queen of the brick house


image: Golden by Danielle Bostic

queens don’t always have crowns

some scrub floors and wash dishes

some walk to work in the rain

some have hands that show the

ways of their days hard work and waiting

for the seeds planted to come to harvest

some queens protect small nations

all inside warm safe fed hopeful

some queens guard borders

defending those within from the

infidels at the door vanquishing

doubt in hears and fear in eyes

go forward is the banner

from queens in brick houses

who are taller than they should be

refusing to be pressed down they

run over the boundaries set for them

growing straight for the sky

carrying oceans inside of

swollen hearts machetes sharp

tomorrow secure yesterday

is proud of today some

queens don’t have crowns







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the water is rising in the brick house

having led many horses to water

and watching them die of thirst

in the brick house we have learned to

outlast the rain we tread water we

can’t dance upon baptize ourselves in

the persistent storm of our lives

knowing we are not princesses we are

taller no princess could survive the floods

we have endured we have never looked for

perfect endings wrapped in rainbows rather

we look to see tomorrow is coming praying

for it through waterlogged fingers seeking

honey after the test breast stroking for life

underwater walking on ocean floors for inspiration

we talk to the dead who are often more reliable than

the living having laid their burdens down surrendering

to the water counseling those wading hip deep

through the deluge looking for light and a reason

to take one more step try one more time to keep holding up the sky

not to drown in our own tears we hold our heads up

face to the sky and go forward there is nothing else

we only go forward into tomorrow or the ocean

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Happy Cul-du-Sac: A personal deconstruction of North American holidays.

I killed Christmas over a decade ago. I wrote a piece called Xmas. It detailed my knowing surrounding the holiday practically invented by Coca Cola. I talked about old west Christmases where they got drunk and shot up the town like they did on the 4th of July. I talked about how gross consumerism topped any religious element of the holiday as I questioned the validity of the religious overtones of the day. Had the piece been more recent it would have noted how North American Holidays have become more packaged over the course of my life until Valentine’s Day and Halloween are no longer for children alone and are huge money generators in a consumer driven economy. The reasons for the murdering of Xmas are clearly still present. As the economy threatens to cave in on itself on the way to America becoming a third world country it seems a sharp lesson in learned behavior and being complicit in ones own duping. Yet there is an evergreen tree in my living room. It smells of pine and peppermint and reminds me of my beloved grandmother. Who taught me many things while nurturing in me the gift of being able to create what I need.I never published the article. I have thought about it the last few years as I have observed my love/hate relationship with holidays. In short it would seem unlikely I would indulge in rituals that commemorate events I am at odd with or disbelieve. Maybe not as strange as it seems in a country where teachers teach things they do not believe, as preachers preach things they do not accept, while the law fails us all. This dressing of the tree and buying of gifts has been a spot for me to examine the alignment of walk and talk. It has taken some time but I think I have a grasp on the very complicated relationship I have forged with American holidays.Don’t be confused by the tree. I don’t celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, 4th of July, or Easter. I do believe in the New Year. I like how it involves reflection, resolutions and comes with a clean slate like the turning of a page. My birthday is January 4th so the Year for me personally really begins then. This is all very personal. But I don’t think I am alone in the generality of repurposing American Holidays by North American Africans.Its true ignorance can be blissful. As a child I did what the older people around me instructed me to do. I practiced the rituals I was taught. My first acting experience was in a Christmas pageant at my Grandmothers church. I learned a beautiful story. I love stories. My love for them has grown over the years as has my scholarship. I have found many beautiful stories. Some much older than others. Some that have shaped what I have come to believe. All people have tales of origin, these founding myths guide cultures as they evolve. They hold cultures through interruption, oppression, and evolution. I am a North American African. I am from a culture interrupted, transplanted, and evolving. I am of a new tribe. My tribe must have its founding myths.Over the years I have evaded questions on religion and personal beliefs when interviewed . Perhaps because I was making them up as I went, learning, relearning and unlearning as I practiced, rejecting even as I learned, and creating where the path was bare. With age hopefully comes wisdom or at the very least knowledge of self. I have come to understand some things about my patchwork myth system that influence my personal beliefs and the rituals that convey these beliefs.I am from a land of many Gods. I believe in wind and ocean. How can I not. They are sacred to me. The ocean was the road the wind drove the ship. I believe in a most high. Someone strung the stars and watches over me. Oludumare. I am a stranger in a strange land hiding in their midst like Ifa concealed in Catholic Saints. Santeria. I have been instructed to remember. I am the child that does not forget. I dream of doors of no return. Ancestors have always talked to me since before I understood who they were. My locked hair signals I remember. I am of a child of a different drum.As such the 4th of July holds little significance for me. Albeit instructive of what one should do in cases where the government becomes too oppressive to bear. It like the wars waging around the world remind me of where I sit and with whom I break bread. I am an American by default. Still un-naturalized after an act of aggression that left my ancestors captive. My celebration of the 4th of July would seem moronic, as would my celebration of Thanksgiving. I identify with the indigenous. It used to drive my mother crazy, it was impossible for me to watch Tarzan, or Cowboys and Indians both wildly popular in my childhood. The movies left me in angry tears and my mother frustrated with my inability to accept that I would never see an American movie in which the Indians or the Africans won. The standard question at my “Blessings are Due” table is, “Why don’t the indigenous celebrate Thanksgiving?” It is a teaching point from which we

Source: Happy Cul-du-Sac: A personal deconstruction of North American holidays.

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True North: Me and Wilson

I was blessed to see and I share what I see. This is post is relevant now as we celebrate Fences directed and starring Denzel Washington on the big screen and as my community melts and continues to stumble under the weight of Blackness in America. I am forever grateful to Wilson for talking to me — albeit after death and proud of him for being so noisy — he is still talking. Listen he is singing my song…pay attention, it may be your song too.

