Bowerbird

He looks low first, rallying tiny branches into
a flipped wicker cradle to form the crown
jewel of deep forest carpentry that renders
beavers jealous. Each twig, scarcely a human
pinky. The bird, a little girl’s teacup. Smaller
than a fist yet persistent in his truest pursuit. 

He scans the brush next. Piles of berries form
beside feathery pink petals, a tempting sight
for a fickle passerby. Dude plans to get noticed.
Picks his spot just right: a break in the canopy
where each morning the sun will rub its shine
into a glowing jag of quartz.

He examines his work from all angles, standing
on branches for perspective. When it comes
to finding a nice ladybird, he trusts that small
touches add up. If this isn’t his year, at least
he’s pulled his corner of earth into a beauty
worth remembering. Next year he’ll try again,

because half the battle is just showing up.
The scientist names this
a mating ritual.

Why not call it love?

Competed as part of a pickup slam team this weekend at Southwest Shootout 2014. Finished 2nd against some terrific competition, including my Slam New Orleans family!

Competed as part of a pickup slam team this weekend at Southwest Shootout 2014. Finished 2nd against some terrific competition, including my Slam New Orleans family!

Tags: poetry slam 4GPAR

Post-it Note to a Long-Since Friend

In the time
between
knowing you
and you
becoming
a smile
in a photo
I became
me.

iwantwhatheswearing:

aintgotnoladytronblues:

a lotta boys need to learn this lesson harder. listen to the man, dude.

This is how to be a male feminist - heck, this is how to be an ‘ally’ to any marginalised group - listen to the experiences of others and learn instead of talking over the top of us with your personal thoughts on issues which you will never face.

This isn’t a poem but… it is Poetry.

(Source: darrylayo, via conspicuous-ac)

Handwritten note from Ava Haymon, Louisiana Poet Laureate, asking me to send her my poems after seeing me perform at Eclectic Truth’s weekly slam in Baton Rouge.Ava mentored Xero Skidmore, teaching artist and current IWPS champ, who mentored Deandre Hill, who taught the workshop in which I wrote my first poem nearly three years ago.Put another way: I made my poetic great granny proud.

Handwritten note from Ava Haymon, Louisiana Poet Laureate, asking me to send her my poems after seeing me perform at Eclectic Truth’s weekly slam in Baton Rouge.

Ava mentored Xero Skidmore, teaching artist and current IWPS champ, who mentored Deandre Hill, who taught the workshop in which I wrote my first poem nearly three years ago.

Put another way: I made my poetic great granny proud.

For Ruby Bridges - excerpt (30 motherfucking/30)

After Dominique Christina’s “For Emmett Till”

In the painting you are stone-faced.
Young lady integration martyr carrying
ruler and schoolbook. Defiant six-year old strut past
a cracked-open tomato intended for your head
and the n-word in black graffiti, intended for your soul.

Flanked by four US Marshals you walk courageous,
like you don’t even need them. Because this is the day
New Orleans changes. Segregation changes.
Today you take White America to school
with all the grace and class my people wish you didn’t have.

Ms. Henry is a Boston cosmopolitan;
the first white teacher you’d ever met
and the only one who’d share her classroom.

It is 1960 and segregation walks a slow limp.
Each day you pray your way to school to keep
from hearing the shrieks of bigots and ignorants.
At night you and Ms. Henry dream of multicolored classrooms
and the kind of America that doesn’t murder its Kings or Kennedys.
Hope is a jazzy tune you dance to.

It is 2011 when you walk into the New Orleans charter school where I teach.
We gather 600 children in the gymnasium,
four white faces among them.

I wonder then how your backbone stands so up,
how your limbs don’t shrink into beginnings.
How you don’t appear six again,
stone-faced and uncertain,
ready to back out of a trauma
that promised but did not deliver.

[…]

Teach Me How to Sink My Teeth (29/30)

My gender will never make
warfare of my wardrobe.

My race can see a TV without
boxing itself in its pixels.

My sexual preference doesn’t prompt
a dozen well-meaning questions.

My family’s money will arrive
to me liquid and intact.

My identity can’t ever render me
the kind of brave
that rattles ancestors.

So I listen to you, friend,
for the rumble
in your step.

May your courage
be the ballast
against the winds
of stubborn comfort.

Then Out of Air (28/30)

She gathers the words
you need to hear,
pools mercy in her lips
to bless you with.

It won’t lift
all your weight
in shame
but it’s enough
to help you
arch your spine
& stand.

Hold Your Tongue (27/30)

Sadie and Irving play bridge in the basement
with two friends whose names are lost to history.

Sadie makes a careless error, then Irving makes
a reckless one: Sadie! How could you be so stupid!

The room tilts. Silence is a thousand elephants in parachutes.
Irving’s face fades red to white as he looks at his wife.

Irving, she speaks, steady as rain, I can’t believe you’d
call me stupid over a card game. I’ll never play with you again.

My great-grandmother carries this promise to her grave,
a pearled heirloom of womanhood not forgotten by her brood.

npsoak:

Slam Fam! I know, I know, you’re pretty excited to be coming to the Bay Area for the first west coast National Poetry Slam in more than a decade. I gotta tell you though, you’re not nearly as excited as we are to be having you all over for a visit. It’s a pretty big deal around these parts. It is…

GET EXCITED!!! I’m not even competing and I’m already pooping my pants over this.