Chest Naked In The Park (Part 1)

She woke up in a sweat.  Reached around feeling for the phone. She found it in the crevice of the couch still attached to the charger.  No missed calls. Four text messages:

“Hey Beautiful.” (from some guy she met on an internet dating site 3 months prior.  She stopped returning his text messages 2 months and 3 weeks ago but it never inhibited his persistence.)

“The balance in your Chase checking account is 32.48.” (An automated update she gets every time her account is used.)

“Do you want me to bring you a plate of food for tomorrow?” (A caring co-worker who always looks out for her.)

“Guess you forgot about me.” (An old flame that died out before it was lit.)

Nothing from him.  Unable to hide her disappointment, she threw the phone across the room.

“WTF? Either I am too quick to assume the worst…or the worst has happened.”

She pondered while the oscillating fan blew hot air over her. She watched it move right to left. Left to right.  “What could have changed in a couple of hours?”

NOTHING.  But since when did anything have to go wrong for a man to decide that you are no longer his number one pick?  The truth of the matter was Tamara was a pretty girl, smart, and ambitious but she changed her men as often as her oil changes.  Some men were changed by choice and some by circumstance.  There was the minister AKA the “Freak and the Gentleman” who was obviously confused about his chosen path in life.  One minute he was discussing politics, being chivalrous, and preaching against pre-marital sex.  The next minute he was playing in her hair with one hand, holding the bible in the other, while trying to get her titty into his mouth. (What a multi-tasker!) Tamara dated everyone from the investment bankers, to the personal trainers, the broke college student, and even the “but baby my back is against the wall” unemployed ex-convicts.  A firm believer that your prince is sometimes disguised as a frog, she never judged.  Her father told her as a child, “Your heart doesn’t know status or circumstance.”  Daddy was wrong.

Travis was supposed to be different.  He was brilliant, handsome, confident, and attentive.  All the qualities that she loved to love.  He had his flaws and she was prepared to accept and love those too.  Realistically, Tamara was panicking prematurely.  It had only been a few hours since she heard from him, but for them, that was a long time!  She shook herself out of it.  Why was she always so anxious?  She was in a constant state of waiting for the ball to drop.  She was always waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under her.

She decided to go to her favorite park and run around the track since she was already sweating.  No use in sitting there babysitting her phone … or destroying it.

When she got to the track, she looked at her cell once more. NOTHING. She decided to leave a voicemail.  One of her close male friends always told her never to assume anything.  What if he was in an accident or he lost his phone?  She left a KISS message (KISS = Keep It Simple Stupid) just plainly stating the obvious: “Hey. Just giving you a call.”

Then it happened.  She leaned back in the seat and she wept.  She didn’t cry because of him.  She cried because of the disappointment that she was so accustomed to.  She was so angry.  What was she doing wrong? Maybe she should act like a complete b*tch, men seemed to like that. Finally she came to the conclusion that she was overreacting and she needed to get outside and distract herself.  As soon as she tied her car key to her shoelace, put her cell phone in the glove compartment, stuck her ipod in her bra, and opened the driver side door…..BOOM!

The sky broke and it began to pour.  Tamara shook her head and laughed.  “With a day like this, its gonna be a hell of a night”, she quoted Young Jeezy.  She looked on as people started exiting the track, trying to avoid getting soaked in the rain.

All except one man.

He kept running.  He was one of those men who just looked effortless while working out.  Easy pace.  Steady rhythm. Chest Naked, his skin glistened while he ran in sync with the rain drops.  His skin was an exclusive shade of brown.  It was as if God made it just for him.  It was a beautiful sight to see.  A high school anatomy class could have studied him, every muscle in the human body, could be seen.  “Yummy. Who is this chest naked man running in the park?”

{To Be Continued}

By: Shaun M Nickens

More Than A Rose- Shout Out To My Mom

“Oh, its 5 o’clock?” asked the disheveled teen behind the counter as she stared quizzingly at the invoice handed to her.

What do you mean?! Its 5:20!  You’re saying my order isn’t ready?”

A tall man with a nutmeg complexion and a few extra pounds on a solid strong build looked as though he would burst at any moment.  I could almost hear a newly restored Fast and Furious engine roaring within him as he hummed menacingly while trying to maintain his composure.

