Next Book Signing

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My next book signing will be held at the Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Philadelphia  (Feb.2013)  immediately following the 10:45am service. http://www.decministry.org/  If you are interested in attending, please send me an e-mail for more details: sjjjones@msn.com

Sister Romona McQueen is a beautiful woman full of love, faith, and encouragement.  I am so grateful we are friends.

She has been such a blessing to my life!

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Sister Romona McQueen and I at the African-American Heritage Luncheon at the Deliverance Evangelistic Church

February 2012

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Red Heart Brown

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Red Heart Brown

By Shawn R. Jones

 

The sun rose black coal-

colored rays

To a heartache

Earthquaking ground.

Limbs hollered

From a wrecked raggedly

Slow pumping mound

Beans and cornbread

Weighed me down-

Loved me brown-

A Food rebound

Pound after pound

Your gravy

lazy heartbreaking

arms my crown

 

Copyright 2013 Shawn R. Jones

*I thought I would try to write some bluesy poetry : )

A Rainy Morning Before School

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A Rainy Morning Before School

 

By Shawn R. Jones

 

Pliers turn on a shower

with no knob.

Rusty water falls

in a cracked porcelain tub

with chipped lion’s feet.

Five children make up

something to eat

like sugar sandwiches

or spoiled mayonnaise

on a stale roll,

so they can eat

in front of a coal burning stove

before they walk to school

with soggy cardboard

in the bottom

of worn out shoes.

 

Reprinted from Womb Rain

(Finishing Line Press, 2008)

$3.25 an Hour

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$3.25 an Hour

By Shawn R. Jones

White wings and lemon-yellow sun rays streaked the 1 pm sky as a salty breeze blew through the open glass door of the souvenir shop, tangling the wind chimes made of orange string and white shells.    Seagulls and I cried along with the lyrics to one of the most popular songs of that time, “Shout! Shout! Let it all out! These are the things I can do without!  Come on now!  I’m talking to you… Come on now!”

Teena, my friend and co-worker, adjusted cotton t-shirts on white plastic hangers, and slipped small souvenirs in the large pockets of her white sweater.  I ignored her and continued to sing against the wall in my over-sized gray sweatpants and t-shirt with a faded picture of ballet slippers, hoping the next few songs would get me through the next half hour to lunch.

Teena walked over to me. “Girl, you crazy.  You gonna get fired, singing all loud.”

“They ain’t paying me no mind.  They’re too busy flirting with the customers.”

Teena and I looked towards the cash register that sat up high in the middle of the narrow shop.  Two brothers, our bosses, were laughing with a group of women at the counter.

“So where are you ladies from?” the oldest brother, who looked like Bill Clinton, asked.

“Heaven, I’m sure,” grinned the younger brother, who looked more like a caricature of Bill Clinton.

The women answered in giggles and laughter.

Teena cocked her head to the side, looked at me, and said, “Look at them, all red…They need to stop.”

“Those young girls ain’t thinking about them.”

“Humph, think they ain’t?  They smell money.  Plus, Tim is kind of cute to be old, but Tom, he’s just a fool with his Gene Wilder hair.  And I don’t know why they hate black people because their heads just as knotty as mine.”

“How you know they hate black people?”

“Oh, believe me.  I know.”

“Uh oh,” I said, noticing the two bleached blonds who walked in with long black mink coats and white sneakers.  It was a common look for rich women who didn’t want their heels to get caught in the boards.

“I bet they’ll shut up now,” Teena said walking back to her spot in the store.

The minks sauntered pass us without speaking.  We might as well have been folded brown t-shirts on the yellow-painted wooden shelves.  They occasionally came in to see their husbands, our bosses. I thought they did themselves an injustice, not speaking to us.  After all, we knew more about their husbands’ secret lives than they ever would, and it bothered me that it didn’t matter what we knew because it reminded  me that we really didn’t matter.

I guess that’s why later that same afternoon, Teena hacked and spit in Tom’s soda from Roy Rodgers.

“Oh my God!” I put my hand over my mouth.  “And you stole from them earlier, too!”

