Monday, August 29, 2011

break free (everyday) Gratitude Poem #21

break free


For Vanessa Huang

After Audre Lorde’s “Parting”

rocks talk through chisel light into break room

passed note to whole note break rest to trill too past to hold

too old to break cooler under river stone too cold to howl

trowel truth break ground refine less lime over more time

ghost right host bit love tongue blood read break skin in

thin wrap loose chase goosebump into break time

mine coal ice cold chase fever break even more hearts

beat fear brave raven heat heaven break o





Vanessa Huang is in my corner. Which at the end of the day may be just be enough. I am proud to believe in what Vanessa believes in. I am proud to fight and love for what Vanessa fights and loves for. And a biproduct blessing of the confluence is that I may see Vanessa any given year nationally gathered in a sacred name. Your names are sacred to me Vanessa.

And there is something that you are doing with line-breaks and space that challenges me into breakthrough. How you chisel your life into such truth, clarity and presence is a testament that commands my attention, respect, joy and love.

Thank you so much for being a poet and breakthrough and an ever present possibility.

love always,


p.s. look at these luckiest numbers gathered in my favor to send me home to Audre!!!!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Poet (Gratitude Poem #20)


For Roberto Tijerina

After Audre Lordes’s “Thanks to Jesse Jackson”

say it like bridge

spell it like splinter

these are the times

when words need carpenters

think out loud reshaping

into places to sit and meet

and walk and not fall through

write it like rice

growing hot and irresistible

undercover in the watched pot of revolution

spell it like cauldron

these are the years

when we eat our words

when the boil-over of desire

is the table we build by sharing

train our tongues to be trans

send ground to the rhythm of meaning

generate light like a helmet

in the mines

like a tread in the sloop

in the loop down of question

this is it

now stalagmite of babel

dark room of reason

inverse of towerful

the time when each word

wake tongue

catch fire to ear

clean throat back to pink

when each word

sears like prophecy on our hearts

this is the moment

we all become



Roberto Tijerina is truly a rockstar who needs no introduction..but since bragging on people in my community is one of my very favorite activities, you should know that Roberto is one of the most amazingly loved organizers I know. He is a beacon, leader, expert and transformer of the practice of translation in the radical intersectional social justice world. Roberto is a person who challenges movements with a depth of understanding about access, privilege and what it takes to center the range of people most impacted by the most virulent forms of oppression in our times in a room, in a conversation, at an event, in a publication, on a website. Everywhere, everywhere.

This is why I wanted to create a poem in conversation with on of Audre Lorde's last poems which was written after a speech by Jesse Jackson that celebrates and emphasizes that the majority of the people in the world are and will be people of color and that majority language of the planet is not English.

Roberto is a person who celebrates and who is celebrated. In our community he is the most positively understood definition of what it is to be a celebrity. And I know for sure that Audre Lorde is somewhere and right here celebrating the fact that Roberto exists and is doing his powerful work, and building infrastructures for aligned work at the impactful scale and in the wholistic way that he does it!

And on a more personal note Roberto, you are a person who I fall in love with everytime I see you..which is altogether not often enough. Thank you so much for supporting me to travel across water and time.

Thank you all for supporting me to travel backwards in hurricane history and forward to love aka Audre Lorde aka Gloria Joseph with a deeper sense of home than I ever knew was possible!!!! Look at this!:

all love all the time,


Friday, August 26, 2011

Betta Know (Gratitude Poem #19)

Betta Know

For Jessica Johnson

After Audre Lorde’s “jessehelms”

we are

black women

writing the future

our way

heel-toe shifting

on the nerve

of discourse

a-town stomping on the pulse

of now

we are

what the pencil skirt sharpening

typist dreamgirls

dare not daydream

we are 12 revolutions a minute

7 hail mary passes to Oya

we are winding we warmfront up

wrapping our fingers around yes

we are drum wake to every silence

gateway for ancestor swallow each

we are biting the handle

that twitterfeeds the treadmill

that runs the solar toaster

we recruit

neon conductors for a railroad in the sky

where Harriet rides shotgun winking

we bring all the names we know

and make up

new ones

we are the zero one

we are the one zero

we are the shero oneness

past binary bright

we are the blaze of phrase

we been waiting for

we are the writing

that needs no wall

only wail

we are the deep sea tracking

drowned womb trail

unmuffled by the wait of words

we are the vain enough

arteries of a truth

that will not be stopped

shopped copped chopped or screwed

except how we accept how

how we protect the neck

of the perfected wreck

how we juggle the jugular

of wanting

we are the by every means

cybernetic pocket freed fist

we are the risk we are the taken

the surly and shaken

we are the liberation lounge singers

here all weak all here regardless

we are black women

writing the future

our way

all day

betta know



Jessica and I met each other during a simultaneously selfless and shameless redistribution of criminalized resources at a siddity and striving affair. In St. Louis. That's all I can say and keep you all safe.

