Friday, October 2, 2020

Selected Works, Tongo Eisen-Martin

I Do Not Know the Spelling of Money


I go to the railroad tracks

And follow them to the station of my enemies


A cobalt-toothed man pitches pennies at my mugshot negative


All over the united states, there are

Toddlers in the rock


I see why everyone out here got in the big cosmic basket

And why blood agreements mean a lot

And why I get shot back at


I understand the psycho-spiritual refusal to write white history or take the glass freeway


White skin tattooed on my right forearm

Ricochet sewage near where I collapsed

into a rat-infested manhood


My new existence as living graffiti


The new bullets pray over blankets made from old bullets


The 28th hour’s next beauty mark

The waist band before the next protest poster


Bought slavers some time, didn’t it?

The tantric screeches of military bolts and Election-Tuesday cars


Proof that some white people have fondled nooses

That sundown couples

made their vows of love over  

opaque peach plastic

and bolt action audiences      


Man, the Medgar Evers-second is definitely my favorite law of science


Fondled news clippings and primitive Methodists

My arm changes imperialisms

Simple policing vs. Structural frenzies

Elementary school script vs. Even whiter white spectrums


Artless bleeding and

the challenge of watching civilians think


“terrible rituals they have around the corner. They let their elders beg for public mercy…beg for settler polity”


“I am going to go ahead and sharpen these kids’ heads into arrows myself and see how much gravy spills out of family crests.”


Modern fans of war

            What with their t-shirt poems

            And t-shirt guilt


And me, having on the cheapest pair of shoes on the bus,

I have no choice but to read the city walls for signs of my life

No Stars Over the Trenches Tonight


Malcom X’s ballroom jacket slung over my son’s shoulders

Pharmacy doors mid-slide

                        The figment of village

                                                            a noon noose to a new white preacher

Wiretaps in the discount kitchen tile

-All in an abstract painting of a president


Half man on scratch paper

Half pickpocket with flailing arms


double fisted

I am an alcoholic in search of history books

                                                                                    ruining the local train in search of

history books

I am limping to poetry


a Reagan meeting adjourns and modern plant life begins

along with dry out-of-body insight, tools and nails in a bucket,

a poor person’s bird atrium

along with unprovable music theory

-The poem turns into absolute political failure



Carceral state mythology of a factory’s first Black chaplin


the bible that goes bump

or a flower of harm

or the knife fight the day after the last day of history

county line cop lights gone cold like

bourgeois state lunch on an international bridge

-the Mississippi mixtape



A fly studies me at a border crossing
It has been studying everything at this border

Including the police graduation gowns


Open air silence in the pan

Then silence closing in on an imperialist opera

I mean I was there the night that

San Francisco disappeared


Like listening to Nina Simone later in life…

Won’t you fly a little, Lord

Won’t you put a space heater in my grave

It’s the people who facilitate themselves, Lord


My only change of clothes prosecuted

The government has finally learned how to write poems

I Imitate You


“Believe in the street, brother”


60s newspaper clippings and teeth hang on a string

 “Like a book of life, man”


The unfortunate alliance

between killer and killed

replaces the hippies with white people



I talked to class-less people today

They were not overworked nor military captains

They were not wage-washed nor born in a series


Maybe I am the last white man on earth


A church signals another church with mirrors and nose-drips


The spirit-world up and starts murdering city trees


My poem

My cubist-remade scar

My Saturn for adults

My junkie industrialism

Made interestingly heart-felt


“I knew my father as much as I want to be known”


I Make Promises Before I Dream


No unclaimed, cremated mothers this year


Nor collateral white skin


No mothers folding clothes to a corporate park preamble

No sons singing under the bright lights of a lumber yard


Quantum reaganomics and the tap steps of turning on a friend


New York trophy parts among

the limbs of decent people

Being an enraged artist is like

entering a room and not knowing what to get high off of


My formative symbols/My upbringing flying to an agent’s ears

I might as well be an activist


Called my girlfriend and described

All the bottles segregationists had thrown at me that day


Described recent blues sites and soothing prosecutions

I feared for my poetry


You have to make art every once in a while

            While in the company of sell-outs

            Accountant books in deified bulk

            Or while waiting for a girl under a modern chandelier


Or in your last lobby as a wanderer


The prison foot races the museum


My instrument ends


I mean, what is a calendar to the slave?

