poem

(Video) Black Girl Magic by Mahogany L. Browne by Shanelle Gabriel

My good friend, Mahogany L. Browne (Poet/Curator/Author) released a beautiful book of her poem "Black Girl Magic," illustrated by Jess X Snow and published by Macmillan. She called on myself and a few other poets (Shannon Matesky, Roya Marsh, Elizabeth Acevedo, Falu, Eboni Hogan, and Imani Davis) with their own Black Girl Magic flavor to film the words of her poem.  Here it is!

FYI: You can purchase this inspiring book at Barnes & Nobles, Amazon, and wherever awesome books are sold.

 

New Poem: "My Love Feeds on Your Love" by Shanelle Gabriel

A poem from my show "Slam 103: Historical Remix" for the Lincoln Center Meet the Artist Series


Inspired by Pablo Neruda's "If You Forget Me"

"My love feeds on your love, beloved,

and as long as you live

it will be in your arms

without leaving mine. "


 

 

I can't lie...

It's true...

I've got a BIG appetite

I crave random things all the time

On any given night peanut butter and jelly is what I crave

These days guacamole is all the rage

I’m always hungry

My belly a bottomless pit

My mom swore I had a tapeworm

I tried to explain it

Was just something I was born with

I'm always hungry

Starving...

For love and attention

Thirsty for true affection

From loved ones and strangers

My love feeds on your love

Wishing I didn't have this constant

Gnawing at my being

Wishing I could be one of those people

Who don't need people

Seem to be so full of themselves that they're always full with themselves

No room for anyone else

But I know the truth

No matter how hard they try to deny,

The craving strikes

See we were created to love

To love love

Not to live on bread and water alone

But on living connection

We need friendship like oxygen

In a world where to feed on

The need for engagement with humanity is called weak

A world where to expect people to fuel your life with love

is considered vanity

To admit you just want to be wrapped in someone's arms

held tight and told everything will be alright

Is not low self-esteem

It's a part of our being

My love feeds on your love

And your love on mine

Our happiness hangs on how much good we can give to others

How many prayers we can answer for the Divine

My love feeds on your love

So learn to savor the way kind words

Tastes on your lips

As long as you live

Let morsels of hate roll off your plate

Don't be afraid to open your table

To put your heart in someone's arms

Cause no matter how hungry you might be

Someone else out there is starved

We all feel awkward

Get lonely

Think no one understands

The pain we feel

Hurt people tend to hurt people

But through healing others

Our own hearts can heal

And the world may run out of guacamole

Peanut butter and jelly

But I can say with certainty

The passion in your pot

Will never run empty

May the spoon of your tongue

Always ready to serve words

To be heard by someone

Who needs a lil somethin somethin

To get them through

A bad day and a tough time

Tell them

My heart, my soul, my love

It will be yours, in your arms

without ever leaving mine.


Learning How To Shoot (A Poem for My Dad) by Shanelle Gabriel

Learning How to Shoot 

Labor Day is family reunion to me

My blood runs thick with Trinidad, T&T

So when my Daddy tells me to meet him on a late August Day in Brooklyn 

I know who I'll see

Him, he pardnas and dem

This time was no different

He introduced me to a man and his son

The son eyeballed me like I was a junie mango

As he said "Wow, Mr Gabriel. Your daughter is beautiful."

My father paused to see my reaction

His father half-laughed and made an interjection 

Between the failed pick-up line & the dead air

He said, "Son,

You better watch what you say to Clyde's daughta. 

The man has a gun."

He said it just for fun but on the real

Every Mas Camp knows for a fact my dad has one.

The son's mouth was emptier then when a party was over 

As my dad put his un-ironed hands on his shoulder

"Young man, to tell you the truth,

You don't have to worry about me 

Cause I taught my daughter how to shoot."...

 

This poem goes out to the Daddies girls 

Who's father taught em to take shots of Grey Goose

Long before the legal limit

So you'd know not to

Go back to

A glass you left and walked back to

Who showed up at school when that lil boy hit you

And none of the lil boys bothered you ever again

This is for the Daddies girls

Who know the statistics

But who's experience was different

Who's father taught you to walk 

On the inside of the street cause "you aren't for sale"

Daddy's girls who moms beat their tail

When they misbehaved

But the true moment of fear came

When "I'ma tell your father" was said

Daddies girls who fed 

A grown man imaginary cookies on a Rainbow Brite tea set

Who gambled in card games with them

Peppermints to make bets.