Which is a coded way of saying we met on some by any means necessary do it yourself reparations, rewire an existing structure to meet our community building needs type terms. Which feels very appropriate to me. I hope our biographers include that anecdote in all its scandal because to me it sets the stage for everything else. We met in an action that showed our shared values of community over convention and realness over rules.

It is a blessing and a gift to traipse the cyberworld arms looped with a sister-comrade who I know lives the graceful mischief she speaks offline too. Jessica is a space crasher and a space creator, doing the everyday heart work of saying the unsayable and amplifying the forgotten. Prolific, profound, prophetess-historian, I am proud to share a world and steal a stage with you. I love you and everything you love via transformation, information, documentation and creation. There is nothing in the world as priceless as a down ass scholar who knows how to tweak html until it screams like Abbey Lincoln on the Freedom Now Suite. Nothing in the world.

Love you girl!!!!!

And again love to each of you for loving me like you mean it and gifting me with trip of my dreams to visit Gloria Joseph and swim in Audre Lorde's legacy.



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

re:generate: FREE wellness and resilience day-retreat Sept. 3rd, Atlanta, GA

Saturday, September 3 · 4:00pm - 10:00pm

St. Marks Youth Center
781 Peachtree Street Northeast (accessible by Midtown Marta Station)
Atlanta, GA

Join the Mobile Homecoming Project, Quirky Black Girls and Kindred Southern Healing Justice collective during Atlanta's Black Gay Pride Weekend for a historic day-long retreat designed to build community among Black LBGTQ women of all ages, share self-care, grounding and healing practices and celebrate the power of our LOVE!!!


4:30pm Intergenerational Discussion on Staying Amazing for the Long Haul and Avoiding Burnou...t as Activists, Artists, Healers and Transformative Educators

Ongoing: Delicious self-care booths of all kinds!

Lex sharing new archival miracles of Audre Lorde and Pat Parker's correspondence about survival and cancer and more...

6pm Cooking with our favorite body-loving recipes and eating together!!!

8pm Intergenerational Dance Party with DJ Lynee!

Have a self-care practice or favorite recipe or dish that you want to share? Email us at!!!


*****Participate in our love-filled fundraiser to support this event from
Join the Mobile Homecoming Project, Quirky Black Girls and Kindred Southern Healing Justice collective during Atlanta's Black Gay Pride Weekend for a historic day-long retreat designed to build community among Black LBGTQ women of all ages, share self-care, grounding and healing practices and celebrate the power of our LOVE!!!


4:30pm Intergenerational Discussion on Staying Amazing for the Long Haul and Avoiding Burnou...t as Activists, Artists, Healers and Transformative Educators

Ongoing: Delicious self-care booths of all kinds!

Lex sharing new archival miracles of Audre Lorde and Pat Parker's correspondence about survival and cancer and more...

6pm Cooking with our favorite body-loving recipes and eating together!!!

8pm Intergenerational Dance Party with DJ Lynee!

Have a self-care practice or favorite recipe or dish that you want to share? Email us at!!!


*****Participate in our love-filled fundraiser to support this event from near or far! Have the name of a loved one of yours who demonstrates, demonstrated or could use some wellness and resilience energy painted onto a tapestry that will be part of the altar for this healing space! *******

1. go to
2. click "send money"
3. send to

So excited to see you there!!!!!

spin (gratitude poem #18)


For Meredith

After Audre Lorde’s “The Politics of Addiction”

if we had the glue

to keep on going

over nerves newness

and not knowing how

we are


to get home

in the spiderweb of sprawl

we could live anywhere

spinning sincerity

wakes the warmth of dust

shadow of trust

shaped by seeking

this is the collage you make

dancing in place

deepening dervish

glitter-map to presence



Meredith caught a ride across town to glide red-dressed and exuberant into the queer station embryonic hub this weekend, and trusted she would be able to get home. In a time when I am building faith and learning to choose the safety of the transformative universe over the security of control and isolation Meredith is a testament.

I am so happy that Meredith is back in Atlanta, ready to build deep community and to celebrate the abundance of life! You are such a great example!!!

