I Don’t Know What She Did or Said…

I don’t know what she did or said

to make me love her…

Perhaps it was the stacking of

small kindnesses

she did for me.

Or the way she managed to hold my attention

when she looked at me and told me her stories.

Or the sharp wit that made me laugh with her.

Or the day she casually touched my shoulder,

looking down at my screen to see what I would do.

But all I did was like the feel of her hand there.

Or the day I overheard her say she thought I was handsome.

Or the day she smiled at me as she passed and said it to me.

Or the day we had dinner, and I kissed her twice,

and she let me. Twice.

I don’t know what she did or said…

Baby Sees the Teddy Bear

In the crib, baby sees the teddy bear

and smiles.

Baby smells the powders and potions,

feel the soft hands,

hears the songs of the mobile,

sees the soft light,

and feels the warm hope,

laughs at the tickling fingers,

and sees love in his parents’ eyes.

On his deathbed,

grandpa sees the teddy bear.

And then he sees the tubes and machines,

smells the alcohol and disinfectant,

feels the soft tug of bandages,

hears the beeps of the monitors

and sees the indicator lights.

He feels the focused shifting of the painkillers,

and laughs at the fading memories,

seeing the good-bye in his legacy’s eyes.

He takes the bear his grandson gives,

and holds it to his wet cheek,

and smiles.

The Vale of Love

She took him to a quiet place

so beautiful to see.

A place of fragrant flowers,

cool green grass

and fruitful tree.

“Now pledge your love to me,” she said

“And I will pledge to you.”

“I cannot pledge,” he answered

“for my love would prove untrue.”

“What jest is this?” she asked in rage,

her brow now stern and cross.

“I love another, fool. Now go! Begone and take the loss.”

The dagger point just broke his skin.

“The only loss is life, for when we loved

you pledged your heart and promised me to wife.”

“I care not if you love me now.

I will not be a fool, so you will be my husband

til your dotage when you drool.”

He fought her for his lady love,

fought long and hard and rough.

They both were bruised and bloody,

and the scarred skin would get tough.

But in the end, she held his heart

cupped in her broken hands,

and walked and walked and walked with it

to far and distant lands.

And somewhere in the Vail of Love

a heartless man does lie.

For legend says the Vail of Hearts

is where loves go to die.

Black Magi 2

You

played by the rules, stayed off the streets,

out of the pipeline,

and never brought static to police radios.

With honors, you walked across the floor

and brought tears of joy to your family,

and a smile on the face of your girl.

You took the scroll that said you did the work,

that ‘school’ was over, and ‘life’ could begin a new chapter.

Know this too,

Black Magi…

those who toiled in the hot sun,

they see you.

Those who endured the lash and the dogs,

they see you.

Those who were broken,

taking their ‘master’s yoke with downcast eyes,

they look up to you now,

and see you.

Those who taught themselves to read by candlelight and lanterns,

risking their lives to pass down the knowledge you were (finally) allowed

to access through the front door,

they see you.

The world over,

the ones who suffered to survive

so you could one day strive to achieve

what they could not,

they see you.

From the bottom of the oceans,

still wrapped in rust and barnacles,

turning to silt on the sand floor,

they see you,

Black Magi.

As one, their spirits lift their heads and eyes,

and every one of their voices, and sing to you

through the centuries of their love and pride.

What happens now, Black Magi?

Who will

you

see?

Unblended (3)

He examined her like a (w)horse…

talked of her strength and prowess,

and the power of her potential

to turn him a profit.

And in the desecrated marriage bed

of his sickroom, he treated her like a

(w)hores,

watching his ill-gotten get

pad his ill-gotten gains.

And in the quiet after midnight,

her tears and blood could not be placed

on a speared sponge, and touched to

chapped, split, sobbing lips.

And sometimes in the quiet after midnight,

the midwives did their cleaning up,

and sometimes the scavengers fed.

But in the best of cases,

the sires of their own ‘property’

took their child’s place

in the unmarked, remote, and lonely graves.

How Do I Read These Headlines?

How do I read these headlines

in my skin,

and stay ‘neutral’?

How, and still deny? How, and still absolve?

