30 Days Of Jaye: Enkindle

“..having a love experience…” -Sunni Patterson

This piece is found in Love Songs of The Unrequited, Volume 1. Click here to find it. –JBHarris

I lie awake in

Utter unholiness of

Thought and deed.                             

The love that I have

For you acknowledging

That you are not in my presence.

This feeling of love and

Passion in such a raw

And unnatural force.

It devours me slowly…

Savoring all of me.

This love has engulfed

The core of my very being…

Daring me to follow it

Wherever it may take me

Compelling me and calling

For me…

All of me heeds to

This enrapturing bewitchment

Breath quick and ragged…

Making the flesh that was

Once touched too hot

To lay upon…

Enlivened by only the

Thought of your touch

Upon my flesh…

Thoughts blurred and maddened

With thoughts of you,

Belonging to you only.

Dreams flooded with

Delicious and sensuous visions

Of lying entangled with you,

Cresting over waves of

Ecstacy that the humble shell that

The soul inhabits crosses into

Such a realm of delirium…

Drowning in you…

Never wanting to

Resurface until you

Allow me to…

Yielding to all of you

As you partake of

All that I am sumptuously

Take all that I am

I plead, deprive me

Of all thought and

Sensation except those

That are of you.

Calm the tempest

That rages in your

Absence and rebels

When your touch is

Taken…

Allow me to be

All the you desire

And all that you seek.

Permit me to be yours

And yours alone.

Swimming through oceans

Of need, and want flowing

Into me, guiding me through

Places that were darkened to

Love’s illuminance

Clinging to you

Existing for you…

Loving only you.

Maintaining one flesh

With you, to never be

Apart from you…feeding

Your need and mine.

Passionate loving, and greedy

Kisses, setting lips and limbs

Ablaze to the very sinews and

Arteries…infecting the lifesblood

Once more. 

Being yours evermore.

Jennifer-Phylon Bush (now Harris) , March 5, 2004

30 Days Of Jaye: Always En Pointe Black Girl

Always.

she has been the chic,

the sturdy,

the fresh, 

and fly one–

trendsetting and sunsets,

as bold as full moons.

Never stopping to check

for whom is not checking

for her.

In this body, walking

through this world as 

magic, melanin, and millenniums

the rocks cry out for us,

for me, for us, and the we

hidden in the magic 

of our wombs.

It is the grace of our feet

and the rhythm in our sway

which carry us towards destiny

and the legacy meant for us.

Unmovable.

Unshakable.

Believing in us and each other. 

Always.

-JBHarris, 10.15.19

This poem will be included in the new book–For A Black Girl, release for June 2020.

Flash Fiction: Creshendo

This pieces is significantly older, and from 2007-2008. It’s actually a favorite. And I’m sure y’all will also. -JBHarris

Unmade Bed Pictures | Download Free Images on Unsplash

It had begun to storm.

I tried to keep my eyes closed, and the smile from spreading too far across my face. I rolled over, not surprised that he wasn’t there. There was so much on his mind lately. I called him name, almost as a reflex, waiting quietly for the echo from the hallway. He made a noise and came to the doorway of his bedroom. This was still his house after all…I could claim nothing in it as mine or ours.

He stood in the doorway, flushed and shirtless, smiling at me. I tousled my hair as I slowly sat up, wrapping the sheet around me. I grinned inwardly, I had no need to be modest, he has already seen all that I had and am. “Cleaning it?” I said, gesturing to his trombone and the rag in his hand. Clad only in dark blue boxers, he grinned at me boyishly. I lived for that grin. He walked over to me, the dim lamp upon the dresser being washing him in this pure bronze aura. He sat next to me, cupped my face, and kissed me. All of me that was female wanted him all the more. Yet, I knew I had no claim, no tie to him, and thought it rather foolish to have one so soon. He held me then, his natural scent comforting me. “I don’t want to leave. I hate leaving.” He kissed my forehead as if to scare away all the bad things I was thinking. He put a finger under my chin, and kissed me again. “For as long as I am here, and you want me, I will be here.” I wanted to cry. It had been so long since I had felt anything. I was more interested in savoring it, than deciphering it. “Close your eyes.” He told me.  I obeyed, as I heard him shuffle around his small room. Then I heard it, my favorite song by Norah Jones. I told him never to play it, because it evoked so many memories and emotions.