Also, what is a crystal prism?


“He bought this bullet,

bought its flight,

then bought two more”

Selected Works, Omar Al-Nakib


Selected Works, Mary Newell

Bank Tangle

Trainstop anomaly: twig nest                                 
tucked into branch tangle:
river-scan, plummet, breed -

Across the Hudson, homes
tucked in to bank slope:  
survey, embark, dwell -

settled in for the duration.
Nineteen miles downstream, 
smoke rises at Indian Point.               

As the river ambles north,
histories wheeze in eddies,
palimpsest laden with fuse.


Charles Darwin used the phrase “tangled bank” to refer to the intermixture of life forms “dependent upon each other in so complex a manner” (On the Origin of Species).

In the pith of diapause                                           

tone held through the gap  
between crawl-chew                                          
and flutter-sip 

weather churn

on the brink: wings rolled                                         
ready, colors soft                                                                            
through chrysalis wrap                                                 

slow unfurl

finding the updraft                                     

Note: Diapause is a temporary developmental arrest that allows insects to circumvent adverse environmental conditions, usually weather. 

In the pith of attenuation 

excruciate at the crossroads

chiasmic tangle         climacteric muddle        

Janus-pull     cross-wires       warp-wrap   

heed elusive   
scale-nuance      interval trill       attune  



In the pith of hover

When we stand still,
our heads’ weight tilts us forward.                 
Momentum prompts movement              
to resist falling.           
Wing flaps let some birds hover: 

a strenuous mid-air suspension   

kestrel matches wind speed head-on
poised in transparency to foresee                     

osprey hangs still to focus on foraging                          

hummingbird parades his ball-and-socket shoulder joint                    
his wing lift on up-beats as well as down
skates figure eights before
the trumpet flower’s throat
sips deep      flashes luminescence    wheels away       

We are left staring at vacancy  
sensing wake turbulence,   
vortex from activated wings.                                

Sometimes we wait alert,                                   
thirsty for an intimation,                                                  
an evanescent summons 

Selected Works, Keith Tuma




The sparrow builds her nest on our porch light. The porch is not enclosed, so she easily comes and goes, making a twiggy mess of our all-weather rug. We watch her fly away every time we leave the house. We are always startled, no matter how often we’ve seen her zip to a branch on the other side of the driveway. She watches us make our way to the garage and then returns to her nest. Our comings and goings must be a nuisance for her, but she’s been back three years in a row. We have no idea what she does when we switch on the porch light. Have we cooked her eggs? So far as I know there have been no nestlings. One December I took down her work but learned nothing. We wait for her and then take her for granted. We are only so good at keeping an eye on her. But she gladdens our summers.


                        for Allison


It’s a mush of melting snow in the backyard under the trees.  I’m waiting for the little dog Moose to smell what he wants to smell and do his business, as some call it. He’s lost in discovery. Our two white pines, twins almost, and the oak and tulip tree loom tall and ancient, older than the house, older than me. It’s dark and quiet and I have nothing that needs doing, though I want Moose to be done so I can get out of the cold. After a week of sub-zero temperatures branches litter the ground, waiting for a warmer day to be gathered and tossed into the woodpile I’ve established among the honeysuckle that forms a natural border at the back of the lot, hiding the stone house that once was the farmhouse for this land. Between our lot and that house there is this natural border, we say, as if there were such a thing. We mean anything other than a fence. As Moose noses around I happen to look up in time to see a black branch falling from the tulip tree. These trees aren’t only old, I think, they’re falling apart. It’s dangerous to be under them. The branch hits the thawing turf with a thud. Then I see that it’s not a branch but a squirrel. That’s a first, I think. I’m too old to believe in a natural world, but it’s harder to give up on talent. It takes the squirrel a second to get up and run back to the tree.



The door is wide open, and there’s no leaving. The company is such; the obligations that brought us linger. They will be heard. Ding dong. There’s no leaving, and the door is wide open. These are recorded bells, a carillon playing commercial pop, avoiding religious songs. Still, we are hailed by the sound, summoned to “Jingle Bell Rock”: the door is wide open and there’s no leaving. Snow won’t muffle what cold air carries outdoors between classes. The blabbering trees and whispering grass are in their winter. They don’t need to know. We do, apparently. Ding dong. The door is wide open, and there’s no leaving.



