My strange Valentine’s Days these days…

This time of year is my busy season as far as my performing goes (in case you don’t know, I do erotic performance poetry with a band). What I do is very popular around Valentine’s Day. Since 2005, every Valentine’s Day I was on stage someplace performing; in some cases I wasn’t even in Baltimore. The fact that I’m usually so busy this time of year helps distract me from the things that bother most single people during the Valentine’s Day period. I don’t really have time to think about whether I’ll get flowers or candy or asked out on a date because I’m rehearsing, or picking out performance outfits, or finalizing travel arrangements. And this year won’t be any different – I’ll have several shows this year around V-Day, including performing at a popular local radio station’s speed dating event. While I do appreciate the distraction, I do see the irony in the fact that for the past 5 years, though my own love life has been strangely stagnated, I provide entertainment for lovers or potential lovers. They look to me to add spark to their celebration of their intimate and personal feelings for each other. They expect me to help them see each other through new eyes, to generate heat and passion between them for at least that night, and I try to do that. My Valentine’s Day sets are a combination of sensual and sexual pieces. I do a relationship piece here and there.

I try to have at least some new material each year, so I don’t bring the same show back to places where I am appearing for a second or third time. That means I’m writing and memorizing at least 2-3 new pieces in preparation for my shows throughout January up until the events. Now that I’ve started doing covers (which means I perform work by artists), that does help me create new shows because now I put at least one cover in every show I do. But that means my band is constantly learning new music. A new show also means new outfits to wear onstage. At some shows I do acapella sets, and at some shows I perform with a full band, so I have to rehearse different versions of my show to accommodate different venues. If I’m traveling, I have to pack, get to the airport/bus station/train station, get to my destination, check into my hotel, try to get to the venue a little before my show so I can get a feel for it and watch the crowd come in (that’s how I make a final determination on what I do in a set – by watching the crowd). By the time February 15th rolls around, I’m exhausted.

In many respects I am thankful for my new Valentine’s Day rituals. Granted they are not at all what I thought they would be at this stage of my life – I find myself in the strange position of putting on some of my sexiest and most revealing lingerie and attire for a room full of applauding strangers instead of that one special someone. But it does help take the focus off myself; I am focused on other people, which is a good thing. Instead of wearing myself out worrying about love, I worry about performing. I don’t have time to wallow in self pity or self doubt, to wonder why I’m alone or visit my mental cemetery of dead relationships. I don’t make random phone calls to any of my exes, trying to get closure where there is none (something I’ve done in the past). I don’t have time to wonder about unrequited loves from my past, present or future. I have to work, and that’s what I do. Work. I throw all my energy into my work.

But I do wonder if I would be depressed if I weren’t so busy. If I really had to feel the sharp little needles of loneliness so many unattached people feel this time of year, how would I handle it? Though I’ve never been one to be big on holidays and expressions of affection dictated by the calendar, it is still difficult to totally ignore a world draped in red and pick, smelling of roses and chocolates with words of love dripping from its lips. No matter how much reason and logic you apply to the whole Valentine’s Day thing, you still can’t help but feel an occasional pinch of sadness – and I think that’s especially true of women, who often put so much more obvious emphasis on relationships and being with someone. Or I would feel bad that is, if I weren’t so busy. Performing is the anesthetic I pour on my heart during this Valentine’s Day season, but what would I be like without it?

