Where we are LOVE IS.

Love cannot thrive where fear lives.  It does us no good to attempt to love and then when it arrives, rush it out the door.  Make room for it.  

I would not consider myself a religious person. I am a person of faith and love in God/spirit/universe. They are all different names for the same energy that daily moves us through this life.  I was struggling about how to respond to a conflict. A love conflict with a person I deeply care about.  I am experiencing their love as fear based love, which does not produce a love I respond well to.  For the past few days, I have been struggling with what the best response would be and then I tuned into the live stream of my spiritual center (Agape) and was reminded: MEET EVERYTHING WITH LOVE.  So this is what I will do.  In the face of fear, I will remind us that where we are God is, Love is. There is much to be learned from this thought.  I share this with you in case you too are fearful or being met with fear when all you are trying to do it love.  OPEN UP and LOVE!!! This is what we are here for.  

Find more ways to love, 

Natalie. 

Lessons in love

I learn best by watching, then doing. All my life, I have watched people do a multitude of things. I learned that bangs aren't for everyone from my sister in the 90's. I learned that being extra drunk in a tight dress at 3 am looks terrible on everyone. I learned that heartbreak can kill you. I've learned the importance of saying sorry. That trusting your instinct is usually the difference between having a life you love and one that is just decent.  I've watched people, strangers to my own family be in relationships, mostly shitty, self-compromising ones. What I've witnessed over and over, were men unwilling or unprepared to show-up for a partnership, that they had already, partially stepped into and women who threatened or manipulated the men, in their lives, to get what they thought they wanted. Only to later be disappointed by the lack of consistency, willingness or negative reaction to the pressure. (I can unpack this more, if need be but stick with me) This exchange was normal to me. I even dated people with the understanding that relationships "are just hard." More often than not, I have had complex, murky relationships that were without definition. This type of dynamic has left so much to clean up and resolve at the end of things. 

I remember many years ago being what I thought was madly in love. I got very ill one night and went to the hospital. After a few tests they told me that what I was experiencing was a miscarriage. I had no awareness that I was pregnant, so it all was very shocking and disorienting. When I told the guy I was dating, he responded with the most puzzling words: " we can move in together, get married, whatever you want."  The short presence of a child was enough to get this man to want to commit in a way that, for the previous two years, he had little interest in. I told him if he wanted to do any of that, to ask me on a Tuesday, not as a reaction to anything. He never asked again. In more recent years, I was involved with a man who "couldn't imagine what our lives would be like together", when we had spent the previous nine years involved.

I was raised to think these type of moments were merely the hard parts of relationships and girls who become wives stick it out, fight harder, dig deeper, when, in fact those moments when your spirit struggles to know if this is right, are perhaps signs that this is a lesson not a destination.

I will admit, I am always drawn to deeply memorizing characters, they are typically the underdog, but really lovely, brilliant and complex humans. I always bet on them and THAT has been my mistake; wanting to be the thing they won. Wanting to be a prize, thinking I am a reward. I am a woman unto myself, not related to the life trajectory of another. I must always bet on myself and be with someone who will do the same. This creates a personal value system that does not shift, based on who is in my life, but allows me to maintain a level of self-love and care that is important for a healthy relationship. So often I hear Maya Angelou's voice in my head saying "love liberates." It has been the measuring stick for many things in my life recently. So, this morning was profound. I had a realization.

I am dating a person who welcomes me. Holds space for all the ways and things I am. A non-judgmental, open-hearted, kind and generous person. A person who thinks communication is king and THAT is fucking awesome. All the lovers I have ever admired, hold a quality of liberation for one another. That is love to me. Who ever knows what will come of a current dating situation and truly the outcome is secondary to all I will learn, but I am so grateful to be reminded that this kind of relationship exists, that I can have it and that I am worth opening up for.

Now, I don't know if any of this will move or shift you but it has made a world of difference for me. I welcome your thoughts.  I will always share what I have come to know as truth. I hope you try it on for size! Live in Love.

Mine and Yours, 

Natalie! 

Dear Allies or possible allies.

 A woman in a private group that I'm in posted the following and I thought it was perfect so I wanted to posted it on my blog as an offering. (read my personal remarks at the bottom)

Here are some things you should read and know: 

 "A woman who is a friend of a friend of mine posted the following resources. If any white people are feeling like they don't understand what's going on, or like they need to ask questions, this is really not the time to ask Black folks to help you understand. They have enough to do right now just to keep breathing and taking care of themselves and their families and friends. It isn't Black folks' job to educate us about racism. So here is stop #1 on that train:"

RACISM FAQ:

1. "Why do black people think everyone is out to get them?" 
http://www.theatlantic.com/.../the-case-for.../361631/

2. "Why do people keep calling me privileged?" 
http://www.cirtl.net/.../PartI_CreatingAwareness...

