Seattle, WA
Poet, blogger, lawyer, educator, sista, sister, aunt, daughter, mentor, friend, dog owner, lover of music and all things gluten free... Writing about all of this and more.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Want Ad


I wrote this a few years ago but really feel its relevance today. By that I mean I've been having a lot of conversations lately about what's really important in life--be it in the context of career, family, friendships, romantic relationships, lifestyle, etc. I guess this poem touches on that theme, "What's really important?" and answers the question as relates to me. Here she goes...

I’m looking for a walking partner
Not someone to cover mud puddles
Or push me forward
Or pull me back
Or talk my ear off w/ sweet nothings
Nothing like that
Just a partner to walk
Through the grass with
To sit on damp soil that soaks through back pockets
And breathe in the smell of wet, algae covered rock, bamboo, and yes, the occasional ducks’ droppings
And to laugh at how pleasant these strange things can be
When they evoke memories
Of spreading bread crumbs
And eating popsicles
And collecting dirty feathers and ugly sea shells and lake pebbles and earthworms
Someone who will point to a turtle peeking out of the water and into the world above his cool hiding place
And who will smile as if it’s the first time ever a turtle has done this
And who will smile at me as if it’s the first time ever I have sat with him
Although we sit together all the time
Whenever we walk together
Someone looking for a weather ready walking routine
Come rain or shine
Who will be all mine
Yet his own
And who will know that we are God’s even before we are each other’s
Not just anyone will do
I know there are plenty of folks who
Can walk
But I want, I need
A walking partner whose hand mine fits in perfectly

Friday, November 20, 2009

Girl Woman Soul

This is the poem that will open my book (Copyright Kia Franklin 2007):

Girl Woman Soul

Little girl
You are beautiful
You must find hope in that
Your mind is rich, your heart is deep
And yes, your skin is black

You are a gem
A precious, precious, thing
Don’t lose sight of who you are
or let go of your dream

Young lady
Who did you want to be?
Don’t you know you can become it?
What happened to your innocence?
Did you lose it or run from it?

Young woman
It is now your time
To see You for yourself
To question those who question you
To own your life, your wealth

Dear soul
You are a child of God
and part of his design
Can’t you see it coming to
a clear-intentioned line?

Don’t let your fears of greatness
Leave you timid, quiet, dim,
Brighten up and do your thing
Find your strength in Him!

Be the change you want to see
Be the light you are
Be the black and midnight sky
that holds the brightest star

Little baby, little girl, young woman,
Dear sweet soul
You’re brilliant, you’re beautiful
Go let the whole world know!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

C West's new book, More on Dreams, Freestyle Poem

bought dr. cornel west's new memoir and attended his book signing tonight. i like that brother's spirit. something about him. i was reading the chapter he wrote about his father's passing and thinking about how universal certain human experiences are, and how powerful it can be to read/hear another person's account of one of those experiences if you've also been through it. well, of course no two people have the exact same experience-but it's still something when they share their perspective and you really connect at certain points. i truly think that is what i'm searching for, searching to be able to do, in my writing. i ain't no cornel west, but i think he reminded me that if i have a story to tell, i should tell it, and maybe it'll resonate with someone else.

as i mentioned before, after i opened up pandora's box and declared my willingness to just take in my dreams and let them lead me where they want me to go, i have been having all these crazy dreams. the great thing about all of it is that it has made me think back to certain formative life experiences and it has compelled me to start writing about them. so i'm just going to keep working on telling my story and writing out my dreams, and we'll see where it takes me. let's try that now with a free-write poem. work in progress, y'all. work, in, progress.

this girl/woman/soul
closes her eyes and finds a quiet space
tells her mind to slow its race
and listen to itself for a minute

this girl/woman/soul dreams dreams
and it seems
that they're made of words, love, pain, and all types of things
things that have just been sittin here waiting
for my arms to take them in
for my mind to stop debating
to acquiesce
for me to just say yes to the true parts of me
close my eyes and blind faith leap into a future that, though hard to see,
is there
waiting for me to share this with the world
feed the soul, hug the woman, and protect the little girl
that i am
that we are

we girls/women/souls
we dream dreams and make plans and try to make ourselves whole once again
and, me, with my pen i sew stitches
mend rips and tears
with my pen i scratch itches
that agitate my creativity
and blot my tears
that open up new identities
and clot the fears that be flowin through my psyche some time
with my pen i write rhymes and gibberish
profundities and frivolities and whatever else i wish

with my pen i dream dreams
for my soul for my sanity
with my pen i reach out and touch my own humanity
uncover my own vanity, my ego, insecurities
dig it all out deep and clear out the impurities
cuz no there ain't no sureties but this i know for certain
this pen is my blanket that i snuggle when i'm hurting
when i'm workin it all out this lifetime
it helps me dream dreams and shine lights so i can find my lifeline
and keep a goin
me, this girl woman soul
that's what i'm knowin
so that's what i'm going to do
just keep dreaming and keep writing and keep being...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Excerpts from my writing project

