Showing posts from November, 2015

Black Pawns

7:45 AM NP: Spaceship - Kanye West 
The two chess tables and wooden benches outside of the metal-gated park are usually occupied by dusty old men, drinking coffee and eating corner store chips, arguing over spades or who stole somebody's lighter. 
Today it was different. A woman, probably a few years younger than me, was sitting on the bench in a pair of skin-sucking black jeans and scuffed, tan Tims. 18 inches of yaki hung below her breast and a green-streaked swoop, like Aaliyah's, covered her right eye. She kept a steady gaze, not even November's hardest breeze could get her to blink. Very dark-skinned. Soft features like the Senegalese women that twisted my hair on 116th last weekend. 
Like a vicious dog's bark, I could feel the intensity of his words palpitating through me but I couldn't understand a thing he was saying. 
I almost ignored him until she snapped out of her daze and looked directly into his sooty eyes. 
"Well, if you put'cha hands on me again,…

Day 89

I am grateful for waking up this morning  I am grateful for having friends with cars that make me take long drives in silence and don't force me to talk about anything  I am grateful for going to the museum last night and feeling inspired  I am grateful for learning that I cannot hide under a rock, this actually adds to my depression, doesn't help it  I am grateful for learning how to be a therapist through my therapy sessions, talking to my granny as if I was her therapist, asking her the right questions and getting her to reflect on why she is the way she is, teaching her to forgive herself and to love herself first and start living.  I am grateful that I was chosen to be there for her through this, it's an honor and is maturing me and helping me to be strong in ways that I never had to be before  I am grateful for all of the artists and poets that are going to make this years coat drive really something special I am grateful that even though my friends and I are often in dark …

A Saturday Night at the Whitney



there is a hunger  often associated with pain that you feel  when you look at someone  you used to love and enjoyed  loving and want  to love again though you know you can't  that gnaws at you as steadily as a mosquito  some michigan summer churning his wings through your window screen because the real world  says you are a strong woman and anyway he never thought you'd really miss him

Each Sunday ...for my Grand

i wonder did she dream while baking cold-water cornbread  of being a great reporter churning  all the facts together and creating  the truth  did she think     while patching the torn pants  and mending the socks of her men   of standing  arms outstretched before a great world  body offering her solution for peace  what did she feel wringing the neck of Sunday's chicken breaking the beans  of her stifled life 
she sits each sunday black dress falling below her knees which have drifted  apart defining a void in the temple of her life in the churn of her  god strong and staunch and hopeful that we never change places 
-Nikki Giovanni 

I Walk to Ella

I walk to Ella  Misty  1960s version  It slows me down enough to notice the tips of the leaves wiggle with the suave breeze  I didn't walk by a feather on my walk home today
I did yesterday I cherish these days because soon it will be colder than ice in the city  The grey and white cat runs back in the house Doberman on his leash still frightened him  Sounds like us  Even in chains we intimidate  Dominicans set up and smoke sheesha on the corner of 181 like the Egyptians 
I'm not tempted 



Venting. Breathing. Growing. But in a Relaxed Way...

As I continue to find reasons to love me for me, I looked in the mirror and saw myself for who I truly am, a human being. And I fell in love, like it was my first time ...because it was my first time. I am not the woman I was yesterday. Everyday I grow. And people can look at me when I'm down and tell me to just love myself. I tell myself too: just let yourself be loved, girl. I can write affirmations. I can write gratitude lists. But that ain't ever going to be enough if I don't accept the process, if I don't learn to relax instead of resisting. Things are the way they are meant to be. Not to harm me. No one is out to hurt me. No one is going to put me down anymore. I've survived the worst. Everything is in my head. This is what I am contending with. This is what others will never understand. Being a woman with voices in her head is not easy. Being abandoned makes me question myself too much. Being a teacher can drive you insane as well, you always have one thing …

Reading: Dominican Heritage

Reading: Dominican Heritage
Dominican Heritage is beautiful, She's wild She likes Tostadas and patelitos And pastelones And dulce de leche She dives into rivers, She cooks on the shore, She guzzles frambuesa country club And she drowns in paletas de biscocho; She runs barefoot, She drinks coco, She grows mango, Picks it off the tree, She dances around And she stays up too late While she sings the music of her people, Sings bachata and reggaeton, Hears the pounding of several feet in rhythm, Smells the fresh, tropical air, She rides the back of a pick-up truck, Goes across the swaying bamboo bridge, Plays hide and seek under the starry night sky, Climbs cherry trees in her neighbors yard; She soaks in the sunshine; She gulps in morirso├▒ando; She tastes the spices On the end of her tongue, And she falls asleep Reading Alone In the sun. 
Melyanet, age 13

What's the Purpose of Suspending Them?