3. "Why do people keep calling me racist?" 
http://jezebel.com/590.../a-complete-guide-to-hipster-racism

4. "Isn't racism a thing of the past?" 
http://www.theatlantic.com/.../This-Town-Needs-A.../361443/

5. "What's wrong with me saying 'on fleek'"? 
http://www.thefader.com/.../on-fleek-peaches-monroee...

6. "Why do black people insist on talking about race when it's not an issue?" 
https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

7. "Am I just supposed to sit around feeling guilty about something that's not my fault?" 
http://www.alternet.org/.../11-things-white-people-can-do...
 

I don't know if you have heard or not but black people are being murdered by the police at an exceptional rate. Police officers are generally murdering civilians at an alarming rate but on the heels of two men being murdered in such a blatant and horrific way, as a black woman I am hurting. Deeply, deeply hurting.  And at 32, I realize that my pain as a black woman looks like anger to you, allow me to translate: I'm hurt and afraid. If you need more evidence as to why or are somehow out of the loop, scroll down my facebook page, there are enough posts to get you up to speed. 

The new collection, "Arrival: a return"

I'm so excited to have just finished my 6th collection of poetry "Arrival: a return." It features 16 new poems. Thematically, I explore the many aspects of what living in america right now feels like. This collection is a journey back to myself after a few years of building momentum only to realize I was still hitting walls.  I created all of these poems over the last six months so it is all very, very current.  

The way I approach the releasing of a new collection is I always want to be current and classic. I love Chapbooks, because they are of the artist. Chapbooks are classic in that that was the way artists had the most creative control of their work (read more about the history of Chapbooks HERE) but there is nothing like listening to poetry. So this collection will be released as a chapbook and come with a digital audio file to download and play. It's like having a personal read-a-long! 

The collection will be in your hot little hands in the next few weeks, but to insure that you have it first, please pre-order.  I can't wait until you have it! 

As always, thanks for your support. 

N.

After Pulse

There are too many funerals

Too many bodies

Always innocent

Always someones baby

 

I do not know what to do with all the mourning

Where else can I house this pain?

This body is filled with names and faces of people

Faces of murdered people

People murdered by other people

And how many mothers can we cry for?

How many fathers and lovers and sisters?

How many brother will we bury this week?

 

The death toll is rising

And we are just watching

Just posting

Just feeling sorry

Feeling sad, feeling feelings

 

My mother has a gun

In the top drawer of her dresser

It was her fathers

I suppose one day I too might inherit it

It will collect dust

It will sit

And die

A slow death before I will ever put a finger on its trigger.

 

I will not cradle it like a child

Will not worry about its safety

Will not value it over people

I will cradle people

Will love people

Protect people- who look and feel different than me

Because their existence does not threaten mine

Their love does not bother me

Their love inspires me

 

So anywhere I am, you are welcome

You are safe. You are loved

I am with you. I am with you. I am you.

I AM so deserving!

I'm working on a new collection of poetry. I intended to have it all done by the time I arrived back from Thailand, however something rather remarkable happened instead. The first night in Bangkok before bed I hooked up my adapter and converter to charge my phone and computer. In the morning, my phone was fully charged but my computer wouldn't turn on. The panic quickly set in. I went through the normal attempts to turn it on, then charged it with another charger and NOTHING. It was completely unresponsive. I checked the internet for suggestion and one blog said this happened to them and they left it for a few days to completely die and then plugged it in to charge and BOOM it came on. So I enjoyed the next few days and then tried again... NOTHING. For the following two weeks, I had moments of worry about having to buy a new computer when I returned home, and the personal upset from wanting to complete a collection while on vacation that was clearly not going to happen.  When I arrived home, before the anxiety of "what if" crept in, I plugged my computer in and BOOM it came on. I nearly cried and amidst the joy it occurred to me that maybe the universe was providing me the opportunity to just enjoy my vacation instead of having a working vacation. I could write anywhere, why did it have to be on my vacation? Humbled by the thought that I was trying to steal my own joy, I realized sometimes my plans are not the best plans.  I will carve out some time over the next few weeks to put this new collection together and you will be the first to know when it is ready. 

My Peoples. Episode 4.

I was asked to contribute a poem to episode 4 of My Peoples. My Peoples is an underground talk show filmed in front of a live studio audience in Los Angeles every Sunday night at the iconic Mack Sennett Studios. This week the topic was: How to disagree without being disagreeable. 

