Phenomenally Phenomenal Woman: Eloquent History on the Journey to Language Learning

My sister Clarissa was one of my favorite orators in our drama club. She was hilarious during practice. We would all laugh as she joked around or did some funny gesture. The teacher sometimes didn’t like it because we tended to join in with Clarissa and her antics.I loved it.

At first I wasn’t even in the drama club. I just showed up to watch the performances. This was no normal club. All of us were black children and we did traditional black poetry; Langston, Maya, Countie. I loved Langston. Eventually Clarissa’s hilarious actions had me joining in on the fun with everyone else and the next thing I knew I had memorized something and was performing it for everyone.

I went to a famous historic black school. I mean old, it was the original Yates school before Yates became a school. Before the Civil Rights Era it was called James D. Ryan School for Coloreds. There was a worn out plaque in the entrance someone had tried to scratch out. I took a picture in front of it once, smiling and pointing with my friend Nicole. Our school was slightly modern but in the 3rd ward neighborhood there was certain things black children learned and did by way of tradition. How to Step, How to Orate, How to Debate, How to Sing a Gospel Song like you Deserved to Be On Stage, and How to Pray. All the keys to eloquence.

My teachers would put me in play after play. My family and my teachers would make me dress up to go to Museums to orate a speech or a poem. My friends and I would make up dances and step it out in front of the school. My Uncle would make us kids sing like we knew what we was doing at church. The frilly socks, the super done up hair, and the attitude to boot. Those were the funny, black traditions a young child was taught in the historically black neighborhood I grew up in and at the historically black school I went to.

Oratory competitions was my thang!

I think it helped me to be the person I am today. These powerful poems and the awareness of black history, it helped me along the way. It gave me a foundation of what I believed in, what I thought was fair, how I wanted to see the world, how I wanted to be treated.

I will make a grammar mistake like anyone can do. But when I really mean business, I can get my point across. I love to remember and perform poetry. My own now a days.

Even when I went to my first year of college I spent what money the school I was working at gave me for free books on Langston Hughes poetry. I loved a new poetry book from San Francisco’s Marcus Books which catered to black authors. I would sit in my living room remembering by heart Langston’s poetry and performing for myself since no one was around

Sometimes when the children were good in my class room, I taught visual and expressive arts in the historically black neighborhood of Bay View at an elementary school, I would perform for them. They ate it up, they loved it. One of my favorite poems I will never forget by Langston was called Suicides Note, it simply goes: The calm cool face of the River asked me for a kiss.

Not only because it was easy to remember, simply a sentence, but he brought the River to life and maintained that the River wanted him. The spirits in it’s depths wanted him and he kissed the River.

I don’t think I told the children what the name of the Poem was. 🙂

Our drama club, the one I was at first a spectator in at school, had only a few girls. Priscilla, Clarissa’s and I childhood friend was a helpful ringleader of the foolishness we drummed up. After drama club we would go to my grandmother’s porch and make up dance steps with the radio blaring and our ice cream melting and my bag of hot chips all over my fingers. Our drama club also had about one or two guys. I forgot his name for now but I know we had no since of what managomy or jelousy was. We used to practice kissing him and I tell you I only did it once and I don’t think I kissed another boy for a while after that because I thought it was so gross.

The girls remembered one poem in particular. I don’t think we could truly eloquently put into words why we all personally thought this poem was important to remember but we just did and kept it to ourselves. The poem was Maya Angleou’s Phenomenal Woman. We blared it, our hands on our hips as we performed it, walking sassy across the stage. I Am a Woman Pheno-na-ma-na-ly! Phenomenal Woman That’s Me!

My sister was really good at this poem. We didn’t laugh when she performed it, we watched. I think our drama teacher was calmer when she performed it. She certainly didn’t have an annoyed look on her face when she did. Another favorite of ours was Fire by Langston Hughes, the guy we kissed performed this one so well. Like he was about to get smote. His hands in the air over his head, a pleading in his loud clear voice. Begging and unbelieving that he could be burned by fire in hell.

