A Story Told in Song

From the savanna,

the deserts,

the grasslands,

the veldt,

and the jungle,

 

The music played.

 

From the empires,

the gold and diamond mines,

and the pyramids,

The music played.

 

From the ivory tusks,

the red clay,

the ebony wood,

and the skins of war drums,

 

The music played.

 

On the ship,

In the cabins,

In ‘massa’s house,

In the whipping sheds,

and the cotton and tobacco fields,

 

The music played.

 

And at sunset,

Heads lowered over

Unmarked graves of

Old men and

Innocent children,

 

The music played.

 

From the Underground Railroad

through the rise of Pullman Porters,

 

The music played.

 

Through Jim Crow,

chain gangs,

and Sunday morning services,

 

The music played.

 

Through hard times

and celebrations,

and through vibrant

ululations,

and our rising expectations,

 

The music played.

 

In the Deep South,

through the screams

and cries wrought

by night riders

and cross burnings,

 

The music played.

 

Over the sound

of barking dogs

and high pressure hoses,

 

The music played.

 

Through Malcolm and Dr. Huey Newton,

and Martin and Jesse,

and Barack Obama,

 

The music played.

 

Through the first black…(insert pioneer name here)

 

The music…(still playing)

 

We must teach the songs

that kept the voices lifted

though hearts were heavy,

 

Kept the flames of joyous spirits

and the love of hearts

lit,

though our dreams of freedom were

constantly extinguished.

 

Kept hope alive through our best

writers, artists, and orators,

Proud Black Men

and Beautiful Black Women

united in one purpose:

Us.

 

The music played, and plays still…

 

And it will play on

as long as we remember.

 

And if

we

teach it well,

long after

we’re gone.

Cupid’s Arrow

How tenderly, how tenderly

the arrow cleaves the heart.

I fall into the pit of love

and play a thankless part.

For Cupid’s arrow’s savage barb

can only go one way.

To pull it tears the heart apart

and turns it to decay.

“O pierce me not, black arrow!

Not tomorrow, nor today.

I’ll use my shield to knock aside

what arrows come my way.

And with a lethal dagger thrown

and knifing through the air,

I’ll cut your wings, cursed cherubim,

to see if you fight fair.

So go your way, and fly above me,

staying sight unseen.

I look no more for one to love me,

staying as I’ve been.”

And in the gathering darkness

winged Cupid takes his leave.

And as the raindrops dry my tears,

it’s at love’s grave I’ll grieve.

 

*Dark Cupid by hipolilo*

They Will Answer

In the flurried, frenzied madness

are the words that never come.

There’s a sorrowful, silent sadness

like a rain soaked, broken drum.

 

When your spirit’s badly broken,

when the mocking page stares back,

and you’re reaching, reaching, reaching

down a hole that’s cold and black,

 

When the thirst is quenched within you

and imagination dies,

And the fire’s banked inside you,

no one’s there to hear your cries.

 

Go and order a tequila.

Go and throw a ball or two,

and somewhere between the sun and moon,

the words return to you.

 

For they never really leave you.

You’re a writer, after all.

When you give them life and purpose

they will answer to your call.

 

In the frenzied, flurried madness,

they will answer to your call…

Moon Angel

She flies on wings of ivory cloud,

the sun no longer gold,

within a silver amulet

upon a chain she’ll hold.

Her ebon hair now dancing

in the gentle evening air,

She sees the dreams of mortals

as she says her moonlight prayer.

There will be those she’ll cull tonight,

and those she will give dreams.

Her fingers gentle on their brows,

aglow with moonlight beams.

O come now, sweet Moon Angel

for your restless servant waits,

to once again ascend with you to

great Orion’s gates.

 

 

Pilgrimage

A solitary torch, a solitary man

who led a solitary life,

wondered what the world held

that all the people moved about.

So he wandered

beneath the stars,

and found an alcove

arch of stone,

supported by a wall

with two entrances

on opposite sides.

Did they lead to different places, or meet again?

He stood there, now knowing which way to go, unable to choose.

He is there still, but the fire has gone out,

the stars no longer shine,

and within his never ending

quest of questions,

treasures of answers

remain gathering dust.

Knowledge Among Ruins

I was lost, for how long I don’t remember.

There was only day night, hill and river, hill and river.

At the summit lay the ruins of a long forgotten castle, or fort,

pummeled by centuries of elements.

