Grandma Always Said

Your grandma died in her sleep last night

With your grandpa by her side

And pitch black all around her

Except for the translucence of her skin

And the spotlight created by the mergence

Of ambulance lights creeping in the distance

And as you watched her wheeled out of her home

Nightgown cut open, bra exposed

All you were hoping is that she took her own advice…


Always, always wear clean underwear.


Because that’s exactly what youngsters do

In their innocence they hold onto

The requests of their dying elders

Not the realities of real life emergencies

But, now you know a little something ‘bout living

And that no matter how much you pray

No matter how much you plan

Or, how many times you check the cold stove

And the locked deadbolts on the door

No matter how many times you glance left to right

There’s not much you can really control except your drawers

So, to this very day all you can hear her say is…


For goodness sake, make sure you’ve got on clean underwear.

Book Review-“Black in America: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul”

by Demetria R. Giles

The self-described “part manifesto, part history, part memoir” titled Black in America is surprisingly different.  For many people, it is difficult to read a nonfiction book from front cover to back cover.  There is a constant temptation to skip parts and use the table of contents to get to the parts that confirm one’s original biases.  However, this timely narrative, offered up by the thought-provocateur, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., pushed the boundaries of scholarly writing and entertainment to keep the reader engaged. The introduction immediately draws the reader in with the visualization of three strong women—the co-founders of the Millennial Activists United—breaking bread with Glaude in a Ferguson diner while awaiting the grand jury’s decision regarding indictment of the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown.  Glaude’s retelling made the conversation feel intimate and special—as though the reader were eating at the table right beside them and was prevy to the pain behind their call to action.  Glaude goes on to critically analyze the Obama administration and Black liberals role in the re-emerging and heightening racial tension in America. Within the context of true democracy, which the United States is not, Glaude makes clear his position that a real progressive vision will need to rise up outside of the bounds of the two-party system in America. This book is a great close-up for those who live on the perimeter of the racial divide; it is keen to an insiders scoop.  Perfect, say, for those who know inequality exists but have never been forced to look at it much less learn about it.  At the same time, it is a painful yet necessary memento for those of whom institutional racism, police brutality and the prison industrial complex have directly impacted their lives. It is like a Facebook feed for Black thought and life during the #BlackLivesMatter movement. For those readers who make it all the way to the end of Black in America, you will not be disappointed. In the afterword, Glaude demonstrates integrity and care by going back to address the three female activists of whom he opened the book with. Thankfully, he acknowledges a misstep–the misattribution of one woman activist’s story for another.  It is a good thing he did because women of color must to be able to own their own stories.  This part of the book may have actually been the most insightful.  It gives a glimpse into the collective healing that needs to take place among the black and brown bodies being placed on the frontline of social justice movements.  It is a peephole through the doors of tension and walls of complexity that are sometimes built when engaging in disruptive politics and community activism.

Demetria R. Giles, mother, educator, writer, NYC marathoner, triathlete and native Virginian, is a first-time poet living and learning in Brooklyn, New York. @drosewritings #drosewritings

Stuck In Love

It’s like being stuck, even frozen

But the feelings, undeniably intact

I’m conscious, way too conscious

Floating around you, beside you

Sometimes even above you

As you try not to see me

All the while longing to be with me

Longing to make a move

But I’m here, reawakened

Unclaimed and highly disturbed

I see you, I hear you

Swear, sometimes, even smell you

But we are forbidden

To pass poisonous kisses

Forbidden to call your name

To say your name like I know you

Like I’ve known you

Like I knew you

Stuck in a motionless place

This bedridden state

This chamber of secrets

Praying for others’ miracle

So I can finally find mine

Impatiently waiting

For moments of clarity

For life after a love coma


What’s asked

What’s given

Not matching these days

Please find the space

Where love is made to order

Grilled perfectly

So we don’t have to

Put out fires that

Don’t exist

Wonder why so angry

Black women yelling

Yelling through clinched teeth

‘Cause it don’t make

Sense, it never does

Never was space requested

It’s created all on its own

In fact, fill it

Fill it up

Fill up the space with your presence

This can’t continue on

Trapped, caught up in this

Space, man-made space

Non-womanist space

Keep the cycle going

Oppressed by the Oppressed

Created space

While I Was Down

While I was down

I bought a new white down

Because if I’m going to be down

I at least want the alternative, comfort

Oversized, plush

King fit for a full

Inherited from my grandma who

Shared her love of butter pecan and baseball

Her form of comfort

But this bed is real wood

Probably came from Woolworth’s on Crater Road

So it’ll never break

I’ll never break

She’d cover it with crochet

Then kneel down and pray

But while I was down

I bought a new white down comforter

One with a subtle square print

Because I can’t stand inside the box

Which now that I think about it

That’s probably why I’m down

And why my toes peek out to be free


What’s in your hands boy?
It’s too silver, too shiny
Just clippers sir
A clip you said?
No, hair clippers
To shape my clients
Don’t mistake me for a criminal
I’m a licensed barber sir
I’m cutting hair sir
I’m an entrepreneur sir
I’m a businessman sir
I make others look good sir
I am not what you expect me to be sir
Now, how can I help you officer?
Buzz cut
That’ll cost you extra sir

Statistically Speaking

With a year like I’ve had
I should have drowned myself
Not literally, but at least in cheap beer
Or whiskey, with a chaser of tears
Should have cut off my locs
Gained or lost ’bout 25 pounds
I should have closed up shop
And let the twinkle in my eye disappear
Slipped the pep out of my step
But still I’m here, or so I’m told
And somehow I should have a couple degrees
And a PhD, or not
All while living single and widowed
That’s right, I should be slightly educated
Yet silent as a white mouse
I should have conceived
And as head of house
Held the joys on my own
Broken barriers behind closed doors
Do not expect a thank you
And don’t dare ask for compensation
I should have developed hypertension
And all sorts of bad habits
To sustain my beautiful mind
But that’s just statistically speaking