December 29th

I sold myself today.
Came up shot of a reasonable price.
Decent,
yet and still
it.
Fire and fury
for a stem offering.
Hot shot- a fleeting moment.
Steel horses escaping violently down my throat.
Degradation. Wet inviting.

What is price?
Value or worth?
Flesh worth.
What is flesh worth on an open market?
What is price worth?
Self worth. Commodity. Fetish.

This submission to longing
has kept my hands from grabbing
an M16, a bottle of whiskey, and
obliterating every life including my own.

This submission
is the reason I am dying twice as fast as my brothers.
Be it by the bullet or spoiled seed.

I belong to a select few.
Those left dancing red
in the avenue lights
on crushed cans.
on exposed hope. . .

I will always be there
behind smiles,
behind heads,
in the corner of family photos-
performing my duties in silence.
Begging acknowledgment or death.
Begging some reprieve from the monotony of sorrow.

golgotha is no physical location

Golgotha is no physical location
. . . is no moral lesson to be posited to the willing and the listening.
Jesus was blood
bottled
and packeged for voyage
carried on slaveships along with 5 million hearts in holding

no blood- not one drop was spilled as they left the ivory coast
and we drank
believing half-hearted
that the unrest in our spirits
was thirst

At the dock
White men, observing our supposed stupor
demanded what remained of our bloated bellies move out of his vessels
and onto auction blocks no bigger than the spirits of beasts.

what can be found here ain’t salvation
or dignity.
what dignity can be had in enslavement?
what humanity in de-humanizing?
what song in the chorus of screaming?

chains. . .
made legacy songs.
formed dark notes
with sinister organs
and we sang gospel roused of this filth.

it can only be seen as the grace of energies . . .
that we held some part of our spirit indigenous
authentically African.

contraband

dere are terrible nights dat bring us longing
ah am reminded of thousands of men movin’ready ta risk stability an sanity 
for a feigned intimacy
a fleetin’ embrace

ah am one- have been one bent over park benches in a stupor beggin’ ta be plowed
by fantasy men 
possessors of dicks de size of mah shoes

ah know truth well
have been wid it while questioning wat darkness could bring …
wat solace may be had in final closings …
if dis fuck would bring closure …
an wat exctasy may be had in a release while holding an tasting seas of misery some piece left on mah tongue …
if fate had planned me doom long ago …

in truth- ah wanted ta be held
taken in
an care of 
in truth ah wanted ta be seen past nail polish, 
inviting hole,
whorish mouth
hip switch an’ halleloo

ah came ta dis darkness ta get feeling
despite bein’ warned
despite bein’ seein’ evidence of de contrary in rape scenes, suicide attempts, White men playin Risk wid Black skin, luring sin an’ manipulation

he asked where mah voice had gone
“how could you lay here both wanting an unimpressed? why don’t you sing when we touch?”
skin intimate indeed.
ah hold mah skin
in respect an’ disgust.
see potential
an’ warfare. 
skin is contraband. 
contempt
an’ spiritual ground.

ah should have used mah vision 
ta see wat game dis was.
an opted out.

mah pain. 
is immense.
is real. is in need of holdin’
not another night in de hidden temple. 
not in need of another night of exchanging death in ejaculation.

teeth

they’ve come undone

jagged things 

once pieces whole 

one by one falling

sometimes ejected by force,

misplaced hope,

meth,

liquor,

running,

or a weighted misery.

 

ive become comfortable here

in this still death

i’ve come to know home to be a place of fantasy in our minds

co-dependence making romance out of hurt and fear.

making a routine of

first innoculation

sex, wanting, 

then explosion

perhaps some cleaning

and loneliness

 

Always loneliness.

 

We lay in pieces.

Jagged like what remains in our mouths.

 

If salvation is true. . .

if it can be really done

without complete removal

. . . then it requires mutation

and the development of superpowers.

