NaPoWriMo 2021 #26 – Live from the Oscars 2021!

If you stay long enough at the fair
You’ll see played out in living color
The many intersecting timelines
Of projected realities – right in your face.
They always return to the scene
Of their crimes – or to be biblical,
The dog returns to his vomit:
The fool repeats his folly.
I went to bed early and missed
The Glenn Close live action short –
Hey, you lose when you snooze!
But I have School Daze around here
Somewhere, probably on cassette.
I’ll have to dig it up and check it out.

NaPoWriMo 2021 #25 – Grandola Vila Morena

It’s a song that fills my eyes with tears
Whenever I hear it. Grandola
Vila Morena. The sound of soldiers
Marching, a signal on the radio
To free men in the countryside:
Rise up against corrupt government!
“It is the people who lead!”
Not leaders who buy expensive houses.

The villanelle reminds us what freedom
Used to sound like, used to seem to be.
Place a carnation in the barrel
Of the rifle. Here in freedom land,
We march in step with the machinery.
Disaster lurks as rivals bide their time.

NaPoWriMo 2021 #24

I wanted to write about going
To Municipal Wharf to buy fish –
But fish on Friday is no big deal.

One more play to read in the Cycle
Then full time planting in the Garden.
If you haven’t guessed, I’m burning out
On the everyday poetry thing.

It’s a rainy Saturday night here
In the bottom. Just read a blog post
About Maslow borrowing his theory
From the Blackfoot and getting it wrong –
It happens when you steal – inverting
The base and leaving off the top rung,
The highest level of the pyramid.
Six weeks in the village wasn’t enough
To get it right. My grandfather said
He was from the Blackfoot Nation but
What did he know of tit for tat?

The next president may be a woman of color

this is just to say –
so far I am liking Tulsi
a whole lot better
than that Kamala.

Tulsi’s speech
gave me goosebumps,
but when I look at Kamala
I only see Willie Brown.

The other fifteen running
are all junior varsity
on the cross-country team,
hoping for a shot at #2,

or maybe #3 like before.
What a slap that’d be
for the Foggy Bottom home team
in need of a championship season.

And while we are at it,
why come Obama never told us
about the spirit of ALOHA?
Perhaps he didn’t know his legacy.

January night

I wake up to pee. It happens in your sixties.
Enlarged prostate, says the doctor. There are pills,
but with a long list of side effects. TMI.
Black cumin seed oil cures everything, they say.

It’s 1:34 am, a frosty January night. I check the temperature
on the window. 10 degrees. Polar vortex. The apartment
is warm, even without running the heat. I check
the inside thermometer: 66F. I peep out of the window
that insulates and separates us from the elements –
No one, not one is stirring in the Bottom tonight.

I hope and pray the homeless have all found
Shelter and protection from the freezing weather.
I return to bed. My wife rolls over and clings to me.
Love is warm for the lucky.

#BlaPoWriMo – Sonnet


Some days I think my poetry making
is done. I try to turn a verse or two
and it all falls flat – no rhythm, no rhymes,
no magic, just words and punctuation.
I need some time at sea to stir things up
a bit. A trans-Atlantic crossing would
be optimum – a paddleboat up the river
will suffice. I’ll always and forever
be a man of simple pleasure. But the air
we breathe is complicated, full of lies.
All the canaries are dead, heaven-bound
in this brave new world where skepticism
is not allowed. A heavy fog surrounds us.
Which sentinel species is next in line?

BlaPoWriMo – from the archives

Some Errant Wednesday Thoughts

It’s Wednesday, which means I’ll spend
the afternoon at work at the reference desk.
But I’d much rather stay comfortably at home,
sip French-pressed coffee in my trendy sweats,
and read poems my friends post on Facebook.

And what will they say of my verses when
I am gone? It’s fair to be circumspect
about the other side, the end of now.

Do you think they’ll call my verses amateur
(that’s what I call myself, I’ll never make
any money off non-rhyming poetry!)?
Will they criticize my work as shallow,
superficial, a bit naive? Or maybe dark,
troubled, complex (only out of a sense
of charity, of course). It won’t matter
that much to me – I’ll be resting peacefully,
with the poets, down by the river.

