Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More Poems from Our Inspired Word Poets

Word to Rakim

Rough enough to break New York from Long Island -- Rakim

Welcome to Long Island,

the place where I was called


at four years old.

Shouts from an old rich white man carpet bombed

the passenger seat of my mother’s Buick Regal.

We were driving back from the mall through Garden City,

an affluent lily white town

that enforces lawn height requirements and white privilege

with rulers of paper bag tests and real estate steering.

It is separated from black & Latino Hempstead

by a strip of car dealerships.

At the stop light,

he rolled down his window.

GPS targeting system

had my mother in the crosshairs:

Nigger bitch! You and your little nigger get out of my town!

Welcome to 1985.

Welcome to

the home of institutionalized racism

the Hamptons, the exuberantly wealthy,

the Shinnecock and Poosputuck reservations,

Fire Island, Roosevelt Field, and Jones Beach;

a flatbed of extreme economic stratification

and constantly investigated gang violence.

Welcome to

the the land of closed community centers

where brown youth plummet

through cracked pavement to a life in the streets

if they aren’t caught by Churches or a public education system

that isn’t structured to hold their attention

It’s the story of Anyhood, USA

The realest gangsters

are dead or in jail;

projects are gladiator arenas

where a sixteen-year-old shooter

may be more dangerous than a grown man.

The line between haves and have-nots

is decorated by new and used car lots

At opposite ends of the spectrum

are projects and mansions,

bus passes and Phantoms,

if this kidnapped

your perception of soft, affluent Long Island

I’m glad to hold it ransom.

Pay it in Full.

Word to Rakim.

Rough enough to break NY from Long Island

- Timothy Prolific Jones


He tilts the kickstand with the tip
Of his steel toed boots
Pulls back on the throttle
And takes off
My mom stares out the kitchen window
Pretending there’s something
A distraction
He’s all leather
A convict that narrowly escaped adolescence

Nurses call them donor cycles
I wonder if any part of his body
Would be healthy enough to loan out

My mom takes out more life insurance
On his behalf
Learns where the money goes
Which bills are paid from where

She walks up the stairs to put
Folded towels in the closet
Sidetracked, stumbles into my room
Opens oils, perfumes, diaries
She has to read about me
To know who I am

He’s going to die
Any day now
I can’t tell him
His hands were the first
To pull me through crowds
The first to hoist me
Higher than tree branches
The first to burn a complete circle
Around soft skin
Vocal cords
His hands
Were the first to lift me
Off the hardwood floors
By my throat


He’s dying
Any moment
Ticking away
In leather
And steal toed boots
I sit on the back of his Harley
See my mom’s forehead
Wrinkled up
Pretending to watch squirrels out the window

He can’t tell me he loves me
Because he says it feels fake
And he’s not big on bullshit

My mom drops my diary
On the hardwood floor
Steals another painting
From under my bed
And hangs it up in the kitchen

He just wanted to talk to me
She swears
He wasn’t going to touch me
I wrapped my hand around my throat


Walked in the door
Valentine’s day
Three years ago
He threw me down the cement stairs
Into the snow
I refused
To talk to him

Involves closed fists
Broken bottles
A six foot
350 pound man
Half an inch from my face

This is my house
As long as you live under my roof
You live by my rules

I don’t want any of your rules
I don’t want your hands
Your leather jacket balled up in my fists
I don’t want to say I love you
As you hang up on me

Can’t you remember the beautiful
Cacophony of your booming voice
In our echoing ampitheatre living room
you pretended to be Allen Ginsberg
taught me to be an angelheaded hipster
by the time I was five
daddy, can’t you hug the same broken little girl
to your chest


I come home senior year
With a black eye
And purple fingers
Snaking their way through my flesh
You tell me
You don’t understand
How women are so stupid
So spineless
He pumps his shotgun
Shoots a skunk from the back porch
Stabs it in the belly with a metal shovel
Leaves the black trash bag
On the curb
Curses when the garbage men
Won’t take corpses
How can women be so stupid
My mom follows the imaginary squirrel
To the window behind the sink
And washes his dishes