10:32 AM
NP: Nas - If I Ruled the World 
Spent my morning grading my students' writing notebooks over a latte and pumpkin bread. Walking back to the building from Starbucks, little 5th grade shorty coming straight toward me. 
"Hi Ms. Clay." He smiles with his head down. 
"Pick your head up. You got sent home?" 
"I got half day suspension." He put his head back down. 
"Pick your head back up. Why?"
"Because you know that Jamaican word 'bum-a-clot'?"
"My teacher thought I said that to her and she sent me out. Deans sent me home for the rest of the day. I gotta write a letter and bring it back at 8:30 in the morning." 
"So what are you going to do when you get home?" 
"Play basketball, 2K, eat, and take a nap. I'm tired. Need a nap." 
"You not gon' read?" 
"Yea... I guess I ca' read." He laughed a little bit but after seeing no change in my demeanor, he got se…

Project N'ggas Is Kings Too

6:37 PM
Listening to "Poe Man's Dreams" as I walk to my spot on 139th. Got some work to do before I get home, nothing gets done at home if it's work related. 
It's been nice for November. I even have on knee highs and a dress with out stockings and my legs feel fine. Gotta bring these outfits out now because I certainly do not have the capacity to get cute when it's too cold, sorry not sorry. 
Today, I announced the names of the first ever NYC Blossoms. Greatest feeling. 13 girls. Ouchea. 
Walking by the projects. Everyone is out here riding those rollie-light-up thingies. I'm so out of touch, I don't even know what they're called. But the people look really old. Probably should be somewhere reading a book. There's a weird guy following me on one of them. At first I couldn't really be sure that he was following me, I thought I was bugging out. But he actually crossed the street with me. I don't want to be rude so I'm like, "Not in…

QuickWrite: Paris from a New York City Muslim Girl's Perspective

A tragedy happened in Paris, France. It will be remembered just like 9/11. I feel bad. They lost about 200 citizens and some people were from other countries. 
All I know is that they were a group of terrorist. I hear the whispers. Some people saying Muslims are responsible for what happened. I am Muslim. My mother is Muslim. My father is Muslim. We are educated African people, not murderers. Buts it's funny, I scroll down social media and people are saying, "All Muslims are terrorists!" Excuse me? 
First of all, all Muslims know that killing is against our beliefs. Secondly, just because they call themselves Muslim, that doesn't make them Muslims. We are Muslims by heart, not by the label. People talking about having "Islamphobia" on Facebook and Instagram are ignorant. Plain and simple. I bet they never even met a true Muslim. It's really frustrating that people actually believe this. Stupid actually, but I can't blame them. It's like Ms. Clay s…

Ain't No Chivalry on the A

Meekz once told me that she pulls herself out of a funk by "dressing to the 9s". I get that now. I feel fly as hell today in my heels, stone washed Levi's, sequence jacket, under my leather. My Marley twists give me a new life. I bought a bunch of wool socks from h&m this weekend so I could wear my pumps and clogs without my feet freezing. 
When I was walking to the train, I felt this strong sense of confidence. 
I gave up my seat to an elderly woman. There's like 7 men around us. ALL starring at my fly ass but not one got up for her or for me after I got up. Chivalry is alive, just not here. 
8:33 AM
My writing was interrupted by a woman and her son. They wanted to hang on to the pole that I was on. What bothered me was that the woman was carrying a baby and still not one got up for her. What are we worth? Sheesh. 


It was around 1:15 and I was sitting on a senescent wooden church pew in front of Melba's on the corner of 114th and Frederick Douglass when this baddddd jawn, with a pair of skinny girl hips, a soft switch, and a kinky unpicked fro sashayed toward me. Denim on denim, with a black hoodie and eyes hidden behind classic black ray bans. Her outfit was plain but her aura was flipping. She made me turn my Badu down as she got closer. A gorgeous smile that set off mine. "I love you." I yelled out to her in the underdeveloped southern accent I seemed to have picked up from having too many late night conversations with my great aunt Lorraine. "Yasss, I love you too!" She hugged me and kissed me on my cheek. One of those French greetings that you see in the movies. It was so personable, I almost forgot I didn't know her. She started talking real righteous-like about being us, and Angela Davis, and I can't even recall what else she said but I'll never forget …


A summer-grown, unfledged, covetously marked bottle poured over melting ice.  Bare, completely  fixated on GW never slowing Rhythm as she crawled from between her thighs.  He laid unwrapped underneath his tree. 
Shutter sound of the Nikon  still reminisant of  even their very first night She took him to Riverside He taught her how to capture the Light. 
Summer's gone Still She, his tree with leaves of green when he came in September  Climbed on her bed riveted the new vantage point  of GW turned to her and said, "not like the one I used to have."
That's true.

