Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A View of the Verses

The humor Doug Savage taps into with his cartoon, Savage Chickens, is sheer poetry.
Check out his work by clicking (note I didn't say clucking) here.

I've been on a bit of a streak as of late. I haven't been writing here, but I've been writing. I started work on a memoir, and have been dabbling in poetry - something I haven't done since high school. Take a look at some of the pieces. Hope you enjoy them.

(My mom has a habit of sleeping at her dining room table or in front of her computer in an uncomfortable looking chair. As I watched her sleeping one afternoon, and "Shopgirl" - a kind of melancholy romance - simutaneously played on TV, this poem came to me. It's a combination of the way my mom's sleep looked to me and the mood of the film.)

Hibernation

Arms coiled about her,
like a shield from harm,
an empty approximation ofembraces long past.

Clothing drips from her frame,
her body flows to one side,
a futile dry run at pouring away
her exhaustion, her worry,
her pain that refuses to pass.

Sleep overtakes her
as she sags in her chair.
Breath coming in tentative
gulps of air, like voiceless sobs.
Her body constantly shifting
in vain attempts at comfort.
That brings little relief from
the loneliness borne of
love long past.

Never to return.

A Self Portrait

(I've been feeling a bit lonely lately, but that's partially my own design - and fault. While I've always been a bit of a loner, I find I've been isolating myself more nowadays. This poem comes out of the conflict between wanting to be alone, yet sometimes wanting companionship.)

I do not fear solitude.
The silence, sometimes deafening in its quiet,
is also a blanket of peace and calm that surrounds me.

I do not fear the cliché of having
cats about my feet.
My feline companions do not complain,
do not take advantage,
do not lash out in anger,
or betray my trust
in some unspeakable, cruel way.

I do not fear the words
Alone.
Solo.
Table for one.
By myself.
Some try and use them as
weapons of mass destruction
upon my ego,
my pride.
But I take comfort in being able
To follow my own path.
Come and go as I please.
Answer to no one.
Indulge in my own unique pleasures.

Alone is a badge of honor,
not a source of shame.

What I fear
is that one day I may lose the grace
to embrace my solitude,
hold it close to me,
and that I shall
cry out in vain
for a companion who cannot come
because that companion
does not exist.

The Ballad of Lil' Man

(This poem is a true story. I met Lil' Man coming home from work this summer. We need more like him in our neighborhoods.)

Lil’ Man had a plan.
Ball in hand, he would:
Make a run,
turn and gun,
and drive it to the hole.

There was no basket
on the barren street corner
Didn’t matter, no stress.
He would handle his business,
making his points much bolder.
Lil’ Man was going to be a legend
on that corner.

So he went for his shot.
Driving the lane,
strong and plain,
made his turn, held his spot
Let the ball go, and made his shot….

Way off target! He missed.
Lil’ Man’s friends tried to diss.
He wasn’t hearin’ it.
Held up his head, turned a little red,
but he was not gonna cry.
Not one tear would he shed.

“Hey ma’am,” he said instead
in a proud tone,
Adding as much bass
as a six year old can own,
“Can you bring me my ball?”

As it rolled across the street,
I kept my smile discreet.
Put my car in park,
got out, and did my part.
Taking the ball back to Lil’ Man.

Standing tall against the teasing,
I couldn’t hold back,
watching him summon his pride.
I was cheesing, my grin bright and wide
As I walked to Lil’ Man.
“Here you go, sweetie. Be careful.”
“Thank you ma’am,” he said, grateful,
as he reached for his ball.
“Umm ma’am, are you a teacher?”
he asked, eyes wide and eager.

“No sweetie,” I said with a smile,
thinking all the while:
“You’re the teacher on this street,
showing your boys to go for your dream
no matter how big it seems.
Add grace to your defeat.
Don’t let taunts beat
your soul away,
Exercise care and thought,
instead of acting out
on the spur of the moment.

As I drove away from the block,
Lil’ Man gave a quick shout,
of “Thank you!”
before going back to the corner,
to hold it down at the basket,
and be the dream’s owner
once again.


Sight Lines

(This is the poem, a tribute to my cousin - a very gifted painter - came to me one day, almost as though it were being dictated to me by some spirit. I've posted this before, but I thought it would be good to repost it with some of my other work.)

When you look at me,
perhaps you see a man
of quiet, calm demeanor.
A wit that’s quick.
Wisdom that’s plain and simple.

But I hope that you see,
when you look closer at me
43 years of a story that has at its heart
a love of the art of the oil,
the canvas and the brush.

A love of charcoal and pencil that glide across
paper with all the skill I can muster.
Of watercolor and ink,
every type, every color,
a conduit for me
to tell you the stories
I want you to see when you

Look at me.

If you only see what’s on the surface,
then you miss the crux of my story.
The strength of my father, who let nothing;
not the hatred that came with the struggle for integration,
nor the tyranny of a gradually immobile body,
keep him from moving, striving, creating.
That pride he lovingly passed along to me,
and I pass on to you
when you look at my canvas.

Look closer. There it is.
The knowledge I glean from the voices of
Malcolm,
Cockburn,
Amiri.
The faith nurtured in me by
Nomine Patris, Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.
The visual representation of the melodies of
Bird,
Monk,
Duke,
Basie.
My interpretation of the gifts of
Caravaggio,
Rembrandt,
Bacon,
Freud,
Delaney.
The eloquence of Baldwin.
The flow of Fassbinder.
A lyricism rivaling the story of Panchali.

I know you see green when you look at me.
Not envy, but in my roots.
Planted by the nurturing hands of Cecilia and C.T.
Blossomed in the greenhouse of creativity on Kirby,
Made whole in the ivy that surrounds me
(which, by the way sports a vivid red, black and green
in the midst of all that blue).
Growing in the park that thrives in the heart
of the Empire State clear through to my soul in Motown.

Don’t look past all this when you look at me.
If you do, then you’re looking at,
but don’t really see
My pride.
My knowledge.
My struggle.
My love.
It’s right here.
It’s me on the canvas.


More later, as the inspiration strikes. In the meantime, come and visit me on Facebook. New friends are always welcome.

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