D.C. Lovin’

I came to D.C. earlier in the spring and fell in love with it. As a Writer, I live with the greatest excitement in being able to share my experiences. So for the three months total that I have spent here, I have been taking pictures and notes in order to paint D.C. as I see it when I see it. I invite you along as I grow to know and learn the bigger picture, with more entries as I continue to do so.

So. DC is confusing at first. You can’t be sure what direction is due north because all of the street signs have 2 components ie NE/NW vs SE/SW. Your google maps might tell you it will take 45 mins to drive 3 miles. (Believe it.) However, once you get past the fact that none of the roads are straight and neither are the metro lines, there lies a beautiful city. Almost surrounded by water (which’ll make you wonder ‘how is this not considered an island?’), D.C. is a wondrous mixture of soil and concrete. With such a unique balance of business and nature, people that live here seem to indulge in both. From the Marines casually walking in a cluster down a block in capitol hill to a group of street dancers occupying a corner late night on U street, everything goes. DC is the city that everyone needs to be talking about.

D.C. has a big city feel and appeal while remaining so walk-able. One neighborhood rolls right into the next and at any point you can stop for any thing your heart may desire, including some soul food and a good conversation or two. It honestly feels as though everyone in D.C. is there by choice and is happy to share it. Houses made of rainbow mounted on brick red streets are in as full of a character as a made-up face. Entire streets seem to be competing for a spot on second line. Those who’s paint has been allowed to fade, seemingly for the sake of authenticity, bleed for times once known. Alley ways are a way of life in D.C. and I’m all for it. Being from NYC, I’m used to alleys being the stuff of nightmares and where the wild things hide. In D.C., alley ways belong to more art work, stores, galleries, restaurant entries, driveways, kids with footballs and plenty foot traffic. Don’t get me wrong, there are dumpsters and a few off smells as well, just not accompanied by the sheer terror of most big city dark corners. Not to mention the nature and greenery that abounds and surrounds D.C. The parks here take up so much space that it’s a wonder how there’s room for everything else. Rock Creek Park and Malcolm X Park sprawl in different parts in the North of the city. Rock Creek Park boasts rolling hills and Malcolm X is home to on of the grandest overlooks of the city. Along with Anacostia Park and National Mall in SE, as well as innumerable local parks and trails, there is so much green space in D.C. that there is no excuse for you not to cultivate an outdoor habit.

Most obviously: HU. Howard University campus sprawls and takes up a glorious chunk of the landmark Shaw neighborhood. The Historically Black University’s campus holds onto a significant piece of D.C. soul, making for a nice mix of scholastic aptitude, African oils and independently owned tea shops (Calabash though? Review to come). You are sure to run into Howard Professors and Students throughout the city. Although there are other big name universities in the district, I haven’t seen them get anywhere close to the amount of Washingtonian love that Howard gets. That’s Chocolate City for you. HU!

Giving you even more of a reason to love being out and about, the Street Art is stuff of legend. Murals span entire sides of schools and businesses. Vivid colors, geometric abstraction and fantasy flash flood your eyes without warning as you drive through the streets. Their aftertaste is more than enough to pull you back onto the street on foot and you’re in for a real treat. Follow the crumbs to find morsels of remnants of a once Chocolate City. The Musicians that play on the corners serenade, not for the money, but for the nostalgia ultra that floats through the air searching for a vessel and an open ear. Searching for someone who remembers. Whether you consider its history or not, your soul is subject to the depth of this time-capsule of a place. Music is just one part of its heart.

Even as the historic holy ground that D.C. is, much change is underfoot and not necessarily for its overall good. Urban renewal projects and rezoning construction runs rampant in the district, displacing families and, quite frankly, destroying neighborhoods and legacy. Entire skylines are crowded with cranes. With the 5th largest metro economy and placing 3rd as top tech city in the U.S. according to Forbes, economic development is showing no signs of slowing. In capitalism, someone is winning while someone is losing and Native Washingtonians, especially low-income households, are losing. Much of the latest developments that draw migrants like myself come at the expense of those who are from here. I’d be remiss like most other transplants if I did not take the time to learn and appreciate the town’s rich history. I look forward to sharing with you the fine story of D.C. as Chocolate city, along with sharing different aspects of the current maladies many native Washingtonians are facing. I intend to do my part as an Artist by reflecting the times here in D.C. to the best of my ability. Stay tuned.


P.S. Images were to follow. Except, I deleted/misplaced 3 months worth of files. Technology doesn’t seem to want to be my friend.

Don’t Write It If You Don’t Mean It: Black. & Green.

Don’t Write It If You Don’t mean It:

Black. & Green.


Cover 3

Copyright © 2018 LLJ

All rights reserved.


To Little Lo,

becoming all she can.






The Black Woman F&R

The black Woman is subject to being made invisible.

To being made a spectacle.

To receiving no warning.

To over perming, over working and under earning.

