Poem, “I Can’t Breathe”


Picture Source: National Geographic

.If the world didn’t call out your name

You would be just one more number

Not the first nor the last…

Just another one… biting the dust…

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But,

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We’re weary of seeing blood being shed

Especially, by those who are meant to protect…

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Except, he was pinned to the ground, unarmed!

“They’re killing me,” he said to his mum…

It’s a life that God gave and called her to deliver

When I think of it, as a mother, I shiver…

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Mr. president, please, let’s call it what it is…

Not a sad incident nor a bad situation

Let’s call it “murder”, shall we?

That was the intention!

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Third degree? Questionably…

“I can’t breathe,” he said, repeatedly…

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“If you can say you can’t breathe, you’re breathing.”

Mr. Mayor, what the heck?

Would you like him to elaborate,

with a knee on his neck?

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Mr. officer kept pressing that knee into him

While the whole world watched…

We, too, were gasping for air…

It made us feel sick, filled us with despair…

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Even now, we’re holding our breath –

We want justice, for this premature death…

You can’t handle a man like he’s null and void

His life did matter. His name was George Floyd.

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 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me…” Psalm 23:4

Mirage, Marriage, Memoir – Poem


Domestic Violence Freedom – Poem

He looked good and had a lot,
So she entered the mirage –
Only, she had failed to notice
Ugliness & lack, inside.
Their mirage turned to a marriage
From hell – especially for her…
Technically, it was not a marriage –
She was not the only girl.
Damn. Had she known before.
Man! Had she shut that door.

Now, things are not as they were
And there’s another… inside of her.
They remain together –
Every day is deader.
Well, at least for her –
He just doesn’t care.
She is black & blue,
Although born to the white race,
With red cigarette marks
All over her face…
“She’s such a good girl”, they say.

“How?! She doesn’t smoke…”, they ask.
They don’t want to dig too deep –
She feels “safe” behind her mask…
Many years ago,
Mum & dad (without a dime)
Saw their ‘once upon a time’…
Very quickly, in one voice,
They affirmed her choice.
They knew she would share the good life
‘Yes, our girl’s a rich man’s wife!’

Only now,
There’s too much drama
For daddy and mama…
And,
They feel like she failed
Because money’s still scarce –
They do get their share, but
they spend & they spend…
She is all alone, except…
There is Another inside of her.

She is finally getting there –
Fed up with sweet little lies
Turned to big & bitter crimes.
She is bound & very tired,
But she can pretend no more –
Keeps on choking on his waves,
But she’s swimming to the shore.
There’s a miracle there, for her…
Husband doesn’t want divorce,
But… he doesn’t really care.
Technically, he is not her husband –
She is not the only girl.

Now, she knows…
A graveyard may look like a park
Until you see its grave stones…
Finally, she’s been hurt enough –
He’s fractured enough of her bones.
Mirage turned into a marriage
Is becoming a memoir…
He will need to find an ashtray
To extinguish his cigar.

Poem from “Love, don’t Fear” – Poetry Collection

During lockdown and beyond, let’s look out for the victims of domestic violence. Their wounds may not be as obvious as “red cigarette marks all over her face”… ♥

One More Poem – Shielded Memories


Picture taken from Barbara Campbell’s Facebook Profile

I had said that while working on my novel I’d put the brakes on writing poetry. And, I have kept to that until now. However,on Wednesday, my friend/mentor’s body was cremated. I had been invited to say a few words at her funeral…

Barbara was a big supporter of my poetry and often expressed her desire to be in the audience when I performed. Sadly, that never happened, but I thought a brief speech in poetry form was what she would have appreciated.

She died from dementia. I couldn’t stop crying every time I saw her in the final years of her life. In the most difficult times, her family and friends saw things that most would probably wish to unsee… While that’s impossible, my prayer for them and anyone who lost a loved one to this or any other monster disease is that the beautiful memories become more powerful in their minds than the bad ones.

Dementia is crude and cruel. However, Babs was and will always be a lady in my mind. I wrote this short, simple poem to celebrate that memory of her.

She is gone, but her legacy and the beautiful memories live on.

Lady B.

I call you ‘Lady’ – ‘Lady B.’ actually

International woman filled with dignity

A little stern when need be but sweet when you knew

That your heart was safe and a friendship was true…

 

So many friendships are make-believe.

 

You did not find your El Dorado. There was not enough time.

But the monster that ended your quest cannot stop you now!

You were such a star… I felt warm in your light…

We know you were here. You don’t have to fight…

Anymore.

 

I still laugh thinking of you speaking Patois to me

I am not Jamaican, but felt I could be…

When we laughed.

