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Survival Skills

by Yetunde Bronson

I had a pretty disturbing revelation the other day: should this world as we all know it comes to a loud and violent end, and we are all left to fend for ourselves, without infrastructure or order, I would be dead within a few days because I have, like, zero survival skills.

This is the type of shit I think about late at night, Fam. Bear with me.

Seriously – I sat up one night and wrote down a list of my skills that could possibly come in handy should the eternal nightfall on our world.

Here’s what I came up with:

  • Whistling: Perhaps I could serve as a lookout for a roving band of thieves. Except I’m blind as a bat without my glasses, so…
  • Dancing: I’m thinking like in that setup Tina Turner had in Beyond the Thunderdome. Probably not likely, though.
  • Cook: Which is fine if someone has a working stove. Otherwise, I’m useless cuz I don’t know how to start a fire without matches.

I mean, outside of these, I have other, impressive skills that would be rendered utterly useless after the collapse of civilization. This really disturbed me, so I decided to do something about it – I went out and bought some seeds.

For some reason, I decided that out of all of the useful, post-apocalyptic survival skills, gardening would make the most sense for me. It sounded easy enough. I mean, ignore the fact that I have killed 80% of the plant life I have ever touched – a statistic that has been documented by my own mother, who, upon hearing my plans to start a balcony garden, leaned against the wall, weak with laughter. Keep in mind, my mother is horticulturally blessed by the Ancestors and the Holy Ghost. I have seen her cup a dead (not dying, Fam – dead) plant in her hand, blow on it and watch it shudder back to life. The shit is mind-boggling. So, yeah. I was in my chest when she laughed at me.

      “Well, everybody can’t be out here in these streets, resurrecting aloe vera plants and what not,” I said (in my head).

      Anyway, I brushed that off and got some seeds. And yeah, I made some mistakes with some of them –  planted them too early, watered them too little, crowded too many in the pot.

      But I learned. I asked around – co-workers, the exhausted but helpful woman at Stein’s Gardening Center, the nurse at the ER who apparently owns her own farm.

And I tried again. And now, I am seeing the fruits, or vegetables, of my labor.

So, when the zombie apocalypse begins,  and you find yourself in the Midwest, come holler at me. I’ll be the dreadlocked sister in the fatigues, trading tomatoes out of a truck.

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Thirteen

a poem by Jaleesa Davis

Still, after seven years, I can’t say that my heart still feels no pain, before that day it was sunshine and afterward it was just rain.

No one ever told me my story wouldn’t be goofy or fun, and as far as stories are concerned, I wish I didn’t have one.

They say you always have a choice in life, that is until someone takes that right from you leaving you with only the choice they make, the one thing I thought I was able to give who knew you’d take.

I told you I forgave you because I did, but I still cry about it and I still mourn over it because I was just a kid.

And maybe I never used word of mouth to say no or that I didn’t want to continue with the actions being introduced, but I can tell you right now that I wasn’t seduced, and that I shouldn’t have been with you.

I’ll always blame myself for what happened to me because what good would it do if I continued to blame you, I’d still be unhappy.

It’s been seven years since you took the one thing I was allowed to give, and sometimes I wonder how I live with that memory in the back of my brain, there is sunshine and yet there’s still rain.

I’ll never yell that dirty R word because I know it’s not real, and that’s not what it was, but I’ll always loathe you because it was supposed to be my choice and it never was.

You were an adult and I wish I could tell you that I am now too, and yet I still sometimes think about you.

I’ve repressed that day so much in my mind. It feels like it’s been loads of time, between then and now, and it still affects me and I don’t know how.

 

published in Genre: Urban Arts First Edition

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It’s safer to drown with yourself

and now we’ll stitch ourselves back up
into the shells that allow us to transverse this life
back into a place that keeps it all at arm’s length
a place where water is just above our heads
but we don’t ever drown—an ocean of our own Continue reading It’s safer to drown with yourself

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My True Colors Festival

My True Colors Festival in association with Harlem 2020 present Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami. This electrifying journey through the public and private worlds of mega-icon Grace Jones contrasts musical sequences with intimate personal footage. Sophie Fiennes’s documentary goes beyond the traditional music biography, offering a portrait as stylish and unconventional as the larger-than-life, androgynous glam-pop culture diva.

