Bassey's World:

Tales of An Underachieving Overachiever

Category: Poems

Poem: Note To Self

There are no victims here
Only the remnants of a heart that
Opens and closes with persistence
Butterfly wings

steel trap

Survived ten pound tumors
Hospital beds
Psych ward
cheating
leaving
Knives to back
Front
Side
palms
The kind of sadness that would
Crumble stone into tears
Birthed bravery and life despite
Doctors and doubt

Baby girl,
A broken heart will not kill you

If you can still twist your hips
Into a candy ribbon of dance
You were never broken

Only rearranging your spirit
To make way for this new reality
Meditate yourself into a new way of
Breathing

If you can still laugh from a belly
Ripped apart and stitched together
Held by memory and faith
If you smiled at your reflection today
admired the perfect round and curve
Of bottom lip
Felt the brown and wet of eyes locked
Into a past you can not change
Weigh this against the bitter heart
The woman who laughs at his jokes
But doubts his embrace

A broken heart will not kill you

Mama, you will always be whispered about
Someone somewhere will try to pin the title
Fool on your lapel

Twist your mouth into the widest smile
Bless them with your amazing
Remember that your ability to love
Even the idiots who attempt to draw blood
Is only a reminder of their weaknesses
Enjoy how much they hate you
Love them until they choke on it

You are coated in glitter and firestone
No amount of revisionist history
Can change that
So let him believe himself immune to you
Sit back and laugh at the way the touch
Has turned him delusional with your
Jujugoddesssexmagic

see if he can really forget
your mouth
the space of wet and divine between your hips

No child, there were no victims here
his victory is empty
Her championship hollow
These attempts to break and dispose
Futile

they got to come harder than that
It will take more than just
The  dusty kisses of a brief love affair
To destroy the god in you

Wear it around your heart
like talisman
Like truth
Like the promise of better days wrapped
In a package that can handle your amazing

Fuck all the hyperbole
The lackluster simile
Know this
Own it
A broken heart will not kill you

Rest your understanding on that

Archive: When Apologies Fall Apart

we are talking about the truth here. i’ve studied your arms/hands
too intently. praised the smooth, manicured nails. traced the
scratch and scars. words etched around your wrist. your body
a template. a document of your history. i pretended not to
notice the images that fold and lay flat across your biceps. “oh really?”
I said. neglecting to mention the night I traced the pattern with
my thumb. learned every mole. every worry. every undecided action. took note of
your tremble then. the way you fumbled
for phone and glass and conversation. you appeared to be all calm and focus but the
fingers gave you away. the eyes never met mine but they frozen wide a
split second before the smile came.hugged you a bit too tightly the first time. I
hoped it felt like a welcoming back. before you manufactured calm out of reason
and magic. let me sneak in before you closed again. once while you slept and again
while you inhaled music instead of oxygen, i nearly placed my palm against your
heart. could hear it racing and pushing you sternum and solitude. i wanted to hum
in unison. show you how my body seem to gulp and gasp sometimes. teach you
how i learned to slow this reckless thinking. i remember
the way you slept too heavy to be peaceful. too full of movement to honor
rest. the long drive home, the night and i discussed how loneliness tugged at
your corners. the slick way it wanted to own you. like the women who feigned concerned.
night and i laughed about how different we’d be, how the ribbon tied to your wrist held
everything that you could possibly love. if i had known that you needed more than you
wanted, i would have studied you like sunset. like Qu’ran on holiest of days. like a tuesday
when God speaks. instead i wanted crawl into this barrel husk, this
exposed chest and inhale. pull bits of your flesh into my mouth. see how you
could survive with so much skin.your dna chipped into this stone wall. this barricade. instead, i inadvertently
became part of the things that crushed you. today, I found a needle to scribble a
tanka of apology into the empty space between your wingspan:
you bleed too much truth/and fire. need tourniquet/not me. I’m sorry/i didn’t hear
you the first/ time you asked for someone to stay.

