Forthcoming from the Kattywompus
CD / Chapbook, SINGING WHILE BLACK
The trouble is, you can never take
That flower from Billie’s hair.
She is always walking too fast
and try as we might,
there’s no talking her into slowing.
Don’t go down into that basement,
we’d like to scream. What will it take
to bargain her blues,
To retire that term when it comes
to her? But the grain and the cigarettes,
the narcs and the fancy-dressed boys,
the sediment in her throat.
That’s the soil those petals spring from,
Like a fist, if a fist could sing.
PRAISE FOR THE INAUGURAL POET, JANUARY, 2009
Perhaps it’s an impossible task
On an impossible day. A young poet
Fixes her gaze along the plaza,
Looks at this latest version of America in the eyes,
Looks in the camera at all the places we’ve touched
Sees who’s come to this roll call:
The out of the wood-works, the I never dreamt,
The I never thought I’d live this longs,
Stands in the sharp report of weak January sun.
The poet probably knows
This family is hers.
The poet probably knows
Before she cuts history to forty-three lines,
Before the capitol has more proof
Of what bullets and ropes couldn’t stop,
She has to straighten her back. She needs to take
A deep breath. A black woman is here.
All the black women in her are here. To sing.
MY NIECE MARIE EXPLAINS HER
MICHAEL JACKSON PROJECT
The idea for my student film is: Michael Jackson’s
Walking down some street, when suddenly,
A big black car pulls up, out jumps some brothers
Who haul him in, drive him to a secret location.
They tie him down. Out comes a can of black paint
And some brushes, maybe a sprayer. They turn him back.
They correct what he’s done to himself with those drugs,
With that BS he told Oprah, with those white boy operations
He did to his nose. They take that tea cup body of his
And remind him. That’s where we fade it, in that room,
With the brushes and the brothers
Slapping on the truth.
For Etheridge Knight
Dead poet junkie robber,
They love you even now,
They love you from a distance
After your storm has passed,
As the wind and water recedes.
Someone grabs a beer and begins
A story; how a sucker’s yes
Turned their head
bald, the sneaky way sure
Spouted wings on their wallet
And flew; you might as well
Blame a wolf for its
Canines, a spider its hunger
I say I almost met you once and this guy says
A guy like you? Then there’s
This smile; hey kid,
Used to be gold.