On the show: Rosario Dawson, Jerrod Carmichael, Anasa Troutman
Nomiki Konst, Shailene Woodley, Quddus. Hosted by: Erica

Here is a link to the show, I want wait to hear what you think. 

My poem is below!

Slam In The Stacks Live recording 4/25/2016

This performance was made possible by Grand Performances, Los Angeles Public Library and Writ Large Press. 

Participating poets:

Conney Williams
Natalie Patterson
librecht baker
Xitlalic Guijosa-Osuna
Gloria Enedina Alvarez
 

There are more events happening thru May 14th for details https://www.facebook.com/events/1691040121150962/ or Grandperformances.org/poetry and for free events all summer Grandperformances.org

***Recordings are LIVE AND RAW. 

There are more events happening thru May 14th for details: https://www.facebook.com/events/1691040121150962/,  Grandperformances.org/poetry and for free events all summer Grandperformances.org

A show at San Bernardino Valley College 4/19/2016

I had the honor of performing at SBVC with fellow poet Conney Williams. Below  you can listen to my live set and the Q&A that followed. The audio is completely unedited and raw. I just wanted to be able to share this experience with you because it was such a lovely show. 

Thanks to all the students who came out in the middle of the day to catch a little bit of poetry.  

xoxo, 

Natalie! 

7/30 2016 Now, Again

It wasn't until the doctor called

My stomach dropped, mouth dry 

they only call after a visit when it’s bad news 

She said “the test came back and it seems you have an std, Chlamydia. It is completely curable so don't worry”

 

I manage to thank her for calling before i hung up

my body shivering 

and my palms began crying 

I was in my car and it required too much effort to drive now 

hard to see past the tears forming 

Can't multi-task with a broken heart 

 

I pretended it hadn't happened for a month now 

But I’d have to take medicine now 

Would have to call my partner now 

Explain what I had never acknowledged now 

 

I wondered how I could explain that night 

That I didn't see it coming

That I didn't think anything was wrong with a friend visiting late 

That I went to sleep thinking I’d made myself clear 

I was in love with someone else, happy even 

I said “anything that happened in the past could no longer” 

I thought my no was clear 

Clear enough to fall asleep, in my bed, without fear of waking up to the thick of him inside of me 

How could explain? 

That I was comfortable enough with him that I wasn't alarmed by his presence 

How could I explain?

That I said nothing while he fucked me, because I had already said no before it began 

And I wondered why I would be the one to explain 

How it is always the victim who has to explain? 

 

But I called my lover—told him to get checked 

I called my ex-lover just in case 

Felt their judgement suffocate me through the phone 

Their silence screamed disappointment  

Over the next week, neither one spoke to me

And I get it 

Exile is easy

 

My mother pretended she didn't hear me say “sexually assaulted”

There is nothing like shame 

It is much easier to think of her daughter as whore, irresponsible, careless 

Much easier to process the names we call our daughters 

Much easier than taking on teaching our sons not to RAPE

This word we reserved for men we do not know

People we do not know 

But I have known every man who invaded my body 

Even loved some of them

And that’s the thing 

You cannot demonize a man you love 

But how do you reconcile loving the monster that seeks to kill you? 

You either pretend he isn't one or pretend not to know that he is. 

 

And I do not know how to unravel every uninvited touch 

I do not know how to become purified again 

I have seen too much 

Know too much about the nature of a hungry man 

But I try

I try daily to become new again 

Try to love again 

Try to trust again 

And forgive 

Every aspect that created an environment where this is part of my story 

Again. 

 

 

 

 

8/30 2016 Too Much

My mother always told me being pretty wasn't enough

What she didn't tell me was that being smart and pretty would be TOO MUCH 

Would be interpreted as bitchy, bossy, uncontrollable

She didn't tell me that society was not ready for a whole woman 

there was no caution to accompany her advice 

so here I am 

32 and completely myself 

told all the things I am, I couldn't be

yet here I am in all my glory 

but tremendously lonely 

seems as though there is a point when we trade in our morals for money and i’m beginning to get that 

only I’ve been myself too long to let go of her so easily

so I’m holding on to this dream woman I am so close to I can smell

She is something incredible and I just want to be her shadow 

 

2/30 2016 Untitled

I.

I am saving myself now/ Got no favors/ No hand outs to give/ only smiles/ and hugs/ when I've got spare me to give/ I suppose the problem with thinking you can save folks is/ you can if they are in range/ just far enough/ If they are close they can't hear you/ the same is true if too distant 

II.

