the revelation

as a kid, I was OG
raised on cracked concrete
sashayin’ down Harvard
in the bakin’ summer heat
one of many black girls
growin’ up in da hood
in a time when things were safe
‘n people were good

a proud OG
from back in da day
when authority was respected
a parent’s word held sway
we had limits that were clear
we weren’t allowed to run wild
cuz all the grown-ups around agreed:
it takes a village to raise a child

a joyous OG
with sisters ‘n a brother
we knew nothin’ of divorce
we had our father ‘n our mother
with our siblings
we were not allowed to fight
‘n we knew to get our asses home
before the street lamps shone bright

one more OG
for whom life was sometimes hard
blessed with parents who did their best
to provide the home with the big backyard
softball, kickball, hide & seek
grown-ups were stern but nice
block parties, card parties, barbecues
a childhood paradise

I’m older now
this OG has greyin’ hair
falls asleep durin’ movies
gets excited by new hardware
my heart is still youthful
although my knees are goin’ bad
I’m proud to be OG
those were the best days I ever had

copyright © 2020 KPM

a revelation

the many faces of love

alone on Saturday night behind locked doors
I drink too much wine & pace the floors
“How long?” I wonder, “Can this nightmare last?”
I’m sure it’s a question that many have asked
laptop, mobile & tablet aligned on the table
I seek companionship as best I’m able

Chelle’s driving, on her way to the liquor store
all buckled up & laughing that she needs “wine ‘n more!”
I tilt my wine glass in a toast to the face on the screen
while we discuss the merits of what goes best with which cuisine
she pulls her shiny car into the parking bay
“Stay safe” we tell each other before our images melt away

my sister Kim is lying down, sleeping so peacefully
I feel bad that I’ve awakened her just to talk to me
now labelled as “essential”, each day my sister goes to work
while I putter in my garden feeling like a useless jerk
Kim is my heart, mother to my nephew & beautiful nieces
her beloved face, her voice, keep me from falling to pieces

finding Tora free at home is a wonderful surprise
love dwells in her face – hope shines in her eyes
my friend ‘n colleague from those memorable Ursuline years
sunny days spent in the quad sharing laughter, dreams & tears
seeing her, talking to her is always so much fun
“You were right, Kath,” she jokes, “We shoulda run.”

Sharon’s video call is welcome though unexpected
her face ‘n Jourdy’s smile keep me from feeling dejected
besties for 58 years, longer than some folks’ve been married
understanding each other, anchored by love that’s unvaried
always calm, she reassures me this state of affairs will end
I blow kisses, to my surrogate child & my oldest friend

the second bottle is almost empty – the last few sips I drain
tidying up I dream of the future, when I can get on a plane
over an ocean and through the heavens I will happily soar
to the land of my youth to hug my family & friends once more
the hour is late now, so I climb into my bed
with many faces of love dancing through my head

copyright © 2020 KPM

house cleaning

it’s a dreich day
in my bonnie Dundee
but that don’t bother me
cuz I’m where I wanna be

even though I got
no money in the bank
peace is what I feel
as I clean my fish tank

my brother & my sisters
may be far away
but as I mop the floors
I find joy in this Sunday

surrounded by all kinds
of bric-a-brac
bits of love from people
who always have my back

a warm hat from my sister
wee Christmas tree from Jude
CDs from my boyfriend
music for my every mood

the pink fleece jersey
from my mother
African statues
from my brother

jewellery, booze & beach glass
Eeyores everywhere
all these signs reminding me
that I’ve loads of folks who care

so gratefully I clean my house
removing any mess or dirt
happy that today I’m free from
any mental or physical hurt

I’m thankful that I have a job
close family & friends to love
& my angel Mother & Father
guarding me from above

copyright © 2019 KPM

swappin’

right now, shit is complicated
cuz I’m bearin’ a heavy load
makes it hard for me ta decide
if it’s time for me ta hit the road

this country – this man I love
they’d both be hard to leave
& if I give them up
is it just because I grieve?

mah Daddy is long dead
& now, so is my Mother
yet there’s family that love me
I’ve two sisters & a brother

long ago I left them
for a love I thought would never die
more fool me,
cuz that turned out to be a lie

now that my beloved Mother
has been laid to rest
I’m thinkin’ I shoulda stayed
with those who loved & knew me best

that said, leaving Scotland
would make me unbearably sad
for the life I’ve constructed here
has not been all bad

my heart, my brain burn
lit by the consciousness molotov
I struggle with reality:
all life is a trade-off

copyright © 2017 KPM

lipstick kisses (for my sister Kim)

she’s punch drunk
sittin’ peaceful in the sun
too-much-wine-with-lunch drunk
& the feelin’ is like fun

today the sun is out
black dog’s asleep – she got no blues
sun’s as warm as her mother’s arms
& the mailman brought good news

from afar the letter came
in an envelope of brown
words from a beloved sister
that made her dance around