My sister picks me up
I call my mom
I want to come
Knowing I’ll always be homeless
Even after I’ve showered
And stopped sleeping on sidewalks
I feel guilty about the liquor store
We held up
The purses I’d snaked my fingers into
The credit cards
Cash back
That bought powders and pills
I want to come


I was only five years old
My brother was three
He wet the bed
My father made him stand
In the center of the living room
With a diaper on his head
I started crying
“Now you can go join him”
Stood in the middle of the floor
Arms straight over my head for 3 hours
A pillow balanced above me
“If you drop it, you’ll get the beating of your life”
Try not to breathe


95 miles an hour
Back seat
Barrel pressed up against my temple
He’s all leather
My mom doesn’t know where I am
Sits on my bed
Watching squirrels chase each other
Mom, I want to come home

Gun thrown in a dumpster
Dad picks me up
drives me to the hospital
The doors beep when they open
Lock when they close
I chain smoke
Marb reds
The hardwood floor
The metal kickstand

They tell me I’m not sick
Not spineless
Not metal
Or gasoline
Not a barrel
A pistol
Not the pink scars
Raised on my thighs like brail
Words my mom can never read

I see my father outside the hospital
Through bulletproof glass
The frostbit sky attacking his eyes
Making it hard to tell
That he's crying


My dad is dying
Refusing insulin
Pulling harder on the throttle
And I don’t know how to tell him

I love you

- Molly Kat

Man in the Iron Mask

your face is difficult to remember
I run every time I see it reflected in the mirror
you died voiceless
moods dipping and swinging
reminiscent of snowstorms in September
an angel with clay wings

last night we fought with God
you, him and I
dancing a dirty dance
a manic dance of racing thoughts
fists clenched
arms drawn like Apollo’s bow at sunrise
sighted at heaven
a pistol of lips spouting beautiful blasphemy
in the midst of a bruised thunderstorm
brewing beneath our skin

we wear a mask
of twisted grins turned frown
the downstroke of a machete
crying rusted tears running bloody
face composed an iron melody of silence

have you ever seen an angel falling victim to a psychotic break?
butchering fingers between jagged yellow teeth
chewing away the PTSD
after standing face to face with God.

we are the Godforsaken
dressed in lily white robes
reminiscent of a clan rally burning crosses in the bayou
lynched by transparent looks
hooked to the inner ribs of God
he has forgotten the 13th tribe of Abraham
popping pills
a regimen of men dropping
they are drugging us for war

Zyprexa, depacote, Zoloft, abilify
a numbing cocktail of murder
balanced in the bloodied eye of a needle.
a blitzkrieg of suicide in a shotglass
bitter, syrupy
hanging down my throat
strung across David’s heart
I can’t outrun Gabriel’s horn blown solo
played between his fingers ever so nimble
swing me a melody across my throat.

we are earths angels walking in a dead man’s trance
we haven’t washed in days
masked men
shackled with chains of halos
dragged through mud and razors naked
nerve endings revealed like puppeteer’s strings
rubbed raw, salt-packed into wounds
burning sweet smell of flesh
escaping exit wounds
mouth and nostrils
we are engulfed in flame
leaping from our lungs
this disease eating us alive.

we are the Godforsaken
demons walking freely through our minds
leaving us raped and battered
after dreaming a razor across lips
blood drips a wine soaked symphony

I am not strong enough to carry the halos
of a thousand decapitated angels

arms weary
from the beating of a thousand wings
thunder of bones crunching concave
holding the weight of a concrete god on my tongue
strapped to hospital bed in a reverse crucifix
a constricted lotus
the fourth blasphemy in the trinity.

I can recall days where you hadn’t washed in weeks
stale urine ammoniating your skin
burning sense with the sterility of hospital hallways
I am sure you never admitted you were crazy
but I could see the glint in your glassy jaundiced eye
your demons whispering you naked
weeks of filth shed like a second skin
this secret hop-scotched a generation
falling kamikaze into my lap
face first…

I am the man in the iron mask.

- Howard Treadwell

Bookmark and Share

No comments: