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

speeding off

we move in tandem
we breathed and “our throats
caught fire.” we named
and it became real.
we spoke things into their bodies
and molded their contours with

our hands.

your hands are callused
and mine

tremble but
these are
the tools
we’ve got.

and when the sun sets
we calm our breathlessness
ease the throbbing
between our eyes
did we go too far?
tired past our ears
am i ready for balance?
no. i like breathlessness
too much
too vibrant
too foolish -
not
planned
enough.

i’ll crash when
i have time

speeding off
into neon lights
and raging waterfalls

she

she trembles
black eyes
scared of what’s soft,
of allowing what is good.

her world moves quickly
is sarcastic and everything
is lame. she has no patience
for idiots. she has
puffy lips and tiny curls.
she holds her knees,
covers her mouth
with her hands when
crying — scars
testify against any
professional projections. she used to
cover them but now
she doesn’t.

she
is paper thin
her heart throbs
too quickly for her
tiny frame and she
will never allow anyone
not even herself — to see that
she feels weak. she can’t
stop. she sprints ahead
to keep the throbbing at bay.

and then still she
wears blazers and toms
on days when she’s determined to
stay afloat.

waiting

wave in, wave out
he said the full moon was still hanging up high as the sun was rising, can the sky hold both?
and paint splotches slide over city-sponsored walls supposedly belonging
to some tired organization.

it is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of anything
must be in want of more. a person in possession of love must be in want of nothing
and a lover in possession of another lover must be in want of love.

in the pause before i jump
during which i decide not to jump
caught in the mind of another, in apology of course
i see my own shame so i can’t see my vision.

in the categorizing of things –
the waiting for a burning bush
to be perfectly ready.
for a moment of ecstasy.
so we wait on ledges

in the dark cave she stirs
her blaring clock delivers her message but it is hardly convincing
soft sheets and the fantasy of sleep are more seductive
the world of the aware requires so much intention
and though i rarely keep dreams into the next day (rarely in their original form)
my body welcomes the release from knowing.