To change the world enough

you must cease to be afraid

of the poor.

— Alice Walker, “To Change The World Enough.”

In the

midst of

a midday

cafe lunch,

He made

Himself known.

Staggering, drenched,

half-sidewalk, half-street,

countenance bulging

with booze,

awareness, mien,

washed-up, incoherent,

disheveled, rancid,

Complete perplexity.

He halts

before you

& stares.

Surprise? Recognition?

Hidden sanity?

He halts

& Stutteringly 

demands money.

You decline.

He swears.

A waiter

persuades Him

to leave.

He cusses,

winding down

the route

He came.

Swerving ’round

the corner

a midnight

military Humvee

pulls curbside

& spirits

Him away.

You watch

in silence,

with indifference,

sipping your

sweet sense

of privilege.

He is

an anathema

in this

hidebound enclave,

whose culture

erases all

traces of

urban existence.



As Achilles demanded Agamemnon

Repent to save the Greeks

So do you bid me to fidelity.

You draw me to yourself.


On hands & knees

Soiled with the dust of fate

foes closing in behind.

You supply the grape & I partake

Seized by my iniquities.

You say you desire me

That you’ve chosen me as your own

But I’m a stallion in a haze of abandon.

I kick and jostle when you approach

As concealed scars splinter and re-open.

First Night

First Night

The frigid Highveld air had contempt for your anxiety.

It was an opening audience observing

Your scenes of fear and uncertainty.

A higher purpose flew you to Azania’s* ebony arms,

But on that first night you wanted out––

Back to the self-security of the homeland.

At a crude coffee table lit almost like a darkroom

You repeated your parent’s promise like an

Undeveloped exposure: We’ll only be here for a season.

Instead of critiquing the meaning of these words

You let your quarter of a KFC Family Feast become

A greasy morphine dulling your sense of uprootment.


* South Africa

Notes on Intercessory Acts

Notes on Intercessory Acts

Whispers of breeze,

Screams of rushing currents,

Chattering of rain

Became subliminal codes

Revealed as silent epiphanies.

If the Divine was a flame ever-burning,

The Light was a lamp guiding you

Through the midnight of the soul.

In your self-secluded pleas,

heart tore at strands of faith;

mind became an unlatched anchor

Drifting you further away.

& while your beloved reposed

like an empty shell,

Their life-lines charted crooked

paths across sealed eyes.

Mid-season Crucible

Mid-season Crucible

Locked out in the Commons;

Squatted, shivering against

Ghostly patterings of seasonal flakes.

A maple tree leans over you,

Its ice-thin fingers fracturing the sky,

& chugs you across the Mason-Dixie Line.

To bony hands picking through

Sizzling seas of cotton stems.

A shadow descends upon these hands,

Animated by the Southern drawl

“Pick that cotton boy!”

& a crack like static discharge

That makes those hands contort & contract.

A searing sting chugs you back

To that same squat, shivering

Condition, that same place.

You wonder if there’s still family

In those post-Confederate states.

Stumbling up and forward

You pray you have enough to get

from Boyleston to South Station

& a Greyhound to Macon.