And each of you is evidence that life is abundantly possible! Thank you all for being part of my miraculous journey!!!:



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Found (Gratitude Poem #17)

The universe blesses us in many ways. And black feminism lives in the trees, in the ground and in the sky, but especially, resplendently in human form. I am happy to live in the quirky world where Sarah walks, teaches and heals. This is a poem based on one of the more intimate and confrontational poems

in Lorde's Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance, transformed into a love poem for Sarah as she witnesses the possibility of peace in occupied Palestine. Nothing is impossible. So much love and gratitude to you Sarah, for being you.

And gratitude to each of you for being part of a love fueled journey of black feminist possibility through the sky and every other superhighway of love:


For Sarah Thompson

After Audre Lorde’s “Judith’s Fancy”

Go handclap on a revolution

found sister find space

for truth in the rubble and trouble

of faith

between here

and Sunday

is a road travelled better

off eggshell sweetness

welcome to

the everyday theology

of quirk

the work

of unshirked commitment

to us

to you as

enough us

to bust

a move

past life into love

whirlwind in face

sit childlike

stand dance

in the midst.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Home (Gratitude Poem #16)

Black Amazon! Warrior of my dreams, beacon of all Audre's dreams coming true! The day we met in person you transubstantiated online alignment instantaneously into love. You recognized me as family, even though it would be years before we actually called out the names of our ancestors and realized that we probably actually are cousins back there. I will say about us what June Jordan said to Audre Lorde:

"You and I hold so much in common. West Indian. Which is to say driven and unreasonably proud and riveted to thousands of pages of thousands of books."

Knowing you is a reason to be proud. It is the best excuse to love myself again. I love you so much Sydette and am so proud to call you sister comrade!!!

Infinite gratitude to Sydette and everyone else who dug deep to support my grassroots dream of flying home to Audre!!!


For Sydette Harry

After Audre Lorde’s “Women on Trains”

I never see you at home

forest brought

monument to sand

planetary brilliance

I always see you

at home

our truth belies our training

you are a tree

i would stand and fight next to

any time of day

but I would rather

stay up all night laughing

our joy left ransom

for the act right impulse of strangers

your smile is a reminder

this is why we make home

out of hallways

out of half-met promises

out of custom sneakers

and sweets

home is how you move

everything hasn’t

been taken

crown in place

home is how you make

roadside regal

posture bought

by not believing bullshit

home is no

home is know

whose said so

don’t mean squat

in the line of lies

for sale

home is

we can drop a ritual

any time

no space is owned

our most gangster ancestors

show up with us at the door

home is precise

those who act

like they don’t


can be recast quick

flash your eyes

fireweed shield around love

to say

do not let your ignorance

make you


we were put here to survive

we will grow this world in a windowbox

or a toilet

flush to realness

tangled from escape


before McKenzie

and after and through

growing screams

but is not broken



right here

we unleash home.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Decide (Gratitude Poem #16)

Tema Okun is the angry white woman the founding fathers were scared would come to life, even as they did everything to create the critical, cynical, hopeful, teacher that she is. Present to the contradiction of the moment and choosing like an artist to keep every piece of the contradiction unresolved. As it should be.

Tema's work as a white anti-racist educator and organizer and an anti-Zionist Jewish activist and an erstwhile member of the UBUNTU writing group has been a resource in my life for conversations about Palestine and June Jordan, the structural possibilities of autonomous educational space, the dynamics of fear, classroom exercises, university teaching evaluations, the value of time in the day or night for art, the sound of a new year and more. Together, with their chosen family member artist Ellen O'Grady, Tema and her partner Tom have been providing free, abundant meeting and organizing space in Durham for years...making a home for many Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind and Mobile Homecoming Events including Queer Black Sunday School, James Baldwin's 86th Birthday Party, the Lucille Clifton ShapeShifter Survival Rebirth Summer, the MotherOurselves Bootcamp parts of Indigo Days and so many that I can't even list them all.

Tom and Tema also journey to Palestine yearly as part of their solidarity work towards a free Palestine and the just world that would require such freedom. I have learned from watching Tema and Tom in action that space is a crucial resource with infinite possibilities and place is a deep catalyst for accountability. I'm thrilled and grateful to share space and community with Tema and Tom and so excited that they are part of my journey across water to the US colony where Audre Lorde wrote so passionately about imperialism, disaster economics and the teachings of the wind.

