Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Follies

Wind turbine-
She loves me she loves me not
she loves me

 "Girl, he called me again last night" she said to her girlfriend sitting one seat beyond her, "but I ain't gonna let him know what's up yet. "He fine, but you know how boys be doing." Her friend nodded and chimed in "Tell me about it, you let them know how you feel too fast and they be trying to take advantage."
 I was riding the New Jersey Transit out to Hamilton Mall on a semi-crowded bus that included these two young women, one of whom I recognized as a Cashier at an AC casino on the Strip, maybe Resorts or Revel. It was Summertime and the sun flowed through the bus windows like water through a hole in a ship, giving me plenty of light to read "The Northside" a hardback history of black folk in AC written by the same cat who penned "Boardwalk Empire." I had just glanced up to check the progress of the bus as I have a long history of missing my Stop while reading, sometimes not noticing until the bus reached the end of the line. I wasn't easvesdropping but caught that last snippet of conversation and turned to face them.
"What's up Poker Player, you all right?" she said to me, recognizing me from my frequent late night cash outs after poker sessions. I remembered her name as Adena.
"Aint nothing' I responded, "Just going to the Barnes and Noble"
"I see you over there all lost in that book" she said "Like you aint know nobody."
I laughed, "Yeah, I get like that when I'm reading, the whole world disappears."
"That must be a good ass book then" her girlfriend chimed in.
"It is." I said "It is, it's about black folk in AC going way back, by the dude that wrote 'Boardwalk Empire."
"That was a book?" she asked.
"Yeah" I said "But I haven't read it though."
"I watch the show all the time." her girlfriend said.
"I watched the First Season." I said
The bus groaned to a stop to discharge an elderly woman and a toddler.
"I see yall talking about boys." I added
They both laughed "Of course" she said rolling her eyes "What else would we be talking about? You know how yall do."
"Do you want some advice?' I asked her.
"Yeah, whatever." she replied.
"I think you'd be way better off letting him know how you feel up front."
They both looked at me like I had just suggested that they ride butt naked on top of the bus in a blizzard.
"What?" she said, "If you let a boy know how you feel right away he just gonna try to play you like a hand of Spades"
"Uh Huh" he girlfriend cosigned.
"Exactly!" I said.
"Huh?" they both said in unison, "You bugging, That don't make no kind of sense."
"Actually, it makes the most sense." I said.
"I aint gonna just sit there and let somebody take advantage of me." she said.
"Exactly!" I said again.
Now they looked really confused, like I was speaking Yoruba or something.
"Look" I said "Any dude that's trying take advantage of you is a predatory asshole who isn't going to make the best choice for a successful long term relationship."
"Of course, that's obvious." she said.
"So," I said "Why not find out right away, before you invest a bunch of time and emotions into it?
"Once you peep his game you can just bounce."
Her girlfriend objected, "But they only going to try you if you let them, if you show them you aint going for it then they aint going try that with you."
"Not at first." I said, "But an asshole is an asshole, it's going to come out eventually."
"I don't know" she said "It's different for yall than it is for us"
"Sure" I said "But look at it this way, is communication important in a relationship?"
"Of course!" they chimed in harmony.
" Is trust important in a relationship?"
"Of course!" they chimed again.
"So" I asked "Why you starting off with a dude not being honest in your communication and not trusting him?"
The bus hissed to another stop.
"Well, once you get to know him of course you'll be honest then." she said "But you gotta see if you can trust him first."
"Yeah", I said "But how a person acts when they think they can get away with something is who they really are." 'Why not find that out from Jump Street?"
"You crazy" Her girlfriend said "I aint going out like that."
"Ooh girl, look." Her friend pointed out the window.
"What?" she asked, craning her neck.
"Two people over there minding they own business" her girlfriend said.
We all busted out laughing.
"Wasn't you reading a book or something?" she asked.
"I was in fact." I admitted, "I was, but my stop is coming up anyway."
I stashed my book in my backpack and uncoiled my six foot frame.
"I'll catch yall later."
"Bye" they waved.
I ambled off the bus and turned my head to avoid the dust clouds following the bus down the highway.

