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.
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
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.
A rapturous beam
encapsulates her self.
Swollen, free speech
defines her heart.
Her being shields the truth
of a life on the skids,
of a social status
pushed to shelter corners,
and undefined zones
between overpass and parking lot.
Yet still she remains,
her beam and voice
embodying the hidden voices
in the subscripts and footnotes–
the no-names interned in the margins.
Notes on Inherent Traits
I’ve have become you. I replicate your style of tower heels and little black dresses;
I suck Camel Cigarettes till smoke discharges like factory fumes from my lips;
I guzzle down cheap spirits till I’m dancing with paper-thin linen curtains;
sway to the symphonies of Chopin and Haydn till they noose around my sanity;
make love to suave saxophonists who seduce with the raw moan of Coltrane’s Naima.
But still, I’m crushed by the relentless maw of emptiness.
This must have been your sentiment after hearing an old man on his hospital bed
confess, between dry breaths gasping for life, that while sheltering my family
from the creeping tide of war, he coldly exercised their demise.
You must have questioned the meaning of it all–leaving them to fight abroad–
let guilt bathe you in its agonies, even as you leaped to greet the concrete street below.
It’s morning. I let the light of acknowledgement kick start my stalled emotions.
Donning my dusty habit, I take to back-country roads with unanswered purpose
as civic cars grumble past, and life itself fades into shades of silver, grey and black.
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