uncomfortable silence

i seem to be chained
to an uncomfortable silence.

my mind houses unholy echoes
that bounce off sterile thoughts.

love-lack stifles expression;

touch deprivation
has ruined my senses;
i am blind
without my orgasms.

caught in a vice
between non-endearing absence
and total omission,
i'm beginning to bleed
ever so slightly...

for inspiration
i gaze at the shade of purple
immortalized by the underside of my bruised fingernails.

i'm screaming
in a vacuum...

and so is everyone else...



you snatched me from the arms of my soul
now i'm lost
and can't tell you how to find me.

but you try anyway
a merciless trial and error
that almost always seems to make things worse for me.

yes, sometimes i want
easier lovers--
men more sensitive than
your life has allowed.
your erratic nature disturbs my peace.

you force fire out of me,
kick my cool down rambling staircases
break its neck
leave it bleeding...

the unexpected has become my life
and uncertainty rattles my bones.

still, i'm not always gonna tell you i'm hurting.

there has always been a haze over you and i...
no clear cut answers,
no whispers through the veil.

better speak up
show me what you've got
'cause it's all i have to go on.



burning spear say,
door peep
shall not enter

you refused to move from the door jamb
taking advantage of my hospitality
waiting for an offer
of anything i seemed willing to give.

and i gave--
mainly out of love
sometimes out of loneliness and confusion
but i gave til it bled

til my children went hungry
til my mouth was too dry
to ask you to please return the favor
when you could.

those days i didn't see you,
you think i didn't know
you had somewhere to go?

a kitchen of your own, a bed to sleep in
when the demands of relationship-working
became too much;

when you couldn't seem to find the honey
my lips begged for,
and the hunger in my eyes terrified you
because it matched your own.

you are not my child,
so my lifeblood
cannot sustain you.

you can no longer
ride the coattails
of my asé.



you can't run
from your past

can't straighten out
all the kinks
with that electric heat

you need the sun
to kiss your scalp
every now and then.


good like summer ice cream cones...

tempting fate and
hidden secret parts
of each other

you radiate
like sunlight:

touch my hand
and i feel it
all over...

kisses creep across my soul
manifesting as explosions of color
across my eyelids

you snatch my voice away,
then use it to speak to me
so i can understand you better.

you waste nothing--
condense yourself
into fingertips, lips
drip into my veins
with perfect timing.

use your beauty against me.

hold me hostage with memories
so we can make new ones...


a family story (part of an unfinished whole)

spoken by a female elder

"abeomaka was born beautiful and mad.

"one night, father had been sent away on an errand several miles away. maybe purposeful, maybe coincidence. who knows.

"we were between mistresses. massa paul was sick with loneliness and anger--he'd never wanted any white woman anyway. his father had taken him around the world--no small feat in those days--and he'd seen all kinds of colors. smelled the coconut oil hawaiian women combed into their hair and the pineapple on their hands. samoan softness. the grace and porcelain skin of chinese women. and he loved cherokee, hopi, and seminole most of all.

"he'd never quite believed the bull they spread about african women. he'd never been to the continent himself--it was one of the few places he had no desire to see--but he didn't trust for one minute that africans were simply climbing on those ships. if they were, why'd it take so long to break 'em once they came?

"in any case, he found african women were striking. the mixed ones were all right; pretty much looked like all the other women he'd seen, except in the spanish and portuguese colonies where their colors defied all category.

"when he went to the auctions and saw 'em fresh off the boats, clean as they'd ever be again, he could see their spirit shine through 'em. felt like he could just about touch the very faith he felt he needed to understand the world. a lost thing he didn't know he was looking for but, once noticed, he had to have.

"many of them exuded dignity, condensed royalty. blue-black skin and lips like pillows. hips and thighs conditioned by lifetimes of dancing and celebration. if he treated his people well--as was often said--it was because of their beauty.

"mother--of course he might've known her name, but it's lost to us. 'sarahjane' is something of an insult--was one such woman. maybe even a sort of dutchess or reverend in her homeland. somehow--this came in a dream--she'd made it over with husband and brother. brother was out of reach, maybe on the next deck down. husband stayed close enough to hold her hand. i like to think they were cunning: acted like strangers to stay together. or maybe god allowed it.

"mother was rather tall, nut brown. walnut. full everywhere, but not fat. soft features. warm smile. no scars--i guess our people weren't into such. she was probably jeweled, but all that would have been snatched away.

"for whatever reason, it was easier for the men to keep scraps of clothing and other items. husband had hid a blade in some cloth. story goes: the morning they were to go on the block, husband slit his throat, praying for another man to come and care for mother. and you know prayers that come with blood or tears are always answered.

"mother decided she had to live on. she was ready for her life in the new world, despite its horrors. but she knew husband was too proud. he'd have run away and been hunted and killed anyway. she smiled as she mourned him, loving his knowing. auction over, the man who bought her bought no men. he and mother would have been split up anyway.

"seems mother's owner needed house slaves and planters. a few breeders wouldn't hurt, either, seeing as the men were rowdy. many had forgotten the old ways by then--their minds were broken from childhood. no one from home before grandparent, and most didn't live that long. rape was no longer taboo or punishable.

"mother met father--the man who helped her start our family--her first day at the plantation. his mother was from an area near mother's people and he spoke his mother's language. he taught her english. she understood quickly, refused to speak it. told no one--besides father, maybe--her true name. her records from the ship had been lost. 'sarajane' was all.