A.Nzinga's Blog

When you are on a quest there are some things in your control and others that are left to fate. There are things you can bring to the journey but the more important things are those you take away. One can decide to start a quest, or acknowledge they are on one, they can’t decide when it’s complete they can only decide when its over. One can always quit. It would then be over. However those who have the heart to quest are rarely quitters. Thus once foot is set to the path less traveled the traveler becomes an instrument it is the quest that has life and volition. My foot is on the path and I am an instrument. I travel with August Wilson as a companion because he is my True North.

You see I know where I am trying to go — I surrender to the fact…

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The Closing of Jesus


i saw jesus break dancing on

a corner in west oakland

right before the banks came

to steal black folks homes

he must have been a warning

he was beautiful homeless funky

dust flying from his dreads as he

contorted his self into shapes

that defied reason with syncopation

that was undeniable beating out

the truth in a dance of the times

jesus ditty bop bopping hyphy breaking

crunkly popping locks moon walking

juking his joints sliding electrically

to the holy ghost dancing on the

corner of pine & 11th he was

facing the old train station

(it ain’t there no more – condo’s)

or the freeway that roars like

an ocean at night early in the

morning making music

with the beeping trucks

of waste at the space

where the old center

of the world collided with

the end of the world

recycling the used to make way

for the shiny and new between

the lines of hungry children

marching single file to

free breakfast lunch programs

or maybe he was on the corner

Newton died on dancing

while parents search for

work that can’t be found

pack up houses after being

hit with balloons full of

piss water tossed

by colonial goons

to be reborn drowning

underwater landless with jesus

c-walking on the corner of 14th

& willow under the mural

before laying down in the middle

of the street on the yellow

line it must

have been a sign but

didn’t nobody pay attention

but i saw it

in the middle of the day

heat rising off the asphalt

jesus barefoot dancing

near the recycling center

(closed now: shut down

because it fed the unwashed

pushing carts full of waste

from the shiny & new) jesus

best not dance there

no more wonder what

happened to dancing jesus

must have been a message

but didn’t nobody hear it

as the trucks left with the

people & the dreams leaving

me to wonder where jesus

is dancing now


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The Gratitudes: Moving Hands


I am grateful for
the movements
created out of
praying with
your hands moving
lift us up
we will not fall
ever forward
like the love of mother’s
like the abundance
of fat godz
a lioness awake
circling prey
lines drawn
lines held
lines crossed
in the light
of burning
prayer with moving
hands crossed path
with dogs and hoses
hoods and nooses
spoke truth moving
standing on ground they
were building
heads high
hearts unbowed
fists in the sky
freedom in our sight
hands moving
living in prayer
religion is what you do
is your faith asleep
wake it up
move your hands
make something
praise something
raise something
fix something
change something
be something
start something
stop simply dreaming
& build something
move your hands
as you pray on it
lift us up
we will not fall
grateful for warriors
with prayer on their lips
and moving hands
don’t just talk about it
move your hands
be about it
I am grateful
when hearts and feet
follow each other
hands moving
dancing as fast as i can
don’t care whose looking
singing loud enough to wake the dead
moving hands
moving hands
moving hands

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Voting, 2016

body art artafria ethopia surma


at the front of the line

showed up to make my voice heard

that’s what they say

here to pay for my ticket to the conversation

to be a part of the public sphere


words and names on pages and pages

words and names

bowed low

by the bullshit of polytrix

perplexed by

the amorality of polytrixsters


paying for my ticket to the conversation

soundtrack in my ear

‘have no fear’

praying tipping points

refusing the lesser of two evils

standing in my light

my truth my real reality

my feet in the ocean

face towards the graveyard

remembering to remember

how I used to believe

small brown hand over

my black heart my democratic

start dancing to the tune

played by my parents with

my great grand parents bones

we a bunch of refugees

migrating through the confines

of American’s dreaming

freedom from narratives

of origin soaked in blood

dreams that smell of cotton

dead buffalo Kentucky bourbon

and ferverent wishes


were somewhere else


living all outside ourself

trying to survive our skin

uphill sisyphus trying to get in

out of the whirlwind

here at the crooked table

where democracy ain’t saved

me             here

shopping for new dealers

got my ticket

with the old brown and black ladies

a few black men

the droves of young peacock haired people

you can never tell what tune

they dance to dipped in privilege

oozing here-ness manifesting it everywhere

rolling back to the slave pens

sometimes beside you

sometimes dividing you

‘have no fear’

‘have no fear’

they buying guns and ammo by the barrel

smells of fear

Obama’s picture over the stage

TIME underneath it

it’s been time

was pass time when we came

it’t time to go again

we been refugees desparate to root

seeds spiraling in the wind

we are disaspora

brave & tragic

sign of perptural resistence


children playing on the playground

“you play too much

everybody play too much

I ain’t playing”


this used to be a black neighborhood

still here

‘have no fear’


sad and mad

thinking about the shit we never had

democracy could still free me

‘have no fear’

praying tipping points

and whats beyond

whispers say it’s all for sale

it’s a clown show

todays the parade

got my ticket to the charade

words and names on pages and pages

we dying for change

feel some kind of way

trying to maintain

all i know

it can’t stay the same

silence in the face of violence

people sleeping on the street

tents stretch far as eyes can see

walls of garbage

this won’t be my great grands harvest

we been refugees



voting to get free

moving for opportunity

marching because of injustice

standing up even when it was just us

knowing this is beyond us

we pray for tipping points

if its time

bring it on

there are no more words

in this poem



face towards the graveyard

feet in the ocean




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