He and I engage in a game of tug of war between our bodies tether to each other by linked intestines Wondering whether it takes more guts to stay in a town That erects time capsules and disguises them as bars In hopes to preserve themselves by pouring alcohol Down their throats, dry from reciting The same conversations, about women, about men, about which sports team will bring home the championship, about the good old days, which are remarkably like these days, all in hopes of remaining their best selves Or is it braver to walk away Leave these petrified people behind Cast myself in a new mold, struggle to fit in Remarking what a big fish I was in a small pond, How lost I feel in the ocean at large Our hands are slipper with blood We lose grip on who we were, and who we intended to be Yet, we’ll push and we’ll pull Wage wars over the facade that passes for self Because we’ve already picked out a crown for the winner, Smug enough to call ourselves king
In my absence from this town the tower of Babel has fallen. Now everyone speaks with clever tongues sharp enough to cut my skin. I am the color of parchment paper, faded with time. I talk with an old tongue about new plans to pull the moon from the sky so that everyone can get their slice. There is enough for us all to get rich.
At night, my dogs answer sirens with startled howls And I suck on a cigarette wondering will it be my kiss goodnight Is there a man with heavy hands who has stuck his wife And will he have a heavy heart for his already regretted sins Is the emergency an elderly man passing in the night Sad to be the one to end long standing marital bliss Will the paramedics even notice the pictures of grandchildren Smiling back at them While is wife watches them wheels husband out Shedding tears in the rose garden she’s kept for years The roses hear no alarms, they have no ears and Only concern themselves with the recent rainfall It’s rained a lot lately and my yard’s grown long Grass soaked with dew, my feet are bare and wet I drop my cigarette like a firebomb to hear it sizzle What secrets, what sounds the night holds Birds sing during the day, but at night bats squeal while I can’t get over the sound of my breath when I run out of air
The West Brownsville Baptist Church sits in defiance of its name. Located in the eastern part of Brownsville it is small, dull, and looks rundown in contrast to its grand title. In the summer when the sun sits high in the sky and admires the attention to detail of the well manicured lawns the West Brownsville Baptist Church is a black sheep with its overgrown clover and crabgrass yard. As long as I could remember the church was for sale so you can imagine my shock when a woman I’d never seen before pulled up in a shiny black Cadillac and put changed out the for sale sign with one that said sold. She didn’t stop in town to say to anyone. I don’t know whether anyone knew her at all. It was the last time I saw Ms. Elizabeth Bell Johnson as the sign said but I will always remember her as the herald that brought my sleepy town the storm that was the arrival of Mercury Joe West.
I find myself wanting to yell my own poetry at the top of my lungs on these warm summer nights. I find myself wanting to run and sprint till I have not breath left. I find myself wanting to sit across from a beautiful woman in a bar sipping Jack Daniels on the rock as the fabric of her skirt creeps up her legs the same way my hands would move slowly to the promise land. I want to whisper hurriedly to her that she is beautiful and that she knows is beautiful even more than I do and I: just want a moment, a hour, a night of her time. I want to make promises with fingertips and live up to everyone of them. I want to invite her to stand with me on the top of parking garages and look down a cityscapes and say corny things like we are at the top of the world. There will be no mountains there, the ground will be flat and we can look for miles and imagine ourselves children looking at the great ant farm of life. I will tell my woman if she was down there amongst the workers that she would be their queen but as it stands now, I have lifted her up and we will live amongst the clouds, though we have lost our wings.
