Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Late August Post



Long time no post, there's no one reason why really. Mostly it's because I've been spending more time Advantage Playing certain slot machines, something that requires me to move around a lot from casino to casino, which means a great deal of walking. Thus less time spent sitting and contemplating and less time writing. Time management has never been a strength of mine, every Report Card I ever got in school said "Does not use time and materials wisely." I have stuff I want to write about including a short, short story, but I need to sit in one spot for hours to do that. And I haven't. Also, so many things going on in the world, bombs in Gaza, the invasion of Ukraine, casinos in AC shutting down, Ray Rice and Janay Palmer in an elevator on video, the white sheet that covered a brown boy's body for hours on a hot street in Ferguson MO and the following flames that made everyone hotter. So, so many things. Including the nagging feeling that I should be writing about more of those things. My recollection of Ruby Dee reached 100 views faster than anything I've ever posted here and the truth is that my prose postings get way more pageviews than the poetry, although the haiku and senryu don't do too bad. I have written some ku and ryu since my last post here;

Late August-
Stopped by the road's only red
leaf

Everywhere 
but under this umbrella-
August sun

August morning- 
Dad's hairline receding
in my mirror

Another year passes/
The flickering light
of fifty-two wicks

Round and shining 
On the desk -
August Moon

Gaza dawn- 
So many red marks
on my Lesson Plan

Changing the channel- 
Yet again
Gaza explodes

Bit by bit 
The cake disappears from
the urinal


A few of these may even be worth keeping. I also had a birthday and got three awesome completely unexpected gifts. My birthday isn't really a big deal for me and until I joined Facebook I would sometimes miss it until the day after. But Facebook makes it a big deal with all the birthday wishes so you know it's coming. What I didn't know was coming though were two anthologies I have poems in, both of which I was really excited about. One was "Red Reads First" an anthology of haiku and senryu from participants in the Head to Head Haiku Slam held every year at the National Poetry Slam and now the Individual and Women's competitions as well. As a two-time National Champ I was invited to participate and was eager to read the work of the many poets who won or competed in the years that followed. The other anthology is perhaps the most important publication I've ever gotten, inclusion in the 2014 Best American Poetry edited by Terrance Hayes. I've known since January that I was in but the books arrived unexpectedly the day before my birthday. I often get my mail at the Borgata Business Center (long story) and they call me when stuff comes in, but when I got the call this time I couldn't figure out what it could possibly be. The reading for Best American will be in NYC in late Sept. and I expected to get my contributor's copies then. So their arrival in the mail caught me off guard. And one of the copies is a hardback! That was a really pleasant surprise. I may have even celebrated a little. Then Showboat, and Revel closed, two places I have many fond memories of. At Showboat I'll really miss the Earl of Sandwich deli with their great sandwiches and fresh brownies baked with Ghiradelli chocolate. Many of the restaurants in Revel had great food and when their poker room was open I ate there probably five days a week. The food was so, so good in so many places. Of all the casinos that closed though I'll probably miss Trump Plaza the most, because I spent countless hours in the Starbucks there reading and writing. It had both chairs and free Wifi and was the only Starbucks on the Strip that had both. I probably made more Blog posts from there than anywhere else save the Borgata. The Plaza also had one of my favorite neon signs in all of AC (pictured above), it was a huge sign above an escalator that lead down to Pacific Ave and I never could figure out why it was there. It wasn't the name of a current restaurant or club on the premises, maybe it was leftover by a previous show or something. I always told myself that I'd ask, but never got around to it. I had to ride the escalator four times just get the shot right. But it didn't matter, how ever many times it took, I was going to ride it and get the shot. I'm a patient guy that way. 

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It's Gonna Be a . . .




Finally got my mojo back after a long dry spell. I think I have a short, short story in me too, if I can ever sit still long enough to get it down.


