My Aunt Norma in Puerto Rico circa 1955

My Aunt Norma in Puerto Rico circa 1955.

Her name was Norma Giraloma Congilosi.  She had jet black curly hair, olive skin, sloe green eyes. She was the epitome of culture, style, and grace.   She could also curse like a longshoreman and saw no contradiction in that.

Norma Giraloma Congilosi, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1955.

Almost entirely self-educated and no sufferer of fools, she started her post-secondary education at a community college only to leave, disappointed, because she was more well-read than her instructors.

She worked for United Airlines and traveled the world, often alone, which was considered unusual at that time.  She spoke French, Spanish, and Italian, including the Sicilian dialect her Sicilian/Ethiopian/North African father spoke at home.

She was a poet, a feminist, activist, and fighter for civil and equal rights way ahead of her time.

I was fascinated with Norma and her stories of beatniks, revolutionaries, poets and playwrights in San Francisco and NYC.  

Her contemporaries were white, black, brown, straight, lesbian, and gay.   She wrote poetry under the pseudonym Nya Gailord Carver. 

I loved how she simply took her freedom; she didn’t wait for it to be granted or sanctioned.

The nasty comments sometimes thrown her way were a small price to pay for autonomy.

Somewhat surprisingly, her mother, my grandmother Maria Grazia Amato Congilosi, a devout Catholic Sicilian paired in an arranged marriage with her father’s tinsmith apprentice, my grandfather Alfonso Congilosi, not only did not judge her iconoclastic daughter harshly, but seemed to vicariously enjoy her adventures.

She worried about her unconventional daughter, but she never tried to clip her wings–not even when she fell in love with a Jewish doctor and began classes to convert to Judaism after he proposed.

Norma  packed a whole lot of living into her first twenty-seven years.

She was stricken with MS at age twenty-six; she stayed independent as long as she could.

She weathered abandonment by her Jewish fiance, the loss of her spectacular San Francisco apartment, her job, and her independence,  with a feisty spirit and a salty tongue.

By age thirty she was confined to a “rest home” where she continued to curse, laugh, smoke a hookah, and shake her fist at God.

As a child, I both loved and feared visiting her there. She lived to age sixty-two; I had a hard time forgiving God for her thirty-two years in a hospital bed.

As happens in families, I was often mistakenly called by her name by my mother and grandmother.

  In our family, her name was synonymous with style, verve, and a sensibility on a first name basis with originality. 

I took it as a compliment. 



Author’s Note: I wrote a poem, Sweet Revenant, to her memory,  and paired it with Kristin Fouquet’s gorgeous photos of Ingrid Lucia.



Spotlight On: Marc G. Doutherd, Artist

Spotlight On: Marc G. Doutherd, Artist


Artist Marc G. Doutherd and I met on the, a networking site for creatives.  After we exchanged greetings , I sent Marc a request to collaborate, which is built into the system, and here we are.

Isn’t the Internet great?

I hope you enjoy this sampling of Marc G. Doutherd’s extensive collection of art work.   Born in California and currently residing in Arizona,  Marc works in a number of mediums and styles.

He creates his art through what he calls “Shamanic Interpretation”.  Check out his recently launched website to see more new work and a discussion of his creative process .


angel of light , Marc G Doutherd

Miles, Marc G. Doutherd


Shamanic Lion, Marc G. Doutherd

George Clinton, Marc G. Doutherd





Artist Statement

People are always looking for what they have never seen before. Most people can only see through their physical eyes but lack the ability to see through their inner eye. The vision that is not dependent upon physical sight stays in ones memory and opens the doors to see things with something else!

—Marc G. Doutherd

From The Artist

Marc Doutherd Marc G. Doutherd Artist Bio:  Born in California, USA on Feb.  9th, 1961.  The word that  describes Marc G. Doutherd is  ‘resilient’ !  Marc,  throughout  his life, has always been able to  render images, sculpt any  substance,write music, and play  most musical instruments.

According to Marc,”Love is the overriding force behind my creative works, and it is that force and power that drives me to create”.  

The philosophy behind Marc and his art is “Freedom”.  The freedom to expand artistically…freedom to experiment with new forms of art and new methods.  He can render images in styles ranging from figurative photo realism or surrealism to abstract.

