Hour 3: Senseless

You want me to walk?

You can’t pray that miracle on me

Not this tired body

Aching with worry

Feet too swollen after the last march

 

When I close my eyes

I feel heart break for all the pain

That cannot be healed by medicine or miracle

 

When I close my eyes

I smell fear and hatred

Polluting the air with lies and ego

 

When I close my eyes

I hear children crying for succor

Shivering in animal “camps”

With no hope for blue skies and safe harbor

 

When I close my eyes

I see no end to sorrow

I see no way to go

 

And so I’ll travel inside my agile mind

Where I dream and hope

Where I imagine what could be

Where I find a reason to walk again

Hour 2: Eating Clouds

Aunt Yvonne charged down Cox Street

carrying her sorcerer’s bag —

filled with spell books and fairy dust —

like a sword

to battle the demons who threatened our safe kingdom.

Aunt Yvonne — proud pastry chef at

“one of the finest white restaurants in Jackson, Mississippi”

where colored people entered through the kitchen

and stayed there.

 

From that kitchen, Aunt Yvonne conjured

the lightest biscuits in town.

“Feathers!” some exclaimed.

“Clouds!!” they rhapsodized.

No white person who ate Aunt Yvonne’s cooking

ever choked on quills

or saw her tears flow like rain.

 

She returned to us each night

with her bag full of treasure

for two little girls who had fought sleep

to greet their “Aunty Vonne”

who had braved the nether world to fight for us.

She always brought us her softest clouds to eat.

She had taken care to season them herself

so we would not have to swallow our own tears.

 

She charmed the pale ogres

masked as helpless elders

She deceived the white dragons

disguised as courtly ladies and gentlemen.

So they mistook her for a plain and harmless colored girl

wearing the uniform of subservience.

Seduced by her smile,

they never pierce her armor

nor realized she fed them slow poison

of bitterness and pain

inside their featherlight bread.

 

And they never knew she took back the best of her magic

to feed us divine dreams.

Hour 1: Ever I Am

Whatever I am, I am not subtle

Waiting for the pause in the conversation

Sneaking in my ideas to not offend

 

Wherever I am, I am not speedy

Whipping out my words like a snapping lash

Hit and run and never look back

 

Whoever I am, I am not finished

Used up, dried up, lacking juice

Irrelevant, obsolete, out to pasture

 

However I am, I am here

Still standing, still fighting, still breathing

Still

 

Hour Twenty-Four: Traveling outside my window

Travel with me

 

Through the slits in my blinds

My ever-growing evergreen buries the mailbox

kisses the windowpane

every time the wind blows

 

To the right of the walk

An ancient maple that attacked my roof last spring

When it lost one of its arms

Leaving a hole that dripped with rain

And left a staining mark on the ceiling over my head

 

My sad lawn a spotted green

Holes where the squirrels bury their nuts through fall

And dig up when the trees die

Hanging planter incongruously in the center

A gift from a friend

who chose the spot without my permission

Nothing lives inside

Broken solar lights along the path

 

When winter comes, you’ll find more beauty

In the peaceful snow glowing under the moonlight

 

Exit through the tired and broken

no-longer-gated

no-longer-white

picket fence

 

Look past the dragon house across the street

(The name over the front porch: Dragon Flyte)

The dragon lover that named it has died

But her spirit lingers in the name

 

Beyond, pointing to the heavens

world famous concrete silos that friendly geese call home

 

Look up!

Look up!

Ah!

Joy in the morning sky!

Hour Twenty-Three: Anticipating Betrayal

With my sister, I anticipated betrayal.

She never was what she said

 

When we were young, she was god.

I adored her,

worshiped her,

feared her,

and yearned to be in her image

 

Every time I thought she would

be my savior

she left me bereft of hope

with broken covenant

and unfulfilled promises

 

I adored my sister for her strong persona

but never was able to fit myself in her image.

She burned hot and spontaneously

I simmered slowly,

duly deliberately.

She was quick to see an advantage

and take it.

I was the advantage she took.

 

Because she was god, her cruelest acts were proof

of her awesome power

her fearsome wrath

her benevolent generosity.

 

Even in my pain

which she caused

I thanked her for taking time for me.

Mostly, she forgot I existed.

 

Sometimes in the twilight gods fade into oblivion

But they do not die

Even her death betrayed me

For she left me incomplete

 

I think now that I betrayed her

With my adulation

 

If only I could bring her back

To replace my obsequious adoration

With love

Hour Twenty-Two: That Black Dress

Who painted you into that black dress

Cleaving you to the tips of your alabaster breasts

Leaving your arms and shoulders bare

 

Do your ears blush in shame

Or pain

 

Are you looking toward your escape

Is that your exit

Do you look away to hide your plan

 

I see your fists clutched

One to snatch away the painted dress

One to snatch a way out

 

Who poured you into that black dress

When will you paint your revenge

 

Hour Twenty-One: Dying for Love

I just about died

When I saw my man

All wrapped up in that stone-cold bitch

Uglier than sin

 

He was the love of my life

There is no other like him

When he left me

My world shattered

And I vowed to never love again

 

And there he is with her

I should just kill them both

Hour Twenty: Sacred Spaces

Prompted to envision their sacred spaces

Where heaven touches the world, the thin places

Where you can nearly touch God’s face

 

Others saw themselves on mountain tops and valley bases,

with ocean views, where antelopes pace,

Or riding the seas to watch whales racing

 

I saw me in the midst of teeming masses — all the races

Gathered to embrace

The Mother of Exiles’ tempest tossed, facing

Their fears, all of us yearning, for mercy and grace

Standing in the hate-effacing

Rain; my hand raised

To praise

The God of solace

And holy places

Hour Nineteen: Homegoing

While everyone turned to see

The lonely dot of Earth waving good-bye

Sol shimmering in sorrow

 

I kept my eyes on Alpha Centauri

Winking a welcome

And all the stars!

In joyful splendor

Singing me home

Hour Eighteen: At the Circus

With a clown for ringmaster

The wild animals unfettered to wreak havoc

The lesser acts at the top of the marquee

The petulant children given free rein

 

The circus has stepped out of the three rings

We’re living 1984 and ’48

all over again

It’s happening now because

we did forget

 

No need to shut this carnival down

Believe in the magic.

Instead of watching the show

Jump in and buckle up for a bumpy ride