With Pain Comes Ease

It takes a lifetime to learn

 

the difference between

/bending and breaking/

and another to repair the tears.

the beauty of breathing is found

living in the complicated

moments between truths.

 

And among these truths

the wise know the strange fragility

of being here, on, earth.

and how well dawn has become at

greeting us all

in varied ways.

 

They are forever

aware that hurricane winds

crush homes,

with memories inside

while providing

coolness for your face.

 

 

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(Sin)thesis

Still distilled

by the fluids

God instilled.

If

God

is

will

then let the will

of God fulfill.

Hearts are ill,

these hardened lands

—must part to till

Prayers for seed sowers

when a crop is sealed

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The Other Side

To carry the heaviest crown

In the land, in this hour

With such poise & grace

Is no minute feat

just for A fascist

to replace

the seat

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Vices

I chased a rabbit

that I said I wouldn't

chase today,

into a forest

I despise

a forest that,

despises me.


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This Burning House

 

In 100 lifetimes

these chapters will

read too well 

how we rang alarms

stomped tired feet

in harmony, and how

you came with

rivers of respectability

but not a molecule of water

to put out the fire

Junior warned us of


the streets ran red

with our blood

then black

with our fist,

then pink

with our tongues,

 

you saw how fast

these broken windows

became broken windows

for token negroes,

taking these blows 

 

so easily

you've chose

this moment

this sonic quaking

of atonement

as brutal labor

for eardrums


that coughing.

hacking.

heaving.

y'all been hearing

are your children's children

choking on the smoke 

 

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When the Poor become Props

7:00AM, while our moon

exchanged roles

with the rising sun

as a crowded thoroughfare

trembled above our heads

and

       cars

             passed

                     carrying

                             adults

/galavanting towards slavery/

I'm brutally reminded that,

when we are not busying

ourselves with coins

guilt scathes our purses

and the downtrodden's faces

are soon treated as the decor

for our charity

 

the boy interrogated

"what does service look like?"

I offered.

It is the clandestine bread given to a vagabond while only the grass bearing witness in our transaction

"Flowers in Aleppo"

If the children return

with atom bombs for eyes,

bellies filled to brim with indifference

cursing a womb they fell from

burning the eulogies of their ancestors

it is the soil that will pay the price

 

                when the children return

                having learned to swim in an acid ocean

                believing the stars are scattered omens

                knowing the rattle of mortar fire

                better than voices of their cousins

                will we curse the religion they adopt?

 

If the children return

in acquiescence with the sky closing

well-adapted to darkness's calloused palms

and have no measure for when day breaks

clothed in skin stitched from their fathers backs

it is the crops that will mourn their ghosts

 

                when the children return

                with appetites for gunpowder and steel

                when they no longer fear our voices

                because our breath smells of silence

                if they conclude the world sat and watched

                it is their thunder we will have to endure

 

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I gave the art world its box back

They would rather you shackle your expression

ask for permission to narrate our own yesterdays

As if lungs excuse themselves for breathing

You too see how the critics have attempted

With every metric and measure to bound

these stanzas Into barbed envelopes

Into lexicon coffins…. of standards

accosting the fruit beneath my words



(They are the birds)

that purchase steel beams,

and spend their days

Building cages for their bodies

Tarring their wings

praying we join their labor

hoping their misery

finds an acquaintance

Hypervigilance

The funny  

- thing  

about

safety pins

is that they  

come undone  

under pressure,

poke holes 

in fabric, 

and pierce  

through skin

Forgotten Nevers

Like we don't know how,

the asphalt on this road

gives for heavy feet

Like peach cobbler ain't always been

umbrella for depression’s rain

Like light from burning crosses

didn't reflect off window panes

Like Pop-pop ain't lay rifle cross lap

on Su’then porches

 

Like we ain't douse holy water on torches

Like Stokely ain't lay blueprint,

Like Assata don't breathe through these letters

Like Black mamas don't braid bullets into cornrows

Like we ain’t beat the Ma’afa,

Like we can't lay roses on Jim Crow’s tomb

 

