Thursday, May 02, 2013
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Monday, July 23, 2012
Well, thankfully, I don't have one of those little blessings with mouths yet, I have been around the world (kinda) the last couple of months, and I've been on website hibernation the whole time. Toured the east coast solo-dolo, had another amazing week at Cave Canem, went to England again with First Wave, now I'm sitting at my mentors coffee in Oakland, looking at the sun, feeling the sweet soar on my traveled feet, listening to my future ex-husband Frank Ocean, and this whole blur of 2 months is coming to an end in a few days.
I took off the day after graduation, which means I recently joined the ranks of young people with very expensive and flammable pieces of paper and no job (for now), and I have been dizzy every since with bills, growth, writing, teaching, learning, smoke, songs, and good food eaten with good people. I've realized over the last few weeks that 1. I am a full fledged adult, complete with stress and people who look up to me (AHHH! Scary!) 2. That there are no excuses for anything really. 3. That I am sooooooo terrified and excited for whatever the next year of my life will bring. This will be the first year since I was 5 that I am not in school. That's Nuts. That's a problem with the Education system and what our society values as education too, but mainly it's nuts.
Sunday, April 08, 2012
5 for skin, 1 for me
Because we wake up every morning dressed
for a funeral, because the night is jealous
of our mothers, because the night is jealous
we get to flirt with the sun, because the sun
scribbled his name on my grandfather’s skin,
because the dirt is our closest relative, because dirt
made everything, because everything is black,
because James told me to be proud, because I am
most days and on the others my heart feels like my skin,
because you in a room full of all that dark
you learn to trust your hands, because hands
are the only thing that God worried about giving us.
is not a word, is a picture.
How many dead bodies floating in that dash?
How many little black waves of skin sit on my tongue
when I say that? How many times have you been to Africa, Danez?
Africa is a word I smelled walking down Lake St, but never held
in my mouth? I told my fairy Godmother to send me home and she took me
to Mississippi, wrapped me in cotton and told me to run
until my feet muddled to mush. I told her I meant Africa,
but when she dropped me off, I stood lost, could even ask for directions
in the right language.
means brother. means friend. means you sound stupid.
means get over here and see this shit. means you got my money?
means God is good. means I should have been dead five times now.
means I see you and yes, you exist too. means here you can take off
your flesh and rest a spell. means spell it with an –er and get slapped.
means my God, my God, how did you love us so soft in the night
but this morning my baby still ain’t home. means you seen Sharon lately?
She ain’t looked like herself since that nigga James left her
with all them kids and a head full of rollers. There’s dust in the pew
when she used to build a throne, but you know now a heart broken nigga be.
is white sand under my tongue. makes my mouth
full of a pink whip, teeth like overseers, two suns
in the back of my throat melting the song
out of all the people I come from. Nigga
is poison and honey, is blade and feather,
is dancing with your man with a gun to his head.
Nigga shot your son and called the ambulance.
Nigga donated it’s whole check to the church
then burned it down. Nigga called you dumb
and smart. Made you Prisoner and President.
Nigga called your mama the other day,
sang her favorite song on phone
and called her a monkey at the end.
Nigga love you and hate you. Nigga hate you
my gums is purple and pink.
my ass is blacker than night
and ain’t never seen the sun.
My eyes is pecans dipped in milk.
My heart is blue as a ocean to drown in.
My lungs might be pink. Might be black by now.
My feet red from running away still.
My throat like the soft of a woman.
Men leave they white there.
My soul used to be yellow as a free sky
still you reminded me this world is a big cage.
My soul crow-hued. My skin glued together
by my parents, drunk and singing Prince.
My skin patch-work. My skin quilt.
My skin built for you to lay up under.
Danez James Smith
He be a piece of sky ripped right from God’s nightgown, when he lay down with swollen feet and a scarf on and listen to all these prayers in his sleep. He be a piece of God ripped to shreds, scrap book gospel of a boy who be Linebacker and Cheerleader, who gangsta lean and switch them hips, who keep something lit on his lips and blow smoke in the air like he making a new sky, ripping off God. He be black. Say something. Be laced in Leviticus when he lay with a man as he lay with his women. He be in love all the time. His whole self be one big heart. He fell in love with fire, beasts, distance, corners, the bottoms of bottles, white boys, strong sistas with nappy crowns, mens and womens from all over this mess God made, and more words than you can wag your tail at. He be an animal. Got teeth build for destruction. His mouth be a cemetery of all the lonely people in this world. He got skin like a revolving door. He ain’t so bad. He learned the words body and share on the same day. He is a good day. He good. He got to be. Every morning he wake up next to a stranger, even when it’s himself and he know the first words out his mouth got to be Thank you, Thank you God.
