Tuesday, December 29, 2020

5 Poems Made of Clay


By now you would think

That I would be well-practiced

In molding my body into

The shape of grief. 

Yet I still struggle

To prepare a vessel

That can hold a 

Missing person.

No one taught me

How to contain

My own past lives

Let alone yours.

Yet when I think of you

I am sunk between

Time’s crumbling teeth 

Its rotting mouth.

Marching backwards 

Through the decay

I try to identify the moment

When you decided to end it all.


Is that what drew you to me? 

The smell of my molding body 

Wafting over masticated flesh?

Was I adorable carrion for you?

Or did you see something living

Between the cradle of my hips?

Signs of life furtive and ferocious

I have always been living and dead.

Is that what drew me to you?

When you arrived to me it felt

Like the end of a long pilgrimage

When faith gazes at the Gate of Wonder.

You approached my gate unfazed

At the young-blood rust that gathered

Around my hinges like snow in sepia 

Weary from life’s openings and closings.

But you never unlatched my door

Instead you took out your camera

Pressed record, and waited to see

What cinema rises from rust.


On the final day you press stop

And show me the movie you made

Scenes move on and time lapses

You point out the signs of life you found within me.


Two men walk into a dive bar 

And no one turns to look at us 

Have you ever felt the relief that comes

From being unnoticed?

We sit at a table and practice time magic

Your age mellows my youth 

My youth emboldens your age 

We make a list of the things time gave us:

Bar nights (“time gave us this”) 

Movies (“time gave us this too”) 

Music (“this is what we give back to time”) 

Each other (“yes”) 

We finish our beers 

We go to the bathroom

You look me in the eyes 

“Jay, we have so much time.”


Clay, the opposite of assault

Is me lying in your arms 

Clay, the opposite of self-harm

Is drinking whiskey and coffee beans with you.

Clay, the opposite of fear 

Is the smoke signals from your cigarette

Clay the opposite of danger

Was meeting you and knowing your face.

Clay, the opposite of what time gives

Is what time takes away

But that is not a lesson for the living 

It can only be taught from the mouth of a corpse. 

When I mold my body into the shape of grief

I try hard to envision the pottery of a mouth

I thought the opposite of grief was you being alive

But now I know that’s not true.

The opposite of grief is remembering that you were always here. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Holiday Haikus 1-6


Yuletide joy flutters

through winter's suspended light 

warm spirits shimmer


Masks cover faces 

But can't contain our vast smiles 

Fear gives way to hope 


Southern snow is rare

An omen of coming change

Revelation melts 


The family vigil

Sends satellites into space

Tender, loving eyes 


Sheltering in place

Imbues the body safely 

We await the Spring


This has been so hard

I extend a hand to you

In this--together

Monday, September 28, 2020

Reverse Bastard

Do not go down to sorrow
Or fall too deep into despair 
Even as all around you
The lake of fire
Flares up in solar crowns
Tongues of flame
Licking their lips
A brutal theatre

And you have walked 
Through that fire 
Multiple times 
The smoke curling from
Your burning effigy 
Dispels old magics
Drives stale spirits
Out of the room.

Fire blooms in your spine
You bend your back 
You get a good look
At all the blood spilled 
On the kitchen floor
At all the generations 
Spun and churned
To fuel this lingering curse.

This curse that 
That breaks the bond 
Between father and son 
Turns blood pressure
Into a fever dream
And a lashing out
Of paralyzed hands.

This curse that
Creates bastards 
Sustains them, even
In floes of 
Frozen histories.
A curse of space and time
That can only be reversed
By transmuting the 
Traumas of the heart
And the body's alarms
Into beacons of a new
And brighter future.

You scrub the blood off the kitchen floor
Hear the pot of water 
Writhe and simmer on the stove
An augur of purification
Scrying for proof
Of that second life.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Heart Negotiation I - Ambient Music

 As much as I hate to say it

As much as I hate to admit

I'm hanging out on Soundcloud right now 

Watching those aural waves rise and fall 

Crest and break upon their peaking 

Filling orange bars

While they're spitting lyrical bars

Redefining the line between genre and form 

I morph between aesthetics 

Audios flits between bangers and bassline

To tranquil dreamscapes

It is here, adrift on lightening clouds 

In these recurring midnights of the soul

I set myself free in shimmering landscapes

And let loose my longing

Among those glittering sounds 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Bud Light

Alternative Title: Reverse Bastard Examines the Genetic Nature of Alcohol Use

You were not there when I needed you the most
There is so much more to say or to ask.

In asking, I approach you:
What is the bond between father and son?

The bond between father and son
The space between the chip and the shoulder it is placed on.

The chip, placed on the shoulder
The world placed on Atlas' back.

Bent back I shouldered your absence
A fire blooming in my spine.

In my spine, that fire bloomed
I hobble on blackened feet.

On blackened feet. I walk through this world darkly
Dad, do you walk through this world darkly?

Dodging slivers of glass
Hidden among grass blades.

Hidden among the grasses' blades
Always drawn -- safety the gasps between shuddered breaths.

Drawing breath I shudder as air fills my gut with rot
The fermented smell of blades of grass-sheathed-glass.

That fermented smell, that first Bud Light
I saw you drink and saw you smile for the first time.

How could you not?
You drink and smile for the first time in days. 