 

See, my mommy taught me to be nurturing

How to love everyone else outside myself

But my dad taught me not think it vain to give myself compliments

How to balance the emotional me with thinking logically

This goes out to all the girls

Who still call their daddies at half past 3

When their car won't start after they've left the party

This is for the Daddies girls

Who've gone to school with their hair in a lopsided ponytail 

Cause clips and bows only made him more confused

Daddies girls taught to flash firecracker laughter to light up a room

Taught how to create the perfect blend of fear and admiration

Taught how to shoot vodka without the chaser

Dads who taught that the man should be the one to chase ya

Who raised their daughters like sheltered sons

Made them appreciate old westerns and the NBA

Who told em to go for their MBA even thought they only made it past the 12th grade

 

This poem goes out to the Daddies girls 

Who's dad taught em to take shots with sarcasm

Told em they inherited handguns for eyes

Scalpels for smiles

Could form a masterpiece with a kiss 

Or let those same lips be a man's demise

Who told them it's okay to cry

But only the first time cause it shouldn't happen again

Kryptonite to new boyfriends

Didn't scare them all away

Only the ones who's casual attire and career goals didn't make sense

This is for the Daddies girls

Who were taught how to shoot free-throws

Who are trained parallel-parking pros

Can quote his unconventional wisdom like

“You know, 85% of people in this world are stupid...Look, look, there another one goes.”

or “Give it your best and there’s no limit to where you can go.”

 

This is for the Daddies girls

Who know that a woman scorned can make a bitter mother

Mothers who think their failed relationship

Should end the one dads have with their kids

Wishing they could suck out his DNA 

Like it was poison and erase any trace of lineage in their kid's face

This is for Daddy's girls

Who's father may not have stayed

Maybe even played the heck out of their Mom

But while he didn't give her the love and respect she was due

He gave it to you

At the end of the day

He showed you what a man should and shouldn't do

Daddies girls who know that perfection 

Isn't part of the human equation

That it isn't about getting all the answers right

And even if he messed up more than a few times

You appreciate that he took the time before he closed his eyes

To try.

To my daddy/ It seems the older I get the more I think we look like/ although I was born high yellow/ and you're more like quarter to midnight./ Skin rough like Chaguaramas beach./ Voice vibrates like steel pan melodies./ Sandpaper skin singing within the crevices of the present me./ I swear I'll never grow too old for nicknames and I'll still open the car door for you from the inside./ I never believed in your infallibility./ Maybe that's why/ you're still untarnished in my eyes./ I love you for all you've taught me./ You taught me to shoot but on most occasions,/ to put away my gun/ Taught me how to wine,/ how to get my way without wining,/ how to be wined and dined./ The first man to tell me I was beautiful and to look at me in awe./ All these dudes get their lines from you,/ So it takes more than speeches of silk spilling from slick jaws to get me to pause./ You set the bar high for anyone desiring to take your place as the man in my life./ And whoever it is that I deem worthy to bring/ will be a reflection of you,/ in honor of you./ He'll be my prince charming/ but you'll still be my King/ I'm a daddy's girl,/ gunning down stories of all black men being absent or in jail./ Firing at tales of failed fathers and dead-beat males/Your love for me/ my love for you is living proof/ That there are still a few strong women out there/ who's dad's aim in life was to teach their daughters how to shoot.

New Poem/Song? "Heart Speaks" by Shanelle Gabriel

I wrote most of this a while back, but my heart told me to revise it. Here you go.

---------------------

HEART SPEAKS

When the sun isn't shining
It's hard for raindrops to turn into rainbows
When life is out of place it's hard to find
Where the silver lining goes

When it's silent around you
It's hard to turn a deaf ear
To the loneliness whispering that
No one around you cares

When you bend to much for everyone
You tend to break
When you're too cautious
It's so easy to make a fatal mistake
When you think it's all figured out
You'll find a piece is missing
When you get everything you want
You still can't stop wishing

So when is it enough
When will it be enough
To settle down?
I'm looking for the missing part of me
Trying my best to do what's best for me
Will I ever be complete?
I'm waiting to hear my heart speak.

I'm sending my prayers up
Praying for an answer to come down
Preaching to the lost
When I'm the one who needs to be found

Doubting my intuition
Even though it's always right
Holding myself back
When I know I'm meant to reach great heights.

How am I trying to change the world
When I need to change myself
Want to do this on my own
Yet I know I need help
But it seems easier to rely only on self
Cause you've been let down so much by everyone else

But no one reached great heights
Without standing on some shoulders
I've climbed some mountains in my life
But I'm struggling with boulders
One day it'll all make sense
I guess when I'm much older
But for now I'm fighting
To keep my heart from growing colder

So when is it enough
When will it be enough
To settle down?
I'm looking for the missing part of me
Trying my best to do what's best for me
Will I ever be complete?
I'm waiting to hear my heart speak.


I can hear it talking to me
Talking to me
I hear it saying "listen to me, listen to me"
I hear it saying "trust me, trust me"
It's telling me to believe in me, believe in me.

Now I've had enough
It is enough
Time to settle down
I've found the missing part of me
I'm gonna be the best me I can be
In myself I can be complete
But it's okay to need company.
The hurt, I can set free.
My past is what made me.
I recognize when my heart speaks.

I listen when my heart speaks
I act when my heart speaks
When God speaks to me my heart speaks.

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Copyright © 2009 Shanelle Gabriel
Do not reproduce without Shanelle Gabriel's permission. Thanks!