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Category Archives: Poetry

Mornings in Santa Cruz (Failed Haiku)

Early risers catch the moon
before daylight or birds
before clouds return.

Before clouds fill blue sky
I watch full moon
sink slowly.

Full moon sinks slowly
light fading. Birds chase
her, singing madly, joyful.

Singing madly joyful birds
chase morning moon
as she sinks.

Sleepers miss lessons
of morning moon:
loss will come again and soon.

 

fullmoon

He Left His Scarf in My Car

Having just learned that musician Billy Faier died this past year, I’m posting a poem that he inspired many years ago. 

He left his scarf in my car.
Sleepily I fingered the hand-woven wool
that had embraced his neck
on countless winter sojourns.

Then I saw my empty finger:
my ring was on his piano
or perhaps on his hand now
playing Bach.

roadAs I drove into the morning sun
a million ghosts of one-night stands
faded into history:
my ring was on his piano
and his scarf was in my car.

The Jerry Poems

 

road

Riding Up The Thruway

Riding up the thruway
in the fresh October morning
struck by the splendor
of sun and sky and mountains
we pretended we were driving
to Quebec. Beneath my sweater
my nipples pulsated
with yesterday’s rhythms.
I was a lute
a harpsichord
a joyous screaming horn
wailing for your fingers
and your tongue.

No Miles ever played as sweetly
no Coltrane as intenselysaxophone as you
my fine musician
celebrating passion
upon this throbbing drum.

***********************************

The Same Two Years

“Two years!”
I sob into your shoulder
(your rich round luscious
brown shoulder)
For two years
I cupped delicate dreams
in tentative palms:
an offering.
Take them now,
they are yours tonight
as much as my breasts
and my thighs
for I am afraid
that tomorrow will be
the dawn of anotherladybugheart2
two years.

Finally you speak:
Time flies.

*********************************

Non-Monogamy

Do you compare us?
Do your hands caress
her sculptured thighs
rejoicing in sensation
my padded flesh denies?

Do your lips delight
in tobacco-free kisses?
Does each layer she unfolds
reveal another of my flaws?

You say there’s no
comparison. You lie:
New lovers are always
antidotes to old.

You say we’re each unique
that you love the one you’re withdaisies
but still the question haunts me:
When you compare us, who wins?

****************************

Profile

Your framed profile sits beneath
a bunch of tightly shut anemones.
By the time they blossom
you will lie beside another.

Bloody purples, pinks and reds—
even virgin whites—
will trumpet your
betrayal.

All attempts to hold you
or to leave you have failed.

I watch the tender petals spreadanemones
raining seeds upon your photo.
They open to reveal their centers,
each one brilliantly distinct.

*****************************

I Wanted to Lie In Bed

I wanted to lie in bed and tickle his toes.
He wanted to go out for breakfast.
I wanted to listen to his childhood secrets.
He wanted to hear jazz in the local cafe.
I wanted to read him my poetry.
He wanted to take in a skin flick.
I would have fed him moussaka
had he sat still long enough
rubbed his muscles
with eucalyptus oil
lathered his hair
sculpted his face
with my hands.

Now his absence fills the room
with relief. The air expands.
The horizon of my mind
stretches in the silence like rubber.

He never raised a hand in anger
or even his voice
never asked for commitmentBridal Bouquet
or demanded choices.
He respected my art
fed my cat
was patient in bed
and picked up his socks.
He just never had time
to feel.

********************************

The Last Lap

Swimming towards another shore
I pause to gaze at those behind.
Letting go was never easy
and the pain disguised as pleasure
was seductive.
How I cradled it between my breasts
pretending my yearning sighs
were of contentment.
How I studied our strokes
as we moved through the muck
only to discover
I’d been swimming alone.

Surfacing
I find you bobbing
like a piece of dead woodocean b:w
surrounded by those
who fitfully grasp
your slippery edges.
It is not you I mourn
in crossing
but the loss of kinship
with the drowning.

*****************************

White Lies

He made me feel rooted
and strong as a tree
wrapped my parched bones
in ebony silk
as if we inhabited
some other planet

but it was America
on Earth 1980
and we had been taught
white lies.
Plotting revenge
we came to despise
what we’d loved.