I heard him walk over to me again, placing something on my shoulder. “Open your eyes.” He whispered. I smiled, putting on this shirt. Standing not even five feet from me, eyes as warm as the sea, he stretched his hand out to me.I reluctantly climbed out of bed, and moved to his embrace. He held me so close, as if I were meant to fit. I slipped my arms around his neck, kissed him as we swayed. He whispered in my ear part of the verse:  “I’ll need no soft lights, to enchant me, if you would only grant me, the right—to hold you ever, so tight—and to feel in the night, the nearness of you.” I put my ear to his chest and remembered what it was like to feel and be special to be cherished, to let the world and its inhabitants be damned. To take a deep breath, and inhale him, and know I’d rather be nowhere else.

30 Days Of Jaye: First, Awakenings

First, Awakenings…

In this daily grand unveiling
Between mirror and man,
I present as goddess, mortal, and woman.

More invulnerable than I would like
The woman is choked out,
Voice stolen in the awakening of
Constant responsibility,
And the duty of the service to others.

In this moment, both bare and naked,
I embrace the most excellent now.
I see me as I wished I could
When girldom and life we before me.
I seize and reclaim all that is me and you
In the legacy of all whom are female
And woman to follow,
To be resilent and thankful.

From my crown, I see hair of
Radiance—
Free and authentic as lion’s wool.
Indicative of the she-warriors before me,
And to be descended from me.

Eyes as clear as summer blues
And regal and brown as earth,
Housing passion, hot and molten
As moved by the whims of God Himself
To Gaia in love and justice.

Skin as luminous as clear moons,
To the luxe shades of ebony alabaster.
Because you see, I too am
And am made by sacred fire.

I stretch hands, open and warm
Towards sunshine, surrendering to
All the day will wield and hold.
I remember the strengths of
Them that bore and shaped me.
Proud of my blood—beyond family.
Sharing wisdom beyond years
And years lost.

Those forces both male and female
Whom have poured into my
Mortal divine,
Have given ear to unapologetic secrets
That make girl-women invincible
In times proven to try our souls.

I house, we house courage limitless
When none are left,
But we who see and defend
Them, too, whom bare the
Weight which is accustomed
To the bold-believing to effect change.

I am she.
She are we.

In this light, in this place
Before one but my Creator,
Whether in locker rooms, offices,
Beaches or quiet nights,
I can at last admire His complete
Handiwork.

The deft of the skill of
A sovereign power, that
I be made oracle, over this life
Given, without hesitation,
Chose to live.

I am a vessel divinely written
And breathed that exudes
Joy and hope unspeakable.
The creative power of the
Almighty is infused in every
Sway of hip, slight of hand,
Full use of tongues and dialect
I seek and speak.

The worthy harmony of my voice,
Our voices, together remind the world
Of the tenacious beauty harnessed
In the presence of the impossible.
These things hidden in my, our, souls.

I am more than breasts,
And curve of hip, plump with oh’s and ah’s.
I am more than the hunted and unconquerable pussy.

I will not be stifled by boxes
Meant for those without truth.
I am human, I am present
And I will not fade away.
My voice, my sound, as echo
Is joined with heavenly choruses
From my belly that sing in
Ancient tongues, fit and fluent.

Ancestoral wisdom I greet
In my reflection, reminding me
Of all that is priceless to those
That listen to the whispers of
The aged:
IMANI (faith)
KUJICHAGULIA (self-determination)

I embrace the non-smootheness,
Thickness of my thighs,
How they gape, tough or rub,
As they end and become calves,
That attach to feet,
Fearless as thunder.