Fourth of July
The steady pop pop pop
of the rain


Second date
My car already parked
in her garage


Cornbread
Earl Grey
and me


Yoga on the beach
her Afro slightly matted


Sunrise
my glasses
half full


Manhole cover-
The ring around
Her right eye


Incoming waves
the white curls of a woman
on the beach


Casino sunrise-
A security guard's eyelids
Lower


Pistachio shell
with no seams-
Her pursed lips


Empty clam shell-
The doctor says
False Positive


Ivy greens a wall-
Her unshaven legs


Flash-
A fifty foot shadow
Boom

Monday, July 07, 2014

Summer Madness

Summer lightning-
That blonde streak
in her hair

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

#haiku

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ruby My Dear


I remember it was not quite Winter. I had tumbled into a car with Kenny Carroll and Brian Gilmore to trek to Philly, to the Painted Bride Arts Center. We were there to remember, to honor the life of Toni Cade Bambara. I remember so many famous writers in the room, on the program. Sonia Sanchez, Toni Morrison, I think Alice Walker was there. Amiri Baraka, Eugene Redmond, Askia Toure, Gaston Neal and so many others. The room was packed with writers, poets, people young and old. I was sitting down front and I remember an older, very beautiful black woman sitting just behind and to the side of me. I remember because she was thumbing through a book of poems as though searching for something. A book of poems I did not recognize. She thumbed through it with a familiarity that one only has when one has written the book. I remember that I couldn't see the cover of the book, couldn't see the name of the poet. She looked vaguely familiar, some Philly poet I thought. She was wearing a simple skirt, a simple many colored blouse, her hair wrapped in a long, very pretty scarf. She could have been anyone's mother or grandmother sifting through a book of poems. I remember the program was long, so many writers rose to testify about Sister Toni and her impact on their lives. And after several hours of testifying, all the famous writers had finished. I remember that they opened up a mic on the side for people from the audience to speak. The woman who was sitting behind me got into line and waited her turn to share. And I remember that it was not until she reached the mic and opened her mouth to speak that I recognized her, reading softly from her own book of poems. I'm not often stunned, but so much grace, class, and humility would stun anyone. Goodnight Ms Dee, I'll hum a little Monk for you.

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

National Poetry Month 30/30 Haiku/Senryu





Well it's NaPoMo and I usually do 30 Haiku/Senryu for the month. But for some reason this year I just haven't been feeling it. I'm not sure why, but I just haven't been writing. Part of it is that I've sworn off writing certain kinds of love poems. Part of it is Frankie Knuckles dying (which for some reason really hit me hard) and some other bad news involving the health of some close friends. I actually only met Frankie once, but it was memorable for a few reasons. Over my DJ career I got to spin with quite a few legends, including Afrika Bambaataa, Red Alert, DJ Kool, Little Louie Vega, DJ Mandrill, Sam The Man Burns, Terminator X, DJ Frankski and a few others. But two of those occasions bookend my career and were very similar experiences. In 83 at the start of my career Bam came to DC to play at a club called the Zoo where I was the house jock. Bam was already a legend, but DC wasn't into hip hop like that and as a result no one showed up. When I say no one, I mean no one. We didn't have a single paid entry. So me and Bam and his Record Boy (a young CCNY Sophomore named Rick Rubin) spent the whole night listening to records. Basically it was Bam quizzing me and then playing shit I had never heard before. It was the best education a DJ could ever ask for. Bam was chill, he didn't trip off the lack of a crowd, he just played records for us and we had a great time. He asked me if there where any records I was missing from my collection and I told him how I had never been able to find "High Powered Rap" by Crash Crew, Bam whipped it out and told me the story of why the record got pulled from all the stores. I never forgot his magnanimity and graciousness. Years later, in 1992 just after I had quit spinning I got a call to ask if I would play with Frankie Knuckles at Traxx in DC for Howard's Homecoming. I was done spinning, but I wasn't passing up that chance. I was just there to warm up the crowd and watch the system for the House, but Frankie was mad cool. Like Bam he travelled with a gazillion records, many of them rare. At one point he asked me what was the first record I ever bought, I said "Cuba" by the Gibson brothers. He goes through his crate and pulls it out! I hadn't heard that joint in 15 years but he cued it up. We talked music and how he accidentally invented House Music and lots of other things. He was mad cool, at one point he pulled out a white label copy of Whitney Houston's "I'm Every Woman" (which wouldn't be out for another six months)it was a DJ's dream gig, hanging out with a legend and talking music. For a cat of his stature he, like Bam, was very gracious, just a really cool dude. It was an amazing way to end a career, a night I'll never forget. But usually this kind of thing spurs me to write. I haven't been reading as much either and really have no excuses for that. I did attend Split This Rock in DC to do the Black Rooster Reading and that was the bomb. I also went to Pittsburgh to read for the launch of the Electronic Corpse anthology which I have some work in. And I've been asked to read at the Best American Poetry 2014 event this September. That's obviously a really big deal since you have to have a poem in the anthology to be asked to read and they only ask a few people out of the hundred or so who are included. That will be an exciting trip to NYC for me, for sure. Hopefully I'll still get my 30 poems in this month, but right now it doesn't look good, my Muse appears to be on strike.


April morning
flatness of the Atlantic-
Every page blank


Until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Tuesday Tidbit 1 APR 14




Wharehouse echoes-
Frankie Knuckles
final groove





Until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Poetic Tweets for NPR 2014

For the last two years the National Public Radio program "Tell Me More" hosted by Michel Martin has featured poetic tweets during the entire month of April to help celebrate National Poetry Month. If one wants to participate one merely needs to include the hashtag #Tmmpoetry in the Tweet one wants considered for the program. The Tweets are read aloud (twice!) on the air. Both of the previous years I was lucky enough to have one selected. So, below find the ten Tweets that I thought might be worthy this year. 

Polar Vortex-
The hole in my sock
widens

Arizona-
So little snow
so many flakes

Union Station-
In each other's arms
on the steam grate

Lighthouse beacon- 
The burnt orange of her lips
through the fog

Don't call it a comeback
We been here for years-
Hum of cicadas

Razor wire-
The creases in Father's
Orange jumpsuit

August heat-
The kink in the rope 
between her teeth

August afternoon-
A drunk tongues
an empty bottle

February First-
Shoveling a path to
the grill

Chess tournament-
A boy moves from his
father's shadow

Red light-
The car locks popping
as I cross


Until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)