Disheveled Girl just continued to stare at the invoice as if she could will the time to change.  (She may have even been attempting to change the date with her David Blane mind trick!)

The woman ahead of Angry Nutmeg Man was a poor soul whose floral arrangement was gone.  It vanished!  (This floral shop sure was good at tricks.)

I stood there attempting to be patient.  Who was I kidding? I just worked a 8 hour work day, sat in traffic for an hour, exhausted my last secret stash of money for this ginormous holiday, and now I was waiting on a short line in a tiny floral shop NOT because I was still mothers day shopping but because I told my sister I would grab the final piece to her special surprise. In my work clothes, hot (77 degrees today), and absolutely exhausted I waived my white flag and walked out of the shop.  (Seemed as though I walked out just in time because I heard Angry Nutmeg Man yelling something about making his own floral arrangement.)

I sat in the car brainstorming out loud  while passersby glanced into my vehicle obviously trying to determine whether I was insane.  I considered all my options, “CVS…Walgreens…Rite Aid…Mobil…Hustle Man…”

All I needed was a single red rose.

So there I was, The Procrastination Princess, with no rose and less than 24 hours…


My mother is a woman of immeasurable strength, insurmountable levels of patience, and the resilience of an athlete who was injured but has to make a speedy recovery right before a championship game. At a petite 5’1″ frame, its her smile that captures you. Her voice (a 1st soprano in her church choir) is beautiful when accompanied by any instrument, intimidating when she’s angry, and the transportation device for infectious laughter if that’s the mood that suits her at the moment.  She can be slightly sarcastic but more than anything she is supportive.  My soul weeps for anyone who doesn’t have at least one person who believes in them just a little bit more than they believe in themselves.  They say parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual.  Well, my mother must have downloaded a how-to book off of the internet.

It’s not like I was a difficult child, adolescent or adult (at least I don’t think so) but I know it wasn’t always easy.  I’m stubborn, occasionally egotistical, non-punctual, and I spent a good portion of my life as a “daddy’s girl.”  As a “creative aspiring jack of all trades”, I resist authority and therefore have been every type of professional there is!  I was a personal trainer, a file clerk, sales associate, phlebotomist, student, theater instructor, muay thai kickboxer, YOU NAME IT!  Yet, every time I decided to take another road or try something different, my mother was right there with one eyebrow raised…a hot meal in one hand…and her checkbook in the other hand (just in case.)

She’s never been mushy or over affectionate.  That’s not how she shows her love.

My mother is the epitome of love.


Sharp left turn…

At a stop light I see a mother and daughter team packing up a Uhaul van with stuffed animals, balloons, and other novelties.  Near the curb there is a white bucket with what seems like the last single red rose.  A sign is on the bucket that reads , “For Sale.”

I roll the window down and yell, “Maam?”

A plump fair-skinned woman addresses me and asks if there is something I wanted to buy.  I told her that I desperately needed that red rose in the bucket.  The woman told me the price and asked her daughter to wrap it for me.  As I watched the little girl wrap the rose with pride, I couldn’t help but feel like I should get something else even though my sister only asked for the rose.  As if she was reading my mind (that magic and trickery must have been going around), the plump-fair-skinned-angel-sent-from-above told her daughter to add “something special.”  I gave the woman her money and thanked her as many times as I could before the light turned green again.  She handed me the red rose with a bear attached. When I got home I read the t-shirt the bear was wearing and it said, “Thank you.”

My mother is the epitome of love and she deserves more than a rose.

Happy Mother’s Day To All



Diane prepped for this the night before. She couldn’t finish her food because she had “no appetite.” She watched television with the box of tissues as her close companion. She even sprayed Lysol occasionally for the added convincing effect.

So when she woke up the following morning and looked her mother in the eye to exclaim, “I’m Sick”, she thought that would be the end of the story. Unfortunately for Diane her mother, Geneva, has a different definition of “sick.” In Geneva’s world, if there is no need for hospitalization then you aren’t “sick.” Anything short of a bullet wound can be cured at home.

Diane decided to turn up the heat. Her older sister was off from work and this would be the ideal opportunity to stay home from school, listen to music, watch her favorite shows, and have a home cooked meal as soon as it’s prepared. She got out of bed, stomped her feet, slammed doors, and even spoke loudly to herself in the kitchen (great acoustics) for the added convincing effect. Unbeknownst to her, Geneva is an expert at ignoring theatrics and drama.

