Honeyed Magic

I see the

honeyed magic

flow

from fingers

filled with morning’s

glow.

It’s in your hair

and cheeks

and eyes.

You wring from me

such wretched sighs.

I would possess you

if I could,

But wishing so

will do no good,

for you’re above

and I’m below.

I’ll stand beneath

the light you throw

as Lady’s favor

to her Knight

in shining armor,

ere the fight

shall take him from

her brilliant arc,

and place him in

the cold and dark.

If you send

honeyed magic there,

I’ll sleep  in peace,

without a care.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

True Formation

These
Black Men
proud,
determined,
tired of being
treated as less

tired of their
People being
treated as less

made a statement
took a stand
took action

See the
seriousness
in their eyes
in their demeanor

Protecting
those
who would be
brutalized

Yes, they were a hate group

They hated
oppression
police brutality
injustice

They hated
seeing children go hungry
because there wasn’t
money to feed them.

They hated
living in
neglected and
downtrodden
communities,
and didn’t wait
around for
the government
to change things

And for
all of that
they were
betrayed
infiltrated
and
destroyed

Pull up your pants,
and make
something
of your life
besides
another
tragic tale.

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?

 

Why You Leaving Now, Daddy?

Back then

the shovels,

picks, hoes,

rakes, pitchforks,

axes and scythes

were held high

on tired shoulders

that had to make it

through

one more day

to eke out

a hardscrabble

living

under people

with hardscrabble hearts

 

They sang and joked

and laughed between

the grunts of effort

that went into

breaking ground

 

Their sweat brought

the flies and mosquitoes

 

Their existence brought

bullies carrying violence

 

But their thoughts were

on their wives and children,

who knew that when their men

left them

it was to make the

best life

they could until

they could do better

 

There was hope in their toil,

and love in their hearts

and it hurt them to see their women

standing with the children waving, sad smiles on their

little faces, and his wife with

worry in her eyes even though

she smiled too

 

He might run into the wrong man today…

 

Coming home tired,

to a cooked meal,

and children on his lap,

and a warm bed with

the love of his life

holding him close.

 

So

 

Now that the chains are off,

Now that you’re free

Now that you can dream your own dreams

and lift up the next generation

 

Why you leaving now, daddy?

Why you in jail now, daddy?

Why did you shoot that other Black man?

Was he a daddy too?

Why you don’t come by to see us?

Why is mama crying?

Did you hit her again, daddy?

 

Don’t you love us anymore?

 

Daddy? Daddy?

 

Don’t go…

 

Why you leaving now, daddy?

 

 

A Moment of Weakness, A Lifetime of Pain

Your life upended,

just wanting to feel good

for a moment,

 

The serpent slithered down

and flicked your ear with

a silver tongue

 

Betrayed, you were

hung up

strung out

and dying slow

 

The jester bested

the king

 

And the pain of your need

dimmed the light of your soul

 

You’d say anything

Do anything

Kill anyone

 

And now

the programs sprout

like mushrooms

pretty with disease

nutritious with bacteria

 

And you live in

cold and wretched

shadows

 

in cold and wretched

places

 

with a cold and wretched

heart.

 

and cold and wretched

voices in your head.

 

I would reach out to you,

but you won’t put your hand out,

except to pull a weapon on me

and have me supply your

demon’s need

 

Sometimes I just gave it to you,

because I knew you once

and recognized your shell.

 

I can’t return home,

And you can’t leave.

 

Is this goodbye?

 

I wish we knew

I wish it wasn’t

I hope it isn’t

 

but as we idolize

the parasite

that infested you

as he drives his Escalade,

his rims spinning as he goes

nowhere, a reflection

of both of you,

 

I can only look in from

the outside,

and say

I’m sorry

our

friendship

our

brotherhood

could not make you

feel good enough about

you

 

I still hold out hope,

my brother, that one day

through your nightmares

a dream will come instead,

and

you too, will remember

the man you

used to be

 

I’m standing in the light

calling

waiting for your

crawling shadow

to pass the dirty window

 

I’ll still be here

when you answer,

if you answer,

but

it’s up to you now…

Breaking Chains

These chains

seized

my hands

and

my feet

 

Forced my eyes

to look up

at the searing sun

of my homeland

retreating as the

waves took me

to foreign, hostile

shores

 

Long did I wear them

and suffer under their weight

 

Long did I fight against them

and when they resisted me,

I fought some more

 

 

Against my flesh they

burned and chafed

and pressed me down

 

Against the stones I

slammed them

over and over

 

We fought for days

Decades

Centuries

 

And yet you do

not understand…

 

 

I was forged

into a weapon

by these chains

 

You carried me

and used me,

made me privy to

the intentions

of your heart

and the schemes of

your mind

 

 

And now

after all this fighting,

the chains are loose.

 

But if you think to bind me

again

to your service

at my life’s expense

 

You will see

that I am a

Warrior

now,

and no man’s

Slave,

 

My mind,

Unsheathed

 

My flesh,

Unbound

 

Not to your peril,

but to my own

Benefit

 

And these

broken chains

no longer have

Dominion

over me.

 

For Real (or Ode to a Conspiracy)

Author’s Note: I remember standing on the stoop of my grandmother’s brownstone in Harlem, and we watched a line of people form because the drug supply had come in. There were young men in business suits, mothers with baby carriages, and wide mix of ages. My grandmother turned to me and said, “This sure is a weak society out here.” Given the time she grew up in, and the circumstances she had to endure, I had no answer. Did our ancestors really fight so hard, so long to survive, so we could kill ourselves, and say it was someone else’s fault?

 

“The CIA put drugs in our neighborhoods.”

And we used them.

 

“The government put guns in our neighborhood.”

We used those too.

 

So let me ask you: If I put a bomb on your doorstep,

and you take it inside, and it blows up on you,

who’s responsible for the damage it caused?

 

The key to countering conspiracies is sabotage,

not compliance.

 

Break the strings

 

Become a real man

instead of a ‘real nigga’

 

And free yourself.

For real.

 

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.