Simple Requests

(photo not my own)
(photo not my own)








I only asked for honesty

Never requested that you make good on your promises

What were you afraid of?

Were you surprised that I’m not the “eat it too” part of the cake statement

I am layers

Light, fluffy delicious layers

The whole cake

You didn’t realize it until you couldn’t swallow

Choked on your words

Reached for water but found that a glass wasn’t enough to clear your airway

I reside in your lungs

Closed your eyes and tried to breathe deeply but was surrounded by the memory of my scent…cake baking

I only asked for honesty

Never requested that you explain undigested fantasies

I only asked for honesty

In exchange for rich layers of life fulfilled and loyalty

Offered you days passed as the honored guest at the banquet of my commitment

I only asked for honesty

You’d rather subsist on the malnutrition of your lies

That table has a place setting for one

Eat up.

© Stephanie Bryant 2014


Realization of Truth


truth (1)


She straddled his lap, staring into his eyes. Am I forcing this? She questioned herself.  Am I making intimacy my mission?  It had been two months since her breakup with “what’s his name”, as her friends had resorted to calling him.  Two whole months since she had sworn off love and embraced the pursuit of all things hedonistic.

Just go with it and stop with the fucking questions! She chided herself.  His eyes were honest…kind.  Who cares! You’re not doing this for the emotion.  Pressing her lips to his, she felt his hands slide around her back, threaded fingers pulling her closer.  “You’re beautiful”, he exhaled the words into her open mouth.  She pulled back, refusing to inhale them.  “Let me fix you a drink.”  Sliding off his lap she walked in the direction of the kitchen.

You’re beautiful.” He leaned against the door frame, watching her intently.  “That’s all” crossing his arms, eyebrow quirked, three days of stubble only justifiable for someone in his line of work, “no additional motivation”.

She believed him.  “Thank you.” Awkward.

“Do you believe it?” He asked, genuinely curious.  She continued pouring, playing amateur barkeep.  He filled the silence,  “I recall the day I saw you speaking to someone in the coffee shop, you never smiled, you were so intense. It was stunning.”   He stepped forward, away from the door frame.  “I remember thinking that your teeth were perfectly imperfect and I loved how your lips curved at the corner.  I was willing to approach you even if it meant having that mouth tell me to shove off.”  She smiled at how his accented speech made everything alluring.

Handing him the glass she slid past.  No eye contact. “Are you working tomorrow?, she asked, obviously seeking a distraction.  “If not, there’s a gallery preview that you may be interested in.”  She watched him sip his drink thoughtfully.

“Will this give me more time with you?  If so, tell me what time and I will be there.”  He took another slow sip allowing the whiskey to slip past his lips with appreciation.

“Do you ever say the wrong thing?”  She asked skeptically.

“Of course I do, most of the time, actually”, he laughed.  “It just seems to happen less frequently when I’m with you”, he paused, “something about you makes me want to say the right thing all of the time.”

She walked toward him.  Damn Oprah and her ‘aha’ moments.  Is this mine?

Is he part of my truth? Someone who wants to please me.  The guy that doesn’t try to justify why he doesn’t “need” me with scientifically therapeutic explanations.  The one who’s okay needing me because he’s sure that he wants me.

She realized, two months after “what’s his name”, that she had been missing something as human and fragile as necessity.

Fucking emotions.


(Constructed to Kimbra: Settle Down)

Love Note

I no longer write about love

It used to interest me

Cause me to ponder

Leave me utterly bewildered and befuddled

Create longing

Force me to gesticulate wildly

Generate tears

Emphasize pain

Put the exclamation point on joy

I came to the conclusion that

I no longer write about love.



(The IMPACT series will be a non-fictional retelling of the people and events that have made a mark on my life)

I saw a picture of my Uncle John, looking “sharp” in his tuxedo, posted on Facebook.  Call it my propensity for melancholy but when I see pictures, my mind plays a black-and-white reel or virtual dreamscape of the person and events that I recall best about them.  That emotion was stirred when I saw the picture of my Uncle John but no memory of him is complete without my Aunt Desiree because as my daughter would say, they are a “battery pack”.

John and Desiree had this “deluxe apartment in the sky-y-y “on Ocean Avenue that was fancy.  They were child free and pretty much living the life that married people without children should be living.  All these years later, I theorize this as part of their success as a married couple—they enjoyed their lives together before bringing on the natural stress of parenting together.  They ultimately went on to have two children that they dote on to this day.  Both of their children have “D” names because my Aunt Des is  a diva and my Uncle John loves her—at least that’s what I thought in my younger years because I wondered why and rather than ask them  I assumed this was the answer, and I liked it, but I digress, back to the apartment.

