To Tin Men

To the man who made

the tin men with no hearts

you tinkerer

no love of your own

so you built them to entertain you with pretty lies

and oily smiles

but the glassy wax on his eyes

gives away the show

what if one had went rogue and ripped out Dorothy’s

while she was still breathing

so desperate from his manufactured affection

like food he swallows

or the words he mechanically bellows

all hollow

To the builder bent over

precariously at his bench making metal men in

his own image

to pry open the ribs of others

and take love wherever given

how dare you force life on

this dead scrap of bolts

then bid him sing and dance

 

On Returning Home To Nana’s

a small hair sprouts

defying the odds

bursting through the surface

only to crinkle and bend

like palm trees in the wind

coconut oil eases the shaft

from root to ends

smooth, dipping my curls

into the Atlantic

becoming one with the island

and the wave

and the nappiness

of my kitchen

the way she might have as a child on family vacations

her thick black locs hang

like freedom

and nooses

and mangoes

strong and sweet as sugarcane

standing up

resisting gravity

and the box that bottles beauty

Blue In Green

i fell in love with my bestfriend

where the tall grass grows

in the shadows

that which we call friend

by any other name is as sweet

so we played hide and seek 

with our hearts

until the colors ran out of time

drowned in an awkward silence

i walk about my emotions

he ran

into my arms

warm

as the ground after a sand storm

bitter jazz

dripped from his cheek

as we speak of 

the first days spinning into ever

fades the call of the trumpet

for something new

not friendship but the best of us

hidden

like a foreign constellation

among galaxies

colliding

syncopating 

burning our music into existence

from humble beginnings

we danced

the world into a circle on its axis 

Hearts Weren’t Born Broken

broken winged

an eagle could not fly

so she dove down to earth

caught the pharoah’s eye

he liked the hurt bird

and without a word

ordered her taken care of

 

nights they’d watch

the moon unfurl

itself from the sky

his love healed her heart

but still she could not fly

 

deep in the darkness a coup

burnt his palace to the ground

and slaughtered his child

dethroned

he wandered

the desert alone

 

broken hearted

the king could not sing

so he laid

in the salt to die

 

above the cloud

he heard his eagle cry

with swift wings

she brings

a sack of water and gold

 

days went by

and the water went dry

fearing for her life

he left

while she slept

plunging into the depth

of the sun

he bargained his soul for her to be spared

 

where she lay in the sands

rose a lush mountain

she screamed to the heavens

abandoned

lonely

until her claws were stone

awaiting his return.

 

 

Again

mangle my name in your mouth

choke on each syllable

tangled

as the curls in my hair

thick

as the fated course we’re on

destiny is a four lettered word

that you can’t pronounce

Go home

repatriate yourself

swim in the bowels of the womb

that birthed you

and

make yourself new

learn a love, cut it up, bake it

into your grin

like cinnamon

blend

then

tell me

my name again

–A. Long

Why Worry of Tomorrow: Part 1

why worry of tomorrow 

with wrinkles from the past

head pounding

heart racing

sweating happiness and pain

fear and joy

hollow rage

clump within, pits of writhing emotion

I stabbed my shoulder to flick the chip out

the remnants dissipate into the blood stream

what is normal

what is today

the present’s absence boils the curd to the surface

I wear the feelings on my skin to keep the secret

I scrub them off every morning 

watch them clog the drain

time whips 

demands attention in all directions

like erections in sleep 

work fades, a monotonous track on repeat

deep introspection

leaves me wallowing inside

replaying lucid memories and poetry

while the world moves around me

I’m never awake

I never left the theater 

the lights are all dimmed

there’s popcorn at my feet next to the sticky candy treats

I’ve been watching this movie for two decades

hoping the heroine will change

rearrange the free floating feelings flowing through

her veins, heroin

misplaced purpose

I scream, don’t just lay there at the screen

unball your fist

dismantle that smile 

save yourself from the sins of your fathers

 

 

 

 

Street Balconies Can Cry

a small breeze blows through his cerulean sweater

as he stares off into the distance

the dancing lights below

the fire escape

lean under his weight

i see him

at first he is steady, Herculean

imagining the jump

All at once he crumples into himself

like folded paper

back against the wall

he screams

burying his face as tears race

drowned out by the bustle

the pedestrians shuffle

through intersections, restless

they glide about oblivious

as just above them a man’s love dies

The bricks nick his sweater and I want to comfort him

to brush down the stray hairs with wet fingertips

it will get better

His lover peeks

out of the shadow

sneaks onto the ledge

to whisper a liar’s prayer

and hope that he isn’t there         crying

i need him

they meet

words pass silently and all at once

the sad eyed blue of the brown man

stands

yelling,

from what i could tell from here,

all his heart feels

the carnal cardinal red

of the lovers

dread

hangs into his face

shading his shame

i should help end this

here

waiting

underneath the fire escape

 

 

The Comparison

Poetry crept in one night

wrapping me up in his arms

wordlessly

I said you are my inspiration

there’s no greater gathering

of you and me

than my notebook

I don’t think he believed me

 

He compared us to a summer’s day

Blake’s tiger

Wheatley’s forever

Sylvia Plath’s deathless nights

Hughes’ huesbluessoul

Baraka’s beat

Morrison’s ghosts

he compared me to the ones who had long since died

or the greats who had given his name over to fame

and yelled we are all alike

the users

musers

ponderers

penners

and thinkers

misunderstanding stung his eyes

so he yelled some more

until he was tired

until he hadn’t noticed that I had turned away to hide

foolishly I had always thought him mine

a secret the world couldn’t access

a feeling without present or past

the ethereal

only I could capture with my pen

thirteen years of unwavering devotion

and he’d leave

on a whim

I grated my heart on pride and lied

telling him to go if me wasn’t enough

that there was nothing more to give

not knowing if I’d live through the night

that poetry

didn’t love me right