Marc G. Doutherd demonstrates  unlimited ability in terms of his creative energy and artistic innovation. His artistic disciplines include lithography,illustration,painting,graphic design,leather work, jewelry making, tanning, sculpture, glass blowing, musical instrument making, and music writing and composition.

What you see when you view Marc’s art is a vision of the spiritual essence of his various subject matters as seen through his eyes.

By way of Shamanic interpretation, with unbelievably bright hues that glow with a unique vibrancy, Marc captures what others try to see and understand.

Riding With Miles, and Max, My First Car

Riding With Miles and Max, My First Car


My first car was a huge old boat of a vehicle, a wine-red circa 1975 Plymouth Gran Fury found for $1100 in the inner sanctum of Newport News, VA , via the Virginian-Pilot Classifieds, when I briefly lived in Hampton with my soon-to-be-first-husband in 1988.

I named my new old car Max; he looked much like the shiny model pictured here, the same color, if a bit worse for wear.

M ax
Me, age 26.

I was twenty-six, new to Virginia and a newly minted driver; I’d failed my first driver’s test in NY after a month of driving lessons with one Miles Frommer, of American Driving Academy, an elfin man with a dark 1950s-style suit, Malcolm X eye-glasses,  and a deadpan hybrid Brooklyn/ Chicago accent.  


When I squinted at him behind my shades, I envisioned him as him as one of the lesser known, shorter  Blues Brothers.

First you get mad, then you get sad, then you get glad, he said by way of explaining the stages of submitting to driverhood.

While we waited at stop lights he told me about his wife, an accountant, and his addiction to bread. Apparently he kept his breadbox locked in order to thwart his wheat jones.  

To my mild surprise, he also felt comfortable enough, mid-way through our summer of lessons, to warn me against moving to Virginia to be with my submarine sailor boyfriend.  

Not a chivalrous lot, those Navy men, he intoned blandly, in between jokes about the true nature of submariners.  Thirty men go down to the sea; fifteen couples come back up.

Inappropriate humor aside,  Miles was an endlessly patient teacher, who barely blinked as I faced my near paralytic fear of commandeering a ton of steel and glass along the mysterious backstreets of Kingston, NY.

Though I lived in New Paltz, Kingston housed the nearest DMV office.

Miles remained as mild and comforting as an old monk,  no matter how many times he had to slam on the dual control brakes, but my DMV driving test proctor was a screamer.


Five minutes into my test I lurched the test car into the crosswalk as he screamed at me, Now you’ve killed several pedestrians! This test is over! Pull over! Pull over!

The pedestrians were hypothetical; my road test failure was not.

I waited until I’d relocated to Virginia and had a few more lessons before tackling the driver’s test in Denbigh rather than Hampton on the advice of a new friend.

She was right.

After simply driving straight for a few miles I was asked to turn right, turn left and then simply park.

No parallel parking,  no crossing lanes of oncoming traffic, no chance of crosswalk carnage, no screaming or forehead veins bulging.

The first time I drove my new old car alone, to my temp job with a VA Beach architect, I thought I’d fly over the guardrail of the first curving overpass I had to drive at 55 MPH.

I white-knuckled it all the way there and back to Hampton.  I never stayed late at that office to avoid driving in the dark.

My fiance found that hilarious.

A month later,  when another young woman was kidnapped from the office parking lot after hours and murdered,  I thanked my fear-based intuition

Almost everywhere I went, especially car washes, and junk yards where we looked for esoteric car parts, elderly Black men approached me to admire old Max.

I repeatedly heard some form or other of: Young lady, what are you doing with my car? or Now, THAT’S my car.

I loved hearing the stories of their glory days; as they talked I could recall seeing fine young Black men cooly driving similar cars.

With one hand on the steering wheel,  they’d glide through the streets of Poughkeepsie back when I was a teenager shopping for 45s at the Black Power record shop,  deep at the far end of the Main Mall .

The tiny record shop wasn’t really called Black Power, but the two men who ran it favored the tight pants, leather jackets, perfect Afros, Black Power fist Afro-combs, and the revolutionary literature of the Black Panther movement.