I curse his virtues
celebrate his faults
read books and theories
on racism.
I’ve forgotten how it felt
to sleep in his skin
and the landscape we crossed
unafraid.

heartstitchesbroken

Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones RIP

BARAKA-LargeAmiri Baraka, formerly LeRoi Jones, died today at the age of 79. Baraka was a poet, a playwright, and a political activist. Rather than write about my feelings towards Baraka or how and why they changed over the years, instead of doing the IMeMine routine, I decided to post one of his poems, saved a lifetime ago when I tore it from the pages of the Village Voice. Re-reading it I fell in love with his work all over again.

For Baraka’s bio, facts, photos, politics, and controversies, Democracy Now is doing a whole hour on him today, and numerous other sources of information abound.

When We’ll Worship Jesus
Amiri Baraka

We’ll worship Jesus

When jesus do

somethin

when jesus blow up

the white house

or blast nixon down

When jesus turn out congress

or bust general motors to

yard bird motors

Jesus we’ll worship jesusimages

when jesus get down

when jesus get out his yellow lincoln

w/ the built-in cross stain glass

window & box w/black peoples

enemies we’ll worship jesus when

he get bad enough to at least scare

somebody—cops not afraid

of jesus

pushers not afraid

of jesus, capitalists racists

imperialists not afraid

of jesus shit they makin money

off jesus.

We’ll worship jesus when mao

do, when toure does

when the cross replaces Nkrumah’simages-1

star

jesus need to hurt some a our

enemies then we’ll check him

out, all that screaming and hollering

& Wallering and manking talkin bout

jesus, jesus in a red

check velvet vine & 8 in. heels

jesus pinky finger

got a goose egg ruby

which actual bleeds

jesus at the apollo

doin splits and helpin

nixon trick niggers

jesus w/his one-eyed self

tongue kissing johnny carson

up the behind

jesus need to be busted

jesus need to be thrown down and whippedimages-2

till something better happen

jesus aint did nothin for us

but kept us turned toward

the sky (him and his boy allah

too, need to be checked

out!)

we’ll worship jesus

when he get a boat load of AR-47’s

and some dynamite

and blow up abernathy robotin

for gulf

jesus need to be busted

we aint gonna worshp nobody

but niggers getting up off

the ground

not gon worship jesus

unless he just a tricked up

nigger somebody named

outside his race

need to worship you self fo

you worship jesus

need to bust jesus (& Check

out his spooky brother

allah while you heavy

on the case)

cause we aint gon worship jesus

we aint gon worship

jesus

we aint gon worship

jesus

not till he do something

not til he help us

not till the world get changed

and he aint, Jesus aint, he cant change the world

we can change the world

we can struggle against the forces of backwardnessimages-3

we can change the world

we can struggle against our selves, our slowness,

our connection with the oppressor,

the very cultural aggression which binds us to our  enemies

as their slaves.

We can change the world

we aint gonna worship jesus cause jesus don’t exist

Xcept in song and story except in ritual and dance, except in

slum stained

tears or trillion dollar opulence stretching back in history, the history

of the oppression of the human mind

We worship the strength in us

We worship our selves

We worship the light in us

We worship the warmth in us

We worship the world

We worship the love in us

We worship our selves

We worship nature

We worship ourselves

We worshp the life in us, and science, and knowledge, and transformation

of the visible world

But we aint gonna worship no jesus

We aint gonna legitimize the witches and devils

the spooks and hobgoblins

the sensuous lies of the rulers to keep us

chained to fantasy and illusion

Sing about life, not jesus

Sing about revoltuion, not no jesus

Stop singing about jesus,

Sing about creation, our creation, the life of the world and fantastic

nature how we struggle to transform it, but don’t victmize our selves by distorting the world

Stop moanin about jesus, stop sweatin and cryin and stompin and dyin for jesus

Unless thats the name of the army we buildiing to force the land finally to change hands.Unknown

And lets not call that jesus, get a quick consensus on that.

