Mama’s smile has wings

and her arms- warmth.

She’d make sure our water always had sugar and that the stench of poverty never sat on our clothes too unevenly.

She tried to build us with blocks of her own making-

Trust and confidence,

love and faith,



pride and self worth.

Mama sat hiding crack pipes and upturned bottles

Throwing all the nasty bits behind the couch where she thought we didn’t see them.

Sending us floating on smiles.

Mama’s love set foreign standards on our project block

She meant it to carry on . . .

But you can’t make love real for another’s heart.

No more than you can stop the passing sands

And mama’s love can over carry over only so much into the world without her.

There comes a time where us got to find our own.

And grow in it for ourselves.

And you should never mistake the intimacy that comes at the start.

The feelings moving about between moist flesh

and the thoughts dancing about like wonder

The quiet on his face.

Id wish to reshape it-

the space, touch his face and rest.

But sometimes smiles can mean other thangs

and a kiss can be empty.

Love like there is in this world misleads.


And mistreats.

Leaves you alone and believin’ friends to be lovers and lovers to be eternal

and so on and so on.

I found my love in my wash bason.

Clinging to dirt, reaching for me.

I took a rag and wrapped it.

Whispered to it.

Held it.

Read it for what it was and placed it down.

Talked it off the ledge it was on, in my room.

Amongst all the misfortune and patriarchy.

In my heart theres a space for hope to land.

Dig roots and lead.

And theres a place for my love to breathe.

Move past the manipulation and define itself for itself.

Something like a resolution came about as I went to sleep.

A promise to do better with ourselves.

To teach others how to treat us through how we treat ourselves.

To be able to stand to them and say:

“I am the somebody I want to love”

3 thoughts on “Wings

  1. This put me in a furrow of yellow daisy’s with blue skies- hanging out and smiling with you Jamal on a hill.You all ways know how to make me feel safe Jamal, perhaps its because the same safety and love that you express, is from your strong mother (in your poem and in your presence). In all ways this poem told your story while also telling mines; how beautiful it is to share the same struggle with a righteous comrade! There is Love and it lives in you Jamal- your stories, experiences, identity, and presence. Thank you for loving US.

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