#BlaPoWriMo – Saturday night special sonnet

Each universe with which we interact
demands of us a level of respect
and complicity, yes, complicity,
while we wonder if we are hypocrites,
or merely disbelievers. As if it
even matters. And what doesn’t kill us
endows us, becomes our strength and power,
our shelter in a storm. The paths we trod
we tread, the record of our deeds becomes
our judgment day, our immortality.
Be patient with me – I’m not finished yet.
Pay no attention to my southern charm,
that folksiness you underestimate
is just a steady cadence for my march.

#BlaPoWriMo – Memo to the Files (2/2/18)

“We have Art in order not to die of the Truth.” -Nietzsche

Let’s memorialize this in verse before
truth decays, before it drowns in its own vomit
and disappears in its built-in obsolescence.
I told them years ago their intel was garbage
and I stand by that. I ain’t mad, I ain’t angry,
but the muthaphukas should have listened.
Instead, they kept on eating recycled garbage
from the trough – stewed, deep-fried, lightly sauteed,
boiled al dente, gluten-free – for so long,
that now the only language they speak is
the language of pigs and hogs, “oink, oink.”
The Memo is released. Tick tock. I thank
the Gods for Fridays and Duke Ellington’s
Money Jungle (full album on YouTube).

#BlaPoWriMo: Post-#SOTU2018 ruminations

It was a cold morning in the Bottom.
Reading “Trading Twelves” on the Orange Line
I missed my Red Line stop, so I continued
riding (and reading) to the Yellow Line
crossing at L’Enfant Plaza. Already late
for work anyway, I made a detour
and grabbed a hot breakfast to go at Saints’
Paradise Cafe. Picked up The Hill paper
for an update on Tuesday’s #SOTU speech
because it went on forever and I had
my bedtime to keep. Turns out the Negro Caucus
was grumpy all night, sad-faced and wearing
the kente of their African ancestry
around their necks to make a statement.

my contribution to the rape culture discussion

Rape Culture

The newest birth defect to emerge from the depths
of our collective DNA has long and intricate roots –

passed down from father to son – from mother
to daughter – like some unique, sacred inheritance,

the beast whose marks we bear. The conquistadors
had their way with the natives they “discovered” –

no slave was safe from the raging hormones
of the master and his sons – the ladies of the house

turned their heads and hoped it would be contained –
now it’s an epidemic​.​ ​A​ syphilis​. Killing us ​slowly.

from the archives: sonnet

I was a runner in my hapless youth:
two times, four times, eight times around the track;
running to things, running from things, always
in a haste, never taking time to smell
the fragrance of the roses, know the truth.
In time, life slowed me down. I changed my tack.
I learned to walk, to circumspect, unfazed
by every shiny thing my eyes beheld.
But then the boundless sea became my Muse:
Her hidden wonders and her ways seduced
my every thought. Yet she was just a phase,
a short poetic phrase and a malaise.
This sonnet owns no ending, just a star,
to capture our attention from afar.

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

“The end we think
we seek is not near,
& it’s not the end,
& it’s not what we seek.”
— “Amtrak NE Regional”
        April 19, 2013

Your dystopian moment could be the dark ages
before the renaissance – your zombie apocalypse
a golden opportunity for the dispossessed,
a resurrection for the marginalized whose hopes
died on the cross.

The night of doom you recommend could be
a shining star heralding a dawn on a new horizon –
a long awaited dream finally being realized.
The end of all you think you know could be
a new beginning that does not include your past.

Before we nail the coffin shut, let’s listen closely
for a pulse – the quiet beating of a tale-tell heart.
It may not be too late for even you
to turn around.


Interview with James Baldwin from WGBH’s 1963 special program The Negro and the American Promise

#BlaPoWriMo – Survival of the Fit

We brought much with us inside those ships
when we emigrated to this new world
of golden promise and opportunity.
Okra & chillies & black-eyed pea seeds
we stowed away in little hiding places –
along with knowledge – how to grow rice,
how to make bread from dried corn, how to deep
fry meats to tenderize them, make them last –  
physical things, to nourish, sustain us.
But our name, our faith, our spirituality
also survived the Middle Passage,
along with our mathematics, our psychology,
& our cosmology. It all survived.
Underestimate us. Fine. We will be.

#BlaPoWriMo – Old School Church Songs

“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.”―Buddha

the old ladies
in the big hats
singing the songs of Zion –

not in the choir,
but from the corner
facing the pulpit –
the Amen Corner –
the pre-11:00am-service devotion –

“I know it was the blood
Yes, I know it was the blood
I know it was the blood for me –
One day when I was lost
Jesus died upon the cross
And I know it was the blood for me.”

I don’t know if they still
sing these old songs in black churches –
I lost that cultural connection –
like so many artifacts overlooked,
broken, moving from place to place.

But I remember them, fondly –
a part of my youth and upbringing.
A rolling stone gathers no moss.
It is true.

#BlaPoWriMo – Fridays

Friday mornings always take me back in time
to foreign language classes & my turn coming
to say what I’m doing for the weekend –

I used to regret not learning an African language
while living overseas – but no more.
More Portuguese is spoken in Africa
than in Portugal. More Arabic than in Arabia.
Numbers speak. What are the Ghanaians saying
on Twitter today? Is it in English or Twi?

See what I mean? So I’m feeling fulfilled
this Friday morning, recalling phrases
& words in Arabic & Portuguese,
& writing in Haiku. My list of weekend
activities is ready for recitation.



#BlaPoWriMo – The Roots of Our Love

#BlaPoWriMo – The roots of our love

“We’ll meet again and then we must decide upon the hour
When we’ll allow our destinies to intertwine and flower.”
                                                              From Sonnet #8

with a nod to Deleuze and Guattari –

Over the passing years our love has grown: 
a mass of tangled roots beneath the soil.

Only an expert gardener would appreciate
this rhizome, how interconnected at every point –

each node drawing nourishment from the soil
surrounding it – every connecting root as essential

as the adjoining nodes. No prior unity defines us –
there is no original order to regulate or codify –

we name this love. Errant roots sometimes rupture,
break or fail, and remake their connections

in multitudinous combinations, always seeking
progression, insuring survival, feeding

this intertwining flowering, a map and tracing
of a secret underground geography.

#BlaPoWriMo – Reflections on the 70’s

No two snowflakes fall the same,
and even teardrops are different in type –
no other pair, but us, was meant to be.

Still life in the 70’s was plagued
by a fake sense of urgency.
The end, it seemed, was always
located just around the corner,
and there didn’t seem to be, then,
another half century in front of me,
of us, of life, of time to get things
done, as now we know there was.

Still for a decade of my life
I was a lost and lonely manchild.
Things always seemed to fall apart –
over and over and over again –
until I found my stride, my voice.

I’m making a playlist to capture
in song all the highs and lows of those
rocky years. I’ll name it on Spotify –
Devotion, no, the sunshine of your love.

#BlaPoWriMo – A Valentines Day sonnet from the archives

Sonnet #42

Words in poetry and notes in music
Are sounds, simple wavelengths colliding off
Our eardrums and the membranes of our souls.  
Oft times we transmit sound waves, words or notes,
Through positive values, like happiness
And tenderness, timbres soft and bright.
Sometimes negative: sadness, fear – dull and
Sharp, like aches and pains we frequently endure.
At times, we just receive: parameters
Are the same. But when we meet, ah, when we 
Meet, our words and notes connect! Our wavelengths
Intersect, and intertwine, and synthesize! 
And we make love – sweet love. External tones
And errant thoughts die softly in the deep.

#BlaPoWriMo – SuperBowl Show

I watched that star on the super bowl show,
twisting & twirling & stomping her feet,
talking about her DNA like she
designed it herself. I’m glad there’s hot sauce
in her bag, thrilled she’s calling her ladies
to get information. Sad she calls them
tricks, hate she drowns on top that police car
at the end. Red lobster’s not so special,
no cornbread, no collard greens, just coleslaw
and cheese biscuits. But that box is chocked full
of teeny beeny bean pies – more than just
a dreamer – best revenge IS your paper –
never cared much for helicopter rides,
conspiracy theories, Givenchy dresses.