Bev was my best friend. Although she lived on the opposite end of my block in West Philadelphia, where I was born and raised, our paths never crossed until I was in my late teens. I was the smart kid who got teased a lot and kept to myself. She got the nickname Queen B because she would walk around the neighborhood like she was royalty. She was always laughing and would strut down the street with her hands on her hips, and it seemed to me that she never let what anyone else thought about her, bother her.
I was the smart, quiet teenager with hardly any friends, and she was the loud, charismatic, funny popular one with lots of personality, and introduced me to the cool people on the block. When I was hanging with Bev, I felt popular and protected. She wouldn’t let anyone say anything bad about me and my Mom treated her like family. My brothers were DJs so there were always turntables set up in our basement, and Bev and I and whoever else came over from the block would put on our favorite albums and sing, drink beer and laugh. She wanted to be a star and she had such a beautiful light within her. We lost her at the age of 40 and I now carry her light within me. Each time I walk on a stage, I think of her and this is one of the poems I wrote in remembrance. Happy heavenly birthday Bev!
I Remember You (basement duet for Queen B)
We sang into West Philly-bred microphones Scents of stale beer and cigarettes floating under our basement borne concerts Roberta Flack Natalie Cole Teena Marie They were us we were we and we were free Imagining concert halls filled with fans gasping for gardenia scented motions of us We danced swaying under water pipes and wooden rafters Dressed in summer swag, tossing braids and permed ponytails while we bumped hips and dipped knees We were stars on the dust filled unfinished basement stage It was all we knew We were inseparable until you strayed We went our separate ways You succumbed to painful nights soaked in old men calling for you to dance again Asking for alley romance and offering snow dust dreams and green smoke behind masks You danced to stale music with no voice Now you’re gone and with you our Webster street duet Yet I still hear you We walk together in a parallel universe Pushing my stroller under the suburban sunshine I think of my sister pushing through the door at the crack of dawn Both rising to meet our children Both trying to define success in the way we could see Yet I still see you
Walking alone waiting on the bus stop in clothes wrinkled in the scent of cigars and whiskey As I secure the seat belt of my luxury car at the corner of my single home We both sit cloaked in sadness I walk with you though you don’t see my journey Resting in the sorrow of acceptance that I could not save you from yours I remember you I see you I carry you I sing for you I write for you I swing my hips for you I inhale smoke filled rooms and sip beer through a straw for you I plant my feet and grab the mic in remembrance of you You support me I carry you I love you I remember you I REMEMBER YOU
#takecareofmetuesday This photo by @zamanifeelingsphotography I call my “ok God, what’s next?” stance. It was taken on a night that was a pivotal moment for me because I was surrounded by people who believed in me and didn’t want anything from me but to see me shine. I let go of my plan for the evening and let them help me, and it was greater than I ever imagined. I was the spotlight performer and ended up bringing a 3 piece band of good friends and we shut the place down (check out a clip of the performance below)! ✨️
When the rug is pulled out from under you without a warning, you can either stay where you’ve fallen and wait for someone to pick you up, or you can take the time to meditate and envision the beautiful, safe replacement “rug” God has in store for you, get up and go get your blessing. ✨️Just for today Let time take time, say no to people who are constantly taking and not giving and do what brings YOU joy today. ✨️Trust the process, everything will come full circle God I’m listening
Sewey Hole Family presents Bruiz and Friends , a Live poetry reading filmed at the infamous Pen and Pencil club in Philadelphia. The event including poetry readings from James Feichthaler, Bob Zell and myself, Toni Love will ONLY be viewed on the Facebook page of Keith Outlaw so visit the Event page to access the link to watch us live.
I hope you are able to check out the show. I will be reading a few new poems but please support and grab a copy of my poetry book or CD from my website and I’d be happy to autograph it for you.
Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies…
Last nights episode of This is Us hit me to the core. I have been a fan of the show since it’s inception, not only because the writing is so beautifully woven but I was particularly impressed at how perfectly they captured the personality and stressors of being a gifted black male in a white world. Randall reminds me so much of my own son and although I am not a white woman, as a sole parent, I can relate to her character as as a mother mostly raising her children on her own.
This episode brought back the deep sadness that I felt as the caretaker for my own mother. The hospice nurse coming to let us know that she had 48 hours left with us and the goodbyes we had to say as we stood sobbing by her side. It was the most heart wrenchingly beautiful moments I’ve ever experienced. At the age of 35, in my first trimester, carrying my first born in my womb I wished time would stop in that moment and raise her up just to see me through my pregnancy. I carried so much grief for so long afterwards, not just for myself but for my unborn child who would never know how it felt to have a loving, nurturing grandmother hug and kiss them. So of course my tears flowed during the goodbye scene, both affirming the end of this part of her journey and experiencing the writers vision of a soul’s transition from this life to the spirit world. I saw myself in the only daughter, the last one to say goodbye moments before she took her last breath. I saw my brothers, I saw my Godmother, her best friend letting her know it was okay to go and that she’d take over the nurturing.
I saw the sadness, the pain and the peace.
I saw the joy when Rebecca was finally reunited with her true love.
There was so much that reminded me of my own mother’s transition, yet what hit me the most was how Rebecca questioned if she had done enough as a mother. The what ifs that I often feel especially when my children are struggling with school and life. The questioning and guilt I feel when I leave them alone or with a caregiver because I just need some time away from all of the heavy responsibilities of giving and mothering. I adore my children and I wouldn’t have it any other way -well, maybe I would have a regular housekeeper! – raising them on my own, but I think society places such a burden on the custodial parent regardless of why the other parent is absent from parenting.
I am thankful that I have loved ones who remind me that I am a loving mother, and that I am doing the best I can with my children. I remind myself of how much I’ve sacrificed to provide for and support them. I think one thing the writer didn’t get right is that our loved ones continue to show up for us, care for us, help us and nurture us even after they transitioned. I’m sure I will do the same for my children and loved ones when I transition.
And because I have several decades of healthy life remaining in this lifetime, I am committed to incorporate #rest into my daily living so that I won’t have to wait until my transition to experience true rest.
I’m excited to share my poetry for the first time at a Moonstone Arts Center event with these gifted poets! There will be an open mic and loads of fun and poetry ❤️. I will also have copies of my book “Toni’s Room” for sale and if you already have a copy and want it signed, please bring it with you. They make wonderful Mother’s day gifts.
This intensive word/ thought/ emotion, self-truth-culling, seeks to be a journey of healing, art, therapy, and authentic conversations about life that will result in the creation of individual works/excerpts of EPIC memoir poetry. Each student is invited to perform their created works at this live-streamed event.
Check out the live streamed event on the SIFT Media 215 You Tube Channel tonight, Sunday January 30th from 6-7:30 PM. It’s a creative masterpiece to heal your soul, with the finale by Ursula Rucker!
When I lost you I found myself Oh but it hurt It pained for so long Thinking of how foolish I had been To believe in you But my hurt turned into poetry And dance And I wrote And danced Until I filled up the emptiness in side of me The void that set inside my soul when you were no longer there Poetry about you and for myself Flowed from my fingertips like golden run at carnival time in Trinidad I loved until I stopped hurting And found not only myself But someone to love me for real And yes I admit there were times I wished that he were you Until constant caresses and truthful signs Showed me that true love accepts me for what I am Oh yes It is finally over Real love has rescued my weary soul And you are but a faded memory Because I am no longer afraid to receive the love That I have been given
(c) Toni Love
Give yourself the gift of poetry on #Valentinesday
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