Category Archives: #tribe

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
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. 

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

 

 

Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman aka Khadijah Moon: Multifaceted and Deliciously Creative

Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman aka Khadijah Moon: Deliciously Creative

Poet/playwright/producer/creative mid-wife/ budding film-maker, Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman is also known as Khadijah Moon, singer.  Multifaceted and seemingly in perpetual motion, Khadijah inspires by example and dazzles in performance.

I’m pleased to feature two of her poems today.  Through language that is often both sensual and harrowing, Ms. Ali-Coleman’s poetry reflects the beautiful struggle of being a Black woman poet/artist in our increasingly fraught time,  while simultaneously fashioning a lifeline.  Her words are indeed often “like a lasso of unbreakable strength” as she describes her indispensable consciousness in “Out of the Barrel” .

Next week, we’ll catch up with the prolific DC-born artistic renaissance woman for an interview and a chance to hear her new smash single, “hunger”.

khadijah
Khadijah Moon Press Photo

What they will say on Twitter when the police shoot me in the back

She was known to be militant

Organized people in parks to sing

And dance

Possibly riot

Although no violence was reported

There might have been.

Who is to really say?

The officer felt threatened

By her almost ten year-old car

With missing hubcaps and door handles

And her big hair

And bigger feet

And crooked eye

That looked at him the wrong way

That spoke profanity in every language to him

In that one look

#AllLivesMatter

Maybe it was the degrees he didn’t know she had

Or the gun she didn’t own

That made him suspicious of her

Maybe she ran too slow when he told her she was under arrest

For nothing

Cause something had to be the reason

He shot her

#PoliceArePeopleToo

The police just don’t shoot you for no reason

And even

if there was no reason

Other than he said she was resisting arrest

We must do our best

To maintain

That in some way, she was insane

#She was fired from more than one job

And she had amassed tickets by the dozens

#She was poor and unmarried with one child

Known to have many lovers

She was raised by a single mother who had children with three different men

#SheWasAHoe

#HereWeGoAgain

She was on unemployment less than a year before her arrest

And this was not the first time before being on it again

#lowlife #shedeservesdit #wegot2dobetterifwewantbetter

I’m sure

She had bad credit score and a whole lot of debt

Particularly from graduate school and education

Better yet,

it seems like she had the potential to cause a lot of trouble

Riling up others and causing a sensation

She was killed after a traffic stop

Causing the officer irritation,

No violation, but—he had a first of the month quota to reach

So what, she was supposedly on her way

to pick up her child and later teach

#slowdown #itsyourfault #shekilledherself

See, We  are not sure,

because

As we said before,

She has a history

Of potential criminality

You heard her history

Imagine her mentality

 

Fortunately, she did not survive

Or she would have been arrested

And who knows what other crimes she would have been charged with

If the officers hadn’t been tested

#End of the report

#Press conference

#Public statement

#The end.

Demonizing the dead is the current new trend

There is no honor in being a paycheck to paycheck living

Black woman wordsmith

You are not of value

You are not worth protecting

There is no virtue in your gifts

 

And, What would the news media say about me

when the police shoot me in the back

most likely

#notonething

Because I am a woman and I am black

–Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Out the Barrel

Through all of the hate

Rotten and sour as clotted milk curd

I crawled upright, steadying myself

and clung there, at the top

Holding tight as King Kong in New York

My fists clinched fast around that peak

Un-pried

as piercing words & angry actions

wrap round my legs

like steel tentacles, heavy and void of feeling

Trying to drag me down yet

I don’t fall

My consciousness, like a lasso of unbreakable strength

Lifts me higher until my feet are no longer

bound by ground and my mind, unblemished and new

no longer

aware that confines once existed

by Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman

 

khadijah
Khadijah Moon, hunger–the new smash single!

Passionately human and deliciously creative, DC-born Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman is The Creative Midwife, a creativity coach and modern renaissance woman.  She helps creatives give birth to their creative dreams. A playwright, poet, singer & emerging filmmaker, Moon is founder of Liberated Muse Arts Group, the brand she brought to life in 2008 as an online digital community for artists.  Since then, she has produced book anthologies, music & theatrical shows through Liberated Muse, including her production In Her Words which, since 2012,  has been commissioned for performances at the Smithsonian, United States Peace Corps, DC Public Library System and other venues. She is a recipient of a 2015 Individual Artist Award for Non-Classical Music Solo Performance by the Maryland State Arts Council. She lives in Maryland with her partner and their daughter.

Learn more at http://www.thecreativemidwife.com

Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman

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

 

In Medusa’s Arms , a poem by Nicole Goodwin

 

Medusa
Black Medusa, Fatoumata Diawara

 

In Medusa’s Arms (Inside the belly of fire and stone) Gas Leak chronicles Pt. IV

 

My love

I am fully aware

of your presence

the feel of your body

the heat from your/breath

revealing the fire

growing/inside your chest

and mine

we are one

in the same

under the distance

we are close

closer and closer

still

under the blue-black

night

a blanket/made only for lovers

such as you and I

and with every inhale

and exhale

that rises

and falls

my love/

I can feel you

I can still

feel you

always

now and forever.

–Nicole Goodwin

Medusa
NICOLE GOODWIN, NYC.

Nicole Goodwin is a mother, artist, and a wounded healer ever pursuing enlightenment.

invocation : a poem by jo reyes-boitel

invocation

 

invocation

distant voice heard at the corner         blame it on the wind
front door blown open                            can’t keep accusing the weather

giggles behind you
the spirit in you knows
Eshu must be fed first

hungry as a child bring some candy

mischievous man pour rum greedily at any crossroads

old now light his cigars

omi tutu, axé tutu, onã tutu, ilê tutu, tutu Laroyê 1

quick now, keep up
Eshu works all corners, all doors, all paths
pour palm oil greedily
wherever two streets come together

and if you are lucky
days later
your dream will have you in the kitchen making café
walking out with small white cups of espresso
while Eshu runs between your steps

there is a party happening tonight
and Eshu is happy about it, has come early

look down
grab a hold of him
marvel at his wild face near yours
love the wilderness living within him
let him wrap his legs around your waist
let him hug you hard
his hand possessively at your neck, fingers in your hair

if Eshu is with you none are against

welcome Elegua welcome

  1. * fresh water, the spirit is fresh, the way is fresh, the home is fresh, Eshu is fresh.

–jo reyes boitel

jo reyes-boitel
writer, motivator/supporter, mother, daughter to oya and obatala, rabid music listener, percussionist and lover. texas transplant, by way of minnesota | florida | mexico | cuba. jo works to actively connect everyday earth activities to the heaven that surrounds.