Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Don't Sleep (Gratitude Poem #22)

Don’t Sleep

For Lisa Factora-Borchers and Ella Baker

After Audre Lorde’s “Starting All Over Again”

strange hour survivor

radar to realness

sister call

dear daily deep

cross ocean love

short enough

to say-it- all

by voice

by votive

by video

explain why

we should never have

to explain


or our mothers



to any

m*&^%#f*&^%n’ body

of water or landed class

why our own faces

are enough

lips to unknown sea

tremble the planet

when we believe

our unbelievable selves

slick with inexplicability

sleeves heartstained with prayer

burn our hungry visions

river bank urgent

write all night

share sleep with ghosts

dream the unguessed futures

of guest workers

worthy of a son returned

a shadow rising

a hunch

i wake up

believing in that

i wake up believing in you

we wake up ready

fresh with belief

in that


that believes

in us

with a life starting love




(so you can.)


Dear Lisa,

Last night I couldn't sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time. And I love to sleep. This has happened to me before. Used to be the night before going to visit my grandparents in Anguilla, the first day of school, Christmas Eve and last night before journeying to St. Croix. My eyes fly open craving the clock.

Last night I couldn't sleep and now I am daydreaming about you and your middle-of-the-night letters. Early morning emails after staying up thinking. And I am thinking about what Sweet Honey in the Rock repeates in honor of Ella Baker. "We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes." This is the type of up all nights I imagine you having. Isaiah too? Those up all nights that lead to more free mornings. To clarity. To a form of light birthed from the midnight oil burned within. Life sentence punctuated by a preposition. I love the way you share those insights. I love it that when you stay up all night you are wake-dreaming freedom for all of us. I love your passion and your intention and your you-ness.

And so I dedicate this remix poem, based on Audre Lorde's last poem for her son to you. Abundantly brilliant mama, birthing new worlds in every form. Staying up all night for one specific persons benefit some nights. I am honored to share freedom dreams with you. And I love you more than I can say, for the whole time that I am awake.

love always,


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