When I went there with my older,  Black boyfriend the two of them ignored me as they exchanged dap with him.

Me, age 13.

When I shopped there alone the taller man would flirt with me, and ask me to repeat everything I said; the smaller, older man usually folded his arms over his chest and gave me the side-eye.

I chalked it up to my age, my racial ambiguity, and my slight stutter; I kept coming back, always averting my gaze from the long sticks of incense on the counter labeled, “Pussy”.


One of the undocumented features of my vehicle was the wine-red roof upholstery that had loosened over the years and hung down over the back seat like an exotic tent curtain that made me think of the inside of the magic bottle in “I Dream of Jeannie”.


The swooping swathes of maroon velveteen gave the car a funky, slightly trippy vibe; I always felt like I should be wearing patchouli, fringed leather, and feather earrings while listening to Chaka Khan and Rufus amid the haze of Nag Champa incense.


I felt safe traveling in that outsize car; it really felt like a big old land yacht rolling down the freeway, music playing (8 track!), it’s big old prow parting the air before me.

My then-husband was an impatient man who didn’t possess the values of conservation and preservation; when something went wrong with Max after two years he relentlessly pressured me to trade it in towards a Saturn.

I should have seen it for the red flag it was; but I was still blindly loyal, and in love.  I missed quite a few of them.

The Saturn was new and shiny and candy-apple red, but not the same as old Max, not by a long shot.


Spotlight On: Clay Randle The Artist/Writer aka CID

Spotlight On: Clay Randle The Artist/Writer aka CID

I became acquainted with artist/writer/music manager Clay Randle in 2011 when he sent me some music with a request to listen to,  and possibly review or feature, the band he was representing.

I was writing for DJ Come of Age and his Soul Music of The World back then,  as well as blogging  on the first incarnation of The Moxie Bee.

I listened and wrote back to tell him the songs he’d sent were too derivative of other rappers/hip-hop groups.

I told him what I heard was promising, but needed more “cooking”.

I was impressed with Clay because instead of responding with rudeness or hurt feelings, or not responding at all,  as some others who’d sent me music had done,  he wrote back to say, “Next time I’ll send you something better.”

And he did.

Years later Clay Randle is still creating art, writing and music, on his own and in art/music collectives.

Today he’s sharing a sampling of his visual/prose hybrid art.








About The Artist/Writer:


Atom Used To Live Here is a literary gallery curated by artist , Clay Randle ; creatively known as CID. His art ranges within the literary field from prose, to poetry and abstract ideological musings. He has been expressing through the art form of writing since he was a young man with an affinity for authors such as Thoreau, Emerson, Nietzsche, Dr. Seuss and Lao Tzu.

CID is a jazz , punk rock , classic hip hop and alternative rock aficionado with an appreciation for 80’s and 90’s cult classic films. He is a creative free thinker, a bohemian creative and rebellious in his approach.

With an intent to change the world through his revelatory perspectives, CID expresses honestly and fluidly. He is an underground philosopher and pursuing evolution as a man through his artistic and impassioned endeavors.

Highly influenced by his grandfather, he is a quirky mix of classical influences; through his experience of traveling the world while serving in the Navy, he has grown interests in multiple styles of creation, ideology and perception.

CID has been successful in endeavors of music management and lyrical writing , is highly skilled in the art of conceptualizing visuals and audio concepts as creative director and writer with his collaborative The X + Why Chromosome and is dedicated to being a staple in the promise of revolutionary creation.

Saturday Short Take: Chaka Khan Covers Jimi Hendrix’s LITTLE WING

Chaka Khan Covers Jimi Hendrix’s LITTLE WING


Chaka Khan, recently nominated for the 2016 Rock Hall of Fame,  has collaborated with the greats of Rock and Soul from Stevie Wonder (Tell Me Somethin Good) to Prince (I Feel for You), to Steve Winwood (remember her soaring on his Higher Love?) to Quincy Jones (Back on The Block).

Her recently unearthed version of Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing includes guitarist Eric Gales and funk producer/musician Ira Schickman.

Chaka Khan has been one of my personal Sheroes since I was 12 years old, horrifying my Mama by belting out ‘Tell Me Something Good”, “You Got The Love” ,  and “Sweet Thing” behind my locked bedroom door.