As part of the NaNoWriMo thing, my goal is to write 50,000 words. So far I have a grand total of 1300. Yes, as in less than 3 percent of my goal at more than 30% of the way through the timeline. But also, as in more than 0 percent with more than 50% of the timeline to go... thankyouveryMUCH!

Anyway, I thought it would be cool to share little excerpts from time to time of what I'm writing, so here goes... a piece from a section I'm writing On Dreams (inspired by the strange and vivid dreams I've been having and the dream-centered conversations I keep finding myself drawn into):

Dreams from my Mothers.

My mother's mother, Gram, always said she never had any dreams. She always told me that all of her life she could never remember having one single dream. And she wished she could.

Then, one day, when I was in my early twenties and she in her early eighties, I called her to say hi and she told me that it finally happened. She had dreamt something! She spoke with such excitement in her voice, like a schoolgirl who finally got her period or had a first kiss. There was a beautiful innocence that came forth in the way she spoke, and even though I was 3,000 miles away I could see the light in her tea-colored eyes, her apple cheekbones rising high and beautiful above her smile. I could hear, alongside her melodic, slightly-Southern accented voice, the smile on her brown face.

I can't remember the details of her dream, although she did tell me. And now that she has left this world I can't ask her to recall the dream for me. But that's less important than the joy of hearing her tell it, connecting with her on such a simple, but significant level. I'll never forget how it felt to be able to share that with Gram.

My mother, she dreamed all the time. And often she would dream out loud. She told me about the beautiful house she wanted, the places she wanted to go, the things she wanted to do, her dreams for me, her dreams for my brother and his family. She told me about dreams she had as a girl, some of which she had to put on hold in order to embrace adult responsibilities. She spoke without much bitterness about dreams she'd had snatched away from her by inequities like sexism and racism--dreams deferred by life's reality.

One dream my mom always had was to go to Paris. She had wanted to go since she was a teenager. After battling cancer for seven years, obtaining her master's degree and teaching certificate, raising two children and practically raising many others, my mom finally decided that Paris could no longer wait.

It was the year 2000. I was an adult: I was 18. So in my view we were going to be two women out in the world, exploring Paris, la ville d'amour. She booked a ticket for herself and one for me. The flight was a mother-daughter slumber party in the air. We watched a ballet movie (which was perfect because she had been a dancer in her twenties), chatted, read magazines, giggled, and planned out the fabulous time we would have together.

We arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport and people were smoking inside the building, talking loudly on cell phones, rushing around. We just looked around and clung to each other so as not to get separated. Looking back now, and after having lived in New York City, this makes me smile.

Another thing I remember was that as soon as we stepped off the plane we noticed that there were black people there from all over the world, in all types of traditional and Western dress. We marveled at this. Even though we both knew that Paris was a major metropolitain city where the African diaspora was represented in full effect, it was one thing to know it and another thing altogether to see it.

We got in a taxi and noted the fact that it, and many of the other taxis on the road, was a Benz (owning a Benz was another one of my mom's dreams, but she always complained that my dad was too cheap). We arrived at our hotel and discovered that the star system wasn't quite the same in Europe. The hotel was crappy. But it would do, because we weren't planning on sticking around our room for long. The bathtub was great, and the restaurant across the street was delicious in an unassuming, Parisian street cafe type of way, so we were happy.

The trip lived up to our expectations. It was truly one of the best memories of my life. My mom was a better storyteller than I am, so I wish she were here to tell it from her perspective. I'm sure she'd tell how she felt to see the German men hitting on her little girl. She was horrified and I found it absolutely hilarious, and of course, I didn't mind the positive feedback!

She would probably tell about our snooty waiter, who wouldn't give us what we wanted and then snatched the money out of my mom's hand, compelling me to start screaming at the top of my lungs, "Ne touche pas ma mere!" I was livid and seriously ready to go to blows with the man. But later on that night we cracked up about the whole thing.