This apartment was fly, a testament of the yuppie, professional life that most blacks couldn’t realize back then, unless they moved to a progressive, northern city.  There was furniture that was coordinated but comfortable throughout.  I can still picture it: glass tables with sharp corners not built for toddling children, a large, color floor-model television with all of the cable channels, including HBO—big time in the 80’s, and a clear pane shower that I dreaded using because I’d watched Psycho one evening at their house when I should have been asleep.  Top it all off with a pristine kitchen of  glossy white counter tops teaming with sugary cereals and candy dishes overflowing with M&M’s and you might as well have given me Willy Wonka’s golden ticket, this was living!

My Uncle John had tennis rackets.  He did.  He had tennis rackets, he watched McEnroe and Connors and he tuned into CBS to watch a game that wasn’t exciting to my eight year old self because I didn’t understand it.  He had tennis rackets that seemed out of place in the city of Brooklyn because I didn’t know any one that played outside of those privileged white guys in tiny white shorts on television.  His jeans were pocket pleated, neatly creased and belted at the waist (work with me, it was on trend).  His beard, closely trimmed and meticulously groomed, unlike the current Rick Ross nightmare beard that guys are sporting now and he had a wife that he was happy with.  They were happyAnd symbolic.

His partner, Aunt Desiree, was a fluffy Fashionista without peer, in my book.  Her perfect shade of red lipstick was flawless and always on, her hair wrapped or set every night (before most chicks even knew what a wrap was), and her closet demonstrated that curvy and fierce was a must, not a maybe.  I recall her gliding around the apartment on weekend mornings in a black velvet dressing robe that seemed so drag fabulous in a “lady of the manor” type of way that was neither pretentious nor practiced, it was just Desiree.  Manicured talons, wide smile, boisterous laugh, mischievous sparkle in her eye and an outspoken way about her, there was no doubt why she was my Uncle’s chosen partner.

Desiree to me was substance and style.  Symbolic. Even then, I understood that she knew what quality was on all levels.  (I tell people that she is to blame for my Coach obsession, since she presented me with my first high end purse complete with dust cover, proper packaging and registration number–no Canal Street gifts from that chick.)  More than just personality and interesting to me in a way that many adults were not, I loved when she was around because she was simply her.  When she laughed at things I didn’t understand, loudly and with abandon, I wondered what my grandmother thought of this force of life.  My calm, smooth, preacher’s wife of a grandmother with her southern gentility that the gritty city and D (or Q) service never did change was the opposite of this boisterous young woman but seemed to lover her none the less. Symbolic.

John and Dee had the type of relationship that the kid of divorced parents could only dream of.  It was a fairytale. Symbolic.  Young, hip, married people driving off to the Poconos for the weekend, hosting parties at their home, and working for well-known corporate entities.  Sounds as good in 2013 as it did in 1985.

Why did all of this flood my mind when I saw the picture of my Uncle standing there in his tuxedo, being picked on by his son for his crooked bow tie?  It reminded me of the understated ability of presence. Symbolic.  Character without being a caricature. Symbolic.  The importance of giving love and being loved in return.  Symbolic.  The power of demonstrated love. Symbolic

It reminded me that while black men have often been portrayed as thugs, the embodiment of menace II Society, lacking in character and restraint, this was far from the picture that I was being given as a kid.  Sure, I knew drug dealers and the typical “bad seeds” of the neighborhood, but whom from Brooklyn doesn’t?  What was more important was that I knew then and now, men of character.

It was symbolic that my life is inundated with parents who love their children, a far cry from the fatherless children and welfare mothers held up as the symbol of black life by politicians and card-carrying “real Americans” that feel more comfortable perpetuating this as the norm.

And while children today are being shown the limited scope of black family life: baby daddies, absentee fathers or mothers that are attempting to be the male and female figurehead in the home, I had a family unit that consisted of amazing representations of love.  We had our own versions of Heathcliff & Claire Huxtable, many of which I will write about in the future, and our own successful versions of single parenthood when necessary.

Aunt Desiree’s example as an independent professional woman reminded me that Dr. Laura and the pundits have it wrong when they paint working mothers as the downfall of American society.  She did all of this without the emasculation effect that many would leave you to believe a strong woman has on her husband.