If you want to join that journey home check out:




For Tema and Tom

After Audre Lorde’s “Domino”

List the names



Wounded Knee


line them up

sages in skylight

carry water

past horizon

carry blood

past identification

carry bone

past bleach and sun

worship backbone

intend neighbors

travel past home

to here

cats know

the full moon means

stay up all night

waiting for something

to be different

and then realize it is you

imagine it is you

wanting to weep

upon reflection


it is you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Enough (Gratitude Poem #15)

If you are lucky enough to visit Christy's home you will see hearts everywhere. Photographed collected. Naturally occurring hearts. If you are lucky enough to know Christy you will learn that love is naturally occurring and can be supported and grown and found an cherished. I am proud to be in community with Christy and to have learned so much about love from her graceful example!!!!!

And if you happen to find a heart, carved in a tree, written in sand, in the shape of a leaf....take a picture and send it over. And if you happen to have the ability to send over a donation for my dream trip to follow my heart home to St. Croix into the zone of Audre Lorde rememory and the hospitality of Gloria Joseph join the chip in here:

Everyone who donates will get their very own love poem based on one of the poems in Audre Lorde's "Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance."





For Christy Tronnier

After Audre Lorde’s “Oshun’s Table”

if you go deep enough

and don’t rush

the river floor

is tiled with heart shaped rocks

high enough

stars curve in and meet

wide enough

fruit transforms

seed cradle overlap

herb garden reach out

rice round ripe

patterns left from rain

moon winks

butter melts

toast opens

out the corner of your eye

everything knows your face


the proper name

of the spontaneously chosen people

trustworthy brave

fed by your vigil

assembling every bite into ritual

every room into sanctuary

everyday into altar

and you do go





for all

of us.

Monday, August 15, 2011

to walk it (Gratitude Poem #15)

When I met Lamar I was thanking my ancestors. We were speaking on a panel together at the first ever Triangle Black Gay Pride. He had just moved to the area to get his PhD. He was a "yes" out of the corner of my eye, a brother-in-waiting, a bridge to all the other black poet peace petals on the planet. An ancestor worshipper like me.

We celebrated James Baldwin's birthday together, with words and more than words and promptly laced our lives together into time and space traveling non-stop affirmation. I love you Lamar! You amaze and inspire me. And your role in this community of praise, preacher, prophet poets in this community is crucial, and irreplaceable!

And for all the rest of you walking this dusty road of do-it-ourselves legendary status, I am fundraising for a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit St. Croix to re-immerse myself in the spirit of Audre Lorde on the invitation of the amazing Gloria Joseph!!! Every person who donates gets a love poem from me based on one of the poems in Audre Lorde's final published collection of poems The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance.

Join the journey here:

to walk it

For L. Lamar Wilson

After Audre Lorde’s “Dear Joe”

we like our legends


our luminaries weak


to fit between

the lines

but you brother

lilting perfect

flower stem tribute

believe in us so




throw dirt on the road

to walk it

you stowaway crawlspace

for love

you crooked crossroads

where gender falls


where midnight grasps the hand

of the mourning and wakes up

walk it

say fuck the pretense

this my name in cursive

dancing across your face

this kiss the cool cheek of essex

faced away from joe still waits for

burning up

this the light sprite of just right

who will pronounce your name love

and then love again

until you learn it

refuge from the name drop sun-tea of striving

you touch ghosts

the way they want

to be


swirl the jangled street

into homecoming

here to recognize

the small place

where skin can meet skin

is infinite

and we might live

but that is no reason to give


and we might die but that is no reason to



lean heavy in the drunkening sweep

of shared air

tar thick days restarting

glean caress out of tree branch missing sky


dry mud tracks to tears

stretched legion to come back through

heaven lifted to laces


dirt road enough

to walk

Friday, August 12, 2011

Daughter Defined (Gratitude Poem #14)

Greetings Family!

In the times we live in there are so many ways to recognize your tribe. Asha French reached to to me first across the strong connection of mutual black feminist loved ones as a mother. From across the cybernetic clearing I am watching Asha build and nurture given and chosen family in ways that make me believe in black feminism as a daily practice even more. This is for Asha and the tiniest member of the Crunk Feminist Collective, both teaching us so much every second of the day!!!!!

And as I think about defining daughterness (sic) I am again washed over in gratitude for all of you and your support for this step in my journey of chosen daughtering in the legacy of Audre Lorde as a black feminist ancestor and Gloria Joseph as an exemplary elder. Thank you so much for supporting me to accept Gloria Joseph's invitation to go to St. Croix and to build with her and learn more about that part of Audre Lorde's life!!!

