks in the mirror and sees possibilities kind of mother

Looks in the past and honors her struggles kind of mother

Looks her son and daughter in their eyes to ease their pain kind of mother

Looks at herself with gray hair, folded skin, tired eyes, calloused feet,

aching hands, broken heart, and prayed-on knees and says

I have been that kind of mother.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who know that kind of mother, are that kind of mother, or hope to be that kind of mother some day.

Narratives of a Black Woman: Breadwinner

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Narratives of a Black Woman: PTSD

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