The oncology nurse likes to talk about everyday life—traffic this morning during her commute to the city, plans for a holiday still a few months away, her daughter’s decision to quit college and move in with friends in a tiny North End apartment. “Who is paying for that?” The oncology nurse is friendly, but this is her professional talk. She’s killing time for the young woman waiting for chemotherapy. The drugs must be made up and bagged on the morning of the infusions; pharmacists must wait on white blood cell counts to get the go-ahead. The oncology nurse acts as if she has all the time in the world. The young woman’s father has come from far away, her boyfriend too. They’ve driven across town to buy dry ice to freeze the blue turban the young woman will wrap around her head, to keep her hair from falling out. “Would you like some crackers?” the oncology nurse asks. “This first one will take forty minutes,” she says, and names the drug. The young woman knows it already. “The steroids will keep you strong, more energetic than usual, for a day or two.” The oncology nurse reminds the young woman that she’ll need to flush her toilet twice if others are staying in her apartment.  If she has a high fever she is to come back to the hospital. She’s seen the blue turban before, yes.



I meet my old friends at a poetry reading in Portland, Oregon and we agree to get drinks after and wind up at a tony rooftop bar not far from the bookstore. The weather is perfect, the first hint of summer, bright sun and a light breeze—though Donald Barthelme says don’t describe the weather. Martini weather then. We are lucky to get a table. My daughter and her boyfriend are in town and come along to meet my poetry friends. One of them tells us about travelling to Switzerland for the assisted suicide of his father who was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. I’d last heard about his father in a text my friend sent as I was headed home from Boston after visiting my daughter in a time of illness for her. I’m feeling lucky that she’s in good health. My friend tells of depositing his father’s ashes in the Atlantic before coming back to the States. How intelligent, I think, how responsible and brave. And then he tells us about riding his mountain bike on a trail near his home in Olympia, Washington and coming around a bend to meet a mountain lion. This explains the sling on one arm. There is nothing to learn from the stars. 

Selected Works, Anthony Seidman


The Mystery of Stolen Fruit


The man with deep pockets

has a heart which

crumples like newspaper.

His boots crack ice even

when his neighbors sleep on

their porches, and heat licks

the avenue with tar, smoking.

Each of his eyes,

compressed into coal,

while the wine in his veins

hardens into rope which he

fashions into a noose.

He no longer sees

the streets for its trees and

billboards promoting

mouthwash.  He witnesses

a murder in some parallel

tableau where a yellow

glove nailed on stallion’s haunch is

the sole evidence.

His fingers search his pockets

for the key that might

open the door of smoke;

he fumbles for a thread

to pull and undo the seams.  Until then,

a coolant the blue

of crushed water inoculates

night under his skin; slow

rain needles shut his eyes,

and a loaf of bread

grows stale by

hooves of the perennial goat.

The Fifth Chamber Which Isn’t Within Him, But All Around


The man who listens to rain

opens his word like an umbrella, and inch

by inch, his slippers, knees, the top-

most hairs on his scalp

meld with shadow, dissipate like

smoke into smoke, or the prayer

of one mother amid the bell-clangs and

shrieks of a sinking ocean liner.


His heart has four chambers:

The First, a terrace with wasps

churring around a fruit bowl

of guava, mango, and peach atop

a wrought-iron garden table painted red.

The Second is locked shut.  Chamber

number Three echoes with a dog

jaw-cracking a bone.  The Fourth

is where he sits on chair

in room with etiolated walls

beside unmade bed in which

he hasn’t slept for years.

                                                Because he doesn’t thirst

the deserts where camels litter

droppings the texture and length of eggplants.

He doesn’t peel nipples from a woman’s breasts.

He doesn’t open sealed envelopes slipped

between scales of the Cobra.

What he listens for is more patient

than half-life of Carbon: a sound

like sigh unraveled from a caterpillar’s fangs.

The pause between drops of rain,

sizzle of hot oil, a static which

crackles in air and opens door between

lightning and the breath it

takes to funnel this message

through the labyrinth of a sponge.