Lets damn sure not call that black fire muscle no inivisible

psychic dungeon

no gentle vision strait jacket, lets call that peoples army, or wapenduzi or simba

wachanga, but we not gon call it jesus and not gon worship jesus

Throw jesus out yr mind. Build the new world out of reality, and new vision

We come to find out what there is of the world

to understand what there is here in the world!

To visualize change, and force it

We worship revolution.

Cheryl Marie Wade

Cheryl Wade

Cheryl Marie Wade

A Sassy Juicy Poster Girl Gone Awry

March 4, 1948 – August 21, 2013

At a memorial for Cheryl Wade, or celebration of her life, held on the UCBerkeley campus yesterday, four or five of her close friends offered memories of her and their friendship that moved me to tears. Cheryl was one of those people that others, myself among them, sometimes envied for her wide circle of devoted friends. They came from the different areas of her life, each fitting into another aspect of her many-faceted personality, art, and work. With one she went to Broadway musicals (and later acted them out); with another she organized performances, and so forth and so on. She was almost always authentic: she didn’t hide her anger for fear of alienating people, or bury resentment under fake smiles.  She was a political activist who placed her art above and beyond any message, yet delivered a heartfelt message every time.

“I want my art to be so good that someone who doesn’t give a damn about disability comes to see me because I’m good,
and goes away with a new consciousness about disabled people.”

I met Cheryl the way I met a lot of people in the Bay Area: interviewing her for a newspaper story.  I keep trying to remember where I first heard of her, how she showed up on my radar in the first place, but I still haven’t figured it out. It would’ve been logical to see one of her shows and want to write about her, but I didn’t see her perform until after we met. Cheryl onstage was inspiring, and had I seen her there first I know I would’ve asked for an interview. But she was just as inspiring off stage as on, and interviewing her was one of the high points of my journalism career. The high lasted quite awhile, as I interviewed and wrote about several other disabled performers after her.  Disability culture is, in a word, HOT!  As Cheryl once told me, “The gift of disability is the experience of not taking physical or mental abilities for granted.” She  exemplified this idea, as usual, in poetry:

Do you walk?
Do you feel your muscles tighten?CMW Onstage
Do you drag bare feet through warm shag carpet?
Do you feel the muscle in back of your right calf
tightening and loosening,
tightening and loosening?
Do you walk?

My absolutely favorite of all Wade’s poems is Not a Reason To Die, which she wrote after reading an editorial by an able-bodied man proposing that people with certain levels of disabilities be allowed to die.

I’m trickster coyote in a gnarly-bone suit
I’m a fate worse than death in shit-kickin’boots
Unknown-2I’m the nightmare booga you flirt with in dreams
‘Cause I emphatically demonstrate: It ain’t what it seems
I’m a whisper, I’m a heartbeat, I’m “that accident,” and goodbye
One thing I am not is a reason to die.

I’m homeless in the driveway of your manicured street
I’m Evening Magazine’s SuperCrip of the Week
I’m the girl in the doorway with no illusions to spare
I’m a kid dosed on chemo, so who said life is fair
I’m a whisper, I’m a heartbeat, I’m “let’s call it suicide” and sigh
One thing I am not is a reason to die.

I’m the poster child with doom-dipped eyes
I’m the ancient remnant set adrift on ice
I’m that Valley girl, you know, dying of thin
I’m all that is left of the Cheshire Cat’s grin
I’m the Wheelchair Athlete, I’m every dead Baby Doe
I’m the Earth’s last volcano, and I am ready to blow
I’m a whisper, I’m a heartbeat, I’m a genocide survivor and Why?
One thing I am not is a reason to die.
I am not a reason to die.

I’ll be damned if I’ll let anyone judge this life as not quality.
Thousands of non-disabled people would be very fortunate to have my life.”

She was right. She was sassy. She was juicy. She was brassy.

RIP Cheryl. You will be missed.

Cheryl Wade Must-See’s:

Disability Culture Rap Part I

Disability Culture Rap Part II

Thank You Cheryl Marie Wade: A You Tube channel where anyone can visit or contribute.
For info on uploading your own video contact: ThankYou CMW@gmail.com.