Wednesday, August 31, 2011
on this day
i wish for you to wake up
with warmth in the clouds
and without dreams that leave you in tears
let it be a day
of green tea sipped coolly
and no pain that blinds you
at some point
i will send my good wishes
on a soft breeze
that would nestle against
the brown velvet of your cheeks
where my hands once found their Eden
may this year
and all the rest
be as beautiful
as you once were to me.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Sunday, August 28, 2011
and almost sixty years later
it still doesn't add up
your face before and after
should remind us always
of the twisted logic of bigots
found in the sneer of supposed supremacy
rope and bullets
and the embrace of cold Southern soil
i remember seeing your face in that coffin
watching 'Eyes On The Prize' when i was nine
being told, 'don't look away son'
knowing you didn't have that chance
in a darkened barn in Tallahatchie County
with demons enslaved by antebellum logic
and mason jars of moonshine
not knowing your name
would live in their flesh
and two words
and the weight of a cotton gin
and we wonder why the nation hates math
what was Mississippi afraid of then
ask that question again
when election time for our president comes
ask that question
when Black men are still dragged behind trucks for fun
you haven't haunted them nearly enough
because there are those who still believe
racism and hatred will always add up
the devil's arithmetic
still burns like straight gin
the image of you mangled in a coffin
like your name
doesn't relieve the burn at all
but the fire this time and the next
will cleanse everything
Friday, August 26, 2011
i had a dream
bigger than monuments
larger than the minds of bigots
and yet you still sleep
i had a dream
that would see brothers and sisters
break the bread of promise and drink
from the wells of prosperity
but the fields suffer
and the wells are poisoned
and yet you still sleep
that the poor would get their fair share
and that the hungry would be fed
but they've been bled
to fill the cups of the rich
and yes you still sleep
i walked for justice
i fought for the freedom
of all men, women and children of this nation
if you are still asleep
do not think that a statue
means my dream is at rest
evil has traded white robes for black ones
made society sickened and numb
made people dumb and blind
to the hands of thieves
and the horrors of mankind
do not honor me only
with granite and parades
dream with your eyes open
and awaken the people
to create that revolution of the heart
the promised land of my dreams.
"How long you plan to stay for?", Therese asked.
"Until the odds tell me otherwise.", Carver replied.
he got up from the bed, scratched his lower back and
walked the few feet to the beat up dresser drawer. on
the top rested a pack of Merits. he took one out, put
it in his mouth and lit it with all the casual motions
of someone waiting at a bus stop. Therese looked at him,
eyed the sinews in his back. she gazed at his skin that
shone even in the dim light of the room. she lay there,
naked with the covers at her feet. Carver turned around
and despite herself, she couldn't say a word. he had
that control over her. she knew it. it was the same
thing every time. he had been by this same joyhouse
for a good two years runnin'. it was the only one
that serviced Black men in this part of Louisiana.
at least, the only one with mostly white women. ever
since he walked in the door that one Thursday evening,
he had his hooks into her. and he knew it.
"When are you gonna give up the sportin' life, sugar?
It wears everyone down." she said, slowly leaning into
the headboard behind her. Carver looked at Therese. her
hair was a chestnut brown beehive. it framed a face
that was full and soft. her eyes were eggshell blue
and still held a trace of innocence. her body was
plump im the right places, mainly her breasts and her
thighs. Carver came back to the bed and laid beside
her. "It won't get me. I got a way out. You plan on
being a social worker?" he asked, his sharp grin in
effect. "I...I just worry. The last time, when you
told me about the game and how they tried to ambush
you after you won - well, I just don't want you hurt."
Therese said, turning her body towards him but not her
eyes." Carver ran a hand over his low cut. "I got away.
That's part of it all...I'm a hustler. Been that way
ever since I learned the best adding and multiplying
wasn't in school. What else I got?"
"You've got a mind...you're smart." Therese replied,
finding herself back in that same taut spot again.
Carver wasn't a usual customer. she entertained him
his first time to Madam Louselle's. even fixed him a
drink. whiskey and water. that first night lit a fire
in her, one she hadn't had since being a young girl
in St.Louis. she had been a hooker for ten years, ten
years of sex, martinis and muggy nights all running
together. and here she was, with a Black man in her
bed. and her feeling as if she'd die if she never
saw him again. "C'mon Therese...I'm a Black man. I'm
still looked at as a second class citizen. Yeah, you
got college kids brighter than me sitting at lunch
counters. Getting their heads beat in. Not me baby.
