Naked Reflections Poetry: Shameless and Unapologetic

Day Three of Writing About a Photo for 30 Days

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We all have various paths to walk in our lifetimes.  Some have paths outlined very clearly, usually by parents.  Those paths are often the most difficult to trudge.  Others have “suggested paths” by parents, caregivers, teachers, or other influential people.  The suggested path is often the one that seems sensible to follow.  Of course, why would anyone suggest a path that would lead to anything other than success?  We trust that the suggested path is safe and reliable.
But the questions we all have to eventually ask ourselves is what path am I preparing ; what path will I forsake; what path am I taking; and ultimately what path will be left for someone else to follow after I am gone?  When I look at the path of my own life and reflect on the various forks in the road, unexpected u-turns, obstacles, hazards, diversions, and even the smooth and easy experiences along the way, I always come back to the same conclusion…it’s my path and what I make of it that determine the journey and the ultimate destination.

I have wanted more than anything to set and suggest paths for my son and daughter that would bring them success and fulfillment.  Then, I remember that a parent may set a path, but it may be the hardest for the child to follow.  I remember that my suggested paths are well received, but whose path is is really?  Mine or theirs?  

Now that my children are 20 and 23, I have relinquished the responsibilities of creating a positive future by setting or suggesting the paths for my children to take.  Now, I watch from afar, yet with my heartstrings still in their hands, as they both walk their own paths.   When they need a boost, I’m there, but I can’t create the path. What may seem curvy, slope-ridden, winding, and treacherous to me may actually be the roads to build my children’s successes.

What is most important for me to do at this point in my life is to be sure that the path I have created for ME will be worthy of others to stand on, walk on, and follow.  I hope that one day a little kid sees my footprints in the sand, and instantly he puts his tiny feet into my prints and walks along the shore with me.

Day Two of Writing About a Photo for 30 Days

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Unspeakable Joy
My last name
A blessing to have
Sometimes called “Joy Joy”
Other times just “Joy”
The book I bought called “Joy”
“If we want joy to be the story of our years,
joy must be the story of our days.”
Joy is every day
Joy is awakening to new beginnings
Joy is knowing that I’m loved
Joy is being able to be me
and have no worry
I am Joy
I have joy
unspeakable joy
and this is only Day 2!

Day One of Writing About a Photo for 30 Days

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This beautiful Christmas Cactus was given to me a year ago by my dear friend Kim.  She gave one to me and to my sister as a way of expressing her love to us as we grieved the loss of our mother who passed away 3 days after Christmas.  When I looked at the flowers a year ago, I thought about how fortunate I was to have good friends and family who were tenderly reaching out to me during such a difficult loss in my life.  

Now, when I look at the blooming flowers, I see the reminders of love, concern, and friendship that come from someone I truly adore.  My friend is struggling with her own sickness right now, so it’s my turn to extend the same kind of support and love to her that she showed to me.  I would select a flower to give to her, but of course I don’t know which one would be most memorable.  I would select a plant for her, but plants can be so temperamental!  Maybe I should select the best words to say and the perfect words to write, and give her a gift that never dies, never needs watering, and always remains constant.  The gift I will give her is the gift of words.

Memories Mommie Left Me

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Mommie left me memories

Tucked inside my heart

Memories for each season,

Every day, every night

They flicker in my eyes like little bits of light

Memories of First Days of School

Special clothes, new shoes,

Folded money in a white envelope for PTA Dues.

Memories of Halloween

Bags and bowls filled with treats

A costume made from Mommie’s closet

With party shoes like pedestals

On the soles of my feet.

Memories of Mondays at her Mommy’s house

Nana up all day cooking and smoking

Aching back, hair a mess

Dancing around in her favorite house dress.

Mommie sketched me memories

On a piece of faded notebook paper

She scribbled over the list for Santa

Made cookies and poured his glass of milk

Added flocking to the Christmas tree

Above the rotating blue light

shining like silk.

Mommie stashed a memory

Within folds of my warm fleece sheets

Always soothed my soul at night by

Rocking me into the most peaceful sleep.

Mommie awakened memories

in the dawn of each new day

of Saturday morning waffles and crunchy bacon

to summer sandwiches seasoned with




Mommie imprinted memories

On childhood healing

Bayer aspirin’s peach-colored tablets

Rubbing me down and asking me how I’m feeling

Memories linger in Lemon Heads and Pixie Stix

Malt Balls and Tootsie Rolls,

Sour Dill Pickles, Sardines and Saltines

But especially in a box of her favorite Cheez-Its

Mommie sang a memory in Aretha Franklin’s

“Natural Woman”

In her grandson’s songs from high school musicals

And in a summer symphony of waves crashing

Mommie trickled tear-stained memories

Of how to fight like the queen of humility

How to be victorious in the face of hostility

How to struggle with dignity

How to laugh through insanity

How to never use profanity

How to embrace Christianity

Through lessons taught to all humanity

Memories Mommie Left Me

Are memories never left








In loving memory of my beautiful mother, Gloria Lee Cooper

(June 21, 1934 December 28, 2010)

Holiday Smoliday

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Hustle and bustle, shopping and spending, running around and stressing in crowds.  Not my plan at all.  This holiday season will be the first in my life without my parents to celebrate with me.  I decided a few months ago that I would focus on blessings, memories, and not get caught up in Holiday Smoliday.