Friday, April 06, 2012
Through The Side Door
Ester met Ed with five babies in his arms
and a smile she hadn’t seen since the last time
she tasted sugar cane in Arkansas. How could she
not love him? All them squirming, screaming black
things pulling on that pretty suit coat,
he was type of man that could hold her
in the middle of the night and make her not shake
and cry for Robert, God rest his soul. God bless
her daughter with another father. This one
made the sugar water run down her leg like
a red popsicle in July.
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
‘Don’t Blame The People. Blame The System’
When half my senior class didn’t graduate
The math department threw a pizza party
For themselves, how was it their fault?
The System did it. Not them.
When Trayvon Martin tagged the sidewalk
With blood and sweet tea, George Zimmerman
Took a long nap, dreamed of women and football,
Woke up and washed his hands of the System’s work,
Went ‘bout his day whistling like the sun was just shining
And mourning another child who smells of dirt too soon.
When your grandfather went to the lynching,
He only went for the sandwiches. It wasn’t him,
It was the System. It was the System
Who made them boys hear ‘Go!’ when them girls said ‘No!’
And maybe if the teachers would have spent more time
On alphabets than detention slips, we wouldn’t be sitting here
Trying to conceive people it ain’t coincidence N and O sit next
To each other in line, but that’s the Systems fault.
The System thinks brown boys look good in orange.
The System thinks Allah and Fire and Boom are synonyms.
The System starts the search when no one’s seen Amanda
For two hours, doesn’t flinch when no ones seen Akeisha
For two weeks.
Sad, how cruel the System seems to be.
You seen the System lately?
Someone told me they saw the System round the corner, but when I went
There was not a System to be found, just mirrors and people.
Everybody acted like the ain’t seen where the System went, but
My hands? Why they got all this dry red? Look! It’s on yours too!
Tuesday, April 03, 2012
‘Sir, is she your mother?’
for the MPLS Airport TSA
Why no, ma’am, the woman you pulled aside
and asked to take off her hijab is not my mother,
but if she was I would ask you to kindly and swiftly
remove your hands from her face, her faith, whichever
makes you scared shitless. You should be thankful
she believes in silk, I know men who went blind
trying to look a black woman in the face, you think
you can mean mug the sun and not get the Icarus
slapped out of you? You think you can win a staring
contest with the mother of all them Gods you see
dead on the news? You too old to be this afraid
of the dark. How you see danger in them eyes?
I see home, not Somalia, but the Southside in them
two shining balls of earth popping out that slick, black
crown she drape to keep you safe from her beauty
and no, ma’am, I don’t know her.
I forgot to tell you before we hung up
I don’t know how to write
you poems yet. You are too much
clay in God’s hands. When I asked
him how to love you, he shrugged,
puzzled by your festival of skin,
your bouquet of eyes, your voice
a dancer draped with wind
chimes. I could listen to you
breathe on the phone all night,
but it’s time to go to bed.
I have a big day tomorrow.
I’ll wake up, attempt to love you
how you should be, stumble, fail,
and thank God for you
seeing something in me
worth waiting for
it’s way to the light.
Sunday, April 01, 2012
The Gospel Of Judas
One night, after the wine was dry
as ash of a damned city
and the fish was a pile of bone
and sacrifice, the son called me
to his feet, told me the meaning of my name
(praised, admired) and for this
God gave me a mouth full of wrecked metal
and wood, splinters from Adam’s broken rib
daggers fashioned by the worst of thieves
to steal the light from the world.
Could you if your maker
told you to disassemble him?
Could you if God put a blade in your hand,
said gut like a commandment?
Our lord placed his death on my tongue
forced that brutal communion
down my throat, I swallowed
because I believed, vomited
his name at Pilate’s feet.
I had to. I had to
trigger his soul’s rise to sky,
his body’s fade to dust, his slow march
to his final throne. I had to cross him.
You call it betrayal, I call it
the first step toward your salvation.
You drenched my name
in spit, left it in the sun to rust
before you knew the whole story,
before you knew how necessary it was
for me hand over the savior
when the nails and nine-tails demanded his name.
Would you believe in God if he died
of old age? Could you worship a man
who looks like your father?
The King was just as smart as he was holy.
He knew people only dazzled at miracles
and blood, he’d already given us
so much of the first.
And truly I tell you, he rose
and before he visited Peter
and all those wailing men, he came to me
not to wash his blood from my hands,
but to write me a new name with it.
Judas, ordained backstabber.
Judas, catalyst of the resurrection.
Judas, who does what he is asked.
Judas, who loved the lord so much
he obeyed the order no matter
how much the world would curse him.