College Era Poems

Dreams of Harlem

I. Blue Eyed Sky

I’ve felt my world die

And I’ve seen the world resurrected

Reborn and rehashed

dumb, vibrant and laughing

Unaware of its insecurity

And insecure of its awareness

I’ve felt angel-headed hipsters

Breathe fire into my words

And felt betrayed

As their children stalked Harlem

Howling through my Negro city

Gentrifying for an artistic fix

I’ve seen beautiful blue-eyed radicals

Trying to Contemplate Black Mecca

And waiting for the moon

College educated contraband;

Hob knobbing with the hobos

As if they Jazz June

Now I see

Gorgeous Green eyed gentry

Thrift store jeans,

Imposed poverty facades,

And white-washed technicolor dreams

Of Harlem.

And I’ve watched their

Unsatisfying, subversive

Yet seductive

Imitations of

Lenox Avenue

Leave me breathless

Addicted to literary white girls

Reading Malcolm

With no justification for belief


Feigning for subculture,

And subtext filled dreams

Lusting for open minded intercourse

With unprotected themes

I find my self destroyed by madness




Black like the night is Black

Quixotically striking striaght

and singing sin

II. Black Mecca

In my dreams there was Jazz.

Jive talking Harlemites

In Zoot-suites with trumpets blaring

Be-bop for beaten souls

Scat, erratic organic rhythms

Black folk

Danced at rent parties

With free flowing chaotic beats


In bustling, black Manhattan;

The legacy of Langston Hughes;

Laureate of Harlem,

And of Black, Literary Visionaries

Sat composing Odes

To Black Mecca

Subtle songs for ebony bodies

And roll calls for shackled minds

III. Miscegenation

Harlem was poetry in tenements

And the unbound expressions

Of my self-defined existence

Harlem was never a place

It is my state of mind

And so,

I’m Alone in my counter-culture

Black Bereted,

With hallowed eyes,

Sitting on south side street corners,

Smoking Africa laced dreams

Contemplating Black Mecca

And Waiting for the sun to rise

Dejected by my infidelity

And shouting to a starry eyed Dynamo

In that waning blue eyed sky

I’m Asking:

Where are my kindred souls?

Black skinned and hallowed eyed

Contemplating Black Mecca

Waiting for sons to rise.



The days are hot and
the nights cold
and Heaven is a long way away.

I’ve seen the shackled masses.
I’ve peered into the forlorn eyes of government projects,
And through shattered glass
seen shattered dreams deferred.
Dreams can’t run syrupy sweet
if the streets are full of gunfire,
and I’ve seen churches perforated
— Riddled—
with the south side boys choir’s serenade of bullets.

Seething with the rhythms ofyouthful energy
And vying for freedom;
I’ve seen the streets pulse with
Blood red and crack fuelled indignation.
I’ve seen misdirected,
And poverty abused youth
find family in red bandanas
And Fight the Power with gunfire.

The devil finds work for idle hands and a tech nine fits easily into a backpack.
Rumble young man rumble. Ya Mama goes to work and ya daddy goes to jail. Rumble young man rumble.

Half the city,
half naked,
and laughing the rolling laughter of youth,
died of starvation
quietly in steel mill.
Warsaw marched north with Dublin
and Freetown was left behind,
praying for a return that will never come.
But the diamonds,
the blood stained powder diamonds,
breathed fire into its black lungs.

For a few dollars
or a few minutes in a dark alley
all your troubles would fade away.
trickling down into the hands of a neighbor’s son
selling to eat and fighting to live.

The devil finds work for idle hands and a kilo fits easily into a backpack.
Rumble young man rumble. Ya Mama goes to work and ya daddy goes to jail. Rumble young man rumble.

These hands. These hands that built a city. These hands that tended the land and beat the steel. These hands that raised and lifted a nation are wasted: lying fallow, sterile with salt sowed into their wounds. Raw and bloodied they beat in vain on the bullet proof “windows of opportunity.” Tear streaked hands—wet from comforting the invisible abrasions of oppression in the invisible children of the invisible ghetto—that are strong but too tired to lift themselves up. Dejected , they find their only solace in shaking the condemned hands of Ida B. Wells.

The Devil finds work for idle hands and a life fits easily into a backpack.
Tremble old hands tremble. Ya daughter goes to work and ya son goes to jail. Tremble old hands tremble.

