Age on the Verizon

(Stoetry—poetic storytelling by Angela Braxton-Johnson)


Gently tapped my shoulder

I shook her off

She caressed my arm

I pulled away

She got under my skin

And into my joints

I ignored the prickles and pain

She tickled my senses

With aromatherapy

Waving a stalk of lavender

Spritzed with vanilla and peppermint oil

An invigorating and refreshing scent

Yet quickly thereafter

My nose became clogged

With the stench of life

Age turned sound effects on

Inside my stomach

Growling a demand for edible nourishment

I’m too busy right now

I’ll pick something up later

She gently pulled some memories

Out of my brain

I forgot my to-do’s

Was sometimes confused

Yet, I kept going

Aimlessly wandering

She seeped into my lungs

Urging me to breathe

Slower, deeper

No thank you

My body’s polite indifference

She danced around my heart

Randomly stealing beats

Occasionally kicking my aorta

Like a bass drum

How rude

I thought

She even sent love notes

Via family, friends, clergy and healers

How sweet, I acknowledged

I’ll have to read those later

She jumped on my bladder

Like a trampoline

Maybe I should drink less water

I thought

Age got under my scalp

Kicking hairs out of my head

Like someone kicking covers on feet too hot

Maybe I’ll cut my hair or wear a hat

Age is here

And on the Verizon

Reaching higher into numeric truth

She’s been whispering

I love you’s

Begging me to notice her

Urging me to take care

Of this precious temple

She’s been blowing up my phone

But I’m not taking her calls

I’m still trying to hang out

With my youthful facade

Then yesterday I tripped

Falling forward into now

Standing up

I noticed the stiffness in my joints


A huge mirror appeared before me

A beautiful, golden, three way mirror

In the background I could hear

Mr. Perry’s Madea

Knowingly laughing

When I turned to look

There was a life sized pillar of salt


I turned back to the golden mirror

Noticing the frame covered in stones

Up close I could see

Each stone was a clock

Stepping back

Looking into the triune glass

I saw three ladies

Mama, Whoopi and Maya

All three

Looking back at me

Mama, weeping on the left

Dressed in beautiful blue

Maya, smiling on the right

Wore shades of royal purple

Whoopi, standing in the center

Wore white with fabulous red shoes

Her locs extended up and out

Like stars

She was talking to me

But the glass blocked the sound

I squinted is my eyes

Trying to read her lips

Moving my face closer


Whoopi reached outside the mirror

Slapped me in my face

And said, like the Verizon guy on TV

“Can you hear me now?!”

Holding my face

I nodded yes


She said

“Now let’s go eat!”

I snapped into my senses

Feeling, hearing, smelling, tasting,


Seeing more clearly

“Ahhh,” I said aloud

“This is me.

Right here, right now.”

“Of course you’re you.”

Said Whoopi.

“You’re all you were ever supposed to be.

Nothing more.

Nothing less.”

I embraced myself

As Mama and Maya

Vanished from the mirror

Into the Verizon

Whoopi and I sat down at the table

Ate tasty food from The Chew

And talked about the hot topics of the day

Then she smiled

Looked right into my eyes

And said,

“Hey Girl

Now that you can see

Take a little time to enjoy the view.”

Copyright September 4, 2018 | Angela Braxton-Johnson | All Rights Reserved.

About the poem:

“The name [Verizon] is derived from the Latin word “altus,” meaning to “reach higher”, according to the company. Verizon, created by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, is a telecommunications company. The name Verizon combines the Latin word veritas, meaning truth, with the word horizon.” Jul 17, 2002 Google

As a new yogi, I am learning to listen deeper to my body. I’ve hurt myself recently and have found myself obliviously reinjuring myself. This poem is a testament of that.

I imagined my body laughing a little bit, like Tyler Perry’s character Madea, laughs, especially when she’s teaching someone in one of her plays or movies a lesson. When my body forced me to sit down after hurting my ankle over and over, it was like Madea was saying, “I bet you’ll listen now.” I think Madea was also laughing because she usually knew what was coming. Perhaps that ‘wake-up’ slap from Whoopi.

In my everyday life, I always hear my mother’s words, even though she’s been deceased for over fourteen years. She’s always with me. The year before Mama died, she told me that she was worried that I was going to kill myself from working so hard and so much. Her tears in the mirror were from her sadness of me not taking care of myself. She doesn’t want me to join her too soon.

My favorite poet is Maya Angelou and as I was writing this stoetry, I thought about how much her words have inspired me. Her book, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and her poems, Still I Rise and Phenomenal Woman are some of my favorite pieces of literature. Maya in the mirror is smiling because she knows that I will find my higher truth through my writing.

And Whoopi Goldberg, she has always inspired me! From the time I saw her in the movie, The Color Purple (based on another favorite piece of literature, the book by Alice Walker that I read in high school two years before the movie came out), up until now.

Whoopi has always been her own person, not bending to become what others thought she should be and I really admire that about her. When I see her on TV, she reminds me of my mother, my sister and countless strong black women who courageously state their truths and opinions while standing firm in who they are.

I especially love to watch Whoopi on The View and since this piece is about deep listening, my vision of the three ladies had to have her as the center. Who else could better help one snap into themselves?

As I embrace aging, my goal is to live in way that reaches for higher truth while also enjoying what I can from everyday life.