However Phenomenal Woman, I will always remember that poem. How important it was for me. How important it is for me. I think I once shared it with the children of my art class. In front of all of those beautiful black boys and girls in my class. My voice ringing out: I am a Woman!

Now I am learning French. My tutor told me to do things I would normally do in French if I would like to become better at speaking. I love to read poetry. I love to read Alice, Tony, Tananarive, Octavia, Langston. I love to read. I love to read more than I would like to see a movie or video. So I pulled up this poem for you. A reminder for us all. No matter your race, age, or beliefs. No matter if you are a woman or a man or a transgender person. I think this poem has something to teach us all. I think this poem matters even to feminist and womanist (some might not like the note on high heels). It is a triumphant cry with defining verses opening doors or perception and the bare bones truth.

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

And because I would like to get better and make myself and my tutor smile 🙂

Femme Phénoménale

PAR MAYA ANGELOU

Merveille de jolies femmes là toute mon secret. Je ne suis pas mignon ou construit pour adapter la taille de mannequin, mais quand je commence à leur dire :

Ils pensent que je suis dire des mensonges. Je le dis, C’est dans la portée de mes bras, La durée de mes hanches, l’enjambée de ma démarche, la courbure de mes lèvres. Je suis une femme Phénoménal.

Femme phénoménale,

c’est moi.

Je rentre dans une chambre Tout aussi cool que vous s’il vous plaît et à un homme, Les boursiers debout ou Tomber à genoux. Puis ils pullulent autour de moi, Une ruche d’abeilles. Je le dis, C’est le feu dans mes yeux, et le flash de mes dents, le swing dans ma taille, et la joie dans mes pieds.

Je suis une femme Phénoménal.

Femme phénoménale,

C’est moi.

Les hommes eux-mêmes sont demandent ce qu’ils voient en moi. Ils essaient tant de choses Mais ils ne peuvent pas toucher Mon mystère intérieur. Quand j’essaye de leur montrer, ils disent qu’ils n’est pas visible. Je le dis, C’est dans l’arc de mon dos, le soleil de mon sourire, Le trajet de mes seins, La grâce de mon style.

Je suis une femme Phénoménal.

Femme phénoménale,

C’est moi.

Maintenant vous comprenez Juste pourquoi ma tête n’est pas courbée. Je ne pas crier ou sauter sur Ou dois parler vrai fort. Quand vous me voyez en passant, Il devrait vous rendre fiers. Je le dis, C’est en cliquant sur mes talons, la courbe de mes cheveux, la paume de ma main, le besoin de mes soins. Parce que je suis une femme Phénoménal.

 Femme phénoménale,

C’est moi.

 

Merci.

Hair

I am on the island of Kauai, my hair has had a lot of sand and tiny sea shells in it from visits to the beach. Just recently I was on the shores and as I was leaving I slightly jumped and asked a friend, hey! is there sand in my hair? She said no, that it was on my face. Thank goodness. After weeks of wash and rinse most of the tiny shells and sands have come out of my dreads. This journey with my wild hair has inspired this poem. There is something about hair that is so important to me. I am reminded of Samson. I am remembering black folk tales of hair and how folks would say watch who you let touch your hair. So in honor of these deeply curly antennae …

Black Girls Hair

Your hair stands on top of your head my child

it points in all directions

sponges suck the water up

don’t let it be too dry

antennas for the heavens

speak of cosmically

wrap them up and hide them underneath beautiful decorated cloth

or t-­shirts you don’t want to wear anymore

or hide them in a sun hat, brim level to your eye

big huge hair your got my girl

dress it in oil

smell likes coconuts

smells like chocolate

smells like dirt

is that sea shells trying to escape from the beach

dry them out

shake them roughly

use your nails

clean your scalp

and please take care your hair

I am remembering this song by Regina Spektor as well

Modernity, Penny Royal Tea, and Gods in Them

Modernity, Penny Royal Tea, and Gods in the Them

 

A purple goblet

glass cone,emblem of a white mare

metal base with the rococo finish

 

a shadow on a tabletop in a modern kitchen

penny royal tea, cup half full

wet lips

I have only so much to go

taste brings memories

side effects brings relief

 

to modernity!