The streets cry, alone at night, after the city shuts down. The trampled streets whimper to themselves: the only ears that hear them. In their silence lie volumes spoken loudly but never heard.

“Where is the voice of that so called down-trodden mass” they ask.
“It is calling, always calling to you. Stop. Listen. Hear Me! I’m dying” they answer.
then Silence

The devil finds work for the darkest hands and half a city fits easily into a backpack. Rumble south-side rumble. Ya sisters go to work and ya brothers go the jail. Rumble south-side rumble.

The days are hot and
the nights cold
and Heaven is a long way away.


Fermentation of Truth

Let me roll down like water
Cascading on barren minds
Deserts of post-modern apathy
Let my words wind
Hugging the rolling tapestry
Of the thirsty rustic hills filled with sterile farms
Bread basket villages devoid of life
Salt sowed lands lapping my eloquence
Being cleansed by my mind traveling in liquid form
Like a triumphed wine
celebrating a shadowed victory 93 million miles from the light

Let us toast,
The truth, its vines tumbling, turning, twisting
Has returned to us at last
Traveling through man’s uncertainty
From the Eden of man’s disillusioned past

There Satan allowed society to strip it of its fruit
and Society let it be pressed under the numb
Melancholy masses of milling feet
Shuffling to work–
But at last it is allowed to trickle down through consciousness to this
Meager meandering of creative misgivings
The spoken word

So drink up
Take your fill of this sweet knowledge
This eternal truth that gets better with age
Fear not
Your contempt has not distilled its
Poetry or its Potency
It will still get you dunk

You’ll be hanging on my every word
Tripping over my mental obstacles
While your head spins
Trying in vain to chase this trail of contemplation
I’ll leave you in a drunk stupor
Too trashed to comb your thoughts
With your grandmother’s fine-toothed ivory
Preconceptions and imperfect paradigms

In the morning after you’ve vomited up your ignorance
And passed out, sprawled ungracefully
Over a rough, barely tangible
Concept of reality,
You’ll have a slight hangover–
And yes by slight I mean
You’ll head will feel like
Philosophy was beating inside of it
A caged metaphor for your inebriated reincarnation
But hopefully by then you’ll have forgotten last night

You’ll have forgotten your
False fears and fallacious philosophy
And only remember your empty stomach
And be hungry for knowledge

And maybe then you’ll stand up and walk to the night stand
Heads still spinning from last night
And you’ll pick up a pen and begin to write
Searching through the catacombs of your connotations
For truth
All the while planting a perfect seed
In the courtyard of your ever growing mind
A vine yard that will stretch
From your heart to your mind
And begin to slowly wrap itself around your soul

So open your eyes
Let lose your spirit
Unchain your shackled mind,
And drink up–
Take this little shot of truth
Wine of the fruit of knowledge
100 proof.

Death Coming Gently

Fear can hold you prisoner

And Hope can set you free

So pray for me

As I runway

Following whispers on the wind

sweet syllables in my mind:

Runway son runaway 

Somewhere, there is a space for me;

a place for me,

to die.

Death coming gently,

singing softly to my soul:

Runaway son runaway 

Her warm arms are waiting

Laughing as I cry

And with tears flowing down my cheek

She’s waiting for me to fly


Runaway son runaway 

Escape is the sweetest dream

Runaway son runaway

What I Need Is

What I need is

A word.

Something profound to start off with

One syllable that hangs in the air.

The first note of a battle score

The initial down beat before the inevitable crescendo.

There’s something tangible in it’s formation in your mouth,

a physically reality in its reflective solitude.

Lone, like the man on the mountain,

chanting his mantra

Soft to a conservatory of concerned souls

A bearded prophet of lost ages

Mystic of the time before time


Overused cliché of infatuation

Melodramatic cop out


Over emotional, teen angst

I lost my homework

The world is hell

Bull shit

I need an opener in A minor

A low, reverberating pull on your heart strings

in the beginning there was this word

Then Silence

Fear the clout of this word spoken

For there is power in its utterance

Fear not of man

For this word is from he you calls himself I am

A divine declaration

Perceptive in it’s simplicity

I need a word that commands the stars

And stops the rising sun

A soul quenching

Heart wrenching

Primal aside

Listen closely and you shall hear

This word

 The Dross of Self

Sometimes, he sits alone.

