Naked Reflections Poetry: Shameless and Unapologetic

The Privilege To Be

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June’s Prompt for Day 4 of 5: Write your destiny. I imagined a world different from the world I live in today.

 

The Privilege To Be

What if we attack hatred

With the same fire that we attack love?

No one policing the thickness of 

Our manes and braids, 

Crowns of grandma’s love

And great-grandpa’s strength.

They wouldn’t murder the souls of

Children whose parents cross borders to

Cater to people who never look at them.

 

What if…

No one shamed who married whom

No one denied us the right to breathe

No one had to be hashtagged

And body-bagged.

What if we attack hatred

Not because it’s trending or 

Caught on camera, but because 

Everyone should have the privilege

To be loved

To be safe

To be seen

To be.

Me and My Black Life

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The prompt: Write a List Poem; June’s Day 1 of 5

photo by: Kon Karampelas

My list came from various notes I’ve taken in response to the ways I live as a Black woman:

  1. Adjust to make you more comfortable
  2. Choose a gentler phrase
  3. Smile to mask anger
  4. De-center my voice from our conversation
  5. Wait to see if you will move over
  6. Move over first because you never do
  7. Search online for images like me that I won’t find
  8. Close windows to quiet your hatred
  9. Wipe mirrors to see myself loved
  10. Carry emotional weight I didn’t choose
  11. Disrupt texts that violate me and my students
  12. Stand proudly in intersections and margins where I live
  13. Highlight abolitionist teaching strategies
  14. Console a student who has fear for our lives
  15. Call my sisterfriends who protest and speak up
  16. Celebrate Black Joy
  17. Pray for my son because he shows his feelings
  18. Pray for my daughter because she doesn’t
  19. Laugh and cry because I’m here
  20. Add to my list called Anti-Black Racist Work

Daughter of…

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Daughter of…

By Stacey L. Joy, © May 10, 2020

I am Stacey Lorinn Johnson Joy

I am the daughter of

Gloria Lee McPherson Johnson Cooper

Adored as Mommie

Purest of people

Pristine and popular

Someone everyone admired 

Connoisseur of words and puzzles

Follower of rules and righteousness

Smoker, Bowler, Badminton Champ, Legacy Delta

I am the daughter of

Mrs. Cooper

Neighborhood Mom

P.E. teacher

Career Advisor and Counselor

Respected educator

40 years in education

Who taught me how to be me

I am the daughter of

Patsy Ann McPherson

Culinary Queen Nana

Seamstress

Family matriarch

Sweetest heart of the family

Loved to party and hated to pay bills

Taught me how to cry and dance

How to cook and eat well

I am the daughter of 

Proud independent black women

Working in my village

Auntie Joyce and Aunt Frankie

Sister Pam 

Who loved me before I was born

Cousins who have my back

Who are my chosen sisters and brothers

Who teach me that blood and water

Are both thick enough 

To bind us together

I am the daughter of 

Freedom and survival

Feminism and activism

Educators who write and break the rules

Who don’t back down

Writers who inspire me

Whose stories tell

The power of sharing our words

I am the daughter of 

God

Who creates all mothers

Who sustains all struggling women

Who heals all hurting nurturers

Who empowers and ignites all the work 

We all do and have ever done.

Day 17 of 30: Write Your Own Lines for Fortune Cookies

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Fortunes for Survivors of Misfortune

For those of us who have survived abuse…

 

Survivors of abuse have an automatic angel of protection installed in every scar.

When you can’t sleep, the angels are busy around you.

Your abuser never sleeps soundly.

Your abuser suffers from IBS and incontinence.

Your nightmares mirror your abuser’s reality.

Your abuser has no friends, no joy, and no money.

If your abuser is your spouse, leave now, don’t look back, and take your kids with you.

If your abuser is your lover, love yourself more and leave now.

If your abuser was a stranger, your abuser is now insane.

As a survivor, your eyes will catch eyes of other survivors.

As a survivor, you will tell your story to save the next survivor.

As a survivor, silence is shaming, sharing is empowering.

Each tear you ever cried was collected in God’s palms.

God releases 100-fold blessings for each tear you’ve shed.

Don’t fear being abused again, all abusers are afraid of you.

Don’t fear falling in love again, but fall in love with yourself and God first.

Golden Mornings (Day 23 of 30)

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Today’s Prompt: Write a poem related to the passing of time or life’s cycles.

 

Golden Mornings

In my childhood during spring

the morning sun’s golden rods

barged past my thin curtains

to awaken sparks of hope

that summer days

inching around the corner

would arrive

FINALLY

no more school

no more homework

no more schedules

time to be unaccountable

 

Today, a month into spring

the morning sun’s golden rods

pointed to my Keurig

an ironic calm in my cup

awaiting one touch

to fill the room 

with the aroma of the day

AHHHH

no clothes to press

no lunch to pack

no desks to wipe

time to pray for our world

Teach Heart (Day 15 of 30)

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Today’s prompt is to write an acrostic analogy poem. This poem is for my students and coworkers in quarantine.

Teach Heart

Teach is to inspire as

Education is to inquire

Academics are to be second when

Children’s needs are to be first 

Heart matters more than

 

Having scores rise or fall

Everyone is to quarantine

As no one is to gather

Remote learning is to disengagement as

Teaching from home is to a call and silent response

I’m From (Day 12 of 30)

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Today’s prompt: Write a Where I’m From poem. I have been writing these for a long time, so it was refreshing to write a new one with different content.

I’m From

I’m from “Put your hands on your hips

And let your backbone slip!”

From my mother’s strong legs and thick thighs

To wide smiles and dark brown eyes

I’m from four generations of freckles and moles

To “Stop combing your hair so much and maybe it’ll grow.”

