Peaceful Drummer/Brother

I used to write poems for people all the time, but never let them know. Looking back, I’m not sure why. Here’s one.

peaceful drummer, brother
of intensity
positive density
synergistic energy a
propensity for transcendence
ascendent, though reluctant
demanding transitions
in response to life’s
decisions
and the throes of culture shock
you rejected for past humanities

peaceful drummer, brother
of new directions
fired with the enthusiasm of discovery
extend to the corners
that you see, the corners
full of unkempt secrets, the corners
of my mind that you swept free
of cobwebs with a “did you ever read”
and i wondered when you had the time
before you’d have to take out
your eyes
every night before midnight
you’d call the universe
and later call her God
Sweet Zombie Jeebus spoken in
windswept psalms to an African
backbeat
and the universe did call back
’cause I prayed for the call
but I never told you
so
you’re welcome
and shit.

peaceful drummer, brother
of changing tides and
woe betides to they who
underestimate how much you
loved her and within
your evolution past
cultural confusion there was
a revolution of romantic
effusion and you was drowned
in a delusion that she’d
let you love me,
brother
but see, she could have no other
the mother
of your life’s solution
so in my own mutation
not of your creation
you couldn’t foresee the
situation and my hand-penned
dissertation went unread,
didn’t it?

peaceful drummer, brother
paralleling my transformations
round about ’88 or so
when you found your permanence
and i only permutations of
she’s not her and she’s not
her and she’s not her and
she’s not her and she’s
not
her
but your her was she

and so i lost you
peaceful drummer, brother
to the other
part of your soul
which was cool and
what i’d prayed for
since the day we met
and i’d follow you around
picking up the bits of shattered
glass that used to be her heart
and i want you to please,
brother, please know
i loved the day we parted
because some ships
gotta sail, i said
some ships gotta
sail
some ship got
a sail
and yours only blew
to her.

and it’s still cool
and it’s still my
answered prayer
but some days when
no one understands
i wish we hadn’t taken
that last permutation
of our brother
situation.

never had another
peaceful brother,
my drummer.

Sing a Song of Fake Likes

Sing a song of bloggers
a pocket full of likes
four and twenty photos
most are of bikes
they don’t know you don’t read
politely like you back
so your imaginary friends
can lick along your crack

Why the hell do you care?
Why the fakery?
Click like on all the unread poems
or foodies’ bakeries.
You have such pretty photos
(yeah, right)
They really are a hit
but please, don’t come and visit me,
’cause I don’t need that shit.

Inequality

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He is a ghost.

You can tell by the w1-DSCF3322ay they pass but do not see. He is tethered there, rippled by time and indifference. The tilted shadow of injustice mocks him, as do reminders of the destruction reaped from his passing. This is H Street, NE, in Washington D.C. Things are finally changing–but not for them. Not for the unwanted ones.

By April 5, 1968, he’d left this mortal coil, and so did the hopes of those he left behind. Washington did not explode so much as self-destruct. It tore through its heart, killing Anacostia, burning small businesses in the purge of the ‘almighty whitey.’ It killed H Street too, shattering Kay Jewelers and the

1-DSCF8479one real department store chain that had serviced its people. They never returned–not to Anacostia, not here. Certainly, the city flourished, but not for those at the bottom of the economic ladder. The view from the bottom never changes and it smells a lot like ass.

Martin’s people, you see, had missed his point. So he lingers here, watching, across from the reminder of the anger of his raging people. “You can’t kill whitey,” he would tell them, if they listened, “because whitey never existed.” They raged against boogeymen, but the true weapons of inequity are fear and indifference. In their futile rage, they’d wielded the first and foredoomed themselves due to the other.

So, the 20th century passed, with Martin being canonized, but his real legacy ignored. Chocolate City had melted into a puddle of economic futility, and no one noticed; no one cared. The businesses never returned, and the people there never prospered.

1-DSCF3341The century died, was buried, and only the liquor stores noticed. That’s what ‘hoods’ are for, aren’t they: guns and liquor? Well, guns, liquor, empty lots, and shattered hopes. But things are changing, now. Can you see it? The trucks roll in and carry with them the winds of economic prosperity and gentrification.

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It’s no longer H Street, but Gentrification Boulevard, the big G Unit. Gee, and that rhymes with flee, and that means for good. Get thee the f**k out, poor ones.

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So Martin sits along the wall, watching the tide turn for H Street, but not in their favor. It already smells different, with down-home cooking replaced by uptown fare, and the light is brighter, the streets more colorful, and the century has been upgraded to Twenty-one. And it’s all good … except that nothing ever changes for the poor ones.

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No business plan for them, you see, except for what they can hustle on the streets. No one stepped in during the 80s when the city tried to murder itself. No one noticed during the Raygun years or the Clinton Bubble or the Bushleague Fiasco or the Old Bama Drama. No one ever notices … them.

With the influx of the Washington Nationals major league baseball team, the creeping edges of Anacostia have begun to blossom, driven by the millions poured into the local economy. Likewise, the wealthy few knead their hands over the prime real estate along H Street, walking distance from Union Station and the National Mall, and wait. The cable cars will come, albeit late.

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And Martin will disappear, when someone tears down the metal gate from which he watches as a new, improved H Street appears: one without his people–not the blacks or the whites or the latinos–but the poor, forgotten, separate, and definitely unequal.

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This is going to be a nice place one day. 1-S0038485

Invisible

Bill Jones, Jr.:

A poem, from M, for Blog Action Day

Originally posted on Diary of a Person Being Human:

Invisible Me

I am not black.