I learn so much from writing each of these for your own dedicated love poem inspired by a poem in Lorde's Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance join the love movement here:

Daughter Defined

For Asha French

After Audre Lorde’s “The One Who Got Away”

beyond glamour

wholeness waits

season-all magic

last seen at no matter what

last heard singing life saving lullabies

last known for kissing the future

the bottom of the day will swell

to fit the dreams packed in

beyond what is fair

or combustible

morning will press up at the sun

life smell bright

faith ransom itself home


is that dangerous word

that silences guilt-mongers

forcefield to bloodhounds

cutting the air out of any selfish sound

daughter is the name

that means you will grow

moonbeams in a windowsill

dig rootcellars into books

float friendships across clearings

she means

look how she possible

anything worth it

jar water miracle

love lining lace

daughter means

whatever happens

yes beyond yes



Thursday, August 11, 2011

Professional (Gratitude Poem #13)

The first time I spoke to Katie was on the phone. My beloved sister comrade Sydette told me to talk to her "wifey." Witnessing the most beautiful supportive and kick-ass friendship and sharing a loved one with Katie made me feel connected to her and appreciative even before I finally got to meet her in person. We went through some things we probably should not have had to go through in the city of Boston, but the clarity remained. Katie is a person who shows up for the people she loves. And she loves to love people.

I am happy to have a loved one that is so good at BEING a loved one and to live in a world where Katie is showing the planet what love means and that love will prevail!!!!

I love you Katie!!!

And for your own love poem based on Audre Lorde's "Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance" and to support my journey to learn more about the meaning of love from Audre Lorde and the brilliant loving black feminist Gloria Joseph join the journey here:


For Katie Kuhl

After Audre Lorde’s “Do You Remember Laura”

path grows slick with tread

well-read commute to be your word

boroughs and sidewalks align

names provisional

single-minded purpose

to get where you go

to love who you love

like its your first job

and the only one that matters

gather your tools

something soft

something sweet

something that smells really good

first aid for the spirit

stat pack for head and hands on call

i think of you as a professional

in my mind you are in transit

somewhere in the city

on the way

to love

way I see it

that’s all you do

show up in love

show up to start the clock

show up to turn the light on

show up ready to blow up

anything resembling harm

you heal

with the force of sheer determination

a daily clarity

an urgent walk


no matter who hates you

I will love you

more often

count on it

love becomes a regular miracle

dependable continual here

it’s a numerical strategy


say it matter of fact

nothing can hurt you

for longer than I will love you

when the world forgets what it even meant

by capitalist die fuck of never care

i will still be here holding your hand

reminding you

you fucking rock

you are how I know love wins

sun has nothing

seasons fall out the sky

water dry out into gills on our backwards ribs

asteroid hit

whole thing fall away

and you will still show up

purse filled with something sacred

something soft

something sweet

something that smells really good

genocidal apathy

structural ignorance

and the deadly arrogance of greed

have lost already

they should have got you first

picked you for their team

but they didn’t know what we know

Katie was the guru that trained the care bears

how to open their hearts

Valentine’s day is plagiarized

a co-optation of the ironic element of a 7 point plan

for annual love generation

left on the floor in a daydream

Katie had on the train

they must not know

what we know

but they will soon find out

if it is not love

it cannot last

Katie is on the way.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Through (Gratitude Poem #12)

Lorde I had to heal myself this morning. Some unexpected expenses for this dream trip, and every conversation I have in my head about scarcity had me off-hilt and scattered for a moment, but then I get present to the abundance of my community's infinite forms of support and I remember that everything is love!

Lorde I had to heal myself this morning. Thank heaven, Black Canada and the internet for Leah Burke.

Leah, you are a healer in my heart telling me to breathe. You are the ready medicine of love exhaled. Indigo ingenuity in every moment. Knowing you is like living on a reservoir of self-made and resurrected black women healing. Knowing you is lamaze breath transubstantiated into music and music transformed back into presence. I learn so much from you. I have felt so held by you, surrounded in your lovingly chosen song choices and playlists that don't be playin' at all when it comes to the sacred work of lifting a spirit. This is how you were with me the entire time I was writing my dissertation, the long afternoons where the best I could do was to dance around the house and scream sometimes. Julia genuflects when I speak your name: "Leah. You know Leah, who made the playlist on Quirky Black Girls..." You are so magical, Moya and I wonder sometimes how much we must have saved up in the quirky karma account to deserve you and your gifts. Thank you for exemplifying the the most crucial piece of information I know for sure right now: love is infinite and many forms of love do many miraculous things, but the love of black women gets us through.

