A poem of memory and desire.
In a speech President John F. Kennedy never got to deliver on November 22, 1963, he had planned to say, “We are in this country watchmen on the walls of freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may achieve the ancient vision of peace on earth, goodwill…”
by angels, suspicion and boredom.
Walking up, down and sideways
on new pavement by old waters,
sand traps are no concern for me.
I am air.
Floating under a hard gaze
held by generations of forgotten eyes
Regal ponies are seen
fast running to the slaughterhouse
still wearing their crimson collars and brass shoes
I came running like those horses too
All sweet smelling and sweat drenched…
whipped and pampered for the screams
of those dot dot faces who smoke serious cigars.
They sit up there in the crowd.
The crowd. The crowd.
Always screaming too loud.
Too loud to notice new born screams…
the ones born today in Shawnee and Appalachia,
the ones born yesterday in Stonewall,
And the day before yesterday in Selma and Birmingham,
the ones born long ago on the Trail of Tears
Mancha! Mancha! ~ Amok! Amok!
These were the sounds
shaken from the branches
of my first Amazon forest days
and from the plastic carnage
of the last Mardi Gras parade
when I still loved you
and you were still there to love.
I found factory life on my lost journey
to the saving sidewalks that purred
secret noises in the night.
I saw beaming headlights
obstructing vision of all that was not
of gossamer persuasion.
I found shadow land entrances
hidden under the hearth of roaring fires
and cracking pipes
and unseemly sewn city street quilts
that orphan boys pull up close
around their ears near the dark side of dawn
as they try to snatch warmth from the cold zone
of ransomed things.
Things that push and tug
and push and tug
and push and tug
at the hush.. the huSHHHHHH…
the hush that holds the keys.
Keys to sleep, to tigers, and to happy boy days
in the sun of a picturesque valley
in a faraway land where your
sweet mama was singing…
hush little baby don't you cry
you’ll hustle in the city by and by
But don’t sleep little man,
don’t close your eyes to the world.
The choices you were given are the ones that you have chosen.
You now play the role of both inquisition and Starlite
floating in and out of all that an impossible dream
can use and abuse
Mancha! Mancha! ~ Amok! Amok!
Things, as they are, have become…
things as they have come to be.
Press your scarred hand up to the glass -
Push and bleed and pray — Holy whisper
Whisper holy… hold me
— Hold me in Stonewall
— Hold me in Selma
— Hold me on the Trail of Tears
Hold me — like a morphine drip on an electric fence
Hold me in life
Even more, hold me in death…
It seemed once the better option than confessing beautiful weakness
Hold me in the gap between coping and fixing
Hold me in the divide between breathing and living
I am vapor. Hold me
unbroken strings of experience,
splatters on bed sheets,
splatters in bedpans,
fresh cut flowers,
unopened boxes of white linen gauze,
frustrated fruit flies,
the lingering taste of the last breath
that filled his mouth.
We are heir to the forgotten stories of
these beautifully flawed, gritty, truth-tellers
who planted notorious gardens
Knowing they would not know the harvest
They hear us now. They are vapor. The air that moves us
I honor them and invoke their names here
I press them upon my heart
They move us all to push, bleed, pray…
SING ~ where no more loud sounds exist
that can tear up the paper black night
or pierce the last whenever hope notes
that somehow feel cruel
Inside your critical skin.
SING ~ like a Mexican school girl
who finds no mother’s breath on her tender cheek
At the edges of nations
she holds to bars with tiny hands
meant to hold apples and dolls
SING ~ like a Cherokee warrior.
SING ~ like the power etched inside you before enslavement
SING ~ like the mind of a handsome woman
who sits alone in her bottle of cheap wine
counting the cigarettes in the strangers’ lips
SING ~ like the mirror.
Everyone is a mirror,
if you look at them long enough.
SING ~ like those sacred scars earned from movements, sermons, and songs
SING ~ like courage blood and scarred love that survives on the Appalachian fringe
SING ~ like a Haitian princess -who speaks in French tones…
with an uncertain cadence because the language is not her own
SING ~ from the abyss but don’t confuse revenge with justice
SING ~ of justice for the suffering ones whose voice has been taken violently from them
SING ~ a theology of reversal.
SING ~ to allow hollow things to open up inside of you.
SING ~ to remember what it is to bleed …and live
SING ~ to be in the presence of what some call God
Who made you worthy of loving and of being loved in return.
Open your throat and SING !
Somewhere between memory and desire lingers a lost voice
Weeping gently and hopeful on an unknown Kentucky hillside
Weep no more, my lady. Oh, weep no more today.
Brother mirror. Sister friend.
We are one — as has always been
Look at me again from your belly.
Touch your lips once more to mine
Breath the good breath
And together…once again
We shall SING!