In the well of understanding

In the well of understanding

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


A poem I wrote a few years back but have never shared broadly:

Under the velvet of upturned leaves,
Sanctioned beneath green gauze and trembling,
The languid child strains against the womb
Wrestling equally with the practice and idea
Constraint is that bridge
Half caressed in sunlit memory,
Half crumpled in neoteric ruins,
Where the world girds society
And morality's skyscrapers sentinels
Known peripheries, planted just a stone’s throw
From the mire and muck of the extraordinary

Contest as it wills, the lash is firm
Effluvium lines the cottony membrane
There, in that spark of life, in that brace
Which straddles the crossing, groping
The child stirs towards seraphic peace-
The dizzying stillness of death settling-
Plunging without a whimper, without complaint
Releasing restraint, relishing its throes:
To die to live to love to hurt

Somewhere we cease to try, somewhere we become
Somehow we need no learning, somehow we come to know
The child within relaxes its grasp
Ruptures the verdigris placenta, scatters the leaves
Arrives in the limpid atmosphere
And walks upright, in time, in rhythm:
To die to live to love to hurt

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Counting: A Poem

Counting slow brushes of rain,

he feels at last alive

though not free

even in heaven's wet embrace

fragments of prison,

he called life, intrude

war sounds, distance-striped vision

barely meets one moment from the next

always loss, he considers,

of self we forget:

to stay, to be here now,

love's deprivation the common chorus,

counting inadequate measures:

our wealth, our will, fearing judgement

counting everything

without counting ourselves

"I remember," he thinks

within the storm liberation looms

this time he counts the strokes

made by the meeting

of his and heaven's tears

seeing no difference

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ideas Does Not A Reality Make

"It's a strange thing to go through life as a social experiment. If you were born of ideas, then all you have are ideas," so opens one of the chapters of Man Gone Down which chronicles the ups and downs of a Black intellectual raised in the post-Civil Rights Era at a climactic point in his life. It summed up a groundswell of feeling I was experiencing watching our current President at the UN and the subsequent G-20 Conference.

I could not help but wonder where were all the ideas of the pre-election fervor had gone. To my endless inquiries of EVIDENCE of change I have been met only with deaf replies. Where is the normalization of relations with Cuba? Where are much vaunted reforms? The closure of the wars abroad? The realization of smart power? The healthcare overhaul seems to be a mote in the eye which will be washed away like a speck of dirt during the morning's ablutions.

The reality is that the Obama Presidency itself is a grand idea, fed by the American imagination but simultaneously riddled with the shortfall of American idealism. Americans are haunted by the idea of equality, bracing to embrace the idea of it but unwilling to recognize that validating humanity means demystifying any particular notions of racial identity, cultural origin and thus any attachments-favorable and unfavorable-to these. In effect this particular Presidency is a social experiment, and experiments always imply a norm (i.e., control group) versus a delta (i.e., change group). Of course, the most snowed under regarding the experiment is the titular head of the country, and this is attributable to the realm of ideas without action that have circumscribed the world from which he has sprung.

I fear that an ensuring passage of the novel presages much of the future of Presidential idea: "I suppose I should have been a superhero or an agent with no mission-AWOL, lost, forgotten, like a cold war relic, the laboratory, the training camp blown-up, the notes destroyed, my creator insane or in ashes...I should have been a vampire or a werewolf. But if that were the case, then there would be some kind of unbroken bloodline tracing back to the original. I feel artificial, man-made, like saccharin or LSD, something synthetic that was fucked up but issued nonetheless. I should have been something inexplicable, but at the same time nameable-a tolerable paradox, a recognizable of the land of the obvious; and, obviously, phenotypically different. My internal conflicts need be expressed not in words..."

But unfortunately words and ideas are all the grass which has grown since the taking of the oath. We are masters of the oratory, and wielders of the image, but manifestation is a discipline we have yet to brandish and exercise with truth. There were smatterings in the press of the term engagement in dealing with other sovereign powers last week. The veritable question is, "How engaged are we with ourselves within the American landscape?"

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Beauty of Day

Ablaze and radiant, morning salutes the dawn
brushing aside the mascara of clouds
resolutely striding through bilious winds
humming on the larynx of the earth
fluttering on rimed lips of heaven
until color breathes through the sky
spilling in a heady stream of iridescence
vermilion, azure, and amethyst droplets
to stir the imagination and prick the brow
bearing loveliness once more into the world