Photo credit: @CutterStreeby
This road runs as if charted by drunken hands,
Winding across lands shapeshifting from flat crop fields
Fused into horizon’s edge, highlands curving ’round
God’s foggy ankle to jaded settler towns
& native villages that defied time’s advance.
I watch all this behind a back seat window as
Pat Matheny’s guitar transforms the landscape to
Nabraskan prairie & Colorado Rockie;
Helps me dull exile’s longing & celebrate
A world that is shrinking before my very eyes.
Note: I have decided to use a new format for posts using segments of poetry over images. Let me know what you think!
Watch her drift beyond shore’s edge
Body half risen, half submerged
Observed by faithfuls on the bank
Robed white as if for rapture.
Watch preacher dunk her under
The cool, murky shallow & up
Into searing midday sunlight.
Watch sisters receive her with
A towel & embraces
like a newborn damp & alive.
Watch her take to the road alone
At service end, returning
To her own sacred ground that
Heals scars water alone cannot
Cleanse, that full immersion cannnot
His return was
not an Ode to Joy,
But a quiet oratorio
She, a devoted fan,
was his first listener
Reacting, at first, as one does
to the loss of an old friend.
But hisvoice makes this new tune
old for her again, resurrecting
lessons at his feet &
works of wonder & mercy.
His solo proclaims another hope
implied in apologues & private revelations.
A pre-release track, so to speak,
promoting the real thing.
& she carries with her
this comeback song
Ready to be heard by those
with ears to hear.
Don’t assume responsibility for making
the essentials like mac & cheese,
stewed chiecken or collard greens,
the old hands got them covered.
Expect the whole fam there, or,
at least, the oneswho return emails,
phone calls & don’t have personal beefs.
Expect to find the men lounging on living
room sofas, watching Saturday night ball
on the flat screen, debating the MVP race;
the women crowded around the kitchen
table passing gossip with a bottle of wine;
kids tearing from room to room ’till some
sharp parental looks send them outdoors.
Come expecting your grandma, aunt & uncles
to give you a tight embraces that leave back &
shoulders aching; the dense scent of meals slow
cooking in the oven, on the stove or waiting pre-
made in tin plastic trays. Expect some names
to shine more brightly than others in your mind
& to discover a new life here to replace the one
seas, continents &distance of time has left behind.
The street soccer match
It is the mosaic scene on the ceiling
that helps you bare the line. & then you
notice a single colored body building a
nation amongst a hard-hat army of white.
You recall receiving news of a relative that
made it elsewhere, via waves, on a vessel too
small to hold its burden. You imagine some
ancestor must have made it here, via waves,
to build a nation not their own. But you didn’t
make it here with the trauma of a journey. Your
journey was via wings, belongings strapped on a
shoulder & rolled on four wheels. & after an officer
inspects your passport & your body, his phone call
escorts you to a separate room, while the mosaic
scene observes the episode from the ceiling above.
––For Herbert Marcuse
Contesting what is
Envisioning what could be.
And then there is the question:
Where do you feel more at home at,
South Africa or the United States?
As if this really was a choice like
sex or love on a first date,
death or suicide on a battlefield
Pepsi or Coke on a summer day.
The mornings after Orlando,
Sterling & Castile
I had the options of escaping
into Masekela’s Thimela or
submitting myself to grief & despair.
I chose a third option:
wandering on a wind swept beach,
sand stinging my un-sieved eyes.
I am used to indecision.
Just as I am that question of home
that leaves me awaiting a
sense of residence somewhere…anywhere.
Remember how your summit was preceded by a base:
low-rent high rise, heating in mood swings, lone window
lost in grey, Neighbors trading stabbing words, shadows
racing along peeling walls, mattress marked by bodies undefined,
suitcase bursting with clothes, photos of kin & a lover left behind,
two books of poems you didn’t read aloud until now, when progress
rests on concealing your mother tongue, on assuming a foreign one.