I'm gonna overcome all right, but I'm gonna get a
whole lot of bread doin' it." Therese laid her hand
on his lower abdomen. "Honey...please. Don't go to
that pool hall. I've got money...you can have some.
We'll stay here, right here in this room-"
Carver jumped up. "I gotta split." he grabbed his
navy blue shirt and yellow slacks and began to get
dressed. Therese felt her lips quiver. he snubbed
out his cigarette in the dull green ashtray on the
nightstand and sat to put on his shoes. she moved
and laid her bosom on his back. a tear left her eye
and seeped into his shirt. Carver stopped briefly;
he turned his head slightly to see Therese's hair
on his shoulder. "I'll...be by 'fore I leave town.
Gotta head over to Natchez." he rose and walked to
the door quickly. before opening it, he turned to
look at Therese. "Make sure my drink's waiting for
me." he said, flashing the same grin. "Of course.
See you later sugar." she said, grinning as she
knelt on the bed. Carver glanced at her for another
few seconds, then swiftly opened the door and left.
the door swung back but didn't close. Therese could
hear the blues being belted out on the piano down
in the great room. "I...love you." she said gently.
raucous laughter danced up from below.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
another curiously breezy August night in New York
City. i'm on my way home from a wine and cheese fete'
with some friends out near Corona. i had just gotten
off the E train and managed to catch the last Q83
before they stop going up the hill every 25 minutes.
as i get on with my ears full of a Ghostface Killah
mashup, i notice this one woman with her head down
on a huge black plastic storage container. her two
boys sat next to her, staring off into space. i move
to get a seat in the back since this bus usually gets
the bus jerked slightly. the reason being that this
older woman in a red and white striped sundress that
would've gone over well in an MGM musical had darted
in front of the bus to try to get on. the driver hit
the gas and proceeded down Archer Avenue to the front
of the bus stop area. she ran as fast as she could
and managed to get on, gasping for air.
a few minutes later, i look up from my book and i see
that the other woman with the container and the kids
has her head up. and she's sobbing uncontrollably.
the tears gathered like rainwater under her eyes. she
was dressed in a sweater and black nylon pants. she
stared ahead, her lips not moving but her the rest of
her face was a mask of anguish. that is real pain. the
kind of despair that you don't give a rat's ass if
anyone sees. the kind of anguish that makes your heart
hurt with each gust of air into your lungs. it dawned
on me...she must be without a place to live. it would
make sense with the two boys next to her and the large
container. she must be going to the women's shelter
over by St.Pascal's church.
at that moment, the woman in the striped dress tapped
her on the shoulder. from where i was, i saw something
that i've seen so many times before in these New York
streets that other folks don't believe happens often
here. and sometimes, even i can forget it does. it was
compassion. as the mother cried, the lady in the striped
dress spoke with her. calmed her. hugged her and gave
her strength. these are the moments missed once you
plug into your iPod, or your phone or disappear into
the pages of a book or newspaper. i couldn't help but
stare at them.
as the bus reached the stop on 202nd Street and Murdock
Avenue by the church, the mother got off, edging her
kids in front of her. i saw that she also has a giant
red piece of luggage. my heart sank again. she must've
had to make a mad dash. who knows what - or who - she
left behind. and the two boys had this look on their
faces. it was a numb look, one that gives off the idea
that nothing in the world really could move you anymore.
the lady in the striped dress helped her with the black
storage container. as the bus pulled off, i saw them all
make their way down the block towards St.Pascal's and the
PAL shelter. and while it saddened me, i'm glad i was
able to see it. just so i can keep reminding myself not
to be oblivious to pain because i don't feel it.
that image stuck with me all of last night. it's only
now that i'm able to write about it without a heavy
sense of sadness. because today, this mother and her sons
have a new day to start over. they've got a shot. one
that other mothers and other kids in cities and towns
throughout this country...hell, the world...may not
have. someone said something in a lecture i heard years
ago at a video engineers' conference: "you beat the odds
just by showing up." and that's what they've done.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
(it's interesting that on the day i was going to post
this, the East Coast gets an earthquake. go figure.)
i hear the analogy made all the time. likening people
to stars. i've done it. had it used in reference to me.
but lately, i've given some thought to another element
of stars, and that is...burning out.
one thing that i am very mindful of is that i don't
wish to make the transition from this world to the
next without having done all i could. i don't really
want to pay lip service to things and ideals, especially
when i have the power and the ability to contribute.
