I Dissent

“When one group breaks the covenant of truth and assumes an exclusive role in defining the basis of human relationship, that group plants the seed of rebellion.” 

  James H. Cone. Black Theology and Black Power


It will never be anything other than 

An uneasy balancing act 

Between us 


That is the condition and cost 


We tell stories of temptation 

It slithers and sheds its skin 

It sounds reasonable to reasonable people 


Or, for dramatic effect, we set desirable thing 

Behind a chain link fence 

We poke our fingers between the links 


We dream the dreams of petty tyrants 

Whose bellies and hearts are never full 

And the soul of this world is never enough 


Temptation is real


This world is built on a promise 

Not a statue 

Our bodies require bonds that are renewed daily 


The claim is a simple one 


I am a living being 

With living beings 

On a living being 


And so are you 


To be is to make that claim 

To be held to that claim 

To be judged by that claim 


We live a circular scale 

Or maybe a spiral 

To understand this is to understand justice 


Not just a word we say 

But a living template 

A claim made on each other just because we are alive 


A claim I hope and expect 

You will make of me 

As I make of you 


When you get drunk with power… 

I dissent. 

Text Prompt Hour 11: Notes to a Supreme Comedy (with apologies to Wallace Stevens)

(inspired by Steven’s poem “Notes Towards a Supreme Fiction”)


And for who, except for you, is there mirth?

Do I inquire of saints, sinners (or jokers)?

Who can define it?  Who can disclose it?

Meanwhile in deliberate shadow

A caper nudges towards a dark exit

With a mind of transcendence.

It Must Be Paradoxical

Where is the line where farce ends and I begin?

No one can reason it out

The space is vague, undefined, and anxious

Until a flash of unknowing

Splits our inner sky

Revealing us unique and together

A fraternity of fools

It Must Surprise

All depends on what should not be

Expectation subverted

Meanings transgressed

Caught up in tides from astonished seas

And inspirited western winds

Who could reason it out?

It Must Take Your Breath Away

It takes a friend to truly mock us

Can we see it clearly

Through tears streaming

Breath convulsing

Brain flooded with endorphins and oxygen

And the staccato howls of pranksters

Who just got away with it.




Hour 10 Prompt: The Love Affair Between My Cat and My Laptop

I believe my cat has been having an affair with my laptop

She pretends to be disinterested, but I know better

That it is no coincidence when she walks across my keys while I type

If I leave my office without closing my computer

She will surely be stretched out on my keyboard

Getting kitty acupressure

And the purring caress of the motor.

If I leave the office door open, I fear they…

My cat and my laptop…might elope.

Hour 9 Visual Prompt: If Silence Were Wishes

There was a time when I believed

That snow kept secrets.

There was a time when I believed

That chill air kept confidence.

There was a time when I believed

That yelling wishes into snowstorms brought good luck.


If silence is true, then snow and chill and storms

Are no longer useful

Still, wishes do not simply fall to the ground.

Wishes are for leaving fresh tracks.



When faced with a Monolith

this obsidian, third-dimensional

Plane of featurelessness from beyond Jupiter,

How does one respond?

Is there an etiquette to meeting mystery?

Should I say that I come in peace,

Shave, shower and put on my best suit

For such an occasion?

Should I beg for my life?

Should I bend a knee in some faux grandiosity?

Or should I jump in and be scattered across the solar system,

Transmuted into a melanated galaxy child?



When They Come For the Poets, They Won’t Find Me

Everyone knows

In those lawless days,

The poets are the first to go.


But I, dear leader,

Am a master of disguise

I hide in plain sight


Because everyone knows

A poet is a predator

And can’t help stalking poetic prey


Stealth is the key to survival

So I camoflauge

I wear my fear like skin


And everyone knows

That years of hiding

Changes a man’s shape


Until I am a shadow

Nobody looks for shadows


And yet, everyone (?) knows that

Poetry only needs a pause

To turn and stalk you


It lurks in shadows

Where nobody else would search for me


And everyone knows

Being stalked by poetry

Changes a man


Shadow is my camouflage

My skin is my own


When they come looking

They won’t find me

I have been turned into a hunter.



Recliner On the Corner

Maybe it’s been there a week

Sometimes life surprises you like that


But there it was

A couple blocks from my house


A recliner the color of tired goldrush

Sitting on the northeast corner of the the intersection


A hole head-height

Worn threadbare from the weight of thoughts


I imagine in its proud earlier days

More citrus, more orange, with a hint of lemon


Now it sits there un-sat

A silent, stationary traffic guardian.


I wonder if there is a such thing as

Chair purgatory

Or if like Sisyphus the chair

Is mocked by the gods

And doomed to sit unfilled…unfullfilled…

Its arms outstretched, awaiting the weight

Of human touch

No more


Perhaps, with its last days of chair dignity left,

It remembers grandparents and unexpected company

It holds watch

For hospitality


Hour 5 Visual Prompt: Reclamation in an Inverted Key

At first it looked abandoned

Perhaps for a long time

The ivy reclaiming its space

Up the eastern wall

Clinging to weathered wood

Vines listening to the echoes

Of pots, arguments and baths

In human residue.


The window is a mirage…


…where the light gets through

Inviting a congress of ivy

Reclaiming and renewing

The ancient rites of reaching

For the light, clinging to a

Weather beaten eastern wall


Reflection on Charles Mingus’ “Haitian Fight Song”

Not down and not out

Mingus bass thumping heartbeat

Never underdog


Liberation soup

Spicy sax and a fight on

Your hands Mingus style


Tried to keep you poor

I’ll be a Haitian with you

Your fight is my fight


Bum bump a doo dah

Bum bump a doo dah

Bum bump a DOO dah

DOO dah DOO dah

A List Like Any Other

A list like any other

Would include purple socks

Red pepper hummus

A flat-head screwdriver

And coffee beans from exotic sounding places


A list like any other

Would include step by step instructions

To a recipe that still needs

A couple extra cloves of roasted garlic


A list like any other

Should always include

Mint chocolate chip ice cream