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SPECIAL EDITION featuring guest poets: Poetry Confessions: Tea Time with the Poet Laureate

Dear Beautiful People:
This is an ideal day for a pot of raspberry tea. The temperature last weekend dropped to frost warning levels. Tomorrow is predicted to be warm and sunny. We are told to harbor rain gear as showers are expected later. We live in beautiful Michigan, not a dull climate moment, ever. Quarterly modifications from summer, to autumn to winter and now spring alter not only our physical landscape, but also the scope of our lives, and the tenor of our social disposition. Change whether nuanced or monumental, personal or societal, can be what we call, transformative.

In this special National Poetry Month edition of Flint Courier News column, Poetry Confessions: Tea Time with the Poet Laureate, I invited six poets to take tea with me and share original poems related to transformation. The subject is as varied as the poets. I thank the Flint Courier News and these wonderful literary artists for engaging. While you sip tea and savor these poems, reflect upon your transformative times. I encourage you to jot notes, sketch out your incredible moments, and ultimately write a poem!

Yours in Poetry,
Semaj BrownFlint’s First Poet Laureate

Semaj Brown

https://semajbrown.com/
~Author of “Bleeding Fire! Tap the Eternal Spring of Regenerative Light” ~Creator of Poetry Pod Project (P3) ~University Lecturer ~Playwright/dramatist ~Interdisciplinary Curriculum Builder

Qiana Towns

Bio: Qiana Towns is a lifelong resident of north Flint. She is a graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program at Bowling Green State University and the Master of Arts program at Central Michigan University. Towns has been published in various literary journals, including Harvard Review online. In 2016, her poem “Behest of a Fading Diva,” was made into a short film by Motionpoems. In addition to her professional and community endeavors, Towns is the mom of two exceptional daughters–Sam and Cass.

Social Regard

Written by Qiana Towns

We dug cubby holes in dirt mounds
left from expansion on the car plant
next to the tenement where
redlightgreenlight1-2-3 and down
down baby kept our bellies filled with laughs.
We constructed cardboard palaces complete
with hidden passages near the top of dirt
piles, laid our cribs out with shaggy rugs
and chiffon treatments hung to hide
squares cut for windows, spliced with filaments
from a stranger’s garage.
And we I-spied the mamas tethered
to rotting wood porches talkin’ bout
a white man makin’ a movie about us, ‘bout
how the company next door made off
with the life of our town, ‘bout how they
didn’t want no talk ‘bout the white horse
destroying our community in the man’s movie.
And we named ourselves dirt dobbles,
never intending to stay in the gutters
where we were born, never intending
to ride that white horse. Each day we watched
the car plant’s entrance from our earth
houses, waited for the pity christ
to show up with a camera and a gaffer
boy to record the jagged edges
of our lives, make us as famous,
or at lease offer a dime for our troubles.

Linda F. Patrick

Bio Linda F. Patrick

Linda F. Patrick is an artist and poet that currently serves as the executive director of Mind Body Soul Center for the Arts and Urban Affairs, a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization that provides a range of programming for children, youth and families. She is also the sole proprietor of Lifay Designs, an art, home, and apparel business specializing in African art and Afrocentric designs. She is a licensed financial service representative with Primerica Financial Services Company. Patrick was born and raised in Flint, MI and is a graduate of Flint Northwestern High School class of 1972. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Science from Michigan State University in Resource Development and Urban Affairs, specializing in community and economic development.

A Day of Atonement (The Million Man March- 10/16/1995)
Written by Linda F. Patrick

How dynamic is this day,
because my brothers have taken away,
a renewing of their hearts and souls,
to work together on their unified goals,

How magnificent are the moments,
they shared together in spiritual atonement,
a restoration of the Black man,
to purposefully take a stand.

For me, your Black sister, who bore your silent pain,
For me, your Black mother, who stood so you can reign,
For me, your Black children, who cried for your love,
For me, your Black woman, for you are my hope, my dove,

So fly high to reach the goals you’ve set,
fly high to demonstrate the power you’ve confessed,
soar beyond my hopes and dreams,
know that God is pleased… because you acknowledged he reigns supreme,

And through his divine guidance, he ordained this day,
So my brothers can stand tall and move away,
into their communities from east to west,
from north to south and perform at their best.

