Tears in a Chamber of Echoes

•January 31, 2023 • Leave a Comment

The round faced peasant

Was paraded through town

As the elderman cried out for blood

“The witch is a tool of Satan,” he said

As he strapped a cold iron device

On their head

The mechanical device

Was called a scolds cap

With a cruel metal appendage

To hold down the tongue

Iron bars that encircle the head

To silence the voice

Of the town heretic

“We have found her guilty

Of calling herself them

She calls herself they/them

Because Satan is Legion

She is clearly under the influence

Of a powerful demon”

The Elderman’s fellows

Agreed, nodding sage

As they wrapped

The offending one’s

Tongue in a cage

He continued his charges

“The negress is fat!

She is greedy and lazy

And stole snacks out back

She paraded around

Like the belle of the ball

Called herself “they”

And wore men’s clothing

Through it all!

“She takes things from good men

And does not know her place”

He screamed as he strapped

The iron cage to thier face

“The negress cast spells!”

Said another in fright

And the men who had gathered

All became a pure white

Twas the whitest of whites

Color ran from their faces

T’was enchantment they feared

For the witch had some trick

That enchanted the town folks

But it made these men sick

“I have heard incantations

And make no mistake

She enchanted our children

And grew fat on their cake”

“Drag the fat wrench

Out to the town square

Place her in pillories,

Once you are there

Before reading charges

Sling mud in her face

So the townspeople see her

Cry tears in disgrace”

Though they had both wrists bound

The witch’s fingers were free

And wrote words in the air

The assembled could see

The elderman was astounded

The writing was on the wall for all to see

And some among the gathered crowd

Accused his lordship of villany

“Drat it!” One of the women said

“It is he and his scold cap I dread

I remember not long ago

When he placed that blasted

Rusty thing on my head

It is an ancient scold cap

And gave tetanus to one lass

Who the elderman sought to chasten

Because she did not properly care

For his jackass”

“Wait one moment,” said another

“Let us not make haste

The negress has been guilty of

Behaving like an ingrate

She has not thanked us adequately

For the freeing of her race

She should be happy that we let her in

And stop bringing more of her kind

In the place”

The elderman grimaced, and quickly agreed

Within moments his fellows

Returned to their screed

“She is clouding your judgment still

Though she’s in chains

Break her fingers now

That’s where her power remains”

2Pac was a poet, also…

•January 29, 2023 • Leave a Comment

Poet, educator and community activist Leila Steinberg, who mentored a young Tupac Shakur before he got famous, after the started attending her poetry classes in Oakland, once told me this story about how she and 2Pac were crossing the Golden Gate Bridge one day, and no one had the cash for the bridge toll.

Just as they gave up and Leila pulled out a checkbook and wrote the toll keeper a check, his first hit, “Same Song” with the Digital Underground, came on the radio.

An excited young 2Pac said that they would never have to do that again.

I love that story, and although I know that writers seldom experience the kind of success that legendary rappers do, I love that a poet mentored him, right here in Oakland. I love that he was a poet, it shows in his lyrics.

And as I think about this, I remember how many of Leila’s workshops and open mics I attend with my mother, and how much my association with rappers over the years, all the things I did – including back in the mid/late 00s when I was one of those MySpace rappers – have influenced my voice as a poet, certainly, just as much as if not in some ways more than, all of that Edgar Allen Poe I consumed in my school library back in 7th grade.

I wish my mom Carolyn Saulson was still here. She was always by my side, always on my side, and doing things with me. But I like to think she is here in spirit. I am grateful to her, and also to my sweetheart Princess Chris Hughes


•January 29, 2023 • Leave a Comment

I have stepped in the mud

Where the water meets blood

I have waded knee-deep in your shit

While it may be unkind

To the health of my mind

I have found myself soaking in it

Could I hold myself wise?

Then not internalize?

Could I find myself free of this trap?

My emotions run wild

Like an untended child

I have waded knee deep in this crap

I remember before I was born

In the womb I was hearing the sound

Of a dangerous world I was warned

In this dangerous world I am found

For the corner edges sharp, not round

Dangerous to children whose skin is brown

In this hidden safe space in my mind

I am skimming my knees kneeling down

I am bruising my knees on the floor

I capitulate just when I must

Searching for crumbs of hope in the dust

In the prison built around my mind

For a variety of mental crimes

For unauthorized thoughts that I keep

You exhort, “Do not wake! Stay asleep!”

When I woke therein broke all your rules

And declared the mind cage was for fools

The alarms sounded off their alert

And you shoved me back down in the dirt

The Child On The Lawn

•January 28, 2023 • Leave a Comment

The Child on The Lawn

Those responsible for his death cringed in fear
On the day that the child on their lawn did appear
Was his hair in corn rows, or a fuzzy black crown?
Were there tears in his eyes when held his head down?

