south jersey

granny’s smile she puts on
when she decides to live
she will have to decide again
in the next moment.

pops’ crazed thirst for
life and the things he loves -
going on all night
about karate kicks and
cutting through paper with razor-sharp
japanese knives.
swinging them around and
making us
pay attention

train tracks and the safety
they make people believe in
whites over there,
blacks over here.
still like that -
still an “other side.”
we always know this,
and it’s always absurd.

warm beds, pillowtops
a sprawling, beautiful man
filling in every empty crevice
closer, closer
enclosed, covered
your lips,
specifically.
neck warm places
soft places
settling, grounded
nowhere but here

a vision

there’s a buzz, the people are talking.
the waves are beginning to break the dam
the gatekeepers are moved.
there is lava dripping, searing itself
into rock
and the power of someone’s words
equally match the power of someone’s voice
(because both came from some mysterious
place, unnamed – some mysterious
place greater than both yin and
yang – than sun and moon alone
greater than the movement of our own
hand on paper) -
~ it calls on a vision so far beyond
the how and the possible
that the gatekeepers themselves
prepare their hearts
for worship.

how dare we

I feel a cry for life in the space between people
In subway stations and on the street
the silence that separates us
we have sacrificed our eager wonder for some illusion of
protection, but what happens when communities don’t talk
how safe is this, really?
as systems supposedly setup to satisfy needs
now dictate our capabilities
like broken economies who discard people with their dreams
and we accept,
a glass ceiling limiting our largest, truest selves
we forget to look up
hush the victories of our ancestors
accept the smallness of our daily lives
sing surrender over the hopes of our youth
how dare we

miracles

In the face of suffering,
Miracles of love
Miracles of self love

And in the space between our faces
And the realities that connect our dreams
In your fullness and glory
And when I can only reach the corners
Of your mouth or the
Edge of your garment,
Your heart speaks louder
Than any story.

 

bronx

They won’t travel to see you
your walking dead
disheveled man begging for change outside
the corner bakery
beady eyed boys on marble stoops
hiss at girls to punctuate the time
and more men congregate
in barbershops eyeing girls from
barbershop chairs

They won’t travel to walk on your
sidewalks. We call that section the shit pit cuz
there’s even more dog shit on the ground there
than usual. And dog shit everywhere is pretty much
Usual

Who would come to see you? With
all those stories the cops tell of
dangerous men ready to shoot
at any turn? Cops travel in large
gangs, post up on every other corner some nights,
nowhere to be found on
other nights. Do they ask us?
Who do they consult?

And the other night there was an old man
begging for change and the father said no so he
asked the man’s wife and the man got mad so
he yelled back and the old man lifted his cane to hit
the father and the father had to wrestle him
down and call the cops and
that was just one story from that one night.

Well no one comes to see you because
you take so long to get to
and people spit on the ground and throw
wrappers. The air feels like soot sometimes
people walk heavy,
wondering if anyone would rush in to catch them if they collapsed.

One step, another
carry me home, train
before I collapse, train,
I will hold my body like this, avert my eyes
like this, clasp my hands and cross my ankles like this
to do things right and get home safely.

Too concrete, too dirty, too far
They may want to help you with their middle class
dollars, bring solutions like megamalls with more poverty
wage jobs so you can take another poverty wage job and another – eat
scraps and accept that life is struggle. They would never have
Reason to spend time
They don’t see your life yet
Your child poets
Your young musicians
The hundreds and hundreds of roses lying in beds behind metal fences and the
Fresh rippling waters that reflect sun and give
This city life.

short

pulling teeth
pulling arms
slapping faces

let him go
the tired script
let him free

love her still
her definitions and trappings
neon sneakers

you stretched the room
horizontally, vertically
lit the place orange