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Ode to Hanif

They painted over the graffiti in my basement this week. I’m sitting at a French restaurant drinking chamomile tea with whiskey. Last night I let a Haitian man seduce me with his 90s hip hop mini disc player. His manners are impeccable and we’re kind and testing. Kind of texting. But post truth is coming up a lot this week. My red finger nails against this white tea cup. I painted them for Christmas lights. It’s the same red as blood. I’m reading Hanif Willis-Abdurraqid and he’s seen a lot more other people’s blood than me. I wonder whose choice that was and when they made it. I assume it was a man’s. It makes me want to get more loud but [misogyny], and being an empowered woman is synonymous with feminism but I’m not an activist: I’m just strong. 

buying coffee in Crown Heights

checking out on
Franklin Avenue,
the man behind
register with his
crooked smile

to eye me

“there are baskets
there, why do you
not take one
for your things?”

“i’m fine i don’t
need one.”

he takes
a stuffed
sold at
the counter

“here i am going
to give this to you.”

“no, thank you.”

tic tac-ing up

“i am going to
give it to you it
doesn’t cost
any thing.”

“no thank you,
i don’t need it.”


“why will you not
take it?”

i don’t want
your un named

it does cost
some thing.

i don’t weigh
my worth against
a man’s gifts
and affection.

i am not a puppy
you give treats
to and then you
get to pet me.

you don’t have
a right to me.

your urge to
violate me
is not
normal. it
is not

the life that
has left you
to demean me
is not mine
to carry.

my life
left me
in dark
ness too

and i
stood up

i walked

to the other
side where
we say

no. thank

me that we
are strong.

day 57: last month

giffer (2)

I got caught up and wasn’t thinking. I’m not sorry but I’m not proud,
but it’s good to let go, so
we’re off to a good start.

Fractured hearts sing sorrow
and light shines through.
Broken pieces beg for quiet rescue.
There is little difference
between one or two,
until you cross a line.

Light shines to make
dark shadows dance.
Lucky players betting on chance.
Back and forth in bad romance,
we might as well take our time.

Free your mind
and count blessings,
first guessing,
dream catching.
Life is a messy thing, so
let’s go team
fall down
fly high
and make it home.

Om Matri Muye Sale Du

day 8: fight & smile

I have fight and a nice smile and it confuses people. Mostly men. Women are more prone to understand. Especially strippers.

Walking through Chelsea
it smells like coffee;
Midtown smells
like asphalt and burnt tires.
There’s a man with a jack hammer
the depths of cement.
There’s another man
to see.

Maybe this is the year I learn to live with loss, and to fly.

Om Matri Muye Sale Du

day 1: Crown Heights

My demons are out.

I’m kneeling at the feet of my loneliness, begging it to take me in.

I’m awake before the dawn
sitting for meditation
but thinking.

It feels like early spring in Philadelphia and I’m in Crown Heights. I’m stopped for gas on my way out of town when a woman pulls up, blasting rap music and spitting more fire than a lot of us feel in our entire lives. I love her. I open the arm rest in my car and am surprised when it shuts ok. But that was my old white Jeep, Wild Piney. Now I’m in a new white jeep, The Sequel. It runs ok in the morning.

Om Matri Muye Sale Du

day 980: Courtelyou Station

There’s neon orange spray paint on the walls at Courtelyou Station and a light fixture that reads BREAK THE LAW. There’s a feeling to every line and this is the Q. There’s a skinny white woman walking lazy down the platform and a big black woman in fluffy cream boots with a round grey scarf and she is so beautiful. We’re a spectrum projected from the same light, messy and intended like graffiti on the wall. But this is America so.(..)

If you see something say something;
I see you.

If you want to bury the dead you have to dig a hole.
I’m digging.

My heart is broken and I’m wallowing in Miles Davis. I’m aching like my old Jeep driving home from the mountain in the middle of the night when it’s 5 degrees outside. I shift uncomfortably to stare down at my phone but nothing seems to help. And it is cold.

Om Gum Shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha

day 976: gone


Hope and hopeless are two sides of the same coin that I can hold in my hand and that’s real. We’re not young and naive anymore, we’re adults and imperfect. I’m walking through Prospect Park listening to the record I used to play driving down Christian Street in South Philly. It sounds different now. Chuck came to visit and re: stacks sounds different now too.

It’s January and sunny outside. I’ve been drinking too much and I shouldn’t. I met with a genius hip hop producer last night, in Jersey; he said his guests were yawning and we can’t remember if we were. I hope he could be family and maybe he can. So the hopelessness, too.

I think love and non attachment are here now, because you’re gone. I think the world is swelling up around us, and who has the words to say? The TV tells stories that quell us in a moment, so moment after moment they send armies of noise. But lights out, something’s lurking. My parents sleep with the TV on. Two TVs, one upstairs one down.

I’m on the train listening to Miles’ Quiet Nights. I’m listening to quiet abandon beneath beating hearts. There’s snow on the ground in Brooklyn today. There’s a man sleeping in the car next to me. There’s a woman looking at me, and I wonder if any of us knows what to do.

Om Gum Shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha

day 970: reflecting December 

Part I: traveling 

It’s December and my windows are open. I’m sitting in a bright white room. Dead vines still clutch to the window; I’m the kind of thirsty water won’t help.

I wake up at 4am for a long drive.
I’m driving through my hometown at sunrise.
The quiet emptiness of a Jersey beach town in winter,

but now we’re drunk on wine in Juan les Pins. French acoustic music is on the tv, like the radios in America that drive me nuts.

White moon in the morning sky;
yesterday we let love win.
A dog shows up smiling at my side.

Part II: confession

I made a mistake last week trying to help a friend. It hurt someone who was already hurt and trying to heal. I didn’t know, and I’m sorry.
I’m running along the water listening to James Brown for inspiration. There’s no use making a plan; I can only hope to be humble, and do the next right thing.

Part III: love

It’a Tuesday.
It’s cold.
It takes a wasted heart to know
the relief of bright light shining in the darkness;
shining on the sea.
There’s a great divide between you and me,
but I don’t mind.
Love heals every wound,
over time.

Om Gum Shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha