from the archives – January walking blues

The temperature has dropped on this 2nd day of Spring because of yesterday’s snow storm. Tonight’s walk home after class will be a cold one, like on this January night a few years ago…

It’s a cold night in the Bottom:
a deep fog has crept up on us
from the swamp below –
so thick the street lamps
look like little moons in the distance –

And my legs are tired, man,
my knees are aching so bad:
from walking too long –
too far – too late – too often –
trying to meet too many obligations –

But soon I’ll be home –
hot soup simmering on the stove –
a pair of loving arms awaits me:
to hold me and to listen to my story.


#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 – 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.

subway poem #11

The Golden Krust man died the other day.
We weren’t friends or anything, except in that
dream world where odd things flow together
in a swirl. But I was once a baker – I learned
that if you overmix the pie dough it comes
out tough and rubbery, not crumbly crisp.
In my dream, I asked him to add a dash of ginger
and some grated almonds to his recipe.

I always prefer the spinach pies to meat
and other fillings. Today I take the Red Line
to NoMa, then walk the bicycle trail to DCPL’s
temporary home for special collections, where
I hope to complete arranging the papers
of the Association of Liberated Librarians.


subway poem #7

I am fully occupied today with preparing for Monday’s class, so I am posting a poem today that never quite made it to the blog. It is a chronicle, sort of, of my early impressions of working in an archival repository. It has no name, other than “Postcard #10,” so now it will become “subway poem #7.”

There are no spirits lurking in the aisles
and corners. Just cartons of documents,
​details of lives. Whether well-lived or ill,
these papers tell the story – marriage, birth,
land acquired, taxes. Death. It’s all there.
No need for the rattling sound of zombies –
ghosts of events yet to come – in graveyards.

Might this be the judgement we fear? The words
and deeds, archived records we leave behind
won’t deliver souls to any heaven –
or hell. It’s just a mirage, this image
of hereafter we’ve been trained to accept
as truth, the certain object of our faith:​
​d​ried, folded, faded, in a dusty box.