Of course I have to appreciate Valentine’s Day, because it is the month when I earn the most money as a performer. I sell more CDs and downloads between January 25th and February 15th than almost any other time of the year. I can count on a bunch of performances that pay pretty well, and are a lot of fun to do. The shows I do during this period always lead to other bookings and expose me to people that help me in other ways. And I sell a lot of merchandise during my Valentine’s Day shows. Love and sex is thriving business for me the first 2 weeks of February, and I take full advantage of it. I start looking for Valentine’s Day bookings in mid-December, and by late January I’m all set. I plan out my wardrobe, load up on product to sell, make arrangements for someone to keep an eye on my kids – between rehearsals and shows I’m not home a lot this time of year. During these two weeks alone, if I’m careful, even after expenses, I earn a very decent amount of money. But if I slowed down – would the pain catch me? Would I be lonely? Would I notice that there is no “special someone” who comes to my shows to support me, to admire me, to care about me and what I do? If I stood still, didn’t write the poem, put on the makeup, lace up the corset, pull on the stockings, would I look up and notice there isn’t anyone wishing I didn’t have to work on Valentine’s Day so I could spend it with him? Over the past five years no man has said to me “can’t you take off this year” or “do you have to work so hard”? Would I really notice the couples in the audiences I entertain, would I see them and wonder why I am not part of a couple someplace? Would I envy the couples that come up to me after shows who buy a CD, get it autographed by me and quickly take a picture before running home (or wherever) to make love, while I go back to an empty hotel room, or go home alone to my kids and kiss them goodnight?

For the moment, I don’t have the answers to those questions. Between today and February 15th, I have six definite performances and two possible ones. I start rehearsals next week. I have two new pieces I need to get to two different groups of musicians I’m working with. I have a new piece I’m committing to memory, and while I’m not doing any major traveling this year, I will be in D.C. with the band for a few shows. Again I’m too busy to really notice the celebration I so actively participate in and profit from. And it’s probably better that way.

Don’t get me wrong — it wasn’t always like this. I have had extremely romantic Valentine’s Days in my past. I remember gifts. I remember perfume. I remember flowers, candy, jewelry, shopping sprees, and romantic dinners in beautiful restaurants. I remember getaways to quiet sexy places, satin sheets, and massage oil. I remember bubblebaths for two, bottles of champagne. I remember lingerie worn for only one set of eyes. I remember love letters and love poems written for me, instead of by me for others. I remember hands, a man’s hands, moving across every part of me with tender and sensual dedication. I remember scented candles, rose petals on my skin and passion in my heart. If I strain really hard I think I can even remember love, which made the lust much more potently powerful. Men in my past have showered me with love in its most luxurious, decadent, generous fashion in my past.

But these are my memories, not my realities. And the ocean between the two is dark with pain, regret, and probably even fear that the tide has turned away from my shores for good, and these things will never return to me.

So perhaps my present is a blessing. From where I stand onstage, I can at least acknowledge that these things do still exist, though they aren’t in my world. I can look out onto the sea of love, though I may never dive in again and ride those waves to wherever my lover and I end up. It perhaps is enough that for now love welcomes me on its sandy beach, offers me a special place to sit, tickling and teasing my feet with splashes now and then. It may be just as well, because I probably have forgotten how to swim in that powerful current anyway.

Having said all this, I must go now. I have a poem to memorize!

Peace!

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A New Poem…

The clouds remind me of him.
Thick, full, and
slightly foreboding.
Rolling in over me.
Hanging just above my head.
Darkening my sky.
I close my eyes
and await
his final decision.
With a loud shout
he chooses rain.
The droplets
splash upon my face,
upon my body;
cooling my skin
and washing away
all my unanswered
questions.

Now
I eagerly anticipate
the return of his thunder;
His heavens tightly
and stingily holding
the power to soothe me
when the heat
starts to consume
my core once again.

“Sweet Submission” — by ME

When it comes to you

sweet submission

is my religion.

And you are my deity.

And you and me

worship faithfully

at the altars of our naked selves.

We call out “oh my god”

over and over again

to renew our bond

as lovers

and friends.


When it comes to you,

sweet submission

is my religion.

I part my legs to show my faith.

My trust.

My lust.

I must.

I can’t stop.

Won’t stop.

Reaching for bliss

with a touch and a kiss,

as we spin into

forever.

Together.


When it comes to you,

sweet submission

is my religion.

I sigh.

Deeply.

I let go.

Sweetly.

You take me.

Completely.

Now all of me

lives in all of you.

Lives in all you do.

Lives to make it through

to the other side of

our personal paradise.


When it comes to you,

sweet submission

is my religion.

