Friday, February 27, 2015

Oh! Oh! I Forgot to Tell You. I Have Been Published Again.


I had a new poem entitled "Depression" published in the Winter 2014 (39.2) edition of the Spoon River Poetry Review - page 67.

If you would like to subscribe or buy a particular issue the website can be found {here}.

As of the date of this post the current issue, including my poem, can be found {here}. It will move to the {archive} when a new issue is published.

You can also find SRPR on {Facebook}


We've Taken a Look at Our Habits Over the Past Few Years, and Identified Room for Change.



Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Laws of Motion

- Nikki Giovanni

          (for Harlem Magic)
The laws of science teach us a pound of gold weighs as   
much as a pound of flour though if dropped from any   
undetermined height in their natural state one would
reach bottom and one would fly away

Laws of motion tell us an inert object is more difficult to   
propel than an object heading in the wrong direction is to   
turn around. Motion being energy—inertia—apathy.   
Apathy equals hostility. Hostility—violence. Violence   
being energy is its own virtue. Laws of motion teach us

Black people are no less confused because of our   
Blackness than we are diffused because of our
powerlessness. Man we are told is the only animal who   
smiles with his lips. The eyes however are the mirror of
the soul

The problem with love is not what we feel but what we   
wish we felt when we began to feel we should feel
something. Just as publicity is not production: seduction
is not seductive

If I could make a wish I’d wish for all the knowledge of all   
the world. Black may be beautiful Professor Micheau
says but knowledge is power. Any desirable object is
bought and sold—any neglected object declines in value.   
It is against man’s nature to be in either category

If white defines Black and good defines evil then men
define women or women scientifically speaking describe
men. If sweet is the opposite of sour and heat the
absence of cold then love is the contradiction of pain and
beauty is in the eye of the beheld

Sometimes I want to touch you and be touched in   
return. But you think I’m grabbing and I think you’re   
shirking and Mama always said to look out for men like   
you

So I go to the streets with my lips painted red and my   
eyes carefully shielded to seduce the world my reluctant   
lover

And you go to your men slapping fives feeling good   
posing as a man because you know as long as you sit   
very very still the laws of motion will be in effect


from: The Women and the Men. Copyright 1970.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

About God & Things

- Wanda Coleman
 
              1
i want to have your child
cuz upon losing you
i’ll have more than memory
            more than ache
            more than greatness
i’ll have laughter

i do not mean to be fatalistic
know the limits put on you black man
me, black woman

when you are killed or imprisoned
desert or separate from me
i’ll continue
fill the void of your absence with
love between me and ours

gods

              2
you love me
in your eyes. don’t say it loud
pain
america will never let you

              3
you’re home. it’s a surprise
you’ve made it thru another day
one more night in your arms
to fuck

merge our bodies merge
give
wealth/freedom
congress cannot legislate away

              4
eyes wide as suns inquire
where’s daddy?

he’s gone away

i love my daddy

i smile
he’s a good man

eyes wide as suns
burn my hand with a kiss
go outside to play in the streets

god
what god is about


from: Imagoes. Copyright 1983.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oh Freedom!




Lyrics:

Oh, freedom, Oh, freedom,
Oh freedom over me.
And before I'd be a slave
I'd be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free.

No more weepin,(don't you know), no more weepin,
no more weepin over me.
And before I'd be a slave
I'd be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free.

Oh freedom,
Oh, freedom, Oh, freedom,
Oh freedom over me.
And before I'd be a slave
I'd be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free.

And before I'd be a slave
I'd be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free.
First recorded as Sweet Freedom in 1931, by the E. R. Nance Family with Clarence Dooley.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saturday Farmer's Market - Fragile Spring



Created by Heather at Capricious Reader, and now hosted by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on.

Just to give this post a bit of context, the green mess you are looking at here is tiny Daffodils (about 4 inches when blooming), and usually the first thing in my garden to bloom.
It is way behind this year, as I've had blooming plants for weeks now.


It is still early and we could still get more frosty nights, so the stakes are high right now.
The next picture is of a Pluot Tree, taken through the kitchen window.


And this picture is the larger of the two Plum Trees.
An untimely frost could cost us some or all of our eagerly awaited fruit harvest.



