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

Earl Grey
and me

Yoga on the beach
her Afro slightly matted

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

Pistachio shell
with no seams-
Her pursed lips

Empty clam shell-
The doctor says
False Positive

Ivy greens a wall-
Her unshaven legs

A fifty foot shadow

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.)


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

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.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits 11 MAR 14

Not John Henry-
New sign on 
the Office door

Spring Cleaning-
Leaping up to dust
the top shelf

Between the hangover
And the blackout-
Cherry Blossoms

Heavy flurries-
Opening the door to
a blank page

On Friday I posted a haiku about a friend's recent cancer diagnosis and as poets sometimes do, forgot that all of the context that was in my head wasn't on the page. Sorry if anyone thought the diagnosis was mine and I appreciate the concern. 

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