“The worst thing about that kind of prejudice… is that while you feel hurt and angry and all the rest of it, it feeds you self-doubt. You start thinking, perhaps I am not good enough” -NINA SIMONE –
I never knew why I connected so much with this woman’s voice and songs so much, until now.
We seemingly have nothing in common- she was a trained classical pianist, jazz and soul singer, and a proud African American lady, actively a part of the American civil rights movement.
She hung out with Martin Luther King! She was born in the 1930’s.
I , on the other hand, was born and grew up in South Africa. I am white. I was born in the early 1980s when the apartheid regime was crumbling.
Recently, I watched a documentary about her life on Netflix and I identified with this wild spirit within her. A spirit demanding justice. She was a person who had a name but couldn’t truly own it.
There is a song she sings – AINT GOT NO -I GOT LIFE (she is simply mesmerising to watch)
The song ends with her singing
“I am my freedom. I got my freedom.”
That is my connection to her. For a long time I wasn’t accepted,I may well have been another skin colour.
In fact- in post-apartheid. -early 90’s -I spent most of my teens taking drugs with the colored or black and Indian community ( they identify themselves with these terms in South Africa btw ) and spending less time with white people.
At various points in Nina’s life she felt like she had lost her mind.
I nearly became mad.
In fact I am sure I did.
I nearly died -countless times too.
I was forced out of South Africa because my mother couldn’t stand by and watch me die.
It took 17 years to get to the person I am today.
I should be dead. I guess life has bigger plans for me. It is not for lack of me trying every possible way to kill myself by my hand or another’s..
I have always wanted my freedom to be me in my body and mind and be comfortable in it.
In my search for Freedom I even became like some feral creature to get it. I could say I only imitated what I saw other people do.
It’s strange how other people are quick to judge. They don’t seem to see that they do the same things to cope.
Oh,how they just took .
People just took from me what was useful to them and discarded me like a used condom. Making sure there was no evidence to be found that linked them with the theft of my own creativity and soul.
People took a lot from Nina – she left the U.S.A. for many years to find her mind and peace.
One of my favourite sayings I always tend to tell people is
“I’m a person with good intentions”
“My actions and heart come from a good place .”
I think I must have picked it up from the lyrics in the song ‘DON’T LET ME BE MISUNDERSTOOD
“I’m just a soul whose intentions are good – Oh lord please don’t let me be misunderstood”
I’ve often felt misunderstood.
I have made one hell of a journey.
So these days if someone misunderstands what I say, I have to pretty much cut them off and be direct and tell them that they have misunderstood or not heard or misinterpreted what I am saying .
To have a soul, you have to be free.
Completely free of your mind and body -you mustn’t covert away any part of you , you must reveal your soul to the entire world.
People will either get you or they won’t but that becomes their problem not mine or yours.
There must be no shame in revealing your soul to the world.
Nina was diagnosed with Bipolar in the 80’s and I guess she felt displaced.
Now I know that world well.
I felt displaced in so many situations in my life. I did actually do something Nina did (at a point in her life)-
I turned inwards on myself.
I couldn’t win the political game of “normal” social life. I never fit in one social group or culture.
I stood out for all to see.
I didn’t fit. Yet, I felt comfortable in more than one place or with one type of people simultaneously.
I didn’t want to have to choose just one set of people to be around. I tried to conform but my soul rebelled
I struggled when I was growing up.
Not being able to fit into one box came with high levels of recklessness on my part. I was probably the first person in my social group who displayed crazy- off her head signs.
It was awful because I was only 13-17 years old.
You could be a certain type of crazy but not my kind of crazy.
People backed up the fuck away…
Never mind that later many of my peers would have had more life experience and with that , they had gained a few extra pounds of experiencing the not so great hand life deals us at times.
There would come a time when many I knew would have to deal with whatever it decides to throw at you. Whenever it chooses to do so.
Maybe a few of them went
“Oh,now I get it.”
