I wanted to write a poem a day during Black History month because I was initially thinking of my lack of poetic response to the sad incident of Tamir Rice’s death. I decided to address the tragedy in some of the poems and to make the bulk of rest of the poems about respecting diversity and the global community. This ended up being a fun project.

Here’s my poem for today, and then the entire set of poems…

Feb. 28, 2015

Not just scattered pick-up sticks
rather chromosomes zipping themselves
into groovy patterns of repeating meaning
in the juice, heartbeat historicity
talking in the tabor drums
cheerful piping lungs of birds
making balcony seat comments
on the now of national geographic herds
where zebras race in stripes, dash into dots
of flamenco dancing swirls, the ecstasy
of sommeliers digesting traditions of the
indigenous saying ole to raise the blood
of mariposas genuflecting
to bulls

~ Lady



February’s starting
like a washrag
with grief

Call the sacristan,
dainty it, give it

Cloud from salt,
prepare a minister
for vestments


Tamir dropped
like a rag doll
in two seconds

Video with no sound

The camera, horrified,
had to watch this movie
and it did so, dutifully
doling out chunks
a faithful guardian

Lungs knocked out throat
silent pungent scream wheezing
burning sympathy goads many
to do something

Please come all
to gentle tableland
of understanding


During training
did he feel protocol
for ninnies, standing petulant
arms crossed massaging ulna,
civilized learning unable
to penetrate
the thick mantle
of the heavy dream
in which he swam?

He came down
hot in the cruiser
like a deft metal shark
he thought

Hero being launched
quick clinical bravado
tight rubber band of
“pragmatic” action
he thought

He took Tamir “out”
with a shot, more heat
hot breath, stance dancing
’round car
pulse panic

Him and his shoulder
unthinking, unthinking
blood death
flailing such

~ Lady


The Valenciennes lace on grandmother’s coffee table was a
meditation mat to rest my eyes on as I listened to her

home spun
stories–that both related–because she was my grandma–

and didn’t
relate–because it was hard to imagine her a neotonous

young girl.
Her narrative’s cadence a candle of beautiful hands

guiding me back
in time, bobbined memories of our ancestors’ escapes,

spooling out the underground railroad. I remember her

folding the
lace, a whole drawer of it in the credenza. Here, feel.

They appear
delicate, but they’re sturdy.


Wagoner focuses his attention,
steering clay where it wants
to go

Wagoner wheels there irrespective
of Samsara, of forced casting

Rolling into specificity

Going somewhere’s
what wheels do


Like merchants muttered 10 xu = 1 hao, 10 hao =
1 dong, Thich Nhat Hanh walks a mile in his own shoes
counting breaths and steps, always arriving
appreciating attainment

The Big Dream, great glob, what-is-ness,
moderated suffering like a dash of spice for
happiness, good recipes for que sera,
gathas for que esta

Being with his steps, his constant reunions,
praying for everyone to have breath,
to have that arriving breath,
to have the human right
of happiness


Yardman works in the starlight
twinkling thoughts like wives’ eyes
switch on lines in rhythm with his heart
signaling dawn, “lo-ove, lo-ove,” loaded
like a train faintly blows



Cupid flies on a zephyr
from Lagos, ruby lips homing in
to set things better

Collective psyche poses
modern dancer static fingers
splayed in stance, tender by the
velour waiting for the shape
of change, Leda and
her heat to shine


Shaman thinks with his needle
draws a topographical map
over his sailor’s skin

Conjuring land,
water feeling land,
wind sending emissaries
of birds

A reader of swell over fetch,
the whips of birds’ returns,
the eyes of stars

Waka long
and home strong fast
wind abeam wood
and cloth

Who did this?
We and what’s wrought
on the pondering cords of the sewn
of our sought found by water
watched by winds
and the stars


I want life a musical
dance party family gatherings and
circles of hugs, Hava Nagila and ethnic fusion
dashing dervishes backspinning breakdancers
twelve day Christmases jugglers throwing torches
advent box calendars and harlequins
in repose


