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I am a mommy, scribe, and middle-school English teacher. I am trying to cope with being separated from my beloved. DoUWantMore? email me: theprisonerswife@gmail.com

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Saturday, Lite

Saturday, March 29, 2008

it's a lazy day. for once, i don't have a sorority meeting to attend, or any other real plans for the day. my little brother borrowed my car, so we are also without wheels and the munchkin's stroller has been in the trunk of my mom's car ever since she picked us up from the airport last week, so walking is out (i ain't carrying no 34lb child to the park!). so we're stuck. bound to the house until further notice. it isn't so bad. i've been surfing the web looking up random things: music, real estate, the news, researching for a project i'm working on, reading a friend's manuscript & lots of other very random things. exciting, eh?

i came across this song "Walk in My Shoes" by Emily King, & wanted to share it with y'all. i dig it. i love new artists. i'm sick of the same boring, preprogrammed songs we get on radio. i haven't really listened to the radio (except NPR) since i got my ipod, which has been great, but it has limited my exposure to new music. i like her voice. i miss listening to "real" music, whatever that really means. i'm sort of tired of listening to the songs i already love. i need fresh inspiration. new sounds and voices i can fall in love with.

on some saturdays & sundays, either on the way to a hair appointment, or coming home from the early morning service at church, i tune into "This American Life" on NPR. the first episode i heard, "Harold" profiled Chicago's first black mayor, Harold Washington. i was totally enthralled by the adept storytelling of the show. until recently (old age?) i wasn't really into talk/news radio. but the older i get, the more impatient i become with the immaturity of urban radio. this show is a breath of fresh air. i am entertained and educated all at once. it has become a staple in my weekend routine. check it out.

what are you plans for the weekend? anything special?

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 9:53 AM 6 comments

Something Old, Something New

Thursday, March 27, 2008

so, i've never shared any of my fiction with y'all, but i do write. i'm certainly no james baldwin, but i do a little something. this piece happens to be old & was born out of a writing workshop exercise. the first line had to be used either at the beginning or ending of the piece. i have progressed somewhat as a fiction writer, but i do like this little vignette. let me know what you think.


There is always murder at the heart of love. He wanted to choke her. He wanted to wrap his hands around her neck and squeeze until his fingers etched plum-colored marks into her amber skin; the same color as the hickeys he once planted from her nipples to her navel. He wanted to squeeze until every bit of life God ever breathed into her body had been rebuked. He wanted her dead. Wanted to stuff her in a box, or a closet, or something, anything so she couldn’t taunt him any longer with her happiness. How dare she? How dare she smile as if nothing has happened? As if she didn’t spit on his deepest emotions and stomp on his heart. Bitch. Yes, she is a bitch. A vile whore who tricked men into loving her, trusting her, only to leave when they are most vulnerable and need her most. Such cruelty deserves death, he thought. Yes, he said to himself, yes, she deserves to die.

The phone rang, snapping Derrick out his murderous thoughts. Who the hell? he asked himself. It was nearly 4am; no sane person would call at this hour. This could be one of two things, bad news or bullshit. Not wanting to hear either, Derrick decided his machine would answer the call. After three rings, his black cordless went silent, and his cell phone began ringing. Damn, he thought. This has got to be some shit.


“Hey…it’s me”

“I can’t believe this. Wha—“

“Please don’t hang up. I know it’s late but—“

“Damn right! What the fuck do you want?”

She swallowed. He sounded different, angry. He never cursed at her, never raised his voice even in the middle of their biggest arguments. Hang up. Hang up the phone Mina. She wanted to hang up, but couldn’t. She was in shock. She knew she hurt him, but she never imagined how devastated he was. His face was still burned into her memory. His eyes still searched her for answers. Why? Why didn’t you tell me, Mina?, his words sliced into her. She never meant to love him. Never wanted anything more than a great fuck, but he made her laugh. He was too silly, too nice, too smart, too much of everything her husband wasn’t. No, she never meant to love him, but she couldn’t help it.

“I…” she stuttered, “called to tell you that—"

“The fuck you call to tell me at 4 in the morning? What? You wanted to tell me you’re sorry that you’re married? Save it. I don’t want to hear any bullshit apologies, Mina. I want to know how could you…how could you? You never answered that. You never told me how you could make love to me, pretend you love me, then—"

“Pretend? I’ve never pretended with you, Derrick”

“What the fuck you call it then? We were fucking playing house for a year. A year!” He screamed into the phone.