“Girl, please, they ain’t gonna miss ’em, ” she used the straw to mix her saliva in with fizz from the Root Beer. “They shouldn’t charge so much for that cheap crap anyway.”

I felt nauseous as we walked down the boardwalk.  As Neena continued to fuss, I glared at the cup of soda until we got back inside the store and Tom took a sip.  My brown eyes were wide and watery as he smiled and thanked Teena for his drink.

Each time he sipped, Teena laughed dramatically.  I guess it was the first time she felt like she really mattered.

******************************************************************************************************************

The Villa in Cambridge, London

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I was very happy when I walked in the front room of the villa.  It was clean, quaint  and bright.  I knew I could easily spend a few nights there and be very happy, much happier than I was at the hotel.  I had a few mishaps at the villa, but I would not be “Lucy” if all had gone smoothly.  Besides, how boring would that be?

Here is a fuzzy photo of the kitchen that I almost burned down while cooking chicken fajitas for my husband.  I know you think that blur is because of my camera, but it is actually smoke!  I blame it on the pan.  It was the lightest pan (as in weight)  that I have ever used.  Also, the stove was electric, which I hate.  I prefer to cook with fire and I really don’t like non-stick pans.  I know I’m stuck in the 7o’s, but that’s okay.  I love the 70’s.

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I am convinced that food tastes better when it is cooked in cast iron pans over a flame.  So, there I was in the kitchen, cooking in this flimsy non-stick pan on a rickety electric burner.  Out of nowhere fire shoots up from the pan and the room is filling with smoke and my husband and I are laughing hysterically while trying to open the windows, saying “Oh my goodness, we are  gonna burn this place down!” Well, the fire disappeared.  I mean really disappeared because I didn’t do anything but move the pan off the burner.  My husband said it was one of the best meals he had ever had.  Go figure.  His chicken and salmon was burnt bunt, and he loved it.  I also loved my crispy vegetables.

While I am in the kitchen, let me share a picture I took of our orange juice.  Have you noticed that it does not say “no pulp” and “lots of pulp?”  Yeah, I was con-

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fused for a second, too, but I must say that “no bits” and “extra juicy bits” are kind of cute phrases.  “Extra juicy bits” is actually kind of funny.  I can imagine a mom calling her child from the other room, “Come here, Juicy bits, and let me finish combing your hair!”  I love it!  And of course Juicy Bits is  real skinny with chubby cheeks, curly hair, and a sassy walk. Maybe I will make her the subject of a poem or short story some day.  For now, back to the villa.

I don’t think I was used to the food and…I don’t think the toilet was used to me.  The English should really use more water in their toilets!  I don’t think I really need to go in detail.  I’ll just let you know my husband worked on the toilet for hours!  It was not a romantic evening, but we got a few hearty laughs out of it!  Well…moving right along.  I think this would be a great time for another photo.

I claimed this space as my reading area:

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I claimed this space as my writing area:

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My husband looking at a map on the wall:

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There was an upstairs, too.  It was just a small sitting area with a telephone.   I didn’t claim that space because it looked very businesslike.  I couldn’t read or write there. I gave that space to my husband.

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We were on our way to Cambridge University where my daughter was studying for the summer.  Everyone in town called it, “Uni.”  It took me awhile to catch on.  My husband’s original plan was to rent a car and drive around England. It is a good thing he didn’t because although he is a confident driver in the U.S.  I am not sure he would have gotten used to driving on the opposite side of the road on the opposite side of the vehicle.

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Next stop Cambridge:

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Thank you for stopping by : )

The Results

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The Results

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(a work of fiction, inspired by my visit to the hematologist)

I walk hard, like my mother, moving as confidently as I can across the porch.  My boots pound the wood loudly.  No one is watching.  No one is listening, but I need to convince myself that I’m okay.  Maybe if I don’t act sick or look sick, I won’t be sick. I wrap my sweater around me and rub my neck, feeling insecure without my scarf.  I turn back toward the house and remember all my scarves are dirty.  The washing machine’s broken, and I’m still waiting for that darn part to come in.