I took on adult responsibilities from a young age.
I didn’t fucking want them.
So it then became a political inquest into my soul…
My soul fled from me – leaped out of my heart, got lost in my head , ran- in search of the nearest exit.
It found that exit in a secret tunnel at the furthest part of my unconscious. It did a backflip out and over the balcony of my mind, landed on its feet and made for the ocean.
It went into hiding , to the deepest part of the ocean. A place it knew it could surrender to without protest. It could go with the current and not be examined for doing something as natural as just being its nature and of nature.
I searched to reclaim mine back for years.
Soul can’t be questioned, it must be felt.
Nina felt stigma,
I felt stigma,
Many feel stigma.
She connected to so many because she wasn’t afraid to share her humanness and be her and speak up for ‘her kind’.
She inspires me to carry on speaking out for people who still suffer inequality with their mental health issues. I will never stop using my voice and writing to break down stigma and prejudice and ignorance.
There are four songs I want to share that she sang.
The only way she knew how to help change and shape the world she lived in -was to get political with her music. It killed her singing career and nearly killed her.
I can’t help but see Nina as such a positive role model for all genders, race, sexuality, age and faiths.
Fall – leaves turn shades of browns and greens.
my heart dips and I don’t feel that same sense of summer’s beams.
Alone. I look to my left. Creativity shines- glitter, stilettos- latex, white faux fur coats. All legs.
Like a string of pearls flung across a room, a musky scent wafts across my midst.
Temptations persist. Glamour. Warmth is all I seek. Summer, why do you have to be so cruel?
I know if I cross over to the other side – I’ll be feeling the warmth – it will be pimped out inbox ring styles – I won’t have time to dodge the fists.
My body will burn up an exotic shade of hues. I will have no rest.
Hell is the other side of Summers gluttonous jazz bassline.
One hit. One vein. Blood – artificial nirvana could infiltrate my being.
I won’t have to think of the biting cold that is ringing in my ears. Muffled will be the ice cone, frozen on the edge of my nose. It doesn’t matter who sees that I have been seen.
Bus shelters full, spikes erect from the corporate underground – I can’t sit down. I know it takes fewer muscles to smile than frown.
Energy is all I have to see me through this cycle of undomesticated abuse. October may be Domestic abuse awareness month.
If I hadn’t left my keeper, I would still have a roof over my head.
I would still be touched.
Better the devil you know – I know every one of his moves. I know when to dissociate –
detach my mind
from my body.
Floating above the marital, martial art stylised bed – I see myself and that devil I married, grabbing folds of my skin. He doesn’t notice the smell of the new conditioner I bought at Asda or how soft the sheets feel now they have been newly spun.
Dryer. I’m dry. He doesn’t notice the lack of moisture. He doesn’t notice that all of that fluid has shot up to my eyeballs. I refuse to let them free flow – I am not her. I’m floating.
Fly on the wall. Caught up in a spiders web. I have to watch. It doesn’t matter if I have a crick in my neck – oh hang on a minute is he choking me?
Leftover food languishing in the sink drain. He switched the waste disposal on to automatic.
Arrested, I am back in bed, under him. Time to vogue with my lips and give him a little pucker.
These white sheets have turned red in his need to let off steam. I come out in blisters hovering underneath his vapour.
Turn my neck – feels like I need a box of throat lozenges for having to get all deep throat.
5 am flashing in stimulant green.
I’m 5 months pregnant. I am going to be late.
Grab the nearest decent clothes. Pull-on my Adidas trainers. Scrape my hair up into a ponytail.
Finally the motivation to go on the run. I don’t have to time myself. I know his schedule well.
An Olympic torch passes into my hand. I’m running for freedom. Liberty is my destination.
I can start over.
Spring – blues, violets, colours in a perfect union – uncompressed. Naturally dressed.
For the first time in months, I feel like I belong. I too am a medley of colours. I blend in.