In addition to possessing talent and beauty , she seemed powerful–larger than life,  and blessed with what I often felt cursed with: too much of the muchness, that inexplicable thing I was accused of that made grown men bother me, boys scared of me, and my mother struggle to keep me under wraps.

Of course, at that age I didn’t know about her on-going struggles with addiction and self-doubt.

I didn’t think I was special because I thought everyone could do it.–Chaka Khan to The Daily Mail UK, 16 August 2014

Later, as a young woman, when a friend who worked with one of her producers shared that part of Chaka’s story with me, I understood, empathized, and prayed for her peace.

Later as still as she emerged from years of drug-abuse and ill health to re-blossom personally and revitalize her long career, I admired her resilience and radiance.

If Chaka doesn’t make it into the Rock Hall of Fame something is seriously wrong in the balance of the Universe.

Vote for Chaka Khan here: VOTE FOR CHAKA!




Spotlight On Janette K. Hopper: New Prints and Poetry

Piano bar, Jannette Hopper

Toulouse-Lautrec Syndrome

By: Janette K. Hopper


We all want someplace we can go where humanity and sensitivity wins over bigotry and guilt.


The setting:

Smallish green striped awning

Invisible entrance

Long narrow room


Massive Mirror

Well-appointed Bar

Dark Wood paneling

Original Art

Tinned ceiling

Ceramic tiled floors

Piano…. Stage

Elaborate Large Candelabra

Sconces with candles

Small round tables

Monkey Lamp


Off with the Masks

She got fired from her church organist job for playing here in the early 70’s.


Come inside

She’s on tonight. Her jazz is filling the air like sparklers circling voice and keys.


Any requests

Ah it’s a special night and she is generous to share her stage. Everyone is here.



Tom D is soon off to Nashville and she hammers the keys while he sings his I don’t want to go but risking all to expand my soul song.



Melanie follows her light opera university trained voice changes the mood rising up from her small stocky life container.



John, a Karaoke regular, never took his eyes away from his heart while she sang, rises to pour his turn into the drink.



Humble Yolanda enters stage left with Ann. Oh no she won’t. Everyone is on their knees so she gives in in the end with amazing grace.



Check out the calendar and don’t miss the rest.


On Facebook

Age, Gender, Sexual Preference, Race, Culture



Sophisticated, Intellectual, Friendly Clientele



You never know who you may meet.



I’ll be there dancing on the last stump.


Smiles, Kisses, Hugs


Costello’s, Janette K. Hopper

The Poet and Artist:


Janette K. Hopper, Wilmington, NC

Janette K. Hopper is a retired Professor who was raised in Idaho in an active outdoor family. During college, she served two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Maria la Baja, Columbia SA and afterward was a partner in a beef, grain and hay operation in Idaho. Since receiving her MFA from the University of Oregon, she has taught in Denmark, Germany and in the United States at Columbia Basin College WA, Central Michigan University and, as the Art Department Chair, at the University of North Carolina Pembroke. Her work has been shown and collected extensively in museums, public venues, colleges and universities and in private galleries nationally and internationally in Germany, France, The Netherlands, Canada, Bulgaria, Italy and Denmark.

As a recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship she spent a year in Denmark, where she began to have European one-person exhibits starting in Copenhagen with a prestigious grant from Danish Fulbright.  Her landscape paintings and prints were included in a Fulbright juried retrospective in Washington, DC and also with New York artists in the Lincoln Center and in many other juried exhibitions internationally. She has exhibited in art centers and galleries in the United States, Germany, France, Bulgaria and Italy and, as a member of Paleur International, in Denmark.