I am aware of curses sent by
Conjurers of this world,
Conspiring to weave a shroud
Around the path of whom I will
be, in favor of the steady seducing of
Whom it is easier to become.

I embrace that sentient
Autonomy that has made me
Unstoppable as water.
I own all that has been owed to me,
To be able to transcend this
Shell that the soul inhabits
And let go of all weight and waiting.

Such vulnerable, soft dignity
To live life embracing scars from
Wars future and past—capable, compassionate.
Yet, I smile, still beautiful, with
Healing presence offered to those
Found weary along street corners,
Bar stools, and the Jericho road
Fallen among thieves.

It takes a survivor, to know a survivor.

After I have imbibed perseverance,
After earnestly suffering awhile,
I can breathe deep and easy, as naturalists do.
When the new, fresh journey is set before them.
The world outside is home,
Carpe diem it’s theme.

Now, peace for the life after,
For now, always now,
I can awake, and look at whom
I always was, to whom I will become
And know I matter.
Know I am special.
Know I am engraced and equipped to journey.
I know to this world, I belong.

-JBHarris, 4/1/17

(This piece is written for the First Cycle of The Awakenings Project in 2017 by its artist.)

Leave the 1990’s Alone: *The Baby-Sitters Club Remake Is Trying My Patience! Where Is Jessi?

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I know I haven’t read this series in about 20 years, but there is something not right about this photo. Namely, where is Jessica (Jessi)? The BLACK girl…

I am now a woman of a certain age. This means I can now employ this phrase with elegance and discretion as I inch closer to 40. With and from that vantage point, I can finally stand with my hand on my hip–not on my ‘imagination’–all while watching my kids play and trying to beat a hard level on Pet Rescue Saga. I am young enough to embrace change, and old enough to remember what it was like to be the age of my oldest child.

So, when my oldest daughter told me she started reading The Baby-Sitters Club, I didn’t believe her. I asked her if it was the same author, Ann M. Martin. My daughter said that it was. She said that she was enjoying the series. Okay, awesome! This is a win! A few months prior to The Baby-Sitters Club, she asked to read the play I was reading for class by August Wilson (The Pittsburgh Cycle-King Hedley II). So, everything in moderation. My daughter told me to tell her about the series I grew up reading, and I told her all I could remember.

I told her that her aunt and I read this books! I told her that her aunt and I raced through these books; stalked them through library stacks; told her the book series was a serial! In order to know what was happening in the current book, you had to have back story! One of the worst things you could have happen is to be lost in a BSC book!

You have to know who the main characters are: Kristy, Claudia, Stacey, Mary Anne, Dawn, Mallory, and Jessi.

You have to know that Kristy was a single mom and the BSC was created because her single mom didn’t have a sitter for her little brother, and didn’t think she could watch him. You have to know that Mary Anne is her bestie, and Stacey’s parents are divorced and she’s a Type I diabetic. You have to know that Dawn’s parents are divorced–but her divorced mom married Mary Anne’s widowed father, so they are now step-sisters. You must know that Mallory hates gym, is the oldest of 7 (it’s at least 6 siblings Martin gave her), aspiring writer and is the best friend of Jessi.

You have to know how dope Jessi is! She is brilliant, and pretty, and a Black ballerina! Her parents are married, she’s a good student, and she dances en pointe–like Misty Copeland would years later! She learned ASL for one deaf child, and she was a fully developed Black character. And it was amazing. It IS amazing.

Image result for baby sitters club book covers
See? This is the Jessi I remember…why can’t we have her too?

When I look at this picture of these happy, smiling girls–my heart breaks. I don’t see a girl that could even resemble Jessi. I feel heartbroken, livid and unseen! The most dominant feeling I have is unseen. I hate that feeling because it is insidious–it makes me feel like a ghost haunting a house! I know I am there, I know there other people in this space that feel my presence–and ignore me! I am then forced to make my presence known how every I deem necessary!

