They don’t walk weapons around the lake. Tiny,
timid in their bark, pups bid piss on palm
trees in need of becoming territory. They tell
me the neighborhood can sleep itself away into
silence and awaken into something that will never
be noise. But parts of me miss the grime, the dirty
talk of human with the homeless. The seduction
of bag lady wisdom for a chick acting like she learned. I
was less than myself when I thought Maureen met
her end with a man who rushed her into the shadows
behind the park bathroom in front of my living room,
shades down. Pants open. It was a week before I saw
her again, and Jehovahs acting like her hunger could
be satisfied by the idea of Jesus. Break some actual bread,
motherfucker and stop treating God like a metaphor. It’s
ironic the hipsters would never find the exercise of her sexual freedom
feminist. Her pussy is not pink enough to be anything
other than the mutated massacre of woman in
need of displacement out of a home she does not
have and will not have the money to make her own
even though she’s fighting the man
the best she can for the possibility.
It’s not gentrification when white flags mimic
the wind, training the rent to get the gold in the
high jump for America. It’s just the peaceful
progression of progress Martin taught Uncle Sam
before Uncle Sam failed the test and took Martin.
But what’s the lesson to be learned when you
gotta walk weapons the size of human beings?
What you need protecting? America? Feminism?
Your freedom? Her displacement? The dirt
under the rug like you can’t
get mold in the winter time? Like your
lungs ain’t vulnerable? I thought
you weren’t human, in need of sin’s
baptism and kindness’s hellfire? Why
you walking civil war around? I guess
you’re waiting for the decoration of dogs
fitted around the holster of your hip. In due
time the palm trees will prostrate their gratitude.
*Cleave poetry is an experimental form that explores dichotomy by means of writing two discrete poems that can also be merged into one.
He told me he liked the ring sings me
My lap dances in backseats into his mother
Parked in the graveyard periphery she gave me the covenant
Straddled between damnation we’re making
and delicious, he wasn’t fit for tasting anything more than the possibility of
the snack. God
I wonder why he likes to be worshipped
spoiling his dinner for our salvation.
…I love my country like men. Hemmed to the seam of you at your minimum. Unzip self in the hopes that you find in my depths a treasure to be wanted. But in the discovery, I’m taken for granted, descending to the death of me for your ascension, and I wonder why my heart feels like it’s burning…
…I find pleasure in the grimace I make to my body in the morning without mourning the the suicide I conduct in the day’s rising…
…I believe God made me unlovable to protect me from falling in love with someone who I would want to make love to enough to give birth to a child who would love me to their funeral…
…I see forever in the possibility of everyone other than myself…
…Envy seethes through my ears listening to friends within and without relationships because they bestow an impermanence that I have yet to find…
…I’m unwilling to let my tears have witnesses…
…I wasn’t meant to have a home anywhere or be a home to anyone…
…My biggest fear feels like a nightmare. And I wonder if I should simply surrender to its reality to break my dreaming…
…It’s hard to have faith that I’m worth fighting for…
…I don’t like fighting…
I think you like when I ride the bus with you
I think you like how I come into the world
A bit disheveled
When the moon’s cousin sings me lullabies
Out of myself into the morning
When the sun hasn’t saluted urban ambivalence
When the water forgives for yesterday’s evaporated tragedies
When bag ladies aren’t soloists
For a choir, forgetting, dying in need of the word
Not called, “you got a quarter”
Responding with no response
I think you like how I beckon people to exist
When I break the bus driver “Good morning”
And “thank you” as I make a move into the world
Two stops before you at the intersection of clerical saints,
Urban speedways and lakes playing Hollywood
hills not nicknamed Beverly
I don’t know how many stops ahead
Your feet claim
Floating concrete before
We get to call the bus home together
Your lips curl at the corner at me like God
Is up to something you say
When your eyes spew midnight
secrets unlocked at
the end day’s beginning
burning for something beautiful
Maybe that’s why my face looks familiar
Like your sneakers, Nike
pressed jeans, cuffed levees
preventing natural disasters
Do you ever measure the weight of our
And wonder if we might make
In the attempt at articulation?
Do you ever think you might
Just do it?
I think you like my articulations.
The way I speak about community,
Compassion and love
For one another without romance
And calculated reparations
I mean just love and faith
In sowing a love worth having faith in reaping
Never believing its not coming
Even if it never comes
I was pleasantly surprised to find
Your need to turn profile as
We rode together facing opposite directions
Your neck strain suggested your approval
Of my strange sermon
And I wonder will you ever will me
More than a stranger with a simple
[Four components of an upcoming tattoo marking the places I've experienced that inform who I am.]
