Naked Reflections Poetry: Shameless and Unapologetic

Memories of Mondays

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My Grandmother, Patsy Ann McPherson

Memories of Mondays

On Monday’s Chili Night
We’d drive down the hill
From our house to Nana’s
For a delectable family dinner
And bellies brimming with love
Five long miles later
Her old wooden door ajar for air and us
Enough to let the spices pique
We knew
It was a two-bowl night
A two-tortillas-and-cheese-on-top night
Some added Tabasco and black pepper
Nana’s Chili, always just right to me
Scooting up close to the table
My chin parked on the doily mat
All that good stuff
Nana’s family spread
Her “good bowls and plates”
Rolled up napkins because she’s fancy
Punch bowl ladle we couldn’t touch
Because our hands were wreckless
Mommie and Nana side by side
My sister and I eye to eye
Stepdad and cousin head the table
We’d eat
And laugh and talk
Joke about what Nana forgot to make this time
The cornbread or the salad
We would serve up round two
We’d eat again
And laugh and talk
I’d watch and remember
And make Chili Beans on a Monday night
Thirty years later

All The Things Left Behind

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©Glenn Carstenns-Peters

All The Things Left Behind

We saw their mail
Piling on the table by the door
Like if it didn’t
Make it into the living room
It wouldn’t have life

We knew he couldn’t manage
Living in empty rooms
Where memories floated
On dust particles caught
On sun rays
That never touched his skin again

We waited for that day
Like waiting for the elevator light to blink
And doors opening
To pour people
All over us
Because the piles spoke
Behind gluey seals
On certified warnings
That people were coming
To lock the doors forever

They gave him two days
To pack 40 years
Without enough boxes
Or back strength
We called our crews
Our village of warriors
Who moved fast
With fury and frustration
Until every car and truck
Filled to capacity

They made sure we didn’t leave anything
Important behind
Like my mother’s jewelry and coins
Her letters from our father
Her photo albums of us, them
Her artwork, statues, and ashtrays
Crystal punch bowls and the abacus
From our father’s many faraway trips

But what about the cement handprint
And our initials in the backyard tree
And the hopscotch painting out back
And holiday boxes in the garage
And the smell of the Christmas tree
Or the burning embers
In the fireplace

What about the splashing sounds
From summers in the pool
Music playing in earbuds
While sunbathing and daydreaming
And all the poems I wrote
In notebooks
In the backs of binders
That hid from hands and hearts
Other than mine
All left behind.

© Stacey L. Joy

Black Skin

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Black Skin

 

Standing in the mirror where age confronts memory

Beauty hides deep within the stories of my skin

 

Sunscreens and night creams slathered with care

Melanin needs help to protect a woman’s brown skin

 

Finding shades of caramel without greens and yellows

In makeup never mixed for the depth of Black skin

 

Shea butter and coconut oil line her shelves

Natural soothing salves bear the moisture of Mama’s skin

 

Draped in hip-hugging dresses and snugging pants

Captivate eyes in the rhythm of sisters’ skin

 

Paintings on my wall call my ancestors in

Dripping their blue-black and coal-black African skin

 

Tender caresses to calm our silent grieving

Born from the resilience inside beaten skin

 

Pure cotton sheets cradle my worn tired soul

Where I sleep and remember God is

the skin I’m in.

 

An Ode to Teaching and Learning Online

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Ode to Teaching and Learning Online

 

If teaching online

Could enrich young minds

I’d front line it

If Zoom morning meetings

Could beat in-person greetings

I’d co-sign it

If novel studies in G-Suite

Could light mind fires like Hot Seat

I’d design it

If blurry faces in gallery view

Could bring joy and love like hugs do

I’d refine it.

If “3 Quick Tips” in weekly office hours 

Could beat a teacher’s superpowers

I’d enshrine it.

If I’m forced into remote teaching

Could mean there’s no one I’m reaching?

I’d decline it!!

But if our lives aren’t worth saving

And the virus continues its graving

Retirement? Maybe I’ll find it.

The After-Life?

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Photo courtesy of Jon Tyson

Day 1 of 5: Today’s prompt was to write a rondeau.

 

The After-Life?

What if teachers never go back

Parents and tech pick up the slack

Students learn at their own fair pace

Resources and time laced with grace

Everyone wins on the same track.

 

What if schools gave out lunch and snack

Souls were fed, kept free from attack

Not harmed, murdered or judged on race

Will this be the after-life?

 

What if support destroyed all lack

Success something to be unpacked

Equity and justice, IN PLACE

Suffering in children, ERASED

Embracing lives in shades of black

Will this be the after-life?

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