Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wooden Staircases

my staircase smell like strange fruit
their voices creak as i tiptoe over them
i feel them breathing beneath my feet
and wonder if a negro hangs in the forest
does the tree remember his face

my staircase looks like my brother's skin
and swells like my grand father's tears
the wood in the south is stained
how many of us sleep on the blood of innocent men
How many Mary Turners were taught lessons
that threats to white men in the south
are like leaves on trees
they bounce like branches
struggling to support strange fruit

would it be accessory after the fact?
can we consider them guilty?
do they rot apart from ptsd
as they try to forget the lives they have held

©, 2012, Tiffany "Spokenheart" Shack

Talking into fans

my words are broken
like slices of childhood
falling into unsturdy mirrors
stepping out of windows
my words are unstable
like when changing was as simple as talking into fans
and now i am someone else
inside of fans
smiles spread across my face
as words escape me
and i sit on a wooden floor
with a foundation that is leaning
i stare into a reflection that is leaking
at a girl that is leaving
and wish i knew who she was
my voice taste like kung fu chops
my lips feel like power cords
watch me break up with myself
there is a blade where my tongue use to be
forgive me if my sentences dont make sense
i was eating memories for dinner
nostalgia tends to stall me
and my lips become too dangerous
i was trying to change
i was looking for me
i forgot to pick myself back up
there were sentences i left in that fan
a time capsule
in a junk yard
i was chasing a quick fix
like when changing was as simple as talking into fans

©, 2012, Tiffany "Spokenheart" Shack

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Trained in the ways of men

Trained in the ways of men
I do not belong here
that is why my walls have no names
and my face is only slightly more recognizable than my voice
in my grandmother's house i would be considered a secret God did not have time to know
in my mother's house her daughter that she did not have the courage to know
in the south we are taught children are to be seen and not heard
women are to be tucked neatly into skirts with legs crossed and frying pans for hands
spines strong enough to support broken black boys
in our homes we are taught to love our black men til the death of us because this world will only love them to theirs
so we breast feed them til our chest wither and they continue suckin til they draw blood
i watched my grandmother die for my brother
i am watching my mother die for my younger one now
and prayign that my sister does not follow suit
but we believe so deeply that boys will be boys that we have forgotten to make men
and wonder why there are more black males with drug charges than degrees
i believe we got confused by what malcolm meant by any means neccasary
i'm sure he was not refferring to stealing or drug sales or suicide
rather to hard work and protection
to men being men and im not sayign his philosphy was perfect but
black mothers if u never let ur sons hands go they will never be more than little black boys hopping from nipple to nipple
holding up corners in fear they may miss something other than their education
when will your backs finally get tired enough to break
my grandmother always said my big brother would be the death of her
i assume that is why i got the news of her death through a phone call at the scene of a totalled car my drunken brother was riding in
why my uncle and I never shared a sober birthday til i was 16
why the only thing that reminds me of my grandfather is liquor and cancer
and why my mother is always back crooked bent over to make sure my little brother does not fall on his manhood and be forced to taste dirt
because we raise cycles
we raise black boys and black women to take care of them
then lecture our women for accepting these "aint ish" men into their lives
but how can we teach them what they deserve when all we have to offer is broken
when when we've nevr showed them what complete looks like
never taught them that fathers do not babysit, they take care of their children
that a man should offer more than a source of income to be consindered "good"
because a woman can not be both putty and spine
both back bone and flexibility
black women do not have too much attitude
we have too much strength
because our mothers were too busy cradling black boys to remember to teach us to keep our spines mallable
soft to touch and easy to move
we were never credled hands, we were always balled fist
ready to strike at the sign of danger
too busy fighting to recognize our own struggle
my mother pulled bread from stones
making sure we never knew struggle til we were old enough to understand it
she stood manless
while cousins and uncles made talk of being male figures
tall shadows passing in the wind
now she bends
in attempts to hold up men
that never veer too far from her womb
©, 2012, Tiffany "Spokenheart" Shack