She has works in many permanent collections including: The Gilkey Collection Portland Art Museum, Portland OR, the City of Mannheim Germany, the Museum of Humor and Satire in Gabrovo Bulgaria, Padagogische Hochschule Ludwigsburg, Ludwigsburg Germany, Gonzaga University Spokane WA, The National Park Service, Stehekin WA, many works purchased by the Washington State and Oregon State Arts Commission for permanent display in public venues, Center for the Study of Political Graphics, Los Angeles CA, Bald Head Limited, Bald Head Island NC, UNCP Livermore Library, Pembroke NC, Prints Arts Northwest, Portland OR, SGC International, University of Mississippi, Oxford MS and the Marselisborg Gymnaseum in Aarhus

Janette K Hopper – Artist Statement

My works are inspired by the special places I have experienced while hiking, camping and kayaking. I have explored beaches, mountains, black water swamps, creeks, fields and visited many unique beautiful places. The outdoors long has enchanted me and inspired my art. I have learned how significant fire is to the land, water to the swamps and marshes and the interrelation of all these elements to the animals and plants we call nature. As an artist, Cezanne came close to finding an artistic mode to express his feelings about nature. It is my journey too, as an artist to observe nature and then share with you what I see through the materials and techniques of art. Through my searching gaze, artistic discipline and my sensitivity to the processes and materials of art I hope you will enjoy and feel the influence of nature in my works.

I love our parks and wild lands. I want them sustained not depleted because of exploitation and monetary motives but preserved so that all of us can find a deeper meaning. The wealth of solitude, wildness, and beauty that so enriches our inner lives and brings us peace enables us to join together and build a future.


Art @ Work, Spokane WA

Print Arts Northwest, Portland OR

Framing Resource, Portland OR

Artwork Network Gallery, Denver CO

Joe Rowand Fine Art Services, Chapel Hill NC

Printmakers of North Carolina
311 West Martin Galleries and Studios

Gallery 621N4TH
621 North 4th Street Wilmington NC


In Quotations: Elizabeth Alexander’s The Light of the World

In Quotations: Elizabeth Alexander’s The Light of the World 



“Art replaces the light that is lost when the day fades, the moment passes, the evanescent extraordinary makes its quicksilver.

Art tries to capture that which we know leaves us, as we move in and out of each other’s lives, as we all must eventually leave this earth.

Great artists know the shadow, work always against the dying light, but always knowing that the day brings new light and that the ocean which washes away all traces on the sand leaves us a new canvas with each wave.”

from The Light of the World , the memoir Elizabeth Alexander wrote following the unexpected death of her husband, artist and chef Ficre Ghebreyesus.  


I recently read Elizabeth Alexander’s luminously sad, yet ultimately joy-filled memoir, which she wrote to make sense of the sudden death of her robustly healthy husband right days after his 50th birthday party.

The book is a memoir but also a down to earth love story.

Theirs was that lucky rarity in our times of fifty-percent divorce rates and Tinder–a truly happy marriage, between two artists, a poet and an painter.

Alexander examines their life together, the nature of memory, the necessary functions of art, and how the living somehow go on after loved ones take their leave.

At 209 pages, The Light of the World , is a fast read, but one that will stay with you and beckon you to return to it’s pages once you finish.



Catching Up With Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman: The Moxie Bee Interview

Catching Up With Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman: The Moxie Bee Interview

Last week The Moxie Bee featured the poetry of the multi-talented  Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman, who also sings as Khadijah Moon.

You can read about how her stage name evolved into its current celestial incarnation at her Artsy Moon blog.

Calling her a renaissance woman almost doesn’t cover her creative output: poetry, short stories, plays, songs, the production of events and programs, and soon–films.

Khadijah Moon Press Photo

Featured here today is her new single, titled “hunger”.



The song was written in response to her mother’s death during a period of estrangement, as she dealt with the pain of losing her with unfinished business left behind.


Khadijah shared some of the song’s back-story on her blog:

I wrote this song “hunger “less than a month after she died.  I have questions.  

I have this intense love.  I have a lot of anger.  What came out was a letter to her in song about all of that.  My life partner, who is also my producer, composed beautiful music on his guitar to accompany the song and this is what we came up with.

I shared  the song on my Facebook personal page yesterday and received feedback from others who had similar relationships with their mothers, could relate to the sentiment.  I received feedback from folks who have (or have had) struggle-free relationships with their moms and still could find value in the words of the song, even more grateful for their relationships with their mothers.

The song is beautiful; the sound is warm and smooth,  with an undertone of ache that is never maudlin.

I encourage you to buy it, download it, and add it to your collection.

Khadijah Moon, Hunger–the new smash single!