Astaghfirullah: A Kiss Before Dying

astaghfirullah*: A kiss before dying
*I beg Allah for forgiveness 

you render me useless this side of morning
it’s more than the weight of left leg
draped heavily against right
more than muscled shoulders
tattooed with sweat
and last night’s perfume
or the locks wrapped around your fist
pinned against sheets
cooling from wet

i want to struggle and roll into the part of this
i own
but my last lover was so slight of a man
that he crushed my lungs with his indifference
i still haven’t learned to exhale properly

you are thick bundles of muted air

and when the silence and shadows 
hit your face
more like him than i care to be responsible for

still, i welcome your weight
the obscene arrogance of your manhood
bass and jazz song voice

we laugh about grown folks business
avoid the truth so often
we forget it exists
astaghfirullah

I welcome you a trapped,
unfinished verse
read on borrowed time

I can hear the breath escape in shudder
And hesitation
Even in sleep
fight this everything
That could destroy the world with our union

Delicate balance of secrets and trumpets
I long to stretch angle cut of glass
And cheek
brass and bone
Burn me stubble of stubborn promised beard
Twisted plum lips
inviting
This regrettable love song

This Brooklyn impossible
This wrong side of the tracks affair
This pebbled stone and grit
This wish that you
Would wake under the swollen pull
That begs for you

Let me whisper this wish into the last star before morning:
kiss me like we are dying
like time travelers seeking home
beneath tangled tongues and clicking teeth
no, kiss me like I’m dying
allow me feed on the flesh of this bottom lip
you, ripe fruit of a mouth

take hold this treaty between
breath and heartbeat
the war is in the longing
the
quiet
let’s not sully this with questions
of fidelity
or love

own it flat
peppered
crust and mortar
lust and anger
fuck me like an inappropriate love song
naked with the ghost of your rejected youth
the first encouraged broken shards of heart
the second, fed it to her next lover
while you watched
the last bore you a mirror
that reflects your father
you love her so much; it smells like a well crafted hatred
and I’m here
struggling against the nothing we created
twice already
twice more before the sun returns home
before I return home

we are more alike than
I can respect myself for

So for just a moment, the clock on the window
will read 4:58,
the sky will split open
spilling morning onto this sacred city block
4:59, i will roll over
And whisper
i love you like it was the responsible thing to do
5:00 is when it must end
roll back and search for last night in the still dark of bedroom
allow your weight to shift
freeing the serpentine locks from the prison of the last hour

beg the door
then your sleeping back for answers
this staying or going

i find your hand still lost in sleep
oblivious to this tugging
slide everything side up
again

invite the weight
return to the quiver at the end of tactile fingertips
serving one more sacred sacrifice
a salah into the morning
one more honest prayer before god wakes
an offering
an understanding
something like
one more hallowed and
careful hallelujah
before the sun

astaghfirullah

(Archive)When Purple Becomes Black: A Blues

it will always be

this brisk and sobering
anticipation of leaving
that will break me

not the threat of women
who wish to carve
their names into your throat

not this life the instability
that builds
and destroys
then lifts and decimates
with the precision of hurricanes

or cupid

no, my beautiful  boy
it will be the constant and consistent
leaving

this dizzying collection
of going and gone soon

these 2 AM sojourns into the night
beltway of mourning and tears
the dreaming that reminds me
that just an hour ago
there was a heavy and pressing against my back

thick bundles of you
packaged and loved against
this scarred and broken

this scared and broken

right now these minutes are
pointed distractions
i refuse to own

i wish to lay rooted in this
soil deep and holding
finding a new day waiting
and grounded

not this weightlessness
this expansion of pillow and soft
your chest is the worst comforter
all hard muscled and quivering
but it’s the only rest
this heart knows these days

i am displaced brooklyn girl
know sleep
in shattered corners and jagged edges

finding comfort only
when fingers find perfect match
when hands cup newly widened hips
and hold

my mouth seeks yours in the dark
clay and mud understanding
the light of slumber
delicate and balanced against
the worry that suspends me
fitful and awake

this side of morning
i miss the smell of you
underneath me

i inhale your peace
wear it around my neck
you  polished wood of a man

burgundy and brass breathed lover
in sleep your mouth
breaks promises you forgot to make

haunt me nightmare thick

place this magic of you
beneath my tongue
this broken and heart
this stay or go

this reminder that tomorrow’s
aching
is testimony and song to
your smile

the thing that splits this body open
like sky spilling golden morning

remind me that tomorrow’s
aching
is testimony and song to this thing
your mouth, gentle lover,

burgundy and brass breathed beauty
promise me a tomorrow
a nonthreatening morning

whole sections of you
and i
without this constant
and consistent leaving

i miss the smell of you


 

