Tuesday, October 24, 2006


The following is my first published piece. It appeared in the March 1986 issue of Memphis State's (now the University of Memphis) Black Student Association Journal.

I don't/can't write poetry. Believe me, I do know this and I have nothing but respect for those of you who can and do. So, let's just call this a prose piece (smile). The piece holds the honor of bringing me into contact with my very first fan. About six months or so after it was published, I was coming up out of the basement of either Clement or Patterson Hall (before you go getting it twisted, they had classes down there, y'all) when I bumped into a brother who said, "Hey, I know you. Didn't you write that poem (his words, not mine), 'Ladies of the 80's' that was in the BSA journal earlier this year?" I think he even went onto recite a few lines. I was like, "Dag, you still remember that?" It was a nice moment. Anyway, here's the piece. As always, feel free to comment.

We Are The Ladies Of The 80's
Lori D. Johnson

Remember our first few years?
From Sunday afternoons in the park to Friday and Saturdays after dark
we played long and hard
saving any seriousness until our final year
like spoiled, fun-loving children who hurriedly rush to clean house
moments before their parents' arrival.

The world was ours to conquer and divide.
Armed with the false security of innocence and youth
we plunged tongue first
into heated discussions about what we wanted
from life
from men
from one another
and from ourselves.

We wasted money, time and tears
in our awkward and often bitter ascent
toward something called womanhood
learning one miserable lesson after another
from the mistakes--
our own
and those of our sisters.

Filled with all the thrill and terror
of babies, abortions, broken hearts and passion marks
each Alice emerged
from her own personal Wonderland
with a blues song of her own to sing.

Admid the rubble and debris
of broken promises, failing grades, sorrows, defeats and unfulfilled dreams
the seeds of maturity found a place to blossom
and now
looking back
we laugh at our efforts
question our motivies
and reflect upon our gains.

Yes, we are the Ladies of the 80's.
Brown-sugared, and honey-coated.
Hard to handle
difficult to hold
and so, so full of ourselves.

With our heads thrown back
a bit of sass in our hips
a touch of sparkle in our eyes
and rekindled fires in our hearts
we walk into the wind
knowing the journey will be hard
and full of disappointments
but each one realizing
that we have evolved from a long history of struggle.

And like those before us
we too
will survive.


MR said...

Dang! You never showed this to me! Quit beatin' on Lori...it's poetry to me! I love it! You know why? Because it's TRUE!

"We plunged tongue first" is fabulous.


"Filled with all the thrill and terror
of babies, abortions, broken hearts and passion marks
each Alice emerged
from her own personal Wonderland
with a blues song of her own to sing."

...is wonderful. "broken hearts and passion marks"...beautiful!

I'm gonna have to step back and look at you again!

Lori said...

Thanks MR,
Coming from you, that really means a lot. Gee Whiz! Sniff, sniff. I don't know whether to blush or cry. Lori D.

Tiffany said...

Wow! The message of that piece describes me and all my sister-friends when we were in college during the '90's. I couldn't help but laugh to myself when you talked about the 'wasted money, time and tears'. My friend's and talk about how we wish we knew then everything we know now. But, if we did, we wouldn't be the strong women we are today. You are a poet, Miss Lori.

Be blessed

Tiffany A. Edwards
Oklahoma City, OK

Lori said...

Thanks Miss Tiff,
You know what? A friend who attended college during the 70's told me she could identify with this piece as well. I guess you're right. It's all about "growth." The good thing is, for most of us, "with age, comes wisdom" (smile). Lori D.