Join us for a pre-screening Cocktail Hour plus a post-screening Book Signing and Panel Discussion: “The Power of Black Style On Fashion and Culture Worldwide” with industry experts, including Essence Editor-At-Large Mikki Taylor, Fashion Bomb Daily Founder and leading style blogger Claire Sulmers, legendary black supermodel Pat Cleveland, and Christian Ruart, a renown fashion guru and celebrity stylist who discovered and worked with models like Tyra Banks, Tyson Beckford, Naomi Campbell, and Claudia Schiffer. Join us for an insightful conversation led by My True Colors Co-Founder and Executive Producer Tai Chunn on the ins and outs of black style, its important contribution to fashion and its influence on culture worldwide. The panel also will discuss the industry influence of Grace Jones. While Beyoncé and Rihanna are among today’s major style icons, Grace Jones remains one of the most referenced fashion icons of all time.

Mikki Taylor will be on hand to sign her book, Editor in Chic: How to Style and Be Your Most Empowered Self, shares uplifting advice for women who want to cultivate their beauty both inside and out. As will Claire Sulmers, whose book The Bomb Life: My Brand. My Terms, is part memoir, part self-help with tips for aspiring bloggers;
and Pat Cleveland, whose memoir Walking With The Muses covers fifty years of fashion from the intersection of the Civil Rights Movement, the disco era’s decadence, and the grandeur of Hollywood’s late 70s renaissance

Film Running Time: 116 Minutes

Cocktail Hour begins at 6:00pm in the Media Gallery;

Film Screening starts 7:00pm in the Screening Room

 

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Awkward Girl: Day 3

Day 3: A Nemesis (or two)

I feel the brick wall behind me and the mist on my nose, my backpack a haphazard heap, doubling as an extra limb. As I attempt an elusive vibe, like I belong, I think of all in life that weighs me down. How, sometimes, even The Day says, “Nah. I’m good. You are going to have to work tirelessly in order to make it past noon.”

For instance… Continue reading Awkward Girl: Day 3

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naive secrets

Poetry Lonnie Monka 

snow-soiled feet trailed between alcohol & drugs incubating that suburban winter-break assembly

of conversations forgotten upon being spoken

with golden strands fanning those shoulders

her untouchable frame stirred as the last one

awake & cleaning the house–alone–with me

somehow we snuck into the master-bedroom

stretching across some other family’s bedspread

where too long awake now dream-lost lips touched

hands & fingers caressing curves through clothing tongues trading a mosaic of unspoken secrets

till I awoke alone–smiling & never to see her again

& lightning struck in the storm of friends calling because she had died a sudden death

which precipitated void-driven conversation

& conversation after conversation after conversation all I could think was that I had kissed her

& never told a single soul what I then wanted to scream

 

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Terror Wavers: an Insight on Human Nature

Terror, an act of nature, yet brought on by our hands.

 

 

Terror from the sunken depths

a merciful journey, no test

bounded to rush and drown our mind

we resist and crawl, even climb

to rid ourselves of the fears we hold deep

like plunging bodies the sea keeps

hoping for a resolution Continue reading Terror Wavers: an Insight on Human Nature

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We are Coming for Our Language

a poem by Shirley Jones

 

In the history of words         suffragettes fighting for rights

badges of honor     queer an insult         to some but a fortune

to others       who wish to  tell it slant & mingle fact with fiction

as they try to     copyright our words    we must reclaim our names

This appropriation is unnecessary    for the power of language

has been distorted       & used against us

Continue reading We are Coming for Our Language

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Adrift

Swimming through the waters

Both deep and cold

Guided by the current

So swift and bold

Will I just drown on my own,

Or will I find a new home?

While the sea is bigger

Than the lake at hand

I can find new worlds here

Floating away from the sand

Can you find your way to me,

Or are you cast adrift at sea?

B. Alan Hart

 

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The Billy Conahan Experience Live video at Bowery Poetry Club

If you’re looking to quail your creative fix, here is video from our partners over at Bowery Poetry. If you are in the NYC area, stop over and visit this classy venue. The drinks are great! The talent never fails to impress, and the staff is DOPE. Big ups Heath and Julius.

In the area? View their calendar below.

Bowery Poetry Calendar

 

Enjoy!

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Awkward Girl: Day 2

Ok. So, things are going well.