Archive/Poem: Maybe Lies Help

if you were offered a candy coated
heart
would you take it?
or would you ask for something
made of barbed wire
a poison apple, maybe
a death soaked kiss from a stranger
which one?
you who offers nothing
would you pull the wings off another butterfly?
hold an angel by the throat and dare it to scream?

who are you really?
do you know?
more than a heartless shell
a soulless mess
if the truth showed it’s face
would you recognize it?
would you lie to keep
it from revealing your secrets?
what of those puzzle pieces hidden in
a chest of drawers behind your bed?

but really…
how many hearts?
how many women broken, a river of burgundy
cascading from their throats
how many second chances
third? fourth?
how many bodies buried under your
wreckage
where is the glass crushed against your rib cage
the gust of wind and sand where your heart should be
where is this closet that holds your soul
slick wicked tongue
your integrity thin and translucent as parchment
do you know the world sees you through this bubble?
you’re only fooling yourself
this hill you stand on
elevated from the destruction you cause
trying to pretend yourself untouched
unaffected
recreating truth to fit your needs
do you hold any regrets?
when everything you touch turn to soil
and tar

mark your words carefully
before you offer another critique or comment
remember the truth reveals itself like
a serpent
like the spark of light before the fire
who will be the next to burn?

and when will it end?
when someone swallows a fistful of pills in your honor?
when there are actual corpses
with your name carved into their wrists?
when the bullet holds only two names?
will you feel it then?
will something then serve as spark to move
your sick spirit ?
would you even hear it if someone other than you cries,
hurts, aches, dies?

maybe lies help
maybe they serve as balm and lullaby
maybe one day you will find a reason to cry for
someone other than yourself.

until then, who will be next?

Repost: Nobody’s Coming To Get US/Liquid

I read an article about a man who refuses to leave New Orleans without his wife’s body. He’s accepted that she’s dead but won’t leave until he finds her. This was written in the voice of his  wife pleading with him to go but letting him know that she’s still with him.

Part of the Katrina series and inspired by hundreds of spouses searching for their loved ones after Hurricane Katrina

Collect the salt of our memories
The heat of summer
A river across brown
Sepia
Toffee
earth
It’s Tuesday
Wear this goodbye
Liquid against your chest
Your heart a shallow rhythm
My lips a soft echo beneath breath
I miss your face
Wish to
Place gentle against scruff
and inhale
The line that forms your chin
cheeks
Mouth
Nose
Eyes
Connect the parts that create you
Teach me and I will build for you a new
Everything
smile
And I remember how well you wore this
Your name
Crocheted on scarves tightly woven
With concern
Compassion
something
I think about whether your neck gets cold
Are you hungry, love?
I know you miss me
See your eyes cast down and
I want to own you again
Tell you that I’m okay
That I live in shadows
Hollow
Music
echoes
It’s only better here because I can see you
Touch you
In the form of a breeze that lifts and tousles
Leave the body
Remember only the movement
See me as you do the promise of spring
Damp
Pretend that with me brittle things bud
thrive
not yet ready to grow
or go
Do not long for me
It’s okay
Believe it
Wear this goodbye like a talisman
Like my jeweled whisper
Like yesterday
My salted memory
bare skin
This new river
liquid
like good bye

it’s okay…

Poem: A Lesson In Forgetting

This poem is a good 8 years old in it’s existence but this is a very new edit. Reflecting the changes I’ve been through the last few years and the place I current live. I hope it works. It’s for Nzinga mostly. But it’s also for me and you, if you need it.
Love someone. Continue to mean it.
B.
a lesson in forgetting
(for Nzinga)

I.

sit in the dark of remembrance
hold truth steely gripped
clenched in tender
battered fist


listen for heartbeat
rush of wind
hollow that signifies a final breath

death.

goodbyes are never easy
especially if all you’ve
known is hello


ignore the whispering,
“this is all too familiar”
longing rarely takes new shapes
lonely follows the same rigid lines

paint your body with the same
regrets that coated you the last time

there will be music where you
loved last
humming in the wrinkled eve of sunset

go there when you need to dance
sing


love with a new voice
grayed in husked walls
ripe naivete
bruised ache of experience

remember.

Read the rest of this entry »

Note To Self

Hella old poem. I’m thinking about reworking it yet again. I think it has some interesting elements but I’m not crazy about the rhythm. We’ll see.

B.

Edit: Note To Self

Old poem, newish edit.

B.