Hyena is talking to me

He’s praising the whiteness of bone

Not feathers or carrion scattered beside thorns

but stark & brittle savanna bone


I give him a coin and explain how

its value as ferry’s toll relies on

the progress of beetles digging

into black soil so that

they reach the chipped tooth of the first Word before

blaze of Dog-Days


Hyena thanks me

in perfunctory manner before

scurrying from dark wind


After a week of wandering

I arrive at the skull of a gazelle who warns me

about Hyena staining  his muzzle with flesh and steaming entrails while

vultures inscribe their circles in the blue heat above

the stiffening lemon grass



I offer the gazelle’s skull my blessings

alluding to the interstices between Divine & Human Meat

as according to the quill of Saint Maximus


After month or lifetime

of searching I am facing Hyena once more


Hyena’s not as loquacious and has forgotten how to cackle and yip


Savanna has been seared into desert


All is still


The dunes are penny-blond and the sky’s an azure which would shatter ice

if there were ice to shatter among these sands


In my saddlebag I’ve a bottle and hunk of bread

though I’ve never galloped astride stallion or mare


Black bread snatched from clay oven and

purple wine from the same press and den where I shared sleep

with a woman whose eyes shimmered like silvery fish and whose

thighs both flitted from and welcomed my grip


I remember her language!

(Full of diphthongs, lizards, hammocks and laze at noon!)


I break bread with Hyena

and drink my wine savoring the taste of twilight

as purple as this evening season


It is this desert I shall call home I say and Hyena

with tongue as purple as richest wine


licks my face tastes my face and

lets cool my words on his palate of ambuscade and chase


then recognizes me as the Saint whom

he had tested


and now obeys as heat does the staunchest carbonization

Birth, After-Birth or Burial as Springtime


You can choose                    yet some things prevail:

octopus remains  six arms & two legs,

cockroaches have already won, cashing

in lottery tickets of grime,  protein, edible asbestos,

pistols, loaded with dice and shrimp cocktails,

mug elevators that descend & ascend endlessly,

every shovel digs up bones,

stones prove sturdy roofs for scorpions

while hummingbirds

have barfed the algebra of pollen.


            doors are busted the locks are picked and parrots crash-land

            while the weakest denizens,

            purple eyeballs caked with rheum, they genuflect and

            kneel before the tinsel bull…and yet


                               the bull’s blind, deaf and rapacious.



                        let inside you the accordions and the esplanade,

                        hear music scratching from the

                        guitar of the corner troubadour for he’s

                                    Marcabru’s great-great-greatest grandson

and he knows

                       the gig’s shot ….


Tune in to:

                      still functioning gall-bladder and alternator,

                      the impossible-to-deter mosquito and lunar sweat,   

                      and baculum in the erect and giddy remaining blue whales,

                      and some wind when necessary (especially at

                      noon and beneath the Oaks speaking dialects of Autumn )     .


             I still see you / I taste you

                                            (so tart so bloody real)

in the individual tear you

shed just for me and housed in the corner of your pocket knife . 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020



OUR first general was underground

Railroads couldn't compare to the depths of her mind

On a mission with a vision

Precision In the darkest cave covered by branches

Isolated by shame

no matter where we go

The darkest storms


Uprooted Black bodies

We continue to hide how we feel inside

Not equal

Not well

What is being?

The blood that drops

My heart that stops beating

Beating emotions and strength from this Black vessel

Gasping for air

Craving help

Someone to care, ANYONE to see that you are not invincible



Sold and conditioned

Hanging on by a noose

With no room to break loose

From the labels you didn’t ask for

Martyr complex

Struggling to catch your breath

under the waters of expectation

 Bury your pain to survive

They can’t relate



Nuclear           //        fractures

 Familial          //        disasters

Armed with silence

            Surrounded by neverending violence

Haven’t we had enough

Faking like we're fine

Struggling in pride

Lynchings ruled as suicide

Told to hide our wounds inside

Self inflicted crimes

The deepest roots



Admiral abolitionist writer

Wells of information filled her books

On a crusade for justice

 Fighting to resist

Before a balled up fist

[ Truth ] of Liberation



We are the seeds from strange fruit

Lemon Trees in the summer breeze

Hemorrhaging from the root

Under leaves of ignorance

Our minds assassinated

Our souls kidnapped

Our bodies raped

There is no escape

From the scars

This skin




When can we begin

To heal, to feel, to just be.

Free In the cage where birds wish to sing

Harriet Ida Billie Nina

Shapeshifting trauma into triumph

Gardenias bloom across the street

Cope or heal?

Ultimately it's all about how you deal

The deepest roots Hold the darkest storms