“I know, but it’s…complicated”

“Complicated?” He began laughing—harsh and throaty. His tone lingered somewhere between agony and amusement.

“Is that the best you can do? Complicated? That’s some bullshit. Was fucking me supposed to uncomplicate things, Mina? What was that supposed to solve?”
She winced, rubbed her temples and closed her eyes. She did not want to have this conversation, but she couldn’t sleep. She struggled with this for the last week. Should I tell him? No. Will he understand? Will he be happy? Will he believe me? Will he even care? She began crying, softly—barely audible. It was dark. Mina sat—lights out—trapped by the words that wouldn’t leave her tongue. How could she be so stupid, she thought? She loved a man she did not deserve. He was not her husband; he was her lover, her friend—her soul mate?

“Well?,” Derrick exhaled, angry yet weary. “What was so important that you had to call at 4 in the morning?”

“I…I’m pregnant.”


Posted by the prisoner's wife On 6:53 PM 6 comments

Home, Cooking, and Monday

Monday, March 24, 2008

baked macaroni
ambled through the living room
making us hungry

you rang, bringing sun
and sadness with a taut smile
wishing you could share

everything with us
is somehow lacking in ways
hard to explain over

again I want you
to meet me places you can’t
imagine exists

somewhere beyond this
time parceled out in tidbits
love sustains us all


so, we are home and back into the routine of our everyday life. yesterday was Easter and like a mad woman, I decided to take over the cooking duties. you see, usually my mother and/or grandmother slaves over the hot stove, but I decided to give them a break. thanks to my sista*friend/super-chef-on-call, i pulled it off (and it was good). i whipped up fried chicken (which was a bad idea because it was about 90 degres yesterday!), potato salad, baked macaroni, and mixed veggies. needless to say, everybody enjoyed my cooking which made me feel all grown up! (even my grandma wanted the recipe! LOL). so my ego got a bit of a boost, even as my press was sweated OUT.

although i wasn't ready to go back to work today, i told myself that i would think positive. instead of dreading the morning, i said that today would be a GREAT day, and it was, had it not been for the headache. but it's over now (thank the LAWD!) and tomorrow is a short day for the kids (handclap). i think i'm still experiencing a bit of time-zone confusion because i'm pretty tired and it's only 6.

i find myself wanting to write poems again, which is a good sign. i haven't been writing as much as i should. so many times i feel like i'm squandering the opportunities i've been presented with. i watch others put their dreams together and turn them into reality, and then i secretly wish to do the same, but just...don't...quite...do...it.

what's the holdup? what am i really afraid of?

i guess, i'm the only one that can answer that. and it needs to happen. soon.

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 5:52 PM 5 comments

on the road

Thursday, March 20, 2008

(going to meet my man)

on visiting

smalltown u.s.a.
a blur of cows and branches
and prisons emerge

out of nowhere we
rush to hold memories in
tangled fingers and

polaroids. you ask
for a soda, burger, and
what's new in the world

everything has changed
and stayed the same all at once
your face tightening

remembering each
curve of my lips. we smile but
watch the clock tensely

(in the sticks...literally)

tomorrow is our last day of visiting. i can't believe how quickly these four days have seemed to zoom by. i am tired. i will not return to work on monday rested, but rather still feeling like i need a vacation. my son has been acting out a bit. beloved and i have been having a wondering spin on the dance floor. i am dreading tomorrow. i wish i could stay longer, but work and bank accounts do not permit it. tomorrow will be a bit sad, but i will be brave. when 3:05 hits, and the COs call out that visiting is done, my heart will drop. his heart will drop. we will hug and kiss for minutes on end, but it still won't be enough. he will go back, be strip searched and lock in to a lonely cell with nothing but his memories of our conversation and kisses. i will go back to an empty hotel room to pack, and get ready for a long and lonely flight. in a few months we will do it all over again. the joy. the heartache. coming together and leaving again. this is the cycle of our life. for now.