Elmina Slave Castle (Ghana, 2010)
I know where I’m going in so far as it is not where I have been. And if I go to where I have been, it cannot be as I have been before for that is not who I am or can be. I can only meet myself there in the space half-way between what I have been and what I want to be at home in my necessary becoming.
Liwonde National Part (Malawi 2008)
My tongue was timid speaking out of itself, smooth, something savory enough to be neither enslaved nor colonized. It was something rising from the sun below my gut burning, the dirt dry ever bleeding, intuition stained churning my mouth into history of sounds rebelling against their silence. In this I found a presence present without worry, only audacious enough to make its own memory.
3. Entre Nous
Limbe, once known as Victoria; the site of the Bimbia Slave Trade Site (Cameroon 2012)
In the darkness behind sight I will teach my eyes to hear, my ears to feel, my hands to see the conditions for cultivating an us necessary for the possibility of you and I without mutual exploitation.
Downtown Excursions (Cairo, April 2010)
In the name of the namable, let me forever be unnamed, untamable, with a proclivity toward the sacrificial, toward the beautification of burial, toward an endless past’s timed future, when I find my self arrogant enough to pray to call my self otherwise.
Within the confines of Uncle’s Sam fist,
do your eyes twist out of themselves
at the sight of your commander
meandering his dick along the slice line
of pie you call pizza?
Do you give in to asking if the latest
hovercraft was alas a pizza hut drone
delivering meat lovers?
Do you want some?
Before you know what you want
do you want some time
to find out if the cheese
is a foreign rip-off of aged dairy
or just his body mimicking white
phosphorus in Fallujah?
Does it matter?
Has it ever mattered?
Will it ever mean anything?
Neither one lives up to being
one of the world’s waterfalls
dripping into an ocean of sensations
his hand forgot it could create
with just the tip of his pinky.
hold on to the board of cards
he is playing in his imagination
of something just warm
enough to start dripping
You hope you are never
able to submit to this missionary perversion
of your appetite for something
else edible without nutritional content.
There is nothing to be satisfied by
this moment besides your
as black male catching
armed forces with their pants down
and breathing to tell the tale.
You will bear him helpless
in the possibility of unfolding
the secrets of victorious lingerie
he wishes were prostrated
at his bed side
yet lie invisible in their presence.
His demise could be found in
his unsightly coping mechanism.
So as you drift off into hopes of
stations in Japan, Mexico, Taiwan
he will command your knowledge
to ignorance in the Alaskan tundra
where the sun hovers at the horizon
thawed out years later
in a state of gold
decorated in the honor
of a woman outlining
her latest laceration in an
attempt at love.
Before you leave the country, your friend tells you she wants you and a guy friend of her’s to meet. You would like to speak to him but find yourself at the moment of contact about the possibility, on the other side of the country you will be leaving for two months in less than five days. You fly away into unanswered questions whose answers dovetail into a sea of questions that, luckily, do not drown you because you are inquisitive. You come back, wondering about housing, about performing, about not mourning about the safety of your eggs before the next moon’s arrival in a country cultivating its palette to kill the men who made you and who you hope to make, and that, you are sure, is awaiting its next chance to satiate its tendency to rape you in front of silent witnesses conspiring for empire at a discounted price. You admire the ability of so many sleeping soundly cloaked complicit in informed ignorance.
You awaken away from this, back into most of your fragments after two weeks of incessant movement. There, you meet a text from your friend that this young gentleman has asked your friend about her “sexy poet friend.” You laugh, mostly because of the phrasing—he hasn’t met you—or the memory of you growing up as smart, never sexy, let alone poet. You become arrogant, kindly suggesting to your friend to tell him to come see you perform. You are most confident naked behind a microphone in front of a sea of strangers.
He’ll take the offer. Send you a text with your name and his, even though your friend never told you his name. You call to make sure he is who you think he is. Your intuition is always right.
He will bite into your performance about thighs and the lies the body they support can tell. He’ll swell with fascination, even ask to read your third poem. But he won’t, and after three hours with he and his friends without a moment that requires just the two of you, you know he won’t extend into your life beyond this one moment. You test your gut instinct in a text message of gratitude the noon after. But after your eyes site an undeniably deafening silence, you are reminded again, your intuition is always right.
So you salvage the interesting part. Not the dancing; not the kidnapping to the one restaurant in Chinatown open until 1:30 a.m. You’ll write about how he was in the military, and walked in on his superior officer fucking a pizza. Because despite the fact that this meeting didn’t lead to love, you love the word too much to let such a premise escape you.