Savage Inequity

For AV.

Watch the faint haze of morning fog at daybreak
acquiesce to the self-same silence
of sewage dripping from the drain, such superfluous sound
as Mama Earth caterwauls from her grave
unheard. Let no curmudgeon juxtapose
a ripe red rose with the rosy cheeks
of a child in heat, or the metaphor of lovemaking
with fever. Let no mayor gentrify
the streets of East St. Louis, or D.C., or Raleigh
because history is no palindrome and the wealth they build tomorrow
will not serve the starving today. Let no man testify
how indubitably he must shut down the schools
to stop the drug sales in the schoolyard
or checking birth certificate at bathroom stalls
until he has breathed the perfume of perfunctory pollution
and placed leaded water upon his parched tongue
marches to the end of the bus line begging
while his pleas meet the only answer he has ever given
when the poor and the weak stumble at his knees.

Our Three Winners

“Ignorance killed my brother.”
“Spread love because they were full of love.”
— remarks from Deah, Yusor, and Razan’s families

Snow fell upon their bodies
a wedding with the earth
while the wind blew upon our tears
fingerprints of ice, soft kisses
of cold breath escaping their lungs.

At the end of a bullet
screams and bloodshed
find your arms still held open
a crescent from hand to hand
and your soul is that star
that burns on in us.

The light overflows
wanders among the weeping
and reminds us
we are still alive.

Fast and Slow

The top of my head
feels hollow
fills with sounds and delusions
that echo
in time with my heartbeat
my pulse
the flow of electrons
through neurons
between where my finger
slides through graphite
on paper
to where my shoulder
hinges at my neck
and past my dry mouth
sagging cheeks
and languished eyes
so I stop thinking
drained by prayer and famine
to observe
the world as it wavers and twists
lilting sideways
as my steps lurch forward
the passages of overhead conversations
like “It’s crazy
in the hands and feet alone
are half the bones
in the body”
and my feet are tired from standing
my hands are numb
from holding open this Book of Life
reading all the words
to find my name
to realize
my hands carry this weight
as much as my feet
that half my body is assigned
to doing
so half my mind
as it withers in sacrifice
should find itself trained
not upon being
eating, drinking, desiring
but doing.

To Death

In memory of Joseph Alexander Banks

To Death

I. Velocity

The average man weighs
around 180 pounds
and from a seventh story fall
it takes only three seconds
to hit the ground

In that span of three seconds
I wonder what he thought
if his mind like mine
was filled with kinematic equations
formulas predicting
the moment of impact
telling us precisely
his highest point
before he fell

I wonder what that weightlessness
was like as he hovered in the air
a slight curvature, torso bent
and arms spread as though in flight
was it a slow decline or depression
that curled away from stillness
as the hands of gravity
held his hands for one last moment

And momentum, a product of velocity
is either positive or negative
either we are rising or falling
but maybe on the ground
we see it backwards
maybe falling isn’t falling
if it feels like flying in the air

Continue reading