You left solid love chunks for your people down here…

And, you left quite a few… just for me.

 

Thank you for your time and mentoring –

Not only in good journalism or editing skill…

Thank you for your heartening when I wanted to quit.

 

You’ll be missed, Lady B.

That is who you are and will be to me…

I’ll remember your passion moving past the pain!

I’ll remember your laughter in spite of the rain

And the violent storm that came…

 

It is gone now.

It’s okay, Lady B.

Wait in Him for us… R.I.P.♥

 

Written by Monika Ribeiro

                                                                                                                                                      In loving memory of Barbara Campbell

Extraordinary Things in Ordinary Places


Two weeks have passed since my poetry evening. I’ve had some time to reflect and would love to share my thoughts with you…

After-Party Poetry Evening.jpg

The event was a success. The venue turned out to be the right one, and it was full. Due to previously mentioned last-minute changes, I had less than 3,5 weeks to promote the show, hence filling it up was probably one of my main concerns…

Testimonial Joanna.jpgSome of the words attendees used to describe this poetry evening were: eclectic, organic, inclusive, something different… Paul, one of the guests, said that it was “an interesting, colourfully put together event”. 😊 David, another guest, apart from leaving a solid testimonial in the pic above, said the event was “low key, but nice”… People got inspired to write, create and many met other like-minded folks. Yuppie! For the purpose of this post, however, I would like to zero in on David’s initial thoughts – low key but nice…

Ostentatious is, in my opinion, the best antonym of low key. This event wasn’t that… I’m not saying there’s something wrong with showy presentations, but they’re not in my nature. Plus, if I’m honest, I didn’t have an “ostentatious” budget this time around.

Testimonial Desiri.jpgWell, even though my poetry evening could be considered low–profile – we had some interesting guests in our midst. There were award-winning authors, publishers and other creatives who’re experts in their respective fields. Why is this important? Because they’re the ones who can teach budding or fellow creative-entrepreneurs a thing or two about their craft… Then again, I think that some of the lessons many super–talented (especially young) creatives need the most are life lessons which you don’t learn at school.

I found the following claim in an article by independent.co.uk: “For people in Britain, everyday problems can seem like the end of the world – and most of us are guilty of complaining about things like bad weather…” I’m guilty as charged (every now and then)… It was extremely hot on the day! After the event, a few of us met at a local café… I had only brief conversations with most people, but one of them still resonates with me. The guest’s a filmmaker, whose first film won the Palme D’or at the 50th Cannes Film Festival. We spoke a little about her films which was fantastic, however, what struck me the most was what she said about preparation.

She said she didn’t like to complain about things she couldn’t change, and the weather (hot, cold, or rainy…) made no difference to her. She said – the only people who complain about things are those who aren’t prepared… The topic of preparation is deep and wide – it can include many different aspects, besides the weather. Yet, my take away from the conversation’s that preparation is key, and as the saying goes – by failing to prepare, you prepare to fail…  

Extraordinary things do happen in ordinary places. Don’t take people for granted or you’ll miss whatever help God may be trying to send your way. Also, remember – help isn’t always material. Sometimes, it is the right word at just the right time. I hope this helps.

‘Twas a good evening, everybody. Track my event journey by checking out the previous post and by following me on Facebook and Instagram @monikaribeiro.writer.

Poetry Evening – Only 7 Days Away


Free Poetry Event London

I’m beginning to get those butterflies whenever I think that my first poetry evening in years is only 7 days away! Thank God, in spite of initial roadblocks, I’m calm and positive about it… All in all, those are friendly butterflies – they can stay, for now, as long as they don’t misbehave.

It’s not butterflies that make this event special though, but the artists who offered to contribute… Poetry Evening with Monika Ribeiro & Friends Line-up Includes:

Lyrical Healer – Bestselling Author, Poet/Singer whose work was featured on BBC iPlayer, Virgin TV, BBC London radio…

Desiri Okobia – Author, Poet, English Literature Teacher…

PK Boadi – Multiple Award-Winning Gospel Musician…

Avril Swift – Theatre Actress as seen in “Daisy pulls it off” at the Miller Centre Theatre Company Productions…

Nigel Swift Contributes at a Theatre; Plays the Flute…

Monika Ribeiro – Author, Poet as seen in Polish Weekly, Goniec Polski, Nigeria MagazineBlack Heritage Today…

You may remember Lyrical Healer, aka Winsome Duncan, from my interview with her (on the subject of creative entrepreneurship). On that note, this event is also an opportunity to network with like-minded creative entrepreneurs.

Likewise, I had already introduced the author of “Diaries of a Visionary” and “Bodel” – Desiri Okobia who did a great job at recording the voice-over for my poem titled “I saw her smile”.