Love you.



p.s. For those just now eavesdropping...amazing Black feminist writer, scholar, organizer, and beekeeper Dr. Gloria Joseph has invited me to St. Croix to visit her and to commune with the spirit of Audre Lorde. There is nothing to say but yes. My versions of yes include writing a poem inspired by a poem from Lorde's last published collection "The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance" for every member of my beloved community of support that donates to the dream journey!!!

Learning how to sacrament dollars back into love:


For Leah Burke

After Audre Lorde’s “Party Time”

play the muscled anthem

our dirtiest mamas

thimble tongued

pierce our lungs into home

if we can breathe through this

anything can live

strut past funeral into bloom

lower rents bend hell by brazeness

if we can hear

the Lorde try to tell us


try to tell

hell bent Bumpurs real

Lorde speak blue rattle death whisper waking up

if we can hear and breathe and heave and hold this

Lorde she tryna tell us something

secret newspaper blood

blue black ink wrote over

chords stole strung broke

try ta hear it

stitched ragged and roadside

breathe through this

stained kitchen wall

whole hipped hands suspended into swagger

breathe through this

police dog polemic

drum resurrection

like if you could run and sing at the same time

strum tears into weather

don’t stop

that sound that sob

that washes festered sight

breathe through sore throat

scalp evaporate

heat rising wet stepping up

rhythm paid and slayed

wade in grapejuice over heal

who sings

must have heard how to exhale

who sings hooded hallelujah hung

who hear who hear hoot holler

who hear holler whole who home

who heave heat hear who haunt

who happen who hold hit who home

who home who home who home

who who who who who who

shh shh shh shh she home

Lorde know

who she

breathin’ through.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Dance (Gratitude Poem #11)

Good morning family!

This is the dance party of my dreams, aerobic workout of gratitude! To get to dance to the tune of Audre Lorde's poetry with so many loved ones is such a gift!!! I can feel Audre Lorde doing a very shoulder-centric dance of affirmation and I can't wait to dance in person with Gloria Joseph in St. Croix! I am completely excited that ride or die, eternal summerian, profoundly brilliant publisher and cherished friend Jess Hoffman has joined the dance party!

I remember when I first met Jess Hoffman in person. Maybe there is nothing that can make you appreciate the miracle of an anti-racist white feminist more than accidentally visiting the most racist white feminist space that you couldn't imagine. Or maybe I would have appreciated meeting Jess and her amazing embodied love on any sunny or rainy day regardless. Either way Jess's role in my life worth more than the sum of my renewed and transformed faith in editing across difference, and my deepened gratitude for anti-racist white people working actively to transform the communities they love so critically. Being friends, comrades, collaborators, loved ones, sisters, teammates, bandmates, and dance partners with you, Jess (yes I am suddenly shifting the second person to directly address YOU, Jess!) is like a favorite song coming on in the community powered radio of my heart. I think the meaning of our friendship is politically important and has lessons for our community, like the friendship between Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich (if I dare compare us at this young age to two of the greatest poets and teachers ever), but more than that, our relationship is an experience that I treasure. I light up at the sight of you. I feel peace and affirmation from knowing you are out there in the universe reading from the same page I am reading from. I love being alive in community with you!!!!

And for any of you who want to join the dance party...check out:


For Jessica Hoffman

After Audre Lorde’s “Making Love to Concrete”

dance in the particular

one city wide

one city steep

long state breaking off

sleek with squashed statement

you live here

on the scribbled embroidery

of the inescapable

dance in the particular

where well intended bridges

sing whole notes to back pain

invite your own becoming

stretch like a thin girl

not afraid of being wrong

not pretending to be necessary

these shoes for steep

these shoes for wide

walking across love

and wanting to be barefoot

dance in the particular

like you already know

like the desert revelated

baby sprung

email proof-reading

detail divinating

fingertip mapmaking

garden fresh breathing in

twelve year old memory

star tail tracing

summer start

you always were

you are

socialist with your lessons

skylight with your smile

forgiving without giving up

and up and up and up and up

you are

you already are

Monday, August 08, 2011

Such Rainbow (Gratitude Poem #10)

To my beloved sister comrade, conspirator, co-editor, new-age pen-pal, teacher (did I say sister? did I say comrade?) Mai'a Williams and my sweet cyber god-daughter many ways do you make my world brighter? Mai'a and Aza you are my touchstone for revolution, my family on the scene, my lightning rod for what revolutionary mothering looks like as a practice on the scale of the universe, of the weather, of the planetary possibility of love. Rainbows in the desert. Mai'a: our relationship reminds me of the truth, that energy is not limited by space or time (or the legality of skype)! Aza: big-haired-cyber-auntie loves you and black feminism lives!!!

