You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2006.
filters through church-window prisms,
striking the cross,
the hungry one crying,
out of the dark—words to the Sacred.
In the dark, no one recalls the sparrows.
An old man dreams
about a cheeseburger and hot fries.
Where will he lay his head?
Left half dead, outside,
perhaps, through some oversight,
shivering and naked,
with no bowl of hot soup
to warm his belly. Might as well be dead.
Holy candles flicker, as they burn,
the old man dreams a valid dream.
This poem is included in Washing the Color of Water Golden: A Hurricane Katrina Anthology.
On the rock’s underside,
sleeping in the soft dirt,
roll themselves into balls.
The scent of musty earth
and they scurry to get away—
wishing to live in peace.
How can I justify
this abruptness of sunlight?
Nothing is pure
among thin shadows.
A chill invades me,
and I cast the rock aside,
falling to my knees,
as though my action
might proclaim my innocence.
But who will listen
while I explain—
crying a plaintive cry
to a lonely field
where summer is dying?
Those grubs lie still.
Still. With no premonition
of autumnal joy.
Those grubs lie still
beneath the lifted stone.
first published in Domicile
I stopped for water by an ancient tree,
smoldering in a war-torn land.
It was afternoon, when
a fierce downpour of welcome rain
coated the fire-damaged trunk. Seated,
the refuge peered—flesh soiled—
with blackened eyes through
sunken sockets. Leafless tree limbs
failed to serve as shelter. The rain left hair,
clothing pasted immodestly to the body
and me shivering. Fears mingled in
indomitable air. Then—standing to walk away—
she nuzzled her infant to an empty breast,
the older baby to her starving frame.
predictable, like that day’s river of mud.
first published in Black Bear Review
My second chapbook, Paper Snowflakes, is forthcoming from Southern Hum sometime this fall.
wears a dark curtain.
The teasing moon
aborts its gayety, riding white-
And never did stars
seem so dim,
so far away—
silent as mother-of-
pearl, coating the walls
of mollusk’s shells, hiding
where they wait and wait
sharing a stolen kiss, un-
discovered. The nighttime
shadows the earth,
and, perhaps, why
is the least of it.
first published in Domicile
One morning the wind brought me flowers—
white and light—
the blossoms of a Bradford Pear. The same wind
the next day teased my senses with pollen.
But I don’t deny those tender violets—
that hid in the sparseness of springtime grass
in front of the forsythia bush—
a place to float on water with pear-blossoms,
in a small bowl of Depression Ware pink
from my grandmother’s kitchen to a granddaughter
she never knew. O, how I loved the sweet peas
she left to thrive on the backyard fence.
Just got an e-mail from Gigi Parent that contained the following, concerning an event at Reynolda House in Winston-Salem:
Tuesday, March 28, 5:30–6:30 p.m.
Historian Anthony Parent
Admission is $5 (A reception follows.)
Anthony Parent is a professor at Wake Forest University whose research focuses on the early history of African Americans. His most recent book is Foul Means: The Formation of a Slave Society in Virginia, 1660–1740.
Dr. Parent will speak on Jack Johnson, the first black world heavyweight boxing champion, whose controversial celebrity inspired works of art in Moving Pictures.
On the Night When Freedom Came
—for Dr. Anthony S. Parent Jr.
Five of us, including you, Tony,
wandered in the cold woods
where the African dead belong.
The crooning wind blew its
falsetto oo—near the gully, not far from
the tree the slaves planted,
where Aunt Kitty steals away to Jesus,
sways—kneeling in dirt—
hands to heaven, as her singing
mixes joy with sorrow, the way spirituals
do. Aunt Kitty, who lived in the attic
above the kitchen, is the great-
grandmother of lawyer Jay Reynolds,
who came from Critz to join us for dinner—
vegetables, too salty for my taste—
and for the tour that followed.
Remember? We stood in fading light
beside her wood cook-stove. I was wearing
new clothes, bought for the occasion,
a turtleneck under a sweater, jeans,
and gazing upward—hoping to catch a detail
like the rustle of her petticoat between the
rafters—to make her real.
I read my longest poem
just as darkness filled the arbor:
the one about faces and their importance
in terms of story. You explained
the meaning of the pot
and how the slaves turned it on its side,
catching the sounds of their
dangerous praise. You called your speech,
“Life in the Cabins,” and, in your wisdom,
used words from corn-shuck songs.
You said you wouldn’t sing
but joined the choir, your words under-
girded by great drops of sweat
as great as the face I saw on that dead tree.
Perhaps what you dream of is already so:
it was October when my freedom came.
I sat on the front row, looking at you,
clenching my hands in fists.
I want to eat ambrosia,
dine with the gods. Dance.
more at the Dead Mule.