Now I am forgiven

for the mistakes I made

before you.

Feel me inside

the core of you.

Feel me inside

restoring you.

Feel me in your heart

adoring you.

I’ll pour in you

every bit of my

my most devoted

self.

All my soul’s wealth.


With you

Sweet submission

is my religion.


Amen.

So…today’s blog…

is a poem I wrote that I am posting cuz I felt like it…

PEACE!

When loves’ slave catchers

throw their chains and traps

around me

I will chew off

pieces of my heart

to free myself.


During these sex-filled struggles

I lustfully bite

my pursuer

as I fight the ties

that seek to forever bind

me to him.


I sensuously swallow

pieces of him

during the battle of wills.

But I am always the victor,

and I greedily devour the spoils.


As for the love warriors

who rise up

attempting to rule my

personal internal  queendom

and who always fail,

they now will spend

the rest of their lives

trying to get back

the pieces they lost to me

in the battle.


The pieces

become part of

the fiber of my being

and the marrow of my bones.


These leftover spirits

invade me and

teach me how

to be the hunter

and still seem like

the prey.


Now I chase others

by allowing others

to chase me.


To attract them

I strip my brain bare

in their presence

and

mentally masturbate

before them.


A psychological exhibitionist.


They watch me

and want me

while I wonder why

the presence of love

has always meant

the loss of my freedom.


And I must fly

until I die.

So, catch me if you can.

But know

that even I

haven’t caught me yet.

..

Looking for a brotha with a conscious d**k (Don’t be scared, just keep reading…)

So today I thought I’d have a little fun…

Those who know me best know what a sarcastic person I am. I roll my sarcasm into layers of dry wit, deep fry it in hot oil and it comes out hard and crunchy, though the goodness inside usually l can’t be enjoyed anymore. While I’m always going to be a bit sarcastic, I am recognizing that when I fry my sarcasm too hard, people don’t enjoy eating it. So I am attempting to not fry it as hard as I usually do, so I can maintain some tenderness and flavor under the crust. I want people to enjoy the taste of what’s inside as much as they like the crunchy outside.

I have spent a lot of time in my area’s spoken word community, both as a reporter covering the scene and as a performer. I am by no means a famous poet, but more than a few people know who I am, even if they aren’t exactly clear on what I do. The spoken word community very naturally spills over into other underground performance art forms and creative endeavors in general, and it creates this larger patchwork conglomerate of poets, musicians, vocalists, actors, comedians, writers, rappers, visual artists, fashion stylists, photographers etc. It ends up being a large band of “creatives” as I call them, trying to find ways to do their creative things and, in some cases, earn a living at them.

Now I am a huge fan of old school hip hop. One thing I truly miss is the “storyteller” rappers. I think I relate to them most because I am a storyteller also. Hip hop artists in these days and times don’t tell stories, they run down lists of things they allegedly own or have done/can do. The two that did it the best to my mind were Slick Rick the Ruler (of course), and The Notorious B.I.G. (a less obvious choice perhaps, but if you really get into his lyrics you find he was a consummate storyteller).  One day I was listening to these two, and I got to thinking about their storytelling lyrics and about the artistic community and the things I see in it. As a result, I wrote the piece below. If you aren’t familiar with this community, you may not “get it”. But I think the idea it presents is universal, and at the end of the day the moral of the rhyme is “don’t judge a book by its cover”.

So, without any further ado, I present – “A Conscious D**k”

***************

Lemme tell you a story

bout a friend of mine

who was always havin’ problems

keeping her men in line.

Always picking brothers

who were straight up losers.

Corner boys, hustlers,

and drug abusers.

I never understood
why she would pick these men.

Ending up with drama

time and time again.

One day she said,

“I’m gonna try

a brand new trick.

I’m gonna find a brotha

with a conscious d**k.”

She said…

“A conscious d**k.

A conscious d**k.

Gonna find a brotha

with a conscious d**k.

Tired of these brothas

actin’ wild and slick.