'running the bulls--t mile' as one of my teachers way
back in St.Francis Prep used to say. i don't want to
do that. too many others do that, whether they're
conscious of it or not. and then they see things pass
them by and worry, or they get defiant and aloof. not
a good look.
i choose to live, and let my spirit propel me towards
doing things i was meant to do. not in a harried fashion.
i've seen people burn themselves out needlessly because
they want to impress, flatter and dominate. their intent
is clouded and so are their actions. you may know one or
more of these types. that's not the way. if we are meant
to be stars to be returned to the essence, we need to
act accordingly. don't hinder yourself. celebrate all
that's good about you and what you do. create from that
burst of energy. let your spirit burn so bright and
precise that you make acetylene torches jealous. spread
love around like you would do a peanut butter and jelly
sandwich. forgive. release. relax. breathe.
stars take millions of years to burn out. make it seem
like you would use that time to make it as slow as possible.
because tomorrow's never promised and today is a blank
page in life.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
the wind cut through the bus stop sharply. save
for one or two cars zipping along the road, there
was no one around. Diego felt his lungs burn as
he ran towards the solitary structure, his feet
feeling like small anchors within his boots. the
sweat ran cold in the November breeze that began
to pick up. all of the Heineken he had consumed
no more than an hour ago churned in his blood.
as he staggered to fall up against the wall of
the bus stop, Diego frantically scanned the area.
it was then that he felt the wind lick at the
open wounds on his knuckles and face. "Dios mio,"
he uttered as he quickly used his hooded sweatshirt
to wipe away the blood and sweat as best he could.
"I hope the bus is coming...c'mon, c'mon." He
took a look at his watch. 9:21 P.M. the N42 usually
stopped here. Diego normally caught it after work
over in Garden City. but tonight was different.
he felt anxiety as he bounced up and down on his
toes. hearing the soft squelch his Timberlands
made in the grass.
his ribs ached from the series of punches that
he took earlier outside of the bar. Diego had just
left the bar he usually went to after work ended.
all of a sudden, he felt someone quickly run up
behind him and shove him from behind. then someone
else connected with a punch across his jaw. despite
the stars, Diego could see it was two white guys
who attacked him. they couldn't have been more than
19. he felt the fear rise in him; Mexicans were a
target in some parts of Long Island. but he wasn't
going to die helpless. not here. not when he survived
the alleys of Juarez and fought to get here to the
States. they both had stepped in front of him and
sneered. 'lousy wetback!!' one yelled, his gold chain
swinging wildly out of his shirt as he swung at Diego.
the other one laughed at him, and decided to grab his
sweater. Diego reared back and landed a wild right to
the kid's temple, making him woozy. the one with the
gold chain stepped in and made Diego slip. as he fell
to his knees, he felt a fist brush his forehead. he
grabbed wildly and got a hold of the guy. 'hey get offa
me! Rick!" the guy yelled as Diego held onto his jacket
with one hand. the other had found a rock in the parking
lot. as they struggled, Diego saw Rick come towards him.
he let the guy with the gold chain have it with the
rock, right on the bridge of his nose. 'FUUUUUUUCCCK!!!'
he yelled, blood trailing from his nostrils.
"Tory!!"Rick yelled. "You fucker!!" Diego had Rick by a few
pounds even though Rick was taller, and he rushed him.
both went down to the gravel. Rick punched him trying to
get up, but Diego landed a quick left again and Rick
fell back. Diego got up, and began to run. He heard
Tory's yells in the distance. He ran past his normal
stop, south towards the industrial roads and Hempstead
Turnpike. And now he was waiting on the bus to escape.
he thought one of them had a car. if they did, they may
be looking for him. "C'mon, hurry up!" he whispered. he
was lucky the last time, but this time they might just
hurt him bad...or kill him. he thought of his family,
his mother back home in Juarez. He saw a blur off in the
distance. Dread filled him once again. he thought it was
the two white guys. he closed his eyes, and felt the
warmth of headlights wash over him as he stood there.
a loud hiss caught his ears. he blinked once, and saw
that it was the bus. gulping loudly, Diego struggled
to keep calm as he fished for his pass while climbing
onto the bus. as the doors closed behind him, he saw
a car zip by at breakneck speed. "rough night?" the
bus driver asked, his eyes fixated on the road. "yeah..