About nine months later, I was leaving the Revel Poker Room to cash out my remaining $26 from the $400 I started with. it had been a brutal night and I was exhausted. I waited my turn in line with my eyes closed and then slowly pushed my few chips through the window.
"You must have had a bad night."
I looked up, it was Adena, the girl from the bus the summer before.
"Bad?" I said "Bad would have been an improvement. It was brutal."
"How have you been?"
"I'm good" she said smiling her work smile.
"How did that thing work out?" I asked.
"What thing?" she queried.
"With that guy you where talking to." I said.
"Oh, him?" she said, "I been done forgot about his sorry ass."
"He was cool at first, but for real he wasn't shit, just like most of yall."
I laughed, "How long did it take you to find that out?"
She looked down and away, "Too long" she said "Too Long!"
"Anyway I'm seeing somebody else now."
"I was just talking to my mother about what you said on the bus." she added,
"At first she agreed with me, but then she thought about it and said maybe you got a point and she wished she had thought of that when she was younger."
"And what do you think?" I asked.
"Both of yall crazy" she laughed "Both of yall!"
"But I'm going to keep it mind."
"Alright' I said as I faced my bills and walleted them.
"I'll catch you later" she waved.
"Later." I said, turning away and heading towards eight hours of dreams (where maybe I could actually win at a session of poker.)
"Next!" I heard her yell as I rounded the corner to the elevator.

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday Tidbit

Hot cinnamon bun-
That skyward swirling
Of her hair

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

Friday, October 24, 2014

Reading today in DC

You won't want to miss this! I'd walk barefoot from AC to DC to see this lineup even if I wasn't on it. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits

Swirling leaves-
That time her parents
Walked in on us

Ebola on TV-
The kids prepare their
Halloween masks

First hint
of red from a paper cut-
Dear John

Her eyes
When asked for water-
blaze of leaves

Watching the phone-
The devil that you don't know
the devil you do

Hint of blue
in a raven's feathers-
Black eye

My squeal
at Mickey D's-
Her arched eyebrow

Pumpkin Spice Latte-
Miss Prissy changes
her lipstick

by the motel wall
Is It A Crime

How slowly 
he lowers the needle
vinyl junkie

between the closest

On the Boardwalk-
Morning smell of saltwater

One finger
pressed to the lips
In a Silent Way

Of Hollywood

Earl Gray
dissolving on the tongue
morning fog

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Spark of Magic

Took what was supposed to be a weekend trip down to James Madison University for the Furious Flower poetry conference and it turned into two weeks in the DC area helping out a friend on a contracting job. At Furious Flower I got to hang out with a bunch of poets I hadn't seen in years and cop a bunch of new books. And somewhere along the way I got my mojo (and my Muse) back. Check it;