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 7:49 PM 6 comments

traveling (wo)man

Monday, March 17, 2008

I'm leaving, on the next plane
I don't know when I'll be back again
Kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you'll wait for me
Hold me, like you know I'll never go
Even though you know I will
I'm a travelling man
moving through places
space and time
got a lot of things I got to do
but God willing I'm coming back to you

~ Mos Def "Traveling Man" Remix

i'm leaving on a jet plane tonight to see beloved.

while i LOVE that i get to spend a few days with him, the hassle of traveling with a 2 year old tries my nerves. i have to pack so many things to keep him busy, clean, and fed. i have to make sure he keeps his feet off of the seat in front of him, and hope that he doesn't throw a tantrum and scream at the top of his lungs. basically, i have to make sure he's not THAT kid that everybody rolls their eyes at. not to mention my family constantly looks at me sideways when i say, "i'm going to my 2nd home." although they are supportive of our relationship, they still don't understand why i need to visit so much ("didn't you just go last month?" they ask). i look at my little one, and i ask them, how can i not?

beloved & the munchkin barely know each other. no matter how many trips we make, it doesn't make up for the months or weeks that they don't get to see each other. you know how kids are: they don't know what they don't see, and the last thing i want our son to do is look at beloved like a stranger. i know it probably won't really CLICK until he's a little older that 1)he has a REAL daddy that doesn't just live in pictures and 2) daddy is just away & will be home...soon(?). but i'm trying to do all that i can to reinforce their relationship now.

our visit is coming at the perfect time. not only am i off for spring break, but beloved is having some issues. since his sentencing in Nov. 2006, he's been in two mental health hospitals, and for the last few days (or a week, i'm not sure), he's been on "observation." i don't really know what that means considering they won't tell me anything over the phone (ugh!), but i know that something isn't right. he's been increasingly depressed and a little distant as of late. when we talk all he really says is that he misses me & really misses our son, but not much else. seeing him face-to-face and being able to hold his hand and show him that we are HERE, will (hopefully) go a long way to ease his nerves. i can't even begin to imagine what he goes through. the physical situation is enough to break most people, not to mention the psychological turmoil he puts himself through (feeling increasingly upset with himself for putting us through this). i can't imagine having so much alone time just to sit and think about what i should have done & how my life could have been different. that is a mind killer.

whenever you see articles or studies on the prison population, they deal mostly with the numbers, not the families behind those numbers. i wish someone would come along and put a face, a voice, a story with the facts. perhaps then we would not just say, "wow, that sucks" when we hear of the alarming numbers of people being locked up. maybe then we'll try to come up with solutions.

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 9:52 AM 6 comments

Thin line between heaven and here

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The political world has been upended by news of Eliot Spitzer’s connection to a prostitution ring. Apparently, the scandal was flushed out when bank officials noticed several suspicious cash transfers and filed reports with the IRS. Many thought that it was a possible corruption scandal, but were shocked when Spitzer, the “Sherif of Wall Street,” was linked to a high-end call-girl service.

Sex and politics are not strange bedfellows. Several prominent politicians have found themselves on the wrong side of a sex-scandal, but news of Spitzer’s improprieties have many calling this once moral crusader, a hypocrite. Honestly, I could care less who Gov. Spitzer was sleeping with. That is between him and his wife, but this scandal brings up a myriad of other questions, namely, when does one move from being a human being, wrought with contradictions and complexities, to a hypocrite, devoid of any moral leg to stand on?

Thinking about the contradictions involved in Spitzer’s debacle brought to mind the complexities and contradictions that have shaped my father’s life. My father, a 30+ year veteran teacher and coach, has worked hard to teach, mentor and mold some of our most troubled youth, but he is also a functioning drug addict.

I have never said those words aloud. Never admitted to anyone that my father is addicted to drugs, nor allowed myself to think about it in any meaningful way. Likewise, he has never admitted it to me, but the signs are clear. My father, once vibrant, has deteriorated into a paranoid, heartbroken, functioning junkie. That stings, but cleaning it up doesn’t make it better.

I often wonder how broken you have to be to get hooked on drugs. How much pain do you have to live with until you say, “enough,” and fall into the comforting nod of cocaine? My dad has seen a lot. He lost his father at 7, saw his dreams of a NBA career wither away, and lost the love of his life, my mother. Apparently, my father’s drug use was constant throughout my parent’s 14-year marriage, but then, it was only weed. I distinctly remember a box my father kept which contained his “homemade cigarettes.” He never smoked in front of us, but he’d purchase Zig Zags and close himself off in his room for a while, then a strange smell wafting through the house. Like a teenager looking for an escape hatch, my father fell right in.

Soon his drug use turned to abuse and his paranoia led him to question every move my mother made and become violent. Mentally exhausted and tired of the drama, my mom moved us out to my grandparent’s house and my father’s downward spiral began.

