Category Archives: reading

Pennies

“Mama!  Mama!  Aye, Mama!  I’m right here!”

His mother took a seat in the front room, oblivious to the fact that her son was yelling for her attention.  She wiped a tear from her eye as he laughed and walked into the room.  “Mama, why are you ignoring me?  Are you mad that I broke curfew again last night?  Alright, I’m sorry.  It won’t happen again.”  He sat down next to her but still, she didn’t say a word.  She rocked back and forth on the edge of the couch, holding her arms as if she was freezing but the temperature was calm.

A faint breeze blew through the front room window that was halfway open, causing the curtains to flutter as if they were waving goodbye.  The front door opened as her husband walked through somberly.  “Pop,” his son said as he stood up, “can you talk to Mom?  She is really mad at me right now, and she hasn’t said a word since I came in here.”

His father ignored him on his way towards his wife.  He sat down next to her on the couch as he placed his phone on the table and put his arm around her.  She cried on his shoulder.  “It’s going to be alright, sweetheart,” he said, kissing her on the forehead.  “We will make it through.”  Their son’s eyebrows wrinkled together like an accordion as he watched their interaction.

“Aye yall, what’s wrong?  Why yall so sad?”

His mother spoke, “honey, I just… I just can’t believe this happened.  He wasn’t the type to resist anything, and we didn’t raise him that way!  Why are they saying these things about our boy!”

“I know, baby, I know.  We can’t listen to that right now.  It won’t do anything but make us angrier, ok?  Don’t watch the news, don’t read the paper, don’t go on the internet.  We have to keep our minds clear right now.”

Their son didn’t understand why he was being ignored until he looked at his father’s cell phone.  He gasped when he saw his picture and read what was on the screen, “RIP, my one and only son.  Wesley Armon Jones.”  Suddenly, everything went dark as his mind slowly pieced together what happened on his way home from a party with his friends last night.  The last thing he saw was an officer with his gun aimed directly at him as he yelled, “my hands are up, officer!  They are up!”

If you like Spoken-Word, click the link below and check out the new video entitled, “Pennies.”

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Enigma – a 1920’s Harlem Story

He stepped into the building, lowering his head so that he could clear the doorway without bumping into it. The rain water dripped off the rim of his Dobb and made a small puddle beneath him. The thick, wooden door closed behind him on its own. His dark trench coat was soaked with rain. His hat covered his eyes making himself appear even more mysterious as he stood there in the middle of the hallway.

Two officers walked towards him in the midst of a conversation of their own, “so I says to him, I says ‘no way in hell I’m taking the bait’ then you know what the guy says to me?”

The slim, white man answered his short, round accomplice, “what did he say to ya?”

“He says, ‘well, I took the bait already, and your wife loved it’.”

“What? I’da punched him square in the face!”

“Boy, I tell ya! If Sarg wasn’t there, I woulda done it! I sure woulda done it!”

The two, finally noticing him, stopped in front of the man as he stood motionless, silently waiting for someone to address him. The two officers looked at each other, then at the tall, mysterious man.  “Uh, can we help ya?”

Lighting lit up the sky, illuminating his face momentarily. Thunder boomed seconds later. He spoke in a deep, sonorous voice. “I need the homicide department.”

“Homicide?” the short round officer asked quizzically with his eyebrows folding together like an accordion,” and what’s the reason for that?”

“There’s been a murder.”

The Lightning lit up the sky again, illuminating the pistol he had tucked in his coat and the shotgun clenched inside his sleeve.  “Alright, buddy, hands in the air! Right now!” said the tall officer, drawing his pistol out.

The other officer soon followed and instantly, the whole building was alerted and flocked to the commotion, drawing their weapons as well. The man stood still, looking back and forth between all of the officers as the rain pummeled the building. He didn’t move. “Hands up or we will blow your freakin’ head off your shoulders!”

“Give me a reason! Just give me a reason why don’t ya!” the short round officer chimed in, the gun in his hand quivering as he tried to keep calm. The Sargent entered into the hallway. He stood a few feet in front of the man, staring him right in the eyes.  Both had the same build. Broad shoulders, wide chest, made more like linebackers than anything else. He was ready to wrestle him if need be.