I am the wrong shade of white.

I speak with no accent,

Yet people shout at me,

To help clarify their words.

My hair is too dark,

My nose is too hooked.

I am too female,

So my mind must be faulty.

I am too small, too short, too young,

Therefore I must know less.

I am not feminine enough,

I use masculine words,

I must be a threat,

Unfriend, delete, deny access, exterminate!

I am invisible,

Yet everybody notices these things.

But what they don’t see,

Is Me.

*In participation of Blog Action Day. If you would like to participate, register your site via the link provided. Remember also to include ‘inequality’ in your tags.

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Grace y los Naguales

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Bill Jones, Jr.:

The book is no longer available, but this snippet is.

Originally posted on Just Me:

This is my from favorite chapter from Awakening, my most emotional book. I won’t explain the context of the scene; you’ll have to read the book. I promise you’ll like it if you do.

Grace crouched in her seat, still peering at Charlie, then, ever-so-slowly, rose up, her knees against the seat back and leaned forward. Instinctively, Charlie himself leaned forward as Grace did, both kids moving at the speed of a drowsy slug. As they grew closer, now almost nose-to-nose, Charlie’s forced smile became genuine, and his dimples deepened to their full depths. Grace, for the first time, burst out in a rapturous smile of her own, and stuck one index finger in each dimple.

Robin laughed out loud, then immediately clapped her hand to her mouth. No one had heard her but Grace, who looked at her with a huge grin. “I do that all the time,” Robin…

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iDon’t

i wonder if you’d mind
if i traded a thousand of your likes
for a single smile.
would it offend you, could i be
unfriended
for my antisocially friendly request?
i wonder if you’d hear me
over the tip-tapping sound
your phone makes as you
abbreviate our interactions.
i reckon not, you see, because
though we’ve established a hundred
times per day that you like me,
it’s not at all clear that you
actually see me.

and we both know
y’all don’t hear me.

i wonder if you’d mind
if i shut you off,
pulled your plug,
and turned to the trees
instead of the screen. they
never mind, even when i’d
cut them down to leave you
missives that you’re now
too busy to read. i wonder
if you’re in there, and
at times i have to resist
the urge to shake the phone
and see if you’ll fall out
into my palm.
i’d kiss all your buttons
if you did that.

but you’re not in there,
are you?

i wonder if you know
that i’m not even there
when you see me. i wonder
if you’ll click my pic
to see i’ve been in the world
for a minute and forgot how
to interweave all my bits
with yours.
it doesn’t really matter,
i suppose,
since you like me,
heart me,
sometimes even leave me
love letters–
like idk lol wtf didugo?

i went … out.

and i wondered if you’d
notice
but you didn’t, because
you were busy spending
your precious air time
looking down,
and i don’t live there
any more.

i’m still out …
where the air
smells
like chocolate.
you remember chocolate –
kinda looks like #C85A17
and tastes really great
with a cuppa hot #6F4E37.

i made you some–
hoping you’ll look up,
walk over, and grab you
some
of my likes.

mine come with kisses
that’ll wet your earholes.

just so y’all will
finally
hear me.

The Changeling – Chapter 1, Part 2

Charlie’s excitement lasted only seconds. The inside of the bus reeked of cigarette smoke and cheap perfume, which wafted like a noxious cloud from the bus driver. As he passed, she growled in his direction, but he didn’t stop to listen. He was too busy trying to find a seat while avoiding making eye contact with anyone on the bus. It was fortunate he was looking down, as a shard of clipped toenail grazed his face, just missing his eye.

Charlie looked up to see a swing set in the aisle of the bus. Fat Mrs. Martinez was sitting on the swing, humming a tune, kicking dust from the dirt floor with one foot, and trimming the crusty toenails of the other. As he squeezed past the swings, all the while ducking toenail shrapnel, he found a seat in the very back, next to, of all people, the guy from The Twilight Zone. It wasn’t the old chain-smoking guy with the creepy black shoe polish hair that his dad loved, but the newer, cooler one. Charlie found this not at all surprising.

The bus navigated an unfamiliar highway, past ramshackle houses and barren neighborhoods. At the distant end of the highway stood a set of high mountains. They sat in two rows, the first reflecting a pinkish hue in the morning sunlight. Behind them, rising ominously until they disappeared into the clouds were mountains of black rock. Gray clouds slumped down the mountain slopes obscuring the highway ahead in a blanket dense fog. A faraway part of Charlie’s brain began to cry out that he had never seen mountains like these in eastern Virginia.

Still, that is not what drew his immediate attention. Instead, he wondered why there was only one other kid on his bus. He could not make out the shadowy figure near the front, except that it was obviously a girl, with long, dark hair. She sat with her back to him, dressed head-to-toe in black. She never turned around, which Charlie decided was probably a good thing. From his position, she too-closely resembled a few Japanese horror movies he had covertly downloaded onto his computer. Initially, he wondered why he’d not noticed her before, but as he continued looking, he realized there was something familiar about her. He squinted, trying to focus in the dim light of the old bus.

It’s that girl again.

He was certain of it. He had been dreaming her all summer. She never spoke to him, though lately she had begun to smile on the rare occasions when he made eye contact. When that happened, Charlie always woke himself up, or, if that did not work, he would look down and hurry away. The girl never did anything out of the ordinary. In fact, most of the time, she watched him, silently, as though his dreams were created solely for her amusement. He guessed serial killers smiled too, just before doing their foul work. He wondered if the girl had killed Mrs. Martinez, since she was no longer anywhere to be seen.