Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Because I'm Forgetful: Five Poems

Living in New York City is like Drinking Four Glasses of Milk in a Row
The Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns


Lights! There are so many lights:
stop kind, window kind, sun, moon, florescent, high-up kind, hanging, sconce,
floor, blinking, red, purple, stained glass kind, candle, flash, bright kind and People!
The People: loud kind, and creepy, smart kind, business, playing-music-in-the park-kind,
well-read/dressed/traveled/fed/thought of kind, sexy, also the bright kind, and every kind, kind kind. Statues, too


Wow how bright these lights and people are!
and of course cars and construction
suggest ear plugs at night—which I wear more for the neighbors
but I have made friends with some kinds of people and I am in love
with some kinds of light


This is not as easy-going as the first glass of milk
Mom still can’t find “reason to visit”
She’s “seen all the statues, dear” Dad has stopped sending money
All these people,
they look at my shoes and talk
to phones with voices like traffic in tunnels
I want to touch these people but I feel too far away


It smells like hot garbage
feces on statues: bird kind
shit on sidewalks: dog kind, people kind
lines are too long
and sometimes light makes bright what I try not to see
now I get stomach aches


On being Human


when I was seven I found something weird in my bed at my dad’s house
he said it was his roommate’s
the one that slept in my bed
when I wasn’t there
15 years later I think:
crack pipe


my feet know
wood floors linoleum Scottish grass
that hasn’t been mowed wrinkled paper
bubble wrap a slant or split-level thirty pairs of shoes’

I take painkillers
I drink Coke
I can paint my fingernails white to look like teeth
but I haven’t but I could if I felt like it
I cut myself shaving
forget deodorant
write e-mails
sticky tack posters
I decide to hate watermelon

my eyes are the color of the 1940s
German sky
have outlines
get wet sometimes

I remember how to breathe
until I think about it
then my chest is heavy
with the notion I’m doing it wrong


there is joy in this thing
but maybe ants are tiny victims
maybe stars hate being counted


The Great Full
after Miranda July

Look the swings in the park
those are for you
and the water fountain
its pipes and levers
Look at people’s teeth as you pass on your way
their crowns and the fillings
those smiles are for you
Look at chalk words on sidewalks
and the sidewalk itself
the bits of green between the squares

at the sun
and the stars, when it’s time
Those stars are for you
and the stars beyond those
who are suns to other places
Look birds
on the branches
tadpoles in puddles
All these are for you
for us
this when our eyes are open
in the morning


The Use of Trees

Cold contains
the scent of dead evergreens
It’s January and
the Christmas trees are on their sides
People gather in the park
a man with a tan jacket,
a woman with a bundle
in a stroller

They watch the horizontal forest
through dissipating puffs of breath

There is a monster, too
screaming, orange

Now, another man
his teenaged daughter
Two older women
A twentysomethingwithadogonaleash

They stare at the sad pile of trees
and wait

expected sounds of metal on metal
on wood

People walking stop and stand
or kneel

And they’re a group, these people—
a temporary family
watching in awe (of maybe themselves)
as a man in jumpsuit
chooses tree after tree for the
Each knows the passing of love.


a science fiction

if born
one hundred years from now
we’d use technology to touch
each other’s simple skin

you wouldn’t have to
be so scared
because no one will remember love
no one will request it
we could dance in living rooms
without its suppositions

light in the dark sky,
residual bright,
will have long since been extinguished
all of our useless hearts burned up


Monday, May 5, 2008

from the lower hudson

i’ve known rivers
ain’t never much cared for the ocean
or the sea but i know a thing or two about rivers

but my rivers ain’t never beckoned a wave to free
a mississippian slave ain’t never lulled the congo’s shores
with the hues of a weary man’s blues
but i know rivers

rivers like the muddy waters of the hudson that’s suppose
to keep new jersey from sliding into new york but when me and
my best friend isha was thirteen every weekend
we useta jump the turnstiles of the path train
straddle the orange plastic seat with our pubescent thighs
the thunderous metal above the hudson
thrusting us into the city

i know about rivers

i know about me and isha pressing our face against
fading tainted window trains the blinding sun and
us laughing cause somebody’s baby’s diaper was drifting
in the murky waters below
us betting that black plastic bag full of trash
wasn’t fast enough to keep up
with us turning to each other and yelling
“Yuck” as sticky yellow foam
clouded rusty factories that
abandoned us
couldn’t wait for the intercom’s static
to announce that we was in the city
and we thought trash was
beneath us

a river that lifted us above the dark filth
onto the clouded village streets
where we stuffed ourselves with Ray’s famous pizza
and smiled at gay men and women who
held hands and kissed each other in the light
and we walked down the blocks we wanted


we strutted down each streets
how we wanted wearing tight ass
calvins toting fake ass coach
pocketbooks dangling newports
from our lips
laughing out loud
talking trash
cussing each other out
and being the only black
mutherfuckers we knew how to be.

Things Fall Apart in Memphis
(In honor of Chinua and Martin)

Not every foundation

not the blanched walls

of ignorance that clawed against you

or the mouths spitting

picket signs in to a pyramid of fury

not the Bible beating saints who

pillaged your sand and sea

or the ivy vines of Tarzan

swinging his effigy on a jungle peak, no

not every foundation

not the hosing uniformed dogs

not the impetuous winds of imperialism

not even a contingent heart of darkness

or a precision of a balcony’s bullet

could rifle the sod and skies

beneath you.