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.

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Shelling

Afterwards

Children resume

The street soccer match

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.

Negative Thinking


––For Herbert Marcuse

The arts––

Contesting what is

Envisioning what could be.

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.

Cornerstones

This is an edited version of a poem that I recently published in Emmanuel College’s literary magazine “The Saintly Review.”

Twin-hilt spires 

loom above bodies 

that built them. 

The crucifix is  

a golden weight 

hauled to its apex 

throne. 

Osnaburg shirts hide 

taut arms &  

striped, glistening backs 

lifting oak shingles 

into place. 

On Sunday morning 

eyes watch mosaics 

reflect a hope, 

sacrifice greater than 

themselves. 

Beneath consecrated piety 

names hide in 

beating breasts of 

plastered bricks, aisle 

seats & nave. 

Leagues away absent 

bodies sway, hands 

raise in unbowed 

praise, souls convulse, 

enraptured in 

the mystery.

The Who and the What

 

–For Jacques Derrida

Each morning we awake

to the death of our fantasies:

She with straight, silky hair

He with abs taut as

djembe drum skin

She with eyes a frosty marine,

He with upper-body

sculpted & defined

She less assertive, more docile;

He more intelligent, less obtuse

someone we can each wake up to

without loathing or regret,

without pity or guilt,

A body baring a dream,

not an authentic being.

 

 

Home

 

––A name spilling out

its nostalgic glut.

––A lamp alit by the window

Sill in night’s lonely recesses

––n, The place where one lives or was brought up, 

with reference ton the feelings of belonging, comfort, etc.,

––A locution of being, too fluid

For its structure, its meaning.


Neo Psalm II

Because I am

The ancient

Rock fence

Winding ’round

Pasture’s edge

Because I flow

As a rippling

Current over the

Lake’s broad back

Because I am the

Blue dasher

On the limp

Blade of grass

Because I Am

Because I am present

Here, in all things,

Even when no one

Looks or cares to listen.