Happy Mother’s Day

Imagine a place where:
“Thank you”
isn’t flung at you snidely
at worst,
or hurled with sarcasm
at best.

Imagine a plane of existence
where gratitude
doesn’t soar past you,
doesn’t leave you waiting
at the gatehouse
for a missed flight of feeling
appreciated,
instead of terminally misused.

Imagine,
if you were more than
an emergency contact number,
more than
a sum of digits called upon
to subtract conflicts,
add solutions,
multiply your
contributions of love
without becoming internally divided.

Imagine,
if the hotline
to your acknowledgement
never went cold.
Imagine,
if embraces of gratefulness
enveloped you more often
than post favorite meals cooked,
annual Christmas presents bought.

Imagine a home
where thankfulness is matched
with the same expectations
that you will always be mother,
mama,
Mom.

Imagine a slice of reality
where you didn’t have to imagine
this poem to be true.
So let me end by saying this:
I’m sorry,
for all the times
I didn’t permit “thank you,”
to escape my lips
more often than it has.

I’m sorry,
for permitting this
plane of existence
to feel more like
an act of terror
towards your twin towers
of love and patience towards me.

I’m sorry,
that it feels like
you’re only on speed-dial
when my mind is too slow
to solve my own problems,
that you’re on call just
to do the listening
instead of being heard.

I’m sorry,
if my hugs seem seasonal
at best,
or synced to leap years
at worst.
I’m sorry.

But I am thankful,
for all the love
you still cultivate in me,
for not giving up on this garden
no matter how many weeds
of ingratitude I’ve let flourish.

I just want you to know,
that I see you
and always have.
I love you
and always will.

Thank you,
for being a mother,
a psychologist
to my mind,
a nurse
to my heart,
an optimist
to my ambitions,
a realist
to my dreams.
Thank you,
for being mother,
mama,
Mom,
to me.

I can only imagine
how hard it must be.

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Whisper

Words, can indeed hurt.
So I’ll never meet
your fire with my lava.
I, will always have
a riverbed of forgiveness
to polish your stones
before you set them flying
in this glasshouse.

I, will always squelch your flames
with a tidal wave of love.
I, will never permit my voice
to be raised by temper,
mature into anger,
and adult into drunken madness.

I, refuse to be
the reason you leave.
I will not
yell after you to stay,
when I’ve whispered
all the reasons that you should.

More Than an Address

Last month, 
my heart beat itself
into my 29th lap at life, 
14 years deep 
in spilling ink
and I have yet
to address you. 

You, 
born to islanders for parents
that spoke a dialect of love
so broken, 
it could be translated
into abuse 
all too easily. 

You, 
with the mother
that chose to raise daughter
instead of son
for a sum of reasons
I still can’t calculate. 

You, 
with the austere father
that robbed you of weekends, 
summer breaks, 
sleep-ins, 
and childhood days
to secure a man that knows
he, who cheats himself
from labor today, 
saves himself the crumbs
for his daily bread tomorrow. 

Last night, 
the eyes of the woman I love
inquired for the inventory
to my damage. 
Internally,
the barcode of my lashes 
pitched a price too high 
for my pride to break the bank. 

But verbally, 
I complied. 
My reply:
“I never felt
like I was enough.”

At times, 
parental love
felt rationed. 
At times, 
I envied the island
from whence they came
because the dialect
of the ocean’s love 
was all encompassing and 
I just wanted to be
loved that way. 

How, 
in a house with two kids
did I feel like the third option to love? 
Why, 
did I have to question
if blood was thicker than water? 
When, 
were you going to inform me
that I was something worth bragging about
well after the party was over, 
well after church luncheon? 

This,
may not be a confessional
but I needed you to be real with me. 
Some twenty odd laps at life
still searching for approval 
isn’t the idea formula for sanity,
or the blueprint
for constructing a man’s confidence. 
Fourteen years of spilled ink
got me skilled to sink
in someone else’s moccasins, 
when I just needed you to show me
how to walk in my own. 

I needed to know
what home felt like,
needed to see 
that it was more than walls, 
more than ceiling. 
I needed to know
it was comprised of feeling
more than longing, 
of loving and belonging 
to something more than an address
I used to call home. 

I Am

They told me 
I was a vessel 
for the breath of God, 
that my body
is His temple;
and I wonder
if things have changed. 

Sometimes, 
I feel more like ruins 
than sanctuary. 
Somedays, 
I shatter into shards
searching for the sacred in me. 

Sometimes, 
the holy within
rides as far as my exhale. 
Somedays, 
I cause cramps 
in my Potter’s hands. 

They told me 
that I’m just human,
woven and spun
to become undone but
sanctuary
is the embrace encased
in non-judgment 
and love;
sacred
are the hands that carried
my heathen ruins
back to believing;
holy
is the breath that whispered:
“Try again
because you can,”
when hope felt crippled. 

