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Month: June, 2012



Mad Girl’s Love Song: A Villanelle

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name. 
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

Sylvia Plath 1954Image



This story is not about me. Its about being broken. And its not just a story, its entirely true, because it happened today on the Blue Line Metro Rail. 
It went like this.

I scored a lucky spot in a crowded cable car; smelled like sweat and booze and everyone was wearing green. Two black girls sat down behind me, and one next to me. A young black man stood next to them. We were about 15 minutes into the ride when the conversation started.
“You been to jail?” asked one of the girls behind me to the girl next to me.
“Yeah. Just got out.”
“You workin’ for someone?”
“Yeah. Somethin’ like that.”
“Who’s your pimp?”
“His name C-Ray.”
“Yeah, I hearda’ him.” 
They bantered back and forth for a few moments until the girl behind me stood up.
Suddenly, the young man standing next to them shoved her back down into her seat. “Bitch, I never told you to get up. Sit back down.” She dropped her head and he asked the one sitting next to me if he could get her number. 
“What we gonna talk about if I give it to you?” she asked, giggling.
“We gonna talk about gettin’ you to come work fo’ me. How much you gettin’?”
“I can get up to 4g a night, dependin’ on what you want.”
“How old are you?” He asked.
My stomach tightened. 
“Well I got these two with me, they both sixteen.”
My tongue began to taste sour. Just then, the train stopped at Imperial/Wilmington and another young black man hopped on the bus. As he walked down the aisle I noticed the girl next to me huddle up and drop her head low. He walked straight up to her and grabbed her chin. 
“Where you been. I heard you be workin’ for someone else now.”
Silence. Young man #1 stepped up, hand on his belt buckle. It was then I realized he had something under it. 
“”Scuse me, but I’m speakin’ with this lady and proposin that she come work for me. You know her?”
“Yeah, she used to work for ME.”
I was starting to feel physically sick. The two girls behind me laughed. What was spoken next, I’m not sure, because the two young pimps walked down the aisle and conversed in low tones for a couple minutes. They came back. Some kind of agreement had been made. 
“Looks like you be workin’ for me officially from now on. He okay with it. He got new ones, he say they be good too, don’t need to worry about losin’ one.”
She stayed silent. Part of me still couldn’t believe what was happening. The two men walked back down the aisle and laughed like old friends. The girls behind me started bantering again, giggling and laughing with their new ‘sister.’ I looked at them.
“You don’t have to do this. There are other ways. I can help you. I can find a place for you. I know that sounds stupid but you can get out of this lifestyle. You’re my age- younger. You shouldn’t have to do this. There’s another way, there has to be.”
The conductor spoke over the intercom, “Compton station, next stop.”
They got up to leave. It was only then I noticed the bikini tops, the mini skirt, the bright pink fishnets, the high heels with a broken clasp. I was choking up. They walked off, laughing. 

I wish I had said those things. 
But instead I watched them step onto the platform, like walking up to a guillotine. 
And I never said a word. 

As they disappeared into the bustling crowd outside three police officers came through the door the girls had just exited. They asked to see everyone’s ticket. I fumbled for mine. After walking down the aisle they stopped in front of an old black man, holding his beat up bike. 
“Sir, do you have a ticket?”
Immediately the pocketbooks came out, the bike confiscated, the ticket written, the man ashamed. So intent they were, so obsessed with fulfilling this law, so involved in the most mundane of tasks that they missed (or chose to) what was so obviously more important. 
Did anyone else feel the pain of those girls?
Did anyone else want to be their savior?
Did anyone care?

We are so hell bent in this country on proving who’s right and who’s wrong, who’s left wing and who’s not, who’s beautiful and who deserves to be aborted. We are so obsessed with money, power, fame, price, product, sex, vindication, law, order, scandals, gossip, and perfection that we don’t even know how to function anymore.
I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am not “green.” I am not politically correct. I am not fashionable, rich, or powerful and nor do I care.
But there is one thing that I am.

If being a citizen of the “United States of America” means that I am given a better shot at an education and a future than those 16 year old prostitutes because of my race, my upbringing, my middle class family- then I don’t want to be one. 
Something needs to change. And its not the president. 

Its humanity. 
We need to be broken. 
And we need to be saved. 

Papa and the mocha

The other night I asked my brother if he wanted me to bring him home a drink from starbucks when I got off of work.

“Um, heck yes.”

“Well what do you want?”

“One of those chocolate things.. the ones that have mint and coffee.”

“A mocha?”

