“Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.”
– James Baldwin (Fifth Avenue, Uptown. Esquire)
Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children’s faces looking up
Holding wonder in a cup.
Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit’s still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.
Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.
It was in the early 90’s when the image of clowns changed for me. Not that I was much of a fan anyway, but one event made it that much more clear that clowns were creepy little creatures; cowards who hated themselves so much that they hid behind make-up. What grown man or woman wants to bounce around with a red nose? And why do you look like that? Anyway, something was going around the projects about a serial killer dressed as a clown who went around kidnapping children. At the time I was only about seven years old and I can remember being released from school early. Everyone had to have someone to pick them up from school and walk them to their building. While there was no adult to pick me up, being a twin always had its perks; it’s called having a lot of friends. So a large group of us walked home together. I even had a weapon, a super sharp pencil that was prepared to slice and dice the first orange or red Afro I saw coming. It didn’t occur to me that the pencil could break. And how would I sharpen it again? Nope, never crossed my mind, nor did my second grade education prepare me for such an event. I suppose I could just pencil stab him to death, not sure how that would work. Maybe he’ll get lead poison or something, who knows.
According to the rumor, the killer targeted children by standing next to mailboxes and eating bananas. I’m not sure why he would be eating bananas; an obvious indication that someone had probably just watched Stephen Kings IT and made the whole thing up. But that didn’t stop us from believing it. As we walked passed the first mailbox, our hearts caught in our throat, trying to walk as silently as childhood footsteps would allow. In the end we would make it home safe and sound. But when I went to sleep that night there he was, that ugly looking clown. I was looking out the window of Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes to the building next door where someone else was also looking out the window. Yea you guessed it: the clown. He smiled until his cheeks almost reached his ears and his teeth looked as if he had painted them yellow. Suddenly however, he ran away from the window. “Oh no! He’s coming over!” Before I knew it a clown was in my living room chasing me around the couch. Even though it was just a dream this was a very serious situation. Yea, looks like someone would definitely not be invited to the next birthday party.
“When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.”
like heavy shoulders
hard to bear
weight refusing to be comforted
a rubbed off gentleness
like candy wore off the sugar
like sugar wore off the sweet
when they pass by us on the street
an invisible burden hangs from the creases of their jeans
like expectation scratching it’s nails against the concrete
don’t get this wrong
they’re not bad women
though the accusations scream for merciless understanding
of their calling
are taught compassion in the proverb of scripture
they fight a constant sin but no
they’re not women without hope
women not rotten down to the core
just women whose wombs have never bore.
The wind has released itself from its chambers and spreads its body over the earth. A blanket of hammers slamming low temperatures into the atmosphere, it carries the clouds; full and dark with storms they are coddled into position. The sun has set and is nestled inside the crook of fire in the west wing of the heavens until it is time to renew itself again. The trees expose its private parts except the fourteen or so that do not lose its leaves to the whistling death sentence of winter. In less than a week from now, when the stars loiter on top the sky amidst the backdrop of midnight, people will decorate themselves with the image of change and resolutions, and make intoxicated promises they will never keep. Maybe it is just the warmth of liquor wrapping its arms around their spines, cooling their blood, and pulling at their heart strings. Suddenly it will happen, that moment when the bullet is separated from its shell, the parties burst into confetti, and this moment hushed into a lullaby. Right here, in the middle of a dead winter; everything cold and stiff and silent and yet loud inside a lowering orb of momentary bliss. This is the excited murmur of a new era and it is the canvas to which they will usher in a new year.
Be careful out there.