Natures milkshake collects in my breasts – 4 months to go until I give birth to a miracle of pure life.
Not branded a colour – just innocence – a chance to see a light – work on my soul and tackle it all. This is the only cure.
I am no Killer.
Life goes in cycles. It passes by fast. There are no traffic jams when you have to pick up your feet and walk.
Eyes cast down, belly protruding.
Christian volunteers crouch down next to me- hand me a card.
Die and be reborn.
They can help me. I just have to give my old life to our saviour. I’ve never met him but he sounds
Forgiving, comforting, caressing- a handwash with extra Aloe vera – calming properties.
All I have to do is offer my unborn child to him and I can enter paradise with the rest of my weary comrades.
Eyes raise up to the bitter sky. I’ve always thought whatever is up there twinkling and winking down at me is having a far better time than me.
My unborn deserves a place in heaven. Earth only promises scars and wild jungle roots to keep it grounded to the spot.
The ultimate sacrifice.
Did I fold in with this cult out of cowardice?
I will drink my poison.
Maybe this winter I will be reunited with the one that let out a sudden cry.
Lead me not into temptation. I lie down, no need to be afraid, child. I close my eyes and sigh.
Hope is my last premise.
* Inspired by domestic violence awareness month*
HERE IS A LINK TO A POST I WROTE,ON 11TH MAY 2016 , ABOUT MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCES IN A D.V. RELATIONSHIP , TO RAISE DOMESTIC ABUSE AWARENESS IN MY COMMUNITY AND SOCIETY.
CLICK ON THE PINK HIGHLIGHTED LINK BELOW
*photo credit Rhode Island Francesca Woodman, Benjamin Moore *
*8th March women’s international day 2022*
Under a senseless war you are not as noticed as your insight ..
Know that female propaganda protestation is a liberation .Maternal is a revolution
Starting with faith not doubt .
Radical against the martial law
reveal your beliefs with the strength of your education
Never forget you have a duty to stand up .
Voice your opinions.. you are part of your nation.
Even when the patriarchy has you under a thumb.
It’s a parody
employed mercenaries to pluck his monoborw.
Inhabit a cold continent to suit his Napoleon Bonaparte with fashionless gout.
He’s tied up , suited & booted mannerisms to strangle the patriots to go without..
A Siberian exile
An excuse to out those who’ve already come out.
No shame , my women …
Evil will lose this small man’s willy , I believe without a doubt 😏.
International women’s day
Russia we stand as our tribe .
We will win with every gender with clout.
Because I could not tell this demon,
it did kindly tell me it wasn’t all a fantasy
Paraphanelia of the supernatural, everywhere,
Yet not a drop of tormented screams to tell nor see
You can tell its mental manipulation, ungodly beauty, but I choose to be deceived.
Disarmed by a seducing look
Naked as the first female form -I almost believed I was in the garden of Eve
the antichrist led me to become this incurable junkie.
Never forget the unalterable attempts to resist its allure
All attempts were futile I remained a hopeless druggie.
A succubus, however hard it tries,
Will always be a compelled rogue demanding to be in need.
Does this dream walker make you lust after?
Or does loving it make you bleed?
When I think of this Lileth, I see an entity in need of consuming Chi .
Grunt, gheep, grope
Eventually, this demon will depart with my seed.
*I needed a writing prompt and I decided to use a poem generator
this was the original computer-generated poem and I was inspired to change it to make a piece of work my own.
Because I could not tell for Addict,
it did kindly tell for me.
Addict, Addict, everywhere,
Yet not a drop to tell.
You can tell, you can get, but can you believe?
I cannot help but stop and look at the incurable junkie.
Never forget the unalterable and hopeless junkie.
A fiend, however hard it tries,
Will always be rogue.
Does the fiend make you shiver?
When I think of alcoholics, I see a depressed personality.
Crash. crash, crash.