“There won’t be no dead bodies in this precinct. Not on my watch! Sir, remove the weapons and sit them down in front of ya’.”

His southern accent was as thick as molasses. The precinct was in suspense. Some officers began to sweat; others nervously looked at what was going on. You could tell who were the leaders and followers. The man finally began to move and immediately, the click-clack sound of revolver hammers echoed. More hands shook. Thunder ensued. The man paused, seemingly making eye contact with all the officers at once.

“Slowly!” the sergeant bellowed. The man obliged. Lighting illuminated his face again. He was as dark as the clouds behind him. Slick, shiny skin like patent leather and smooth to the touch. The guns made a thud as he he kneeled and dropped them to the floor.  “Alright, boys! Cuff him!” Said the sergeant.  The officers rushed to him. Momentarily, the crises were averted.

He sat in the interrogation room.  The officers peered at him behind the double sided glass as if he was a zoo animal.  They examined him with their eyes, drawing their own conclusions and surmising every negative thing that could have happened to bring him here.  Inside the small room, he was handcuffed to a table with one chair across from him, waiting for the detectives to come in.

He leaned his head down, slowly inhaling and exhaling. What he did, he had no choice but to do. Suddenly, he heard footsteps. Not a man’s walk though, no, this was too seductive. It was too delicate. Stilettos, not Stacy Adams. As soon as he glanced up, she spoke with more of a smirk than a smile. He sat back in his chair and peered outside the double sided glass. He knew the officers were there. He had been in rooms like this before. He glanced at the door; it hadn’t moved since he sat down in the room over an hour ago.

“So, here we are. Again”, she said, running her manicured fingertips across the table.

“Here we are.”

“Awww, you don’t seem. Excited to see me. What’s wrong, baby?”

He squinted his eyes, looking back and forth between the glass and the woman, wondering if the officers saw what he did. To the officers, he had begun speaking to himself. They grew silent and were intrigued even more, “hey, hey sarg, you gotta come see this. This guy. He’s losing it.”

“You just can’t leave me alone, can you?” he said to the woman.

“No no nooo, I can’t. You see, you’ve got something… I need. Something I crave.” She stood up and began walking towards him, switching every bit of her behind as she took each step. “Something,” she ran her fingers across his shoulders, stopping to whisper in his ear, “I would kill for. Something I already have killed for. Power. Unmatched power.”

He jerked away from her. The police officers were utterly perplexed, yet, they could not stop watching. “We may need the shrink on this one, boys,” the Sargent said as they watched on.

Inside the small room, she pushed the man’s head away and distanced herself from him, “Oh, come on!  You know how great we would be together. Picture, me, with my intelligence. You, with your power. We would be perfect together, can’t you see?”

“I killed you.”

She stopped, shooting a sinister gaze at him from across the table, then quickly switching into a menacing smile, “you foolish man, you know you cannot kill a spirit. I will live forever. I seek kings and what I seek, I receive. You will be no different.”

“I will never give into you!”

He tried to stand up, but the cuffs jerked him back down into his seat. The officers jumped into action and ran into the room. “What is the meaning of this?!” the Sergeant demanded as the man rubbed his wrist. The woman smiled as they all stood in the room. He looked into their souls, a cold hard stare that would’ve shaken a statue, hung his head back down, and said nothing.

If you like Spoken-Word, click the link below and check out the new video entitled, “Pennies.”

BraveHeart

He laid on his back looking up to a blue sky littered with puffy clouds and oblivious to what was going on around him. He knew it could end this way, but nobody ever plans on it. Nobody ever really thinks it will be them until the time comes. He lifted his hand up to the sky and positioned one of the clouds in-between his thumb and pointer finger.

He pretended to move it across the blue ocean above him as the winds briskly propelled them across his line of vision while explosions went off around him, BOOM, BOOM! His imagination was strong enough to erase everything that was happening and place him somewhere else.

