In the Black

And these, my hopes,

now come to stillness,

spent in small and looping

hopeless, frothing eddies,

broken on stones

upon this lifeless shore.

 

The angels weep on me.

Their sobs are thunder.

They snap their saddened sodden wings

to the rhythm of

my racing, raging heart

and sear the sky

with lightning.

 

And out there, my dreams…

There! Floating on the rising tide,

are sailing far and fast,

eluding me forever

with full-wind sails,

but a

cracking mast….

They do not know.

Let them drown adrift,

as my sorrow

in my cups.

 

For now, though despairing in black,

beneath black clouds,

by black water, in black mood,

I yet await

the shining sun,

and

the turning tide.

 

 

 

Dead Affections

I come again by the light of a sickle, sickly moon

to an old, cracked and mossy stone. In front of it, a

tarnished vase of long-decayed flowers, liquified

with rot and mold

Cold mist covers me like a tattered prayer shawl,

and the wolves stand still and watch from the pines.

I go down to one knee, and brush the lichen off the letters,

now almost level with the stone.

I sigh, searching my heart for the kernel of it once again,

hoping against hope, knowing it is no longer there,

and just not willing to concede.

Its leaving was painful, and it almost

severed my fingers

as I tried to keep it close.

The pain was so great, I could only beg in silence.

The thought of the looming, yawning chasm

of its absence paralyzed me, and my trembling fingers, unable to

take any more,

released it.

On my first visit here, the memories were like the flowers:

fresh, vibrant, full of color, fragrant with life.

But just as the flowers would make no new petals,

we would make no new memories,

and in time, these I cherished turned to sepia,

now tinged an ashy gray.

You made me feel life was worth living.

You lied.

And yet, still, the letters of your name

can be seen,

and I whisper it to the

black, eternal sky.

“Love.”

A Night in Battered Armor

I see you

Black Woman

in the armor

we forced you

to wear,

so you could

fight

when you would

Love

 

I see you

Black Woman

a sad and weary

patience

in your eyes

waiting for

the next

bone-wearying

Battle,

challengers

coming from

everywhere at once

 

I see you

Black Woman

your smile and laughter

as distant a memory

as the hills

that

surround you.

 

I see you

Black Woman

the song

in your heart

now the moans

of winds across

a desolate, bleak,

and wretched

landscape

 

I see you

Black Woman

looking across

the widening chasm

as your champion

turns to become

your opponent

 

I see you

Black Woman

wiping

the tears

from your armor

lest the salt

dull its shine

as it rusts

your soul

 

I see you

Black Woman

standing alone

in your own

cold shadow

dreading

but

living

to fight

another day.

 

I see you

Black Woman

Beautiful

 

Our Future

Looking into

the distance

her eyes

contain

the vision

of herself

 

On stage

in front of

thousands

 

But now

the working through

the struggles

and failures

 

the pain

and the waxing

desire to quit

and leave it all

behind

 

Until tomorrow

when the

echoes of

thundering applause

and the phantom scent

of

bundles of flowers

 

And the

smiles and tears

the fruit of her

labor of love

will generate

 

will one day

no longer

be only

echoes

and phantoms

 

So, my people,

 

Let us strive

Together

toward the reality

of our dreams

Lifting not only

our voices

but our

Souls

 

 

 

Just Say Know

No thermostat heat

No central air conditioning

No storm windows

No waxed floors

No cafeterias

No new books

No shiny desks

with compartments

for your stuff

 

No high tech lighting

No cell phones

No smart boards

No desktops

No laptops

No gaming consoles

No wi-fi

 

No bullies

No nonsense

No cheating

No missing homework

No disrespecting teachers and elders

No smartass remarks

No sagging your pants

No midriffs and cleavage

No smoking to get high

No cutting class to have sex parties

No baby daddies

No baby mamas

No drug dealers

No gang bangers

 

No dropouts

Just say Know…

Know technology
Know reading
Know math
Know science
Know history
Know music
Know mechanics
Know carpentry
Know electricity
Know geography

Know your brothers
Know your sisters
Know your purpose

Know your future
is in

your hands

You do know that, right?

 

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.

How Regal Our Princes

How regal our princes

How handsome, how bold

How bright eyed and dignified

Even when sold

 

How regal our princes

How strong in their ways

Though chased, caught and netted

And emptied of days

 

How regal our princes

How proudly they stand

In shivering sickness

Inside a sick land

 

How regal our princes

Imprisoned in chains

And beaten and broken

For freedom took pains

 

How regal our princes

Their blood flowing down

Their hands pricked with nettles

Their skin glistening brown

 

How regal our princes

Their voices that sang

Of freedom and justice

As white church bells rang

 

How regal our princes

Their sacrifice great

With hope their descendants

Would not bear this weight

 

How regal our princes

We thank you, we do

There would be no us

If it wasn’t for you

 

How regal our princes

Now faded with time

Remembered and honored

In this humble rhyme

When Grandfather Stood Up

Grandfather,

they made you

bow your head

and not

look at them

because, they said,

you were unworthy

 

they made you

bend your back

to place burdens on it

no man should have to carry

and told you

to carry it

 

they made you

quiet the warrior

within you

and told you

to swallow

your pride

and bite

your tongue

And be a

‘good nigger’

 

And you did

because

you

were standing up

for

me

Black History Month

A proud people,
A nation of farmers
warriors
families
royalty
nomads
scholars
keepers of tradition
stewards of the world’s
most varied wildlife
sitting on a wealth
of gems and minerals

Captured, netted, chained
transported, thrown overboard,
sold,
whipped, stripped, beaten,
broken, lynched
castrated
burned
raped
thrown in jail
segregated
attacked
stereotyped
blackface

caretakers
workers
artists
singers
musicians
athletes
speakers
teachers
actors
dancers
astronauts
scientists
inventors
architects
soldiers

writers
poets
rappers of
Black
consciousness

feared
copied
lied about
blocked
redlined
discriminated against
hated

stay silent
keep humble
pray and wait
don’t protest
get out
go away
go back

rise
strive
break free
survive
think
live
be

We
Still
Here

Black
Right
Here.