 

i know what powers is

i harness them daily to endure

to save every life but my own

perverse

like religion

and just as contradictory 

the ability to heal worlds with loving smiles

while still unable to chew

 

i continue biting down

with hope

working on steps

and moving muscles men rarely see.

 

 

 

 

giving. (a poem for artists with soft skin)

It musta been mighty unbearable
ta be stretched so unevenly
skins breakin’ an’ comin’ back
always regeneratin’
so rapidly dat blood learns not ta spill.

Your blood
still curtious
even in de process of lettin’

YoU
bore a cross
a statement of love
An’ there
at de mouth of Golgotha
you went inward

became obsessed wid movings an’vibrations
inside personal galaxies
it was there that direction was found

You
lay
bare.
reaching inward cause no where was safe.

Bare.
a carcass devoured, eaten, an’ used by folk wid imaginations no bigger than dere half understandings of who you were.
Dey was hungry at de onset.

You gave them utopias too quickly
Dey gorged, became gluttonous
leavin’ you raw wid dried ambition.
an’ unsided.

De real pity bein’ dat it wasn’t reciprocal.
Dey could never fully hold you.

only flowers, sun, teeth, an’ ginger could.

the exchange.

techniques_of_ecstasy

“so what’s the exchange?”

“how about a story for each part. for each section or part of you that i massage- you tell me a story.”

“fair enough.”

and that’s how we always would begin with him smiling. he liked touching skin and having small ceremonies. we’d always make them ceremonies. cause that’s all we had. the world was what it was and had been. And we came to a place in ourselves where we knew that two punks like us had nothing but our skin, and our tongues and our stories.

tonight i wanted to tell around five of them and i wanted to feel him on me in around five places. m lips turned upward in anticipation i saw his eyes, as grateful as mine. he spoke.

“where do you want me to start?”

“you can start on my back.”

then. “sorry i didn’t mean that to sound like a command. i meant to say- can you start with my back?”

“of course. you want me to use the cocoanut oil?”

“please . . .” i said as i laid on my stomach. for a while he watched me undress and before i had been nervous. i had held notions about being ugly- didn’t lie what sagged and where – didn’t like what peaked, what valleyed and i was afraid that no one would. But his eyes brought comfort. They changed that. I had begun the process peace with my fleshy self. at first i believed it was their validation. and it was, in part. but it was also the questions that they posed. i asked myself why i had been so scared of holding me. and how it was so easy for him to look on my marks, scars and curves and smile while i ran across mirrors. i started to speak.

“i remember the first time we met. you had on that fuzzy shirt and those flower pants. and i saw you. i was so scared to say anything.”

“and you didn’t.”

“i know i didn’t want you to think of me as some lame punk who was thirsty and fumbling around at parties.”

“never that.”

this time he held both bits of sarcasm and love in his smile. it nearly rounded his whole face.

touch began. my story paused and i moaned low to myself. i moved myself to see him better. “thank you.” then. “i wanted to step to you with some superior game. something that would have you all about me. and so i said. . .”

“excuse me, pa, did you see a grey phone over here?” he laughed. “i remember. real smooth like.”

he laughed and moved more deeply into his touch. i felt each movement. each finger. each subtle and new sensation. the pressure on my back grew. he spoke.

“. . . funny thing always is how the nerves travel and how mutual they are. when you smiled i became full of them. there was a stampede in me” his hands shook a bit as he moved – one strong back push from lower back to shoulders. the voice, however, remained steady. “you wanted to make a grand impression. i wanted to be remembered. we both wanted to see each other. . . sorry, im messing up your story. please keep going.”

“its all good. i just remember the way you stood there and the power in it. you was like a man all over, if that makes sense. i wanted to come correct. and i was lost. it felt like a long time coming out of your smile. i didn’t even notice you passing the phone or when you asked what my name was?”

“i didn’t think you had one.”

laughter.

“i was glad i asked you to dance. i don’t think it would’ve happened otherwise.”

“probably not. my shy ass.”

vibrations shifted. he begun massaging my arms, so i shifted too.

