All too often we hear about young boys, particularly ones of African descent, not having father figures and going off the rails. We hear about them either ending up as fodder for jail, aimless wanderers with no idea how to behave as men and/or winding up being absent fathers themselves, with no sense of responsibility. Well guess what, sometimes those fatherless men end up with fatherless daughters because these women have no idea what it means to have an entity around the house being a father or a man either.
If there are no other male role models in their lives - friends, uncles and such - then the journey to knowing what a 'Man' looks like is distressing. Men are NOT the same as women purely because of that macho patriarchal socialization, programming and training of what a man is supposed to be. Posturing Rap stars, magazines like FHM and bolshie arrogant banking city and media types have a lot to answer for. But even then I think that idea is a confused misnomer. Who knows what manhood looks like these days when men can buy calf, bicep and pec implants, have as many cosmetic products as women and expect women to pay their way out of spite for all the years they had to. Ok, maybe I'm being harsh there.
What I think is important though, is that there is a human responsibility to the nurturing of the future generations. Boy AND Girl children need good female and male ideals around them. Not perfect cos maybe that's too much to ask sometimes but they need people around them who are seen to at least be trying to do the right thing. Kids are smart. They can tell the difference when someone cares or not.
Little girls need to feel the vibration of a man's voice that loves them. Then they will know the sound of Love. They need to feel the embrace of a man that respects them. Then they will know the touch of Respect and Love. They need to see the silhouette of a man wishing them sweet dreams. Then they will know the shape of support for their dreams when they see it, the touch of respect when they feel it and the sound of Love when they hear it. No woman should suffer any form of abuse at the end of the fist or tongue of a man. It is unnecessary let alone wrong.
This poem is the for the father I have never known but who I love still for his absence. Part of my journey to finding out the true meaning of Womanhood has been through an unpredictable and rocky path to understanding Manhood. Click, listen, read, immerse, enjoy. Peace. Z
daddy's gone away
yes daddy's gone to stay gone
Was my existence braided on purpose
in to the journey of your mission bound spermatozoa?
where were they headed for real though?
meant for the long dark red of my mothers fallopian tube?
to her open womb?
where i unfurled into this life
a full thing with no name from my fathers side
just a black strike on my birth certificate
my fathers namelessness comes to me in dreams
or in the films of other peoples daddy’s
I’d turn my face ashamed of my dad
yes blindly ashamed and blissfully proud
I’d be comforted, reassured and strong with my daddy
as he carried my 3 foot high body, my head resting on his shoulder
while he strided like palm trees sway
but I'd also be angry and hateful toward my daddy,
grateful toward my daddy, cuss him out in my pillow,
wish he were dead and call him by his first name for a week,
my jaw stubborn as the karma of my life without him
I’d be dutiful daughter and kiss him sweet on the cheek at bedtime
I’d want to smack my own dad in the mouth
disobey his rules / come back 43 minutes after curfew and not apologise
I’d be his sugar dumpling, loyal and smiling,
I’d be full of love then I’d curse in front of him and back chat,
wear make up at thirteen and never bring my boyfriends home to meet him
I’d do all these things and more
just to test to my daddy
fling my arms around his neck and see if he’d forgive me
just to make sure,
I’d put my dad through hell
I’d do all these things and more
just to make sure
but where does the fire from all these impetuous tempestuous feelings go
in the of decades space, shoulder deep into an army back pack
smelling of johnny cakes mum made on Sundays and gunpowder
from the war that took him when i was three weeks old.
my daddy was an army man with black cat claws
and couple of other women’s draws, notched on his rifle butt,
but he loved me enough to write a letter or two....
to do the right thing by his baby mama
daddy should know his girls feet are strong
her shoulders are broad
that refined things don't pass by her ears and eyes unnoticed
no one can talk to her as if she’s
Daddy. Dad. Daddy.
