Her

He locked his eyes when she told him it was too late. 

He didn't heed to her words when she recalled her pain.

Betrayed.

He only hellbent proving declaring her for him. 

He led her into her own bed.

Onto her own sheets, whitened pressed down.

Her pressed down. 

She fought against the pressure of his weight.

Betrayed.

Betrayed. 

Betrayed. 

She dodging his desperate kiss.

She said no. 

A prayer chanting over and over again. 

He only declared her for his.

Tasting her nectar against her will. 

She moaned in repelled delight.

Betrayed.

He felt her warm wet wealth.

Thought that meant there was a hope for their love's reprise. 

He didn't look into her eyes. 

Betrayed. 

Betrayed. 

Betrayed. 

He felt her doubt. 

Hesitation unveiling the truth. 

She didn't want him. 

He locked his eyes to her words.

It was too late. 

Betrayed. 

She didn't like the feeling of her lover's drowning ambition.

She stop fighting against her will. 

Betrayed. 

Betrayed. 

Betrayed. 

Let that man have his way.

 

Grandma's Foresight

Grandma told me about you.

The man who would appear in my life and move

Emotions like furniture that decorated your life.

She said that some would create a beauty while others caused strife.

 

Grandma cautioned that you were a rare wonder.

That I would behold your face and witness a soulful thunder.

You might not be the man some women saw befitting

But my eyes couldn’t resist that “natural” submitting.

 

She would grin at the memory of your monarch.

And speak of the time when you revealed your heart.

I’d swear it was light only shaded,

My vision jaded just to keep you in my favor.

 

Grandma said that I might feel chained.

Then one day, I would begin to feel an itch on my back.

When it bothered me long enough

I would get the courage to look in the mirror.

And see that the itch were my wings coming through

Reminding me that I was free.

 

 Grandma would glee over the fact that though your persuasion was heavy,

My halo did not break so easily.

I’m sure she cried about the hurt I felt while they mended.

And prayed for my love’s resilience.

 

She warned time and pain would never dissipate my feelings.

But when the creator blessed me another

My heart would be willing.

 

The sweetness of your kiss

Potent on my skin persist.

But I would wear you with the bliss of a memory bittersweet.

 

Oh how I wish I could go to her now and cry at her knees.

She would cajole me and stoke my hair ever so tenderly.

Hum a song passed down song to reprise my youth.

While I trying to be strong,  trying to hide the tears of you.

 

Grandma knew and wiped those tears clean through.

Knowing her love and wisdom helped healed your truth.

 

Yes, Grandma would smile at my sorrow.

And remind me that though you disappeared today

The heavens never stopped working for tomorrow.

And in a few hours would be another dawn.

 

Sometimes life seemed funnier than ever,

Even when we missed the joke.

That humorous old God of ours smiles all the time

Already made a man for you

Equally yoked.

 

Chaka (1978)

Released in 1978, Chaka marked Chaka Khan's debut as a solo artist. Though she already made a name for herself with the R&B group Rufus, Khan's debut album topped the charts with singles such as "I'm Every Woman" and "We Got the Love". With her passionate sass and wide illuminating smile, Chaka Khan continues to leave her legacy of endurance, soul, and artistry. Goddesses take a listen.  

Untitled for You

Deep, deep, deep in illustrious ember

The aura of your love lingers

On my skin soft with sweat

Passion in its purest form evident.

 

The more our souls continue to meet

In random hours of days fleet.

I'll hold on tightly to your truth

For time reveals the beauty of you.

 

Deep, deep , deep my heart aches seeking

The tempo of desire sweetens in the making. 

In my song my body lights a flame 

The heat of your nature boundlessly claims. 

 

Confirmed fantasies long dismissed

Redeems a chance of what we never knew we missed. 

 

Deep, deep, deep our imperfections compose

The greatest symphony of two star crossed wrongs

Together makes the grief dissipate 

Bring a joy as new as morning haze. 


We the beautiful young ones 

Will recall innate beliefs

Honor the time our halfs complete.

 

Deep, deep, deep your warmth bewilders 

The coldest spaces where my heartache blisters

 Let the brightest spot of our magic gleam 

Until the sun darkens into eternity.

