Monday, October 7, 2019

Brooklyn Days

I remember

Tasting life in cumin, curry, casareep & chili powder
at Brooklyn's annual West Indian Labor Day Parade
air rich with ecstatic movement and an unfettered sense of community
Red, Orange, Green, Blue, Regal purple flags worn and waved for miles
beads and wings swaying in unison to multilayered rhythms
the annual bacchanalian festival of food, music, flesh and rum
mustn't forget the rum
before the city robbed us of that libation
reminding us instead that the blood of Christ was still available on Sundays
or at the corner liquor store across the street from our schools

Saturday trips to Prospect Park , Rock & Bottle Cap soccer over cracked grassless trails
Bob Marley, Yellow Man, the Art of Noise and Classical music
Firecracker holidays on the roof, tar beach in the summer time
starry firelight skies above
Corto Negro Champaign, smoked gouda and "mota" filled rooms below.

Children playing into the night, running through broken hydrants
splashing each other and unsuspecting drivers
water steaming on the hot sticky asphalt 
flickering street lights and mothers calling their children home
while pulling laundry from rusted fire escapes and weathered cloths lines.

George Benson, "giving us the night" and Chaka Kahn's cool moan and wails
dancing off the walls with ice intoned glasses, laughter and the tidal hum of the entertained. 

And I remember... 

White powder and smoke accompanying occasional predatory invitations to "sit on Uncle's Lap"
My fists and feet delivering my response.

And they still remember
the bruises. 

Sunday, October 6, 2019

1970's Lower East Side

The fields of our youth, often remembered as discolored and stained polaroid images
in our minds, we ask ourselves
Is that how it really was?
Do you remember that as I do?
Where did all the pawn shops, that inspired questions and adventurous imaginings about our neighbors' histories go?

The drugs, the graffiti, the gangs, prostitutes, Hip Hop, Pop, Grunge and rock and roll, the strange fruit that was our broken sense of community...
Cuchifritos, knishes, pigeon peas, corned beef and cabbage
Piragua and hotdogs urine and blood
Garbage and exhaust fumes
our perfume
abandoned cars, discarded furniture
abandoned lots and broken sidewalks
our playground;
the heroin laden avenues, crowded with bent walking dead, one had to bypass to get to school, the vacant lots we played in, until colleges and megastores took over
these were times to be both feared and revered, as the richness of circumstances and mixed cultures that created it, we will not likely see again.

Were we really that fearless?
Those that don't know, who weren't there, doubt our memories, our stories
disbelieve the foundations that built our strength and resolve
Those that were...
our comrades in arms
battle warn and scared,
we nod to in passing, on these same now gentrified streets, fellow warriors, fellow survivors
with silent celebration and much respect
acknowledging and respecting those "who made it"
thrived and survived.


Caught staring into space
my eyes glaze over as my mind seeks to
capture the moment, a line, a rhyme, the time
to describe the verbal visions
bottlenecked in my third eye.

Caught in the before and after
I feel the completed piece before it's written;
appreciate the birthing pains of discovery and rising awareness;
the foreknowledge of the satisfaction of completion,
fulfillment at capturing the mental child nurtured and born from mental wombs.

Another verse and chapter for the work, the mirror
that is my life.

Notions form from the white static and noise
messages from my ancestors and future selves.

Today's message
perseverance and strength
patience, faith and peace.

The words will come and their voices will be heard.

Wait.. what?

Friday, February 22, 2019

Seeking Our Own Definitions

(In draft)

uhhhhggg.. .meeehhhhghhhhng...

square peg round hole
taught to force itself into a space too small
It hurts
the walls of our psyches are bleeding

Queens trying to conform to a twin, a king, or a double
uhhhhggg.. .meeehhhhghhhhng... ugh
the struggle is real folks
To big, too small, too tight, too long
God Damn Goldilocks

Who are we?
What are we?
Who the hell do you think you are?
What gives you the right?

We don't like or appreciate your prefabricated construct
demanding we FIT IN
when we were born to stretch OUT
Expand, Evolve
Outside your constraints, outside your assumptions
definitions and limitations.

We live on a board we no longer wish to play
fighting an opponent who set the stage long ago;
while stretching and pulling at the yoke
bucking their limitations
in search of our own.