This is the thought I’m having tonight. This is going well. Only a few slightly awkward interactions crept into the evening thus far, so I’d say…winning. For instance, it begins with me contemplating whether to go in for the hug, a kiss on the cheek, or a peck on the lips. Being the fourth date, it is appropriately confusing. So what happens? Naturally, I do some combination of the three aforementioned options, and I end up, kind of, sort of kissing him on (in?) the ear. I KNOW that shit was loud. Right. In. His. Ear. Continue reading Awkward Girl: Day 2

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To an old friend.

Photograph by Samihah Pargas

I wrote your name on an empty page and

suddenly it seemed full.

Our memories fill in the blank spaces when my words aren’t enough.

They never are.

Yet you hold onto them the way you held my heart

when it was too heavy for me to carry.

You are home. You are

tear stained ink on pages of poetry for quiet nights.

You are the words I seek but never find.

You made us beautiful to read about.

– Samihah Pargas
– IG: Shadesofherink

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my mouth has been looking for you

my mouth is full of words
that wish to fall into someone’s lap
to burrow into a chest and root
they wish to coil and dig
into marrow and blood
so deeply that only god could
pull them from that someone

my mouth is full of wanting
of sweetness that wishes to
erase the bitterness from lips
that have searched too long
for an ocean of woman to drown in

my mouth is full of stars
awaiting a constellation
that will turn this love into
mythology to be mimed by
our children when they grow up

my mouth is full of forever
infinity tucked against my ribs
nestled against the curve of you
and our names are no longer
two separate worlds but one sound

(image by George Coletrain via unsplash)

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5 Ways Meditation Can Increase Your Creativity

Meditation has been found to be extremely effective for many of our modern problems. Studies have shown that it can help increase your creativity. If you have ever tried meditation, you understand the benefits of how it relaxes and centers you. Seen as more of a spiritual practice in the past, it is clear that it can be extremely helpful in our day to day lives.

Creative business coach Mark McGuinness meditates for 20 minutes a day before he starts work. He focuses on his breathing while doing so. He has found that he gains focus, patience, calmness, clarity, and insight. He isn’t the only one in the business world using meditation. The likes of Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss, and many other highly successful people that depend on their creativity use meditation before they start their workday. Here are 5 ways that meditation increases creativity.

Meditation and How it Works on the Brain

There are three parts to the brain that work together in order to get your creative juices flowing. The reptilian part of your brain is your oldest part. It covers breathing and automatic things. The limbic system is where your empathy and emotions can be found. Then there is the Neocortex which is the newest part. It is the most advanced part of the brain. We are capable of being aware of ourselves like no other species. This is why we can learn language, paint, play music, and write screenplays.

The limbic and Neocortex system will both activate to search for solutions. The limbic looks to past experiences to find the best solution. The Neocortex analyzes everything and is looking for a rational answer. Interesting, the limbic system comes up with answers faster even though the Neocortex would perhaps come up with a more rational answer.

1. Effects on the Neocortex

Meditation is a work in progress. It trains you to be aware of yourself and your surroundings. It trains you to be in the moment. The Neocortex is the part of the brain that controls your awareness. When you meditate, you train this part of the brain to become stronger. Meditation on a daily basis will allow you to make better choices. You can see bad habits and analyze the things you’re doing right in your life and things that don’t serve you. It is the newest part of the evolution of our brain. It is in charge of things like:

  • Creativity
  • Solving problems
  • Visioning
  • Strategizing
  • Visionary

By strengthening this area of the brain, you will be better able to reach that creative aspect of yourself.

2. Managing Emotions Continue reading 5 Ways Meditation Can Increase Your Creativity

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Black Woman

a poem by Evany Martinez

How do you tell her she’s too

loud when you silenced her for

Centuries.

 

Too strong when she has to work light

years ahead of you just to catch up.

 

Too violent with your scars

etched Into her back.

 

Too dark when your spirit is

composed of ashes from her

ancestors.

 

Too wild.

Too real.

Too raw.

 

That must be why you

can only rise if she falls.

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Awkward Girl: Day 1

Day 1 (Isn’t it always?):

Awkward girl. That’s me. Welcome to my world.

You know, the thing about life, is that it is confusing. It is excruciatingly complex. Why does no one tell us this when we are young? I often wonder about that. We all figure it out eventually. We grow up and think: What in the ever living fuck is happening? And yet, here we are, remaining baffled and, well…awkward. Someone please. Help me understand. Continue reading Awkward Girl: Day 1