PK Boadi is a multi–award–winning Gospel musician whom I’ve also mentioned a few times before. Moreover, in my “other life”, as a journalist, I wrote about him winning AGMA Discovery of the Year 2012. He has won many more awards since then…

Avril Swift, in January this year, played Alice Fitzpatrick in “Daisy pulls it off” by an Irish screenwriter Denise Deegan. Having seen Avril in action, on a few occasions, I fell in love with her dramatic expressions. I’m super glad that she’ll be a part of this eve.

Nigel Swift, too, is an occasional actor who happens to play the flute beautifully. When he plays, I feel transported to another – very tranquil place in my mind.

Both Avril and Nigel will read and perform from my books “Love, don’t Fear” and “Do Lend Me Your Ears”. Topping it all off, Nigel will play a few beautiful melodies on his flute as well… 

I have no doubt that this will be an evening worth remembering… Still, if you’re unsure if it’s for you, find MORE INFORMATION HERE and/or watch out for brief previews in my Instagram Stories. I plan to post them daily starting from tomorrow…

Let’s Meet Offline. 😊

My Poetry Collection & Self-Publishing Update…


Love, don't Fear - Book CoverSince publishing “Love, Don’t Fear”, I have learned a few valuable lessons not only about book publishing but also about myself. Previously, of course, I had discovered that I could do with a little more patience – you’ll find the post on this topic right here “If it’s Broke – Fix It”. 🙂 

Back to right now, though… So far, I have received great feedback from “Love, Don’t Fear” readers – thank you! Yet, I have also received some useful suggestions, on how to improve the book, from the pros. I believe that every writer needs an editor, not only because two heads are better than one, but also because of the strong emotional connections we all have with our works. Such being the case, I try to stay open to constructive criticisms.

On that note, yet digressing slightly, I am currently a one-woman band as far as publishing is concerned, but I am writing my first novel which I hope to publish traditionally… If you are a literary agent, open to submissions, and interested in my work, please get in touch. Let’s talk…

Back to “Love, Don’t Fear” – yesterday, the collection turned one. Happy Birthday!!! (note the emotional connection I was talking about) 😄

giphy

I thought this would be a good time for an update/upgrade if you like. Before I share what changes were made exactly, let me reassure those of you who have already purchased and read the book. The changes aren’t very significant. However, if you’d like to receive a FREE updated version, in the form of an e-book, please contact me at monika@monikaribeiro.net .

I decided not to change the book’s edition, because as mentioned – these changes aren’t that significant. Plus, I’ve updated the price too – partially to reflect alterations, but equally to reflect the time passed since the book’s publication.

To cut this long story short, after considering the advice given to me by two trustworthy (traditional and non-traditional) publishers, I have:

  • updated a few titles;
  • changed the order of poems to improve thematic connections; 
  • added two poem descriptions.

I hesitated about the last one because out of the two people who were my advisers – one said: “add descriptions” and the other one said “don’t”. Well, there are 25 poems in the book and only 2 of them have descriptions now. Based on the readers’ feedback, I believe that most of the poems are self-explanatory and relatable. Plus, I don’t want to completely take away the joy of the reader’s own interpretation. What do you think about this one? 

One more change, that I made on my own initiative, was adding a few additional images to enhance book marketing on Instagram, etc. By the way, please do join me on the platform if you haven’t done so yet – @monikaribeiro.writer 😊

So, yes, the book has been around for one year now, but I believe it is ever-green… It deals with relationships, people, emotions that are difficult to express and stories that happen or could happen in real life. This book is about love, life and doing the above without fear… I think that the need to read this type of stories will always be in us. I believe the book is a little bit like wine which gets better with time.

In closing, to complete this “Love, don’t Fear” update, I would like to share some of the words written by those who read and enjoyed it:

“…‘Love, Don’t Fear’ by Monika Ribeiro is such an amazing book – filled with heart-warming and heart-breaking poems… These poems made me feel less alone.”

Angelina, Nanny from Florence – Arizona

“It is a book for someone who feels challenged by their relationship and can’t find the words to express how they feel. You will discover your own truth in the emotions of these poems.”

Joy, Singer-Songwriter from New York

“I found myself in many of them (poems), especially the story of a broken friendship… Smooth language, very beautiful clarity of words, fantastic wisdom…”

Lina, Artist from Ireland

Please grab your copy of “Love, Don’t Fear” HERE if you’re in the US, or HERE if you’re in the UK. Its digital format is available on Amazon worldwide.

Alternatively, if you’ve read the book, please consider sharing your thoughts by e-mail or in the comments below.

