For Kevin

I have been drafting a series of poems for my older cousin Kevin. For the past two years. He died unexpectedly in August of 2016. Everyone still feels his absence. He is a person who means a lot to many people. To me he was one of the few men in my family with whom I didn’t have a complicated relationship. Everything was laughter, be you, and like what you like. He nurtured my love for sci-fi, took me to the movies and the parks, talked to me about comics and Marvel cannon, and was my date to 2 out of 3 of the Roots concerts I attended. His birthday was the 22nd. To honor him, my mother, aunt and I spent that evening watching Black Panther. I miss him. Here are a few pieces from the draft.


Last summer.

I ignored

at least three signs

of death.

A whole deer without antlers

wide eyed and on its side.

A dried and crumpled crow.

A flattened rat with its head still intact.

When I heard you died, I could not help but to think

I was warned and failed to prepare

For this thing that felt so out of order.

This summer I notice all the dead things. I even count them.

Some man


Will hold a cigarette between two bloated fingers and remind me of you.

And I will cry.

Ancestor Day

My aunt.

Is your mother.

How do I read her

After you die?

She stands guarding her door

Not ready to soften the way grief

Sometimes demands.

The way grieving relatives sometime expect.

Her jaw is clenched.

Her shoulders tight.

She is posed to shoo away mourners.

Your dog waits with us on the porch outside the house

Covered in tumors.

Waiting waiting.

Maybe for your return.

You left your reading glasses on an open newspaper from the day before.

Ready to be picked up.


Never again.

I count six Bud Light cans that did not make it to the blue recycling bin that sits off to the side.

The entire porch still smells like you.

Absence Felt

It is no longer a Sunday on the 7th of August.

A day your mother finds you in bed


Two days

After your first birthday as an ancestor

She and I talk.

She is watching Grim

And has nodded off to the glow of her television.

We tell each other how happy we are to hear the other’s voice

And hang up.

You are still not here.


Tonight I am tired but grateful.

The wind can be harsh and can be gentle. Tonight it pushes my orange curtains towards me. I imagine an ancestor beckoning me. “Look here,” they say. Are they benevolent? I don’t know. I sure hope so. I look out the window in time to see a raccoon cross the street at a diagonal. It’s round body waddles gracefully. It seems not in a hurry and I afraid. Though it is night, the trains, creatures, and ancestors are alive. “Learn stillness.” That is what I am hearing all these live things say.

Gratitude List: 2/14/18

  1. My neighbor offered me a ride to the train station. Thanks to him I made it to work on time.
  2. Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin is reminding me to not be afraid of my desire to do this work and to not be afraid of the work itself.
  3. I took a walk with my partner during break. The weather and company were lovely.
  4. Sharing a shower with a partner.
  5. Stretching.
  6. Being employed and able to pay my bills.
  7. A text from my sister.
  8. Honoring my grandfather’s birthday by acknowledging that though he was estranged, he was human and even in death is part of me.
  9. My partner reading this interview with Quincy Jones out loud. So much laughter and appreciation for this man’s character and legacy.
  10. The sleep that awaits me.

Word of the Day: 2/13/18


A negation.

A refusal.

A spell.

No to the institutions we use to practice and legitimize our hate.

No to the rules and religions we use to throw each other away.

We are each other’s best things.

May our fury keep us warm.

May our indignation keep us steady.

May our tenderness move us onward.

To My Younger Selves

May she know her own boundaries and defend them with ease.

May she recover.

May she live with an open yet protected heart.

May she practice steadiness.

May she revere her mother and grandmother for all the good they taught her, brought her, made for and of her.

May she forgive them for all that they did not teach or bestow.

May she recognize friendship and guard it like a best thing.

May she enjoy childhood.

May her aloofness protect her.

May her good heart protect her.

May her knowing protect her.

May she always find her way back to tenderness.


Patchuli and Tap Water Mist.

I use this:

  • When my anxiety causes me to spiral.
  • When I need to slow down.
  • To ground.
  • To boost energy.
  • For resetting.
  • When my eczema flares up.
  • To smell something nice.
  • To cool off.
  • To feel clean.
  • To laugh.
  • To surge into tenderness with each droplet.

It is plant magic. It is water. It carries and transfers potential. So simple.

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