They End

Bolted upright I ask aloud to a sleeping room

“Is this a dream”

The timbre of my voice weighs down my ears, letting

me know that it’s not

Instinctively I feel for the dip.

Cool. Empty

Tiredness shoves me back into the pillow as if to say,

“Yes it always was but you knew that already”

I pray for answers that won’t come from simply having been asked

I used to pray loudly

out in a pasture where no one but ghosts could witness

now everything’s silent mutterings as I lull myself back

to restlessness

“It’s okay. It was a good dream.

Good dreams get to end.”

 

No Dash Needed

I am not   African-American

there’s no dash needed

if anything

I am

a native spook who sat by the door

listening for opportunity,

devout in my non

ever

shifting

identity

making lemonade.

from “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

You’ll get mixed up, of course,

as you already know.

You’ll get mixed up

with many strange birds as you go.

So be sure when you step.

Step with care and great tact

and remember that Life’s

a Great Balancing Act.

Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.

And never mix up your right foot with your left.

By Dr. Seuss

Self Evident

It’s not so much the truth that bothers

Truths like lies

can sometimes shift

so whether they’re spat or whispered

they’ll always unfold

It’s the lying that kicks up the brick dust

The you can lie to them, we all do it

We’re all a them to someone

Where honesty hung off the tongue ready to dive

there’s only omission

a clean unwillingness

to break down and be an outright liar

Cowardly, feverish, but ready

my truth will lay in wait in trenches of jowls

Let the world have it

when necessary

when commanded

until then

Fuck’em my shit is self evident

The Secret Explanation Of Where Poems Come From

If ever you are in the room with those

Lost in the reverie of poetry

And struggling to guide their thoughts, they close

Their seeking eyes to help them better see;

If ever you have watched a poet’s face

Composing line within a world inside

No other soul can witness nor divide;

Then you are not alone in wond’ring, “Where,

While all their flesh and blood on Earth remains,

Do poets take their thoughts before they bare

Them back transformed? Where is a poem’s domain?”

This verse will not reveal from whence it came,

And poets–they write poems to explain.

–Allan Wolf

The Hughes

Do men dream in the same way that women do?

Do they cradle a dream to their chest, minding its head as if it’s fragile neck would snap?

Do black men dream big?

Do brown?

Men hold fast to so many things,

But dreams?

Or at least I can’t imagine many of them knowing what it feels like to have a dream

Hold you back

To say,

I will never leave you

No matter how hard the future gets

That we will make it through and survive this thing called life,

Together.

So, deferred, what is it that becomes of them? They build or preach or teach. Men may accept a lesser reality, a shallow dream that isn’t sweet enough to satisfy anyone. A sliver at a time they accept the life they have come to live, and, every once in awhile, learn to silence the hope that builds up in their chest

-excerpt poem from my book in progress called  ‘A Man Deferred’. Let us know what you think!

Stand Off

Behind these great walls

we tumble

painted ladies frame the fences

watch them crumble

their faces

cracked open by time

the wind, breathing in and out

bright bricks fall

they hit us hard

we don’t dodge the drops

we stand steady

yelling each other’s names

numb

loving all the way down

beneath the wreckage

and bone

-A. Long

–from “Medusa”

Dammit, Athena, take away my father’s gold. Send me away

to live with lepers. Give me a pimple or two.

But my face. To have men never again be able to gaze

at my face, growing stupid in anticipation

of that first touch, how can any woman live like that?

How will I be able to watch their warm bodies

turn to rock when their only sin was desiring me?

All they want is to see me sweat. They just want

to touch my face and run their fingers through my…

my hair

is it moving?

By Patricia Smith

Labels

give me definition

make me a label

something that molds to fit

tailor suited

call me a feminist

an artist

blackness

thickness

beauty

stereotype me into neatness

shape me

like men’s beards and pubic hairs

Go ahead and tell me exactly who I am

what womanhood I carry

who I should desire to marry, if at all

Look me up and down

and sideways

and frontways

and backways

and longways

until you figure me out

smooth out my rough edges with conviction

Tell the masses you have unlocked the answer

untangle the morass of lies

from those who despise

the vibe off of my vehement pride

whittle some feeble

words that encompass me

hold me in bondage

paint me into a corner

then apply turpentine

to erase every line

that gave me form

because I am without one, like

molecule or matter or breeze

jacoa beans dipped in steam

I am the slip

and putty and change up

in your bloodstream

on the concrete after the rally

And you have yet

And you have yet

And you have yet

to call me by my name

because you know I will answer