At this point, 26-year-old Sage was lying in bed meditating on all of her failures in life.

“If my ass was bigger, I could have been a stripper. Then I wouldn’t have gone to college. Then I wouldn’t have student loans and be drowning in debt. THEN I would have my own apartment!” she breathlessly whispered to herself while simultaneously staring at the certifications on her wall. Ironically, there was a plaque next to her bed that read, “Every day holds the possibility of a miracle.” “How long must one wait for peace and serenity?” Sage sighed  rhetorically.


There had to be an equalizer in Diane’s lungs and a microphone in her mouth. How could such a petite 12-year-old frame project so well?


“You sure are loud for such a sick and feeble girl”, stated Geneva.

Checkmate. Mom won.

Defeated Diane took her two generic ibuprofen tablets, the sloppy Joe sandwich prepared for her lunch (it was grocery week) , zipped her hoodie and sport vest ( it was laundry week) , and sprayed her throat with chloraseptic for the added convincing effect. She sadly walked to the front door in silence accompanied by the occasional cough or sniffle.

Geneva, now fueled by anger, was doing her own introspective analysis. ” If my parents had only let me join the air force then I would have been a  pilot. I wouldn’t have been in NY working two jobs. I wouldn’t have sung at that wedding, met their father, and now be dealing with the Roaring Twenties and the Terrible Tweens! She sighed and glanced at the group photo of the three of them stationed on her dresser. Ironically, there was an old greeting card lying next to her bed from Diane that read, “I know I’m not always easy to deal with but I love you so much mommy. ” Rushing back and forth from the kitchen to the bathroom to her bedroom, she contemplated what her fast and furious route would be to get the kid to school on time and clock in at work before the grace period. She hopped on one foot and almost tripped on air trying to get her trousers on.

Sage got out of bed. Put her hair in a head wrap (it was a hair week), threw on some sweats (it was laundry week), grabbed a pop tart ( it was grocery week), and put her arm around Diane.

“I’ll take you to school baby girl.”

Diane smiled.

They jumped in Sage’s 6-year-old, still financed, Hyundai and blasted gospel music all the way to their destination.

From the couch, still in her trousers and bra with a toothbrush hanging from the corner of her mouth, Geneva sat in disbelief.  She dug through her purse passed the band-aids, chap stick, and tissues and located her cell phone. She proceeded to  text message Sage: “Your gesture was appreciated. Thank you.”

Geneva smiled.

Text driving at a stoplight, Sage received a new Inbox message.

Sage smiled.


Ryde Or Die

Grab my first love’s and first heartbreak’s hand

Pour my ashes into it

And as he stares and stands in disgust

Tell him that’s how I felt when he took my trust and let it slip through his fingers

Tell him no residual resentment lingers

My sweet sister, beware of the man who can’t fall head over heels

Unless your heels are over your head

Or unless he slithers into your bed

Stand your political, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual ground

If not, he will eventually have you perplexed, stressed, and parasitically bound

My brothers, not biologically, but blood just the same

I tried to remember everything you told me.

The stories, life’s lessons and rules, did not go ignored

But you never told me what I should do when I’m cold and lonely

And every time I re-invented myself, I abandoned my own authentic individuality

For years, I remember hearing of the quintessential “ryde or die”

She’s the woman who will cheat, steal, and lie for her baby

She’s the woman who will support, love, and inspire her boo

She’s the woman who will ignore the rumors and be true to her man

Make him a full course meal but she’s eating tuna from the can

Be his every fantasy, even if he didn’t know he had any

She spares no expense

Her love is intense

She sees potential over ambition

Probability over productivity

Companionship over currency

She’s rydin with him

If he’s in the pen, she’s putting ink to a wide ruled yellow writing tablet every week

She’s rydin with him

If he’s unemployed, she’ll purchase him a pre-paid phone just so they can speak

She’s rydin with him

Whether they’re in an X5 or on the Q83

If you’re reading this then you know what has become of my demise

I couldn’t “ryde” anymore

I’ve ceased the propensity to make a “dollar out of fifteen cents”

Being left with fragments of yourself, the people around you saying that you’ve changed

No more sacrifice in the place of compromise

No more love laced in anxiety

The decision was to ryde or die?

I chose death

By: Shaun M Nickens