How do I view the photos of all these

grim atrocities done to black bodies

posted by the demons who did them,

and say “It has no part in me?”

How do I stand for an anthem that

proudly hails

killing my ancestors?

How can I ignore

the flag of a heritage of hate?

Avert your eyes, if it pleases,

and veil yourselves behind the

tresses of your hair,

put the lie in your lungs and give it breath,

and point your fingers at me,

who did nothing at all,

if it comforts you.

But the blood cries out from the soil,

and the photos so freely, bravely displayed

(and sold as postcards) have not faded.

The blackface figurines and sack dolls

still abide in the curiosity and antique shops,

and the mass, unmarked graves

are not unseen.

Nor are the ones who put the

black bodies in there.

I read these headlines,

but I’ve seen them play out too,

and the play doesn’t seem to end.

So friend, if that is what you (say you) truly are to me,

don’t ask me to separate myself, and deny, and say

I’m not at risk.

At any given moment,

on any given day,

someone can lash out

at me because of my color, and

tomorrow could very well be

my last day in this world.

But keep your eyes averted,

and yell louder,

peeking through your fingers as

I turn into a headline.

Proverbial

“Nice guys finish last.”

I’m poured out like a libation,

but not unconsumed.

On the short side of life,

now in the

emerging shadow

of my sunset years.

The bell’s final toll remains

unseen, unknown, and left to hide.

The cold aspect of

the Reaper’s featureless face

gives me a sage nod.

Captured now by my choices,

I live the life I do,

a life forged of heart and mind,

iron will and querulous wavering.

It is not the life envisioned or imagined,

and time turns its back on my recriminations,

moving ever-forward,

taking the vision with it.

And so…

the life I have.

“Nice guys finish last.”

The words sound bitter in the darkness.

And yet, for all the times of hardship and failure,

and getting back up to fight once more

because

it was the only thing left to do,

those words don’t ring quite true.

Blending

It seems an unremarkable thing,

this blending of lines,

of sky, mountain, and earth.

Today, we probe their mysteries,

dissect their compounds,

speculate on origins,

and calculate lifespans.

What lies beneath,

what lay behind,

is given over to

imagination, superstition,

and fear.

Old warrior gods, healing goddesses,

mythic creatures drawn

to vices and virgins.

Givers and takers,

enhancers, diminishers,

fire, blood, steel, and stone.

The cryptic, capricious constellations

telling different tales for different tribes, and

the arcane angles of the sun.

All for a price, all of a piece,

said to be fanciful and fake.

Yet their stories have not died.

The legacy of legends

are still in the recesses of the human mind,

given rebirth through human lips.

Slowly, they are returning

in the candles and crystals,

in the gems and crafts,

in the runes and ink,

and adding of souls.

And as behind the unremarkable blending

of sea and sky and mountain,

the angels and demons make war,

hear the magic call to you

in all its lost, forgotten glory,

and rekindle your wonder.

Lovers Quarrels

I see the wall you start to build,

so I build mine.

I see anger and pain in your eyes,

and so I fill my own,

but yours leaks down your face,

and mine does not,

for I am the better warrior.

And whereas your pain is fresh and new,

whenever inflicted,

my wounds have long scarred over,

and the pain within is dulled beyond sensing.

You quickly clutch your handful of quarrels,

and I slowly gather mine,

and we dip them in the poisons

of our tongues, and memories,

place them in our quivers of rage,

and loose.

They are barbed and painful

these quarrels,

meant to shatter and break,

meant to defeat the love that yet might

burn in the heart,

and smother it.

We try our best to find new flesh to pierce,

but we have only hit the old marks again,

rebuilt the chasm, and destroyed the bridge.

The peace of our home is in pieces.

The security of our love is set aflame.

The silence of our emotions is a dry wind.

And the quarrels are exhausted.

We retreat within the walls,

and pull them out, one by one, ruminating over each,

wondering why we still share the same space,

and little else.

It is a war we’ll never win,

a victory denied,

a constant obstacle of overcoming,

frenetically undermined.

So, my former darling,

we raise our white flags

into the light of a setting sun,

as you go your way,

and I go mine.

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