From the Archives: {27 May 2020}

I’ve had a few poems lingering in my Google Drive for the last couple years, so I’m clearing out the backlog and sharing some of them. My tendency is to hold them close to my chest because they feel far from perfect and even far from good. I think, though, that they are where they need to be and in posting them, I’m pushing myself to let them exist as they are, and move on from them. 


May 2020

I’m drinking red wine out of a red solo cup on my grandparents porch,
A fountain noisy behind me, a warm drowse in my stomach.

Last night, sitting around a folding table, through the window,
I watched them in the kitchen tie congratulatory balloons to a tray of cupcakes,
Looked away, and smiled as they walked out the front door humming.

I read something the other day about how our grandkids will be quizzed about
This time sometime.

What year was it?
How far apart did you have to be?
How many people died?
Did anything change after we came awake?

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From the Archives: {15 May 2020}

May 2020

It’s been more than two months since I cut my hair and wrote
            about it and it is long enough now that it doesn’t stand up even
            wet out of the shower where I stand staring into the mirror
            holding my toothbrush in my mouth with my hand as on a violin bow.
I’ve been counting time in increments of prescribed medications and
            loaves of bread and inches of bean plant growth.
Time doesn’t stop and maybe doesn’t exist — surely, at least,
            it cannot be spent like white monopoly bills.
An empty sleeve of pills rests on the desk on which I write and the shadows
            play in the yard and my hair dries behind my ears.

From the Archives: {14 May 2020}

I’ve had a few poems lingering in my Google Drive for the last couple years, so I’m clearing out the backlog and sharing some of them. My tendency is to hold them close to my chest because they feel far from perfect and even far from good. I think, though, that they are where they need to be and in posting them, I’m pushing myself to let them exist as they are, and move on from them. 


May 2020

Even as a writer of the ordinary times, there are things
            that feel too ordinary to write about, but
The two people standing side by side – inches between them,
            leather jackets on their shoulders, staring ahead as
            their dog on a leash squats in the grass –
Are a poem whether or not I want to write it.

From the Archives: {I Think This is What They Mean When They Say, “In the End, You are Your Own”}

I’ve had a few poems lingering in my Google Drive for the last couple years, so I’m clearing out the backlog and sharing some of them. My tendency is to hold them close to my chest because they feel far from perfect and even far from good. I think, though, that they are where they need to be and in posting them, I’m pushing myself to let them exist as they are, and move on from them. 


May 2020

My hair is almost black in the white porcelain
            sink in the pink bathroom I share with
            my brother in our family home.
I stood, earlier today, in front of the mirror,
            sun coming through the window so as
            not to use the fluorescent light and
I cut my hair close to the scalp again.

You have been in this bathroom but you
            have never and will never
            see me cut my hair — this
Ritual I act with my eyes open and
            staring at their own
            reflection — this
Making of myself what I want to be:
            A woman with hair
            on her head shorter than
            under her arms and on her legs.

I was loved by you,
            once, yes,
And I am still making of myself what
            I want to be, whether or not
            you love me still.

Tonight, when I walk, my head is cold:
            I always forget
            what a difference
            the half inch makes.

From the Archives: {the first poem}

I’ve had a few poems lingering in my Google Drive for the last couple years, so I’m clearing out the backlog and sharing some of them. My tendency is to hold them close to my chest because they feel far from perfect and even far from good. I think, though, that they are where they need to be and in posting them, I’m pushing myself to let them exist as they are, and move on from them. 


February 2020

your dad told me
over breakfast
the morning I left
that maybe I could write
poetry about ‘this’
I told him that I don’t write
good sad poems and I
let a laugh come to my face
tears rolling down my neck

and I am writing now, to tell you
not what I could

(I miss your body and
your love, and, hey, about
that phantom limb the
Universe left in her wake
when she took you away)

but ‘this.’ This is all I’ve
wanted to tell you since I stopped telling you things:

‘this’ is the first law of thermodynamics

‘this’ is a newman projection of cyclohexane

‘this’ is a shunt that lives in the back of my grandfather’s head

‘this’ is the indefinite integral to calculate area under a curve

‘this’ is two bodies in thermal equilibrium

(I hope you, reader,
don’t mind my
saying it but)

we were once two bodies in thermal equilibrium

and I miss your heat
but what I’m writing to tell you
is ‘this’ and
this is not a sad poem because there are
no tears rolling down my neck and
damn, if I’m not still learning

From the Archives: {A Story of My Mother’s Friendship}

I’ve had a few poems lingering in my Google Drive for the last couple years, so I’m clearing out the backlog and sharing some of them. My tendency is to hold them close to my chest because they feel far from perfect and even far from good. I think, though, that they are where they need to be and in posting them, I’m pushing myself to let them exist as they are, and move on from them. 


