“A poem does not emerge off of a feeling alone. It is instead created when tension that is felt releases a stirring of words and images and this kind of creativity could bring a sufferer from their grief.”
It never crossed my mind that black folks too, can write horror or science fiction. I knew we could write and that we are creative but I never really seen us in horror flicks unless we were dying after ten minutes of screen time, and the books I read in the genre did not have a black cast-at all. Pike and Stine are amazing writers, but where were all the black writers?
So around 2008(?), a kind librarian asked me if I have read Fledgling by Octavia Butler. I shook my head “no”. She pulled the book from the shelf and handed it to me. A white girl with red hair who knew more about black authors than I…
Ever since then, I became an Octavia Butler fan.
I read Fledgling and wanted more of her works. A black science fiction author- amazing! I filled up my days taking the bus to the nearest library, toting my blue Avon bag and once I checked out her books I’d place them in the bag and head back home happy.
I began with reading the Parable of the Sower series, Xenogenesis and I ordered Lilith’s Brood online. Amazing stuff since, finally the protagonist were black women trapped in new worlds and had powers. I needed much more…
Tananarive Due and her My Soul to Keep books kept me up at night and I eventually read Devil’s Wake and am currently reading one of her earlier books, The Between. Tananarive Due has a way of writing that steals your attention.
If you are seeking writers in the area of horror/speculative/science-fiction and fantasy, all you have to do is look or check out the links in this post which will eventually lead you to new black writers in the genre.
Thanks for reading and check back later for more exciting reviews within The Chocolate Reading Experience!
Today’s poem to decode is by Sterling A. Brown. He has deveoted his life to the development of authentic black folk literature. He was also a poet, critic, and teacher at Howard University for 40 years.
The Young Ones(July 1938)
With cotton to the doorstep
No place to play.
No time: What with chopping cotton
All the day.
In the broken down car
They jounce up and down
Pretend to be steering
On the way to town.
It’s as far as they’ll get
For many a year;
Cotton brought them
And will keep them here.
The spare-ribbed yard dog
Has gone away;
The kids just as hungry,
Have to stay.
In the two-roomed shack
Their mammy is lying,
With a little new brother
On her arm crying.
-Sterling A. Brown
When I read this poem and then reread it a second time, I felt as if I am torn between two worlds. The speaker mentions “cotton to the doorstep”, “chopping cotton”, and “mammy”. With those terms, I feel as if the speaker is vacillating between slavery time and the reality of the young ones “jouncing up and down”
On a third perusal of the poem, I find that I am caught by the verse: “It’s as far as they’ll get/For many a year;/Cotton brought them/and will keep them here”
Isn’t that how we all remained here?
We enjoy the latest cars, technology and fashion- but do we think about what brought us here and what is keeping us here?
I don’t know, the poem is written so that every word is understood, yet I feel there is still something profound I am not realizing.
There are probably a few things you’ve noticed. First, there is no 5-7-5 syllabic form here. However, in Japanese it is close to it.
Second, check out the final line in the first part. Socho asks: Why this discontent?
Interesting, because the first half of the poem is an internal dialogue about the one the speaker already loves. They ask, “why am I falling in love when I have you?” Then the kicker: Why do I feel discontent (or worried?) He/she wonders what is causing this feeling?
Is the speaker really falling for someone else? or hopefully he/she is falling in love all over again with their significant other(fat chance).
The second half gives us more insight. The speaker realizes what they have at home and concludes that no one else holds their love.
This illustrates how powerful a haiku can be with only a few lines. In such a brief moment, we capture the confusion, the awe and the relate-ability of someone who has enduring love for another.
Even though temptation waits on the horizon.
In the next post, I want to delve more into the anatomy of a haiku including the infamous ah-ha moments and why it is difficult for me to write my own haikus without much practice.
Below is a sneak peak from my upcoming, thrilling anthology Fright of the Frostbitten!
Thank you bloggers and bookworms for supporting this blog and my book The Fall of Autumn; through your love of words and creativity this site thrives.
This blog is not just about me, but you too, so if you have an upcoming book, Make Your Announcement-post it in the comments below with links!
I wonder about you.
I think you should keep speaking with Dr. Bowe, honey.
My husband’s eyes are pleading with me. His suitcase is still in hand as he stand before me. Our front door is open, letting in Jack Frost. I shiver and he finally closes it softly and sit his suitcase by the brown couch. I shake my head. This can’t be!
I was right here, speaking with a customer online. Five minutes later my husband walks in. I try to convince him that a whole nine hours slipped by and I didn’t even notice. How is it I missed such a large chunk of time?
I told the woman goodbye, have a nice day…
I sipped some coffee..
Felt a little sleepy but I blinked.
Sipped some more.
Then the key turns in the lock.
“I promise you, I did not fall asleep! I was right here on the laptop, talking with a customer. I blink and there you are.”
My husband sighs and takes me in his arms. “We are going to solve this. You hear me, Marnie Babe? We are going to solve this.” He pulls back and kisses my cheek. He inspects me more, piercing his eyes into mine before picking up his suitcase and going to the bedroom.
I hear the neighbor’s dog barking outside and an owl hooting somewhere in the distance. I pull my hair back with my hands and exhale slowly. “Come on, think Marnie! Did you fall asleep?” I question myself. Hoping an answer will fly down from the heavens and Bing! Answer delivered.
I am tempted to ask Google where the hell I may have went.