 

Jay Maisel (Harlem 1950s)

Jay Maisel (Harlem 1950s)

JuJu Woman

 

Should have listened to Jojo when he tried to tell you about your place.

On the other side of the room.

You neglected the good instinct in you that attracted my poison

Or rather alluring aura.

I’d caught you.

A Bull.

Me all the wild me-a fish.

You stood in front of me, planted to the ground as I floated three feet above you.

Eyeing me as if you had found what the good Lord had put you here to discover.

You radiated the room with your good light.

While I hid my black heart.

You spoke smoothly.

A godly wind flowing from your lips.

I smiled at your language.

Filled with glee over the prospect of sin.

 

The band started up again, generating heat in the already compact smoke filled room.

Whiskey sweet. Sweat flowing abundantly.

A Night in Paris permeated.

 You chose me.  I converted.

Inspired by the glow of your goodness. Surrendered.

Sanctified by your charm.

We danced.

Onyx arms engulfing my back.

Purified movements decoding my gates.

 

Dawn marked the end of the party

And you grabbed ME by the hand.

I selfishly submitted.

If only for that night I knew what it felt like to be saved. 

Mountains

If these mountains had eyes they would know the day of your creation

The moment sunrise marked your favor.

 

If these mountains could talk they would tell the day God thought of you

And breathed life into an empty heart.

 

If these mountains could walk they would stand just as still

Peaceful knowing presence as you search through rolling hills.

 

Yes! That majestic old mountain would know plenty about you.

That higher you climb
The greater distance you fall

The higher you climb

That mountain calls.

 

If these mountains could dance they would rejoice at the rhythm of your name

To songs of memories that holds your truths.

 

If that old mountain could do anything

 

It would still be right there

Choosing you.

 

                                                -Irene Barksdale

Thinking of Carmen

In 1954, Otto Preminger's adaptation of Carmen Jones launched Dorothy Dandridge into Hollywood stardom, and Beyonce pinned the role for MTV's "Hip Hopera"(2001). Yet, Muriel Smith pioneered the role of Carmen Jones, a complex character with brass, sensuality, and mystery. In many ways, Carmen became an archetype for the millennial woman. Not quite settled in domestic life, complex, sexual,  and full of inner goings on.

 

Broadway debuted the role in 1943 with an all black cast. A time when America was in its second World War and African Americans were gearing up to fight for civil rights. In many ways, the film and play symbolized the celebration of culture and strife. Marking a revolutionary presence in a time where African Americans struggled to break into musical theater and film.

Advertising for the London run of the play in 1991 starring Wilhelmenia Fernandez. 

Advertising for the London run of the play in 1991 starring Wilhelmenia Fernandez. 


Smith, a professional opera singer, held her own with her fluid vocals and beauty. She maintained a lengthy career in theater, becoming best known her single "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me".  Dandridge, a icon of old Hollywood glam and Beyonce the world's current superstar. 




Diana and Marvin

In 1973, Motown sought to release a duet record that captured the very essence of Marvin Gaye's magic with a lead female vocal.  Gaye received praise with  former leading ladies such as Tammi Terrell and Kim Weston, so a bet on a Diana Ross/ Gaye collaboration proved to be no real feat. The bet, a surefire. The album measured up to its planned immense success and the powerful combination of vocals and presence was inevitable. The album went Gold.

 

Ross, pregnant with her second child (actress Tracee Ellis Ross) and fresh off her role as Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues (1972) found it difficult to work with her Motown labelmate. Gaye, prepping to release the acclaimed Let's Get It On (1973), later consented to be a difficult partner. Unlike his fluid chemistry with Tammi Terrell, Ross and Gaye recorded much of their album separately (1972-1973). Decades later, the concept of two phenomenons on vinyl leads us to take a deeper listen to the musical project. 


Listening

Reading

Standard

Sheba Sings the Song by Maya Angelou with Tom Feelings (Click image for purchase)

New Pickup

The Black Unicorn Sings by Aja Monet (Click image for purchase)

Anticipating

 

Balm: A Novel by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (Click for purchase info)


Balm: A Novel by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (Click for purchase info)