To being through.

To being sick and tired of being sick and tired.

To singing the blues.

To not being quite enough.

To giving too much.

To, on one hand, being labeled a diamond in the rough while,

on the other,

being forced into being a piece of coal because being “pretty” ain’t for us.

To being told she’s too much.

To not being tough enough.

To being told she isn’t de la creme enough.

To carrying on in spite of such.


Harriet Tubman F&R

Harriet Tubman smells like Frankincense and Myrrh

I know because I’ve laid at her feet

kissed her cheek

in my dreams.


The Seed F&R

I am the seed of those who made it,

but I borrow some of my soul from those

who chose

to go overboard.

Spirit that chases generations to come back around

Because energy can’t be destroyed;

Damned sure can’t drown.


I Can Hear Africa F&R

I can hear




Calling me,

begging me,

to remember.


I'm Not Allowed F&R

I am not allowed to show that I am a sentient being too,

because somehow it makes me weaker than you if I do.


have already been persuaded

to hate me.

But the bait you took

came off the same hook.

They took your people too.

Never having brought them back.

Our various colored skins were all sold off of the same white rack.


Ancestors falling out F&R

I have elders falling out of my seams.

This is what being full of hope

and high esteems

really means.


I Do This F&R

I do this for my Ancestors

and Predecessors

that were Lovers

and Writers

and misTOOK

for Slaves.





For Those of Us F&R

For those of us

working to be more light-filled than


It’s a full-time job deciphering this life

from what’s real.

I’m constantly reminding myself not to take

the blue pill.

Setting reminders on my phone to stay

grounded and to take time to be still.

To meditate.

For my Heaven’s sake.

Being aware vs being awake.

Asking ethereal beings for guidance on the

next step to take.

At our fingertips, things the ancestors

couldn’t do.

So it’s only right that we ask for their light

to shine through.

Take our talents seriously,

knowing that they

are the Universe’s gifts to we.

Figuring it out as you go gets easy—

once you remember who sent you.

Who sent you?

Who’s in you?

Who am I,

starting with releasing who I am not.

This existence can put you under a lot.

Make it hard to see

or to be free with

all the varying degrees

of reality

on top.

You gotta take time to sort through

your own mess

and karmic debt.

Big part of incarnating lies in just resolving that.

I been

shedding false self like dead skin

like I don’t wanna have no skin left.

Trying to get to a level of consciousness

so clear that it’s see through.

Though the strivings may be stressful

Passion is always simple.

Compassion is elemental.

No matter what they tell you,

watch how far love will get you…

Follow your intuition because your soul knows more than your mental.

Balancing your feminine and masculine is essential.

You need me and I need you–

Don’t try to do it alone because none of us were meant to.


I'm tired (4)

I am tired of scrolling.

I am tired of searching.

I am tired of profiling.

I am tired of following.

Tired of the tags.

Tired of the mis-texts.

Tired of the subs.

Tired of the typos.

I am tired of status.

I am tired of location.

I am tired of broken links.

I am tired o—

Tired of t—

Tired of th—

Tired of click here for a free—

Tired of the scams.

I am tired of glare.

I am tired of counting time.

I am tired of quoting.

I am tired of filtering.




Woman. F&R


-A Complete Sentence


The Universe F&R

The Universe is in a constant state of flux.




Now can you see what we are?


Hold A Shell F&R

Hold a shell to your ear.

What do you hear?

Some say it is The Ocean

and others believe it is The Blood in your veins.

I implore you: Is there a difference?

Do each not pulse with a rhythm,

while carrying and sustaining life?

Are both not capable of raising up and crying out to the moon?


Haiku F&R

Dragonflies Dashing

Koi are kissing their own kind

Sun on soul and skin.


When Writing F&R

When writing

you can pull words out of the wood paneling

and sentences from the spackled plaster ceiling

you were staring at.

Were they always there?






I came to a solid first draft and deleted the file by accident. This was a labor of love. I truly hope something in these e-pages resonated with you. Thank you for journeying with me.

I wish to give my images more substance and I want my words to be visualized. This is an attempt at such. The poems were written between February 2016 and May 2018. The pictures were taken in Brooklyn August 2018. Upon having the thought to combine the two, the sense of purpose I felt drove me to completion. I look forward to getting a better camera.

‘Don’t Write It If You Don’t Mean It’ will continue with “Red. & Nude.”, a collection of poems AND personal essays, this Winter. This is all in effort to make room in my heart and mind for new material. I made clear my intention to write and feel that I must literally release the old to welcome the new. I lost quite a few of my writing books in storage a few weeks ago, so this will be easier than previously thought. Silver linings.

Connect with me online and let’s catch up in the real world. I have created a Writer’s Guild and look forward to adding Writers of Color to that safe space. I look forward to hearing from you.


L. Valentine (Lauren A. Jones)


IG: @_What.ever.Lola.Wants_


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