After the Old Man’s Song

Every midnight, the droning
of the old man’s tone,
the piano’s moan as fingers pile
upon each key the construction
of soul. His song invades the air,
creaks along the earth, suffering
sounds upon the skin of stars.

Now, the strings sleep,
no longer haunted by what lives
in the press of fading hands,
and night is only itself,
no longer the throat
for a foolish voice.
We can finally find sleep.

The singer’s crowd

dwindled to a face unlooking
at him, but at the specter that only is
the crowd’s. The singer is gone.

The singer was theirs. Now he’s fallen
into fragments. The crowd is bound
to itself, becomes a single mind.

This mind listens, waits, but the old
man is not the singer. And the past
doesn’t dance into substance.

But the singer sings the unknown
song, unslipping into the mind that is only
felt by the echoes it makes.

The Lie About the Poet Who Told the Truth

“My job as a poet is to tell the truth. To tell it, as Audre Lorde wrote, with as much beauty and clarity as possible. I want my work to enter listeners through the heart and gut. My job as a poet is to wake myself up and take responsibility for learning the truth. That means doing hard work, looking beyond headline stories, being willing to interrogate data, structure, systems. Then, it’s my job to create the conditions, in my poems, where others can wake up to those truths. It may not feel good. I’m not here to make people feel good.”
–Shailja Patel

Remember the blackness that was
pinned to us and how the fury-borne figure
pulled apart the shady clouds, our eyes,
fixed by her fingers toward the sun,
had begun to see—THE TRUTH!

Words were poured into our empty,
words like, “rape is a despicable act!”
and “war kills!” An awe bloomed within
as we interrogated with—THE TRUTH!

And we became compassionate
chimps, thanks to the great
sputtering mouth marking
the nerves with a passion
noble and admirable. No rape
became, no war ate, the sun
and nature became pleasing
and good. And all because of—

Summer Poem

Gerard passing through the fence,
the air’s nice and Gerard invites him-
self to look, sees his father’s stone.

A face with vines hangs, no longing
for sight—it’s just there. He was
peaceful with the knowledge.

Gerard walking forth, knows the gliding
warmth of here. Summer isn’t the sun
and its gentle information. But,

A sound reaches him. Gerard is now
old, the sky becomes different
and he can’t find the fence.

The Substance of It

Did you notice God in the face
of the flame? The holy
throat of the storm belching
black? The divine in the drowning?
Perhaps, Abraham did.

But no one can know Abraham,
just the engine that blasted
his heart. The import of a light’s
glowing is woven by the blank
bodies of shade, and so is your love
to God made by the preservation
against the shadows of your self—
Abraham’s love was made greater
by his plunge into the engulfing–

00000000000And God is there
to move the flame toward you, to make
sure the love is great. The enraged
suckling of your cancer is conjured
by a need—His need for a love
immeretricious. But what is He
if He needs the imperishable
devotion? And what are you
to accept the role? I guess I cannot
know Abraham.

Art is Subjective

So, there is nothing
that can arise from this
except for the ultimate
leveling: Maya Angelou
and Wallace Stevens: equals,
until opinion renders
their worth.

And the canvas colored
by Magritte’s vision is equal
to a child’s fecal matter
framed in a special place,
until your eye comes
and favors one over the other.

Yes, I’m ready to accept
this fate if it means no one
can ever declare
that my turd stinks
and makes the air faint.