yeah it was." Diego replied as he paid his fare. he
slowly walked to the back of the bus, under the eyes
of a few people who sat towards the front. finding a
seat by himself, he collapsed into it and began to
tremble as the bus rolled out towards Hempstead.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
that this ink
more than percieved sweet talk on the phone
tickles your fancy
not unlike long lost finger strokes
from that man you let under your skin
all i can do
is make my love bright
and more permanent
than the art etched into you
and hope you don't mind the pain
for the pleasure within.
the barkeep glanced up briefly from the racing
form on the rich mahogany bartop to view a few
people rush towards the stairs to the subway above.
it was 3:30 in the afternoon, and aside from the
three or four patrons who sat inside and shrunk from
the light like B-movie vampires coming in from
the window, Abel Geraghty was the only one in
the place. but he would rather have been at the
track. he'd been tending bar here at Flannery's
for close to 30 years. he'd seen the neighborhood
change in tone from Irish brogue to southern drawl
to even a touch of Hindi and Spanish. but Boyd
Avenue still held the same charm. and for this
son of The Marble County, it was good enough.
Abel poured himself a pint of Guinness and peered
over at one soul who was slumped over onto a table.
"Hey!! You wanna sleep, go home!!" he bellowed.
The gentleman stirred, blinking eyes set deep
within pale skin as wrinkled as a lizard's feet.
He tugged at his jacket and rose slowly to his
feet. As he walked close to the bar on his way
out, he mumbled, 'No..no way to treat a body...'
pathetically shaking a bony fist. "Gwan home you
old salt miner." Abel countered, bringing laughs
from the other three at the table nearest to the
pool table. As the old drunk walked out into the
sunlight, a blur moved past him into the bar.
Abel caught wind of the person before they stopped.
He couldn't help it; their aroma was a mixture
between cheap wine and perfume. "Hiya Abel!! Set
me up a martini willya?!!" she yelled. A low
groan went out from the group at the table. Abel
sighed with all the wearniess his 50 years could
muster. "Rose, Rose..are ye daft? I'm not givin'
you any booze. You've probably got no more'n a
dollar to your name." he replied simply.
Rose was a neighborhood fixture. A broken one at
that. She had grown up a few blocks from the bar.
Half Italian, half Irish, and all wild. Whatever
beauty she had once was slowly dwindling away. Her
dark hair bounced around her shoulders with each
turn of her head. She had greenish eyes, not unlike
the color of copper exposed to water. She wore
a denim jacket over a thin gray sweater blouse
that matched her tight jeans. She swayed on high
heels that had been repaired twice over. "C'mon
man, I've got money." she said, pulling out a wad
of crumpled bills. "Here, money. Gimme my martini
you codfish!! HAHAHAHA!!" Abel sighed, and took the
bills into his pudgy, hairy hands. He counted until
he had about 5 dollars. "Y'know, I ougtha wash my
hands after this." he said bluntly. "Whaddya mean
by that? I WORKED for that. Don't TELL me it's dirty.
WHO d'ya think you ARE?!" Rose yelled as she stepped
closer to the bar. "All right, all right." Abel said
as he fixed the martini. Rose took the rest of the
money up as she sat down clumsily.
Her lips kept forming a half-smile. Rose had about
6 pills of Valium in her breast pocket. She had
downed 3 prior to coming into Flannery's. After
this she was off to go earn money at a video store
peep show in Brooklyn. it was a desperate but viable
hustle for a woman down on her luck with no real
skills. she felt her stomach bubble, but paid it
no real mind. Abel walked over, all 6 feet 3 inches
of him. "Here," he said as he nudged the martini
over to her. Rose grabbed the glass and took a sip.
"AHHHHHH...' she exhaled loudly. "Do you KNOW how
long I've been WAITING for that?! THREE HOURS!"
Abel said nothing and leaned back against the shelf
near the register. "You know, I need a new gig. This
one is too much for too little...I mean I SHOW my
TITS for CRUMBS..." Rose began, and she rambled on
for a couple of minutes, her loud voice rising on
every third word as she drank the martini. All the
while, Abel nodded. and Rose kept talking. but as
she talked, the bubbling in her stomach kept getting
worse. she began to belch, and Abel stood in shock.
without a word, he ran around the bar towards Rose
in a hurry.
just as he reached Rose, she began to vomit. she
lurched forward and the waste spewed onto the bar.