But wait–there’s more: Khadijah is also known as The Creative Midwife™, which is the business she created to help anyone with a creative dream bring it to life. 


I caught up with Khadijah just after I published two of her poems and some information on her many creative activities.

The Moxie Bee:  What came first for you: singing, poetry, creative mentoring?

Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman: I’ve been writing since I could write words, I think.

I remember writing songs, as a little kid (inappropriate songs, at that) and short stories as early as elementary school.

Whenever I learned a new form of writing formally, I embraced it lovingly and would play around with it on my own.

It went hand in hand with my voracious appetite for reading.

I’ve written poems, plays, songs, short stories and (incomplete) novels nonstop since childhood.

Very thankful to have had some of my work published, plays produced and songs recorded.

I began loving to sing as I started to fall in love with musical theater and getting to sing more in music classes.

I recall the kick off of my singing on stage being this one year where I convinced my 5 year-old sister to sing “My Favorite Things” in the school talent show while I played it on piano.


I was so proud that I had learned how to play it. When we went to audition, she ran off stage in the middle of me playing and, to play it off, I started singing it.


The teachers auditioning us loved it. I wound up singing it for my 6th grade graduation that year instead of the talent show.


 The Moxie Bee: What music most fuels your urge to create?


Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman: Honestly, I don’t know


Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman and her daughter.


The Moxie Bee:  What inspired you to start working as a creative midwife–helping others birth and fulfill their creativity?


Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman:  I began to brand myself as a creativity coach when I started to get inquiries from others on how to self-publish after I published the first anthology in the Liberated Muse book anthology series.


I started doing workshops and then decided to offer basic editing and proofreading services until one of my clients, the late Nathan Seven Scott, started wanting to work with me in more of a coaching capacity.


I helped him with organizing his concepts, which led to our sessions really becoming breakthrough moments.


I would assign him readings of online resources and really worked with helping him build his skills which led to him really expanding his goals to writing more books, building a writing team, etc.


My work with him inspired me to want to do more with other clients.


I chose the name The Creative Midwife because the most significant moment in my life was giving birth to my daughter with the assistance of a team of midwives who were the epitome of grace, nurturing and expertise.




My beautiful brown baby– now a pre-teen– would not have arrived safely (during a hurricane, no less) if it weren’t for the care of the midwives who helped me.


The Moxie Bee:  Who are your creative heroes and heroines?


Khadijah Moon: Toni Morrison is one of my main inspirations lately when it comes to writing.


Her unapologetic attention to her characters, crafting them from a perspective not dependent on a white gaze is empowering, inspiring and validating.


I have always loved the poetry of Langston Hughes.


His simple phrasing coupled with ironic yet charming storytelling always captivated me as a child and I love it to this day.


The way he said a lot without writing a lot is a gift very few have.


Lastly, I cannot fail to mention Robert Frost.


Learning about him in 10th grade English at Friendly High School in Maryland with the best English teacher every, Mr. Poniatowski was a turning point for me as a writer and reader.


Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” engaged me in literary analysis and understanding how words can be arranged in a way to say so much that can be interpreted in different ways based on the experience of the beholder, like visual art.


I can go on and on about people who I look at as s/heroes but those mentioned have been the most consistent.


The Moxie Bee: Have you participated in the Black Poets Speak Out project?


Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman:  Yes, I have participated in Black Poets Speak Out.


Links to poems can be found at under my full name Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman.


The Moxie Bee:   Are you active in the #BlackLivesMatter movement?


Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman: I am active in the #BlackLivesMatter movement by creating programs and art.

An upcoming event is tomorrow. (Editor’s Note: The event described in the flier below took place the day after our interview.)




Connect with Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman



Contact her at:

Passionately human and deliciously creative, Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman is The Creative Midwife™. Let The Creative Midwife™ Help You Birth Your Creative Dreams Today!


Learn more and book her services today at


Read some of these articles for creatives:

5 Tips to Rejuvenate Your Artist Spirit

4 Ways to Find Your Tribe

Tech-Savvy Artists Needed for 2016 Conference



Short Takes: Escape Artist by Maura Alia Badji

Escape Artist

Unknown Black Escape Artist, 1924.


Escape Artist


Each act escapes,

stripped of ribboned rubber masks,

husks our circus smiles, greases our trickster strides.

