Thoughts In A Mirror

For my diaspora family, and all of us of the 6th region. Home for us is a dream…and reality.

I want to go home to my mother

in the land with my fathers rules benevolent

in lands that were wide and gold..

I want to go home where the sun

is a shade of black

I want to go home to

my cousins and my aunts

Uncles, my nieces and nephews

lost the time and chance and I want to embrace them

as only family can

So they can see their cousin

Their niece their daughter

from long across the sea

Through time magic

And will

has come home —

changed and weathered, yes

but home

and I am afraid the when

my feet touch shores that my grandparents

were stolen

from that they may not

know who I am

-JBHarris, 9.18.21

Black Women Aren’t Coming

*Written in response to White women demanding solidarity with this abortion issue (the Heartbeat Bill) in Texas in September 2021. This is dedicated to all the Black women whom keep saving the world from people determined to not have us (Black women) move in it. -JBH

This is above me now. Y’all fix it. I’m not coming.

Black women aren’t coming.

No heat, no fire, no smoke.

Black women aren’t coming.

No cavalry, no drumming, no singing.

Nothing.

Black women aren’t coming.

The Queens will send no soliders,

Their sons will not die, or be blamed.

The far off Kings from time and lands

Will not bend to your tears.

Black women aren’t coming.

The clouds have broken.

The rain has stropped,

And our feet are still.

Our backs are turned,

Our shoulders are square,

Mouths silent.

We are walking…away.

There is no reason for us to come.

There is nothing to do.

BLACK WOMEN ARE NOT COMING.

-JBHarris, 9.9.2021

‘Black Widow’ Versus The World-Part 1: Meanings & Themes

Warning: This will contain spoilers.

Also, this series is dedicated to my best friend, Marissa–who’s nickname is Romanov.

I finally was able to watch Black Widow this week. I am glad of this, though. I was able to watch it alone, with all my girlhood, womanhood and writer self all in the same room. In watching Infinity War: Endgame, I (like every other MCU fan) was horrified at the loss of Natasha, rather than Clint, to get the Soul Stone.

Yes, I still feel away about this. But, let’s go on.

I have daughters whom are dedicated Marvel fans, and they were born during Phase 3! So, seeing–knowing!–that Natasha ‘Nat’ Romanov was getting her own movie–and Scarlett Johanssen was going to have Executive Producer credit? With a female director? For a Marvel movie? Oh, yes! Game changing! There is definitely a distinct difference when a woman directs a movie and when a man does. But, this? Oh, but this. Here are some of my take aways–and things that you might not have paid attention to.

1.) The rampant nature of the abuse of women and girls. All through the movie, we see just how easy it is to hurt women and girls. When Nat and Yelena run from the small force of Widows who come for them, one falls off the roof and breaks her tibia. She is told by the Red Room to terminate (kill herself). Though Nat tries to help, her free will has been hijacked. This also speaks to how suicide is till a problem among women, and how we can somehow feel as if no one can help us.

2.) Black women and girls are often the victims of human trafficking. Although the African-American/Widows whom are Black don’t have dominant screen time, but it points to just how easy it is to erase Black women and girls–and how no one looks for us, if they don’t look for us. There is also the creepy and telling line that Drestov says regarding how the world has too many girls, inferring they (read: we) are a wasted resource. Throwaways. Natasha hints to this as well as she confronts him before destroying the Red Room.

3.) Sexualizing of young women and girls. If you have watched the evolution of Black Widow’s outfits through the Avengers movies, you will notice just how her costume changed. How cleavage, and her figure were emphasized. I This movie, the uniforms at it were, are form-fitting, yes–but they are not overtly sexual.

4.) How we (the world) expects girls be self-sacrificing. From the first time Natasha kicks the gun out of the soldier’s hand to protect Yelena, Yelena blowing up the engine on the plane, we see that girls are ornamental, only being functional for a common goal or end. The theme of personhood, freedom, free will and the ownership of self are woven throughout the movie.

5.) We teach girls that pain is what strengthens them. Melina tells Natasha, “Don’t let them take your heart.” This is one of those sayings that I believe encourages girls to stay in tune with their emotions–they make you human. In the run of Black Widow through Phase 3, we do not see Natasha breakdown. We do not see her unravel! The last tears (or first tears) we see of Natasha was when she was crying in this mix of fear, rage and disbelief if was around her sister, Yelena. In becoming a woman, there are outrageous things that will happen to girls and in order to cope–we shut off.

We detach. We stuff down. We shift. We lie. We hide. We run. We self-destruct!

Melina’s reminder, even from this staged motherhood, is a reminder that shutting off never works–and should never been the long-term solution.

6.) Trauma bonding. “I cycled through the Red Room four times before you were born. Those walls are all I know.” When Alexei, Yelena, and Natasha find Melina we see just how trauma is two-fold, yet the same: how we hold together and what holds us together! From Yelena and Natasha fighting in Budapest, Melina alerting the Red Room where they are, Red Guardian bonding all his identity to Captain America (Steve Rogers), and the freed Widows not knowing what to do after being given said freedom. Trauma is unavoidable, unsustainable…but unavoidable.

7.) When women work together, they can do anything. What I loved about this movie–yes, loved!–is the relationship between Yelena and Natasha. I loved how Melina gave Natasha the rundown of the Red Room while prepping her what she’s about to face, and even how Taskmaster–Antonia, Drekov’s daughter–had to be freed from her own father and his desire to dominate women. The takeaway–when women of all walks of life work together–we can topple the toxic patriarchy.