 

fingernails on the bar

dress on my back

watching like a camera lens

 

feet too high above the land

must walk them down to earth

flowers pucker

 

One day

 

for now when fall is here

winter comes

nostalgia

wonder

 

where is my torch to traverse the tunnels of this time

this season

welcome to the cold

 

Ancient eyes with so much to say

mediums have voices for one mouth

 

lone beneath a starry sky

lights on in the distance

quiet your house for the night

 

I wonder

I hope for you

may your breadcrumbs be hearty

my torch be a burning beacon to lead you to my arms

to the heart of my voice which collects for you stories

by memory I will recite

one day

do not drink too much rain

save it for the earth

Trust in Me

Don’t think they care too much to commit their children early to the holy spirit
They, I think, are nervous of requests
Maybe if their child wasn’t a representation of their faith and vulnerability
Maybe if the baby wasn’t a representation of a heart on a sleeve
Easily they shake as a poplar tree
Ptsd with a spot of pee

A woman practicing feeling safe in trust
While hurdling through space
Like comet dust
Aint got the right mind for
Fancy shoes and fake jewelry rust

The unknowns been tapping her door for years
But before, all one heard
Was her spite, spit, and tears
Playing sassy sex games
Hiding in a community of queers

Just cause she stood on the sands
Dont mean she got to the bank
But love will do that to you
Trail you along
Bring you out
Drop you in a cream of cake

Shower you in the cold of water
When you need to be clean
Sugar in the faucet
Tears down the stream

Now you realize you must stand alone in your power
Only if my cup runneth over, will I give you medicine from my saucer

About Freedom ~a poem

Sit still

allow the clouds to whirls about you

pay little attention

till the fog clears

 

strip the syrup from your skin

break the moulds and climb away

lose one mind for the other

this might be your independence day

 

ignore but don’t be ignorant

believe in your archetypes

Jesus, Mary, storm, and queen

moon, snake, and diamond

gambit flinging fire scenes

banshees screaming find them

sirens singing on the rocks

steer the ship to harbor

rabbits and the ticking clocks

breach the shallow water

 

doggy paddle to the bay

 

ignore the thundering clouds

mad hatter poetry

you just want your cup of tea

he will never get old

only you may age

you can either stay or pretend

 

no one will care

 

 

Hum

In dedication of the world’s first clitoris reconstruction hospital in Burkina Faso.

A baby comes out of the womb
Skin climatically adjusts with the introduction of air
Lay the baby on the mother’s stomach and the childs first crawl will be for the primal quest of milk and comfort
they will open a clinic for the clitoris, we should open a church
They will sow her back her pleasure
We should say our prayers:

Holy tantric web of spidey strings
The light from the darkness
Bless the epicenter of our second coming
One by conception
The other by birth
Hum.

Grant her her healing pleasures
Lead her not into austerity
May it be her time to feel alive with
Conviction and dexterity
Hum.

From pastures, and the rushing moors
Give her back her heart
Polished first to a gorgeous shine
This is but a start
Stand down those who only know pleasures with guilt and shame
For that only makes you move too fast. Sadly limp and lame

Shakti may I call your name
And goddess council us please
We need to remember to smile and feel the web beneath out feet

Cause if everything is making love
We all must be beasts
And I for one love the animal that embraces the east
Hum.

Gator ~ a poem

Slow and steady
Too big for all that rushin’
Saving energy for the meat of a savory large fine
Pray

Prey, look both ways
Dream hunting in the cool
Mud caking up the shoes
Hidden in the leaves
Taking naps in the breeze

Fall back in the ease
Waves passing as a sneeze

Blessings
Bless your heart
There are caverns, then there’s carts

Braiding up the hair
Kicks for kicks
Snare for snare
Curtains cover
This and other

Ever exchanging.

Raise your toast
Spit your liqour
Banish ghosts

Eye and eye
Above water
Belly know them both
Up and over, deep and slumber
Crackling lightning
Lions den
Wings return to their dragon
When the illuminated stretch
Wide awake
Froasted cake
Sugar toothed
Though are loosed
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