Since I am a writer, the best way I can make my presence known is to write, analyze, and hold space for writers and reader that look like me. From that space, I can take a deep breathe to scream:

WHERE IS JESSICA DAVIS RAMSEY!

Get into this (from Wikipedia):

Jessi moved to Stoneybrook from Oakley, New Jersey at the beginning of the sixth grade; her family moved into Stacey’s old house. She has an eight-year-old sister Rebecca, called “Becca”, and a baby brother named John Phillip Ramsey Jr., whose nickname is “Squirt”. When Jessi and her family first moved to Stoneybrook, some people were racist toward them because they were black, but this improved.[19] In Hello, Mallory, Mallory meets Jessi, and they instantly bond and form their own babysitting club, “Kids Incorporated” before joining The Baby-Sitters Club. In Jessi’s Baby-sitter, Jessi’s Aunt Cecelia moves into Jessi’s house. Jessi calls her “Aunt Dictator” and at first hates her, but at the end of the novel they become friends, and she is part of the family for the rest of the series. Jessi learns American Sign Language in Jessi’s Secret Language, when she babysits for Haley and Matt Braddock, because Matt is deaf. Jessi is a talented ballerina and has had the lead role in several ballets; she takes ballet classes at Stamford Ballet School with Madame Noelle, her ballet teacher.

I could expound on how thankful I am Ann M. Martin had the literary sensitivity to create Jessi. I could go on ad nauseam about how as a White writer, a White female writer could not fully write a Black girl’s experience–but she gets an A for effort! But, here we are now–20 years later, and the revamping of this series for Netflix doesn’t include Jessi. I’m beyond livid. The only way to cure erasure is to write in pen.

I’m a writer, I do life in pen–there is no other way!

As Beyonce says, I was here. Jessi was here–she is here!

The casual erasure of Black girls stops when Black writers continue to their storytelling in pen.

*-I am keeping my eye on this remake. My antennae are up, and I am no here for erasure culture. At all. Not ever.

[image from Entertainment Weekly and Pinterest]

From The Crates: 2014

Things I Ponder:
(c) JP Harris, Feb 2014

It is no secret lost my grandmother three months ago. She was 84. I was asked to help with the program arrangements, and my grandmother’s entire life was reduced to less than a page. Amazing.

I don’t want to leave this life with secrets to be sanitized on pretty paper. I want my children, grandchildren to know my life in scope. I want my experience to be gleaned from, and exercised. I want no unneeded mystique or pretense. Death.is silent in what dreams will come says Hamlet, but I want my loved and dearest to benefit from my years, not be mystifed by them. I wish to bridge the gap time produces between families.

I want to pass into eternity holding on to nothing but the Lord, protected by His grace. I don’t want to have folk police my legacy for fear my.links to another’s life to my life will tell on theirs.

Let my works speak for me.

DECADE OF RUNITBACK

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The dirty secret about all that I do, what I do, is there are people that think that what I do has been easy, sort of nebulous, and that ‘anyone’ should be able to do. Yet, the great thing about all that I am doing is that no one that I know is doing it on such a scale. My brother’s nickname for me is Shonda Rimes.

Great compliment. Fantastic comparison.

And with quiet reflection, I examined the last decade of my life, with a professional lens. With full candor. With disclosure. With the desire and happiness for the future. It is with the complete childlike happiness that I anticipate what is to come–and what is already in the works.

At the beginning of the last decade, I was a 28-year-old single mom, whose ex-husband was aloof at best and narcissistic at worst. At the end of the decade, I am a locally known indie author; blogger; started a podcast; creating a working professional network which consists of  college professors and 1 mentor,  Dr. Kimberly Welch.

Come walk down memory lane with me:

 

2010-first marriage left me destitute with 2 children under 3.