Every night before I fall asleep/ I feel the creep of an arm/ hairy/ soft/ reaching across me/ his arm/ gentle/ his scent is a lullaby/ comforts me/ I sleep/ well/ to the feel of him. 

III.

I wonder if my past loves were loves at all/ wonder if the wounds have made me forgetful/ wonder if it happened at all/ I cant even count my lovers anymore/ and not because the numbers are so high but because/ i can hardly remember their touch/ cant remember if i made up how in love I was/ how good it felt to be underneath the full of them/ If it was good or just a warm body on top of me

IV.

I find it hard to sleep lately/ find it hard to put into words this disgust/ this filth/ this nation and its people/ how we rarely make progress if not threatened 

V.

When I was in Jr.High, I vowed to myself to be a better person/ To be non-violent/ to be someone great/ what I didn't know is how trash truck most folks are/ I do not sleep well because I cannot unknow what I know/ I cannot shake the hurt and disappointment/ cannot settle how unsafe I feel/ even with good white folks. 

 

1/30 2016

Spring 

The garden is nearly full  

Friday in LA

Always waiting for a friend to joint the meal

We will hardly be satisfied 

LA is beautifully disappointing that way

We all rush around in our cool looking outfits 

Dreadfully uncomfortable 

And overwhelmingly insecure 

But we manufacture cool

Sell it on the big screen and even we buy tickets to the movie 

 

National Poetry Writing Month 2016

I love April and not because it marks spring, although the sunshine is nice when it is not raining. I love April because it marks the beginning of a 30 day challenge to write poetry every single day. Today is day nine of National Poetry Writing Month. I have been trying to write every day and will continue to for the rest of the month. Each 24 hours I try to feel my way through the process of writing (which happens to be particularly emotional for me.)  After many years of participation, it is no easier. There is joy and liberation in the process but it is hard to write a poem every single day. I don't always feel like I have a complete thought. Sometimes I just don't want to write what there is to write, but I remind myself that this is a process. I remind myself to be gentle and loving, that it doesn't actually matter if I write everyday, what matters is my effort. This month is about exploration and allowing the write girl in me to purely write for pleasure, in honor of all the secrets and pain I've kept. This month isn't for anyone else. I owe this to myself.

Check back throughout the month, I will be posting writings here. 

Why I read my poems

I saw a comment under one of my poems that read: "If she memorized it and didn't look at her phone, it would be more powerful."

Dear Max, 

Over the years, I've heard folks say things about me reading my poems off page or off my phone in videos. Rarely do these folks ask me why. I am an artist, Max and being an artist means I get to create on my own terms. It means I get to define how I present my work into the world. Shame on you for thinking you know anything about what would be best for my art. Shame on you for not being refined enough to differentiate between entertainment and art. 

Do you know anything about how much I work? Do you know anything about how quickly production companies ask me to be prepared to be on camera with a gorgeous poem? Do you know how long it takes to write or what it requires? Do you even know anything about poetry? I ask you these things because I am fascinated by how quickly people, like you, remark about things they know very little about. 

I don't memorize my poems because they are mine. Because I work and write so much that it stopped being worth it to memorize poems because of what I had to sacrifice to do so. I write for freedom and memorizing forces me to be a hostage. It doesn't allow me to meet the poem new or where I'm at in the current moment. It doesn't allow for reality or my truest expression and that is what my work is about.  I realized somewhere between writing countless poems and being bored by the poetry scene because every Spoken Word Artist seemed exactly the same, that I could create my own lane. I thought for a while that I would work less and I did, at first until I decided to create and perform unashamed. After 12 years of doing poetry and 6 years being a full time artist, I'd say it is all working out just fine. 

So yes, Max while the video might have been more powerful to you if I memorized it, it would have been less honest. It would have been filled with insecurity about getting every word right and the message would have been lost. It would have been less true to the process and the two days I had to write it before shooting it. It would have been pretend and that is not what my work is about. I am about the reality of things, not the fantasy you have become accustomed to witnessing.  I'd love to satisfy every viewer but the reality is: the value and power of my work isn't up to you. 

Max replied with: 

Hey, thanks very much, I appreciate the amount of thought you put into that. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved your poem, I found it awesome and I can relate a lot to the things you said with my own personal outlook on life, I was just giving you some constructive criticism on how it would have worked better for me personally. I guess I prefer full eye contact presentations because my background is business and when preparing for my presentations I memorize all the things I need to say and I explain it thoroughly and enthusiastically to others to keep their attention. I'm not familiar with poetry, but I always enjoy it. Have a good day :)