Budding light, that brilliant friend
Lifts the chip off of your shoulder.

And I follow behind you, your chip and your  promise
Blades of grass glinting off of brilliant friends.

Who know you more than I ever could
Dad, the first time I drank it was because I wanted to get to know you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Blackness (Consent not to be a Single Being)

Alternative Title: Reverse Bastard Reads Too Much Theory With Their Morning Coffee

after Fred Moten,

To participate in Blackness is not a negation of the Other
But an embracing of the consent to not be a single being
To exist in the gap of what I am believed to be vs what I am
All those emergent variables reconfiguring themselves along multidimensional planes
To become the nexus and the model

The cause and its effect containing multitudes
Which in themselves become multitudes
Which in themselves are bounded and reshaped by the
Shifting trajectory of revised timelines

Blackness, the embodied guardianship of repressed histories
Blackness, crystallized and historical memory

My dark pulse counting the metronome between
life and afterlife
ancestor and descendant
colony, post-colony, post-racial, re-racialized, bound and repurposed
Entombed and incarcerated preemptively within the body
That harbors that freedom dream which anchors
And dissuades from colonial rage

Embodied and immanent, time forced into the present
By the eruption of my ruptured patience and measured hope
Watchtower, I am watchtower
My ticking hands pulling the thread of eternal recurrence
That reminds the soul of the shift between essence and instance

Being dismembered and whole across transverse planes
Phatasmic limbs gesticulate spatial reason
Reveling in the erotics of fragmentation
Raging in the celibacy of putting myself back together

Being within and without
I stand beside myself
Blackstar singularity
Instantiated, analyte, pitch-black blur
Essentialized, phalanx, golden horde

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Black Boy Wears a Mask During a Pandemic

Standing still, social and distant
Any soft touch is filled with suspicion
But this is what I know
Affection tinged with bitter hate
You would freeze if you saw me
Disrobed, a wisp in your forgotten history
Tragic – the practiced ice of my breath

Considered viral at all times
The shifting of my skin from suburb to suburb
Black contorts to green lawn and red wine
I was Black before you were sick and
I could be the first to go
Pandemic – the lift of my rising lungs

Cloth wrapped around my face
Darker than black
Pull it off and I can lighten up at any moment
Every day is a mask
Every day has been a mask
In which I have been seen and keenly avoided
When you cross the street
Grip your purse
Hold your dog back from the onslaught
Catastrophic – my full and rising blood

Wednesday, January 29, 2020



Lover, I do not know your name
Because I did not ask for it
A name is wrapped up
In the heart's asking
And we reserve our hearts
For the world outside of the
Brief joining of our bodies

Because what the heart asks for
Emerges not-in-between
The back and forth of our
Enduring Longing and

[the name does not enter here]

Fleeting Satisfaction

[the name may enter here]


Lover, or more accurately:
Lover who is my approximation of Love's body

I hope that you are living
Outside of my body and
Living outside of your body because
The body refuses the asking of the heart

[the name as it enters]

Until it observes the asking among other bodies
Who ask the questions we dare not, and when
the asking is observed it causes something within your body and my body

[not quite Enduring Longing]

To unfurl darkly and shamefully
So as to avoid the body's hands and eyes
To hide among the interstices of the heart
Briefly detected as a dull ache
Present within each heartbeat

I know you know what I'm talking about because
We both remember the moment that that dark unfurling
Was given to us (because it was given to us)
By someone else (either your mother or father or some older boy
In your childhood and for that I am so, so sorry)

That silent wound that bends your knee in proposal
To ghosts of men who haunt your sex
We have both chased these phantom loves
Blinded by our velvet rage
Now do you see
How your past
Coils around my past and
Our futures begin
In that same frayed thread?

It ends in the same place too
A deathbed hallowed by 13 angels around
Your head and my head
When they whisper back the secrets of
Your longing and my longing--
Is that when your name will reveal itself
Written in the Book of Life
That only holy eyes may see?


Lover, when will we stop playing these games?
It is our queer hope to exceed
The violence of this world
That violence that breaks
Your hold on my hand and
Sends you out the door.

How fucked is it that the game we play is one of survival?

Our bespoke love tailored in shadow.
Our love's light transfigured to refract
Our hidden shame.


Lover -- if I could
I would ask your name and
Use its power to set us both free but
Instead we accept our sex and deny
Our yearning
Trembling, I coil myself around you
To invoke the not-in-between of
Your not-name through
Incantations of bastard's magic

One day we will know each other and
Someday, somehow, someone in a future time
Will know our names and
Speak of us fondly.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Microdream: Dawn Chorus

I traded my old water bottle in
Went from a bright cerulean blue -- deep with feeling

To a stern metallic grey -- sleek, cold, and withholding
All the things I wish I could be

When that vortex of feeling
Takes hold of me

Surrounded by the racket
Of the dawn chorus
All the birds singing their agonies
Through the bright blue day
Their notes suspended in the cold winter light

In that cold winter light suspended
I asked myself for forgiveness

I gave up on writing poems a long time ago...
The world doesn't care about the art
Of the personal tragedy anymore
The planet is dying
And no one gives a shit

We are too isolated
Within our own hierarchies of pain
Most of my friends (me included)
Are worried about finding jobs

(And if not worried about finding jobs,
 then worried about finding love,
and if not worried about finding love,
 then worried about finding themselves)