Speaking of energetic miracles...look how a farflung community of loved ones is airlifting an ancestor worshiper home into the arms of Audre Lorde with the sheer power of their faith:

such rainbow

For Mai’a and Aza

After Audre Lorde’s “Prism”

no such rainbow

light breaks prayer

listening for plague

peals back skype longing

no such hell

no such wake up bell


there is a prism

crystal walking

revolutionary refract

there is a vision of pink hair

and cheering

girl voices squared in Tahrir

don’t sleep

if you don’t know

you don’t know

how hustle blows wind to

sand cut clarity

how late nights flame artful into home

how moonlit blessings

from silenced gods

make it all possible

we are taking such brightness to bed

dreams to art

we are choosing to clash open in color

glass our wishes into poems

art to dream late in morning

sand moon into glass

sleeptalking prayer

bruised gift of the future

we are holding it in our fists

burnt tribute of realness

we are wearing it on our faces

we are catalyzing sun

we are waking up ready

for such rainbows as this

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Lasting (Gratitude Poem #9)

Family! I feel like I am on the best possible version of "Alexis Pauline Gumbs" this is your life. This is my life!!!! Gratitude overflowing. We have actually reached and exceeded the goal of my chipin fundraiser. Which means my plane ticket to St. Croix to visit Gloria Joseph and re-baptize myself in the legacy of Audre Lorde is paid for!!!!! Yippeee! AND...I would never deny myself the honor of writing a poem for any of you, so if you want to contribute to food and other expenses of the trip feel free to keep chipping in here:

Maura Bairley was the first boss I had that made me want to grow up and the first adult I trusted to tell the truth everyday and not be broken by it. When I was some sort of vaguely defined work-study assistant at the Barnard-Columbia Rape Crisis and Anti-Violence Support Center (which Maura helped to found and also to shepherd into its own department complete with a robust brilliant staff and, peer advocates, crisis responders, and full-steam peer education programs that empower people of all genders to make moves to end violence...) I marvelled that someone like Maura could exist, and be happy, and be so nice to me on monday mornings!!!!! Working for Maura also meant being surrounded by posters of Audre Lorde, books by genius feminists of color on a regular basis. Osmosis is real.

One way to say it is this:

Maura actively created holistic structures to end and respond to sexual violence on a campus where I survived sexual assault. Maura has actively nurtured structures for queer black feminist transformation in my communities that I benefit from every single day. Maura has built a model for whole, real, resplendent survival just by living the truth of her own life and letting some of us be witnesses. Maura, you have saved my life over and over again just by living yours.

And here is another way to say it


For Maura Bairley

After Audre Lorde’s “Legacy-Hers”

to crack the code of your giving

measured presence daily truth

all at once your unapologetic self

enduring miracle

intro course

on how bright Black women

stay survive

and whole

i showed up

to study you with awe

a stark believer

stumbling half grace

at twice pace

to seek rest in holy war

to learn you by immersion

watch you cherish crossfire path

deep and marked with slender bones

hear you breathe a structure of tears

into undrained heroism

neat next steps

feel you conjure peace in uncalm air

unflinching at terrible

having known something worse

believing in so much better

must be there was some slow and sacred music

you could hear

centered in collusion

clear ancestral chorus

lifting you into the most urgent now

unrushed clarity

making space

to you it was just showing up

to me it was the proof that life was livable

the proof that we would win

what I didn’t know

i needed

to keep




the gift

not being first

and lasting.

Friday, August 05, 2011

What It Means (Gratitude Poem #8)

Dear Family,
These poems are supposed to be gifts for you, but they are such gifts to me. Thank you for the miraculous opportunity to be present to the radiant truth that I am surrounded by abundant brilliance and priceless people!!!
This poem is for Mecca Jamilah Sullivan who I see not at all often enough, but who I am always present to as a fellow traveler. Before we ever met our friends in common (especially La Marr Jurelle Bruce) KNEW that we should know each other. Ours is a relationship like that of many sister-comrades in conversation across wide space, but with such affirming proximity of spirit! And so it is an honor to dedicate this poem, inspired by one of Audre Lorde's several poems to her sister-comrade Pat Parker, to the great writer, scholar, performer, activist, Mecca Jamilah Sullivan!

And guess what! We are 86% of the way to our goal. If you want to join the chorus of angels that is affirming this blessing of a trip to visit Gloria Joseph in St. Croix and commune with the spirit of Audre Lorde and to be near a beach for two much needed weeks chip in here:

For Mecca Jamilah Sullivan

After Audre Lorde’s “Girlfriend”

read your cybernetic name

like air traffic neon

landing stripped to faith

a way home in the dark

taken * delicious

just plain right

need to know

that all year long

another presses pencil to bone

pushes black keys to re-cord chords

otherwise forgotten

badly madly radly

in it

spirit in flight

let’s make a phone book

a hotline

for those of us who know

this is what it means to live


silence pregnant born again to witness

beloved voices haunting into word.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

breathe (gratitude poem #7)

Greetings Family!
Seven is a blessed number and I am SO blessed to have the love of my sister-comrade Adele Nieves in my life. We have created dances in honor of each other, traveled highways and the internet to witness each other's brilliance and NOW I am so proud that she is immersing herself in an amazing journey to continue to deepen her work as a healer in our community informed by indigenous traditions that have been suppressed and with accountability to our whole beloved community. Adele is like a lightening rod to transformation. I feel everything she learns impacting the world immediately!!!! Send Adele blessings for focus, clarity and sustainable inspiration as she engages in what I would describe as deep delicious healer bootcamp university!

And if you want to join Adele in helping with my dream-come-true trip to meet Gloria Joseph and get your own love poem based on Audre Lorde's Marvelous Arithmetic of Distance chip in at:


For Adele

After Audre Lorde’s “The Night-Blooming Jasmine”

star breathing
water blooming
you are a flute song
seducing form to transform

walk searoad
baptize baskets
veinwave powersurge
to reiki ringing hands

sunmade staccato
there are no strangers
can be no enemies
each challenge
unequal to bright embrace

chisel truth in sand
where the only way to walk
is to know for sure
to remember through the center of your days

sweet need known
flower flown
winged work working it out

if they couldn’t tell
now they know they know
the world gets baptized
when you get saved

breathe stars
bloom water
sing sun

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Circle (Gratitude Poem #6)

Vanessa Jackson is a person who shapes herself into sunshine, sweetening her purpose by creatively contributing to everything she believes in. I have benefited from Vanessa's belief in abundance enough to know that while many people give gifts, Vanessa at this stage, IS a gift to our community and our ancestors. I am so grateful to be living in a world that Vanessa claims as sacred! Today celebrating the launch of Vanessa's Full Circle: A Woman's Return to HerSelf program, I offer this poem.

For any of you other glorious gifts out there looking to sweeten purpose into love by supporting my journey to visit Gloria Joseph and commune with Audre Lorde and getting your own dedicated poem...join the love circle here:


For Vanessa Jackson’s Return to HerSelf

After Audre Lorde’s “Construction”

sky rebirth sound

wake you up walk

face full with signs

sign for sistering

stand forever

sign for seeing

full days fertile

silence reborn

into sound

the sky

of your sweet soul


signposts to heal


spirit as salve


sky sounds like you

waking walking

healing holding

life as loving

and then doing it again


if we build our present

out of gifts like you

truth resounds


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

To Be Brown (Gratitude Poem #5)

It is an honor to write a poem for my soul brother Darnell Moore whose donation put us over the 50% mark in my lovefilled fundraising for my dream trip to St. Croix to visit Gloria Joseph and reconnect across water, time and plane with the spirit of Audre Lorde! It's even more exciting because Darnell too is on a dream journey having just recently purchased his tickets for a collective funded and black feminist ancestor mandated solidarity journey to Palestine. I love being spirit siblings with you Darnell!!! May we always support and affirm each other in the work of making our ancestors proud!

If you want to support the journey and get your own dedicated poem inspired by one of Audre Lorde's poems in The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance check out my fundraising page at



To Be Brown

For Darnell Moore

After Audre Lorde’s “Thaw”

we season language

into sweet potatoes

deep heavy whole

with so many rooted eyes

we reason lust

into underground

unbroken something else

always saying reach

all around us

worlds are cracking

shells are breaking

birth is calling out our name

down here we grow

syllable by syllable

digging affirmation

watering prayer to

ancestor mud

you and me brother

we know

who the ground will wake

into all our green belief

when the sky will recognize

our measured blues

how the people will dance

into heat shaped light

you and me brother

we remember why


what a bright thing it is

to be brown.