King hailed angels
of the moral order
amaranthine beatitude
to our ears

Our keys
are launched by dream
like cacheted letters
carried on the stately talons
of a giant eagle
casting wings

A promise
of our conscience
has come due


Indigenous Americans
are the stateliest people
my eyes romance
in the photos

Chief Thunder Hawk
sits in sepia-solemn 19th century
business clothes or indigenous
cummerbund, two feathers
stick up
like a peace sign

His fingerprints
saved Father DeSmet
hands in it friend Sitting Bull
Treaty of Fort Laramie
violated by the U.S.
in favor of
Black Hills

respect for dignity
of the indigenous
in the liquid reality of money
the anchored reality of land
and the spiritual reality
of human rights

A glacial wait, the court award
a hundred years’

The Lakota shuffle consensus
to pan out amongst themselves
and the legal process
to spill a billion and
sacred hills
into their palms
and under their feet
somehow secured


The Morrocan men I met
had some echt fatherliness, the
responsible gentleness of which conjured
femininity to my European-American

Homegrown walks
through the neighborhood, children
dancing like dolphins alongside, tell me
a story, give me an apple, sing me
a song

Musicians in galibiyas played
a music box of sound on walks back from
parties, their late night returns adjoining
the sacred hour of early morning spiritual
commuters pattering like the shine of
ecclesiastical chandeliers

At the mosque the soaring moan
curtain of woon–call to God, call to Allah–
meet us like the slow and peaceful glide
of the crane to his nest in
the minaret


Hard to say the when and where of
such and such’s from, could’ve been carried
from Mesopotamia to North Africa
or vice versa

Manufacturing’s a melange,
numerous raw attributions dug out of the dirt
by happenstance or planning, gleaned
or traded learning

To know the when and where of it’s
like ascribing butterflies to words fused into
interstitial glass and ground in the crucible or
baked to efflorescent faience

The sum greater-than-its-parts
like the sun shining through a stained glass
mosaic, oculi omnium panoptic glaze melded
to transcendence of the curio that is loved
and examined


In the picture
an African-American in gaiters drives
an Indian motorcycle with a Winter-Weise
platform sidecar carrying a gigantic Macon
Pure Milk Company bottle, the legend
of the motorcycle as hailed as the
chrome of a Coca Cola label
packed in spangled spurs

Critical musings like Leonce Gaiter’s
spill my stomach and heart like airless
horror, my testimony of which’s like
showing off having touched a sore,
see if it still hurts

Privilege leaps around my mind
caffeinated dolphins bobbing and
wading through a swirl of rose petals,
not knowing how to be both totally correct
and compassionate at the same time,
a whimsying finger dallying over
a plate of appetizers
the candy of
gigantic mashup

I wonder–do Native Americans
identify as “Indians,” and if one must
deliberate and be educated, where does
that leave the ignorant and those mired
in the labyrinth of the narrative, those
who haven’t yet pulled up
their boots

And why use “white trash”
and “hillbillies” yet deride Indians
for castes


Ease my rust to work
like habitues of a roost solace
long drawn cello of a tree
round its ring of winter

Bustling passerines
grip and ease the branching itch,
massaging strong dry taloned

Things I want to right in me,
tapping natural activity, kindling
with the green release of
sparkling spring


Ichthyology studies stars like a mystic
traces the embossing of runes, icthys,
quintessence caught, slow bubbles
in the magnum mysterium

Water is the right of fish,
our living ancestors,
wet starshine

Ganga spreads her arms,
munificence exploding
into coruscations
of life

We’re not separate from our
Great Lakes, big heart of this continent
pumping arteries of our neighborhoods,
and the neighborhoods that are solely
the fishes’ and other, drier
wild things’


A coriaceous book spine narrative
given jacktars, romance of masculine flounce,
marking skin with punishment proud tattoo
on roses of muscles, scrimshaw feast
for eyes

Drinking, flogging, religion and rocking courtship
of creaking boards and shifting stances, wind whipped
sunburned toughs blooming sails, tugging feel
on rope