 






This is the Pomegranate, happy as always.









 Of course these are all still blooming:







 Oriental Poppies
















 Sedum













 &
Violets









My experiment from last year is Bananas
Since they are tropical, they didn't enjoy the Winter. But since we are in a fairly moderate area, they have a chance.







This is what they looked like before I pruned for spring - 













- and this is what they looked like after a hair cut and retrenching. (they need to be flooded when I water)

If you look closely, the one on the right has a small green shoot - new growth!






 More 
Daffodils!


 And now for some sadness.

This Orange Tree, in the yard across the street from us, has been, without a doubt, the best Orange Tree ever. Any one who has ever tried the fruit agrees, and experts have even taken samples and conducted research with the aim of making all Orange Trees better. 


Well the house changed hands last year and our new neighbors have been having septic problems. 
Guess where the septic system runs. 
Yep, right down between the two houses, under the tree. 

At this point they have pruned it back hard hoping to minimize the shock when they mangle half the root system. It may or may not survive. Please keep it in your thoughts.

On the bright side, we are all pretty sure we know why the tree has been so great - unlimited fertilizer!

(If it survives, it may never be the same when the septic system is fixed.)

A Nest Full of Stars
- James Berry

Only chance made me come and find
my hen, stepping from her hidden
nest, in our kitchen garden.

In her clever secret place, her tenth
egg, still warm, had just been dropped.

Not sure of what to do, I picked up
every egg, counting them, then put them
down again. All were mine.

All swept me away and back.
I blinked, I saw: a whole hand
of ripe bananas, nesting.

I blinked, I saw: a basketful
of ripe oranges, nesting.

I blinked, I saw: a trayful
of ripe naseberries, nesting.

I blinked, I saw: an open bagful
of ripe mangoes, nesting.

I blinked, I saw:
a mighty nest full of stars.

naseberry: sapodilla plum with sweet brown flesh


from: The Nest Full of Stars. Copyright 2004.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Reward

- Kevin Young
 
RUN AWAY from this sub-
scriber for the second time
are TWO NEGROES, viz. SMART,
an outlandish dark fellow

with his country marks
on his temples and bearing
the remarkable brand of my
name on his left breast, last

seen wearing an old ragged
negro cloth shirt and breeches
made of fearnought; also DIDO,
a likely young wench of a yellow

cast, born in cherrytime in this
parish, wearing a mixed coloured
coat with a bundle of clothes,
mostly blue, under her one good

arm. Both speak tolerable plain
English and may insist on being
called Cuffee and Khasa respect-
ively. Whoever shall deliver

the said goods to the gaoler
in Baton Rouge, or to the Sugar
House in the parish, shall receive
all reasonable charges plus

a genteel reward besides what
the law allows. In the mean
time all persons are strictly
forbid harbouring them, on pain

of being prosecuted to the utmost
rigour of the law. Ten guineas
will be paid to anyone who can
give intelligence of their being

harboured, employed, or enter-
tained by a white person upon
his sentence; five on conviction
of a black. All Masters of vessels

are warned against carrying them
out of state, as they may claim
to be free. If any of the above
Negroes return of their own

accord, they may still be for-
given by

                            ELIZABETH YOUNG.
Kevin Young, “Reward” from Most Way Home. Copyright © 2000 by Kevin Young. Reprinted with the permission of Zoland Books/Steerforth Press


Source: Most Way Home (Zoland Books, 2000)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

skinny-dippin’ in the gene pool

- Thulani Davis
 
the streets of hell are also paved
with fear of contagion
I have been swimming
in enough barbed-wire waters to know
you’re not even safe on the beach
it’s not just your “body fluids”
it’s the grime of your skin
those dirty things you think

they are cleaning up the world again
I can see the inflammation
heartbreak & hunger scurry me down
on the road to Damascus
I want to be blinded like Saul
for the sake of vision
not just cause I can’t take it anymore

are we talking burnt out here?
burnt out is a reason for infection
I hope I get the whole disease
I am glad to be a speck / a piece of dirt
the dark side of the earth
they’re trying to clean
I want to get in their pores
want them to sweat my filth
the way a wound hurts before the dope
but then come the murderers on the road
are we talking burnt out?
they go in the camps looking for you
cause you are hiding the sores
you could be contagious
after all in the postapocalypse movies
you don’t even exist