He passed the cloud to his four-year-old daughter as she laid next to him in their backyard. “Hey dad, do you think we will ever be able to touch these one day?” she asked. Her long, blonde hair was sprawled out in different directions as she laid on top of the grass. He smiled, “You know, one day, I think we will be able to. You know, anything is possible.” She looked at him and smiled, then turned back to the cloud she was moving across the sky with her finger.

“Ok you two, it’s time for dinner,” her mother called out to them from the back door.  He stood up, extending his hand to his daughter. She reached out for it, and he lifted her up and threw her in the air in one swift motion.

“Ahhhhh, daddy!” she cried with joy as she was tossed in the air. Her mother stood at the back door, watching them and smiling herself, fighting back tears. She knew he would be leaving soon and moments like this had to be savored. She let them continue as she went back into the kitchen. She crammed all of her cooking lessons in with her grandmother a few months before she got married.

She grew up on soul food but never took the time to learn how to make the dishes. She heard one of their conversations in her mind as she began preparing the plates of dinner for her family.

———————————

“The best ways to hold on to your man is good food and good sex,” her grandmother said.

“Granny!” she exclaimed, “That’s just… ugh! You could’ve left that last part out!”

Her grandmother looked at her with furrowed eyebrows, “what? Girl, you better grow up! How do you think you got here? How you think I got your mother here?  Don’t let the church fool you, now.  Yes, they want to keep it PG, but if you want to keep your man happy, you need to put it on him.  Ask your husband which of the two he would rather have, good sex or good food and I’ll bet you he will pick sex.  That’s what your grandfather chose.”  She smirked, then winked her eye.

Her grand-daughter shook her head as she responded, “ugh, Granny, you know what,” she chuckled, “you are way too much.  I am done with you.”

She smiled, “ummm-hmmm, well baby, I’m just telling you what I know, I’m just telling you what I know.”

————————————————————–

It had been a few months since her grandmother passed away but she held on tight to every memory they had together. She loaded up her husband’s plate with generous portions of collard greens, dressing, sweet potatoes packed with marshmallows and pecans, macaroni and cheese and chitterlings ((known to most as “chitlins”)). She waited until her family was sleep to clean the chitlins the night before. The stench from them was strong enough to clear a house, but she withstood it, gagging a few times herself. A small sacrifice to make for her husband’s favorite food.

Her daughter ran into the kitchen just as she was placing their plates on the table. “Mama, mama! Daddy turned into a zombie from Walking Dead, and he is trying to bite my arm off! Help me!” she said as she hid behind her mother.

Her father walked lazily into the house, dragging his leg and groaning. He was playing the part flawlessly. Their daughter screamed again and pulled at her mother’s shirt.

“Baby, can you stop scaring this little girl? You know she believes everything when it comes to you!” she said. He laughed and recollected himself. Their daughter relaxed and sat down at the table, picking up a fork and preparing to dig into the yamallows ((Sweet Potatoes are sometimes called, “yams”)).

“Ummm, excuse me, little missy, are we forgetting something?” her mother said.

Her daughter smiled, “sorry mommy,” she said as she got up and ran to the bathroom.

Her father walked over and grabbed his wife from behind and kissed her on the neck. He wrapped his arms around her tight as if it was the last time he was going to hug her. She melted. They had been married for three years, but his job caused him to be away so much that it increased their love for each other when they were together. Shakespeare said it best – absence makes the heart grow fond. Their daughter ran back into the kitchen moments later,

“Ok guys, my hands are washed, and we can eat now.” She said it as if she was the reason the family couldn’t start eating.  She didn’t control the house but in a way, she was the glue that kept them together, and they both knew it.  They smiled at her as they walked over to their plates at the table. They joined hands as the man of the house led them in prayer. Their daughter peeked her eyes open as he prayed. She glanced at her father as he sat across from her.

