We walk like lions, unafraid.

Stroll like kings and queens through sunrise, unending.

Someone of us have histories, unknown.

Some stories by moonlight, untold.

Some of us sing songs, unrecorded.

Some dance around masquerades, unrecognized.

Some of us carry weights, unbearable.

Some march for rights, unequal.

Some of us remember names, unnamed.

Some sound horns for them, unbroken.

We gather now together, for paths unfinished. Telling stories still unreal.

Of people, and places still unsung, still unseen.

Of how they strolled like lions, free and unforgettable.

This one is in honor of Ernie Barnes painting which just sold this week at Christie’s auction for $15.3 million dollars, money I wish he saw in his lifetime. Still I’m inspired by this story as it reminds me of why what you do today matters. It’s for the legacy you are leaving behind for tomorrow. So again, do what makes you smile. Words, art, do it unafraid. Do it whether unknown, unseen or uncelebrated. History will celebrate you one day. History will tell your story if you don’t story your story today. I keep all this things because I want to get ahead of the story it will tell. I want to tell it my way. That I lived like the woman in the red strapless dress in Ernie Barnes painting. I lived and danced to the rhythms of my life, unafraid, undeterred, heck even unknown. But I lived my way, unfettered, unforgettable, with every single thing I choose to keep.

I keep wondering too why this painting would evoke this more today.

Maybe it was the dancing. Every Friday and Saturday evening. A girl in dark red strapless dress, gyrating her body to good times. A man in blue pants, moving as if filled with the Holy Ghost. I imagine these were good times at the sugar shack. Big daddy Rucker playing music as if the world is coming to an end. A woman in a blue dress and red shoes swings her hips to all the blues she feels. This dancehall isn’t a dream. I remember once stepping in a club like this in Philly, surrounded by black and brown lives dancing to music that moves your soul. I know this feeling of joy. Spirit-filled moments like this are rare. I’m glad it’s frozen forever even if for a moment at the sugar shack. I am glad I am freezing it for myself too, even if through words I keep, unafraid.

Here is a truth. Cherish your failures. Bury your doubts. Protect your power. Knock on closed doors. Put a stake through your fears. Take what you want. Respect your pain. Let your spirit rise. Stand in your light. Speak with love. Do what stirs your imagination. Never forget that anything is possible. Find the time to dream. Know your words have transformative power. Use it for growth. Seek real and supportive relationships. Come together often. Learn to belong fully and truly to spaces you call your own. Let nothing, not even a sleepless night go to waste. Love deeply, as if it were forever. Survive all your freedoms.

I watched my baby at a family picnic dart back and forth a multi-colored block unafraid. Even when he fell, he kept going back inside, climbing up and down, until he found himself in the middle, just as he wanted. I figured there was a lesson in his ways hence why I wrote the above. Of course I took the time to dream, and watching a little boy cherish his failures will make you do the same.

A son found his mother, slumped on the floor one night, stiff, unresponsive. He picked her up, thinking she slipped and fell, maybe from a heat stroke, a stressful day, and laid her gently on her bed. Not before he put a cool towel on her forehead and kissed her cheeks as he bade her good night.

The next morning, the son went to check on his mom. He found her just as he laid her, stiff, unresponsive, only this time, life became more urgent. Not his, but for a mother who lived and slumped, as if life never meant anything, as if all it seeks is to leave you stiff, and unresponsive too.

Stroke by stroke, each hour is a gift. Piercing through life, each moment fragile. Now son buries a mother, he first saw stiff, unresponsive. A mother departs, not as she came or lived, despite giving life to sons and daughters who still live.

I am wise enough to see that this mother could be anyone who forgets first to live. So with each passing day, I beg mothers anywhere, do what makes you smile. Cherish sunsets and long walks alone. Be friends with friends who make life glorious till the last call on a Friday evening. Laugh through ice creams and daffodils. Kiss foreheads of little ones and big ones you love. Live so life never finds you stiff and unresponsive.

Lucille Clifton always had the best images of black mothers. This is one of hers I love.

I’m learning his ways. His voice is his own. He knows his hearts desires. Recalls promises made in silence. He will share his dreams if you ask. Plus he is only five. I keep asking when will he know. That birds called Sky are meant to fly free. I keep wondering when the fragrant air filled with roses and lavender became his friend. He is only five but wiser than ants strolling aimlessly in daylight. Honesty is his thing. Tell the truth and don’t cry. That and his voice. Everything he declares forces you to remember he his only five. Yet he touches every single edge of me. Like young seeds that know the sun. His eyes are like the sun. Bright, beautiful, big like his world. He breaks off many branches in me that does not bear fruit. He makes me live to many lives high above mountains that I become. He is my son. God, he is mine.

We were talking yesterday, my son and I about why I love him so much. I told him I would put it into words and read it out loud so he will know what he means to me always. The words above were my attempt at letting him know why I think he is loved and how I hope he remains forever. Keep sons that remind you of the sun, bright, beautiful and big, like their world.

Our rose bushes are blooming, unafraid, on their own. Not even birds can deny the depths of them. They are like mini trees. Evergreen and erect. A perfect combination of lush and sublime. Their leaves are perfect. Carved into an angle that say so little of how glorious they are. The folds of each rose fall neatly in ways that keep me humble. Everything about them, the stories they never tell, are perfect, forcing me to rise, erect, evergreen, like a rose.