It sat now like a petrified toad on the hillside, with only

the sighing mountains for company.

Taking shelter from the strengthening winds,

I sat, closing my eyes, succumbing to the exhaustion of the climb.

Beneath your hands, a treasure lies…

A voice, but disembodied.

Go on, partake…

I scratched the soil with calloused fingers.

Open, and speak the words…

“I don’t know the language.”

It will know you, traveler. Speak them.

And so I did.

I no longer see the ruins, the sun, the starry sky, the sentient stones, the mountains, the spring grass, nor dunes of frosted snow.

I have become all,  my memory seeded into the land, and

all the land seeded into me.

The book still lies just beneath the spongy soil’s surface.

Partake…

Kissed of the Sun

She,

kissed of the sun,

birthed of the earth’s red clay,

stands a goddess in the green lush alcove

of branches that arch to protect her.

A sorceress that magic

willingly surrenders

its secrets to,

she only has to turn to me

to enchant me

with silent spells

of regal beauty.

She binds my mortal

heart to hand,

and bids me

love to worship her.

Surrender is all the sweeter then,

and for a time, I too, am kissed of the sun,

yet banished at moonrise

to dream once more

that a goddess

once loved

me.

 

*art by Charlie Bowater on pinterest.com

The Sandman’s Bride

Sleep, my daughter, for I am but a myth,

A Muse, they say.

A thing to make a man’s heart tender,

A creature that veils a woman’s eyes with love.

 

I know not what I am,

only that I was born to harvest

the very stars I made,

eons before you were born.

 

Sleep, my son, for I am but a mother,

a deliverer of dreams, they tell me, that bring smiles to infants,

and nightmares to those who see the world

through filters of neglect.

 

I know not what I am,

only that this light is made to sift

through my fingers and dapple

the clouds with twilight colors.

 

Sleep, my children, for I am

but a shadowed, masked, and transient being,

I’m told.

A fantasy of space and time,

contained in the imagination,

freed and manifest in the mind.

 

I know not what I am,

only that this mask

hides me from my own soul,

and the warmth of these clouds

console me in the dark, but are not

a lover’s embrace.

 

Sleep, my darlings, and know that

you are limitless as stars,

boundless as eternity,

and eternal as love.

 

I know not what I am,

only that I share my heart

with you, and we are twinned

in mind and purpose.

 

Take my hand, come with me,

and sleep.

Poetess in the Park

I stopped because she was absolutely riveting.

She actually wore a beret, had fully bought in to the whole scene.

Everything came together as I watched her perform,

as I watched her play the crowd.

I wanted her to hesitate when she looked at me, to stumble over her words, and come to a stop.

But she didn’t.

I understood: The poem was all to her, everything to her.

But to me,

she was the poem,

the art of something so out of the ordinary

it could never fit in.

I wanted to be that vibrant to someone,

for someone to know me so well they’d anticipate

what I’d improvise.

I wished she was my all and everything.

But I never asked her name.

The Empty Poet

He searched the floor of his life for more words,

but there were none.

In his day, he waxed quite elegant, his inimitable style admired

by all who attended the readings full of smells of coffee, sweat,

and too much perfume in close quarters.

The applause, while not thunderous, was engaged.

The conversations, while not stimulating, were polite.

“I liked that poem.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. I just did.”

“Thank you.” Sips coffee to indicate

the conversation’s over.

The microphone was no longer a beacon, but a flickering ghost light

in a dark theater.

The notebook paper and computer screens were all test patterns; nothing to see.

Nothing in them. Nothing on them.

My life isn’t over, but it seems to have run dry.

Was there really nothing left to say? Nothing that moved him? Touched his heart? Enraged him? Set him laughing hysterically?

Desperately, he mined for it, memories in black, oily sludge best left buried slipping in stringy fragments through his finger.

Feelings unrequited. Longings unfulfilled.

And now, the words have flown as well.

No feathers to fly, unfettered, they flee.

The skin dries as the words evaporate,

and the poet is now a husk of man.

Desiccated and empty, seeming all of a man, but containing nothing of him.

The pen slips from his fingers; the battery in the digital thing no longer holds a charge.

Change is forthcoming, but he will stand and remain, no regrets.

The memories are old, unrelenting, full of sharp rebuke.

He rises from kneeling in the sludge of his art,

As his husk dries slowly in the morning sun,

as the poet’s soul slips free.