He had a low haircut and the face of a young boy. Earrings pierced the lobes on each of his ears, and he had an old scar that was just above his jawbone. He was a rowdy teenager, and he had gotten into a lot of fights. You would never be able to tell that just by looking at him. She squinted at her mother. She had her head bowed as long; black hair flowed from the top of her head down to her shoulders. She had given the thickness of her lips and flat nose directly to her daughter. She was a perfect mix between her two parents. Her father was finishing the prayer as she closed her eyes and reopened them again after he said, “Amen.”

It was family time. She didn’t entirely know what her Dad did his job but what she did know was that he was a hero. She hated when he was gone, but she bragged to her friends at school about that fact. She looked up to him, and he said he would always be there for her. “I love you, Daddy,” she said before she took her first bite. He looked up, the warmth of her words fell right into his heart.

“I love you too, sweetheart.”

She smiled back and bit into her yamallows.  To her, it was like having dessert for dinner.  It would be a semi-fight to get her to finish the rest of her food.  Her dad looked at her mother solemnly, then back to his daughter.  “You know, sweetheart, Dad, has to go away for a little while again.”  She stopped eating and peered at him from across the table.

“But, why?  Why do you always have to go?”  He took a deep breath and explained himself to her the best way he could, but it wasn’t good enough for her.

“Sweetheart, you know the things you get to do now? Like, go outside and play whenever you want to and go to daycare with your friends?  I have to help make sure you can still do that whenever you want.  Nothing is free.”

Suddenly, her yamallows lost their sweetness.  She hung her head low, attempting to hide the crocodile tears that were forming in her eyes.  Her mother grabbed her by her hand and pulled her closer.  Her Father left his plate untouched and joined them.  He bent down to her, and she put her head on his chest.  She heard his heartbeat, BOOM, BOOM!  He held her tighter and squeezed their mother, and she heard it again, BOOM, BOOM!

His family morphed into the blue sky he saw as he was laying on his back, hearing explosions going off all around him, BOOM, BOOM!. The same cloud he was moving across the sky was gone. Soldiers were on the ground dead right beside him as explosions went off continuously.

He looked down at his legs, trying to move them but the feeling was gone. He reached for his dog tags and gripped them in his hand. On them, the names of the two women that mattered most in his life. He kissed them and one lonely tear fell out of his eye. He heard a foreign language being spoken by two men as they walked closer to him. It was a sacrifice that he was prepared for. To die for not only those whom he loved, but for everyone who lived.

If you like Spoken-Word, click the link below and check out the new video entitled, “Pennies.”

Pointless

She clinched two Barbie dolls in her hand as she played in her room. “No, I’ll cook tonight,” she said, imitating a grown-up voice for one of the dolls.  “Ok, girl,” she said, imitating the voice of the darker Barbie before she placed her in her Barbie car.  She heard yelling coming from outside her room, penetrating the thin walls the stood between her and her parents.  She turned towards her door, looking momentarily at it, then turning back to her Barbie.  Above her on her wall, a picture that she drew of her, her mother, and her father hung effortlessly.  It was a picture drawn the best way any four-year-old could have done.  Their bodies weren’t in perfect symmetry. Eyes were lopsided.  Shoulders were disproportionate.  Their noses were placed on their faces much lower than they should have been.  She stood in between her parents as she held their hands.

Above them, she had drawn a heart and colored it blue as they stood in a grassy field with a house to their right.  To the naked eye, it would be hard to look at, but to anybody in that house, it was priceless.  She drove her Barbie doll, making car noises in the midst of yelling and screaming from outside.  She jumped when her mother’s voice hit high octaves, jerking her head towards the door.  Her long ponytails swung to the right as she stopped, looking at the door waiting to hear more voices so she would know everything was ok.  Not ok because nothing was ok when they were arguing but she wanted to make sure no one was hurt.  After her Father’s voice had boomed, she turned around and continued driving the car.  She had become accustomed to their frequent arguments.  She learned to drown them out the best she could, submerging herself into her imagination.

As the car rode across the carpet, one of her wheels rolled off.  “Oh, no,” she said, picking up the wheel and trying to put it back on herself.  She couldn’t.  She looked towards the door, the yelling still dominating any other noise in the house.  Whenever she broke one of her toys before, she would always take them to her Dad.  He fixed them, no matter what it was.  Baby doll arms that had fallen off were surgically attached.  Vehicles were repaired.  Doll houses were renovated.  She knew it wouldn’t be a problem for him to put the wheel back on for her Barbie.