“one time, on the way to the clinic, i saw a woman, who i thought was an islander or something and she asked me what i put on my skin to make it shine. i told her that i used cocoanut oil and she smiled. i knew, too, that she liked to smile. and that she was going to talk for a minute.”

“did she?”

“she did. she told me that she was from the island and what they used it for. told me they used it to clean teeth, cook with, moisture, in their hair, everything. they use it because it’s good. she said it gave life. and i smiled cause i felt all special and wise for using cocoanut oil on a whim one day and feeling it right. then she asked me if i ever saw an ugly islander. i was stuck, half laughing half thinking and she said ‘exactly!’ then we both near fell out.”

small stirrings. then.

“then i was smilin’ cause of the magic she gave off. then she got on to story telling. she spoke- growing more powerful with each breath- i could tell that she was grounded in what she was saying. ‘we story tellers, my people. thats where our power began with. we got on with each other beautifully. we spoke about our histories, our victories and sadness, we spoke to one another to show love or resolve what needed that. we told stories. thats why when our land was taken it, it was our stories and our tongues that was cut out. they came for our power because they knew that, in our unity there was a love stronger than what their weapons could do. they made more lines. attached price to our land and it real with their guns, but it can’t be helped, thats how history wrote it. it can however, be held and changed. we still got our tongues and our power to share with one another. and thats my way of excusing myself cause im a mouthy woman and i speak alot.’ and then she laughed again. i told her how i like to talk and we sat there for a minute trading small bits of our histories.”

“you found yourself another soulmate.”

“i knew i had options”

” shut up.” more laughter. “she had a heavy laugh too. like she was always pausing to get it out.”

“did it shake her?”

“she shook. she moved all over with her laughter. the way your sister do when she shading somebody. i was standin’ still after her speakin’ and she near fell over. said i looked more lost than listening and laughed. came back only to say that it happens on account of how she is and laughed some more.”

he had begun to pull and stretch my arm. i felt his eyes looking down at me. i kept my closed- allowed him touching me to move my spirit somewhere more into story.

“were you ever lost?”

“nah, i felt kinda saved.”

“so what’s next?”

“my other arm?”

“i meant, what story was next. i know where im going. this is the exchange. i massage and you tell me tales. i got your back and arm, you tell me where to go next with another story.”

“im gettin’ tired.”

“so am i and . . . no you’re not.” he smiled. “you’re mouthy too” i rocked and wiggled my lower and he bounced. smiled wider and tickled me. moved all over- he rode every jump- managin’ to get me each time. words couldn’t form- i was a sensation. laughin’.

for a small while after, he laid beside me. his stomach facing up. and i heard breath. just breath. slow and deliberate. he was catching up with himself.

he rolled on his side- pulling me to cradle. then low and into my ear he said “im tired now too. but i want another story. one more at least.”

“i got another one. what you gonna trade me? what’s the exchange?”

i felt him grow against my behind. i shooks. he blew on my neck.

“not enough. my stories are worth more than a little play.” i could feel a smile form on the back of my neck. Then his toes on mine. and i was giddy. moved over inside. i was waitin’ to see how he would come back. i, halfway, wanted him to continue his advances.

“how about you ask me a question- anything- and i will tell you a story.”

i liked that idea. “deal.”

“we should make pie tomorrow” i continued.

“sweet potato?” he whispered behind me.

“sweet potato. im trying to be like my mama one day and have the bomb sweet potato pie. its all sweet and crisp. it’s nice and has cream on top.”

“i remember when i first got lost in some. . .”

“like heaven.”

“like an orgasm?”