Natasha Romanov deserved, and still deserves, so much more.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

Behind the Scenes: The Death Of Peter Parker And Other Fairy Tales (Part 4)

–and I held the mask.

Peter Parker being content

to be both open and secret,

the love unseen because

you could not be what I needed–

but the mask.

Oh, the mask.

Spider-Man to Peter Parker to

Spider-Man, leaving me to love both

lie, myth, and man.

I lived for the kisses in the rain,

upside down, to be held right-side up

making tears as rain–

living for the secret.

–JBHarris, July 2021

Behind the Scenes: The Death Of Peter Parker And Other Fairy Tales (Part 3)

Yet, I die in secret.

Yet, I die alone.

Yet, I die holding the mask of the One

whom promised me everything–

if i could give him anything.

The anything has become time–

now made immortal and absolute

sealed behind the myth of, “Just wait for me”

With the headstone in gravel and graphite

now covered in the same webs

you left me with.

Love in the webbing made indestructible

by my tears, and our youth,

spent dreaming and pining for

he who left me atop a building–safe, sound and high up–

when I asked, “Who are you?”

You only gave only your superhero alias.

Leaving me there because love

held me safe and to you.

For you.

Life was in me and

with you.

-JBHarris, July 2021

Behind the Scenes: The Death Of Peter Parker And Other Fairy Tales (Part 2)

This is a poem from the book “The Death of Peter Parker And Other Fairy Tales.” Mark your calendars for October 31, 2021.

Masks hide many faces, don’t they Peter Parker?

They cover lips that kiss–as well as lips that lie.

What have you given me other

than lies, Peter Parker?

What have you given

me to hold on to other

than what can wash away?

Even memories fade–and in there lies the true justice Plato spoke of.

Ah, justice! This, too, is a lie.

The justice of waiting for you to come back

to me and the me inside of

the Us to make whole together and all at once.

The waking dream of life with you,

to be yours in and out of times,

masks no longer needed–

not this time.

-JBHarris, July 2021

Behind the Scenes: The Death Of Peter Parker And Other Fairy Tales (Part 1)

This is a peek into my head as I begin writing some of the most intimate prose I have in my writing career thus far. Look for a sample of one of these poems tomorrow. I promise it’ll be worth the wait! This book will be released October 31, 2021. Thank you. -JBHarris

I am no longer Mary Jane. That hurts to admit.

There was a time that I couldn’t tap into this gift, and I was completely distraught over it. I have spoken about this at length in WriteLife. But the thing about it is, the person whom was most influential in the discovery, or resurgence of that gift is someone that I veiled…for the better part of 18 years.

I am a writer. I am a storyteller. I am Black, woman and writer. I truly believe that I need all three of these identities to move in the world. I believe without the ability to write, to channel what I feel into a controlled format, I would be in a lot worse shape. But, let me back up…a little bit.

He knows who he is. I have mentioned who he is. And I talk about him in this book as well. Michael Lynwood Brown is Peter Parker. And me? Well, I was his Mary Jane. I was his…completely. In being honest, I had not, have not, loved anyone else as I have loved him. The hardest thing I have done, one of the hardest things I have done, is to walk away from him. For the sake of being a lady, all I will say is the repeated wisdom of what my best friend in the world told me.

“Love is a check. Commitment cashes it.”

-M. Southards

In processing all of this, in accepting that I waited on a man—that did not know what he wanted—to want me, to see me, to love me–I wrote. What I thought would be 3 poems with the theme of Death, Burial and Resurrection, has turned into a collection of poems.

I refused to let him live in my head rent free.

However, there is an irony to this. “When I writer falls in love with you, you can never die.” I understand that Michael will be a part of my life always (and being the person that he is, I’m sure he’s thrilled about that)–but the veneer is gone. The kidgloves are off, and the best way for me to process this–is to write it out.

In this collection I am having my own personal reckoning–from messy start to clumsy end! This collection is not a dig at him–that is easy. But it is…tacky. This collection is written to heal…for me to heal. I was in love with this man, for the better part of my adult life, and he didn’t choose me! I am healing from the fact that I have been what amounts to a life-handed wife, side chick, professional toy for a man that could not see who I was or would become! Or, conversely–he did see it, and gave me just enough to believe that I would get this happily ever after. I didn’t. And I never will.

I was the MJ. For those of you familiar with this uber-romance between Peter and MJ should be aware of how powerful that is. I was chosen one! For that cause, these poems will be written through that vantage point of a broken-hearted, loving, angry, sullen and even forgiving Mary Jane Watson. As that persona, I can examine exactly how I feel–and maybe how I got there!

I deal with that: someone that I envisioned marrying, and ending my days with…didn’t want that with me. I was asking too much. I was too insistent about it. I was wrong for wanting a plan! I needed to shrink more. I needed to be more of what he wanted–but he couldn’t be anything that I needed.

I loved him from 22…to 39. This book is salve. It is a balm. It is a reminder that my life didn’t start with him…and neither shall it end with him. Tomorrow will be the first poem that I wrote that will be included in that collection. It will be in three parts, posted all day. Enjoy.

How fitting…but I’m a writer! I always get the last word.