"only thing was, massa paul saw mother and fell in love. just like that.

"he was the only white person mother showed even the slightest regard--she'd even say hello to him in english. story goes: she could see he knew enough to appreciate her as a person, more so than his ignorant, untraveled peers. she sensed she--and the rest--were human to him.

"the night father was sent away mother thought nothing of letting massa paul in. figured he needed to give her instructions for the next day, as he often did. instead he tied her down and raped her. three times. each time a little longer than before. mother cried and fought at first. then prayed and left her body. tried to see home but couldn't get that far.

"she went to the sea, since the coast was just a few miles from the plantation. see, her people worshipped the river goddess, but there were no rivers (that she'd seen yet) here. even so, the sea welcomed her. mother told her troubles to the water, and the sea told her she wasn't alone. that these men were mad and did mad things.

"paul left her, weeping uncontrollably. still wanting more. next day he hung himself.

"father came back from his errand and helped her heal. he knew the herbs and incantations--his mother had taught him how to revere earth, sky, and water. he also presented offerings to the sea as thanks for sheltering her.

"mother knew she was pregnant with paul's child. father could have rid her of it, but she said it was the will of the ancestors.

"abeomaka came in with a hurricane. bit mother, kicked father. gray eyes, pale honey skin, black hair with a slight wave. more animal than child. never learned to speak--or at least didn't tell anyone he knew how. he'd hide in the woods for days at a time--from at six years old!--and return as clean as when he'd left. mother said he was a sorcerer, not a child. something from home angry at the new place he found himself in. crazy with his mother's pain and the pain of his people, intersected with the greed of his biological father's race. rage incarnate.

"one day when he was about thirteen or fourteen years old, he disappeared. no body found, none buried. never tamed, never broken.

"as mother loved father, the line began. her true firstborn, jamaal (john to the whitefolk), was snatched away and sold early. after that, prayers were sent up asking that girls always be born first since they were more likely to stay with the family.

"our family's men were given spiritual sight to help protect their sisters, mothers, aunts, and wives. as you know, they'd be killed if they actually fought on their behalf. in the worst times, abeomaka would return to guide our hands.

"and that's how we began."



i want to say
something like
"i don't use
...i bleed thru penstrokes and
make pages drip lifewater!"

but it sounds far too cliche.
and these days
i fear those
more than anything.

the world is in serious need
of innovation--
there are already
too many cycles
too much history
too many people

i always wonder
if i'm part of the solution
or perpetuating the problem.

i mean,
def poetry
makes everyone old enough to
stay up past midnight
wannabe a poet.

every hustla's the next jay-z
get shot and you're an instant ja rule
maybe even a pac or biggie-style martyr

i write 'cause i have to.

there's no goal or destination,
no record deal or basement studio cd--

i just do this.
universal ticker tape machine
running off emotional dividends
and updates on the worth of the ancestors
(refreshed daily for someone's convenience)

so i won't start in on
the beauty of my nubian people
the merits and/or detriment of pussy poems or
late night thoughts of wrist-slitting and angst.

i just want to know
if any of these words have a purpose
and constantly consider
the validity
of the messenger.


a shout out (originally titled "manifesto")

…there has to be a better way to live, a better way to manifest our humanity. what is going on around the world right now is indicative of the worst of human behavior. on the other hand, there are miracles in the chaos. there are many testaments to the human spirit being written…even if they are being written in blood.

it's not going to end any time soon, but it's possible to end it. maybe everything has to fall apart first, be put back together. i don't know the details. i have a few ideas, but that's about all.

however, i'm tired of feeling like—no, knowing—that we are failing all the tests we're being given. history isn't repeating itself in the normal way; we are aiding and abetting it--and not the good history, either.

we're opting to follow the money trail versus going into the light.

something has to give, and soon.

otherwise this society will implode of its own arrogance and stupidity. there are people all over the nation and all over the world saying this, but the ones in the best positions are the people doing absolutely nothing about it.

it will take years for any of this to affect them, so they are willing to take their chances.

the rest of us don't have that kind of time. and, apparently, as long as we're "kept" people, we don't seem to care.

go on and brush your shoulders off….yeah. that's cool for a minute or so, but what are you gonna do in the long run?

when the people come crashing thru those gated communities and loot your palace instead of the one hundreds of miles away?


thought #1

sugar water raindrops
and the smell of
freshly cut
honey-coated grass
still couldn't be as sweet as you.


tattoos & birthmarks

we are still scarred.
wearing tribal marks in
permanent ink and
ancestral kisses

we know them as moles
or patches of odd-colored skin
shaped like birds
and butterfly wings.

the rites of passage
have been inverted
impaled on
upside down mcdonald's signs and
burned in the glow of televisions...

car stereos deafen the drum beat
and the children lose their way...
this has been said so many times
by so many people
i wonder if it's even worth repeating.

there is nothing new under the sun
so why do we act like 3 year olds
and pretend we don't remember
what we did five minutesdaysyearscenturies ago?

consistently actin brand new
as if each dawn
is an excuse for absentmindedness...

do gasoline fumes
cause collective amnesia?

is it the money?
indoor plumbing?

maybe walmart supercenter theft sensors
steal a bit of our collective subconscious
each time we go to pick up
paper towels and
toilet paper.

but i'm tired of making excuses

it's like they say--
betta act like ya know
ya betta ask somebody
betta recognize


cognizance is an asset,
ignorance a liability.