What is Holiday Smoliday?  To me, it’s when everyone else’s plans, wants, and needs become priority.  My priority has to be the wellness of my mind and spirit.  My priority has to be the happiness of my own family.  My priority has to be appreciating what I already have.  I am expecting nothing other than peace this holiday season.

I pray that Holiday Smoliday doesn’t come my way.  I just want to rejoice in all that God has given me. I don’t need Thanksgiving or turkeys, dressing, pies, or icky mashed potatoes to feel that kind of joy!  That joy lives inside of me, and for that I am eternally thankful!

Swamped and Surrounded in Love

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I can’t believe it’s been a month since my previous blog entry.  That’s because of school starting and life going back to the regular routines of “busy-ness.”  I have to say that I am overwhelmed with gratitude and thus I must share.

When the school year began on Sept. 7th, I felt rejuvenated and literally reborn.  I knew that this year would be so much easier and more pleasant than the last.  Why??  Simply because I have no sick parents, no hospitals to trek to daily, no medicines to administer, no pain to pray away, and no sleepless nights.  2010-2011 brought many unexpected life changing experiences with the loss of both my mother and father.  Now, I can reflect, write, continue to heal, and move forward with their blessings and unconditional love flowing through me.

I have begun a new venture through the U.C.L.A. Teacher Ed Program as a Faculty Adviser and an instructor for the LEAD Teacher Certification program.  It’s amazing how God has given me new opportunities, the tools to make them rewarding and the people to help me along the way!  He is an amazing God and such a wonderful Father.

I know that Mommie is proud and watching it all from her special spot in heaven.  I feel her presence and her love like never before, and for that, I am truly blessed.  I can say with a smile now, “My Mommie is with me all the time!”

I knew this day would come, but I just didn’t know when.

Peace and Blessings!!

Lake Tahoe Time

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I am in Lake Tahoe with my sister and husband.  It is absolutely beautiful!  Unfortunately, we are here because of my father’s sickness and ultimately his passing.  A few months ago, he offered his week-long vacation (fully paid) to us because he realized he would be too sick to travel, especially if he were still undergoing chemotherapy.  We really appreciated the offer and obviously accepted it without much thought.  We have only been here 2 full days and already I am wondering how I can make the most of the remaining 5 days.

Why is it that when I am given an opportunity to relax, refresh, rejuvenate, my mind spins on things that will destroy this relaxation and rejuvenation?  School resumes in less than 3 weeks, and my thoughts continue to drift to what I should be doing to be better prepared for the opening of the school year.  This is insane and ridiculous.  Do I need therapy?  Do I need someone to tell me “give it a break and just relax!”  What do I need?  Maybe I need someone to say, “Hey, I do that too!”  Misery loves company, but I don’t want to be miserable!

I look out at the picturesque and breathtaking views from this perfect resort, and I see possibilities, strange curiosities, and really ridiculous insanities.  It’s possible that people really do have fun on vacations even when they have full knowledge that in a matter of days their bliss will come tumbling down and they will be back to the daily grind of work.  It’s possible that some people go on vacations once in their lifetimes and therefore what I see them doing is appreciating the blessing.  It’s possible that a few people, like me, appreciate the time away but don’t know what to do when their minds won’t just stop spinning new thoughts.

I am curious to know why there are so few opportunities like these that have come to me.  Why is it that I had never been here before and wonder if I will ever have the chance to visit again, possibly in the winter, to witness what so many other people around the world have witnessed.  Snow-capped forests and mountains are seen from the freeway by my house, but very rarely are they seen up close.

I am driving myself insane with wondering what, why, how, when, who, and where.  I don’t really want to think about any of it anymore. I just want to enjoy this blessing and see the people, places, and experiences as once-in-a-lifetime moments that I get to re-live for 7 days.

I have a few minutes left before I need to figure out dinner.  I decided that I won’t think about that…I will take a nap instead!