Divine
are the words that told me
that I’m not just man, 
not just bone, 
not just breath,
not a heart
that beats to death.

We are,
you are,
I am…

Love unrealized, 
forgotten, 
reposing in a stupor
waiting to be ignited 
by hurt, 
betrayal, 
a series 
of unfortunate events
meant to remind us 
that I am, 
you are, 
we are 
love. 

Question

When the sincerity in her eyes
inquires a deeper response than
“I’m fine,”
when her gaze
shifts in a way
to implore of you:
“What’s wrong;” 
know that no soul
will ever care more. 

Understand, 
her gentle demands 
stems from a place 
her hands desire 
to realign your vertebrae of belief
in yourself,
for yourself. 

Acknowledge, 
that she has put her
personal battles on pause
to gird up and battle 
for your war. 
She’ll lend you her strength
in the form of untiring limbs
and an unselfish yet bruised heart 
in hopes of restoring 
the king in you. 

So be honest. 
Show her the chinks 
in your armor, 
the broken 
in your smile, 
the fissures 
in your laughter. 
Show her
that you bleed, 
prove 
that you’re human
and she will patch you
with a love 
you need not question,
a love 
just for you. 

Letter to My Unborn Daughter 

Dear love of mine, 

it has come to my attention 
that you’re stealing 
the beginnings
of your Mama’s poem, 
so let me start by saying this:
You’ll be all
and nothing like her. 

Your eyes
will never be baptized
into the pains that she has felt, 
when her pupils 
dilated to discover her worth
need not be assessed by men 
who only want to perform price checks
but are never committed to buy. 

I will deluge you with a love 
that appreciates your value daily,
so much so 
that you will never be bought. 
Every man will always be
an honest compliment shy, 
a touch of love too short, 
an insufficient fund away
to get you to stay. 

My dear, 
I have no intentions
of giving your hand away, 
but I’ve already composed this score 
for the occasion. 
I pray, 
the day that it comes
I will be less of the man I am today
and more of the man
you’ll need me to be. 
Lord knows, 
I’ve never been in a fight
a day in my life
but I will go to war for you. 
I will battle your demons. 
I will vanquish your foes. 
I will dismantle every man
that desires to treat you as some – 
word that I shouldn’t say. 

May he respect you 
long after he has earned your love. 
May he love you
long after he has earned your trust. 
May he trust you
as if he’s learned that he must 
because 
hearts don’t break around here. 
My darling, 
you won’t break when I’m near. 

So call me. 
Call me when you need me,
call me when you don’t. 
Call me when he forgets your birthday, 
you’ll already know that I won’t;
just
call me. 

Even though we’ve yet to meet,
at this point in my life
I’ve already loved you more
than any woman I’ve ever met. 
I have vowed 
to resurrect the best of myself
to give over to you
so you’ll always have faith 
in love. 

All I’ll need you to do
is breathe easy. 
Remember, 
that sometimes love will feel
like you’ve been shortchanged;
a part of you
will want to curl into a fist, 
you’ll wish 
that you’ve never met men. 
I’ll wish 
that they’ve never met you.  

You, 
with the dimpled smile
you borrowed from your mother. 
You, 
my unborn princess 
I vow to love like no other. 
You, 
will always be my sunshine,
my only sunshine. 

Road Trip

He held her, 
like the shuddering soup
in a ceramic bowl
gone cold
on a road trip with potholes;
hands trembling 
with mistakes, 
steady 
with his effort
to hold her together. 

Things 
were bound
to get messy. 
She
was bound to escape,
but he’d love her just the same
only she needed not
a love that played safe.

He held her,  
like the moment
you jump off plane
and dive into sky. 
He was clutching for her life
as much as he thought
she was for his but, 
she fell in love with
free falling into herself, 
when nothing about his actions 
ever made her feel
more grounded. 

His words
were parachute, 
his hands
confounded, 
his touch
felt like calculus, 
rigid
and rugged. 
Tender 
is the lesson you learn
when you kamikaze your heart
to spark another’s 
into flames. 

But love felt
rehearsed here.  
He said
all the right things
at all the wrong times;
but could never
nurse her hurt here. 
He spoke
often to her mind, 
when she craved a whisper
to her heart. 

So if you’re going to love her, 
love her bold. 
If you’re going to heal her, 
heal her whole. 
Give her something 
to hold on to. 
Give her something 
to believe 
that there’s more spine 
behind the letters you construct, 
than the bones
you align in your closet. 

She’s aching to trust in a future
that doesn’t resemble
familiar road trips
that left her stranded beside herself,
hitchhiking her way
back through the potholes 
she spilled herself into.
At least she knows
where to find herself,
do you?