She turned to look at the door.  Fear struck her heart.  She didn’t want to go out there, but her imagination wouldn’t be able to save her if her Barbie couldn’t continue its ride to the grocery store for food.  She determined it was too hot for her to walk to the store and back to the house with the groceries.

She stood up, inching closer and closer to the door.  The yells are becoming louder with each step.  She took a deep breath and slowly opened the bedroom door.  The yelling was crystal clear.
“I don’t care!  I don’t care what you tell me, this happens too much with you!” Her voice was light but piercing.  She was carrying emotional stress for a couple of years in the marriage, and they had only been married for four years.  He cheated on her a year and a half ago, and although some would consider the reason he did it to be justified, the scar it created on her hadn’t healed.

“I told you,” he said, “I was at the grocery store, and she just happened to be there!  We didn’t plan this purposely!”

“Yeah, tell me anything!  I should’ve known not to get back with you and try to work this out!  You still the same dog you was back then!  I don’t care how much you keep that bible laying around this house!”

He shook his head and turned to look at the dishes that stacked up in the sink.  On the marble counter top to the right sat a plate of food over a day old stuck to it.  The marble counter tops matched the cabinets and the floor.  The kitchen itself was spacious; it was large enough to be a guest room, and her voice echoed off the walls as he stood, drifting into his imagination.  His daughter got it honestly.  She quickly snapped him out of it, “You ain’t got nothing to say, huh?” her eyes watering.  Her eyeliner was smearing.  She reached out and grabbed his arm, spinning him back around, “look at me!”  He did.

He stared into her eyes searching for the woman he married.  The woman he said, “I do” to at the altar.  He saw glimpses of that day in his mind.  Her white dress curved her body effortlessly.  She had on very little makeup because she knew he didn’t like that.  Truthfully, her beauty exceeded anything that Estee Lauder or Chanel had to offer.  Hey, eyes reflected his image as she stared back at him.  He was everything she wanted physically.  Tall with an athletic build and a smile that could get him anything he wanted.

He finally spoke, “look, I know I messed up before, and I mean, I get that this is just a reaction from that.” She sucked her teeth and folded her arms as he continued, “I’m sorry, and I was wrong for that.  I’ve apologized a million times, and I’ve done everything I could to get your trust back,” she cut him off, “everything!? You call going to the grocery store with another woman doing everything you can to gain my trust!?”

He turned around, and she grabbed his arm again but this time, he jerked away, and his hand knocked a glass off the counter, and it shattered onto the ground.  The toy dropped out of their daughter’s hand simultaneously.  They turned to look at her as she stood in the hallway, horrified and on the verge of tears.  Her father rushed to her, “baby?  Baby, what’s wrong?”  He kneeled down to become eye-level with her.  He took his hand and wiped the tears from her eyes before they fell.  She was a splitting image of her mother.  “Baby?”  She sniffled, and his heart broke.

He picked his daughter up, grabbed her toy car and carried them into the front room.  “Oh, you just gon’ walk away from me with my baby?”  He kept going with her in his arms and sat down on the sectional.  The front room carpet was white.  Hard to believe with a young child in the home but she was well behaved.  She was not allowed to eat, drink or walk in the front room with her shoes on and she heeded to it.  They could count on one hand the number of times she had to be spanked for disobedience.  Truthfully, they could not have raised a child any better.  They were excellent parents but horrible spouses.

“What is it baby?” he said to her as they sat on the couch.  She was still trying to catch her breath.  She was used to the arguing but seeing it?  She had not warmed up to that side of things.  He looked at her car and realized it was missing its wheel.  It was clenched in her right hand.  “Oh, your wheel feel off?  Here, Daddy will fix it, ok?”  She shook her head in agreement as she began calming down.  He sat her on the couch and walked back into the kitchen past her mother.  “We’re not done.”

