A LOOK

8-year old palms
Will reveal creases etched by God
And crisscrosses made by guns
And daggers and knives and machetes.

Boy with a scowl painted across his face
Dressed in negligée
Wielding a Kalashnikov half his body weight
‘Stead of a wooden slate and a piece of chalk
Or a notebook and a Bic
Dots pages of soft-sells in the big cities
Not as a kid model for some fashion outfit in Milan
But as the emblem of unsettled black nations.

A look,
At this 8-year old,
A deep one
Makes you wonder:
Which of the wee orifices on his face
Did the hideous, blood-spilling monster go in through?

(I wrote this poem in 2013. Sadly, it may still be relevant.)

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MY PLAYLIST

My playlist is not a list of songs to just play
It’s a memoir
The drumbeats and the many different voices
Of the singers are not mine
But they lend themselves to me
I bind my different moments to each song as it plays by:
My blue funk moment I may bind to a piece of metallic rock
My beatific mo to fuji; my rebellious to a negro spiritual.

The songs thus become carriers of memory, of history:
Carriers of a past best embalmed in the past
Such that a song may impel me to click on the Next button
Not because I hate the song or its singer
But because I can’t bear a reenactment of the hateful moment
Attached to its 3-, 4-, 5-minute rendition.
Some other song becomes a Jesus
Resurrecting
A past moment that I wouldn’t mind acting a Lazarus
A moment that I’d gladly relish, relive.

In all, I’m grateful that those moments ain’t lost
That with voices and sounds which I do not own
These singers help me to store my stories.

Aside

ON SINAI

images

What time it is
I don’t know:
I’m awake asleep
asleep awake
like a twitching laugh
at the seams of the lips,
hesitant to detonate
or defuse,
unsure which way to return –
surreal or real?
Voodoo drums shove me
into real to reveal
Christian drums shaving
heatedly into the heart
of the night…
Real shatters –
like a tablet of granite –
its chips fly like those of a detonated
bomb
And cause me to scamper for fortification
in surreal!

A-SHORE

The stones of time
speak every time
tho’ their voices ebb
as laughter and tide
rise:
bells that now chime
someday will be taken by rust
then dust:
dead shells were once
clinging barnacles.

The stones of time
sing all the time
their voices are echoed
by the whispers of palms:
we stand where once
was the seas lips
where she stooped to woo
but she’s since moved
on
to seek the sun.

Stones of time
in the sandpiper’s kitchen!

TWENTY FOURTH

b

Orange rays on the dusty brown road

Unconceal glass, bottle tops and dung

As herd and man move slowly along

Kicking the echoes of liquor sold.

 

Drunken men sing:

The liquor squeezing a cacophony

Of embalmed truths out through their mouths

From dizzy fractions of their brains.

 

My transistor talks of heaven and hell,

Of Peter, Paul, John and Jesus:

The message of a preacher.

His voice unearths memories of Sara and Abram

 

Who were here in this room.

There they stood, over the bed

Invoking the Spirit of God upon

My shivering shriveled self.

 

Brother, come fellowship with us – she beseeched

In the presence of God there’s fullness of joy

There you’ll be healed – he added

Stead I wailed that the fever wouldn’t let me

That I trusted in the anti-malarial pills

And a good rest.

They went alone.

 

That same night this same transistor

Stopped one of its nightly lullabies

To state in a somber smoky timbre that

A hundred people or more who’d gone west

To find their God had been shelled northward.

I wept.

 

Sara and Abram were here

On earth this day the twenty fourth last year.

I weep. I’m here but for my feeble faith.