The street soccer match
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.
The following piece is an edited version of my contribution to a collaborative effort called Poets for Peace on the blog ForgottenMeadows. To learn more and to contribute to the fabulous initiative, visit forgottenmeadows.wordpress.com.
Is a river
Rage a wave
You & I forge
Solace in the
The swaying dance of
Stone parishes chanting
Vespers & intonations.
Together we dwell in &
Out of time
A present exit, so to speak,
From reverberating blasts
On breaking news abroad &
Popping clips & sirens nearby
Our space is collected
In the union of
Where we hold close,
At least for now,
In growing pains of
You wore your identity as a
Coat one size too small–
Confining, irritating from the
Constricting fit of history.
Neither Africa nor Azania*
Could break your self-hate.
As if the ebony clay
You were molded in
Became a fruit too bitter
To be consumed.
*Azania = South Africa
To change the world enough
you must cease to be afraid
of the poor.
— Alice Walker, “To Change The World Enough.”
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.
I speak aloud
for shattered door frames
silent screams echoing
against grimy hallways
the pan of rice and beans
burning on the stove
the splintered chair upended,
staring into space
chipped plates and cups
assembled but still starving
visa papers browning in the dust
the overturned candle,
melted wax veiling the Lady’s face
For a home uprooted and torn in two
I speak aloud.
There is a light that disturbs the sensitivities;
majesty and grace that breaks open the soul,
leaving it un-mended.
I see this light; feel this majesty and grace
in fleeting episodes of contemplative silence
where temporal noise is cancelled out
in a cross-cycle of energies hovering above
my feeble sense of reality.
There the soul is a vessel to be shattered;
memories rise as ethereal spirits
from a subset structure of pain and longing;
the order of emotions crumble into
smoldering heaps of rage or misery.
From within this chaos, a faint voice appears.
It alights as a dove of peace,
glows with an affectionate fury
deeper than the strongest cosmos.