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On teaching pale women how to color their walls…

***Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Oh.  How many times I’ve heard, “I wish we could take you home with us” while swaddling a newborn, positioning a lactating breast, counting pushes, and smelling the scent of new life.  By the way…it is an earthy smell; a muted sweet scent of all outdoors (quite interesting when you think about it).  Oh.  How many times I’ve thought, “I am my own home.  I’ve always had to make a home in me.  You should learn to do the same.  And have the courage to inhabit it. Without.  Help.”

Besides, the man of my choosing is coming to paint my kitchen a vibrant shade of green in the morning and I wouldn’t dare miss him (and I’ve been considering a mauve for the bedroom – whatcha think?).  Furthermore, I only lie my head down under roofs that motion to all the places where the guns are hidden.

We’ll talk later.  The lesson must continue at some other time.  I can smell that the Cornish-hen is ready.  I can feel the clock approaching quitting time.  And I can hear my own baby start to stir in her crib.  I left her walls nude. Perhaps her first word will be blue.  Again, I will call the man of my choosing and he will oblige to pigment yet another one of my walls with the color of oceans.

I have so much to do.  In my own home.  Perhaps I should thank you for reminding me?

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Deep Pockets

Image via @photosbyelldot_ (unsplash.com)

 

There comes a time in every girl-turned-woman’s life where promiscuity is a thing that simply must be had.  Looking for the outside to match the inside. Trying to ingest this idea of attaching monetary value to things passionate.  Things gifted.  Things anointed.  Deep pockets are, after all, the world’s oldest profession.  Yes, there comes a time in every girl-turned-woman’s life where all she knows is to turn away…or…invite you in.

And ask, “do I still feel the same?”

And think, “I bet he thinks this song (and dance) is about him.”

Careful, how you pro seed.

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Femme: Literati Mixtape

So, yeah!  With all the unseen words

floating around in clouds

and free spaces

and unwired four walls

real paper, pages, ink has become somewhat obsolete

and needed a Native Queen to bring them back to life.

And HERstory was made!  ‘cause isn’t this how it’s always made?  

Look around.  It’s happening!

Femme: Literati Mixtape is an anthology due Summer 2019 conceived by Genre: Urban Arts.  Anthologies are everything!  Literally…everything!  Creative Director, Nakeysha Roberts Washington (@nakeysha) together with authors/editors Rico Lowe (@panafrico) and Shimah Easter (@gonbeallwrite_mah) are preparing to present this opportunity to women creatives who are of the African diaspora together with their brown sistren, contemporary, informed and passionate.  The anthology will feature a mix of written word, art, photography and fashion. If you are interested in this opportunity or know an artist who would be, please DM/contact any of the editors above or visit the ‘Opportunities’ tab at genreurbanarts.com. We are HERstory in the making!

Here’s the fatbooty on what we are looking for…

  • Fiction or Creative Nonfiction
    • 500 words or less
  • Poetry
    • 2-4 poems with 50 lines or less
  • Prose
    • 500 words or less
  • Art
    • Title, Medium
    • 1-3 images (file size no greater than 64MB)
    • Artist statement
  • Photography
    • Title, Medium
    • 5-7 images (file size no greater than 64MB)
    • Artist statement
  • Fashion
    • Bloggers, models and designers with impeccable style who want to call attention to his or her work. You are welcome to compose a write up on yourself; however, Genre editors would be happy to interview you and compose one for you.
    • 5-7 Images (file size no greater than 64MB)
    • 200-400 words
Femme Literati: Mixtape
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Navel

It’s a weird feeling.  Yes, ‘weird’, for lack of a better word.  This disconnect that sometimes happens between mother and daughter. To know that she was indeed your first home.  But now.  You must be home.

A plot of land.

Four walls.

A roof.

A shore for the weary.

And a lighthouse for the lost.

You can’t help it.  The urge is inherent.  You will spend forever.  Trying to build a bridge.  And the construction is louder than the destruction.  And if it wasn’t for the flames, you could both get to buildin’.

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Do..or

The kitchen cabinets.

The bathroom upon entering

and exiting.