your survival is not required
for history or hollywood
in the movie Road Warrior
everyone is antisocial on purpose
human ties are burnt out
& human intercourse is fatiguing & dangerous
gratefully no one is traumatized anymore
& unfortunately no one goes to school

in the movie Blade Runner
almost everyone lives 90 stories below
almost no one else
everyone is antisocial by accident
due to overcrowding in L.A. but no one minds
& there are still parties to go to

everyone white is “off-world” more or less
everyone 90 stories down is polymorphous colored
more or less
no one has attended school in decades
in both films everyone dresses with panache
which preserves their identities
to audiences who know
there is no grounds for indentity
postworld

personally I prefer the people in Titanic
even though they got their minds blown
when the unbelievable happened
they still believed in life
they were not burnt out
& had grounds for clinging
to lifeboats and a certain
stylish way of dressing

they could not imagine Jim Jensen
intoning without horror
that the body count goes on
that no one needs the news to know
what’s going on
Beirut is one of the low levels
Dante went on about
available in ordinary life

see the corpses if you will
believe at the risk
you may see it everywhere
every body spreads infection
unless you burn it out
eyewitness news invites you
to wait for the coverage
because Jim Jensen is there
& history is in the making or
you can come skinny-dip
in my gene pool

the massacres were arbitrary
when my people were hunted down
the deaths still go on
stretching over centuries
of shades of brown
baptist, moslem,
mothers, children, fathers
burnt out of homes but living

I am not that desperate
to be numb & dumb
I’m walking 90 stories down
I know I survive
in some wretched moments
of what men do
but I am not that desperate
I don’t give a shit if this is history
in the making
it should stop

I am still alive
I am still happy to be the dirt
that can’t be cleaned up
scorch my earth & I will grow
from history up
under the feet of the present
burnt out is for the movies
in which we don’t exist

from: Playing the Changes, Copyright 1985.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Alameda Street

 - Douglas Kearney
for Deshawn, Eric, Dallas, Jerome & Lerone
We brown boys
          play
                     stick games,
          say
                     nicknames
like BIG D, EVIL E;
and conjure Knievel
with jigsawed dirt bikes
and sewer curbs
for asphalt launch pads.
          We all sweat
          to know flight
          for just
          a minute.

We brown boys,
          hair
                     all knaps, 
          wear
                     ballcaps’
broken brims. Broken rims
from hungry slamdunks,
pro-ball pipe dreams
over ice cream man’s
“Pop Goes the Weasel.”
          We all hunt
          change from cords’,
          Bermudas
          and mamas.

We brown boys—
          smack
                     talking
          slap
                     boxing—
stay bragging and bagging,
drinking summer from hoses
and water bomb barrages.
We throw rocks at garages
making no dents.
          We all just
          trying to leave
          a mark.

from: Fear, Some. Copyright 2006.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Lonely Eagles

 - Marilyn Nelson
for Daniel “Chappie” James, General USAF            
and for the 332d Fighter Group
Being black in America
was the Original Catch,
so no one was surprised
by 22:
The segregated airstrips,
separate camps.
They did the jobs
they’d been trained to do.
 
Black ground crews kept them in the air;
black flight surgeons kept them alive;
the whole Group removed their headgear
when another pilot died.
 
They were known by their names:
“Ace” and “Lucky,”
“Sky-hawk Johnny,” “Mr. Death.”
And by their positions and planes.
Red Leader to Yellow Wing-man,
do you copy?
 
If you could find a fresh egg
you bought it and hid it
in your dopp-kit or your boot
until you could eat it alone.
On the night before a mission
you gave a buddy
your hiding-places
as solemnly
as a man dictating
his will.
There’s a chocolate bar
in my Bible;
my whiskey bottle
is inside my bedroll.
 
In beat-up Flying Tigers
that had seen action in Burma,
they shot down three German jets.
They were the only outfit
in the American Air Corps
to sink a destroyer
with fighter planes.
Fighter planes with names
like “By Request.”
Sometimes the radios
didn’t even work.
 
