Praise and kudos for my sister and brother poets Praise this city with a mighty estuary that seasons our words with salt Praise all the poets whose new spices gives us a diverse menu of verses We are joined by meter, form, rhythm, new tongues that tease palates Praise our ancestors, griot storytellers, sounds that burst through lips Who spoke and spread history tales songs of life progress and strife Praise the poets with quill and pen, early recorders of romance war love Praise the performance poets whose sounds resound as the gulls sway To the syncopation of vowels, consonants, dipthongs spit into the sky Praise voices that holler pray whisper rasp howl Praise our words we share freely Priase all wordsmithys on this International Day set aside for us Honoring
metaphor me but not in iambicpentameter simile melike like like six/eight me a jazzy waltzspin me againand again mambo and cha cha cha me backto the catskills of my childhoodenjamb me into the next line of a tercet stanza read meread me pageby page tea for two me as only monk’spiano fingers could dowhisk me in a blues bowl and i will six words youa sestina thatspeaks my life collage me recycle me catalog medewey decimal me library of congress menever make me over due and mail me mail me to the moondon’t forget to postage stamp meforever forever forever……..
LIKE A GLASS OF MILK THAT SLIPSTHROUGH YOUR FINGERS, YOU CANSWEEP UP THE LARGER BROKEN PIECES,LIQUID SLOSHING FINDS CRACKS TO HIDE IN.A SLIVER OF GLASS CAN FIND YOU YEARS LATER,AND IN THE FRESH WOUNDIN THE RED BLOOD A FOUND MEMORY.
blow dizzie blow spit out hosannas healing riffs for those left blast ’til those cheeks of yours bust wide open did you call him gentle his arrival heaven is impatient you welcome him with full orchestration the 88 keys of his earthly kingdom silenced on east 11th street worn plush velvet drapes open the university of our gigs silenced
Baptized by vodka cleansing my throat Baptized by sweat dripping from Tony Williams’ sticks Thick Summer Sunday Afternoons at the Vanguard Miles ready Horn like a flyswatter, ready to strike down this whippersnapper of a man/child Testing the beast in a muted horn Tony drawing Miles in and driving Miles’ sounds Out there Out there Miles knew asking this upstart of the sticks to his schoolyard Miles’ game and Tony took over like those street players on those raggedy assed west 4th Street courts and Avenue of Whose America Lives played out on asphalt Woosh of ball going cleanly through mesh net My hands – gripping the fence Looking in at perfect pick-up games Blue/black and tans who were fucked over by the man Come on! Come on! Dart, pass, dribble, shake
Did she put soft hands Lacquered fingernails across her belly Hide your growing presence under a large skirt size Whisper to you in an educated tongue Why she was abandoning you Pass on this blues that hums through your genes Come to me my melancholy baby She squeezed you out three months early Under antiseptic lights of a Bogota hospital Buzz and heat of the incubator Tubes in your veins, machine mother cooing to you Sir name: sephartic wanderer First name: popular hero on daytime radio Mother: unknown She signed herself out and disappeared Come to me my melancholy baby Cuddle up and don’t be blue Did you cry for mother’s milk Or were you a stoic infant warrior Heart shaped scars keep intravenous secrets Colombiano spirits daring you to live I held you on your four month birthday
Bowlegged mothers, sisters, aunties Fallen arches, tired, blessed sleep Only to begin again and again Nurses and aids, scuffed white shoes Outline of bunions and corns Worn down heels, negotiating shifts Big sisters pulling little sisters by the hand Tugging at tight braids, pulling up socks Knees buffed shiny with Jergens Dispassionate parochial plaids of pleated skirts “Don’t you make me late again for school” Brothers trying to keep up Clip-on ties, brigade of navy kites flying up Lenox Ave Against a sky of light blue shirts Oversized jackets and long pants Get two years of wear if you fold the cuffs under Bits of white fluff clinging to future afros Book bags slappin’ against gabardine Old men, stoop sitting bookends Milky grey rimmed eyes and alcoholic
In the land of jazz one last note holds me Miles orders Herbie to blister those ivories. White and black keys. No wrong notes, says Monk. All blue and smokin’ Jass me baby in the kingdom of my life, Sheridan Square Decreed To This Princess. Her Daddy gone. The royal moonstone ring gentle on my finger. As I snap to a jazz rhythm, charred memories pulse through fingers rounded by European teachers urging classical notes. Me going for piano lessons in Greenwich Village, an era long gone The subway from Brooklyn, my father mixing white medicine potions with pestle and mortar. His life reigning over this neon neighborhood, vibrant and smokin’ My mother, his queen, tells tearful tales. He died while smoking. His heart attacks that last puff. Nicotine stained finger. “Oh,