Thank you for being here. I appreciate you! 🙂 

Made of Many Worlds – Poem


Bushy Hair Woman

I was born, brown-skinned and a black-eyed girl,

Into a blue-eyed spot in this world –

Blessed with black, thick and rather frizzy hair

Where hair tends to be silky, smooth, mostly blond.

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When I was a girl, maybe twelve years old,

I would lay my head down, on the ironing board

Because a real iron could tame my real hair…

Benefits seemed great… Risks? I didn’t care.

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Sometimes, I would hurt my neck

While trying to look more like my peers…

My silky, smooth hair would cover the scars,

But couldn’t heal wounds inflicted upon my ears.

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Finally, my strands lost all strength and shine.

Hurt, brittle and broken, they told me the truth:

Silky and smooth was not to be mine –

What was, however, was a gift… divine.

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Some say, I cannot relate to the black woman’s plight.

I’m not brown enough – they say, again and again…

And yet, in the white crowd, my skin’s far from light.

No blue sockets in my eyes, no blue blood in my vein.

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Some say I’m neither, but I share both bloodlines

So, I take the liberty to claim Angelou’s lines

“Out of the hats of history’s shame, I rise”

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain, I rise…”

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There are decent and wicked people, in every place.

As Shakespeare well said, many years ago,

“There’s no art to tell the mind’s construction in the face”.

This line could apply to the subject of race…

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There’s more that connects than divides us, you see?

I won’t get offended if you disagree…

But, do look beyond the cover, listen to my words –

We live in a world made of many worlds…

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I live in a world made of many worlds…

Even more come alive in the depths of my mind

I pray that this world, made of many worlds,

Becomes one in the One who is colour-blind.

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Besides, I’m the world that lives within me…

Letter by letter and word by word –

HOW I look at things determines what is…

My own world gets recreated, every day, by me.

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I’m no longer looking for my place in this world…

His sweet spot within me is what I’m striving for.

In the midst of it all, still, I have to believe…

That right now and after… will surpass before.

↓↓↓

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Conversations with a Clock – Poem


old-man-clock

He lived among waiters. They surrounded him
Waiters on the outside – a waiter within
Waiters for their birthday
Waiters for more money
For the kids to leave home
And rain to stop raining.

Once upon a time, he met a wise Clock
It could speak and so it spoke:
“Tick-tock, tick-tock …
If you teach your heart to be grateful and kind
When your time arrives you will not be blind
Tick-tock, tick-tock …”

This waiter was in a rush –
He kept chasing better times
Hence, his ears were widely shut
He’d much rather skip this chat.

Yet,
Tick-tock, tick-tock …
This clock was determined to talk:
“Your life will not last forever…
You cannot afford to be happy never
Tick-tock, tick-tock …”

That verse had the waiter seriously ticked-off
‘Well, I can! And, yes I will!
Clocks can’t tell me how to live!’

“Tick-tock, tick-tock…”

Quietly replied the clock.

giphy clock

Time waits for no one –
Be it Clock, or be it Man
Tick-tock, tick-tock …

Seconds, minutes, hours, smiles
Running fast before his eyes…
Many wasted, every day…

Always chasing what’s away.

.Without words, yet with each TICK
The clock found him more convinced –
Each day truly was his birthday
And life was a birthday gift.

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Flower Petals Around Her Eyes – Poem


Flower Petals Around Her Eyes

She was a beautiful girl

With flower petals around her eyes

Many sad pictures they’ve seen,

This life was born into lies…

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She was created by love

And had a pure little heart…

Yet, before she turned seventeen,

Her face was far from His art.

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If the house, she lived in, had eyes and ears

It would hear constant weeping

It would witness her tears.

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Thus, her soul embraced many a crime

Pictures she saw changed who she was –

No, it wasn’t just time…

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Just like her mum, she too became wild

She quit school at thirteen

At fourteen, she was carrying a child.

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She gave birth and her baby away

Since then, she’s been drinking, every single day.

She tried many evils, under the Sun…

And she run, she run – like a wild horse she run.

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While searching for love and for an escape

She became familiar with the pain of rape.

So, she run even faster, but could not run away

Until… she yielded and started to pray…

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Only then, she knew she was truly heard.

He sounded unlike the others, who yelled,

Punched her belly and slapped her face…

There was only love within His embrace.

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Amazing Grace!

It washed her mind and erased her curse.

Now, she was ready to embrace His verse.

She became His child. She was fifty, by then.

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The world had told her she’s worthless,

and yet… He bought her…

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His Life was the Price!

They studied wrinkles she had acquired

He focused on petals around her eyes.
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She had nothing to give, but gave Him her all
Now, the world sees art – not a dirty wall.
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