December 2019

We leave their house well past midnight, the midwinter
sky, just past solstice, a still gray
against tree skeletons.
It is warm for the end of December, I think,
but I haven’t been alive that long.
We start the drive home
and my mom says beside me
in a steady voice that throbs,

“What I wish for you,”

and my sweater cuff is already at my cheeks.
The sound of the wheels purr and
I think back to minutes before,
my mother and her friend,
their voices whispering, shrieking, laughing,
glass after glass of red wine enlivening them
but really only returning them
to themselves,
to a memory,
to a time
they do not and cannot
anymore occupy.
She starts again,

“What I wish for you,”
           voice wobbly now,
“is a friend like this.”

I nod in the semidarkness, our car moving
further and further from her,
who, shortly,
will be gone from the place
we have left.

From the Archives: {Will We Ever Know What We Were Not Taught?}

I’ve had a few poems lingering in my Google Drive for the last couple years, so I’m clearing out the backlog and sharing some of them. My tendency is to hold them close to my chest because they feel far from perfect and even far from good. I think, though, that they are where they need to be and in posting them, I’m pushing myself to let them exist as they are, and move on from them. 


August 2019

On the day my brother starts his second year of high school,
friends drive us out to work for a week on
a farm in the woods.

We are welcomed and toured and
left in the hands of capable and kind people.

The land is overgrown, winding, well loved,
and known exactly by those that inhabit it.

The children, three of them, walk us along the creek.
The water is chill and the minnows abundant.
The shadows of the leaves fall easily over the water
and the rocks are slippery.
The sediment on the bottom holds prints for days,
they say, and we see detailed beneath our own feet
raccoon paws like small hands,
deer hooves with sharp edges.
The slate of the creek bed is cut
into angles by the water.

The kids wander ahead,
quick and attentive to their surroundings,
surer than those of us who have grown.
They are the definition of lithe —

small and confident in their
comfort and knowledge and ease.

We follow them, taller, older, and slower,
stepping on the smooth rocks,
toes gripping through the cool water and
I’m thinking about my brother
sitting in a classroom,
fluorescent lights above his head,
pen in hand.

I feel myself slip a little
on the creek bed, my feet unsure.

From the Archives: {The Morning, pt. 2}

I’ve had a few poems lingering in my Google Drive for the last couple years, so I’m clearing out the backlog and sharing some of them. My tendency is to hold them close to my chest because they feel far from perfect and even far from good. I think, though, that they are where they need to be and in posting them, I’m pushing myself to let them exist as they are, and move on from them. 


July 2019

My friend and I lay on the dock as
“the sounds of the morning rise up around us.”

People coming and going over the dining porch,
            mugs in hand.
Plates being taken, cleared, and stacked.
Little voices already declaring the plans of the day,
            loud, excited, and questioning.

Birds humming cheerfully and relaxed,
            already having woken up the day.
The distant whir of a boat motor.
The slow recession of the fog a great and weighty silence.

I am thinking,
“Maybe this is the job
            of the writer
            of the watcher
            of us all.”

From the Archives: {21 January 2019}

I’ve had a few poems lingering in my Google Drive for the last couple years, so I’m clearing out the backlog and sharing some of them. My tendency is to hold them close to my chest because they feel far from perfect and even far from good. I think, though, that they are where they need to be and in posting them, I’m pushing myself to let them exist as they are, and move on from them. 


January 2019

It is Martin Luther King Day in 2019 and
it is a cold morning in January.
We are in the A.M.E. church, shoulders pressed
into the pews, body heat warming us through.

The keyboard begins to ping a few notes
and a man stands at the front of the church,
a microphone in one hand,
and he sings.

We follow, stand, and sway, even
if we don’t want to.
I find the words not far buried
and I’m swaying.

