Five Black Men Crossing The Street In Washington DC
on the corner of New York & North Capitol
I make the usual (white) observations:
scuffed sneakers, plastic bags in hand
casual walk in the middle of the afternoon
my brain does all the math before I can stop it
with my next breath I erase the equations
but I still can see the faint outlines
on the (black)board, smell chalk dust in the air
of course I’m also available this afternoon
my sneakers are dirty
I’ve carried in my weight in snacks out of
convenience stores in plastic bags
once in the mid-70s as I tried to sleep
I heard my grandpa say “colored people”
out in the living room
it was the only time in all the years I knew him
before the light changes a black
Jeep with tinted windows pulls up beside me
I turn my head to look for the bro
but it’s two women in hijab
16 April 2019
Washington DC and State College PA
I Wanna Be A Regular
I wanna be / a regular / a guy who walks in and hears / the bartender say his name / who gets his root beer / before he’s sat all the way down / a guy who gossips / chews the fat with the other 3 pm hangers on / all of us gray at the temples / I wanna eat a French dip / with curly fries / that I didn’t have to order / because Becky knows / what I like // when I leave the bar / I’ll walk down the street nodding sagely / and sneer at the goddamn New Yorkers / driving their goddamn Benzes / too fast down Housatonic // I’ll stop in at The Bookstore / talk about Bernadette Mayer with the curly- / headed owner while / the tourists look at the postcards // later as the sun dips below the Berkshires / I’ll climb the creaky stairs to the second floor / sit in the kitchen where I sat / all those years before / hold my love’s hand / and feel the roots dig a little deeper / into the soil
31 March 2019
My son hands me a phone / says he thinks it’s broken / it’s making a weird noise / I listen / it’s a dial tone / he’s never heard one before / and in that moment I realize / he’ll never know my Great-Uncle Bill or my Great-Uncle Jack / he barely remembers his great-grandparents / he’s never met most of his cousins / most of whom I haven’t seen in years either / in that moment I realize / he doesn’t care about Bing Crosby or Nat King Cole / he doesn’t listen to big band music / he doesn’t watch old movies / and by old I mean the movies I watched growing up / that were new to me then / as I listen to the dial tone I realize / this too shall pass / my grandchildren if they ever exist / will never hear a dial tone directly / perhaps someday they’ll encounter one in a museum / or an old movie / and by old I mean the ones my son won’t watch.
25 Mar 2019
State College PA
the world’s breath
I’m in some
as the wind
tries its many hands
against the walls.
Are we ever so
29 December 2018
300 times on the cushion
or the couch or the bed
or the seiza bench.
300 trips into the carwash
of my brain, brushes
spraying this way and that.
300 dances with the monkey,
banging on the typewriter keys
with no paper in the machine.
Light the incense, light the candle,
sit, breathe, rinse, repeat.
Three bells to start, three bells
to finish. I guess that’s
eighteen hundred bells.
Seems like a lot.
3 December 2018
State College PA