Thursdays became very special to me over the course of this project. Emotionally both exhausting and exhilarating. Sometimes I made it all the way home before I cried.
On what would have been the tenth Thursday I visited the jail, my father died. I’ll just say that my dad was outsized, and the world without him feels unsteady. His favorite word was “marvelous,” and he always encouraged my sense of wonder. I’ll also quote F. Scott Fitzgerald, because I’ve found this to be so true: “There are all kinds of love in the world, but never the same love twice.” I am so grateful for the so simple and yet so fraught love my father and I shared. It was and is a beautiful, singular gift.
My jail workshop had a graduation ceremony of sorts on our ninth Thursday. The writers gave a brief reading and received certificates from the Sheriff’s Office. I hadn’t wanted this to end ever. These gentleman taught me so much about myself, what I am capable of, and about how false those walls are that we put up between ourselves and others. I asked them to choose work to share with you. It follows this post.
There will be no ceremony to say goodbye to my dad. His choice. Instead, my brother, sister and I will choose books that have special meaning for us and donate them to his local library. I’ve chosen Sharon Olds, “The Father,” which I warn you not to read in public unless you are missing a heart. But do read it. She manages to conjure a father who is yes, outsized, and yet oh-so-real. A particular love for a particular man. Never the same love twice.
And I’ll be back at the Jail in February, to work with a new set of writers, and to be moved and changed by them all over again.
Untitled by Doris Ulmann, Revived by Marcus N. Cooper and Titled A Girl with a Bow through the Eyes of Lil Marcus, My Son
Dad, Daddy look what I see! Little girl in the picture, she looking at me. Oh look, Daddy look, can you see that little girl looks sad? Can we give her some candy, Daddy, please? So she can smile and be happy like me? I know what Mikey would say: She look pretty. And I like the bow in her hair. So please Daddy, please, can we give her some candy so she can smile and be happy like me?
A Piece of Mind
Today I rise with a sense of PEACE
in my mind so today I seek to recognize
what is truly a piece of mind can I have
some PEACE if you don’t mind you know
just to take some time to seek a sense of
inner PEACE in my mind when
I meditate and pray that I get some
Piece of Mind
Early morning, awaken fresh smell brewed java. Whistle blows, birds chirping from distance. Watching through window, kids load bus laughing, screaming. Phone rings, answers. Wrong number. Mrs. Parker, hard-of-hearing, yells when she speaks — Breakfast! being served on plates. Sounds of silverware clings to the table. Rush toward kitchen. Funny faces being made behind Mrs. Parker’s back. Very old, but cooks mean breakfast. Sausage, scrambled eggs with cheese, green peppers and onions. Toasted bread, spread with butter, grape jelly. Oatmeal and last but not least, hot fresh steaming brewed coffee for whoever wants some. Me and my siblings sit, join hands, close eyes, say grace. Oh, how sweet the sound.
People try to judge me just trying to live right
the enemy don’t love thee worse than a parasite
truth uh-huh yo look what we’re facing
signs of the end times abomination desolation
no need for that shrewd face evil eyes proud look
running off with that mouth lying lips sly crooks
evil hearts that shed blood offspring are devious
sneaky quick to kill imaginations mischievous
my Lord never feed me this shower me with blessings
I’m praying continuously intersessions
my life isn’t easy we all go through
being one with God doesn’t mean the enemy won’t bother you
many temptations like Jesus in the wilderness
flowing from my heart know many people be feeling this
go hard for my Lord no perpetrating a fraud
praying on one accord Jesus’ word is our sword
whenever you’re in danger stay true never change up
like Daniel in the lion’s den see how he came up
final calling whole world ending in flames
yo read check the script everybody streaming his name.
Little Bird Lost
I chased her until I caught her.
Then I lost her.
Now I’m lost.
What did I do?
What didn’t I do?
And what am I going to do now?
The bridge is up in flames.
And I’m stuck somewhere in the middle.
Should I even try to cross?
Or should I just go back where I came from?
How could I do this to her?
She thought I was different.
We were both dreamers…together.
Now my side of the field is cold and barren,
like Langston’s field.
She was my Little Bird and I broke her.
I don’t care what anyone says.
About her or me or us.
We were built for each other.
Our love song was more beautiful and precious than tanzanite.
Now here we are, singing the blues.
Maybe the show’s over.
Maybe our contract has expired.
Move on, there’s nothing here to see.
Some say, out of sight out of mind.
Isn’t that the truth.
She’s gone and I’m out of my mind.
But at the same time,
it’s nothing but a big fat lie.
You see, I can’t ever forget her.
To do so would be to forget myself.
For she is a part of me.
Because of her, I am who I am.
For better or for worse.
I just pray there is hope in the mechanics.
And this can all be fixed.
All I want is what I had.
I messed up and scared her away.
So for now, all I can do is wait.
And if my Little Bird comes flying back,
then I’ll know it is truly meant to be.