Like Sankara never told us,

the oppressor was on our dinner plate

Like Nzinga never held country,

countryside and countrymen down

Like Medgar ain't sacrifice

everything, for the only thing

Like liberation is any. other. place.

than under our sternums

 

Like we ain't been surviving

Like TRiUMPh something new for us

Like (We ain't All) been needin freedom

Like the time ain't now

Like this road been crystal

Like you ain't supposed to,

keep climbing them stairs

 

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Fluid

Some women /are/ water

our cups can not hold

"some women drown men"

who've forgotten their current

Some, crush men wave upon wave

who mistake their power for game

(she) needn't be ashamed of her tide

some men find safety in ponds

they have yet to learn to swim... 

Anatomy

As the days pass

I have encountered

more. demons. in.

my throat, hands,

cheekbones, toes, forehead

than any atlas

I've ran my fingers

across

A - L - T - O - N

In his palm rested rosy cheeked daughters

with toothy smiles that anchored ships of joy

-boys- whose hearts docked on his pinky madly in love with his presence

A life partner who spun slowly in his palm

kept in motion by devotion and kisses

that never wiped away well enough, to forget

under his cuticles, lived harmlessness

under his thumbs, lived the day-to-day

anguish and honorable sojourn

of putting food to family belly

of spending 37 years avoiding

a (one-size-fits-all) description

of existing (on-the-hour)

 

Last we heard was a soldier scream

 

"He's got something in his hands"

We've always had some things

in our hands.

He Shook up The World


In 1,000 odd years, time will attest

to the slugger from louisville

who conquered the best


(Too BLACK too BOLD) too witty to lose

an American paradox

contrary to blues


Was he poet, warrior or revolutionary King?

or only dizzying hooks

and domination in rings?


Was he philosopher, savant, servant or preacher?

or only gifted with gab

and charismatic fever?


In 1,000 odd years, history will tremble to speak

of the People's Champ,

who was poetry


Forever truth to power for what he believed

not in a 1,000 odd years

will we get an ALI


No, not in a 1,000 odd years

will we get an

ALI

 

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1,000 Ramadans

Wells dwell in the bellies,

of the seekers

if we only but knew 

(for) forsaking water, bread,

and the lower self

stomachs will find wholeness

---in holiness


Eating upon the leaves of The One

who fashions the oak out of seed

and fills the (hearts) of the damned

and fills the (parts) of the dams

irrigating (prayers), pastures and plights

 

Have you not seen the faces of the seekers?have you heard the thunder call His name?have you mistaken (faith) for famine?

have their bodies ever been fuller?

 

                          The only hunger

in this fast  

                                  is for

eternity...

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Do not become angry

I've had the privilege

to see

a wealthy man's

portion of the world.

... a pauper's view

of "the table"

 

Kindness is

a universal language

(as is)

abuse.

 

One heals,

The second fractures

whomever,

has bones

 

We have power

to exercise both

 

A human dies

a healer

or

abuser

or both

 

Depending on

which

patient's patience 

you ask

Strings

Making the same mistakes

puts knots in my stomach


  knot again,

      knot ever,

        knot this lifetime


when our bond

turned bondage

when the rope

of trampled promises

embraced my jugular


- be it

kinship, brotherhood

or the magnanimous

stupor of love

I broke ties

Fathers, Sons and Unholy Ghosts

Age-old addiction

      turning

            reasonable suspicion

                    into

                            critical condition

then flatlines 

you see

                                              this is

                                              the only

                                            (trinity)

                                              we've come

to know

                                          here

Rorschach

Amadou had a wallet

Trayvon had Skittles

Black boy had a BB gun

Might as well had a missile

The Draggers

WE

pick at each other's reputations

like cotton formerly situated

between index and thumb


my knees are bruised in whole

from nights praying

that some graceful day

WE

prove William wrong.