I believe he sold all of our stuff. Everything we didn’t move out of the house is now gone: my mother’s piano, my flute, our TVs, bikes, our dog. I don’t have anything from my childhood that was left in that house. During those first few months and years of their separation, my father was vehemently angry. Everything was my mother’s fault. She kept us away. She was evil. She was a bitch. He threatened and threatened, and I realized I didn’t even know him anymore.

It has been 13 years since my parent’s divorce was final, and I’m still looking for the father I once knew. I catch glimpses of him from time to time, but the moments spent talking about and enjoying life have faded away to mere memories. My father still uses drugs. At 56 he has nothing. No car, no house, no place to call his own. He lives with my uncle and aunt, and hitches rides to work with friends. It doesn’t help that he makes quite a bit of money, but is broke a few days after pay day, always making excuses and blaming his lack of money on others. When he starts acting weird and asking questions that make little sense, I try hard to remember that he IS my father and not some strange man on the street. But it’s hard. We have little to talk about, and he still feels very foreign to me.

Watching HOB’s “The Wire” has made me a bit hopeful for my dad. Watching Bubbles, a drug addicted homeless man, fight his way back from addiction to some semblance of a normal life gives me hope. My dad isn’t that far-gone (right?). He still goes to work, he still mentors kids, still plays grandpa on holidays, but he also still uses drugs. Although the show a work of fiction, it is still grounded in truth. If Bubbles can fight his way back from the brink, I feel my father can piece himself back together again.

My father is not a bad man, he is in pain. And pain causes you to do things you may have never imagined. The dad I once knew is still there, waiting to come out again. I just hope it happens before it’s too late, and I don’t even have the memories of him to hold onto anymore.

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 6:58 PM 18 comments

just something quick to lift my spirits. a lot has been going on lately & i've been feeling tired, spent, and a bit hopeful. i just want to take some time to give a little thanks. i need a boost & remembering the good things always helps to put a little swag back in your step. here goes...

i'm thankful for:

1. air, fresh and smoggy pumping through these lungs. life is a beautiful struggle.

2. phone calls from beloved, just in the nick of time.

3. spring break being only a few days away.

4. my big-headed bwoi. my munchkin finds so many ways to make mommy laugh, even when i'm tryna be tough.

5. my fresh new ipod (i will probably be deaf soon. i'm blasting this shit EVERYWHERE!)

6. Nicolay & Kay. TIGHT EYES. they make me wanna write again (soon come).

7. acting upon old ideas...y'all aint ready.

8. Mos Def meeting Talib Kweli. Brown Skin Lady is still my theme song (can we get another album, fellas?).

9. Summer!

10. the All Mighty from wince cometh all things, wonderful.

i am also thankful for being able to share my life, my struggle, and my words with y'all. the writer in me feels so much gratitude to y'all for taking the time to read whatever i have to say. this site has given me an outlet & voice when i felt most alone. so thank you, and you, and you for coming & sharing with me.

what are you thankful for today?

bless up.

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 2:23 PM 2 comments

wait a minute

Sunday, March 09, 2008

so, being high off my new ipod i set on a quest to find something new. i've been stuck on the same loop of the roots, mos def, common, illy jilly, and badu for like EVER, so i needed something fresh to add to the collection. don't get me wrong, i still love the classics, but i need some new blood.

saturday night i stumbled across Estelle, an Afro-Carribean Brit, with voice and swagger for days. so far i've downloaded a few of her songs, but i'm diggin what i've heard thus far. her style is a cross between 90s basement-funk/soulful house, brand new heavies, and moni love (huh?). i know, i know, my description is a bit convoluted (and perhaps all wrong), so i'll just let her introduce herself.

"Wait A Minute" ft. John Legend

American Boy Ft. Kanye West

what NEW music/artists have you discovered recently that you're LOVING?

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 9:37 PM 4 comments

for me?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

i finally did it.

i finally shelled out the $150 for a new ipod. i've been putting it off for over a year now, since my last one mysteriously came up broken. you see, although i freely spend (way too much) money on my son, my husband, and on random trips to Target, when it comes time to buy something for myself, i freeze. i quickly begin thinking of all the upcoming bills, and how we will be traveling soon, and how high gas is...and i end up not buying anything. i rarely buy myself new pairs of shoes, i don't buy a lot of clothes, and this ipod...i've been eying it for some time now. but last night, on a trip to *ehem* Target, i bit the bullet and bought one.

and guess what?
i'm SO glad i did!

i'm still a little shaky on the fact that i spent $150 on it, especially considering we'll be making another trip to see beloved soon, but i'm glad i got it. music motivates me so much, and now i have no excuse to skip a workout or neglect writing or whatever...because my muse is back.

what's on your ipod or in your stereo these days? (i need suggestions. i have a lot of space to fill!)