Mike Brown's body-
The neighbors slowly
trickling out

Ferguson Missouri-
The asphalt heats up
Mike Brown's blood

Mike Brown's body-
My son's full lungs
as we embrace

Ferguson October-
The lingering redness
of fallen leaves

Evening rain-
How quickly the grave
is filled

Blood moon-
Same boy prone in the black street
different name

Rain drops-
Mom's fingerprints leftover
in the flour

Her mouth-
Alarm-red roses
glossed with dew

over Brigantine Inlet-
Her left eyebrow

Shadows boxing-
by firelight

Staring into
an Officer's flashlight-
Full Moon

Flashing lights-
How many times will I
fit the description

DuPont Circle
A black Queen sways
in the Autumn wind

I forget the color
of her eyes

Ferguson dusk
The shadows of the body
longer and longer

My hands on the wheel
Their hands on revolvers

Autumn dusk
My son misjudges the ball
early stars

TV screen flickers-
The feathers of a raven
belie its caw

Lines of clouds
my latest poem

Cars crunch acorns-
A blind woman listens
in the crosswalk

Blood Moon-
The round fullness
Of her lips

Pausing to watch
two deer in the road-
Hunter's moon

Half Moon-
An old couple shares a
spoon of Gelato

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Late August Post

Long time no post, there's no one reason why really. Mostly it's because I've been spending more time Advantage Playing certain slot machines, something that requires me to move around a lot from casino to casino, which means a great deal of walking. Thus less time spent sitting and contemplating and less time writing. Time management has never been a strength of mine, every Report Card I ever got in school said "Does not use time and materials wisely." I have stuff I want to write about including a short, short story, but I need to sit in one spot for hours to do that. And I haven't. Also, so many things going on in the world, bombs in Gaza, the invasion of Ukraine, casinos in AC shutting down, Ray Rice and Janay Palmer in an elevator on video, the white sheet that covered a brown boy's body for hours on a hot street in Ferguson MO and the following flames that made everyone hotter. So, so many things. Including the nagging feeling that I should be writing about more of those things. My recollection of Ruby Dee reached 100 views faster than anything I've ever posted here and the truth is that my prose postings get way more pageviews than the poetry, although the haiku and senryu don't do too bad. I have written some ku and ryu since my last post here;

Late August-
Stopped by the road's only red

but under this umbrella-
August sun

August morning- 
Dad's hairline receding
in my mirror

Another year passes/
The flickering light
of fifty-two wicks

Round and shining 
On the desk -
August Moon

Gaza dawn- 
So many red marks
on my Lesson Plan

Changing the channel- 
Yet again
Gaza explodes

Bit by bit 
The cake disappears from
the urinal

A few of these may even be worth keeping. I also had a birthday and got three awesome completely unexpected gifts. My birthday isn't really a big deal for me and until I joined Facebook I would sometimes miss it until the day after. But Facebook makes it a big deal with all the birthday wishes so you know it's coming. What I didn't know was coming though were two anthologies I have poems in, both of which I was really excited about. One was "Red Reads First" an anthology of haiku and senryu from participants in the Head to Head Haiku Slam held every year at the National Poetry Slam and now the Individual and Women's competitions as well. As a two-time National Champ I was invited to participate and was eager to read the work of the many poets who won or competed in the years that followed. The other anthology is perhaps the most important publication I've ever gotten, inclusion in the 2014 Best American Poetry edited by Terrance Hayes. I've known since January that I was in but the books arrived unexpectedly the day before my birthday. I often get my mail at the Borgata Business Center (long story) and they call me when stuff comes in, but when I got the call this time I couldn't figure out what it could possibly be. The reading for Best American will be in NYC in late Sept. and I expected to get my contributor's copies then. So their arrival in the mail caught me off guard. And one of the copies is a hardback! That was a really pleasant surprise. I may have even celebrated a little. Then Showboat, and Revel closed, two places I have many fond memories of. At Showboat I'll really miss the Earl of Sandwich deli with their great sandwiches and fresh brownies baked with Ghiradelli chocolate. Many of the restaurants in Revel had great food and when their poker room was open I ate there probably five days a week. The food was so, so good in so many places. Of all the casinos that closed though I'll probably miss Trump Plaza the most, because I spent countless hours in the Starbucks there reading and writing. It had both chairs and free Wifi and was the only Starbucks on the Strip that had both. I probably made more Blog posts from there than anywhere else save the Borgata. The Plaza also had one of my favorite neon signs in all of AC (pictured above), it was a huge sign above an escalator that lead down to Pacific Ave and I never could figure out why it was there. It wasn't the name of a current restaurant or club on the premises, maybe it was leftover by a previous show or something. I always told myself that I'd ask, but never got around to it. I had to ride the escalator four times just get the shot right. But it didn't matter, how ever many times it took, I was going to ride it and get the shot. I'm a patient guy that way. 

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

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