it was as if she spat up watery cornmeal. "FOR
CHRISSAKES!!!" Abel yelled. Rose simply wiped the
front of her face and sat back down. "Lemme get
another drink, hic, and an olive." Rose said in a
calmer voice. "GET UP FROM THERE!!!" Abel yelled,
and grabbed her by the arm. She had managed to not
get any vomit on her clothes, but it had hit the
bar and dropped onto the floor. "Wait - what about-
waitasecond-" Rose said as Abel brusquely guided
her to the door. In one swift motion, he opened
the door and flung her out onto the sidewalk. "AND
THIS TIME STAY THE HELL OUT!!!!" he bellowed before
slamming it shut. The other patrons, who were up
in arms laughing before, had gotten silent quick as
Abel stomped back inside. Rose could be heard crying
outside. "You sonuvabitch!! You dirty, potato-fucking
sonuvabitch!!!" she yelled. Abel went to the back to
grab the bucket and mop.
One of the group shook his head. "Wild Irish Rose, that
one is." he said before taking a swig of Glenfidditch.
The other two nodded as they sipped from their mugs.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
i've been viewing the uprising in England over the past
couple of days. outrage over the shooting death of a
man in Tottenham has gotten out of control. and yet there
IS a weird sense of order in these disturbances, one
that you have to go to the past in order to truly grasp
i worry about family over there. and i think about the
last time my Nikes tread upon British soil, about ten
years ago to be exact. the disturbance is about a block
away from my Uncle Pal's main home, and that brought it
all too close to home for me. see, there's many elements
to what's going on over there. i heard a reporter on CNN
speak about her interviews with some youth, who feel that
they're doing this because the government doesn't listen
to them. their educational opportunities have been slashed
down a couple of times over the past two years. the economy
is stunted. they see the royal family shell out tons of
British pounds for Kate and William, but they're left to
scramble for whatever they can get. the rich are getting
richer. it's the same argument we're now seeing take place
here, clothed in political partisanship. but we tend to
forget that we have more ties to the UK than we think,
another thing to consider is the Empire's view on the
Afro-Caribbean populace. while it's not the rabid nationalist
hatred that bubbled over in the 1960's and again in the
1980's with the rise of the skinheads, it's not all tea
and violets either. the bobbies are notorious for their
violence towards them and the Asians as well. and now
they have guns. i remember when i last visited, that was
a proposal on the table because they were deeply concerned
about illegal weapons smuggling and violence. and put the
blame on the yardies. you can't be surprised when the
people go through such 'sufferation' and eventually they've
had enough. especially when a young Black man such as
Mark Duggan dies at the hands of the police, and EVEN
MORE SO when it's found out that the police LIED. my
Uncle Pal has been in England from 1960 and he's seen it
all. the riots are a block from his home in Clapton now.
Brixton is ablaze along with Leeds.
(Darcus Howe speaks to the BBC)
of course, there are those who don't give a damn about
what happened. they're out to get some free stuff. you
will always have bottom-feeders around who make things
worse. but let's not forget why this is going on. it's
too complex to just be considered 'riots'. it's a
movement of sorts. you have to consider the term when
they're using BlackBerry messenger and the PS3 to
coordinate. we can only hope that things settle down,
and that the British government can really investigate
and work towards solving the issues at hand here. they'll
want to sweep this away given that the Olympics will be
there in a year, but they shouldn't be so oblivious.
and let's hope the extremely criminal element gets
separated from the rest of what's going on. and i will
pray for the safety of my uncle and his family over
Monday, August 8, 2011
Sunday, August 7, 2011
i'm perched here
like a solitary seagull
getting used to these lungs full
of thoughts and words of you
that smell of crushed tulips and vanilla
with Otis in my ears
and my palms still memorizing
the luxury of your waist
i let my soul sing
what i want you to hear
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
in the midst of this utter jackassery that prevailed
in DC these past weeks, a tragedy is unfolding in the
Horn of Africa. Somalia is now undergoing a serious
famine, as declared by the United Nations. reports
have surfaced that insurgents in the country are both
preventing Western aid from entering the country and
preventing refugees from fleeing across the border
towards camps in Kenya. relief efforts have been
paltry because of the media focus on the debt crisis
here, the tragedy in Norway and Murdochgate.
Somalia strikes a chord with me, always has. my mother
has worked with people from there when she was with
the United Nations. and a special part of my heart
hails from there. overall, the country is in decay
but still holding on. and it's up to us to help in
any way we can. i've put together a list below.
International Medical Corps
Kenya Red Cross