THE WEEKENDS by Joyce Lee
The hundreds of residents on 98th& Bancroft, East Oakland California in the 80’s,
knew my mother’s name.
It lay sweet like country yams on their tongues
(‘cause she was fine and sweet and a good cook and still is).
She was that young womyn who knew how to cook like an old womyn and blended in with all five of us girls she was raisin all by herself.
And every Saturday night,
no matter how repeatedly the world raped her that week,
no matter how many subtleties shouted at that
Little, Black, dirt-road, one horse town Arkansas gal,
My mother would put on her lipstick and rouge,
go broke on gin and boxed wine and gumbo ingredients
and throw a party and laugh
with all 10 of her brothers and sisters.
I got to get to know and fight and love
too many cousins in one room to count on the weekends.
Lord, did us little ones hate the drama and noise
and drinking and dancing and crying the adults did (usually all in one night).
We hated the ambulances and cops and new boyfriends and
we hated, hated, HATED the Mount Everest pile of dishes left for us in the morning
and the bathroom and living room full of things they used to forget the hard times with
that we had to pick up and clean before going outside to play.
We hated a lot of things
until we got older and had a weekdays worth forgetting of our own.
Joyce Lee is the 2009 & 2010 Oakland Grand Slam Poetry Champion, a frequented storyteller for Snap Judgments NPR and an 8th & 9th grade educator in the Bay Area. Joyce has toured internationally as a poet in countries such as Canada, Germany, Switzerland, the Bahama’s and Turkey. She has featured on TV One’s Verses & Flow and has been hired to perform for major corporations such as Google and Facebook. You can find out more about her by visiting www.themuseworkshop.com
WHEN I REALIZED MY BATHS ARE AN ATTEMPT TO RETURN TO THE WOMB AND IT WAS SUMMER IN BROOKLYN by Christina Riley
It’s true that the world sprung alive as we woke.
I thought about this as I touched the hairs on his knee.
And wondered what about the other.
And wondered about the ending.
He said to me that he’s never scared except when he loves.
And then he asked me why we do it.
And I thought to him
I am leaving in August,
I am leaving in June, I thought,
I have left in a way.
I woke to the ray that casts all as crystalline
Jubilance, blinding. Like in a park on a blanket.
And he touches my blond baby hairs where we thigh.
And I blow smoke into his mouth.
And we wrestle watching children bob
And wonder what if I decide to have one.
Alive today, but not always,
not last night.
When my lower abdomen ached
And I shook. And I flinched.
So that I crawled inside my womb and waited-
warm rays beating behind vesseled walls.
Shining beyond our deaths.
And my thighs that touch your thinning hair.
We are thinning, pulsing strings in air.
And he asked me, why do we just die? Only to live?
Regardless, today, in the sun, it was so.
Bright, alive, our wombs throb,
Alive wombs weep.
Help me find a house, oo baby.
I’ll run away to DC. I’ve made a job.
I’m starting again.
The sun blinds, my walled womb knows
All of the light, this morning.
Kiss your eyes.
I never noticed your lips until today.
I would’ve loved you when I was a child,
I laughed as I washed myself white in the sun.