Tuesday, January 31, 2006

wrote a poem 'bout it... like 2 hear it? here it go...

well, there goes one new year’s resolution shot to shit. i haven’t been writing here weekly as i promised but i guess it’s all a process right? forgive me.

i have, however, been writing a lot lately which feels wonderful. i’ve gotten 2 of 3 submissions completed within the last month which is a fete for me. (i don’t do rejection well.) but a friend advised that i tell myself, “well, they aren’t going to accept this anyway but let me just do it for the practice of submission.” then i’m not tied to the outcome. so when it gets rejected, though my feelings [or ego] will be hurt, i won’t be surprised. but if they DO somehow find it worthy, well, it’s time to go have drinks!

the collection of poems i am currently working on realized itself when my daughter entered the age of inquisition. what i realized then was my ill-preparation to answer her questions about the world as fast as she could pose them. it also took me to a place of questions for my own mothers and how to become the mother i hope to be for my daughter. how do i grow a strong woman? the most immediate answer, obviously, was to be an example of all of the attributes i can only pray will manifest in her (and her brother). the process has been a beautiful dialogue which will someday (hopefully sooner than later) emerge in the form of a book, conversations with butterflies.

the following poem came in the wake of my daughter’s assertion that mom’s are easy but how can you tell who the daddy’s are. (you will see what i mean in the poem.) an no matter how many issues her dad and i have, i need my children to always know that they were conceived in love. i would love to know your first responses to the poem; what it made you think of, or how it made you feel. for the poets, i would love your critical feedback as i want to include this piece in the collection forthcoming. (i was raised at cave canem so i don't bruise easy. i want the good bad and ugly so i can knead it into something delicious. fire away!)


her father’s child

when she asks again
how i can tell for sure
that he is her dad

when she argues
that she was conceived
in my body
not his

that she grew
in my stomach
not his

that she fed
on my breast
not his

that she called first
my name
not his

i will tell her
my spine still tingles
from the exact moment
he gave her
the slant of her eyes
her long torso
the lankiness of her legs
the midnight of her skin
the slope of her nose
the pout of her lips and
the desire that inspires
her inquisition

©2006 by Shia Shabazz

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

what’s in a name?

difficulty with my name, as you might imagine, isn’t unusual. a name like SHIA doesn’t go unnoticed; be it during the mutilation that happens in first learning it (to which my coaching ends up something like this: “like mia, only with an s-h”; “like sheila without the ‘l’”; “like she, as in ‘her’, only with an “uh” at the end”), or in the realization of its likeness to the as-seen-on-tv “chia pet,” the disney channel star “shia (pronounced shy-uh) laboeff,” the early eighties superwoman “she-ra,” or the hypersensitivity of post 911 americans to “shia,” as in “shia muslims.”

at this point in my life, though, i would like to think i am immune to the hurt feelings that used to come along with the chiding and name maiming. to some extent, i am. but to another, i realized recently that the converse is true. that i am more sensitive now than ever. whether they are nicknames of endearment or birth names or chosen names, they are who we are. and to not acknowledge a person by her name, by his moniker, feels, to me, like a DISservice.

so… what had happent wuz… nearly a year ago, a director whom i greatly admired could not grasp my name; just couldn’t seem to hold it in her mouth. so i jokingly became, “this one” or “that child… you know who you are,” or the one she pointed to with flitting eyes and a shaking hand, trying to force my name from the recesses of her brain. (“shia!” the collective tossed like a dozen lifesavers into a wading pool.)

several months after that, a beloved mentor had a momentary lapse that, in the wake of the “shia!” incident, i refused to allow myself to feel slighted by. interestingly, though, his response to the misprint (of my name in an autograph) was a poem that melted me into a river of tears. “a name for shia shabazz.” and he had NO awareness of the prior incident. only a deep understanding of the importance of my name in that moment. that’s how the universe works. for reasons like these, i continue to stand in awe of, but never question, his brilliance. you can only find brilliance like that when you are engaged with the world in this way, right? i aspire, man.

so yesterday when i was on the phone with someone who, for some reason in the moment, could not manage my son’s name, i begged myself not to obsess about it. but, because this person has long been a part of my life, how could he not properly acknowledge flesh of my flesh? initially, i was struck by the mispronunciation like a tiny rock might star a windshield. but as i sat with it, the tiny chip slithered across the glass into an arm’s length fracture. what does this say about the closeness i romanticized in my head? still true? a figment? he was deeply apologetic (and forgive him… no doubt) but i didn’t want an apology. i wanted to believe again that the people/things that were important to me, were not necessarily AS important to him, but that they were at least worth the sixty seconds it might take to roll a person’s name around on your tongue and give it the just due of correct pronunciation. better yet, i wanted back the moment just before, when i felt like i was important a person enough in his life to know my children’s names as prominently as he knew mine.

call it the lasting effect of middle child syndrome. the identity reclamation of a divorcee. being a woman. being black. hell, being a temperamental artist. not quite sure which answer best fits... or take them all. (they are all valid, right?) but my na’im (pronounced ny-eem, which in arabic means “blessing), my blessing—the tummy-rubbing momma’s boy that he is, will undoubtedly stamp this world with the quiet, loving ways that are uniquely him.

today i am trying to recover myself and my relationship but it’s slow going. old habits (of over-sensitivity) die hard. i am trying to adhere to my resolution. (stop obsessing, start affecting.) this is an opportunity for growth on my part, i know. life can be dizzying. and because i may forget a name, doesn't lesson the impact on a life or the love in a heart, right? someday i am going to forget a name and i am sure i'll pray for mercy because of it. to me, it is important to acknowledge a rose as a rose. and always, ALWAYS, a na’im as a na’im.

fa-evah, fa- evah-evah, fa-evah-evah…

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

let the resolutions continue!!!

this writing
for me... inspired by manda-manda

i resolve that this year (2006), i will...

cook more meals at home
sleep longer
pay more compliments
stop obsessing, start affecting
listen to more music (recorded & live)
sing more
dance naked
take long baths
get massages regularly
tickle and be tickled
read books entirely
write and mail letters
poems, poems, poems!
see more GOOD films
screenplays, screenplays, screenplays!
blog regulary
submit, submit, submit!
save money
spend the money i save on plane tickets
lay in grass, under stars and sun as often as possible
LOVE impeccably

now i want to see resolutions from
and the chrysalis group!