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i paid my dues

15/07/2003, miss dentzminger, richmond
  i had to pay my july rent

my back is splitting in two with pain. i am hot. i am tired. i have just come from the winn-dixie grocery store where nikki works. she gave me her whole paycheck and she got 100 more dollars from her credit card to pay the rest of the rent money that was due. i waited in the hot sun at the bus stop near the grocery store to go downtown to pay the rent. my aunt lillie, my mom's sister, saw me and gave me a ride. i went to pay the rent but i still owe five dollars. nikki gave me three hundred and fifty-three dollars. the bill was for three hundred and fifty-eight dollars. it was all that i had in this world. i told mr. jones the manager that i didn't have any more money. he said that i didn't have to go to court tomorrow. they would have evicted me and i would have been faced with the problem of finding somewhere to stay. yesterday nikki and i went to an apartment complex that accepts tenants according to their income. this is a federal housing program. the waiting list is six months. we both filled out an application. she will go to virginia commonwealth university in the fall. on sunday i attended the poetry reading at the slip cafe. it was a very revealing encounter. there was a black man who spoke and no-one liked his sleazy tale. in the end he said that he was sorry. it was clergymembers' apologizing to the public for their wrongdoings. recently there was an article in the richmond times dispatch about a pastor who got caught dressed in women's clothes and prostituting. the pastor had a church a half block from my mother's brothers-william, roosevelt and isaiah entzminger. no church members would hear their written apologies. they were so shamed that they wouldn't even see this pastor who represented other bad clergy. i wasn't planning to speak at the poetry reading. but after the turn of events i went ahead with my poem. it was called "empyre maker" and i just thought it up on the fourth of july. empire maker is the name of a horse that recently ran a race. the poem is about having faith. i will let you see the poem in it's entirety. i don't have my pocketbook with me or my journal that i wrote it in. these clergymen would never have given an apology if they had not been caught. in this black man's poem he said that he could not control himself. there are places to go for things like that. the owner of the cafe said that the bad language of our poetry readings has offended the children and warned us not to do it again. vera one of the regulars suggested that we go together to the market. the market was closed. she wanted to tell me that the black market is closed. the same market that persuaded doctors to take women's good uteruses and sell them to the highest bidder. my aunt lillie was one of those women who lost hers as well. and so did my aunt lois. they are understandably angry. earlier on sunday i stopped by the market on my way to the reading. there was an older woman there with rollers in her hair. i wasn't paying much attention until one of the stall owners said how tacky and trifling it looked to be in hair-rollers. then i remembered the loops. she was saying that her head was in loops. then came the lady with the mustache. and i could say with certainly that she was protesting the loss of her uterus. and so was the lady in rollers. they were understandably angry. i wish i could have been on the outside looking in on their issues. i wanted more babies.

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