They called themselves
“Hell from Heaven.”
This Spookwaffe.
My father’s old friends.
 
It was always
maximum effort:
A whole squadron
of brother-men
raced across the tarmac
and mounted their planes.
 
            My tent-mate was a guy named Starks.
            The funny thing about me and Starks
            was that my air mattress leaked,
            and Starks’ didn’t.
            Every time we went up,
            I gave my mattress to Starks
            and put his on my cot.
 
            One day we were strafing a train.
            Strafing’s bad news:
            you have to fly so low and slow
            you’re a pretty clear target.
            My other wing-man and I
            exhausted our ammunition and got out.
            I recognized Starks
            by his red tail
            and his rudder’s trim-tabs.
            He couldn’t pull up his nose.
            He dived into the train
            and bought the farm.
 
            I found his chocolate,
            three eggs, and a full fifth
            of his hoarded-up whiskey.
            I used his mattress
            for the rest of my tour.
 
            It still bothers me, sometimes:
            I was sleeping
            on his breath.

from: The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems. Copyright 1997.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Testament

 - Carolyn M. Rodgers
 
child,
in the august of your life
you come barefoot to me
the blisters of events
having worn through to the
soles of your shoes.

it is not the time
this is not the time

there is no such time
to tell you
that some pains ease away
on the ebb & toll of
themselves.
there is no such dream that
can not fail, nor is hope our
only conquest.
we can stand boldly in burdening places (like earth here)
in our blunderings, our bloomings
our palms, flattened upward or pressed,
an unyielding down.

from: The Heart as Ever Green. Copyright 1978.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Nina's Blues

 
Your body, hard vowels
In a soft dress, is still.

What you can't know
is that after you died
All the black poets
In New York City
Took a deep breath,
And breathed you out;
Dark corners of small clubs,
The silence you left twitching

On the floors of the gigs
You turned your back on,
The balled-up fists of notes
Flung, angry from a keyboard.

You won't be able to hear us
Try to etch what rose
Off your eyes, from your throat.

Out you bleed, not as sweet, or sweaty,
Through our dark fingertips.
We drum rest
We drum thank you
We drum stay.

from Hardheaded Weather: New and Selected Poems. Copyright 2008.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Saturday Farmer'a Market - Spring is On the Way!



Created by Heather at Capricious Reader, and now hosted by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on.


Take heart, my friends.

Perhaps the groundhog isn't all knowing.

There is Spring happening all over my garden right now, with promise of more to come.
 


The Sedum has about doubled in size from last year, and it is covered in little buds

Although there is a fair amount of pinkish red color on the plant, the flowers will bloom in an exuberant yellow color.


This is the first of my Daffodils to bloom. The rest are coming up a few at a time.  



And here, among what has been the scourge of my front garden since I puled out the grass, is some very happy Trailing Rosemary.

I've been cursing this as a sort of clover for years, but I recently discovered that it is actually Wood Sorrel.

It is still an invader in my garden, but at least now it is a correctly identified invader.

And the Rosemary doesn't seem to mind in the least at this point.








Here is a Purple Iris getting ready to open . . .








                                           Like her big sister


California Poppies are coming up every where.


And last, but by no means least, are the Oriental Poppies I put into the grass bed last year. They actually started blooming just after Christmas.


The garden still looks generally overgrown and abandoned, but there are spots of beauty everywhere and it gives me hope for the year to come. I know that I will never again be able to work it as I once did, but I don't think it will mind.
The Little Garden
- Amy Lowell

A little garden on a bleak hillside
    Where deep the heavy, dazzling mountain snow
    Lies far into the spring. The sun’s pale glow
Is scarcely able to melt patches wide
About the single rose bush. All denied
    Of nature’s tender ministries. But no, —
    For wonder-working faith has made it blow
With flowers many hued and starry-eyed.
    Here sleeps the sun long, idle summer hours;
Here butterflies and bees fare far to rove
    Amid the crumpled leaves of poppy flowers;
Here four o’clocks, to the passionate night above
    Fling whiffs of perfume, like pale incense showers.
    A little garden, loved with a great love!


from: A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass, Copyright 1912.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Black Boys Play the Classics