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Happy Nappy Complex

You would think with this natural hair movement going on in America I would finally stop hearing stupid questions like: "can i touch your hair?"
or even more annoying: " Girl when you gone do something with your hair?"
or most annoying of all statements from black women about how they cant quit the creamy crack becasue they hair too nappy,
thats like black men sayign they dont date black women becaus ethey have too much attitude,
we just weren't made to lay down
Fuck what ya heard
because i am my hair
this disorganized chaos is me at my best
twisted, picked and pinned up on the left
braided, plaited or all over my head
even when im hungry my hair get fed
mayonaise, honey, eggs, coconut oil
cinnamon and oats stretch from curl to curl
or should i say strand to strand
cause my hair be just as confused as the curious hands
that flock to my fro like flies
oblivious to my rolling eyes
but most of the time, i dont really care
even i cant stop touching my hair
especially since i tend to be a product junkie
shea moisture, cantu shea butter, my hair is my personal little lab monkey
and im rarely afraid to experiment
whether with avacado guts or some electric blue tint
youtube has become an educational source since dec 210
before that it was low fades and earrings bigger than big
now its afro that reach our for God
3 strand twists and bantu knots
its like my hair embodies versatiility
and an uncanny ability
to display the defnition of just chill
a mind of it's own, it does whatever it feels
and i just get to accent it
im usually quite meek but bring up my hair and it gets passionate
so many reasons a woman of color should never be ashamed of her crown
when they get to be preaching bout they naps i cant help but frown
aint no such thing as bad hair just hair thats misunderstood
we just need to rethink our definition of good
cause too many women with the bone straight be wishing they hair stood proud like ours
be wishing they could make fros that looked like chocolate clouds
now im not bashing the relaxed just saying if they wanna know the meaning of undisturbed
they should kick that creamy crack to the curb
and come rock with this real stuff
this shocking face at how good it feels stuff
this hop out the bed and fluff it out swag
wash and go, smelling like a fruit snack
its a lesson in patienece but a bigger lesson in self love
a test of confidence and just when you've had enough
it helps u find a friend that can pry from ur hand the box of creamy crack
understand the criticism and helps u snap back
so despite my love for india i just cant agree
cause my hair says almost everything there is to say about me
©, 2012, Tiffany "Spokenheart" Shack

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


did you forget the taste of broken english mixed into your first meal?
the scrape of misplaced adjectives from your mother's lips
you always failed to hear the music in the dichotomy of your tongue
always mistaking your stained glass for broken pieced together windows

these are my grandmother's feet
walking in shoes too big
pretending not to notice
because real women know how to save face
toes spaced out
tryin to keep grip of the world running beneath me

these are my grandmother's feet
walking in shoes too big
pretending not to notice
because real women know how to save face
toes spaced out
tryin to keep grip of the world running beneath me

i came looking for breathe in lungs
full searching for missing ribs to hold them

Dear Life,
you taught me to never build bridges so i wouldnt learn the pain of learning when its neccesary to burn them. now i stand here on the bridge to nowhere watching Russia and feeling lonely. wondering why you just didnt teach me to save me from myself. forced me to admit when i need help instead of just taking leaps of faith into my future.

©, 2012, Tiffany "Spokenheart" Shack


Victims of Sudden Impact

I am afraid of my womb
afraid that it is barren
that life will not find hope within me
so I resolved to just not want children
decided that I have no desire to see movement ripple across my belly
because I am fearful it can not
I have an aunt that only wanted baby dolls for Christmas
and had sex with strange men because her uterus was in denial
I have an uncle unable to carry on his father's name
because life doesn't live inside of him
I have a grandmother who lost 75% of her kids
and a sister she knew only inside her mother's tomb
have you ever felt life inside your womb that didn't move when it met air?
remembered the taste of a lost voice in the back of your throat
There is something so broken about being the survivor
there is something so beautiful about being broken
about feeling life running through your fingertips like grains of sand
washing the clinging of loss out of your hair after a goodbye
maybe that's why I move like the world is running away from me
like I’m avoiding the vacancy love has created in my belly
is there a name for a fear of having a cavity
where your child should be
or is that just called womanhood?
will we ever be more than ovaries?
& how useless is a fear that I won’t carry a child for the woman of my dreams
how laughable that we sometimes pick names
how admirable that we still dream
still assign features to a child that doesn't exist
your hair with my color
your eyes my lips
our skin
I even dream of the children we never had
all soft skin and kinky headed
praying to mother that look like mutt saint maries
they know our faces from the arms of women who live without fear
& whisper love into an air that feels like our skin
they kiss us with lips that feel like shadows
& hands that hold us like secrets
I’ll tell her they loved us from beneath our skins
on dark nights when we felt life breathing between us
& they left us beneath our words spoken with fear on our teeth
hiding behind ivory plates that could not speak our reflection
they will probably say it was because we were two women in love
but maybe it’s because I was afraid
and there is no room for life where fear manifests
or maybe it was just because there is a hollowness that sleeps where our daughter should be
©, 2012, Tiffany "Spokenheart" Shack