For they have God on their side,
his love for them truly abides.
They fear only God’s reproach and what it will bring,
If they don’t embrace love and peace,
in opposition to the destruction on the Black scene.

Elicia Baker-Rogers

Elicia Baker-Rogers, DNP, RN, COHN-S, CCM, AHN-BC, ADS, LMT, BCTMB is a native of Detroit, MI. She received her Doctor of Nursing Practice – Integrative Health and Healing, from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, MN in May 2017. She completed her MS and BSN degrees at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

She is a 20-year Veteran of the United States Navy, Nurse Corps where she held several distinguished leadership positions. Dr. Baker-Roger’s personal military awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three awards), Navy Achievement Medal (two awards) and various unit awards.

Women of Elegance

When you hear the word
Elegance…What is it that comes to mind?
Models on the runway, ladies dressed up at proms and debutante balls… all standing in a line?

Or do you think of Heads of State or stars of the silver screen?
Lena Horne, Grace Kelly, Michelle Obama, Lady Di or Elizabeth the Queen?

Style, beauty, refined quality of grace, dignity and sophistication is how elegance is defined. Come; take a journey with me, as we look at elegant women throughout time.

Do you think Sarah was elegant? For Pharaoh took her as a bride. Or Rebecca at the well, before.. she was given bracelets and rings of gold to be at Isaac’s side.

What about Deborah a prophetess and judge? Leading the Israelites into victory, spilling Canaanite blood.

Bathesha,,,graceful and beautiful too, for David’s heart she won.
Part of the genealogy of Christ..through Solomon her son.

Can you picture Ruth? Gleaning grain of barley or wheat..
Obeying Naomi and lying at Boaz’s feet.

Esther…amongst many beautiful girls..her simple but elegant nature captivated the Persian King.. Saving her people from annihilation..What a brave and courageous thing.
And Mary, what grace as the Virgin Teen.. by fellow villagers she was scoffed and teased.. But she knew in her womb she carried the Prince of Peace!

And just like the women in days of old. You remember the stories your mother and grandmother told. Stories of hardship down through the years…Stories of our blood, sweat, and tears…
When our freedom was nowhere in sight… and we were often violated at night. Our grace and elegance has remained intact, and ain’t no way we’re turning back!

**Yes, we have the elegance of princesses and queens…Royal is our blood, because “We are Daughters of the King”! **

You say you are not a member of the Board? Your suggestions and your greetings go sometimes ignored?
Women of Elegance don’t let that bother you. Folks in the world don’t have a clue..
They shake their heads and don’t know why…We can still hold our heads up high
Walking with integrity and honor…not telling lies…….It’s our grace and elegance that they despise.

No matter if you are wearing name brand designer jeans. Or second hand clothing neatly pressed and cleaned. Our elegance is not about what you have on…..No, not even the sparkle and glitter you adorn.

You see our elegance comes from garments not of this earth…given to us at our second birth.

**Yes, we have the elegance of princesses and queens…Royal is our blood, because “We are Daughters of the King”! **
Now don’t get me wrong…it’s alright to have nice things.
The diamonds and pearls… the blitz, and the bling.

Just remember as we praise, shout, and sing…Our elegance is because…..

WE ARE DAUGHTERS OF THE KING!!!!!

Copyright @ 22 Feb 2012
Elicia Baker-Rogers

Faye Turner Johnson

Bio – Faye Turner Johnson

Faye Turner-Johnson has longed to sing all her life, but her songs were never expressed in musical notes. She sang with each play she directed; with each character she portrayed onstage; and now with each poem she writes. She is a graduate of UM-Flint with B.A. degrees in Theater and Elementary Education. She retired from teaching several years ago.
B-r-o-k-e-n, her song of sorrow and transformation, was published in “Rigorous” in January, 2021.

