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!

Going under

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

                                                                  Undo.

Oratorio

His return was 

not an Ode to Joy,

*

But a quiet oratorio 

publically unannounced.

*

She, a devoted fan, 

was his first listener

*

Reacting, at first, as one does 

to the loss of an old friend.

*

But his voice 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.

First Reunion

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 ones who 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.

Check Point

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.

Unknowing

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.

Making it

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.