No one knew of the flying woman
No one knew if she would fall
No one knew she hovered above
Watching those who stumbled on the cobbles after painting the town red hoping for a bloody breast to fill their stomache one night more.
Free range chickens -motherless
Hoping that no proud rooster would make an early morning call
For one night peace could be theirs thanks to the flying woman they found spread out
Life is mostly forlorn.
When the flowers stood still
My heart ❤️ skipped a beat
Because I thought by the grace of God I knew better.
The winter disarmed me with a smile, I was suddenly subdued.
Momentarily I knew my panic attacks were an illusion
A mind convinced I would die as a strumpet without learning how to be astute.
I couldn’t be a pale white whore for the others to flagellate me.
Keep me in line with further a duty
Because I know my experience wasn’t to be an accordion.
To the whims of those who asked me to be a subordinate
For a season
My tears wouldn’t be known
My tears wouldn’t be recognised
Unless I said NO.
Freed from the shackles
A feminine bitch called crazy and intense
I believe that I was one of the few…
One more month and I would blossom from the weed who knew how to decipher the language lost in translation to her tribe that all wouldn’t always be askew.
One reason passes quicker than one can muster
Bide your time to break free from the shackles
The time the birds will come back to us in due time.
Your soul will find the strength to be reborn by winters ❄️ rebirth the sounds of baby sheep, foals, kids,
All will be reborn renewed
First appearances people see the peak of an iceberg
I’m frosty, aloof and alas, on occasion I am mean.
If a person wishes to explore more of my make up they’ll find layered depths of frenetic intensity.
I have secrets of a history spanning over decades often feeling I’ve lived for centuries.
Am I immortal?
I’m merely human, don’t you see?
Occasionally, my demeanour melts at the sight of past enemies.
I’ve learned to be durable
Have the strength to endure a life span of over three decades.
An incredible feat, don’t you agree?
When poorly I’m cold
Under the sunshine, I bask in the glory
Honoured to feel;
Honoured to acknowledge I too have victories.
Oft I catch people off guard with bursting shouts, Look at my glee!
Inner confidence harks, Don’t underestimate me!
Many moon cycles left behind in the dark.
Startled by spring to be reborn
Nature is cruel
Thoughts of how can I summon up the will to carry on?
Life drags on a lit cigarette hope rapidly distinguishes
The light I can barely see.
Life stamp me out,
a frazzled repressive voice alien to the world.
This is how I feel!
A weedy, nondescript Daisy,
If it turns a head to the sunshine I bloom into a true flower
Wild and untameable.
I was born to be free
I wasn’t born to conform to the expectations of some society.
She didn’t know it then
she knew now.
Woken up with on a loop blasting around her mind in surreal sound-
the Russian bass choir chanting in all surround.
An apt app unconsciousness knew her well.
A year ago, life had been different.
Mirthful, optimistic playful
Now, rooted to the spot with foliage, branches, lush leaves taking in the vagabonds seeking shelter.
Lost souls in need hidden by darkness
these nomadic souls plotting their next move.
Time for souls to gather there their thoughts
the continued search of their dreams and pursuits.
Forlorn found herself lost in her own shades of solitude.
She was alone. Tucked up in her double bed -a pattern of flowers – all Huey reds and purples.
Forlorn – wrapped up in a ditzy forlorn pattern matched her current mental state.
She could feel the bubbling creeping up to death by poison ivy- curling it’s away from the roots of her feet upwards.
It would not stop until she was mummified into silence.
She knew it wanted to make sure her mouth, eyes & nose covered in bondage to the soil solidly planted her roots.
One day she had an epiphany.
Moments of clarity were few.
A possibility to be something purposeful meaningful for her.
She had given life sustained it for those souls.
Yet she was weary, ageing.
Before she was forced to put down roots in an abode that spoke in foreign serpentine tongues;
Forlorn had forgotten she used to be a road runner girl.
A girl was taken by flights of fancy on a whim.