I write at a crossroads of a life that has known pain, felt anger, cherished joy, and carried the idea of sustaining anything as urgent. I write too from a place of commitment, a mind that has known what it means to transform and be transformed, all while identifying and defining what life means to me. I have never taken the path others take. I have never done things only to regret them later. I have lived as though life could end tomorrow. I have dreamed as if dreaming was air, living, lying awake, on a bed of green grass as soft blue skies and clouds glide by. I have done these things and still I choose to write. These days, writing is all I know. So I write for connections between and among women, the most feared, the least understood, those tender, sharp and unafraid with eyes startling and ready to transform. Truly I write for the most transformative being that ever existed. I write so she lives, whether as a woman by herself, a sister, a friend or a mother. Today I write to myself and all the women we celebrate.

Happy Mother’s Day

Four times, have I known pain. Child birth would bring pain so unbearable that you scream from the deepest depths of your soul. Four times have I screamed. To hold lives so complex, with smiles all for me. The piercing cries of restless children that test all you know. Especially at night, in middle of a deep sleep that forces you to stroll aimlessly for their needs. I always smile when today comes along. Not for the love I see in my girl and my boys, my better me, but for the journey we get to take. Nothing sets me so high than a reminder of all we have been through. The journey we still take through tears and dreary darkness. Those to Andy’s frozen custard for pleasure in a cup and spoon. These things, this rush of beauty and pain are the heart of motherhood for me. We knew there would be pain. The beginning was full of it. We knew pain will continue. Today still has some, lurking to uncover unknown and hidden spaces. We have tried to be strong. Tried to be our best selves so they too stand and be strong on their own. We have laughed and we have cried. We have laid down in mourning for an angel, and a bird we named Sky. They know good things never last. Like blue birds named Sky. They know too that we are in this moment together. A unique group we are. With birds and lilly magnolias. Grass so green, skies so blue that all we can do is lie down and let life be. We are living together for this moment. The skies paint an everlasting blue color. We look at each other, hoping this moment lasts forever.

Rain falls from the skies to the earth. Falls down to rivers and lakes, to flowers and trees all from skies open and free. Today I am free. I stand, not afraid to be me. To see the rain that have fallen for the past 8 years, where nothing seemed to stop all in my soul. To feel like flowers do. Tulips and daffodils, Japanese Cherry and lily magnolias. Rain with soul fall over all these like water over rivers not troubled, not alone. The directions I have taken to get here. Nights full of sleeping less, and yet still full of rest. The children I had birthed through this. The love and support of a fearless crocodile of the jungle will never do, when all you know is rain. My mind wants to speak. Joy wants to flow. A little girl dreamed and lived out her wildest dreams just as she dreamed it would be. I am close to becoming my dream. Close to swinging through to the other side where dreams become reality, yet mindful that we never stop dreaming. The falling rain, gentle streams, crocodiles and flowers are all the strength, I need to begin again like when colors of a rainbow meet. To see I own even my silence, with all the blessings, with eyes still on the prize, is the rain I need to keep falling endlessly.

Art from my daughter.

My day seemed random at first. International festival. Second grade kids. Talk about being born and raised in Nigeria. Simple. Until it began. There were all sorts of questions from minds curious about places far from home. I took it all in. Mesmerized faces eager to sail from this place to one I call home. We talked about the people, the places and things they will see. We shared 6 fun facts, like did you know the green in the flag stands for natural wealth and the white for peace and unity, something they all nodded we need right now. Especially the peace, one of them noted. I smiled. We need to begin with children.

Their walls were full of letters for the week. Pictures full of reasons for how to be second graders and more. I escaped through their eyes for a moment. Moved as we sailed from this place to another. I saw their love for my home. Smiled as they imagined how we could have so many people and so many languages when all they knew was one.

I imagine this must be what they say when minds and hearts come together as one. Questions of why you are you come to mind. Love for you rush through eyes eager to meet you just as you are. Their eyes tell stories of acceptance. Minds shares words of gratitude for times spent together, learning, knowing, meeting, sailing together from this place to one I call home.

I never thought our meeting would be so important. My narrow understanding of second grade, of minds eager to see, and know people, things and places far always. I now see for myself why these eyes and minds, so breathtaking, so authentic, so open, and unfettered, these minds of second grade boys and girls, must be celebrated always. They have buried their eyes into my soul. A treasure of happiness, resides deeply now. I never thought they would leave such an impression, but this maybe the start of something revolutionary, for this woman, fearless and free.

I see that second graders are rare beings. I see they love the world as it is, beyond themselves for themselves. I see they endlessly begin, where the words you speak end. Everything about them like the world is big enough for you and I. I see too that we should all escape from our world to theirs often. Memories of our day now sink into my soul that I just may focus more, on the stories, the places, the people, all the possible range of things that would keep this going on forever. Thank you to these second graders and all the kids I met today for being so open, so unfettered, as our minds sailed together from this to that. Diversity and inclusion need not begin only with grownups. Not when children hold the key.

Someone shared this on my twitter feed today. A letter from Kurt Vonnegut, about advice with life. To him, ‘practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.’

I am in the process of becoming.

In the process too of making my soul grow.

I keep practicing poetry writing.

Keep telling stories too.

Not for any fame or fortune, but to live in the moment.

As all the words within me linger on till eternity.

Kurt Vonnegut also noted that we should practice a six-line poetry about anything but rhymed. The sentences above are my attempt at writing six lines. I hope you find your way of becoming

The letter below.