What’s it going to be? The limo or the hearse It’s coming to a heard Will it be for better or for worse Better men than me Have been buried in shallow graves We have to hold onto what we can We have to only onto any hope that saves
Honey hi, honey be Honey, I wonder what we’re going to see Time to make a resolution We can’t accept any substitution
There’s something holy in a woman’s dress Make the introduction, I’ll handle the rest Don’t ask me to be good, I’d rather be bad Sure saints are sacred but with sinners, There’s more fun to be had
Honey hi, honey be Honey, I wonder what we’re going to see Keep my name on your tongue I’ll be home before my funeral song is sung
When I toss cigarettes I pretend they are grenades Hope to make a loud bang and a dent in this world People will hear my commotion and come to see They will see the hole in the ground and say He is full of noise, he is present in this world He is breaking new ground The only thing I wanted out life is for it not to make me give up my dreams I want to write books I want to live as well as I love I’d like a small house in the country like my parents have now To grow a gray checkered beard like my father To know myself as well as my mother does to work half as hard and fight as passionately as my sisters do I will have boys named for characters in books I’ve loved Raise them into fine young men with my wife And when my time comes I’ll bury myself In the southern red clay that I was born from
If the world is ending tomorrow I best go get a drink tonight Wash down the regrets that threaten to choke me Perhaps I will tell the first woman I see that I love her That I have always loved her, even before I met her When I was a child drawing her face in the sandbox with a stick I pictured us one day standing together on the eve of Armageddon Wondering if we can outrun the Rapture on our hands and knees Like the animals we are
What do you do when no one asks you to be their hero but there are so many in need saving? What do you do when you see so many broken people you feel like your vision is fractured and all you can see are the cracks and the deficits? Do you hope that your hands are enough, hope that you have adhesive hands and can put everyone back together again. If a mirrors has cracks then you can’t see all the ways in which you aren’t whole. This town is that way, fooling people, selling them on the illusion. This isn’t magic, it’s tragic but I’ve escaped long enough to see that something isn’t quite right here and people should be happier than they are. So what’s my job? What do I do? Do I force myself into people’s crevices, hope that I am enough to make everyone whole again? I want to be salvation. I want to be redemption. I want to make everyone better.
There are teenage white girls with dreadlocks Playing the protest songs of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh While I, a 28 year old black man Aged prematurely, is listening to Hall and Oates sing about rich girls And wondering the best way to get them to sully themselves Walking with down the street with a walking stick that is an oversized pencil Trying not to put my weight down, I don’t want to break the lead I don’t know where this path will lead But I presume it will be somewhere different than tonight, Where I am half drunk, half dressed, and half in love You may say that should be thirds But being good at math never occurred to me The only thing that occurs to me is to learn to sway the right way When the alcohol is on the verge of getting to me What’s the right thing to say? What’s the right way to break away? What’s the right way to stay right here? I’ll be patient till there are not options left I’ve wrestled with clock hands to keep time from running away But I still find myself tomorrow, before I learn to appreciate today
What she really wanted but never asked for was to be left alone. She liked to spin stories about how she was waiting for the right man to come along and sweep her off of her feet but in reality she was scared. She was scared to face any other man than Apollo who stole in through her windows on those Saturday mornings when she slept in to caress her the parts of her skin that had slipped out from under the covers. She was afraid of men besides the ones made of shadows that fell across her house, her clothes, her body at night. They crept inside her and made her dark. When men did come around and try to force her out of her self imposed romantic exile she tried a few times to meet them halfway, leave her comfort zone but with no luck. She was trapped by her own hesitancy. She was trapped by her inability to love without thinking. Sometimes what loves needs is no thought at all. Sometimes love requires you to give yourself to it without spending time mustering up reasons why it won’t work out. Love doesn’t stand for reasons why not. Love is possibility in the face of impracticality. Love tells the world that anything can happen and it wants to be treated the same way. That is why love never entered her heart. There was always too much doubt and never enough room for love to move in.
She wanted me to write her a letter I said no one does that anymore No one cares about the old things, the old ways I didn’t have time to mourn over the laser disc Before i got a case of the blu-ray blues No one keeps track of 8 tracks Except my father, who keeps them stored In a house my family doesn’t use anymore My cousin used to live there, claims he saw aliens once But that is all foreign to me My mother gave away all of my old toys So there’s a kid in a sandbox somewhere Unaware of my former Tonka truck dreams We must forget about Jurassic Park Trends Platform shoes went out with the dinosaurs Bell bottoms were forgotten with hammer pants And I can’t spare the cash for a stamp So you’ll have to be happy with email
What keeps your eyes open? What keeps your body restless? What keeps your feet moving? Why are you tossing and turning in bed? Is it the sun? It can’t be the sun, you can’t see it at night You can only see the moon The sun’s mirror The receptacle of its vanity You only see the sun’s ego Yet you claim you love the moon You only love reflection Is it a boy that keeps you up? Is it a girl? Is it love? Love is me standing with my mouth Tasting hymns on a hellish wind Love is the way a woman bares her teeth when she smiles It is dangerous and has no concern for you Are you up reading a book? Books are prophecies written by philosophers Who didn’t know how wise they were Books are obstacles for ignorance Damning us intellectuals to face facts We are not as dumb as the world would has us to pretend to be Perhaps it is just that, that keeps us up The inability to stop thinking To stop wondering about why we are cursed the way we are Why we can never be happy as long as there is more to be had Will there always be more Or will we one day stand on the edge of a cliff Not see the other side And say to ourselves, we don’t have to jump