Fort Tipii

Fort Tipii


I couldn’t build a proper tree house.  Too high up and anyway I’m afraid of heights, so instead I built this little fort of sorts as a place to gather my thoughts after a hectic day.  Made my best efforts with whatever materials the forest floor offered up as building materials.  There were enough twigs and branches to construct more ground level tree houses or make my current enclosure larger but I chose to save some for kindling for warmth against the chill night air and the rest I kept stacked as a type of cord-wood in a womb like nook Mother Nature had carved into a tree that had been struck by lightening. Eventually I decided to construct another Tipii twig abode to store my few belongings I had gradually began to sneak away from The Family Residence.

These Tree/Tepee/Tipii/Twig aka T3 structures became my holy sanctuaries and safe havens I return to again and again to re-connect with Mother Earth and nature. Too small to stand upright clicking my heels together three times was not an option so I was forced to remain seated. With some degree of discomfort I could lay down in a fetal position while I imagined myself re-entering an alternate womb to be reborn into better circumstances. Mine were a tepee shelters without the buffalo skin covering all exposed bones and framework.

Tipii Stick Hut

Sometimes I’d hug my knees and rhythmically rock back and forth while repeating what I thought were calming mantras, occasionally wishing that the earth would open up and swallow me whole transporting me some place free from pain, misery and cruelty. Like a shaman I chanted using my homemade rituals attempting to silence the drumbeat of voices incessantly chattering inside my head versus the declarations of the Family.  They created a dissonance tear in the time frame continuum of my thoughts.

You see our house, The Family Home if you could call it that is a ramshackle structure; a hodgepodge mixture of stone, wood and stucco additions and afterthoughts as different parts of the building were constructed at different times upon the whims the directors and caretakers.

I was forced to share this mishmash cottage with twelve other inmates, bordered on this expanse of woods providing me a refuge from leaky roofs, busted walls, peeling wallpaper, lukewarm baths, moldy musty scented showers, not to mention all the yelling, screaming, arguments, fights, thefts of food and personal belongings and constant disagreements of a house too small to accommodate the number of people residing within its creaky ramparts.  The Family nicknamed it the Hotel California. You know the place where you check in but never check out. The nails across chalkboard voices of The Family were constant knife thrusts to my brain making daily life a constant battle that did not end even has the diurnal gave up residence to the nocturnal for they all snored, wheezed and gasped through the night abyss.  The utter desolation of the place crept into your bones and took root nourished by hopelessness.

The Family’s house sits on an oddly place piece of land, our house gives way to forest which in turn after several miles gives way to craggy, rocky shores of a steep cliff, where if one sits perfectly still you can hear the violent waves crashing against rough jagged rock formations that looked as though they were designed by the devil himself. It is said that in olden times there used to be many shipwrecks where sailors were either impaled on the razor sharp Stalagmites. Sometimes you can even hear the shrieks, moans, cries and groans of the unfortunate wretches mixed in with the howling winds. The few who weren’t dashed to pieces by the razor sharp jagged rock formations tried to climb up to safety but were thwarted by the steep incline.

Forest Hiding Place
Forest Hiding Place

So I periodically retreated to my exoskeleton asylums as a sentry medium between earth and sky. I can never turn my mind off completely but within my secret hiding place the voices were kept to a low roar and bid to change direction and pace.

The last straw that broke the camels back came when my moronic addled brained cell-mate Pearl kept throwing her nasty, dirty towels, underwear and flip-flops over to my side of the room. When I returned from the canteen or our common dining area there were moldy wet towels plastered to the floor like throw rugs that accosted the dividing line between our two living areas.  Pearl was known as the filthiest female in our wing tossing food and drink to and fro fully expecting that a squad of personal maids and sweepers were following in her wake. One night after I returned from my many woodland sojourns I decided that I had, had enough and soaked all her grimy towels in gasoline and lighter fluid obtained from an unlocked supply closet near the motor pool.  Pearl had a tendency to drink like sailor on shore leave and sleep just as soundly so she never had an inkling as I piled the towels around her bed, built a kindling fort for good measure and added effect, led a fuse from a doorway to an open window, climbed out and lit said fuse.

The Kindling delivered me from The Family’s vocalizations. I tried to warn them before. I tried to silence the voices through escape, but it was not working so I had to try another plan. The crackles and pops of my campfire seem to be in sync with the screams and cries for rescue from the patients locked inside their rooms but eventually those voices will die out also, and then sleep.  Blessed sleep.


Cassandra Verity

Points to Ponder — Images of Women

Points to Ponder.

2 females fighting over a man
Two females fighting for the attentions of a worthless man.

Life is one giant learning experience. I chalk up the misplaced words of bitter jealous insecure women as signs of immaturity and deal with them on that level. Would I fight over a man? No. Why. Because Honey there ain’t that much “love” in the world and I’m saving that love for the happy trio of me, myself and I.

Unfortunately we as women live in a society that pits us against each other. Something like a female “Hunger Games”. Women are made to feel that they are in competition with each other over the few crumbs of favor, perks or success some man in authority and power may throw our way. Not so. Yes we do live in a male dominated society but women must band together and make their own opportunities but not at the expense of our images.

This is what I hate most about shows like, Love and Hip-Hop, Basketball Wives, Housewives of (fill in the blank), Mob Wives, etc… These women who’ve only had a semblance of “success” through a rich husband or father throw themselves into the TV Roman arena, then commence to claw, rip and shred each other apart. The first two shows I mentioned make well-to-do Black Women or rather Black Women in general look like gold digging sluts. Unfortunately this is what our young Black women model themselves after. How long are we going to going to be dazzled by this bullshit?

The mindset of these negative TV shows is so pervasive that it’s even seeping to the psyche of older women. That makes for the older women vs. the younger women slugfests. Women of a certain age feel they have to slice, dice, ice, pull up, straighten out, fly, dye and pull to the side various parts of their anatomy in hopes that an admiring man preferably wealthy will look their way. As a 50+ Black Woman I refuse to allow male dominant culture to marginalize or put me out to pasture.

More than likely the war between age and youth has always been in place but the advent of technology escalates the situation to a whole new level.

With the dawn of cable TV, the Internet and social media the heat is on women who feel they’re past their prime to belly up to the bimbo bar. All of sudden superficiality has replaced substance. Hair, nails and make-up have become more important than morals, values, academic knowledge or intellectually bearing. Don’t get me wrong I too color my hair and get my nails done but my reason behind these beauty treatments are they please me. The pampering makes me feel good as a woman and naturally I want to look good. However anyone who knows me well also knows I’m not the type of woman to dumb myself down for a man. I come from a place of intellect, intelligence and knowledge. I believe my sexiness is internal manifesting itself in the external. Yes I can look great in a mini-skirt, dress or shorts but I can also hold an intelligent conversation on a range of topics from literature, history and sociology. This brings me to my next point.

Where are the TV shows that balance these horrible images out? Where are our Black Women writers, scientists, researchers, anthropologists, astronauts, historians…..? Mae Jemison, Barbara Jordan, Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, Zora Neale Hurston, Fanny Lou Hamer, Mary McLeod Bethune, Ida B. Wells-Barnett.

Shameful Silence. How much do you Ladies want to bet that the cast of Basketball Wives has no knowledge of these great Black Women? On the other hand would they want to?

Points to Ponder.