I move down the walkway and look back at my house.  There is a vulture sitting on the roof.  That can’t be a good sign.  I laugh to myself, shake my head, and keep moving.  I get in my car and drive past the bank, the elementary school, the Quaker Meeting House, and a field of wild turkeys.  Everything is the same, but it doesn’t seem the same because my thoughts are different.  I make a right into the driveway.  I park, get out the car, and move slowly towards the entrance of the small building.  I read the words on the door, “Oncology/Hematology,”  and my muscles turn muddy and the brown welcome mat sinks beneath my feet.

The patients in the waiting room are old and very pale.  A few of the ladies wear scarves on their heads.  I am used to wearing one around my neck for style.  One lady is crying softly.  I cannot see her.  She is sitting behind me. “They hurt me,” she whispers.

“It shouldn’t hurt,” says a man with a shaky voice.  I assume he is  her husband. “It never hurts when I have it done. I’m going to talk to them about it.”  I imagine they have been married for years. I imagine he feels helpless.

I watch patients come and go.  I cannot believe I am sitting in the waiting room for over an hour-an hour, just long enough to become more anxious.   I hear nurses in the back say words like “chemo” and “marrow.”   I tell myself to think positive.  I tell myself to pray.  A young lady opens the door that leads to the back.  She calls my name, searching the room.  She smiles when she sees me rise from my chair.  Not a sincere smile, but the tight lip kind that tightens even more when her eyebrows raise. It’s that smile that lets you know she’s just doing her job.

In the back, I am instructed to have a seat and pull up my right sleeve.  It’s a process I have gotten used to.  It is the fourth time I have had my blood drawn this winter.  I don’t feel nervous at all until the phlebotomist says, “Hmm…I don’t know why I’m having trouble with this.  It’s not coming out.”  She jiggles the needle a bit while it is still in my arm, and I give her a dirty look.  Then I swear I hear air and then a slurping sound. “Oh, there you go.  Now, it’s coming through.  It’s tough because that vein is right near a small bone.”  It is the first time in a long time I have wanted to smack someone.

In the back I wait another hour for the doctor,  my thoughts growing darker with each minute and with each conversation I hear through the walls.  The hematologist walks in smiling.  She extends her hand.  I extend mine, wanting to skip the formality and ask, “Am I dying?”  Instead, I compliment her on her shoes.

She sits at the computer.  We chat like old friends, and I wonder if she is just trying to relax me before she gives me the results.  In the few seconds after she says, “I have your results,” I review my life.   I am surrounded by love.  I am deeply satisfied, and I no longer care   who is responsible for the the dime that got caught in the pump of the washing machine.

“I’ll give you the good news first.  You do not have lymphoma or leukemia,” she folds her hands and continues, “but you do have a platelet disorder and severe anemia. My mind searches through a string of definitions from Biology 101.    I must look a bit clueless because she further explains, “Your blood does not clot properly. That’s why you had to have the transfusion six months ago.”

“I see,” I nod.

“Well, I am going to put you on an iron supplement and, ”  she removes her glasses and rubs her eyes, “I will be in contact with your gynecologist so we can start you on hormone therapy also.  We can’t transfuse you every time you have your menses, that’s for sure. That would be ridiculous.  But… you are a relatively young woman, so if you decide to have more children, we are really going to have to sit down and discuss the risks first.”

“How come no one has ever picked up on this?  I’m thirty-one-years old.”

“I’m not sure, but we know what’s going on now, and we will have you back in great shape in no time.”

“No more blackouts?”

“No, no more blackouts or days in bed unable to lift your head from the pillow,”  she scribbles on a small blue sheet of paper. “Here’s your script.”

She follows me to the front desk and hands the receptionist my folder.  “I’ll see her in four weeks.”

After I make my appointment, I walk through the waiting room pass  a new group of women, wearing scarves wrapped  tightly on their heads.

By Shawn R. Jones

 website: www.shawnrjones.com

Author of the devotional book, Pictures in Glass Frames   http://t.co/BxiNwWRG

and the poetry chapbook, Womb Rain, 

http://www.amazon.com/Womb-Rain-New-Womens-Voices/dp/1599242699/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337717218&sr=8-1