B-r-o-k-e-n

Written by Faye Turner Johnson

in the quiet of the early morning
taking living water to the Black-Eyed Susan
I stumbled over the flowerbed
leaving a toe wedged between the bricks
scraping away the breakfast I could not eat
a finger fell into the garbage disposal
I switched it on not reaching in to retrieve the limb
before it was ground to near shreds
the tiny bones and gristle making a sound I imagine my heart would
if it could grind a pain like that
hurting in lumps…yanked apart
last evening my tongue split into a forked monster when I read that
Jacob Blake was shackled to a hospital bed
the seven police bullets fired into his back at close range
lacking the power to both humiliate and suppress his super criminal black body
I tried to scream for him…for all of them as they melded into one enormous atrocity
but I had no sounds left to intone the anguish of the genocidal brutality
stacked in layers upon centuries of ignorance and hatred
once it was only my lungs that could not breathe
now the whole of my b-r-o-k-e-n inner core is collapsing…folding in on itself
like the Twin Towers on 9/11 disappearing in a plume of smoke
losing air yet fated to rise again on the 3rd day
reborn…invincible

Frankie Mcintosh (Empress)

Frankie Mcintosh (Empress) – Is a senior at the University of Michigan-flint studying criminal justice/sociology with a minor in computer science. She is the founder of Mifullness Poetry, a program that focuses on cultivating mindfulness through the power of poetry among high school youth. Empress is best known on stage and as the “Poet For Hire” for What’s Up Downtown Flint. She also has an Instagram account poetrytoldbyanempress and a Facebook page poetrytoldbyanempress

(Untitled poem)
The hardest thing I ever did in life,

I looked in the mirror.

When I glance in the mirror,

I reflected

my insecurities,

my fears,

And my ego.

Insecurities were covered up with makeup.

Brush away my fears,

When ego appear,

I turned away from the mirror.

It’s time to fight them with my whole heart.

I started noticing changes.

Insecurity becomes a source of growth

My fears begin to disappear

My soul works side-by-side with my ego.

I turned these inner scars into beauty marks,

It now feels like a distant memory.

Whenever I look in the mirror,

I see a dancing girl with style & grace

I see a woman with a captivating mind

I see a divine warrior now.

Looking in the mirror isn’t the hardest thing.

Empress

Black Dandelion

Written by Semaj Brown

Age four— Witnessed my first mow down Twinkling ground stars, cut by a murderous lawn mower Feeling the blade, I fell, curled like a snail in grief
12 full moons folded into Spring —Perennial promises prevailed Bees celebrated return of dandelions in a skirt of twirling, yellow bliss Flowering bouffant mirrored my spiky little afro Jagged edged “lion’s tooth” leaves paid tribute to my snag-a-tooth smile Me and my freedom fighting flowers frolicked to survive the scissoring, up-digging, poisoning Warning Signs hovered like low hanging clouds: No Blooming Allowed; Blossoms Will be Prosecuted These brave plants grew just for me Grew in spite of a society that favored a monochromatic landscape
1965— Mr. Brother Malcolm X was assassinated, big word for a pre-kindergartner. I was convinced he must have been a dandelion, Reverend King too, and the Johnson boy who lived one turn down the street, that way. The Johnson boy was shot by the police for growing in a monochromatic landscape.
Training Wheels Off—Bike riding across insecure cement, I peddled the bumpy path waving solidarity to each surviving, sunburst noggin, each fulfilling the promise to ornament lawns and flourish souls with lemon drop hope
Dandelionsbare art ofendurance and escapetransforming into pearl puffs floating with ephemeral intention carrying the spirit of the weed.
13 Full moons faded into July— “I am a proud weed!”
Yes, I declared that shocking proclamation standing in the pulpit on Youth Sunday Vernon Chapel A.M.E. Church. I added to my speech on David and Goliath my impromptu improvisation of Dandelion Dogma:
“We are Black Dandelions who will NEVER be destroyed. We grow the power of goodness for generations into the future!”
I yet remember the hat framed faces of the pious, amused and mortified.
Semaj Brown, First Poet Laureate of Flint, Michigan© 2020
From the book, Bleeding Fire! Tap the Eternal Spring of Regenerative Light

Semaj Brown

https://semajbrown.com/
~Author of “Bleeding Fire! Tap the Eternal Spring of Regenerative Light” ~Creator of Poetry Pod Project (P3) ~University Lecturer ~Playwright/dramatist ~Interdisciplinary Curriculum Builder

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