The dryer. And the washer.

The back door. Closed but unlocked.

Overnight.

Even once, the car door

after retrieving our sleeping baby.

Then there was that time

in the new house

when we christened it loudly.

The bedroom door –

a forgotten necessity.

And our first guest in the living room –

also forgotten.

Cheeks red; body a seated statue.

Maybe he thought we’d done it on purpose?

That’s what I would have thought.

Forgotten doors

left open

on purpose.

You always forgot to close the fucking door!

Always!

And I…I sat with my legs open

then. Still.

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Middle Aisles

How am I supposed to rid myself

Of this gnawing in my belly?

The lies that sit there

Will surely eat me from the inside out

The gut is a funny place

It does not like to be empty

Refusing to wait on the truths

That grow slowly in our gardens

Overly full of the easily accessible

Packaged lies

All up ‘n down

The middle aisles
I believe I’ll walk on. See what the end will be.

 

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Daddy’s Toolbox

The one you’ve chosen to spend your life with is an engineer kind of dude.  He likes to build things. But baby, when he met you, you were already a stallion.  An edifice.  And so, he deconstructed you bit by bit…to see what in fact you were made of.  It’s the only way he knew how to love.  The problem is, he tired out.  Too lazy or too preoccupied to put you back together again.  So, here I am doing the work I did years ago.  Building you up…again…as only I know how.  As only I can.

A woman cannot fight a man.  She will never win.  He will hide parts of her in far off lands.  He will place pieces of her soul into glass bottles and drift you off to sea.  And in a fit of rage you can find him breaking the tools required for reconstruction.

This time you need to pay close attention.  I will not be here forever.  Putting a Queen back together is a lost art.  Grab my toolbox – top shelf, right corner.

 

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The Blood

She is born with a naturally occurring third eye, nestled within the softest place on earth.  If you do it right, it might just wink at you.  Waiting is a cycle.  Stillness is a cycle.  Regeneration and resurrection?  Both are cycles.  She wants no parts of your war – no parts of the blood you spill.  (She often twitches at the day men were allowed into labor rooms.)  The blood she spills is of living water; not of slain innocence and not of combat, campaign, or crusade.  Yes, pay close attention to whom God granted His living water.  It’s been said that it’s just too much.  Too crass, too saturated, too heavy.  Too brand new.  The blood.  Of cyclical possibilities with a scent of untouched earth waiting to be sown (or not).  Rain on the horizon.  Seeds taking root.  Her insides – the great outdoors.  It is her space and mine.  Immense pain and immense pleasure.  What of true life doesn’t birth both?  Charged with the permutation of unadulterated first breaths!  And we let them shame…tax…shun us for it.  A gift.  An offering.  A safe space that everyone has at least once been familiar with.  And we let them shame us for it?  A built in clock synced with the moon, ocean tides…with her who stands with me and for me.  And we let them shame us for it?  Born with everything we need.  To carry life.  And we let them shame us for it?  Phenomenal soil – watering itself from the inside out.  And we let them shame us for it?  Worth bleeding for.  And we let them shame us for…the blood.

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#WorthBleedingFor: The Politics of Periods

By Haafizah Bhamjee

Over the past three years, my team at Amnesty International Wits and I have been campaigning on our university campus for free pads. This meant talking about our periods a lot and in a very public way.

 

Donate to #WORTHBLEEDINGFOR

 

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For most of us, this is the first opportunity we have had to speak about menstruation in public. Many girls around the world grow up in homes and communities that restrict what they are allowed to say about their bodies. Speaking of the female body and its functions have always been a big taboo in most cultures. However, this often means that girls and women suffer in silence. Many are unable to speak about the issues that they face daily; one being a lack of access to sanitary products.

According to UNICEF, 1 in 10 school girls in Africa cannot afford sanitary pads. That’s over two million schoolgirls in South Africa alone. A survey we did at Wits University showed that every 1 in 6 students couldn’t afford sanitary products. Many women and girls are forced to use alternative and unhealthy methods of handling their menses. For example, many use old newspaper, rags of cloth and toilet paper in place of pads and tampons. Many more miss out on school, work and other opportunities such as sport. An estimate shows that schoolgirls in South Africa miss out on approximately 70-100 days of school a year, because of a lack of access. This disproportionately impacts girls and women from lower-income communities. It also means that women and girls have fewer opportunities available to them than their male counterparts.

