Chicago Departure-When A Poet Can’t Find A Verse

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Poetry Slam

(Please excuse any and all typos-Conference starts in 30 minutes and I am still in PJ’s across the street!-more to come)

I only had 24 hours left before I needed to get on the plane. Unbeknown to me God had two lessons to teach me before touching down in Chi-Town.

And I still needed to get back home to properly say “good-bye” before leaving Brown Sugar Inc. Our last supper together ended up being the sharing a carton of our absolute favorite ice cream at 9:45pm. I already know, way too late on a school night. But I needed to look my people in their eye and hear about their “highs” and “lows” before take off.

Some kinda way instead of checking things off my list I kept adding addendum’s to each item. They looked something like this:

Clean The (Whole) House.  I only got to my living room and bedroom-family room and kitchen looked a hot mess when I left and most likely will be a hot mess when I get back

Cook Meals and Pantry Snacks In my  domestic imagination I dreamed I had cooked up and froze five healthy and delicious meals for each day I would be gone-instead Chef Costco did the job-spent way too much money-you’d thought I was stocking up for the return of another Y2K or something. Lol!

Finish Braiding Baby Girls Hair  It took me 10 hours over the last 4 days to complete her singles-and I still had 1/4 of her hair still unfinished. This is only my second time teaching myself through YouTube how to braid with extension and it looks like! Lol. I also bought the wrong kinda hair extension. (Sally’s Beauty Supply I really appreciate that you are you trying to reach the African-American market in the Pacific Northwest-but you gotta do better.)

√  Finish All MUST DO’s At Work. Well unfortunately everything feels like a “MUST DO” when you are a small non-profit, so that didn’t happen, I still left work too late and had to bring work on the plane anyways.

Record my first Whole Mama Video. I’ll share more about that goodness later- but here’s a little bit about this new, fun project from my girl Esther Emery-check it out.

Call Parents and In-Loves (Laws). And act like you have all the time in the world as you answer all their questions and catch them up on each of their grandchildren -because that’s just what you do in a Black family before you go out of town. You just gotta make sure everything is right

Grab A New Outfit At The Mall. I wanted some thing a little fun-not frumpy and overstretched. My mid-life, mid-section keeps spreading like butter and this Momma here  got plenty of bread she can’t get in her  back pockets these days.

Finish Justice Conference Poetry Slam Poem. Half of it was already done. I just needed to broaden and clarify a few themes, tighten what was loose and memorize each verse. No problem right? Wrong! Oh so very wrong…

1. You can have both

Instead of the mall I settled on JC Penny’s, the closest department store from my house. I was trying to keep it simple but had to text a few of My Girls to decide on a final selection. I found two shrugs on the clearance rack. I sent them the picture below. with the message- “Shrug 1. Shrug 2?”


While their votes were coming in, I waited, perplexed in front of a long mirror. I was starting to unravel a bit. I hadn’t finished most of the things on the list above and a subtle anxiety attack was beginning to grow. I started sweating and I could hear my heart beating loud.

A nice woman smiled at me and locked eyes. I loved her curly blonde hair-it kinda reminded me of my own golden locks. Before you knew it we were exchanging Momma and blogging journey. We ended up talking about embracing our natural curly hair and empowering our girls in this flat-iron-straight-hair-only-culture to do the same. We also ended up sharing about the same God we both love and serve.

“I knew you were a Christian!” My new friend Angela, smiled with ease and a deep knowing.

We were chatting away like reunited school mates until the guilt of taking away time to have this conversation hit me.

“It was so nice meeting you, I gotta get home to My Babies-you know I feel so guilty for leaving them.”

With a big warm smile she said. “Well, you shouldn’t. Our children need to see us modeling our calling before them. They need to know that we have our own faith walk to honor and that it is full of adventure and beauty. Go have fun. They will be fine.”


The tears started dripping and all I could say was, “Thank you, Sis.”

Just like my two shrugs-God was not making me chose one over the other-I could have both.

2. But you can do neither well without abiding in Me

I made it to the airport in one piece-but still with no finished poem. After getting through security and the Coffee People line it finally hit me-I’m actually going to Chicago! Unfortunate my seat was the middle-but my neighbors were chill. A family man going to visit his parents in Turkey on my left and a native Chicagoan wife and mother to my right .

I got nested in quickly with laptop, journal and pen.

Pulling out my last draft I pray and waited.

Prayed and waited again.

Prayed and waited again-again.

An hour had already breezed by. All I had to show for it were four verses-but I had three pages of scribbled down half thoughts and half truths.

Come on Jesus, don’t leave me hanging like this. I prayed desperately.

Still nothing.

Poetry has always come quickly to me. My soul takes a snapshot of an issue-a burden-an emotion and my heart and mind race to see who will get there first. But. Not. This. Time.

Come on God, don’t go quiet on me.I begged with abandon.

Still nothing.

Completely undone I turned to my scripture of the day.

The Vine and the Branches

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Never has this ever happened to me. I always have something to pull up. I always a verse, a song, a word in my heart to share. It may not be prophetic or always deep-but there is always something to start with. I tried for the three whole hours for a jump-start and still nothing.

Bowed down head, humble heart I stepped off the plane with no poem to slam.

Instead God gave me His verses from John 15 to recite and a few lines  to recall.



Nothing.  (without Me)



2 thoughts on “Chicago Departure-When A Poet Can’t Find A Verse

    Janice C. Johnson said:
    June 6, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    You’re a people-magnet anyway because of your loving and open heart…. but it thrills me the way God sent Angela with the message you needed to hear. Thanks for this bravely vulnerable post, my friend.

    Mesu Andrews said:
    June 6, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    Pruning sucks, but the fruit that comes after is the sweetest ever. I’m sorry for the pain of the Chi-town trip, Sis, but I wait with anticipation for the poetry of your life lesson. ❤

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