Just let me find a brotha

with a conscious d**k.”

Now at first I laughed,

I didn’t understand.

‘Til she explained to me

about this kind of man.

This dude hates Gucci Mane,

and he hates Lil’ Wayne.

He hates all rappers with

‘Li’l’ in their name.

He doesn’t like Beyonce.

Hates Keri Hilson too.

Only listens to Jill Scott

and Erykah Badu.

With his locs hanging low

and voice deep and sincere,

he could tell her all the things

that she just longed to hear.

She wants..

a conscious d**k.

A conscious d**k.

She’s gonna find a brotha

with a conscious d**k.

Tired of these brothas

actin’ wild and slick.

Just let her find a brotha

with a conscious d**k.

He’d say she was his Queen.

He smelled like sandalwood.

He smelled like reefer too,

but it was still all good.

“It’s from our Mother Earth,

and grows so naturally.

So why not partake of it?

It’s here for you and me.”

He said “I don’t pollute my body

with that old dirty swine.

And if you’re down for revolution

then you’re a friend of mine.”

Said he wrote poems sometimes,

and took her to open mic.

He read a piece called “I met my queen”.

He got that a** that night.

A conscious d**k.

A conscious d**k.

She thought she found a brotha

With a conscious d**k.

She said “F**k ALL these dudes

who act all wild and slick.”

Because she has found a brotha

with a conscious d**k

My girl knew she’d finally found

her conscious king.

And it was ride or die, for him

she’d was down for anything!

So she fried his turkey bacon

and washed his underwear.

And for a little while she really

didn’t even care

that though he was always “grinding”

he never seemed to be at work,

And conscious man dropped out of college

cuz the teachers all were jerks.

Conscious man wouldn’t do what

“corporate America” told him to,

But he stayed playing his Xbox and

his Playstation 2.

Conscious man tried selling weed

but smoked more than he sold,

and soon even the conscious d**k

got weak, wack, and really old

A conscious d**k.

A conscious d**k.

She thought she found a brotha

With a conscious d**k.

She said “F**k ALL these dudes

who act all wild and slick.”

Now she thinks she found a brotha

with a conscious d**k

Cuz conscious brothas could just be

runnin’ conscious games

And no matter who the brotha is

human nature is the same

A thug is more than how he dresses

and how he speaks,

And a conscious brother is more than

what he drinks and eats.

A man is not just what you see

like hair or clothes or skin

If a man is a good man

it’ll come from deep within.

She asked me

“should I look for men

who are wearing shirts and ties?”

I said

“why don’t you stop looking

on the outside

and look into his eyes?”

A conscious d**k.

A conscious d**k.

So this end my story

‘bout the conscious d**k.

Any type of brotha might

be wild and slick.

So don’t be fooled by the myth

we call the conscious d**k.

Domestic Violence and me…

At one time I was involved with a man that was physically abusive. It was a long time ago, over 15 years ago. It was one of my first serious relationships. I met him through a personal ad in the daily paper. He was good looking, well spoken, intelligent, and an intensely wonderful lover. I loved him with every molecule of my flesh, heart and soul. I loved him to the marrow of my bones, from the follicles of my hairline to the atoms of my toenails. I loved him. All I wanted was him, and for us to be together forever.

On a few occasions this man struck me with his hand. He did not do any permanent damage, but it left me bruises that I had to lie to my family, friends and co-workers about. We broke up after a few of these incidents.

To this day I am not entirely sure how that experience has affected my dealings with men. I can’t say it has made me gun shy, or unwilling to get involved with men, because I have done so since he and I parted company. And I enjoyed most of those relationships very much. But I sometimes wonder if that experience has created a thin, impenetrable, permanent layer of mistrust where men are concerned. Not quite enough to totally hinder my interaction with them, but just enough to keep me from making anything stick permanently.