He sits like stone,


His static motion masked

the commotion in his mind and

lay hidden was the turmoil of his soul.

Inside he was chaos—

falling through the liquid reflection of himself;

drowning in an ocean of an identity crisis

—as fluid memories of a self-doubting existence

whitewashed the insides of his granite façade

flushing away any chance for relief.


Reality was too heavy a burden.

He spirit struggled on the brink of collapse

striving in vain to reach a horizon of calm,

a measure of sanity.

Oppressed by reality

-thick and heavy in his lungs-

he labored in silent futility

for peace of mind.

Yet a mind finds no peace in battle;

no rest in conflict.

His life—

a waste to be cleansed by virtue

or burned in effigy—

passed before him.

With the revelations of the past, his resolve broke like shattered glass that echoed his plight. Its pieces pierced the silence after the storm.

Lacking the faith

which would have picked up the shards,

his cold heart laughed.

His cackle reverberated,

Shacking on the walls of his vacant soul

emptied by the flow of insecurity.

A shell of a man

he laughed the bare melody of nothingness

—a  hollow call that could only fall on deaf ears.

IMG_0382Images of Autum

The air is music

The breeze is a symphony

So play for me a soft autumn

That late September music

Play for me those brass leaves

and red ivy pianos keys

Play for me Chicago Jazz

On a south side street corner

Perform for me that nighttime blues

The lonely street lamp melody

Perform for me misty mornings

Rolling daybreak haze

Sing for me a city

Cool and Crisp and Loving

Sing for me a city

A sweet reflective fall

What I Was Thinking


That I want to love you.

I want to spend hours wrapped up

In the way your individual thoughts unravel;

intricate, sublime, unique.

In the way you move, the curve of your cheek

And falling deeper into the indigo ocean that holds my gaze.

I want to run through the gently sloping hills of your soul:

Remembering the sound of every footstep

And studying the movements of the swans that mock your majesty and your grace.

I want to float into the light of your eyes,

The glimmer they get when you lightly touch my face

And say softly “hi”.

I want to revel in the joy those two letters provoke in me.

I want to love you.

To spend days walking slowly,

My heart in your hand,

Through the streets of our love,

Like an ancient city.

A city built of a crisp November sunrise.

Painted crimson and sapphire like a clean cut mosaic of first light.

A city so hauntingly beautiful it would chill you to the bone

Were it not for the strangely familiar warmth of your eyes.

I want to love you.

But I don’t understand how or what it is.

How to express the way

My heart stops when I hear your voice

Or how your touch makes my heart dance to a chaotic rhythm.

Then slow like the rhythm the stars waltz too

Slower still to the rhythm I wish to dance with you:

Slow like jazz in halved time

Eternal, unyielding, boundless.

I desperately want to love you.

But what is love?

And how would I know?

Are we too young for this?

Is love found or must it grow.

Is love a seed.

Soft, subtle, promising

Protected by our trust

Destined to grow slowly at the beginning

And quickened with time.

stalk flying higher into a clairvoyant, knowing sky

Limbs tangling, twisting, turning

Till it fuses us in consciousness

When you and I are one.


Is such singularity found?

When we meet our other half?

Does love tell you when you’ve found it?

Do the birds cue louder when it starts to blossom?

Will it whisper in our ear?

Singing ecstasy soft to our souls.

When cupid’s arrow finds us,

Will we, together, shed a tear?

Or is love diagnosed by its symptoms?

Like the cold or the flu.

Dizziness, heart palpitations, shortness of breath.

Mind racing through images of us.

Falling forever through this ocean of trust.

Falling till reason meets with its death.

Does love feel first like infatuation?

Till you see the fever through?

Frozen by my rashness

Do I still feel warm to you?

And now that time has cured me

And my stomachs settled down

Is love the reason I want to touch you with out touching you

As our spirits weave around?

Is it love that keeps me wanting, unstated when you’re gone.

Is it love that keeps me up at night wanting not to leave your bed?

If love is wanting to spend an eternity held softly, shepherded by your angelic gaze

If love is being so sickeningly comfortable with this euphoric uncertainty

If it is love that makes a man yearn for true brilliance and write

If it is love that allows a man to spend hours gazing at true beauty awe struck and speechless and yet for the first time complete

Then this is love.

And, if this is love

Then I only want to share this love with you.

Let me know what you think

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