from deep in the archives – D1G

the hour actively approaches
while we, its subjects,
sit and wait with folded arms,
trying to appear comfortable
and carefree, and mutually exclusive.

Days pass quickly, and nights,
like the blink of an eye…
nay, the pupil’s dilation…
Time races to its destination
while we, in our lethargy,
approximate suspended animation.

There is no conclusion,
only the vain pleadings
for a fresh new start,
another sequel,
a couple more opportunities.

The rope by which we hang
is long, connecting us, tethering
us to our past and future,
but its knot is sure.



2017 in review – part 3 (Greatest Hits!)

The following blogposts are my “greatest hits” for 2017 based on #views, #visitors and #likes. Enjoy the review!

January: Resistance and privilege

February: BlaPoWriMo – Some thoughts about my country after seeing the James Baldwin movie “I am not your Negro”

February: BlaPoWriMo – Survival of the Fit

March: Resistance radio

April: NaPoWriMo – Our Lady of the Hidden Rivers

April: NaPoWriMo – Elegy for my maternal grandfather, Nelson Hairston, Sr

April: NaPoWriMo – nine lines

April: NaPoWriMo – Day #5

April: NaPoWriMo – 10 ways of looking at a murder mystery novel

May: NaPoWriMo – Shutdown, Cooldown, Depressurize

September: Lisbon Quintet – Five Sonnets

October: My contribution to the rape culture discussion

October: from the collection, “poem for the family reunion”

November: subway poem #1

November: subway poem #8

December: subway poem #11

2017 in review – part 2

The holidays afforded me some useful downtime to work on the structure of the 2018 novel. If you know me, you know the structure will be a rhizomatic, a root network, and not arbolic, or tree-like. The overriding narrative arc will be non-linear and sometimes invisible, although subplot elements will be self-referential, autobiographical almost. The snippets of my poetry that appear epigrammatically will actually be chronological, but since most readers won’t be familiar with all the elements of the underlying plot sequence, it may not be readily apparent. And it will begin and end in a library, or a museum, or archive, or some combination of the three. Where else would I take you? And what’s the difference anyway?

Still working on a way to incorporate real-time reader participation. That will require some thinking, some work.

Finally, the idea will be to make it comprehendible across all reading levels, like my two favorite novels, Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which I read in the 4th grade and again in the 9th grade) and Ellison’s Invisible Man (6th grade, and 11th grade, and in my late 30’s). I know. A tall order. But would you prefer a short order? Besides, if my 8-yr old nephew can’t read and get something out of it (he’ll be nine by year’s end), I will have missed the mark.

Ok. Get your tickets early if you really want to ride!

p.s. The process will be arrangement, then description, i.e., gathering all the pieces, doing the research, etc., which will take until early March. Then I am taking a hiatus to read the August Wilson Century Series (10 plays) with a group. In May there might be a road trip to the Great Smokies, if I am lucky. Then, hopefully by June, the knitting can begin in earnest.

2017 in review – part 1

Thank you to 1823 readers in 58 countries for checking out my poetry blog in 2017!

Stay tuned for installments of my novel in 2018!

Happy holidays to all!

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a sign of the times

The elder princess had a statement
to make and she made it. There will be no
Cinderellas in this royal wonderland.
Never mind that the brooch and the earrings
didn’t match – not even in a post-modern way –
the rot at the core reaches critical mass well
before the empire crumbles at its margins.

The new starlet had better study carefully
all her lines in the narrative arc that
is her next performance before she takes
center stage. No carbon copy script
can save her – she will have to up her game
just to keep afloat. Just like Diana.
Those royals are a very funky bunch.

From the archives: Prabis (Guinea-Bissau) memories

Prabis memories

last night we dined in Prabis –
oysters from the mangrove swamps,
grilled fish from the green sea,
galinha de terra, ice cold Sagres

I remember the marineiros –
the old men who smoked too much,
and their stories, their memories –
we once hooked a huge serra (tuna),
must have weighed 40 pounds – too big
to bring aboard our tiny boat.

We let it drag us up and down the river,
almost to the sea, and hoped the line
would hold. The fish got tired before we did
and we hauled it alongside. Then took it
to my future father-in-law’s house
(who knew?) for cleaning and division.

There is an ancient lighthouse in Biombo –
at the far end of Prabis beach,
built by the Portuguese explorers
to help them navigate unknown terrain –
right where the river meets the sea –
an invisible line they needed light to see.

Prabis lives long in our collective memories –
the mangrove swamps, the river, the sea.

Digitalizado a partir de prova original 10x15 cm, cota ALB8.2

winter solstice poems from the archives

Winter solstice, December 21, 2013

Oolong’s second infusion tastes much smoother than the first,
the best Arabica needs a bit of robusta to give it body
and character,
and half decaffeinated mixed in is better for the heart,
and poured through is not nearly as good as French-pressed —
potassium-rich figs boiled with lemon makes a great breakfast
and freshly squeezed lemon juice with cayenne cures
a morning headache.
Smaller portions is the key to sustained weight management,
and cinnamon is good for the soul and the blood chemistry
black cumin seed oil aids in regularity though it tastes
almost as bad as castor oil, and there really is no need
to watch the bridges we are burning, and you can skip to the video
in 4 seconds, and Bernadette Mayer is the Homer of our time.

another winter solstice poem

new books arrived in the laundry room
(I do laundry more often since I retired)
German novels, African American history,
Native American languages, British plays –
I thumb through all the new additions,
while the whites wash and the colors dry.
An eclectic collection, well kept (I can tell) and
carefully read by a conscientious reader,

perhaps a tenant, now departed, her books
abandoned, left behind to testify
on her (or his) behalf. And launderers
like me now benefit from such largesse.
I thumb through them all,
and wonder will my volumes end up here.


When I’m surrounded by obligations,
by debts calling my name and haunting me,
I pull away and read good poetry.
This week I’m reading Bernadette Mayer’s

Midwinter Day – the solstice is upon
us, the year’s shortest day, its longest night,
& I need protection from the evil
that lurks between, within those lines, those notes,

those moments of waking, paralyzing
thoughts. There is always something overdue,
some rhyme that’s needed near the end of it
all. It’s freezing cold outside – my eyes weep

tears that lubricate their pain, overflow
the walls, fall like icicles to the ground.