I’m from Gloria and Jay

Both graduates of U.C.L.A.

I’m from playing school and wanting to teach

To walking on the sink to get things out of my reach

I’m from Are You My Mother?

To Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret

I’m from creating a hidden reading room in a linen closet

To card-table tents and Barbie campers

I’m from a big yellow house on a hill in “The Dons”

To pool parties and Slip ‘n Slide scratches on my knees 

From backyard baby showers and Christmas Brunch

To classy Bridge players and domino dads talkin’ trash

I’m from Hopscotch and laggers on the side of the house

To a daring first kiss that made me shiver and spit

I’m from Nestle Quik’s chocolate bubbles floating in my milk

To Gogo Burgers and Tito’s Tacos with guacamole

From burnt cheese toast and El Patio Mexican restaurant

To sardines and crackers after Saturday morning waffles

I’m from Nana’s Monday night Russian Bank and Pokeno

To Mommie’s badminton matches on Sunday mornings in the gym

I’m from “Drive safely and don’t stay out too late”

To cheerleading at Friday night football games and Shakeys after

From “You will not be driving for 2 more weeks”

To senior prom and graduation parties past curfew

I’m from “Mommie, I think I’m pregnant”

To sedation at a clinic plagued with regrets

I’m from growing up and moving out 

To dorms, apartments and owning my condo

From married with two children and too many jobs too young

To divorced, grateful, and balanced 

I’m from the suffering of my mother’s and father’s cancer

To the resurrection of hope and joy after grief

I’m from struggle, suffering, injustice, and inequalities

To taking a stand, sitting in, and marching onward

I’m from knowing my ancestors had it harder than us

To trusting that God is still the same today and always

I’m from poetry, chalk, protests, and music

I’m from breath and spirit 

I’m from love.

Isolated and Free (Day 10: Golden Shovel Poem)

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Today’s Prompt: Write a Golden Shovel Poem. Find a poem that speaks to you, use the words of that poem down the margin of your own poem, then write your poem around those words.

My poem is inspired by a poem by Reyna Biddy from her book A Psalm For Us. 

Isolated and Free

What was life like BEFORE
This pandemic thought PUTTING
Us in isolation might bring FORTH
Kindness? Are we to BLAME
Can we ACKNOWLEGE
Or consider THAT
Our collective hatred and ABUSE
Would have consequences? God DOESN’T
Like ugly, people ALWAYS
Say. But what may COME
FROM
Our solitude and shelter is AN
Embracing and gratitude of the beauty OUTSIDE
An unquenchable desire to discover our SOURCE
For peace and love. SOMETIMES
We need silence and stillness. WE
ABUSE
Others beyond repair but we abuse OURSELVES
To God’s despair. Go inward and examine yourself MENTALLY
Give your mind and soul an EMOTIONALLY
Uplifting message. Sing, dance and find a PHYSICALLY
Healing and strengthening practice. Rest assured, SPIRITUALLY
You are covered in God’s grace and mercy. Use your isolation to FREE
YOURSELF

 

Voices in the Darkness (Day 8: Inner Voices Poem)

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Voices in the Darkness

 

“I need to sleep or I won’t be any good today.”
They say when you can’t sleep, you should just get up and write
“Who said that?”
God is trying to get my attention and He has it at 2, 3, and 4 a.m
“But what does He want me to do if I am sleep deprived? That can’t be God.”
Maybe it’s Mommie trying to send me some signs from Heaven
“Surely she can see that I need to rest and sleep, slobber and snore.”
I’ve been giving too much attention to devices and distractions
“I should commit to meditating and yoga after my morning worship time.”
You can barely sit in a chair without getting stiff, imagine sitting on the floor
“I got that yoga mat for sitting on the floor, so it’ll be comfy.”
What yoga class will I try, I saved about 15 when I felt ambitious
“If I keep eating bacon with breakfast, I will need to jog not meditate.”
When did jogging become impossible, did I ever jog for fun
“Joggers get high when they run!”
Wine makes me high and I don’t have to move
“The article I read said that wine can interrupt my last hours of sleep each night.”
Pandemics and masks, gloves and deaths, my students without school, missing friends and family, listening to an idiot calling himself a leader, watching the numbers jump by the thousands, staying at home, remote teaching jokes, parents homeschooling nightmares, to zoom or not to zoom, staff meetings, virtual happy hour, throat tickles, cough, pray…
“Shhh, do I hear something outside? No one should be outside!”
It’s the neighbor coming home from graveyard shift so maybe I should be grateful and go back to sleep
“I hope she’s safe and well and knows she’s appreciated.”
Maybe I should get up and bake her some cookies

They Haven’t Yet (Day 7: An Ekphrastic Poem)

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Today’s Prompt: Write an Ekphrastic Poem. Spend time in the scene of a photograph and write a poem in response to the work of art. My poem is a response to Group of African American Children Playing from the early 1900’s.

They Haven’t Yet

They haven’t yet heard their mamas wailin’
When their daddies got caged no chance for bailin’
“Don’t understand, ain’t done nothing wrong!”
But skin too black and mind too strong

They haven’t yet gone to the Negro schools
Where white folks be callin’ them nasty fools
Young church ladies try their hands at teachin’
On Sunday evening after pastors done preachin’

They haven’t yet been beaten or kicked in the streets
But they seen Hatred ridin’ behind white sheets
White men breedin’ their power and hate
In a country where nothin’ ain’t never been great

They haven’t yet stood in line to vote
Rights and equality ain’t even been wrote
Their own children haven’t yet been born
In a nation where they’ll forever be scorned

They haven’t yet died while trying to live
They had only one smile and laugh to give
They had only one hand and hope to hold
They had only each other to love and behold