vermont avenue bar and grill…

have you lost your mind
or something
this ain’t no place
for a pretty little thang
like you
did you come in here
  to drown your sorrows
  someone break your heart
well child
the only thing
you’re gonna find in here
is the hard taste of reality
look around you
yes i know
it’s dark in here
so let me point out a few things
see over there in the dark corner of truth
the one without legs
that’s mr. posttraumatic stress disorder himself
and he ain’t talking on no iphone
he’s talking to a dead man
his best high school friend
seems they went to‘nam together
and one of those bamboo trap things
took off most of his friend’s head
fellow died in his arms
been drinking hard ever since
and i hear he does a little weed on the side
but you wouldn’t know ’bout things like that
now would hon’
want a mint
over there is jamal
filling the air
with his acidic breath
was a die-hard liberal
note i said
two weeks ago
skin heads on your hilltop campus
beat the shit out of him
now all he talks about
is jihad against the man
see the old fart at the bar
nursing his whiskey
like recalling a lover’s kiss
the sergeant major
we call him that cuz’
he’s always talking ’bout
the war across the pond
to end all wars
actually honey
all he did was peel potatoes
and do latrine duty
i could go on
but i got to get to work
i’m the entertainment
see the pole over there
unless you want to join me
i would suggest that you walk into the light
stare into the bright sunshine of ignorance
and follow the preprogrammed voice of the church
and get your sorry little ass out of here
cuz you ain’t ready for the truth

the gunny sac…

  it’s all here
  the first time
     i was called nigger
and the tears of a four-year old

the lady who
  found my deep voice funny
       and calling others to listen

and there’s that damn swimming pool
   for whites only
       they never did figure out
       who put the red dye in
  some folks just can’t tap dance

and being served last
  or not at all
      even when your were first

and let’s not forget track
      let’s do

and here’s that 54 buick with overdrive
  that took us roller skating
      where anyone could be a star
      (with the right moves)

and rev. brown…
  how he tried to save my soul
       but he was heaven bound
       before i could make up my mind
  (oh…but when i did)

i joined the choir
   and what a choir
       if you can get into heaven
       on the amens your singing brings
       (then i’m home free)
      so rev. brown
        don’t you fret

damn here’s my first love
  now that…
       broke a commandments or two
  do you think god understands how stupid
      we are with our first love
       (i pray he does)

women’s underwear?
  yeah…i remember college
  once bound so neatly with dreams
       now frayed and stained with beer and cigarettes

the seams are busting with memories

writing poems with quincy troupe

drinking with alex haley

black showcase performances

meeting muhammad ali


and others…
  seems impossible
      but nothing seems to be lost
oh sure
  some things seem out-of-place
but they’re all here
  i guess you die when the sac is full
now where can i place

drive time…

the greatest illusion
is that tomorrow
is assured
talking heads
headless voices
market this belief
like selling candy bars
with or without almonds
to everyone who will
to sugary visions of
no interest
for two years
low down payments
for the life of the loan
but loans
don’t have a life
so guess what
you’re on your own


late for school
             no breakfast
late for work
             no comp time
hop on bike
             talking to self
hop in car
             talking on cell
first class
             no way I’m making it
first light
             no way I’m braking it
steam rising
             from red pitch on cold pavement

come monday…

oh my lord what a sermon
oh…my lord
          what a sermon
oh my lord
                 a sermon
rev jones moaned and groaned
           and moaned and groaned
                                  so loud
that even deacon smith
shouted like he believed in god
            and child let me tell you this
sister bates started waving her hands
like she thought she was separating the red sea itself
then she took to talking in tongues
           her voice just seemed to fill the church
honey we couldn’t even hear aunt liz’s solo
which may be why she got so loud
           lord knows you can’t have pastor notice no
           one but her
then of course there was us…
            sitting in the back of the church
            we were busy counting the lights in the ceiling
and wondering why
the holy ghost didn’t just come and stop all this
            cause we all knew come monday…
            no one would remember a thing…

the meeting…

it seems so strange meeting you this way
                                                                  after so many years
how we boasted about the future
and what it would bring 
      but now
 it all seems so irrelevant
                                   and fragmented
i’m very happy you know 
       i’m successful  
       i have a home
       new car
                    and loads of friends 
what else coul a man want 
          i have a lovely wife
          and the bar i built is something else 
sure i’m happy 
no i didn’t remember that
                                        i had said that  
 seems strange that 
                            i would have forgotten
                                         something like that 
        it really doesn’t matter
        look at all that i have 
i told you that i was happy already
why don’t you just give me a break
i hate taking to myself 
                   it seems so difficult to remember 
                   how to define oneself 
                            in terms of yesterday’s dreams.