Protest Song 1-3

                 in celebration of rap music

I saw her there, perpetual curves

boisterous, truculent sensuality.

The people called her name: Enchanted.

Her movements: shuffled, shattering light.

They perceived her song

an agile, less vehement anthem.

Two thinly misshaped notions lured them there;

no surfacing sorrow to mark the place/of entrance,

(had been a while since the last lynching),

no protest songs to shape meaning.

an integrationist’s nightmare,

thirty years a canard.

No placards.

Who would testify?

Oh! But you are the scorned brown/blacks

those haughty and revealed.

Your ancestral home

Gospel, Blues, Jazz will sanctify

anointing you. Yet the others might decry:

another Pied Piper’s Temptress In Hip Hop Costume.

             mr record company

He slogs through the gray, urban landscape

one derelict eye flashing!

The children holler in delight

jump off their stoop.

The names of our children are construed.

He has found their dwellings and shackles there!

ears splayed to the root, while he riffs on

a dark, cloudless melissma.

Children your mouths are chattel!

The giant is heavy with your wealth

wearing your teeth

like gold chains around his neck.

                 the rusty-butt rap

Two rusty-butt boys

play outside my wall

trading jabs, keeping tabs

both observe the call


of rogue thoroughfare,

a patois that dares

sinewy domination

creative captivation


They do a scalawag shuffle

Do puff

And yell! Hip Hop’s emissaries.

Ah yes! Do tell!


American Culture remains ambivalent to the artistry of Rap music. Yet the form

is positioned firmly within AfroAmerican cultural traditions; Gospel, Blues,

Rhythm & Blues, Jazz, Roots Music as well as within the Black Church.

Mourning Song #6, Hymn For Yusef

        for the children of the middle east
Some say
God came to this place
a tortured bird
without song and sullen
and could provide no armament
from hot iron
blowing into the skin.
This yarn
a pigeon might bring
a myth intact
lo, a steady and heart tale
but when the people wept
few did hear
while children
did tumble and fall.
       fate vs  free will/weaponry
Fate, and those who trumpet her arrival
seek an artful cageyness
to subvert the small,
wide eyes

burned hands and swollen bellies.
If each man a King
unto himself
each woman Queen
who will serve?
        hymn #2
Said, sing me this tune:
Bring your Golden Book
your Mourning Piece
Pray the Ancestors.
Cafe con Leche in Brooklyn: Sunday Morning
the people fuss at the preacher:
save yr white lies and plump, empty promises.
that is a fable of another, older age!
these are the days of no integrity. you will see
the scorned spirit move across the faces`
of those who yearn, unable to be free.
...pass the sugar, please!
Hot Costa Rican   
with thick, warmed cream
is this soul sister’s holy water.     
I say : coffee !     
is this sister’s
high, holy water. 
Its dark, hot liquid           
another dusky promise.
Friends come and go.   
Lovers taint 
& stain 
unruly, wild   
with no home training.
Cigarettes and witch’s brew I do consume.
And when the church fathers murmur    
I raise my hands     
yell praises for  
hot, wet, redemption! 

A Photographer's Lament

Images flee 
This quiet, white paper

I find no solace here
Though silence is a destination

I sought beauty in her
thick, muted eyes

Paper is fragile
an enigma

Still,  I strove to consider 
Winter's barren trees

A meandering railroad's
elliptical veins

Now, paper litters my dreams
Silence is but a nightmare
Of clanging iron gates
I stand before them
Profoundly absent

(Revised Oct 27, 2015)


Mourning Song #6
            chant for billie
she did eat
from the tree
though it stained
her body primitive
and they spoke
of her malaise
Sing the song of our people
do sing!
refute the southern lullaby

Mourning Song #9
            in memory: reetika vazirani
She traces the line
of culture arriving at
its failure to redeem.
The smallish minister
his silver bible, insistent
queried: What my child?
I saw she picked at the thread
though it was tightly woven
it smelled foreign
began to seep.
The lens of fate, dull and disgraced
revealed a mirror of startling proportion
Mourning Song, No. 8
          In Memory: James Baldwin
Words fell from me
from below my mouth
leaving me feeling light.
A sure, steady stream
irresistible to behold.
I have to wake myself.
this is a dream
of fools.
Dead language is hard,
is stiff.
If the light
catches it
it will shine
It will glisten
as if it were alive.
Mourning Song #10
she saves copper pennies in mason jars
and works the bills into her mattress
works the madness.
her padlocked shed bulges; boy-ar-dee, ravioli
tuna, spam, beans.
you must admit
the closer she gets to this tin & glass
filled promise the quieter she is.
you’ve seen her
face fluttering sideways
spin the cans round and round
with the sterling shine.
stow, not weep!
her actions signify.
Mourning Song #7
            for my father

He has said I am the oblation
this red, black, green rising,
this bone white.
My friends say it is mine
to give away.
Moments I have stumbled upon
and wasted.
Always the chance
it will turn to dust in my hands.
My people are webbed figures
and occupy the space between Temple and Eye
sometimes hovering way below.
My lip
quivering, quivering.
Sassy   (Sarah Vaughn)

When marooned
in the deep
slant of evening
there is lush, swirling 
Stardust enhances
this gift

the sound low and sustained

I worked to maintain propriety
when your voice led
to such places
the road singular and slow.



The Hurricane Review                      

Editor: Marion Wernicke



You, Carmen!

Researchers have found seduction and deceit in the coded flashing of fireflies.
                                                                         -NY Times
Heard you scream.
Saw him slackjawed
and delerious
in your backyard
last night.
The fireflies
in Big Poppa's garden
served up fleeting portions
of his face
winged images
turning this way
and that.
Big Momma say
you let him go.
Thought you had
Thought you had.
The pimp stutters
Curse your Momma's name.
See what I mean?


Mr & Mrs Johnson


Charles is a rusty, bus-stop tragedian

Scrupulous in memory of silk and smoking jacket.


You will hear, his Choir laden, operatic voice

finely weave thru bartered and closed doors

leveled ancient, smooth.


His blind knock, his unlit cigarette

misspeak the sonorous chains

he drags to his seat.


            betty mae/of poverty & place


Charles brings Betty Mae songs

some, are angry and loud.


Poverty is a house of circles, he croons

A bustling pagoda with a singular shrine.


His cardboard soles tap, tap, tapping.


Miss Betty walks there too,

Insistent the promenade she tramps.

Her feet, infuriated flares


“Life burns! Consumes!”


If you pass by, you might see

her mouth, a raw rant.

Rage tints her hair toward

wild, wooly explosions.


Today, she strides around

the Porch Of Discontent,

her gaze, an assimilated shout


“Welcome my Friends!

Welcome to Betty Mae Johnson’s House”





Clique Calm Books

Publisher: Gladys Perez-Bashier



Mid Afternoon Melancholy

Envy has a crisp, emerald radiance
the points of green stars

stuck in my throat.
Nothing is seamless.

All my prayers 
yield jagged little losses.

It's a solitary situation
butterflies in my eyes

and flapping.



la vieja  (the old one)

senora rivera struggles
to carry the years

they are shattered mirrors
and crumble together
without grace.
she treads on them,
feet bloody
with the foolishness of graying fears.

her sharp face
woven of dust, mold, cobwebs






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