"Dennis, Santiago, CHILE" *somewhereX a gay Mormon portrait project because we exist! 72" x 72" oil on canvas

"Dennis, Santiago, CHILE"
*somewhereX
a gay Mormon portrait project
because we exist!
72" x 72"
oil on canvas

POEMS BY IFALADE TA'SHIA ASANTI

What They Told Us

I ain’t never been prayed for like she prayed for me that night
the way she saw me
like only seers do   
like only grandmama’s can
grandmama’s who sit on creaky, unpainted porches reading the word
grandmama’s who be seeing

—she told my story, told it like she been watching my life from the sky.  

she said:

u one of dem lovers of life/life without corners/life that come in circles/ u from a holy tribe of two spirited peoples/two souls cast into one body/u been chosen for tribulation/and rivers often too wide to cross/but the angels done showed you how to make the water part/make the rain come down during dry summers/taught you to squeeze prayers in between so-called sins/to remain confused about the need for your redemption/your life will be a catalyst for marches and movements/and your story/your story ain’t gon’ never end

she kept praying/then she lay hands on me/she said:

your ase has been called forth by God and the ancestors/so live chile!/live!/she said:

you have the right soul/you love like God loves/without walls/you bring rainbows into the world/you born from the maa-ti tribe/where women take wives/and men paint their faces like massai warriors/your spirit no less divine/let no one fool you chile’/you come from God

she lifted my chin/aimed my eyes toward the stars—she said:

live your story only/never become the sentences of others/don’t become their vision of perfection/or okayness/don’t be your mama or daddy/your brother or sister/find your lines in the book of life/turn your pages only when you done reading/take your book off the shelf and read it for the world

I was crying now/and she could see me/seeping through the mask I had hid behind for far too long

She said:

you gon’ have a wife with the stamina of jobe/cain’t no man put up witchoo/you got fire in your blood/revolutionary ancestors done written they petitions on  your fingertips/you must write them/you oshun mama/shango daddy/u reborn in the ocean of existence/yemoja has given you a new name

Then she kissed me/God kissed me/right there in front of Jesus and everybody/

I tasted her honey on the back of my throat/saw the light shining from her third eye/and in that moment/I knew god had forgave me/ so I forgave her too

She took my energy in her hand/pressed her mountains up against mine/let my hands ride the dips and waves of her body, then said:

What they told you, you ain’t never been told
What they showed you, you ain’t never been shown
What you saw, forget you seen it—create your own reality

Be divine in the garden of god/love like your heart ain’t never been cold/don’t whisper your adoration for her/silence is only a stoplight for pain/the green gon’ come one day/and dance with her in public/dance silly and off beat/slow drag/be just like them/I don’ told you before/you are just like them

And I felt a river burst inside of me/words/curses/hate/erupted like flames at a summer campfire/I heard the water smothered its heat/and my soul marinated in the power of her words/I had a new book/with a spiritual title/a whole life publisher/a healed editor/enlightened readers/and she/my God/was number one on the list of my true friends

What they told me, I ain’t never been told/what they showed me, I ain’t never been showed, what I saw, I forgot I ever seen it—I have a whole new reality

Bones

These bones hold water
Collected from sweet rivers of the Gullah
Ashes scattered across the Pacific
Souls purified by tears and fire
Pure enough to wash their eyes clean
Powerful enough to birth rainbows

When Mommy died I became a fortuneteller
Casting stones on a grieving earth
Flesh inscribed with mysteries and symbols
Messenger of the bones….

I woke up channeling this here poetry
Became literary clairvoyant
Hips speaking and clearing rooms
Tongue tattooed with blood ink from the Mendewe
Poetic seer with psychic pen
Making songs on a mystic microphone

I rise and perform rituals on invisible stages
Confess truths in my head I may never have the courage to speak
It is not me who speaks these words
It’s the bones that come alive when I’m sleeping

They rise from the streets of Ferguson, Missouri
They rise from legacy of lies created to veil our brilliance
They rise to the slide of prison doors
Elevation of sagging britches from the crowns of queens who think they are bitches

The bones come to let me know I’m not alone
They come with sage papers and medicinal recipes
They come to repair my brokenness
They come to straighten what is crooked on the pages of my life


They come with literary IV
They come as book doulas and firekeepers
These bones are not afraid of my pain

I did not choose but I was chosen
Recipient for blood, bones and marrow passed down by spirits
Some friendly
Some enemy
All descending from the same chromosomes
All here for the same purpose--to return me to their original home…