from the archives – If I Were a Sculptor

If I were a sculptor
I’d carve in stone
The face of my beloved –

I’d sand the surface
Of the stone
To smooth perfection:

Because art should represent life
As it is, and as
It ought to be.

But I digress
At a moment when discipline
And precision are most required . . .

I’d chisel her perfectly
Centered nose, on her perfectly
Symmetrical face –

With care and concentration
I’d reproduce the mystic
Contours of her forehead –

I’d round out her chin
And save her lips
For last.

Then I’d compare
Her sculptured features
To my own:

A grotesque genetic mixture
Of master and slave
Of Native and Negro –

My weathered face
Overexposed and
Burned to a deep dark hue.

Then I’d ask her:
Is black still beautiful
My African queen?
My Goddess of the Nile?

Or has that fashion changed,
That style gone out of style?

But I digress again –
And I am not a sculptor
I am a poet:

And these words are
All I have to preserve
In time, for time,
The beauty of my beloved.

beat week poetry II

For Etheridge Knight

I love your poems’ cuss words:
sparse, efficient, precise –
though I know Mrs. Coley
would never include your work
in her black lit anthologies –

English teachers of our youth
detested cuss words about as much
as today’s teachers hate wikipedia,
as much as librarians despise google –

but i encourage students to use
whatever works for them, expresses
their needs, their dreams, their realities –

I want to read Dark Symphony tonight,
and laugh and hide inside the lines.

beat week poetry

For Jay Wright

I took four old poems
and pressed them together
and called it an epic –

my epic – in four parts,
my blues-song, my symphony –
each one a separate rhythm,
each a part of a long-winded story.

But then I read some poems
already written – and wondered:
why do we need to create,

to-re-create new songs for old blues?
And I wonder how many of these
old dudes are still around? Still?

Fil’s Flashback to ModPo 2012

Flashback to ModPo 2012

Who’s In Charge?
Who’s in charge here?
The words I spoke,
Or me, who spoke the words?

I listen to the ModPo discussions
And I haven’t got a clue –
What they’re talking about…
But sometimes, sometimes,
A word is spoken and a spark flashes.

I wonder…
Do they know the words they’ll speak
Before they speak them?
Do they know what meaning
Till it’s felt?
Do they know the thought
Before it’s offered?

(ah, a Thought, that spark in search of being,
In search of a word…)

Do I even know what I’ll say next?

So who’s in charge here?
Perhaps words have powers…
Perhaps words have the power to show us the Source.
Perhaps that’s why it’s written:
“In the Beginning was the Word.”

Fil Maxwell — November 2012


An audio of a poem I wrote a year ago this week.

Benghazi Quartet

#1. Invitation

“Many others did go and there was a sacrifice, of what shall we, a sheep, a hen, a cock, a village, a ruin, and all that and then that having been blessed let us bless it.” – Gertrude Stein, Idem the Same – Let Us Describe

The Queen’s Henchmen
request the pleasure of your company
at a Lynching – to be held
at 23rd and C Streets NW
on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 –
just past sunset.

Dress: Formal, Masks and Hoods –
the four being lynched
must never know the identities
of their executioners, or what/
whose sin required their sacrifice.

A blood sacrifice –
to divert the hounds,
to appease the gods,
to cleanse our filth and
satisfy our guilty consciences.

Arrive promptly at sunset –
injustice will be swift.
There will be no trial,
no review of evidence,
no due process, and
no accountability.

Dress warmly –
a chilling effect will instantly
envelop Foggy Bottom.

Total impunity at the top.
A kangaroo court
in a banana republic.

Refreshments will not be served
because of the continuing resolution.

And the ones being lynched?
Who cares? They are pawns in a game.
Our game. All suckers, all fools,
all knaves who volunteered to serve – us.
And the truth? The truth?
What difference at this point does it make?

In case of inclement weather,
or the Queen’s incapacitation,
the Queen’s Henchmen will carry out
this lynching – as ordered, as planned.


#2. The Wizard of Oz

The wicked witch of the East?
The old, decrepit, ancient East?
She dead.
House fell on her ass during the storm.
Feet all shriveled up.
That witch ain’t going nowhere!
Ain’t gon bother nobody!

But the wicked witch of the West?
The new, modern, amoral West?
She’s alive and kicking.
Causing all kinds of trouble.
Done signed a deal with the Wizard –
the lying Wizard.
Dorothy has her hands full with those two.
And the lion ain’t got no courage.


#3. Trapped in a purgatory…

“The top of the pyramid – the organization is composed of Technologists who only pretend to have power, although they are only actors in the theater of mirrors. When the mirror is broken they die, because the internal drive of their actions vanishes.” – Svetislav Basara, The Cyclist Conspiracy

Trapped in a purgatory
of their own conceit…

The web of lies they weave
gets tighter and tighter
in its deceit
until it bottoms out –
at a very low frequency –
and implodes.

It may be just
a matter of perception –
they can’t undo their wrongs
for fear it’d undermine their
perceived authority –
an authority they think
they require to stay in charge.

Yet all the while,
the more they talk,
the more they lie,
and the deeper down
the hole they go.

There’s nothing I need
to go back to –
nothing to re-litigate –
nothing to defend –
and certainly nothing to prove
to the unworthy.

Just wait . . . . just wait
and feed them rope.


#4. Man and the expanding universe: art

moral courage dies
and corruption’s stench prevails –
lies erase the truth –

my LinkedIn friends keep endorsing me
for Government. But me and Uncle Sam

are a shrinking universe. I’m leaving
the troop that errs, the team that lies,

leaders who destroy lives for sport, as art –
themselves a crime, a sin, a plague. Farewell.