You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2006.

Although it was supposed to be featured for only two weeks, my poem “This Is the Story of How Many Women?” is still up as the Featured Work at Spiral Bridge.

Memphis Vaughan, Editor and Webmaster of TimBookTu will be the guest on The Communicators Talk Show on WHCR, 90.3, The Voice of Harlem on Sunday, February 26 from 2:00 to 2:30 PM Eastern Time.

If you live in the New York City area, tune in Sunday afternoon and listen to Mr. Vaughan as he talks with the host, Cinque Brown, about TimBookTu and African-American writing and poetry.

You can also listen to the program live on-line by visiting WHCR  and clicking on the Listen to WHCR Live link.  

I write to tell you about a project I’ve been involved in and to ask your support of it.

For several years, I have been involved with Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty, an Alabama-based organization, making and maintaining their website and other special projects.

Project Hope’s Chairman, Darrell B. Grayson, is a talented writer. He learned to write, and write very well, during more than two decades he has spent on Death Row in Alabama. Over the last few years, Darrell has had poems published in a number of magazines including Right Hand Pointing and, most recently, the Birmingham Arts Journal which is published by the Birmingham Museum of Art.

Birmingham author Sandra Agricola and I operate a literary press called Mercy Seat Press.  We publish chapbooks and full-length books, mostly by area authors, the proceeds of which support charities selected by our authors.

Sandra and I decided that Darrell’s poetry deserved publication, collected in book form. We are proud to make available AGAINST TIME, poems by Darrell B. Grayson. Here is an excerpt from the Foreword, which I am proud to have contributed.

“A lot of people in prison turn to poetry. Any poet—and any convict—can easily understand why. How rare, though, to discover writing of this quality by a man with so few resources, no poetry mentors, no workshops, and a limited collection of poetry books. My colleague, poet Sandra Agricola, says of Darrell’s poetry, ‘such freedom evoked by one so confined.'”

“This is a book of poems. It does not speak directly of the death penalty and will not argue a case to the reader. However, after hearing this voice, a reader cannot help but be reminded that the State of Alabama has the power to still it. We take comfort in knowing that years from now, regardless of those years go for Darrell, he will have left behind something good, something beautiful. We all hope that is true of our lives.”


Proceeds from the sales of Darrell’s book go to Project Hope. We hope you’ll order a copy. Please consider ordering an extra copy or two for your friends. Put a copy in the hands of an open-minded person who is pro-Death Penalty. Remind them of the humanity of those who face execution.


To order, please send $13.00 ($12.00 plus $1.00 shipping and handling) to:


Mercy Seat Press

2121 Vesthavia Drive

Birmingham, Alabama 35216

Alternately, you can Paypal the funds to

and I’ll see that you get your copy/copies.


Remember, the sale of this book benefits Project Hope!

Thank you!



Dale Wisely



by Darrell B. Grayson

Oh, teach me the meaning of tenderness, dear skies,

Through the unfurling ribbons of your embrace.

Whisper to me the ethics of being lean

In my feasting celebration for life

For love…for kinds.

I hear your voice in bounteous boughs,

In the nectar-driven honey bee.

It resonates in inky caves of tribal spleens,

In the life of life flowing ever onwards,

Those that bubble up and sweet,

In the fragrant blossom of lovers’ buds

In grasses nurturing and decorative.

I see your voice in heavenly colors,

In shooting stars and half hills,


In the heavens.

Teach me Virgil’s history of tender plan,

And open the eyes in the confrontation of self.

Give me visions of supping lions and tigers,

Moors and Spaniards and Romans,

Of Apaches and Pilgrims,

Of Africans and Mankind.

Oh, teach me gentleness,

As the palms sway on the breeze,

As soft wings night creatures surviving

Survive, then gentleness.



from Against Time. Copyright 2005, 2006, by Darrell B. Grayson

I have a poem, “Two Chickadees,” on ForPoetry.  Scroll down a bit and click on March-May Issue.

Just posted "Fatigue Factor Disbelief" to Flarf Close Readings. Check it out.

Like NASCAR driver Kyle Petty, I’ve been “out of order most of my life.”  Why expect less now?

From “Acknowledgements,” “Making All Things New: The Redemptive Value of Unmerited Suffering in the Life and Works of Martin Luther King Jr.,” (MALS, Wake Forest University, 2000).

Fear’s End

Shortly after midnight, Martin’s sleep was
broken. Lifting the receiver, bone-tired:
Listen, nigger.*

Alone, though his wife
slept beside him, fear drove him
from their bed. The night was filled
with unbearable silence.

Struggling, pacing nervously,
moving from hall to kitchen,

putting the kettle on the stove
by instinct, walking back and forth,
softly, so as not to wake
the baby, trying to sort
muddled thoughts, to drive away spasms
of godless panic.

Hot coffee cools quickly.

He sat alone at that kitchen table,
eyes downcast, hands clasped.

Grace still amazes.

* The well documented “kitchen table incident” occurred during the night following Friday January 27, 1955—near the on-set of the year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott—when Martin Luther King Jr. received a threatening phone call from a white man, who called him a “nigger” and warned him that he had better leave Montgomery soon, if he wanted to do so alive.


Martyred At the Lorraine

I can see Martin.
On that balcony.

Hosea. Jesse. Martin. Ralph.

But you will say,
my mind is playing tricks.

That was the night before,
right? Before
he gave that speech
to those garbage men,

going to Mason’s Chapel in pouring rain,
tired as he was.

Sure he would march.
But who would guess,
his final speech

would come in Memphis?

The baritone softly hums “Precious Lord,”
and he smiles.

Wrong again.
That was the day

it happened.

I can see Martin.
At that Negro motel.

He throws out his chest,
waves his hand as he speaks,

into the nip of an April twilight,

perhaps picturing his “four little children”:

a robust man, he tells
of what he sees atop the mountain—

in the land beyond,

in the view.

“Oh! . . . ”

The bullet pierced its intended,
and Ralph gently cradled
Martin’s dying head. Who, now,
will choose redemption,

suffering—to implement the dream?

I see Martin carried.
From the Lorraine.

A widening pool of still-warm blood
turns brown.

Both poems from my master’s thesis, “Making All Things New: The Redemptive Value of Unmerited Suffering in the Life and Works of Martin Luther King Jr.” (MALS, Wake Forest University, 2000). Also published in “Gathering the Broken Pieces,” Kanona, NY: Foothills Publishing, 2004.

Windows Toward the World

The earth spins and spins

beneath the snowy sky,

while the flarfists

search their search engines

for language of the world’s

modernity.  The world—lovely

from my window—awaits

in the low light of the hidden sun,

where God hurls snow, love

toward a whirling earth.


February 2006