2011-Went back to school; divorce final

2012-not writing, trying to be a nurse

2013-lost my grandmother, a 3-year relationship; left school because I couldn’t pay for it

2014-Murder of Michael Brown, Jr; activism galvanized. Writing begins as a career. 3 books published.

2015-more writing; forgoing nursing as career; met Marissa Southards (now the founder of The Awakenings Project-STL) via Twitter.

2016-The Ideal Firestarter created more writing; sat for The Awakenings Project; met Winnie Elizabeth as a blogging mentor

2017- first novel done; writing is now a career; started editing professionally  through JBHarris Writing Services ;writing mentorship starts; first company started.

2018-RUBY published; professional network grows; writing workshops begin; book count stands at 10; started I Breathe Fire, met Amanda Wells, founder of FLOW STL.

2019-The Writers’ Block podcast begins; The Ideal Firestarter staff is at 4; 2 companies started; graduated college. Three professional mentors, with plans for grad school. Writing Mentorship starts 1.15.2020.

I am not playing with this next decade.

From The Crates: Intimate Partner Violence

There is something heinous dwelling in a person when they can take the life of someone they were once in a romantic relationship with.

The fact these men, these recent murderous human beings, could take the lives of women they say they love is monstrous. It cannot be ignored. It cannot be glazed over or explained away.

It is deeper than a character flaw.

It it broader than being labeled abusive.

Women have the right to autonomy and self-preservation. We as women have the right to say, “This situation is toxic, harmful and detrimental to my well being and safety. I will not allow it to continue.”

It is beyond wanting a ring back. It is more than vouching for an evil person’s character when they know how to act in public. Every time this happens to a woman, there is a power that leaves the world. There is an essence, purely and beautifully female, that leaves the world. And for what? Only because a man could not trap, trick or own her? For that cause she must perish? And by his hand?

When will we as women matter?

When will our safety matter?

When will our cries, bruises and worries matter?

WHEN WILL THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PERPETRATED AGAINST BLACK AND BROWN WOMEN MATTER?

It is beyond wanting a ring back and cannot be cheapened to that! The fact there are men and women that adhere to this logic have no respect or acknowledgement of their own power, autonomy or self-determination!

We must value women, Black women especially, when they say abuse is happening to them. We must not continue the lie that is toxic and hyper masculinity. It is killing us. They are killing us!

How long will blood be the demand for those whom cannot fathom they are not the chosen? Yet, in not being chosen, their maleness doesn’t die. Perhaps these perpetrators, these man-cloaked animals, will remember a “No,” will not kill you, nor define your worth as a man.

Only you as your own man will. The power of that determination solely marked and forged by your character. Perhaps it is a show of the fallen world where the one whom is to protect, love and shelter, in his twisted form, only kills steals and destroys.

-(c)JBHarris, 2018

From The Crates: Destiny

Let me blow your mind for a minute:

Those of your that revere the called, the chosen the appointed of the Lord, to the point of envy, let me remind you of something. We are, they are, just as human as anyone else. We have frailties, issues, quirks and hang ups as well. We also are confronted with decisions of human and Kingdom importance on a daily basis. It is to the work of the Kingdom, yea our assignments, that we can and do continually die to what the world would have us cling to, remembering the Kingdom of God is at hand (Matt 6:33).

It is to the demand of our assigned positions that we must decide on a daily basis to continue to follow, serve, love, pray and impart. Ministry is not glamour. The call is not an accessory to your Bible bag. The assignment is not something that can be forwarded on to someone else. (Esther 4:14). Pray for those that serve. Pray for those you don’t always see serving. Pray that assignments are imparted clear and with power. Assist in capacities allotted for the work to continue. It is sometimes, for this call, yea, this assignment those which have been appointed say:

“DESTNY IS NOT OPTIONAL.”

In putting to death the things, visions, and people of the life WE designed and willed, gives God permission to stretch out and stand up in us that much more, being empowered for our assignments. For that cause, do we stand and say in tenacity, as the prophet Isaiah did, “Here I am Lord. Send me.”