& the letter was sealed
with kisses of lipstick
memories of home
pierce like an ice pick

but she’s happy
in spite of this
the familiar handwriting
suffusing her with bliss

remembering secrets
they’d tirelessly share
those times her baby sister
would lovingly braid this author’s hair

she hears tiny footsteps following her
remembers teaching her sister to walk
she can hear her sister’s voice
echoes of their every talk

& now she has a letter
sealed with lipstick kisses
she says a prayer for her little sister
as she smiles & reminisces

lipstick kisses on a letter
like their Mother used to do
from one sister to another
lipstick kisses: “I Love You”

copyright © 2017 KPM

 

love travels

deep & sincere
no drama-school act
it’s vast, her love
yet portable & compact

it dwells in her hair
memory & care
it travels on the air
it’s always there

the blood of her childhood
a flow that never ends
thru veins, marrow & music
travel family & friends

an unbroken chain
sweet as sugar cane
love that does not wane
imprinted on her brain

photos at picnics
laughter, hugs & kisses
a woman with two homes
she thinks of all she misses

the Scottish sun shines gold
she remembers being bold
stripped of her blindfold,
from guilt & grief she’ll be paroled

copyright © 2017 KPM

time zones

when it’s 12pm here
it’s 8am there
she’s making her lunch
as her sisters dress with care
though miles apart
the same sky is above
& she can feel their love

3pm here
but there it’s 10am
as she works in her garden
she thinks of them
smiles at the memory
of her mother
feeling the love
of her sisters & brother

6pm where she lives
means lunchtime where they are
she remembers their closeness
times they’d jokingly spar
though her love for them
is tinged with regret
they share the same blood
this she’ll never forget

bedtime in Dundee
dinner time in Ohio
she’s watching TV in bed
as outside Scottish winds blow
she says a prayer for them
all the people that she loves
asleep, she dreams of them
the stars they share shine above

copyright © 2017 KPM

we are the Patton kids (for my brother & sisters)

four adult children
born of one father & one mother
a brother & three sisters,
we’re unlike any other

four children born from love
we were no accident or mistake
my brother & my 3 sisters
deeply bound by heartache

he makes everybody laugh,
my brother, the only son
whenever he is present
everybody has much fun

my middle sister can be quite bossy
& she’s the one who keeps the peace
she dimed us out when we were younger
but her love for us will never cease

last but not least is the youngest
everybody’s baby girl
watching her grow has been amazing,
seeing the young woman unfurl

I am the eldest child
Mommy called me her “firstborn”
her curious child, the one who left
once I was happy, now I’m forlorn

we are the Patton kids
we’ve endured many a childish spat
forever bound by grief & love & blood
time & distance can never change that

copyright © 2017 KPM

ambivalence

in the photo they are smiling
though she no longer remembers why
such happy smilin’ faces
why do they make her wanna cry?

proud & handsome faces
that fill her with regret
faces that resurrect memories
she’d much rather forget

things that still have the power
to make her aging blood boil
small wonder that she dreads
returnin’ to her native soil

still there are things she misses
her birth land is not without its charms
her family, her friends, Shaker Lake
her mother’s soft encircling arms

she knows it’s time to return
though this journey she’s loathe to take
a good life she’s built in a land she loves
thoughts of leaving it make her heart ache

so she focuses on the good things:
her childhood friends, food & family
knowing she’ll appreciate even more
the moment she returns to her bonnie Dundee

copyright © 2015 KPM

Ambivalence

when she wuz two

when ah leave da room
fo’ a much-needed pee
a little voice comes through da door:
“aunty kaffie, come get me!”
 
when ah boot up mah laptop
to write a poem or two
a tiny voice demands:
“aunty kaffie, whut you do?”
 
when ah let slip a swear word
a mild one like ‘dayum’ or ‘hell”
da little voice bursts into giggles:
“aunty kaffie, ah’m a tell!”
 
whut when where
how why who
baby gurl is fulla questions
ah’m exhausted thru ‘n thru!
 
copyright © 2014 KPM

Modelling the earrings from Auntie Kaffie