In actuality
there was the ladening of burden
dispensed unequally on the cast of fraternity,
the clenched taking of it, muscle taxed,
mind gritted, hollowed out until what’s left
either’s hulked husk or honed bone
body polished to an ivory knife
pushing abacus’s possibility
of mutiny


Marcus Aurelius
sacrifices white animals
at the citadel to Jupiter,
grandeur of cloth-draped
witnesses described in
stone tableau

A shepherd rests,
anonymous thinker
at the temple on the hill
upon a kaolin plate

carved from bones
and clay
dug from marrow
of the big raw

It’s a common denominator,
manufacturing leveraged on
material extracted from
Mother Earth’s back,
her teeth ground to dust
for our lithopaned


Man rests in door
at a church in

Solar profile
of his Adam’s apple,
generative lips, jangle
of hand, veins dangling

Dust dances lit gold,
describing three dimensions
man, thought and living rock

Woman pumps water into her jug
sloshes wet the walk back home
coffee grounds of soil, labium
that yields us, air’s pant
made thirsty
with the trickling

. . .


Our own hand rumbling o’er own hand
for rededication of the temple, living for the love light
candle by candle like the Maccabees but and also
slo mo ballet toeing tiger dragon aerial
dancing the guaguanco chicken squawking chimango
caracara mambo Mulatu Astatke rumba
community carnival conscientious of all
like the girl scout law

. . .


Quetzalcoatl intercedes
from Earth to Venus, halmark of Nahua
rainy season, mandala of his dress
wrapping subject into

Snake and
most precious green bird shake
wind jewels of rain, lightning breaks
sky in two, loving the alien
under pyramids of sun
and moon

. . .


A koto chord splays
like a kiri wood door opening
the resonant center
of the universe

A woman bends in her obi
over a just so stand of flowers
petal rich colors against the shoji
very domo very

. . .


Rufus Buck gang,
African American, Native teens
machine packsaddled horses, clomp
bouncing shadows under hat in stark
relief like introspective phases of moon
running free as the authority of
sparrows’ ink to take back
this occupied land

. . .


Black history in Cleveland
my association of Black with civic
life, adulthood, urbanity–

The mental landing pad of
Public Square, stony-faced quadripartite sphinx,
history in concrete or ticker tape glyphs
from 19th century newspapers

Feeling it out
in the snow of words, some sense of
being in it, the staking claim in work and mire,
pencil and paper, trading figures
and invention

George and Hanna Peake
first African American settlers
arrive with half bushel of sepia silver
like a pail of liquidity, invent
hand mill for grinding corn
ready to exact hi-fidelity
from swamp

Settlers arriving
into almost naked cosmos with
long chains of teaching, clothing
minds and hands, relationships
with native people
of the land

. . .


Raconteurs relate trickster
beings empowering themselves with cunning
escapes, Brer Rabbit, African American fables,
rabbit escaping chain, rabbit escaping Yama,
rabbits springing from hand like ripe water
releasing jewelweed

Alex Haley lays down roots healing
robberies of the unwillingly transplanted–
griot helping ancestors rest–ash and shadow
decanted into sweet cleansing waters of an
oasis’s arms raising baby to celestial bodies
and the crescent moon

. . .


Walking’s borne on the
sacroiliac joint between flank and sacred
like a fugue in constant conversation with its
ups and downs of cadence on the steady wings of
an angel bearing weight of the refugee,
soul sitting at seat of the spine
both making its way and at

. . .


Not just scattered pick-up sticks
rather chromosomes zipping themselves
into groovy patterns of repeating meaning
in the juice, heartbeat historicity
talking in the tabor drums
cheerful piping lungs of birds
making balcony seat comments
on the now of national geographic herds
where zebras race in stripes, dash into dots
of flamenco dancing swirls, the ecstasy
of sommeliers digesting traditions of the
indigenous saying ole to raise the blood
of mariposas genuflecting
to bulls


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