I never went to therapy after the incidents, although he did for a while. I have since forgiven him, and today he and I are cordial. I haven’t felt the need to revisit those times with him in conversation. I don’t think about it very often. It doesn’t haunt me or keep me up at night or anything like that. The memories of the specific incidents themselves are blurry at best. I have openheartedly accepted the sincere apologies he’s offered many times over the years since it happened, and I don’t harbor any ill will towards him. I can honestly say I wish him the best. Most times I genuinely feel I have closure with it.

But then I wrote this poem…and suddenly I didn’t feel so certain anymore.

The only time I have ever done anything in my writing to acknowledge this experience is in this poem I wrote called “I Didn’t Wanna Write This Piece”.  It only depicts a few aspects of our tumultuous relationship, because the poem would be pages long if I got into everything and no one would want to read it or hear it. It only talks about one aspect of our dysfunctional dealings with each other, but it discusses the aspect that most women seem unwilling to address.

I attempted to perform it once at a poetry reading. I was one of two features scheduled to do at least 20 minutes of my work, 30 minutes tops. This piece was my third selection. I managed to get through it, but I felt horrible inside. My cheeks burned red, I felt painfully and awkwardly transparent and embarrassed – this from a woman who does hardcore, graphic erotic poems onstage for money. I mean…I say “clit” onstage for cash, okay? I attempted to feign bravado, but I couldn’t. Tears began to burn my eyes. I looked up at the audience, and they were staring at me intensely. I remember in particular there was the one brownskinned woman with locs in the front row. I had seen her at other shows I had done, and she was there just nodding her head at me as I spoke. She just nodded and nodded, and occasionally she shook her head. I felt her eyes burning through me. I felt her spirit watching me. I finished the poem, and there was that moment of hesitation before the applause came. I felt so uncomfortable afterwards that I cut the rest of my set extremely short – I did one more poem after this one, excused myself from the podium and left the venue, much to the confusion of the host who had invited me. I just couldn’t go on. It was all too much. To this day I have never explained to the host what happened or why I behaved so badly.

It is my plan to return this piece to a future set of poems I am working on. The first time I am able to do this piece without shaking, choking up, or wanting to run and hide or scream and cry will be a major step for me. But until then – here is my domestic violence poem entitled “I Didn’t Wanna Write This Piece”.

********

I didn’t wanna write this piece.
I mean…
How many ways can you describe an abusive relationship?
How many times can you tell that story?
Who wants to hear or read about that – AGAIN?
From Chris Brown to Beau Willie Brown
it is a tale as old as time.
Whether it’s the old school “pimp slap”,
being fed daily meals of strategic isolation from family and friends
with side orders of emotional abandonment,
or just constantly being called out your name —
it’s all the same.
And I hate being repetitious.
So,
I didn’t wanna write this piece.

I didn’t wanna write this piece.
I mean…
How many ways can you say
“I had low self esteem”
“I didn’t love myself”
“I didn’t think anyone else could ever love me”.
How many times can you say
“I needed him”
“I thought it would get better”
“I let my standards fall to the ground”.
And even if you truly were in just that much pain,
feeling that much shame,
and didn’t want to give him the blame
you’ll still be some dumb bitch who didn’t have sense enough to kill that muthafucka
the first time he put hands on you!
And I didn’t kill him – I let him live.
So…
I didn’t wanna write this piece.

I didn’t wanna write this piece.
I mean…
Hell, I probably started it.
Haven’t you heard?
Women have equal rights now.
And because we are the most expert button-pushers
on the planet we are just as entitled to be punched
as men are.
Shouldn’t get mad ‘cuz he finished what you started.
And yes,
it does make some kind of
toxic and violent sense in a part of my head

that if I hit him first

I deserve what comes after….
But in the real world,
that almost-but-not-quite-correct
rationalization
didn’t hold much weight for him
at the police station
or for me
in the emergency room.
So,
I didn’t wanna write this piece.