He kept a straight face and walked straight to the utility drawer in the kitchen, “I’m not arguing in front of her anymore.”  He set the toy on the counter and searched the drawer for a screwdriver.

“I’m not either, but we gon’ talk about this.”  He shuffled through the drawer, moving things around forcefully.

“There is not anything to say.  You are accusing me of something I know I didn’t do.”

She slammed the drawer closed, almost smashing his finger in the process.  He looked at her.  His jawbones are gyrating inside his mouth.  “What were you doing with her at the store?” She said with locked lips. He shook his head and moved her out the way, opening the next drawer to find the screwdriver.

Their daughter sat in the front room.  She was completely calm now.  She knew they were still arguing, but they weren’t loud.  She could barely hear them, but now, she was bored.  She had nothing to busy her imagination, so she got up and began wandering.  She looked for the remote to the television, but it was too high up on the fireplace.  She was smart, though.

She walked over and grabbed a small stepping chair from the hallway by the front door and placed it in front of the fireplace.  She stood on it, and her eyes lit up.  She looked around the room and felt what it was like to be a foot taller.  She smiled and turned back towards the fireplace.  She grabbed the remote, knocking a finger nail clipper onto the floor.  The silver shined like a new toy on the white carpet.  She thought to put it back, but that is all it was.  She picked it up and placed the stepping chair back into the hallway.

As she walked back, she noticed it and smiled.  That looks like a mouth and two eyes, she said to herself.  She sat down next to the wall and folded her legs, scooting as close to it as she could.  By then, her parents increased their voices.  They were back to arguing as they were when she was in her room but her imagination kicked it, and she began fading away from reality.

“How are you doing?” she asked her new friend.  “I’m all right,” she made a boy’s voice, “I’m just hungry.”

“Oh?  You are?” she looked down in her hand at her new toy.  “Well, I can feed you.”

She took the fingernail clipper and tried to put it in her friend’s mouth.  He didn’t move.  “Oh, I’m sorry.  It can’t fit in your mouth,” she said.  She looked at her new toy and played with it until she opened it up.  She slid the fingernail file out from its place.  “This might work,” she said as she put food onto her makeshift fork.  “Open wide,” she said.

In the kitchen, the toy sat on the counter with the wheel right next to it.  The couple moved away from it, and the Dad completely forgot the reason he went to the kitchen in the first place.  They were focused on the argument at hand.  It took precedence over anything else that was needed at that moment.  “Look!  I’m not going to tell you again!  I wasn’t up there with that woman, and I haven’t cheated or did anything wrong to you since I did a year and a half ago!”

She got in his face.  Her breasts bumped the bottom of his pectorals as she extended her finger towards the front of his forehead, “And that is what I’m talking about!  It shouldn’t have never happened in the first place!  Now you at a store with some chick and you expect me to believe it’s all a coincidence!?  How stupid do you think I am!?  You think I’ma just let this go and not pay attention to the things that matter?!”  The irony.

Just then, there was a loud buzz followed by flickering lights in the kitchen.  The couple looked at the lights, then at each other.  “Oh my God!  Lanette!”  The mother moved past the husband and rushed into the front room; he was inches behind her.  Their daughter laid out on her back next to the front door.  She picked her up off the floor, “Lanette!  Baby, please!  Lanette!”

The husband hovered over them and bent down, “Baby, you ok!?  Lanette!  Oh my God, Lanette what’s wrong!?”  He looked at the ground next to the socket and saw the fingernail clipper.  Tears fell from his eyes without remorse as he pulled his phone out his pocket, hands shaking as he dialed the 9-1-1.  “Hello!?  Hello, yes, my daughter has just been electrocuted!  Please come!  Oh my, God, I don’t want my baby to die.”

“What’s your address?” the operator said.

He struggled to make it out, “Baby… baby, what’s our address?!”

She gave it to him as she sat on the floor, rocking her baby and clinching her tight as her tears streamed out of her eyes even more.  “I’m sorry,” she said to her daughter as she rocked her, “I’m so sorry.”

“Pennies”