“Yeah, one of those.”

This afternoon when I clocked out I made a drink for my brother, and drove home only to find he wasn’t there anyway. I offered it to my mom.

“Whats in it?”

“Its a peppermint mocha. Chocolate, peppermint, a shot of espresso.”

“It has coffee? Its too late in the day, I can’t drink it right now.”

My dad asked me what was in it. I repeated myself.

“Papa, it will kill you. It has milk, chocolate, and coffee, all of which you’re allergic to.”

“Oh. Well go give it to Danielle.”

“Who’s Danielle?”

“Our neighbor.”

“Why the heck would I go walk over there and give it to our neighbor? I didn’t even know her name until you just said it.”

“Because its a way of building relationships.”

I set the mocha down on the coffee table. “Well, I’m not walking over there in the rain just to give Danielle a mocha. I’m taking a nap.”

As I’m changing out of my stale-milk smelling clothes, I hear my father put on his rain jacket.

“Are you going over there?”


Now I felt like crap. I get into bed as the front door opens and I hear the rain pouring outside. A couple minutes later, from my bedroom door I hear my mom chuckling.

“What happened?” I semi-yell from the back of the house.

“He’s coming back… with the mocha.”

My dad walks in the door.

“What happened?” I yell again.

“They weren’t home.”

“Well, nice try anyway…”

I hear the door open again.

“Where are you going this time?”

“I’m going to see if Paul’s home.”

“You’re going to go out again in the rain and walk down the street just to see if Paul’s home so you can give him a tall mocha?!”


I hear the door shut.

A few minutes later my dad returns, cold and wet.

“So what happened?”

“He took a while to answer. I thought he wasn’t home either. Then he answered.”

“What’d he say?”

“He said thanks, I appreciate that. And then he asked about our kitchen.”

My dad changed out of his rain coat, put on his slippers, and continued filing taxes on the computer.

As I lay in bed I realized my father had just taught me a valuable lesson. His selflessness revealed his inner motives- those of love, generosity, and character. That was normal to him. My motives were completely the opposite. There was no way in hell you would get me to walk down the street in the pouring rain after an 8 hour shift just to be nice and give someone a mocha instead of waste it. My dad didn’t think twice.

I thank God for that.

Where grace abounds

This morning at work a customer came in, a regular of ours, and handed the cashier a 50 dollar bill. All he said was,

“Use this up until its gone.”

We realized he was paying for the next 30+ people’s coffees who came in after him.

So one by one, people started filing into the line, ordering their drink, handing over their money or card and then were suddenly met by the statement, “You’re covered. Its already been paid for.” One by one they left the counter, each reacting a different way. Some were stunned. Some smiled. Some didn’t even realize what happened and thought we were just giving away free coffee today. Some kept pushing their money on us. Some didn’t say anything and just walked away.

But they kept coming. I thought the money would have run out by now.

I asked Mike, “How much do you have left?”

“There’s still 21 bucks.”

While the cashier and floaters carried on their tasks, I stood thinking at the bar while making these Drinks of Grace.  What was actually happening was a God encounter. It reminded me of Christ.  A free gift given, but some of us don’t know how to react. I thought about what my reaction would be if I were on the other side of the counter. I probably would be happy, kinda shocked, and blessed. I probably would have tipped what I would have previously paid for my drink. I would have wanted to meet the man. “You’re covered, its already been paid for.”

Some people didn’t react so graciously.

One man stood by the counter where his drink would come off and asked me what it was all about.

“I don’t know. One of our regular customers just came in and told us to buy as many drinks as he could for fifty bucks for the next people who came in, and then he left.”

“It must be nice to be rich,” the man replied. He was missing the point.

“No, he’t not rich. He’s just a really nice guy. He plays golf and is from Ireland and he told Mike that it was ‘from his mom’ because it was the anniversary of her death today.”

He paused for a second.

“He must have a nice trust fund.”

I was frustrated. He was still missing the point.

Then a sobering thing happened. People in the store started hearing real quick that free drinks were being bought for them. A couple people got in line and started ordering, although they already had unfinished drinks IN THEIR HAND. I was getting pissed. Who did these people think they were?! They were taking advantage of a man’s free gift and milking it for all it was worth! Didn’t they care?! How bad could people get?

And then as I was making drinks, this quiet voice said to me in my head,

“How many time have you taken advantage of my free gift Jessie?

How many times have you, too, missed the point?”



where are the wild things



You can’t threaten me wi…

You can’t threaten me with Heaven.