She would also probably tell about our experience at a random nightclub, where we danced to Eminem with two men, I think they were Senegalese, and their ages were probably smack square in the middle of ours. We couldn't stop laughing at the fact that were were dancing together, to Eminem, at a nightclub, in Paris, with men who were way too young for her and way too old for me. I can still see her face and the disco lights and our purple and pink clothing. I'm smiling right now at the thought of it.

There is one moment I regret from the trip. We were walking down a crowded street. I can't recall what famous landmark we were visiting. Was it Champs-Elysees? I don't remember. But my mom reached out to grab my arm and I snatched it away from her with unnecessary force. I don't know if I felt like she was crowding me, babying me, or what. When I saw her reaction, the pure hurt on her face... if I could take that moment away I would do so in a heartbeat.

Speaking of snatching, I feel like my mom was snatched away from me. Like we were deprived of the time to dream out loud together, to live more dreams together, to make mistakes and hurt each others' feelings and then mvoe on together. When she died, I was 21. I had canceled my Paris Study Abroad plans against her wishes, because something inside me told me I needed to be close to home. Something inside me knew the cancer had returned, even though she wanted to keep this fact a secret from me. I feel like mom had more dreams to make; decades of new firsts to experience and share.

I feel cheated, but then I remember that no one is guaranteed time. I don't know when my last chance will be to strike pen against paper and write out my own dreams, revisit fond memories or imagine new realities for myself. So I really can't say that I was cheated, that I was entitled to any more time with her, that I'm entitled to tomorrow for that matter.

But my mom, sometimes I see her in my dreams. Sometimes the dreams are amazing, like when I'm soaring over ice-blue water and she's with me, although I can't see her, right by my side. And we're laughing in pure bliss. Sometimes the dreams are traumatic, like when I am transported back to the day of her death.

Dreams are a wonderful reminder that we are alive. You have one, and then you are kicked back into consciousness, and then you are able to reflect on what just happened and figure out if it applies to your reality. My mom did this both awake and asleep. That's just one lesson I've learned from her.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Encouraged and motivated

Much kudos to my Aunty Sarah for finishing the manuscript for her book!!! I am reading it right now and so happy for her and proud of her. This is encouraging and inspiring!

This exciting news has come at a good time for me as I work on my own writing project. Right now I'm doing some memory-based writing because I've been having these vivid dreams that have made me realize I need to look back a little. It has been, to say the least, difficult. See this post on TBC that gives a little more detail. At the same time that I know I need to do it, the struggle involved with confronting some memories is so heavy that the result has been some serious foot-dragging on my part.

But a wise woman once said: "writing is the act of reaching across the abyss of isolation to share and reflect." I think that's an important act, for the writer and the audience. I think it's worth the struggle. So, today is a holiday, and I'm sitting at home with the t.v. off, no distractions. And with this little nudge from my aunt, I'm going to do some thangs today on the writing front.

That's it for now! Time to get to work...

Monday, November 2, 2009

A novel in a month--is you crazy?

So I'm doing the National Novel Writing Month contest. AlligatorLegs inspired me to do it, and the BluePrintChronicles project is reinforcing the importance of this decision. Like many of us, I have so much creative energy but I somehow keep finding ways to neglect it. No more. I'm writing and that's that.

I'm going to start off by going back through all the poetry and short stories and essays I have accumulated over the years. It's scary to think about it, but I literally have a decade's worth of creative writing stored and filed around me, just sitting there gathering dust. The vast majority of it may very well be patently bad writing. But I KNOW, from the rush I get from a well written or well performed poem, from the positive feedback of well-regarded peers and mentors, and from... just my core, that some of it is good and worthy of sharing with others.

Who knows what that means, to share it with others. It may be on this blog. It may just be on the NaNoWriMo website. Who knows? But God willing, I'm writing something significant in November 2009, the month and year that marks my 28th year on this planet. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Here's a little something:

I am an artist
I am and art is
A risk to take
a fist to shake at convention
What is art if not the heart blood?
If not the spark plug,
If not the nutrients pulled from the roots of our imagination,
If not self-discovery,
A pointing finger,
Lingering inches from the world’s third eye
Pressing and pushing,
demanding the why’s, how’s, and what’s?
What is art?
Art is what I am
I am an artist
Is art an eye, looking into the inner workings of humanity?
Is it still art if it’s profanity?
Shit, I don’t know
But why can’t it be?
My alm, my balm, my psalm, my sanity
Cuz art just is and so
an Artist is me
or what I will grow to be
Some day