Dandelion Dust

dandelions roots hang from ceilings with petals like pigtails in dead girl's hair
words fall like hypocritical stones and petals scatter like prayers
lives blow into the wind
o father you've done it again
forgotten that dandelions werent built for weight
&& there is only so much one can take
before they scatter
how may lives will it take before it matters
before people stop thinking its just oversensitivity
how much awareness does it take to end kid bullying
how many casualties have to be muraled on walls or souls before we stop teaching hatred
and start teaching acceptance
quick to wound maybeits true that all humans are born into petulance
and then taught to be good
what other reasons can we find for dandelions that are never understood
just dismembered by the winds of our mouth
we just teach our kids that the real world will eat you up and hang you like moss
if you dont sharpen your tongue and harden your fist
if you dont consume hatred and speak death out your lips
sticks and stones can break our bones but we all know it is words that will slit our wrists
that will tie our nooses and dance pills cross our lips
how is a 10 yr old suppose to understand that life will get better
that bullies are just one of life's storms if they can just make thru the weather
all seasons must come to a past
or maybe it is us who dont understand that dandelions werent meant to last
but to scatter and plant seeds
send messages and leave
simply built to be captured by wind
while mothers are forced to lend
their wombs to God's examples
©, 2012, Tiffany "Spokenheart" Shack

Marrow Soup

Its feels like my bones are emptying out
marrow moving through my nose clear as breath
does blood smell like tears when marrow looks like carbon dioxide
i wonder whose closet i will rest in when my veins empty out
or will you hang me from your ceiling and learn anatomy first hand
my grandmother's feet ache on my ankles at night
sometimes all the way up to my thighs
& i knows its just her leaving me all over again
i see her everytime my sister has a child
& wonder if she sleeps in my womb as well
i even forget like she did sometimes
look in the mirror and ask whose daughter i am
whose child on a milk carton not bothered to be aged?
maybe she just didnt want to come home
maybe im just stuck inside my flat footed heart
have you ever come knocing to see if i had finally learnt how to be still
or are u just waiting to burn my empty bones
& place them on your mantelpiece like a conquered trophy
i wonder if my lover ever tastes my marrow i leave on her lips
if she ever scrubs my residue off her face when she feels i am never leaving
if she will store my bones in a canvas bag tied to the ceiling
and call it a treasure
fingerpaint them & call them ancient relics
i wonder if our bones will ever meet in the same body
her fingers on our daughter with my toes
or our ribs in the next life creating one being
mine always too big of course
always too full of air
and never able to breathe
like even my body expects more of me than i can give
searching for air in the joints of my bones
always needing more space from myself
im sure if i could regenerate my hands would be the first to go
as my heart packs up in the middle of the night to flee to my lover's chest
afaraid my feet wont understand the pleasures of just leaving sometimes
& my bones just lie there leaking out a new beginning
©, 2012, Tiffany "Spokenheart" Shack

Monday, January 9, 2012


It's not offensive, it's funny!!!!
like nooses hanging embarrassment in the closets of my ancestors
as long as we build those nooses out of ignorance
and claimed innocence we can be the jesters
of a history that has always been a joke
so lets laugh it up in black face wearing yarmulkes and big noses
eating watermelon in striped pajamas
with numbers replacing our names and stars on our clothing
chuckle as we play cowboys and Indians
and paint our clubhouses concentration camp red
call ourselves immigrants
wetbacks, niggas, problems
because we are a country built on humor
did you see that strange fruit hanging from that tree
wasn't it funny to watch a man die at our own hands?
didn't you laugh when Tyler Clementi's sex tape debuted across your computer screen
and even harder when his obituary appeared in your newspaper?
Yes! we are the laughter that gets stuck in lungs causing them to collapse
we are the gaps of breath that sneak into veins and stop hearts
funny how laughter tastes like overdoses on pain pills
how it smells like pools of emptied veins
how it sounds like guns cocking in mouths
how it looks like dead bodies stacked up not worthy of graves
how it feels like WANTING TO DIE!!!!!
its what makes us different
our laughter
the way we can use it to strip souls of their worth
the way it sneaks into our egos & silently birth desires to fade into it's echoes
to be forgotten when it ends
laughter has always been hatred's best friend
as they skip to the lou
hand in hand whistling tunes
that sound like the melody of crackling wood crosses
so forgive me if your caricatures of black people as monkeys don't tickle my funny bone
if i don;t chuckle at your stories of conquering lesbians with your penis
or your planking on balconies doesn't double me over in laughter
my sense humor has always been a bit dry
my smile a bit strained
my laughter laced with paranoia
wonder how many ha's it takes to get to center of pain
how do we build our laugh tolerance to learn to take things at face value
how do you convince a poet that words just are?
how do you convince a people that actions are meaningless
how we rip apart things that should be seamless
like emotion and laughter so that we can get the joke
learn to separate the fire from the smoke so that we can understand the fuel
never mind the blackened lungs and blistered hands
caused by pulling apart ourselves in order to understand
or maybe we should pull out our nooses and untwine the rope
stare in a mirror until we find ourselves in the joke
then we should be able to play our laughter in reverse
and recognize the muffled cries in out varying pitch
taste the death on our tongue before it rolls off our lips
feel the pain in our hands before we unclench our fists
or we can keep laughing through gnashed teeth and dead eyes
hiding beneath our bandwagons and lies
because as long as somebody can laugh
its not offensive!
it's funny!

©, 2012, Tiffany "Spokenheart" Shack