Naked Reflections Poetry: Shameless and Unapologetic

Author Archives: Joy

November Writing Challenge Day 2: Unmuted Muse

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Today’s prompt asked me to write about a challenge I had to overcome and to write about it in couplets.

 

Unmuted Muse

With a new marbled notebook and purple flair pen

I would unmute my muse’s voice again

Surrounded by teachers who love to write

We’d compose together and find our light

 

I chose to face my deepest fears

Some I’d kept hidden for too many years

Wondering if I could reveal it all

Or if writers’ block would be my wall

 

I started with Malibu Barbie, that bitch

Who made me believe I could be rich

And blonde and tanned and skinny and pretty

My hair was kinky and I looked shitty

 

Then cancer found its way on the stage

While tears bled ink on my page

I birthed words that once knotted my noose

Never expecting my spirit would come loose

 

Until that poem I titled RAPE

Would leave every mouth and heart agape

Cocked to speak and release the shame

I am not my tragedy, shout my name.

November’s 5-Day Writing Challenge: Day 1 “My Nana’s Kitchen”

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My Nana’s kitchen

Jam-packed

10 x 10

Painted in holiday memories

Turkey 

“Help me pull the innards out.”

Stuffing 

“We have to burn the toast first.”

Rice Dressing 

“Use the grinder for the onions and peppers.”

Candied Yams 

“Have you seen my marshmallows?”

Ham 

“Stick the cloves in.”

Green beans 

“You need to eat your vegetables.”

Mustard Greens

“Everyone loves my greens except you.”

Mincemeat pie

“You don’t know what you’re missing.”

Icebox cookies

“Stir the batter the right way!”

Fudge

“It has to melt all the way down.”

And her fizzy foamy fruit punch

Mixed with rainbow sherbet

Pineapple juice

And 7-up

In her antique punch bowl

“You better not break my cups.”

My Nana’s kitchen

Steeped in

Love

Family

Recipes

Life

Where I wondered 

if her cigarette ashes

ever fell into the greens

and the pie

Or if the food stuck to her dress

was from last year

or from when my Mommie was little

Where I couldn’t question her

because it was not appropriate

I had to trust her

because she was my Nana

October’s Writing Challenge #2: Use 100 One-Syllable Words to Tell a Story

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The C Word

a mass

stage four

in her right breast

the rare form

“What can we do?”

the dim doc said,

“Be there and take the time to help her through

she will get weak

and won’t want to eat or drink

she cried, “I won’t quit.

I’m strong.

I can beat this.

Don’t leave me here

in this cold room

take me home

where I can rest.”

Her kids and friends and us kin

watched her wilt

it took one year

to kill the bad cells

it took two more years

to kill all of her

rest on wings

pain free

In memory of my Shero, Donna Fulbright, who will always be remembered for her love, life, and unforgettable laugh!

Writing from a Picture: October’s Writing Challenge #1

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Imagining You

At 6:28

You stretched your old wobbly arms

Across autumn’s fiery sky

To find a quiet place

Where your crinkled crackly hands

Could touch both of your daughters’ hearts

You reached past a zillion grains of sand

Above dirty blankets swaddling homeless bones

Over salty hair flying in the evening breeze

On winding paths where bicycles whizzed by

And mothers towed tired children towards home

The sun’s gradual disappearance

Echoed how you silently slipped away

But its warmth and peace

Reminded us that what goes away eventually returns

We faced each other

And there you were

In our eyes

Looking right at us

Owning Your Narrative: A Tribute To Hispanic Authors Who Didn’t Allow America To Control Their Narratives

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Teaching my fourth graders

To be the authors of their narratives

To be the definers of their identities

To be the harvesters of hope

To be dreamers

Teaching my fourth graders

To shout their stories 

Until they ECHOOOOOOOoooooooooo

Beyond the boundaries of disbelief

Beyond the borders of shame

Teaching my fourth graders 

About the House on Mango Street

About Red Hot Salsa 

About the importance of family traditions

About Abuelita and Nana and Grammy

Who dreamed of and harvested hope

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