Cool With Being Me

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I don’t go camping

I have never skied

Oldies but Goodies don’t make me wanna dance

And I don’t need Cocoa Butter for dark spots on my knees

I am a black girl, African-American woman, simply cool with being me

Don’t put me in the One-Size-Fits-All box

I don’t have a big juicy booty

I don’t have rolls that make my man happy (take that literally)

And I really could care less if water makes my hair nappy

I am a black girl, African-American woman, simply cool with being me

I will never be seen in pajamas outside

I don’t wear my husband’s shirt to go to breakfast with the dog

I never read the newspaper, but I spell better than most

And I have been known to lie in the sun along the coast

I am a black girl, African-American woman, simply cool with being me

Please don’t ask me to make you some soul food

I don’t eat that shit

Please don’t ask me to play Bid Whist

I don’t play that shit

Please don’t ask me to do the Cupid Shuffle

That’s some stupid ghetto shit

Ask me to dance one-on-one

And I’d love to do that shit

I am a black girl, African-American woman, simply cool with being me

I overachieve in whatever I believe

Because that’s what I’m supposed to do

I appear sweet and thoughtful

But I will kick your ass if I have to

My face may say what my mouth won’t

But I will cuss you out if I need to

I am a black girl, African-American woman, simply cool with being me

I don’t wear size 16

I don’t use double negatives or misconjugate my verbs

I never put Vaseline on my lips

And I won’t change a nation with my hips and curves

But I will teach you to love when you’d rather hate

And I will show you why it’s wrong to be colored-people’s late

I will give you my very last dime

And I will write you a poem that doesn’t have to rhyme

I am a black girl, African-American woman, simply cool with being me

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Silent Dialogue

Stacey Joy

In the beginning,

Almost anything can happen.

This is when you first hear the news

When light becomes dark

Days blend into nights

And whispers are noisy

Like everyone knows the secret

Except you

You have the “C” word

The word that’s harder to say when it’s personal

You have cancer

This is the very beginning.

The doctor is not yet someone you admire or trust

more the bearer of news you’d rather never hear

White and powder blue lab coats don’t know your name

Your face is not yet recognizable

This is the opening scene, Act 1

Cancer creeps on stage

Cloaked in mystery




Your solo is now a duet.

Act 2, the middle

Everything normal fades

Medications and doctor’s appointments

Scans, needles, questions

Probing and searching

The second scene, Act 2, takes place in the sky

The first-time skydiver’s descent

Praying through the fall

Not to hit the bottom

Before deploying the automatic activation device

Backsliding through MRI’s, PET Scans, and ultrasounds,

Crabbing from hospital to home

The parachute opens

as your duet falls freely to the ground

Only to realize you will jump




Many more times through Acts 2 and 3

But you always rise again in Act 2

Until the duet

Becomes more complicated

Cancer’s silent dialogue

Competes with your spoken monologue

The fall begins to feel more like the end

Intermission awaiting remission

But Act 3 opens

You and cancer take center stage

                Who has more lines

                Who has more pain

                Who has more strength

                Who has more life to live

                Who can change the blocking for this scene

You need a wardrobe change

Gowns grace everyday fashions

Hair and Make-up artists can’t fix


Broken skin
skin with remnants of vitality
Water, cancer water, fills you

Cotton pricks your skin
that burns fragile, transparent, bruised
Act 3, The Grand Finale

This is the last straw

The last row

The last one chosen

But this time you didn’t want the part

The lab coats, needles, and scans

The last round of chemo

The last chance for poison to protect

The last prayer to SAVE a solo

The last stench of the putrid bile

The last “morphinic” stare

The last cry

The last blink

The last kiss

The last hug

The last breath.

No Curtain Call

Everyone leaves

Cancer now a solo act 
Without an audience.


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The conclusion of the 2010-2011 school year comes at the end of this week, and I am truly thankful.  I am not sad, I am overjoyed.  I know that it has been one of the toughest years in my 25 year career, but I also know that I have given it all I possibly could give.  I have only done what I have always done, and that is work within my calling.  I am a servant of God.  He chose me to teach, that is one of my gifts, and I teach with 100% determination, perseverance, and purpose.  If my students faltered in any way, there is peace in knowing that I did all that I could do, each and every day.

I had a discussion with my principal recently.  I expressed concern that educators today are not equipped or trained to deal with the changing generations we are teaching.  Somewhere along the way, children became technologically responsive, but personally disconnected.  Somewhere along the way, children were given what they wanted, but never had to work hard to earn anything.  Somewhere along the way, parents allowed their children to disrespect their teachers because these children were imitating their parents.  Somewhere along the way, teachers were expected to continue to reach, teach, love, guide, nurture, plan, facilitate, and educate regardless of the types of children they were given.  This is what I have done, and for that reason, I am overjoyed to see the conclusion of this school year ahead of me.  Although I am not trained to deal with the changing generations, I am highly trained and effective at doing what God gave me to do.

I know that in a matter of weeks, the fire will be reignited.  The fire that calls me to the classroom in the Fall with new ideas, fresh materials, and a rekindling of desire will burn on high to make a changing generation believe the unchanging dedicated teacher!