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Month: January, 2015

Systematic Rhetoric

About 99 times in the last few weeks I have heard rhetoric that says individuals cannot be racist, because of systemic and institutionalized evils, but that they can be classist and I am left wondering:

1. Are individuals not responsible for their actions when it comes to race?
(The system told me to do it).

2. Are individuals always responsible for their actions when it comes to class?
(Pull up ’em bootstraps).

3. Are there no systemic or institutionalized evils of class?
(Let’s debate whether minimum wage was ever meant to be a living wage).

I am not comparing racism and classism.
I am just thinking about them at the same time.

I believe racism is systemic. But I also believe that individuals are responsible for their actions concerning race. And individual actions pool together into a collective system. What do we want to call that?

I do not believe that class is independent of systems and institutions and unspoken barriers. Can we talk about that?

Women’s, Body, Truth

I was born into truth

swaddled in hardship and hardwork,

all of which women’s.

Rocked to sleep with blackberry brandy breath,

but I always woke up crying.

Later sung lullabies by the steady voice of a 9 year-old aunt

who could either watch her 16 year-old sister and her niece die,

or       take care of the baby

.         try to save us both

My mother and I lived


in a trailer with another woman

and they loved me together and taught me

how to speak and how to be silent,

before my 1,2,3rd birthday

I wanted to be a writer

Oh, how I could make up stories,

but I wanted to tell


the truth

is that I don’t remember any of this

the way we demand memories

to be fact. But

if you ask


My body

is full of scars

that I cannot explain.

Florida police use images of black men for target practice

I have been trying all day to engage with this.
And I cannot.
But we need to.

Please help me?

Four Days Absent Nicotine

For me, smoking will always be tangled with class. Roots.

I was smoking before I was born.


And no matter how much I wanted to stay away,

I always had to run home and breathe in that cloud.


The one that separated my mother’s body from mine.

The one that touched all the space between them. Umbilical.


4 days ago I cut the cord.

It was time.


When you’re real poor, you learn not to want.

Beggars cannot be choosers.


And you learn not to fear pain, death. They called me:

Picky Nicky. You work through it.





In the brief absence of nicotine,

I have learned that there is a difference


between not being afraid to die

and choosing to live.


Tangled in my roots,

I am not supposed to realize there are choices.


Always called out for my difference,

I want to cling to those roots. Choose home.


But the only one still surviving there is

Cancer. And she strangled my mother with her own bootstraps.


Sigh. I could never keep my feet stuffed in those shoes anyway.

Barefoot.      Calloused.      Picky Nicky.


You work through it. Live.

But you can never really go back


.                                                         home.                once you’re

.                                                         free.