“mhmm”

“we gotta go to the store tomorrow. she used ta sell em’ at card games at my grandpa’s house. as the card games in between Ms. Regina’s swearin’ and Mr. Albert hoppin’ all over spoutin’ that jesus speak. she’d wiggle, smile and move between them. lettin’ all the big words and personalities in the room live- would sometimes sound like a great commotion was goin’ on and id think folk were fightin’ but wasn’t never anythin’ but Black folk playin’ cards. you know how we loud bout everything just about. my mama- she’d sing. i remember her hummin’ a lot of Aretha from when she was in the 70’s. when her afro was on point.”

i stopped and caught my breath- i smiled. i was being mouthy, i could barely keep up with myself. “that was one of the ways we got coins cause we were at my grandpa’s house to take care of him in his sickness and that meant that my mama had to give up her job. i was too little to have one of my own and so she had three then- three jobs- my grandpa, myself, and the rent.”

“no coins.”

“no coins. she’d fry something, bake something. it was on.”

I bet she was tired.”

i bet. thats a weekly un-paid gig. she giving care and tryin’ to scheme on coins. sounds like something mighty tirin’.”

in my head, i saw my mama smilin’. she was listening to her favorite music and cooking something. she had her feet up- relaxing. she was smilin and singin something for me. i hadn’t spoken to her in a while and i felt bad for it. i just didn’t know when would be the right time in both of our days. after making a promise to call in the morning i asked my question.

“anything special happen to you today?”

“eh . . . lemme think . . . i drew a picture.”

“yeah?”

“yeah. went down by the park over by Eastern General Hospital.”

“ain’t it a mess over there sometimes?”

“sometimes. the heads be out but usually they just moving along on their trips. they ain’t stunting or messing with folk too much. it’s kinda nice to be out with our folk- in all states. they always there, smokin’, talkin’ shit, doing cartwheels. . .”

i smiled imagining him out there, laughin’ and smokin’ a joint to himself. sketchin’.

“indeed.”

“brothas like to come up to you while you sketchin’ and start on about this and that. speakin’ to and at you. kinda botherin’ and helpin’ you. niggas like to challenge you. tell you about how they was Basquiat in high school and fell off.”

“they might’ve been.”

“i know. it’s easy to lose it. especially when it’s only for sport. thats why when i hear stuff like that, i offer them a page of my sketch book- so they can get that magic back.”

“they take em’ ever?”

“not today. i think it’s cause i was drawing vulgarities.” i pretended to gasp and asked what he had been drawing.

“a figure.” he started. “a naked man. penis out and erect of course. he was in a forest. they might’ve been redwoods. some of them was chopped. and out of his head it was a record player. can you picture that?”

“no i’d need to see it.”

“it’s good. i don’t want to move. you feel good. i’ll show you in the morning.” he kissed me again on the back of my neck.

“how’d you feel when you were done?”

“full. kinda complete. i drew that in place of a gratitude list. it was things i needed and liked havin’ in my life.”

“music and wood?”

“ha! you got me”

he laughed and i rolled over- my face rested across from his. i traced his side with my right hand and kissed him. he pulled em in and as we parted lips i asked.

“in between us- there are two hearts, four lips, four hands, 40 digits, two erections, 5 stories and four eyes. what do you want to do now?

he smiled- a kinda breathy one
“this”

breath.

there is nights past

where i remade myself in sinister drag

i painted my face from boredom and loneliness

and told myself bout how no one pretty much cares for nigger sighs and stories bout faggots crying and i convinced myself that it would be worth it to litter.

and i went out, like a mess

trampling flowers all the way through my garden, and dropping feathers

clanged through my gate

and sat at a bar, proclaiming:

“i am a Black man

who likes dick in his ass.

i want my damn respect.”

speaking in a slur as demeaning as it intentional.

dressed as a pig.

and i know what loneliness, bad memories, and an itch can do at closing

and how comfortable hims who hum low could seem

there are glimmers-

in those bags, as bright as my eyes

and are more dangerous.

they will blind more than you thought

or meant to.

to the point where there is no high

high enough to reach happy

no voice that can sing sweet.

just things whispering from behind doors

begging you to wear collars, and be blindfolded.

to the point where understanding love makes no sense

because this world makes no sense.

its just clouds.

its just choking.

and i want to breathe.

ive kind started to like it

so i am not going to let tonight be like one of those before.
im going to write a poem.