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 1:37 PM 4 comments

Teaching in the Trenches

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

My classroom is a battleground.

Everyday I fight with my students, trying to get them to remember bits of grammar, vocabulary words, and find importance in the works of literature that have changed my life. Everyday I threaten, and sometimes, I bribe them into learning (I hope) what it is they need to know to be just a little bit successful in this world. And everyday, after a day of threatening, and bribing, and yelling, and calling people’s parents, and shaking my head, I come home tired and spent, barely able to stay up longer than my 2-year old, only to return in the morning to do it all over again.

Teaching is a venerable profession.

Many have tried to tame a classroom, but have failed miserably, only to quit, disgruntled and complaining about the kids after a year or two. I won’t front, the idea of quitting and abandoning the headache (and heartache) of the classroom has crossed my mind plenty of times. But where will that leave my kids?

My students are a special group. Many of them are functioning three and four grade-levels below where they should be. They are facing a myriad of issues that no one their age should face. Several have no parents, are in foster care or live with distant relatives who do little but collect their check. And most of them come from single-parent households, where mom or grandma is working so hard she can barely pay attention. My students are both too grown for their 13 years, and too immature to handle all that has been placed on their shoulders.

Dangerous minds are wasting away.

I admit, I wanted to be the next Joe Clark or Erin Gruwell, the next inspirational teacher leading my group of disenfranchised students to the Promised Land (and maybe a movie), but that is proving to be harder than I imagined. You see, I thought that if I was real with the kids, showed I cared about them, and demonstrated that anything was possible, that education was the ticket out of any messed up situation, that they’d hunker down and study until As and Bs blossomed like wildflowers. But that isn’t happening.

Several of my students are apathetic, at best, toward their education. They don’t see the value in math or science or learning how to write an essay. They can’t see how it will help them further down the line. They know college is out there, but to my dismay, many have expressed interest in NOT going. My kids are bored, and only seem to be turned on by Soulja Boy and Sidekicks, by MySpace and name-brand clothing. Getting them interested in school is harder than cracking the Matrix, and I’m still searching for the code.

I am afraid for my students.

I am afraid for our future. Without an education, my students—Black and Latino—are almost certainly doomed to struggle for the rest of their lives. A 2006 article in the NY Times writes,

...in the country's inner cities, the studies show, finishing high school is the exception, legal work is scarcer than ever and prison is almost routine, with incarceration rates climbing for blacks even as urban crime rates have declined.
Although the problems afflicting poor black men have been known for decades, the new data paint a more extensive and sobering picture of the challenges they face.

"There's something very different happening with young black men, and it's something we can no longer ignore," said Ronald B. Mincy, professor of social work at Columbia University and editor of "Black Males Left Behind" (Urban Institute Press, 2006) (more).

My Black male students seem especially disinterested in excelling in school, choosing instead, to hide behind an air of coolness and hyper masculinity. Instead of emulating positive examples of blackness, they choose to model their stance and pose and language after many of the (worst) rappers in the business. And it’s very frustrating.

As someone who was where they are, growing up in the same neighborhood and experiencing many of the same things, it’s frustrating to see so many falling into habits that can trap them into a life that they are not ready for. To see them falling into this life that is so totally avoidable and unnecessary is painful. But even more painful is not having the answers. There is no magic pill or bullet to turn this thing around. There have been studies upon studies conducted, but still, our kids are underachieving.

How do we fix this?

How can we save our kids?

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 10:55 PM 6 comments

just staring

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

i have been just staring at this site for some time now. i've been meaning to post. i've been wanting to post. some have asked where the hell i've been (some may not care? lol).

i've been here. staring. looking. watching. wanting to post, but not making myself come to this computer to write.

i need to write. i long to write, but i just can't. don't ask me why. i am on some extended writer's block that i can't seem to shake. the desire is there, some rough ideas are there, but not much else.

i need some inspiration.
i need some new scenery.
i need some new music.

how have y'all been?

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 1:05 PM 4 comments