Sonia Sanchez Got Me Like....

a woman who made me look down the corridors  of our black birth. 
once i was chaste with  innocence with the walk of  a child unveiled 
you do not know the high prayer of pain. these screams  hoist my terror up  amid chandelier walls where  i dance my minstrel stutters.  
woman. whose color  of life is like the sun, whose  laughter is prayer.
sonia sanchez 

For My Black Girl Lost

4:36 AM. 
Waking thoughts: Question I was asked last night about starting Blossoms in Harlem before starting in Greenburgh. Reason: because I made it out of Greenburgh but my mama couldn't outrun the demons in Harlem. This city ate her alive. She made the great migration from North Carolina with no compass for direction, she became a Black girl lost. Here is where she met my father who exposed her to the beast that altered everything. Mid-Sunday mornings, I sit under the bridge and write, same spots she would sleep under, same spots she would get her fix under. This work in me ain't just for me, it's bigger than me. 
Resources. It's about resources. Not saying growing up in Westchester is any easier than the city but I'm saying look at the resources. I can only do one thing at a time right now. I was sent where I am needed. 
Grateful: My first thoughts upon waking up in the middle of the night are no longer suicidal, no longer me comparing myself to who I was before I…

9:19PM in the Heights

So if you read everything I write, you have like a behind the scenes of the "real ms. clay" ... Y'all saw me totally emotionally depleted last week and this week, I'm happier than ever. 
I told y'all before, having mood disorder is not a curse. It damn sure ain't always pretty but it allows me to reflect when I'm experiencing a low and find out what triggers my anxiety and depression. I do the same with the highs. I literally have a list of "things that make me feel low" and "things that make me feel naturally high". I have to say, the number one thing that brings me to a happy place is living in my purpose. I feel like I am at my best when I am hard at work for our Blossoms. 
Since I moved to NY, I still go back to Baltimore once a month for Blossoms and I was finding, that was the only time I felt joy. I started to have regrets about leaving my old comfort zone. But our new director of fundraising events works at the MET, well connecte…

Haiku, Almost

expose flaws in words ain't got to hide from you you see my image in yours 


Just so you know This ain't about you At first I thought it was I couldn't get you out of my head Seeing your pretty ass sitting on that bed Taunting me  Looking down at my legs and seeing the meat I don't have  Close my eyes and there's your fingers over that cheap faux fur Blonde tips and full lips Looking at me
I know you're reading this and so I just thought you should know  This ain't about you  Or him Or the her that was before you At first  I thought it was  But thank God for therapy and the discovery that It's about my own insecurities You ain't add to them I already had them  Now I'm moulting them like pigeon feathers And that which are abraded won't be replaced  My strength is so damn strong it hurts I am a hell of a woman  I don't even know  How I'm still teaching these kids And how I'm still building up these girls Im lying  I know exactly how  It's cause my ability to lead don't come from the fractured glass heart that I gave so naively My po…

That Damn Bo-Bo

November 6th, 2015  6:57 PM
There was a loud white girl sitting in my favorite spot on the tufted leather sofas. The leather one  across from her was open but she was too loud for me to sit near her. I actually went as far away from her voice as I could. 
Found myself lost in "Giovanni's Room" until I overheard her talking about how much she loves the neighborhood. That's when I looked up and realized, I was only one of 4 people with brown skin in the spot for the last two hours. 
Almost every seat was filled with presumed descendants of indentured servants, whom I could imagine passing down family stories that could be traced back to Ellis Island. Avidly working, typing, sipping lattes, and not noticing me reading Baldwin, an author who wrote so many poems and stories about how their people would never come to the very place that they have found solace... 
A few hours went by and just when I thought I was in SOHO or LES, the hood came bursting through the glass doors. 

4 o Four

Sitting in my bed  Reading Malcolm X Listening to Mozart Daydreaming  Seeing snipets of reconstructed scenes Figments of my distorted reality and woeful imagination  Asking my self  Who am I  When no one is looking When no one is around  I mean, I spend most of my time alone when I'm not in my classroom  I have two roommates but I'm always in my own space never reaching out I sleep but not all the way through the night  When I wake up at 234am, I think about things  My lessons for the next day  Emails I need to send  Grants for Blossoms I think about everything Everything, but the question of who I am  Take all that I have accomplished away Who I know What I am known for  Where I have been Steal my story Then make me look at my hands  My face  My soul  And tell myself  Who am I?
An ageless girl at heart  I rarely look in the mirror and see a woman A lady, yes  But not a full grown woman  Been paying bills since 18 but even after 11 years of independence Little of me actually feels adult-like 
I am too little