Sifting Shifting Sand

All my duties come to naught,

and as for all the things I bought,

I place the high-def screens in

front of things that really matter,

 

And put the things that really matter

inside the screen.

 

Pictures of family

Pictures of memories

Pictures of successes

Pictures of loss and regret

Pictures of friends who lost

the battle to live forever…

 

And today,

here I stand

utterly alone,

wrapped in sullen silence,

chilled by cold thoughts and

ironic imaginings

of what might have been

after all this time.

 

Sifting shifting sand,

unable to find what I deemed insignificant

and buried,

only to realize all that

ever matters

is the life you’re living

 

Now.

My Floozy Muse

My desk lamp was flickering, and the laptop screen had a crack in it, but I was determined to finish this thing, once and for all.

The honeyed whiskey glowed invitingly in the bottle I opened, not bothering with a glass.

I could hear the rain on the window, and the slushy sound of tires on the shiny black road spattered with neon down below.  Two cats fought in an alley, and people were out who’d otherwise go stir crazy indoors.

I had nothing but whiskey and nothing else but this novel, and nobody until she appeared. Smooth, slender hands slipped over my shoulders and chest, and a tongue tip flicked my earlobe.

“Maxine.” I grinned like an psychiatric inmate. “Long time no kiss.”

She laughed, soft and low, like a piano in the dark after midnight. “Against the rules, handsome, you know that.”

“Doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

She poured herself a drink, and sat down, crossing legs from Heaven.

“Whatcha got goin here, sweetie?”

“A crossroads.”

“Ahhh,”she said, covering her ears in mock pain. “Honey don’t use polysyllables this time of night; they hurt my head.”

“Anything for you, cookie. I’m stuck.”

“That’s better. How can I help?”

I told her where I was in the story, and where I wanted to go next.

She came over, sat in my lap, squirmed around a bit, getting comfortable.

“Having fun?” I said.

“Loads, sugar. Oops,” she put her hand over her mouth. “Was that naughty?”

“Not even close. What’s with the wings?”

“A girl can’t accessorize?”

“Probably, if I knew what it meant.”

She laughed, kissed me quick on the lips, tasting like cinnamon cigarettes.

“I like you, Al. Wish I knew why.”

“Because I made you up?”

She considered that, her finger in the corner of her mouth.

“Nah, that’s not it, ’cause you can’t be sure who made up who.”

“‘Whom.’ That story’s been done, Maxine. Let’s get to work.”

“So grumpy,” she squirmed a bit more and leaned over, looking at the screen.

I poured another drink; she moved her lips when she read. How’d I miss that?

“Ah, right here. That’s where the problem is. I see it.”

“Can you help?”

She put an arm around my shoulder. “Anything for you, cookie.”

I don’t know how long we worked, but the bottle grew empty, the page grew full, and the sky grew lighter.

“Oh, sweetie, I have to go.”

“Bathroom’s over–”

“No, Al. I mean it’s time for me to leave.”

“Aw, c’mon Maxine…”

She kissed me, and we both tasted like honey-whiskeyed- cinnamon cigarettes.

“Baby,” I said, catching my breath when she was done.

“You know the rules.” We said it together, like schoolkids: “No hanky-panky!”

“Can I ask you a question?” I said.

“You just did.” She winked at me.

“That hanky-panky thing, is that sex?”

She put her finger in the corner of her mouth again.

“I don’t think so….”

“Good.”

“Whee!” she turned on my lap, facing me, and my chair went over backward…

She stayed with me through the morning too, but not a lot got done.

Well, not a lot of writing…but that’s another story.

 

 

Still On Tryal

Author’s Note: This photo was taken at the Slave Museum. As the little girl’s mother was explaining what happened, she hugged the statue and said, “Everything’s going to be okay.” This is a poem that reflects that faith…

 

 

They sure tried:

 

To strip us culturally

To bend us spiritually

To break us physically

To give us second best

To question our humanity

To question our intelligence

 

They sure tried:

 

To stop us from voting

To stop us from organizing

To stop us from demanding

To stop us from marching

To stop us from praying

To stop us from fighting

To stop us from protesting

To stop us from singing

 

They sure tried:

 

To deny us access

To reduce our numbers

To convince us we don’t belong

To tell us we had nothing

they didn’t give us

To stop us from voting

To erase us from history

 

They sure tried:

 

To tell us to get over

the very history they

imposed

on us

 

They sure tried:

 

To tell us we’re violent

Ignorant

Beastly

Savage

Sexual predators

Dopefiends

Whores

and Pimps

and

Criminals

 

They sure tried:

 

To keep us illiterate

To keep us afraid

To keep us unaware

To keep us drunk

To keep us in vice

To keep us down

 

They sure tried:

 

To keep us enslaved

 

We tried too:

 

To be patient

To be non-violent

To suffer

To fight through the system

To die on our feet

 

But we got tired of trying

because they mistook

patience

for weakness

 

So we said

No,

and we said

No longer

And we said

No more

And we said

Our lives matter

 

And now they try

to say it’s our fault

they have to kill us.

 

And now, in 2016…

We find that

the

Tryal

is far from over

 

But if we stand

and work

and build

and teach

and love

TOGETHER

the verdict

is

Victory.

Black Magi

Black Magi

your strength is wasted,

killing over slabs of

cracked, crumbling concrete

that will outlast

the return

of your bones

to dust

 

Black Magi

your lives are wasted

when the blood

of your

slain brother

soaks your soul,

and the wails

of his mother

are your lullaby

as you look at the same

Moonlight

through the bars of your cell,

and she does the same

through her gone baby’s eyes.

 

Black Magi

your knowledge is wasted

in kilos of grams,

hidden in luxury cars,

poisoning our future,

your neighborhood,

chipping at foundations

you desperately need.

But you got yours, right?

 

Black Magi

your wealth is wasted

on basketball shoes that are

Free

to the person they’re named after,

made by slaves in other foreign lands

(you know you’re not home, right?)

 

Black Magi

Gather your belongings

Now

 

Call your loved ones to your side

Today

 

Black Magi

the stars bid you

travel far,

and one of them falls

when one of you

turns back to die

 

Black Magi

Your son has questions

only you

can answer

 

Black Magi

Your daughter

has smiles

only you

can share

 

Black Magi

Your woman

cries tears

only you

can dry

 

Black Magi

The years of

your harvest

are spent in rehab,

then just spent,

And poisoned seeds

again take root

through the husk

of what used to be

Fertile and Wise and Strong,

the shell of what used to be

You

 

Black Magi

Stop

Think

Repent

But mostly,

Stop.

I’ll Kiss You in Secret

I’ll kiss you

in secret,

in shadow,

on

moonless, starless

nights,

feel the heat

of fevered lips

wipe away the

scarlet shade,

taste the

honeyed, sugary

cluster of

your tongue,

and

twirl my soul

into you,

lost in

Love’s

light

© Alfred W. Smith Jr.  2015