Educating women and girls is the only proven method of reducing poverty in our communities. In a country saddled with political strife, race & sex discrimination and wealth inequality; the conversation around sanitary products is rarely brought to the table. This means our plea often falls on deaf ears. Sanitary products are still taxed as luxury items; something we call the period tax. Earlier this year President Cyril Ramaphosa proposed a 1% tax increase, without considering the implications for poorer communities.

In many ways, menstruation and women’s bodies have become a political conversation. One that we don’t plan on halting any time soon. Through our campaign we have raised funds and donations for students on campus, we have had a march and hand over of demands and we have petitioned 3500 signatures for our course. You can see more of what we are doing by visiting our Instagram (@WorthBleedingFor), Facebook (Amnesty International Wits) and Twitter (@AI_Wits) pages for more information.

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#WORTHBLEEDINGFOR

A woman will have an estimated 450 menstrual cycles during her lifetime; using upwards of 17,000 sanitary pads or tampons comprehensively.  To the women belonging to countries who incorrectly label feminine supplies such as sanitary napkins as luxuries, 450 is the number of missed opportunities to feel supported, humane, hygienic and dignified.  Wits University, Johannesburg (a South African province) is working to implement policies that impact this way of life in a positive way – one feminine hygiene donation at a time; coupled with initiatives aimed to educate women of childbearing age and their communities alike. Continue reading #WORTHBLEEDINGFOR

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Of All Creation…

Today I want to create

Today I want white dresses

Painted in blood, in red dirt, in grass stains

In rays of sunshine

…Unwrinkled by the wind and wet heat

Today I want to create

Today I want seeds planted on the inside

(To be a walking ground; a foundation not phased by shifts)

Hands to my chest

So you may feel that the seeds beat too

(Just give ‘em some time)

Today I want to create

Today I want love dripping down my thighs

Until sticky

Until translucent turns flakey

Today I want my screams turned into song

My grip.  Turned into push.

My tears turned into oceans blue

No, into freshwater true

Can you swim?

Are you thirsty?

Would you like me to bathe you?

Today I want to create

Today I want to be loved

Into creation

…To loudly whisper love back into

You

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Rest and Shine

 

She lie on the bed; belly down and naked from head to toe.  An ear to the mattress.  And an ear to the wind from an open window.  Her backside adorned with earned stripes – lightening strikes, winding Redwood roots, umbilical cords etched to her hips.  And to his eyes.  He dared not guess if the sun was setting or rising.  But he knew…that it’s rays were finally learning how to illuminate themselves. Continue reading Rest and Shine

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If Tomorrow I Die by Talin Likha

If tomorrow I die,

Would you come to say goodbye?

Would you come to see my face,

for one last time?

Would you then at last realize,

the love I had was true,

that even at my death-bed,

I’m still thinking of you.

 

If tomorrow I die,

without saying goodbye.

Would you miss me when I’m dead?

Please do miss me and be sad.

 

I’m being selfish, yes I know,

but it’ll give meaning to my goals.

It was to ‘Love’ you.

Just to love you, with my all.

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One Moment by Cree Salvai

One moment

That moment

The moment

When you realize

Things aren’t over between the two of you

 

There’s still a bit of a story left

But do you really want the story to go on?

Yes.

No.

Maybe?

 

You fell for him once

Surprise, surprise

He broke you,

Not just your heart

You.

 

Have things changed?

Probably not.

Have you changed?

I think so.

Has he changed?

Not sure.

But probably not.

 

Maybe this isn’t the moment

Maybe this is closure

You know,

The closure you were looking for,

Waiting for,

That never happened?

 

Maybe there was no moment after all

And all this happened in your head.

 

Either way,

You’re both going to go back to the way things were yesterday,

Tomorrow.

Forget what just happened,

And move on.

 

God knows he already did.