 
The most popular “act” in
Penn Station
is the three black kids in ratty   
sneakers & T-shirts playing
two violins and a cello—Brahms.   
White men in business suits
have already dug into their pockets   
as they pass and they toss in   
a dollar or two without stopping.   
Brown men in work-soiled khakis   
stand with their mouths open,   
arms crossed on their bellies   
as if they themselves have always   
wanted to attempt those bars.   
One white boy, three, sits
cross-legged in front of his
idols—in ecstasy—
their slick, dark faces,
their thin, wiry arms,
who must begin to look
like angels!
Why does this trembling
pull us?
A: Beneath the surface we are one.
B: Amazing! I did not think that they could speak this tongue.

from Tender. Copyright 1997.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

skinny-dippin’ in the gene pool

 
the streets of hell are also paved
with fear of contagion
I have been swimming
in enough barbed-wire waters to know
you’re not even safe on the beach
it’s not just your “body fluids”
it’s the grime of your skin
those dirty things you think

they are cleaning up the world again
I can see the inflammation
heartbreak & hunger scurry me down
on the road to Damascus
I want to be blinded like Saul
for the sake of vision
not just cause I can’t take it anymore

are we talking burnt out here?
burnt out is a reason for infection
I hope I get the whole disease
I am glad to be a speck / a piece of dirt
the dark side of the earth
they’re trying to clean
I want to get in their pores
want them to sweat my filth
the way a wound hurts before the dope
but then come the murderers on the road
are we talking burnt out?
they go in the camps looking for you
cause you are hiding the sores
you could be contagious
after all in the postapocalypse movies
you don’t even exist

your survival is not required
for history or hollywood
in the movie Road Warrior
everyone is antisocial on purpose
human ties are burnt out
& human intercourse is fatiguing & dangerous
gratefully no one is traumatized anymore
& unfortunately no one goes to school

in the movie Blade Runner
almost everyone lives 90 stories below
almost no one else
everyone is antisocial by accident
due to overcrowding in L.A. but no one minds
& there are still parties to go to

everyone white is “off-world” more or less
everyone 90 stories down is polymorphous colored
more or less
no one has attended school in decades
in both films everyone dresses with panache
which preserves their identities
to audiences who know
there is no grounds for indentity
postworld

personally I prefer the people in Titanic
even though they got their minds blown
when the unbelievable happened
they still believed in life
they were not burnt out
& had grounds for clinging
to lifeboats and a certain
stylish way of dressing

they could not imagine Jim Jensen
intoning without horror
that the body count goes on
that no one needs the news to know
what’s going on
Beirut is one of the low levels
Dante went on about
available in ordinary life

see the corpses if you will
believe at the risk
you may see it everywhere
every body spreads infection
unless you burn it out
eyewitness news invites you
to wait for the coverage
because Jim Jensen is there
& history is in the making or
you can come skinny-dip
in my gene pool

the massacres were arbitrary
when my people were hunted down
the deaths still go on
stretching over centuries
of shades of brown
baptist, moslem,
mothers, children, fathers
burnt out of homes but living

I am not that desperate
to be numb & dumb
I’m walking 90 stories down
I know I survive
in some wretched moments
of what men do
but I am not that desperate
I don’t give a shit if this is history
in the making
it should stop

I am still alive
I am still happy to be the dirt
that can’t be cleaned up
scorch my earth & I will grow
from history up
under the feet of the present
burnt out is for the movies
in which we don’t exist

from: Playing the Changes 1985.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

won't you celebrate with me

won't you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

from: Book of Light. Copyright 1993. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I, Too

 
I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

from: Collected Poems. Copyright 1994.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Listening To A White Man Play The Blues

 
Pushing the seed into the ground
isn't enough. Whatever blooms

in this place is dumb and blind.
Foreclosure is a one-eyed man.

Nothing falls from a sky like this
except a little rain, never enough rain.

All night my wife looks down
the neck of my guitar

passing the bottle back and forth
like a story she's been telling for years.

So many baskets of hard bread.
You take the shovel to the ground.

The land stares back at you.
The corn drifts towards the sky.

You don't know what dirt is
until you bury your first daughter.


from: The Secret History of Water. Copyright 1997.