When John & Desiree became parents, I saw a different side of them.  I saw their phenomenal ability to connect with me when they were childless, transferred to their capacity to connect with and understand their own progeny.   My Uncle John’s quiet strength and serious nature was necessary with my younger cousin Desmond who was ALWAYS “doing something” (he turned out just fine) and my Aunt Desiree’s self-assured, personal confidence allowed her to transfer a sense of power to my cousin Deandra, a necessity for any girl looking to lean in to today’s world.  I often see my cousins posts—the only way to keep up with family that is now states away–and think, “what a great thing to have parents that have taught you that you are wonderfully able to be exactly who you were born to be, no apologies necessary.”

I am symbolically reminded me of two people who unconsciously gifted me with life lessons that would help me later on–although I was not theirs to be responsible for.  They made me believe that it’s okay to seek the love that puts you first.  They made me recall that you can create your own version of perfection without feeling selfish.  I believed that they liked me when I felt unlikable and they never made me feel as though I should be “grateful” that people wanted me around. They were symbolic.

One picture of a man in a tuxedo with a smile on his face created this.

Soundtrack:  The Show by Lenka

Relocated Hearts

He moved one box after another, slowly but surely changing their lives.  She watched as he brought in boxes of incidentals and felt the finality.  Yesterday’s delivery of his large mahogany bed, matching wardrobe and “man-sized” flat-screen television should have been the ultimate moment of realization but it was the small things that brought it home.  No longer was she looking at his overnight shaving kit, instead, she walked through the bathroom and noted his toothbrush and electric razor neatly placed on the counter top.

She sighed at the thought of this venture.  It wasn’t long ago that she was caught up in the process of choosing.  Kevin had told her that she was going to have to make a decision on.  Kevin, with his laissez-faire attitude and 5 o’clock shadow that shrouded his devilish grin, was forcing her to make a decision.  Pressing her with timelines.

Making her way into the living room, she sat on the arm of his favorite chair, posted in the corner of the room.  “You know, it’s all going to work out, don’t you?” lacing her fingers through his.  Deep breath, deep breath, pause…“I guess we’ll find out soon enough, won’t we?” a typical Kevin response, non-committal even after agreeing.  They both rose slowly, seeking a break from the stagnant air between them, hoping to avoid any discomfort brought on by change.

Lacey swayed to the sounds of The Civil Wars, C’est La Mort, drifting from the speakers, holding out her hand to him.  “It’s been a long time since you just danced with me.  Come.”  He took her in from head to purple painted toes.  Her chin jutting out like a spoiled child, lips in a perpetual pout–her begging mouth he called it.  Grabbing her wrist, he pulled her in tightly, turning her back to his chest. Lightly, placing the other arm across her neck and shoulders, he inhaled her scent.  He meant to display power but felt the typical pull she had over him.  The last minute show of authority diminished.  What was he doing?  He wasn’t sure, he only knew that he had the need to possess her and the need for possession would force you to be flexible.

His hand drifted down to her breast, cupping her gently.  Massaging gave way to a light pinch of the nipples that he enjoyed teasing with his tongue for the past four years.  She threw her head back against his shoulder, hissing like a cornered kitten.  He felt the blood rushing to below his belt buckle pressing his length into her generous ass.

“Oh, I’m sorry!”  They broke out of their moment, feeling like two teenagers caught in the corner of the basement.  She busied her hands to hide the shaking, smoothing her tank top.  “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

Lacey and Kevin glanced back and forth, each waiting for the other to make a move.

Breaking the silence, Lacey walked over to Evan, “No need to apologize, it’s your home too.  Is everything out of the trunk?”

“Yeah, there are some small things but nothing serious.”  He said glancing over her head at Kevin.

No words necessary just an unspoken discomfort.  Two lambs in a lioness den.

Gripping his hand Lacy coerced Evan to the center of the room, gently tugging a simultaneously reluctant and willing body, she repeated her reassurance, “This is your home too.”

The tension in her shoulders eased as they closed in on her, meeting her rhythmic movement as the lyrics announced their journey. Let’s walk down the road that has no end…

Feeling their strength surround her, she thought to herself…”I’m going to like this.”

Written to: All The Wild Horses by Ray LaMontagne

Limits Less

I knew that he was it
My infinite moment
It was simple
The finite occasions were gone in his presence
We didn’t know them
Emotions that ran into one another

He reached back and grasped my hand
I was sure and reassured
Fingers intertwined, matching pulses
He was my most
My most
Significant earthly connection
Intimate identification with carnal love
Solid grasp on this delicate spiritual universe
Compelling reason to inhale life and exhale hurt

So many reasons to be
In Love
I live them with him
The most

(Written to: River Flows In You by Yiruma)

© Stephanie Bryant and Mental Motivation, 2010-2013.