Bed Sheets and Black Holes


This morning at 6:30, Myles crawled into my bed and snuggled next to me. Jason was already downstairs drinking coffee and answering email, leaving me alone in our dawn soaked room with the fan whirring and cooling the air. Bundled under the comforter Myles asked, “Where are black holes?” We started the day in bed together slowly uncovering the universe. He used his hands to demonstrate the earth’s orbit around the sun and how days end and nights begin. His little imagination and curiosity eager to wrap around the workings of time and space.


The Ways of Changing the World

Heavy lids heaving down and back up again over giant round eyes as glassy orbs
with every blink, lying and praying that maybe this time they’ll stay shut and
bring me sleep. Gears grinding and winding images of words across my mind’s eye
I continue to think about the gloom that knows my soulful cries and long to not need
my eyes to see. Maybe tomorrow after I wake and brush my teeth the new day will
bring me closer to learning the ways of changing the world.

Child Like Bones

Lying in his bed, my son grabs at his
shin trying to stretch out the pain
that we tell him is from growing.
I keep from him that it will only get
worse with age, growing brittle and
hard, cracking under sadness, grinding
at the joints. Folded up
down the center as a piece of construction
paper ready to be snipped into a finished shape
and opened to the world, his bones are
limber and flexible, still ready to spring back
into the shape of the womb. Round back curved
over at the hips, forehead to knees, heels to
butt, is a seven year old fetus on the top bunk
scared of growing up. And how can I blame him?
A world created between the threshold of heaven and hell
how do you sell that kind of real estate to a child?
For every baby thrown in a dumpster there is a kind
and charitable person feeding the poor, so buy today
with 0% financing, though I hide the fine print.
What kind of a home breaks you from the inside
when it is on the outside? A ghost haunting
your bones, rattling them as you grow, cold
fingers around bent joints, soft tendons,
knocking around empty corridors
where shoulders meet ribs. This
world is as valuable as the youth
who will inherit it then gobble it up
for themselves, just as those
before them. But I tell the
aching, growing boy that
this world is his and he
can make it beautiful
if only he remembers
his aching bones
as a child.

Already Undid Villanelle

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Hey, when you gon’ wake up and take care of your kids?
There’s a thankless day woke and waiting for you
And nobody cares you can’t lift open your lids

Sleep ain’t nothing but a dream that’s gone off and hid
In another house where diapers and debt don’t accrue
Girl, you can’t undo what you already did

You turn on the sprinkler to ignore the kids
So you can spend some time with only just you
But certain days you wish that you hadn’t done did

Today you’ll try to do something like work amid
Their fighting, and whining, and crying at you
When you look back at the days that can’t be redid

Maybe regret itself is kinda like a kid
Leaving of trail of things that you only half knew
After you wanted to do what you didn’t done did

But really, if only that sperm had just hid
When we did the thing that we do that created you

Though, it is fun, doing that thing that we did
And that’s what happens when you have too many kids.

A July Summer

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Those July evenings, the hot sun dangled on the edge
of a never ending day and simmered wet mud made
by squirt guns, a dank funk gripping the humid air,
attracting flies. Boney shirtless seven year olds, sticky
from sweat and sugar, stalked each other around blooming
bushes, took aim through fence posts, and fired streams of warm
plastic steeped water onto their unsuspecting prey. At times
they’d laugh at being caught, while at others they’d scream
at the injustice of being shot in the back by a friend, water
stabbing skin. Dusk spread mosquitos thick at days end,
feasting on high fructose little boy, forming itchy bulbs
for later. Red eyed and thirsty, they bounded in, their wet,
grass covered and itchy feet stretched prints across the kitchen floor
and into the living room where they left shadows of their wet butts and
bottle caps on the couch. Tucked inside herself, the agitated vestige
of a mother closed her eyes and traced the outline of childhood
from memory until, through laughter, she sat down beside them.

The Blood of Our People

Deaf and blind, we cannot see or hear the breeze

from the dead who run past and collapse as

a spattered breath on the ground.

When I close my eyes I see blood and bullets.

But it’s not my blood. And they are my bullets.

Black skin and kinky hair lay on pavement

and over leather car seats with nothing left to give

but raised hands, clenched teeth, and the sways

and hums of chained ancestors from hidden burial mounds.

Our ears are ringing from the pounding bullets leaving

chambers and ripping through skin and bones that we

can’t hear the moaning and the crying from the grave,

families left to release their relatives’ spirits to be with the

generations of ancestors entombed in the ground of our

forefathers who separated and divided the liberties of men.

So, we listen with our blood. Lift our spirits to the sky.

Gather at the city’s farthest edge. Remember history

that began before the beginning of every moment

and reclaim what is ours, the blood of our people.

This morning I wanted to write about The Camp. But how can I? All I can think about are the children that I played with and hugged and cared for and that 1 out of 3 of them will end up in prison. How many more of them will be shot or will shoot? All I can see are the videos of men shot and killed by police.

We must rethink how we see ourselves, our people, our history. We must see our people as precious, beloved, full of dignity. We must see our history as working to deprive our people from what is theirs, their divine images. Their beautiful bodies. Their eternal spirits.

A Day At Home In Norfolk

In the morning I will sit here
in my dinning room
next to my lukewarm cup of coffee
reading news of more shootings
and violence in my city gone mad with
gun lust and apartheid.
I am at home.
In the labor of my garden that will last
longer than the lives of our youth,
I will go on a harvest plucking
fruit from the vine to ripen in
the poisoned air. We will feast
while the rest starve.
Needing entertainment, I will pack up
my children and drive them through
the city’s labyrinth of our self-esteem
passing coffee and biscuit shops, sold out
for a higher economy of redevelopment,
while avoiding those streets where poverty
is laid to rest. God rest their souls.
In the evening, the Lafayette will be calm and wide
with bridges stretching their arms as friends
in a close embrace, hiding crabbers on her banks.
They will laugh and tell stories with fish guts under
their nails next to no fishing, crabbing, or loitering signs
as I pass over them on my way home to
tuck in my children and kiss them good night
before more gunshots ring out putting us
to sleep safe in our beds, bodies in the street.
I am at home.