Let me blow your mind for a minute:

Those of your that revere the called, the chosen the appointed of the Lord, to the point of envy, let me remind you of something. We are, they are, just as human as anyone else. We have frailties, issues, quirks and hang ups as well. We also are confronted with decisions of human and Kingdom importance on a daily basis. It is to the work of the Kingdom, yea our assignments, that we can and do continually die to what the world would have us cling to, remembering the Kingdom of God is at hand (Matt 6:33).

It is to the demand of our assigned positions that we must decide on a daily basis to continue to follow, serve, love, pray and impart. Ministry is not glamour. The call is not an accessory to your Bible bag. The assignment is not something that can be forwarded on to someone else. (Esther 4:14). Pray for those that serve. Pray for those you don’t always see serving. Pray that assignments are imparted clear and with power. Assist in capacities allotted for the work to continue. It is sometimes, for this call, yea, this assignment those which have been appointed say:

“DESTNY IS NOT OPTIONAL.”

In putting to death the things, visions, and people of the life WE designed and willed, gives God permission to stretch out and stand up in us that much more, being empowered for our assignments. For that cause, do we stand and say in tenacity, as the prophet Isaiah did, “Here I am Lord. Send me.”

#asyouwere

Written by Jennifer P. Harris, August 7, 2015

When Birthdays Are Mourning Days

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My mom and her sister were born a year apart. So, it only seems right that they would have children whom were born a year apart! I was born in June of 1981. My cousin, Nathaniel, was born in August of 1980. When we were little, we would joke that through July, we would be the same age.

It has now been 13 summers since Nathaniel Brian Jones was murdered on the streets of St. Louis. The most troubling thing about his death was the thing I mentioned earlier:  in July we would be the same age.

I remember the funeral, the internment, and having to celebrate my 25th birthday the next day. It was from that point, that I decided I couldn’t celebrate my birthday anymore:  we were both going to be 25. It was at my birthday which marked every year he was not in the world. I remember not going around my aunt because I felt like a death omen. Every July, and every August 5th, I think of him.

I think of the little boy that played with me. That ate bugs. That told me he would never leave me. I think of the young man that grew to utterly dislike me when we got older. Whom I no longer felt protected by. I thought of the young man and the immense potential that Oak Grove Cemetery inherited. This is the mystery of grief and sorrow:  you wrestle with the memories of what is, versus what could be!

Nathaniel as we grew up became a man I did not recognize. Who was mean, lost and unrepentant. He became a man that I wouldn’t trust to watch my purse! In that frustration, I stepped away from him. As much as we were told and taught family was everything, I gave him over to the life he wanted. In that giving over, I decided to separate that identity which was wrapped up in our birthdays, and our ages.

As I focused on me, education and writing, I could only shake my head when told of his criminal exploits. Of getting shot. Or refusing to leave the city after being shot! When his mother threw his bed away–meaning he couldn’t come back to her house!

When he wouldn’t listen to anyone.

I am unsure, even right now, if I had already considered him dead. I know that there was a visceral dislike for him, and with his death? That dislike? It became a breech.

There was no remedy.

There was no closing the gap.

I had to deal with him leaving the world after he promised me he wouldn’t.

During the month of July, we would be the same age. 

It is almost like being haunted. He was eternally be 25, while I am headed towards 40. We would be headed towards 40! What I grapple with this year, is this idea of my life being half over; while his being over. I mind myself of this fact on darker mornings; contemplating my own mortality and eternal destination.

I think of what it means, or would mean to die at an age he would which he would have never seen. I think of who will be there to remember all those who the world has forgotten. I think about the what-ifs, the why-comes and the would-bes. Most of all, I wonder if we would have gotten back to that place where time no longer could or does matter.

The fact is, I am aging.

The fact is, Nathaniel never will.

Funny thing? The darker irony of this is perfect! Why? It’s fitting for a boy that never did want to grow up. I suppose even dark wishes can be granted.