Some of us keep histories
The tales of our tribe
Oral legends intertwine
With the parts of our mind
Containing genetic memory
Of the trauma, we’ve shared
Grievous wounds to our psyches
Handed down by forebears

They say that the child on the lawn
Is one of those such things
When tears well in his dead eyes
Then the living’s eyes sting
And the weight that he brings down
Upon their hearts is hard to bear

The ghost of the tragedies
Our ancestors endured
Has escaped through our wounds
Now he’s walking the streets
Though the guilty may hide
Their sanity is unwound
By the sound of his
Telltale Heartbeat

Those who injured him grievously cower in fear
Terrified that the child on their lawn will appear

When the child on the lawn waved his fabulous wand
Playing games with his fervent imagination
Weaving tales without jails where he’d play and run free
Did they grow terrified? Mistake it for a gun?
Did they call the police on someone’s
Twelve-year-old son?

Now the ghost on their lawn is enacting his rage
Clammy hands clawing up as he climbs from the grave
Craving equality, as he did in his life
When his enemies told tales with their backstabbing knives
The same bigotted tales that they told in his life
Weaving stories to ensure his kin would not survive
Calling him superpredator, fettering him in chains
Tossing his corpse out in a pauper’s fire heap of remains

Now the child on the lawn sings his frightening songs
Threatening to “overcome” and also “carry on”
How they cower in their homes afraid to walk at night alone
For the fear of this reverberant hum, it amasses as it
Is carried down the line by the other children
As they march in a line, and their feet beat in time
Making the sounds that amound billowing over their heads
For you cannot escape the cries of the dead

My short story “Dwayne’s Baby Daddy” is in Blerdrotica 2

•December 15, 2022 • Leave a Comment

My short story “Dwayne’s Baby Daddy” is in Blerdrotica 2: Couple’s Therapy (curated by Cranston Burney and Penelope Flynn). The full moon has all kinds of effects on the local werewolf population: including their on mating patterns. For Jamal, who’s in an open relationship with his reluctant wife Mariah, and his adventurous boyfriend Dwayne, the mystical fertility powers of the lunar cycle bring new complications when Dwayne, a transman, gets pregnant. That’s where a mysterious supernatural force steps in to help work things out: The Therapist. 

The Therapist is the strange, unearthly, and at times foreboding paranormal creature that holds together the tales told in Blerdrotica 2: Couple’s Therapy, a compilation of erotic short fiction by eight authors, Sumiko Saulson, James Goodridge, Penelope Flynn, Jarla Tangh, Abdul-Qaadir Taariq Bakari-Muhammad, Quinton Veal, Cranston Burney and Valjeanne Jeffers, who in their own very unique and provocative ways express sex and sexuality employing science fiction, fantasy, horror and urban fantasy.


Blackened Roots: An Anthology of the Undead

•November 22, 2022 • Leave a Comment

Blackened Roots: An Anthology of the Undead (Nontraditional zombie stories from the African diaspora) is on its final week of fundraising on IndieGoGo, and is only 45% funded. Please help get the word out! We have little time left. The project has to be at least 60% funded for the editors/publisher to reach their goal of professional rates for the authors.

Help them achieve their goal of paying Black authors at professional rates.

The anthology is co-edited by Stoker-nominated and award-winning editor and writer Nicole Givens Kurtz at Mocha Memoirs Press, and 2022 World Fantasy Award Winner and 2022 Ignyte Winner, producer and editor Tonia Ransom at NIGHTLIGHT. At least three stories from the anthology will air on the NIGHTLIGHT podcast.


Halloween 2022: Scary Stories, Past and Present,

•October 31, 2022 • Leave a Comment

Check out my reading from earlier today as part of the Berkeley Public Library Halloween Programming! So honored to have been a part of Scary Stories, Past and Present, where my novella “Ashes & Coffee” was paired with Edgar Allen Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death”

Weird Cat Grief Dirges

•October 26, 2022 • Leave a Comment

Cats in the Garden – weird cat grief filk – this song is about how my cats were with me during Shelter in Place in 2020 and 2021, I used to have two cats, but now I have one…

Weird Cat Grief Music ❤ Bootsy Catlins

I miss my cat, my #Bootsy#Cat , #BootsyCatlins#RIP#October19 #2022 ode to my cat Bootsy Catlins Oct 31 2006 – Oct 19 2022 he was a good kitty ❤

Come See Me at Martunis Literary Speakeasy!

•October 26, 2022 • Leave a Comment

Why Blackened Roots Matters So Much To Me

•October 23, 2022 • Leave a Comment

Have I mentioned how much it means for me to be part of this Anthology? Being a part of this project is important to me because the first positive, centering, and important black representation I ever saw in horror as a kid was in Dawn of the Dead and Night of the Living Dead – which we saw in a double feature with my parents. I feel like Blackened Roots is making it so that I can do the same thing in terms of black representation in the zombie genre in literation.

Please repost this! Please help get the word out on the Kickstarter, and support me in being part of this historical, ground-breaking project. bit.ly.com/blackenedroots by my publisher Mocha Memoirs!#blackenedroots

Also click on that bitly link right up there ^^^ to support the project!