I didn’t wanna write this piece.
I mean…
(lowering my voice)
Just between you and me…
Have you seen those abused women
in the shelters and at those meetings?
Those are some hella ugly heffas!
Well, what I’m saying is they aren’t the most attractive bunch of ladies.
You can’t be too surprised that they couldn’t get any better than some insecure asshole

who used their bodies for punching bags

and faces for target practice.
And honestly…
ain’t I too attractive to be abused?
Don’t I seem too magnificent to be mistreated?
Too bad to be battered?
Too cute to be cussed out?
Too nice to be name-called?
Should I be put down
whenever I come around?
(I conveniently ignore the real question…am I too fly to die?)
I’m pretty sexy, don’t you think?
Fucking me with all the lights on is not a problem.
How would I look running to some…
I don’t know…place to get…HELP…
with my soft and well spoken tones,
my mani-pedi, my good benefited job
my MAC lip gloss and my strappy stiletto heels.
Look at me!
Do I look like I should eva have to lie
about a blackened eye?
So,
I didn’t wanna write this piece.

I didn’t wanna write this piece.
I mean…

Let’s just put the shitty stereotype out there,

okay?
I am a Black sista!
Strong sista!
Kinky hair and rounded ass!
Blood of the ancestors,
the an-ses-tas,
the an-SIS-TAS
flowing through my veins!
All the strong women that went before me
CorrettaScottKingHarrietTubmanSojournerTruthRosaParksBettyShabazz
Superwomen whose legacy I have soiled
with my inability to dial 911,
file a complaint,
press charges,
keep a court date,
change a lock,
seek/abide by a restraining order,
hire a crackhead to beat his ass
or just shoot that muthafucka!
Then you gotta look all these
modern day Superwoman bytches in the face.
You know the ones.
Miss “I wouldn’t neva let a man put his hands on me”
Miss “What is wrong with you? Wouldn’t be me dealing with that mess!”
Miss “If he touch me he betta kill me.”
Miss “Gurl, you ain’t got no rat poison in the house?”
Madea offering you hot grits, cast iron skillets and baseball bats.
Miss Sophia In Da Hood shoutin’
“I lubs DayQuan, gawd knows I do but I kill ‘em dead if he eva beat me!”
And you know what the worst part is?
Some of them look like they really could kick a man’s ass!
Amazon warriors in spirit, and sometimes in the flesh!
Some of them MIGHT be able to go toe to toe with a man, and if he did manage to win
he’d be breathing mighty hard when it was done.
But I’m not that one…
So,
I didn’t wanna write this piece.

I didn’t wanna write this piece.
I mean…
No one wants to hear the ugly truth about why
I don’t leave for good.
Most don’t say it, won’t say it.
But I know I never will get free
if I don’t try to speak on what’s binding me.
It is mentioned in vulgar euphemisms
if at all. But…..
It’s my addiction
to his DICK-tion!
Get it?
See…look at you
giving me the side eye!
That side eye is the reason why
I bear this burden alone.
I am the dirty butt
of a dirty joke
that ain’t the least bit funny
though everyone laughs like it is.
No one will tell me
how to cut ties with
the sex that has me so vexed.
Yes I need to be confessing it!
But no one wants to help me with addressing it!
How the way we make love is to make war first.
Now our battles are the foreplay
and the sex is the victory dance.
And we both win and lose
all at the same time.
The orgasms he can make
rain down in me
numb my brain
and ease my pain
adrenalin rushing
through my veins.
Serotonin soaking my cerebellum seeping into my soul
until it is bathed in sweet scented amnesia.
You don’t understand how him
inside me
makes it all make sense.
Body fucked hard, yes!
But mind fucked harder….oh baby yes!
It’s the spoonful of sugar that makes
his medicine go down. DOWN.
Like I have.
And since it can never truly be spoken
that its his sex game that got me so open
even long after everything else about us has died…
I accept my punishment for my love of the pleasures of his flesh
no matter what that punishment is.
Because feeling this way, makes me the weakest woman of all.
And I deserve what I get…right?
Right?
Well…say SOMETHING!

Yeah I know.
What can you say?
I know what you’re thinking of me.
But you know what?
Your silent judgment is the REAL reason why
I didn’t wanna write
this piece.