There are no victims here
Only the remnants of a heart that
Opens and closes with persistence
Butterfly wings

Survived ten pound tumors
Hospital beds
Psych ward
cheating
leaving
Knives to back
Front
Side
palms
The kind of sadness that would
Crumble stone into tears
Birthed bravery and life despite
Doctors and doubt

Baby girl,
A broken heart will not kill you

If you can still twist your hips
Into a candy ribbon of dance
You were never broken

Only rearranging your spirit
To make way for this new reality
Meditate yourself into a new way of
Breathing

If you can still laugh from a belly
Ripped apart and stitched together
Held by memory and faith
If you smiled at your reflection today
admired the perfect round and curve
Of bottom lip
Felt the brown and wet of eyes locked
Into a past you can not change
Weigh this against the bitter heart
The woman who laughs at his jokes
But doubts his embrace

A broken heart will not kill you

Mama, you will always be whispered about
Someone somewhere will try to pin the title
Fool on your lapel

Twist your mouth into the widest smile
Bless them with your amazing
Remember that your ability to love
Even the idiots who attempt to draw blood
Is only a reminder of their weaknesses
Enjoy how much they hate you
Love them until they choke on it

You are coated in glitter and firestone
No amount of revisionist history
Can change that
So let him believe himself immune to you
Sit back and laugh at the way the touch
Has turned him delusional with your
Jujugoddesssexmagic

see if he can really forget
your mouth
the space of wet and divine between your hips

No child, there were no victims here
his victory is empty
Her championship hollow
These attempts to break and dispose
Futile

they got to come harder than that
It will take more than just
The  dusty kisses of a brief love affair
To destroy the god in you

Wear it around your heart
like talisman
Like truth
Like the promise of better days wrapped
In a package that can handle your amazing

Fuck all the hyperbole
The lackluster simile
Know this
Own it
A broken heart will not kill you

Rest your understanding on that

Why I Carry Winter In My Bones

A Poem for Nikki Giovanni

You carry winter in your bones

ink tipped fingers
your palms parchment dried in heat
you transcribe our tuesdays into poetry
translate our brown into gold and magic


you– floating between bone and flesh
like music
like the hollow of marrow
like the promise of may in december
like the  bits of your soul
still unbroken


you, conduit from the sun to the living
you spine fused with steel
you who taught me to fix my eyes towards the sky
like the truth of me be in some cloud formation
because of you, i saw my face in the moon
your words quick step and slow hip roll
I full lipped and back dipped low
slow molasses understanding of self
until you came as flash
forced me to love myself as lightening
love myself incredible
brown girl in a sea of blonde cornfed blue
nobody looked like we
i carried you in my back pocket
secret weapon of pride
protected my smile
like backs bent broken cleaning
America’s excess off sticky floors
like trip on this
because your life depends on it.
Because my life depended on it,
i birthed myself a new tongue
one unbottled and unlocked
built this language on throats
hoarse from silence
wrote my bones into powder
blew our dust across pages
across stages
across lifetimes
across a town too white picket fence
to love me
across hearts to heavy to love me
you taught me how to love me
and I listened
cornrowed, cross legged, thrift store clothes
your words like heat

map towards a heaven of my creation

because of you, i carry winter in my bones
had permission to dream
wrote my name on the moon
exist between bone and flesh
reality
ink tipped fingers
parchment palms
poems
gold
magic
lightening
steel
soul
incredible
you incredible


Archive- Requiem: Dear You

I posted a quote from this poem on twitter earlier. Someone asked for the entire thing. I hesitate to post it because this poem is 13 years old and is in severe need of editing. I might one day but right now it was written during my first big heartbreak. We ended up back together twice before the end. I actually had to google to find it and I found it on some random blog. Which… huh? But also, Thanks!Even though you changed the ending and still gave me credit. Weird.

I’ve been busy and distracted and unfocused so the writing has been slow. Rather, the blogging has been slow. I’ve been writing things for projects but not to post. You care about every single thing I just told you.

lates,

B.

PS. Now that I look through it, mad things were changed. Why would you cut and paste my poem, give me credit and then edit it to fit your beliefs. Who are you? Please don’t post this because there might have been some edits I didn’t catch. Fuck it. I’m going to have to sit here and edit this poem. I swear… people.
PPS. During editing, I realize how much this poorly written, poorly formatted, crazy line breaks poem fits a situation I was just in. Metaphors are fun. Read the rest of this entry »