Ready to outrun her nemesis wanting to keep her hostage in a place she knew she didn’t belong.
An elder had kept her close to her.
Fearful to let her be free
To be whatever She wanted to be.
She begged her ancestors to rouse the beasts of deforestation to seize her keeper.
she could get a clean break – start over.
Feel movement not in height but in fluidity.
Nostalgic fragments of past it feelings -fragments
a pair of wings
A pair of arms
Even a pair of legs again.
Seasons passed still, she lay rooted to this spot. Full and plumaged as ever.
Ready to entice wanderers to seek shelter for without telling her a reason.
She fidgeted, yawned, stretched willing pine bristles to deter these unwanted vagrants.
Her heart had almost given up. She had succumbed to what she supposed was her last winter.
One eve she looked at the bees collecting sweet nectar for the unseen Gods.
Forlorn conceived a sapling of hope
Mental Rummaging a sense of Deja Vu.
I know it’s here’- impatient, sighing.
A piece of technology from the world she was once a part of.
A means of magic.
A way to communicate her distress.
Tangled hands finally caught the pointed end of a carved, wooden wand.
Slim, compact light.
Her true form to be again.
Stretching open her eyeballs could be made simpler if she had the eyelashes to wipe away the moss interfering with her vision to flee..
Diminished another sense
She would forget who she was
what she wanted to be
She drifted into a frightful sleep.
A woodpecker hammered a hole of her bleak existence.
The start of her new life was in a gestation period of fewer than 12 hours!
How did I sleep for so long? Christ! berating her herself under the twilight
Suddenly a swarm, around her were a fleet of fireflies.
One eyeball strained
and out into focus confirmed her impending anxiousness starting to emit it’s familiar disparate gas into her trunk form.
The final place she held on to her liberty – her mind.
Thoughts ploughed at her – like a farmer attacking a poorly harvested crop.
Not fit for tendering
Nor the soft touch of her keeper.
She fought with all might
Absorbed more -light, water, words…
The elder’s I told you so voice pulled her back into the darkness of her gloom.
Just like a car needs fuel to keep going so does the body need food… photosynthesize.
Try and be what you are destined to be. A tree.
Blasting those voices back into the void from whence it had snatched out
Reaching over – without much of a search
Rustled her leaves -A call out for new bosom firefly friends.
A loud moan persisted from her innermost pit.
Hunger to be free in the form she still chose to be.
Chronic cramp. If only for the longing desire she had for her legs or wings to ease the pain of being motionless.
It wasn’t enough that she contributed towards sustaining other life species.
This stagnant obsession never seeing a sunrise from another part of the world again.
She looked down at her well-worn form.
How hard can it be to throw herself back to a time when she had legs?
a moments thought yanked her back like leashed like a dog to this home she felt no affinity .
Forlorn inhaled the scented berries, unravelling the mask of sight at the ivy,
A glimpse an assortment of psychedelic fleurs initiating that it was time to wake up.
One more push, one more fight.
Forlorn no more she’d set herself free.
If I could make an incision in my heart let my true feelings secrete
Reveal the true blood count I’d weep if we were to part.
If I stole your vision your very own sight – just one eyeball
to entice me to reveal how I love your ambition
your sexual prowess
I’d leave you sightless
Selfish -a crime with a sentence of life
no bail – a sin too priceless
I could impart with an auger in flight
Wing of the mystic
Would you send me letters written in pen ink well spilling out-
all of your feelings like tweed drapery drawn with bejewelled tie backs?
Is it wrong for me to want a piece of you or to borrow one fo your senses
prove I am sentient being ?
love you with my outer demeanour frozen in a stony glare
turned askance over my cold shoulder – drive you to break your sobriety – pour yourself a whisky – hold the ice.
To prove I dress in reptile attire –
Too afraid to entice you
Afraid you’d flee from a shy girl vulnerable to rejection
from the love of my life?