Protective coating melted, ringed

around blue tables, we sip the milk of she-wolves.

Wisely, we count ourselves

lucky, survivors forever

tickled by Fortune’s

fickle gaze.


~Maura Alia Badji


The Poet:

Maura Alia Badji’s poems and essays have appeared in Barely South Review, Cobalt, ArtVoice Buffalo, Switched-on Gutenberg, Exhibition, convolvulus, Spillway, teenytiny, Signals, The Buffalo Times, and The Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. Her themes include multiracial identity and families, female ancestors, social justice, female sexuality, and the discovery and creation of mythos. Maura has been a contributing writer for The Buffalo Times, Soul Music of The World, and

She is a member of The Watering Hole collective, an online community for poets of color and is grateful for the excellent online classes, and mutual support of‪ #‎tribe‬ she has found there.

Looking for Clues, a poem by Maura Alia Badji, with Art by Leonardo Benzant

Mayombe Magik In The Urban Jungle.


Looking for Clues

I am a mother anxiously waiting for her son past curfew.  I am his wary lope beneath floodlights.

I am the hoodie draped over the deejay’s freshly shaved head.  I am the brassy highlights in the bartender’s curls, I am the obituary of the old love shoved in her back pocket.

I am the neighbor making excuses to talk to you at dusk, lingering at the mailboxes.  I am the midnight whistle of the cross town train.

I am the dented trombone played by the scholarship student in New Orleans. I sing the music of the Spheres trailed behind the second line.

I am the love you make with the lights on. I am the dance you chance when you forget your cares.

I am the breath you exhale after paying your rent.

I am the last time you rode the bus, the seat you gave up, the elderly woman, the steel gray of her braids, tenderness in her stare.

I am the Ancestor murmuring in your blood.

I am the curve of the crescent moon Iman and Yasmeen spied last Ramadan. I am the prayer that broke your heart at dawn, just before it was answered.

I am the undrawn gun in the church, the moment before it was too late. I am the mother quieting her child hidden beneath a desk.

I am the unending grief unraveled.  I am the unimaginable, audacious forgiveness we somehow can’t forgive.

I am the broken teeth of the veteran sprawled across the median at rush hour.  I am the wave of wayward stardust thrown from a mermaid’s tail.

I am the tension released from your bones as day succumbs to twilight. I am the moan that escapes your lips, that spirals into the night.

–Maura Alia Badji


The Artist:  Leonardo Benzant, Brooklyn, NY



Artist’s Statement 

I create art connected in terms of a single vision emerging in various forms including: sculpture, painting and performance. Growing up in the 80’s, as Hip-Hop was flourishing, I felt an inner void prompted by the lack of an African-perspective in mainstream America. I began to investigate identity and spirituality. Being aware of the divide/conquer strategy of colonization, I initiated in my formative years during Catholic school, an investigation into African retentions, continuities and points of connection among the people of African descent throughout the African Diaspora for the purposes of healing, transformation and empowerment, both individual and communal.

Explore More of Leonardo Benzant’s work at his web site:

Recent Exhibition:



Sept 24th – Oct 31, 2015
Curated by Oshun Layne and Daniel Simmons

Rush Arts Gallery
526 W 26th St # 311
New York, NY 10001

The show took place at three venues at the same time and Leonardo Benzant’s work  was exhibited at the Skylight Gallery in Brooklyn.
Current Exhibition:
Rose Gallery
“The Cosmology of Resistance and Transformation”     Leonardo Benzant
Opening Reception: November 6, 2015


The Poet: Maura Alia Badji

Maura Alia Badji

Maura Alia Badji’s poems and essays have appeared in Barely South Review, Cobalt, ArtVoice Buffalo, Switched-on Gutenberg, Exhibition, convolvulus, Spillway, teenytiny, Signals, The Buffalo Times, and The Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. Her themes include multiracial identity and families, female ancestors, social justice, female sexuality, and the discovery and creation of mythos. Maura has been a contributing writer for The Buffalo Times, Soul Music of The World, and

She is a member of The Watering Hole collective, an online community for poets of color and is grateful for the excellent online classes, and mutual support of‪ #‎tribe‬ she has found there.