To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.
I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still,
a well of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.
Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy’s palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife’s right hand.
Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
Metal that will bury me,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart,
and I did not lift up my wound and cry,
Death visited here!
I did what a child does
when he’s given something to keep.
I kissed my father.
On solid hills through liquid dusk,
the city turns to rise
with its purple touch, to enter me.
I touch it with my eyes.
Righted with wrongs, or even hard,
Let me be made of eyes.
Gray nature, make a dusk of me,
and let me keep my ties.
Five dollars, four dollars, three dollars, two,
One, and none, and what do we do?”
This is the worry that never got said
But ran so often in my mother’s head
And showed so plain in my father’s frown
That to us kids it drifted down.
It drifted down like soot, like snow,
In the dream-tossed Bronx, in the long ago.
I shook it off with a shake of the head.
I bounced my ball. I ate warm bread,
I skated down the steepest hill.
But I must have listened, against my will:
When the world blows wrong, I can hear it today.
Then my mother’s worry stops all play
And, as if in its rightful place,
My father’s frown divides my face.
We say that we
Must crush the Hun,
Or else the World
Will be undone.
But Huns are we
As much as they.
All men are Huns,
Who fight and slay.
And if we win,
And crush the Huns,
In twenty years
We must fight their sons,
Who will rise against
Their fathers’, their own
-Excerpted from War, by Joseph Leftwich
Modzilla The spine winder
They arrive in they best
Then it get worse
It’s simpler to kill
Than it is
HAIL THE NO NATION BEAST!!
whose shadow alone
And swallows streets
Pass gas then
Pick its teeth
Topple the trees
Zeroes and zeroes
What did Brutus tell Ceasar as he aired him out?
“Lord it’s Hell in that crowd”
Dig a grave
& build on top
Dig a grave
& thrill on
& kill on
-Yasiin Bey, with an amazing poem about the new Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn. via Vulture. Check the post out. I’d usually be the first to argue that Jay-Z is (or should be) irrelevant to this story, but must admit that Bey’s critique of the Jay-Z narrative is pretty on-point.
In those days after his father died, she came to learn that
when she could no longer hear what he was doing,
when she stopped hearing the turn of a page or typing in the other room
that he could only be weeping to himself. Sometimes she would wake in the
middle of the night and see the kitchen light on
and infer. Many years later, he sees a picture of himself:
so young and old and penitent that he feels a strange fondness for this other
person. He wonders half-humorously if he had grown wise through grief
(he is not wise now) though if anyone had asked, he would
have said, ‘I guess I was depressed. I don’t think I learned anything.’
They are in the bedroom. He passes
her a glass of bourbon and asks her what he was like then.
She says, ‘What, seriously?’
She sees from the whimsical look in his eye
that he no longer needed to be defended.
She takes a cold sip. ‘You crawled into yourself.
I was lonely sometimes.
You snapped at me a lot.’
I have a bullet made of icy silver to give you.
I prepared it last night with dirty, sweet, infallible blood. I prayed
with it for hours. I attended it with candles and the most secret
First off, I blinded it, because a bullet must never see the ominous air
or the body it will encounter. After, I deafened it, so that it wouldn’t
hear the cries or threats or music of the flesh and bones while shattering.
I only left its lips so it could whistle.
Understand what I say:
whistles are bullets’ words: they are their ruthless final kisses piercing
the smoothness of the night; their wonder and their plea, their breath.
-by Carlos López Degregori
translation 2010, Robin Myers
publisher: PIW, 2010
via 3 Quarks Daily
I want to get up early one more morning,
before sunrise. Before the birds, even.
I want to throw cold water on my face
and be at my work table
when the sky lightens and smoke
begins to rise from the chimneys
of the other houses.
I want to see the waves break
on this rocky beach, not just hear them
break as I did all night in my sleep.
I want to see again the ships
that pass through the Strait from every
seafaring country in the world—
old, dirty freighters just barely moving along,
and the swift new cargo vessels
painted every color under the sun
that cut the water as they pass.
I want to keep an eye out for them.
And for the little boat that plies
the water between the ships
and the pilot station near the lighthouse.
I want to see them take a man off the ship
and put another up on board.
I want to spend the day watching this happen
and reach my own conclusions.
I hate to seem greedy—I have so much
to be thankful for already.
But I want to get up early one more morning, at least.
And go to my place with some coffee and wait.
Just wait, to see what’s going to happen.
Because the snow is deep
Without spot that white falling through white air
Because she limps a little - bleeds
Where they shot her
Because hunters have guns
And dogs have hangman’s legs
Because I’d like to take her in my arms
And tend her wound
Because she can’t afford to die
Killing the young in her belly
I don’t know to say of a soldier’s dying
Because there are no proportions in death.
-Kenneth Patchen, from Selected Poems (1957). via 3 Quarks Daily.