Did I go to sleep? Did I fall somewhere? Sleepwalk?
I don’t normally sleepwalk. I hear of cases where people do, but me? No. I barely have nightmares. Maybe once a year there is a strange dream I’d have, but sleepwalking?
For the last six months I would have periods of time missing. Chunks stolen right from me and for the life of me, I do not know why.
My husband, thank God for him, is patient and kind. He goes to work, pays the bills, make sure we are alright.
Checks on me from time to time.
Sometimes he gets busy and can’t call.
Sometimes, he comes home early, sometimes he don’t.
I wish he would come home on time often.
Now we live in a nice three bedroom home in the middle of Count Town, Maine. It is freezing up here and that is bad because I am a Floridian.
I am used to sunshine and maybe wet days and of course hot Christmases. I have a bikini body still even though I am pushing forty and I keep up my health.
Here, everything is frigid. We are miles away from the nearest grocer and mall and the fields stretch as far as the eye can see.
One night, I spotted a green glowing eyed wolf.
My husband said I have a wild imagination and Stephen King would be proud of me, perhaps I should write a book?
No. I am not interested in a book.
My neighbors…who are they? I don’t think I’ve seen another living soul since we moved here six months ago.
I keep up with my family by calling them, or using Skype.
My best friends are on Facebook so at least I see what they are doing.
I scrimped up enough change for a flight back to Florida soon. I’ve spoken with Bob about it, he’s okay with it but I can tell he is trying to keep Florida at bay.
His new job involves being an accountant for a prominent business and he uses our one and only car to get to and from work.
With his next check, he will get me a car.
I can’t wait. The only times I am out is when he is off.
He is not off tomorrow.
Not the next day either.
I meet him in the bedroom just as he is pulling off his socks. The room now has a rancid odor.
“Wash your feet, Bob!”
“Join me in the shower!” He waggles his thick, brown eyebrows.
“I don’t know. Don’t want you to kill me with them things.” I peel off my thick, cotton sweater and peel off my clothes too.
We crowd in our luxurious tub together and have a good time, like old times. Once we are done, I pull on the warm, red silk pajama set my friend Christen Deen gave me as a wedding gift. I slip into and ask if my hubby wants some homemade pizza.
He is pulling on a white shirt, his muscles visible in his arms, evident of his workout regime in the mornings. “Sure, yeah. It’s Friday.”
I pull out the gluten free pizza bread, cheeses and homemade sauce. While taking out the bread, I realize I have a little red sauce under the bed of nails already. Odd.
I run the warm tap water and dig and pluck the red out.
Several of my nails on each hand has the red gunk under it and I wonder why I hadn’t noticed it before.
My husband’s back is to me, he is watching a game.
I go over and lift the back of his shirt.
“Marnie?” He turns.
“Just seeing if, ah, if I scratched you. I got skin, or blood under my nails, I think.”
“You did, but not deep,” he winks.
I don’t wink back.
Maybe one of the pizza packages or sauce packs had sauce under it or something. I shrug and finish the pizza.
An hour later we are cozying up, watching Rings.
I abhor scary movies.
My husband knows this and yet insisted on this? Just because to him, “it ain’t scary enough anyway.”
I pull out my cell phone halfway through the movie to text my mom. I am not in the mood for blood and gore.
Once it is done, my husband turns down the volume and takes my hand in his. “Is everything okay, Marnie Babe?”
I curl up then stretched my toes out on him. “Not really.”
His attention went to my toes and he played with them, gently wiggling each one. “Sorry. Maybe this place is gloomier than I thought.”
“Lonely too,” I poke out my bottom lip for effect.
“I know. My family is from here, but the job offer was too good to pass up. Now we have our own place and not living with roommates to save cash. Isn’t that good?”
“Well, how about once we get your car, we can maybe move in a more city area.”
“I want to go back to Florida,” I say softly. Firm. “I don’t like it here, Bob.”
“I see.” He stops wiggling my toes and watches the black screen, deep in thought.
I finally feel the effects of the food. I get really sleepy and I recall Bob lifting me up and placing me in bed. The covers feel so good and soft on my skin and I drift into the huge pillows and turn my cheek as he kisses it.
You are the perfect wife…
The perfect wife…
I snap awake. Eyes open and I see stars, white sparkling stars and hear the wolf.
I wake up because I felt something sharp.
I sit up and realize the coldness has seeped into my skin, my hair my face, my back and butt are icy and I think I am in the middle of…
“Where am I?”
I can’t see anything. I am freezing. Cold.
But there is something else.
I feel around me and I feel other soft bodies, cold bodies.
I can’t see anything but the stars above.
They seem farther away than normal.
I am in a hole.
“HELLLLLLP!” I yell.
I feel a naked, cold body press against me when I move to stand. “HELLLLP!”
I try to pray, but I don’t know any prayers.
I close my eyes and-
“Marnie. Marnie!” My body is jerking to and fro, my husband’s gray eyes are big. “Where did you go?”
“I went nowhere but to sleep!”
“Sleep?” His brow crinkles. For two days? Not here?” He whips out his cell phone.
I am in my same PJs and I touch my hair. It is wet. My brown strands dark and slick with cold water.
“Honey, jump in the bath. I ran a hot one for you and I have the heated blanket-”
“When did I get here?” I ask.
*If you’d like more of this short story, stay tuned for its conclusion and more in Fright of the Frostbitten. Tentative publishing date is February 2018!