How does that word sit on my lips?
a cluster of D’s exploding from my tongue
vibrating the air around me like an ectoplasmic echo
But I ain’t mad, just lonely
to know know what saying “Daddy”would be like
and a voice with bass in it
that recognised mine like keys in locks
would call back
opening doors to safe and sound security
a full night sleep with my Super Dad snoring loudly down the hall
Melanie's nails tip the scales beyond the balanced rational of modern architecture.
Rhinestone encrusted, they arch entrusted to an adhesive, bonding live nail to acrylic
Unifying her in a mirage marriage of sophisticate Ameri-carib elite to brown girl in Beauty College from Tottenham high street.
Mel got her nails from “US GAL, from a real Korean chick with her high heeled, tiled floor cracking, sling backing tight jeaned or shorted skirt wearing, little tittied, hair flicking, eye flitting but perfectionist focus for nails building self.
Three Saturdays of her minimum wage slave was the price Mel paid. Her manager points out the impracticality of her newly acquired appendages. Mel points a beclawed index digit retreating, hissing her warning like a lioness, cub protecting, "Don’t you come between her and her ten reasons for living!"
Mel's nails entrap the gaze of the mind ticking the gansta rap on MTV box - big black six packs and guns, undulating brown flesh in thongs... Mel imagines it’s her choice of rhinestones on her thumb that catch the sun and leaves them struck dumb.
Mels nails tell a tale of her clawing her way through a thicket of charmless males, who liked her thigh, her buttocks tight and high Her breast pointing to the sky, her clean wet eyes. Mels nails meant she never washed a dish from that monumental day. Like a buzz from a passing fly were her mothers the complaints - Ignored or irritatingly swatted away with a curled lip Her ears had closed to that voice long ago anyway. The space between which was not full of air as maternal blusters and playground blasts had blown her to believe from pubescent rebukes alluding to her bodily parts that chose to round and swell before she had lost her clumsy schoolgirl gait; those bulges that attracted
an attention she only knew made her uncomfortable made want to origami herself in to shape of a boat or something even less interesting. Poked at for contemplative visage mistaken for shy inaccurately diagnosed as "Well She's just stupid, innit." And her inclination for re-potting plants was not a reflection on her personality as being an unanimated as a wallflower. She just liked to help things grow.
somewhere down the line she had put down the gardening gloves and picked up shears pruning that soft touch don't say much
into a loose lip l such and such it wasn’t enough to just dispassionately exist scratch the varnished surface and see after the eclipse
You find a small tongue cannot articulate big pain lying under cover, could not choose which night was dream filled, could not wish away the rain that fell on Mels small world. Her blamelessness bent over backwards a rainbow under those dark clouds smelling of thick mans smell and Tennents Extra unmasked by the favourite aftershaveof her stepfather seeping under her door and into her bed.
And between the mothers back teeth laughing, his big hand her mothers broad hip stoking and heavy whispering in ears only open for compliments and good girl pay offs, mother rationalises blindness for the impossibility of his preference of her daughter over herself….
Thus after nose, brow, dimple navel and eighteenth ear piercing through which her frustration escaped, Melanie painted her nails a shock of colour She chose herself. Definitively. Uncompromisingly - Nefertiti on her left pinkie with a tiny gold ring punched through representing her vague knowledge of self, a sun setting on an Island beach and solitary palm tree, firework, stars, explosions of a kaleidoscope
Mel got her nails and face painted to accentuate the light and shade of her dreams not to cover up the shabby seams of tear darned recoveries. No….
Misadventure was a survivor’s test. She knew this and her promenades into womanhood Were strewn with the waste of her hurts.
But she prettied them up with polish and flares of yellow brick roads, glitterati carnivals, and the lazy sound of droning bees pollinating in a park in Tottenham filling her body to bursting, shooting out of her fingers tips like car headlights. She had fine art Picassoed over her nails in the colours she chose for herself definitively and uncompromisingly. Cos Mel's nails were her dreams manifest.