The Words Beneath the Words



I’ve been thinking about the words beneath the words. About how sometimes what is not spoken aloud is, “I’m sad.” or “I’m scared.” or “If you knew my backstory, you’d understand me so much better! Forgive me. But I can’t/won’t tell you why I am the way I am. Although I wish with all my heart that I could.”

And I’ve been thinking about something a dear Friend, Cathy Whitmire, once told me: “Everyone’s doing the best they can.” ( I immediately replied, “No, they’re NOT!”) But I am slowly coming to believe she was right. Slowly.

forgiving my father

lucille clifton

it is friday. we have come

to the paying of the bills.

all week you have stood in my dreams

like a ghost, asking for more time

but today is payday, payday old man;

my mother’s hand opens in her early grave

and i hold it out like a good daughter.

there is no more time for you. there will

never be time enough daddy daddy old lecher

old liar. i wish you were rich so i could take it all

and give the lady what she was due

but you were the only son of a needy father,

the father of a needy son;

you gave her all you had

which was nothing. you have already given her

all you had.

you are the pocket that was going to open

and come up empty any friday.

you were each other’s bad bargain, not mine.

daddy old pauper old prisoner, old dead man

what am i doing here collecting?

you lie side by side in debtors’ boxes

and no accounting will open them up.



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  1. Dear Patricia,

    Hi, there, my so, so very precious and dearest white friend and sister! What an astounding and magnificently insightful blog post article this is of yours! I think it is so, so very true that if people knew other persons’ backstories that they would understand other persons much better, sister! Patricia, I often imagine how it would be if people saw a film of my life, sisterfriend! I know that people I so, so love and very, very much cherish such as my white sisterfriends do already really understand. I sometimes wonder how much more clarity that a film of my life would create, Patricia. I, too, want to know people’s backstory I know that people are very much indeed doing their best. I think of my white sisterfriends, Patricia, and you, sister, and other white women who I so, so love and very, very much cherish as the lesbian black woman who I am. The true stories, realities, and backstories of white women need to be told and recognized, but all of you do not lead blissfully happy and problem free lives, and all of you are definitely not spoiled as the stereotypes say. I truly feel and believe white women are not spoiled, and lead very difficult lives with sometimes family problems, and having been maltreated and abused, and being oppressed via sexism, patriarchy, and misogyny. As the strong and ardent feminist who I am I know that white women do have white privilege but this is only in part. I feel with all of my very heart, sister, and my very heart, soul, and spirit that white women’s backstories need to be honored and recognized, and that white women are very, very unfairly and egregiously stereotyped as having no suffering and as being spoiled. I know in my very heart, soul, and spirit, precious white sisterfriend, that you, Patricia, and other white women are only doing your very best!!!!!!! I so, so very much understand, for you and other white women are my very heart!!!!!!1

    Patricia, please have a terrific and a thrilling Thursday, and may all of your days be so, so very especially blessed, ,my precious white sisterfriend!!!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always with Peace and Love To You For Always and Blessings and Even More Blessings To You, Patricia,, my dearest white friend and sister,

    Your Christian lesbian black sisterfriend For Always in solidarity, Sherry Gordon

  2. We’ve discussed this many times, you and I. I also cover this with the Texas Squeeze. He uses the line from the book of Judges, “Every man did what was right in his own eyes.”
    There are words behind…
    “I’m sorry but…” (NOT sorry!)
    How can *cop vs black* violence be ESCALATING?

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