I feel heavy with a sorrow that I know is not
my sorrow alone and it slows me.
The sorrow begs to be held,
spiky and full of spunk,
but once it is gone,
I know I will not miss it.

\\

There is a humanity to personhood.

The woman checks her reflection in her phone.
The man calls the children’s names like a eureka.
The man speaks with history dripping from each pause.
The woman holds her heart, and, she says, mine.

And there is a personhood to humanity.

\\

“I worried a lot.
…Could I do better?”

Yes. That is the personhood of humanity.
That is the sorrow I must let go.

\\

“…will I be forgiven?”

Yes. That is the humanity of personhood.
That is my heart being held.

Reading Review of 2020

Hello 2021. What a year 2020 was.

I’m grateful again to have had reading as my companion in this wild year. My reading did not go as I had planned or hoped: at the beginning of the year, I really wanted to do the Reading Women challenge, however a combination of factors made that pretty difficult. However, that said, I read books and many of them, at that, and I’m still happy about it.

Most notably, at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020, I got involved in the world of diverse reading on Instagram and discovered Booktube (aka Youtube videos centered around reading). I made a book Instagram of my own (@reid.reads) to see even more content and enjoyed engaging with the world of reading there. I’m grateful to those communities and creators for influencing the way that I thought more intentionally this year about my reading than I have in previous years. Some of those people and creators include Seji (The Artisan Geek on Youtube and Instagram) and Ariel Bisset (Youtube and Instagram), as well as the aforementioned Reading Women (Instagram) and Diverse Spines (Instagram). If you’re looking to diversify your reading (a.k.a. reading less books written by straight cis white men), I highly recommend checking out those accounts. My life has been so enriched this last year as I slowly but surely changed what and who I was reading.

All that said! This year I read:

55 fiction
16 nonfiction
3 nonfiction about food
5 memoir
1 poetry
1 graphic novels
3 entire series
3 partial series
11 re-reads (ahem…Harry Potter)
38 female authors
1 non-binary author
13 male authors

I would like to humbly and highly recommend the following books:

1) The Racial Contract, by Charles Mills: This is truly a mind-blowing book about race and racism in the US and around the world. I feel a little funny recommending it because I read it for my Critical Race Theory class which I’m sure is a big reason I was able to stick it out and make sense of it as a semi-dense philosophical text. That said, I think it’s worth trying. It has given me so much language and context for understanding the world I live in and navigating and deconstructing white supremacy and my internalised racism.

2) Against the Loveless World, by Susan Abulhawa: I really believe that reading fiction set in complicated places and complicated times is one of the best ways to learn about those places and times. Abulhawa creates a stunning set of characters that really brings to light the world those characters live in. This book has brought to my mind the importance of learning about the complexities of the Middle East.

I would like to praise to high heaven the following books:

1) Death of Vivek Oji, by Akwaeke Emezi
2) Patsy, by Nicole Dennis-Benin
3) Black Sun, by Rebecca Roanhorse

All three of these books have widened the scope in which I see life. As I’ll mention in my last category, reading allows me and requires me to see life fully and as it truly is. This means reading about the full scope of human experiences. Emezi writes of a teen in Nigeria exploring gender identity and sexuality. Dennis-Benin writes of an immigrant and mother trying to find happiness. Roanhorse writes a boy-god’s journey to his fate, oh, and also, a love interest. These are lives that are being lived by people who are not like me; I will never know what it is to be a Nigerian teen or Jamaican immigrant or boy-god in pre-Columbian South America. I am praising to high heaven these books because they take me out of myself and say to me, “There are people who are living a life you do not know and they are just as human as you.” Also — they are so, SO beautifully written. Please read these books and others by these authors and other fiction by and about people who don’t look like you and who are not straight white people.

I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to the following book:

The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin: Reading this book was a gift to me. Baldwin writes about race and racism in the US and he writes about pity for white people. We are unable to see our lives for their actuality; we are unable to accept the fact of our inevitable death. Without an openness to suffering we are unable to suffer without placing its burden on others, as whiteness has done to Black folk. This book gave me the language to begin to see my life as I imagine Baldwin might want me to. This book feels like essential reading for these times and I’m so grateful for Baldwin’s voice in my life.