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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Fructum Vitis

Fructum Vitis 

Midday shadows converge on the

Grape that fell from the vine.

On fallow ground its crimson body is

Soiled by the loam, bruised by scattered

Rocks & roots, mocked by circling aves,

Disowned by the vineyard master himself.

In that noon hour, the grape is squashed by

A foreknown heel, its juice flowing out on

Fallow ground as shadows converge once more.

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

3 Haiku

These three haiku came out of my experience working for food justice and access in Boston over the school year.

He asks for food.
my wallet’s empty
is my heart full?

Month’s end:
      Neighborhood market––
      No SNAP Accepted.

Midnight
recalling the barren fridge
hunger.

Mental flux

Mental flux

There’s exploded coffee

on the floor, walls,

ceiling and sink

––––

The bathroom reeks

of virgin coffee grains and

aging liquid congealed on the floor

––––

The scent bites hard like Humean

musings on our natural lust

for dollar-fisted elites

––––

As a layman of honest words

I observe them as a passive

thinker with silver-plated dreams

––––

They are the culmination, the ambition

in many of my folks’ lofty sights.

Ever looking they be beyond

––––

this post-modern reality

where the ideal of the self-made

is held by the fortunate few

––––

while absurd cycles of crime,

racial violence and poverty

do death dances around them

––––

From the vantage point of the

double-disadvantaged, I watch them

as I watch the fluxed coffee of the floor

––––

Ignited toward action, yet stalled

by uncertainty of where the income

ladder leads and leans

Where sweet things reside

Where sweet things reside

In the midst

of current tasks,

I’m drawn back

to summer afternoons

at Grandma’s flat.

Atop an amber-lighted

kitchen table,

succulent sap-sweet

lemon cakes

sleep in tin foiled safe homes;

dream in sealed plastic wrap,

guarding generational

culinary secrets

within

their

butter-moist

bosoms.

Food justice

Food Justice 

Grocery store:

Washington Street,

South End,

Cathedral of the Holy Cross

along the way.

Fruits of the vine,

produce of the earth,

packed in air-conditioned chambers.

 

Grocery store:

Warren Street,

Roxbury,

Mandela mural

along the way.

Snacks,

sundry goods,

No WICA Acccepted.

 

We are what we eat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green in a post-color world

 

Green in a post-color world

Have we done it?

Are we still doin’ it?

Have we roasted the emerald dough

till it explodes?

Have we scraped the remains together

to be consumed like cracklin’?

Has it satisfied our material hunger

or do we yearn for more?

 

I once heard the news say of a Brazilian baron

who lost + 1 million a day

who still proclaims his fortune will not abate

even while green blood drains from his palms and veins.

 

I’ve seen the dollar string up citizens debt-ridden necks

choking them till their financial lives are half-dead;

hold hostage economies

with the threat of default and social unrest.

 

Such is life linked to the twisted key to prosperity.

For just like the proverbial fool and his money

we held it blindly too hard and too long

without realizing it had already gone.

Method of Consumption

 

Method of Consumption

Those who dine

at the table

of unforgiveness

hold fork and knife

over a plate of old wounds,

ready to tear into targets

of unresolved pain.

Time, the immortal chef

of memories,

serves his courses

one

by

one:

bitterness, vengeance, self-destruction

all covered with rusty platter-tops.

Like food mingling with burnt tongues

and spoiled palates,

we feed, ignorant of the different tastes

textures and qualities.

 

 

To be young now

There are times when I thank God I grew up in the 2000’s. There is so much happening.

To be young now

I won’t with modesty say I’m not a spectator

In the stadium of passing, changing times.

I’ve seen risen and fallen powers, personalities,

regimes and even the White House become

 as dark as Belgium’s bitter-sweet delicacy.

To be young now time warps me

back to the days of Spring ’68,

to a world under the strain

of social defiance and change.

To be young now…

now…

now…

now…

Sounds as stirring as Dylan’s protest song:

‘‘The times they are a-changin’…’’