Call it what it is

They are still shooting us in the streets. Not
just this year. Or even last. All of
my 73 years and my father’s years and his father’s
years. My grandfather's father, my great
grandfather, was born into slavery. You
know how that went.

Both of my grandfather’s moved
north. Looking to breathe that fresh air of
freedom. That was before the red summer of 1919, when
white folks killed black folks north, south, east
and west. And it never stopped. Let up a
bit from time to time. Went unreported even
more often. These days passing people catch 
it on their cellphones.

We’ve moved north. We’ve moved 
south. We bought
land. We voted.We got educated. We 
marched and protested. We sang,rioted and 
rebelled.  And even while 
we are marching, they are still 
shooting us down in the 
streets. Talking about new 
days,tearing down 
statues, retiring Aunt 
Jemima and Uncle 
Ben, feeding exploited workers fried chicken 
and waffles. Back in the day, I 
would have ended this poem 
with a call for REVOLUTION! Now
I just wait to see if they
will again diffuse this anger with 
drugs. Or if it will 

The Rain

She points to the stairs,he won’t budge. 
He stands in the pouring rain, ignoring 
her signal to exit up. Families mill 
about, confused. Should they go 
up or wait for further
The children sob, rain 
dripping from their chins.

A large woman in purple wants to help … The 
rain blows in through 
open windows. He gives the thumbs up,
standing in a widening puddle of water.

Giving him the side eye, she 
pours a glass of water, unaware of the 
boil water warning in effect.
Three beats. The rain continues to pour. A cool
wind blows. The trees bend. Two
beats. Too stubborn to obey,
he remains right there, dripping, while
she drinks the dirty 
water. A tree crashes beside him.

We Didn’t Know

Last night I thought about 
you. Remembering
that night he was
with you, 
wondering what you 
was coming next.
We were so young and none of
it turned out like we
thought. Not even for me, who
got everything I wished
None of us could look
down the years and know
you would be the
first gone.

The Season of Disasters

The year came in innocently 
enough. We got some work done on the house. New
roof. Updated cupboards. New
furnace. Our son came to visit
from Seattle with his small children. 
there was news of
a virus spreading rapidly in 
China and
A friend in Ecuador suggested 
we buy some masks, just 
in case, because
Atlanta, being an international air hub, 
you never know. We
bought two boxes of masks at 
the corner drugstore.

We began to hear the corona virus was here
and spreading. Should I go to the
dentist? How about those 
other appointments that seemed to be coming up 
fast. Canceled those just
as it was advised to stay home if 
closed for the duration.

We got used to the virus. We were all okay.
Working from home, or retired or 
hopeful. Our street was
quiet and as usual, 
except for a few masked walkers. 
We learned to order and
pickup our food. We found sources
of fresh food and we were doing well. 
Except for
those disturbing reports 
from Detroit and the nursing home
down the street where people were 
dying en masse. But things had
sort of settled into a

Some people got angry about 
wearing masks and heavily armed began 
to appear at government offices to 
protest, to

When the police kneeled on George Floyd’s 
neck for nine minutes, someone 
caught it on cellphone. Protests, 
bigger than anything since the 60s. 
All the pent
up rage exploding. More 
shootings, old shootings, new
shootings. More demonstrations, 
tear gas, rubber and
real bullets.

The killer bees or wasps turned out to 
be a red herring. But
right now sand from the Sahara Desert 
is coming ashore along the
coast. More than in living memory, 
crossing the Atlantic to come to Puerto
Rico and the Sea Islands. To 
make breathing hard and 
sunsets beautiful from Florida to 
New Orleans and beyond.

The pandemic continues. Police 
brutality continues. How long before the
plume of sand comes ashore, I don’t know. 
What’s next?
Meteorites? A 
roving black hole? Wild Fires? 
Hurricanes? Invasion from
outer space?

The Sky

When I was growing up, 
we went to bed 
early. Eight o'clock, 
in the bed. We 
missed the night sky 
and the stars overhead.

living in the country, 
lying in the yard 
watching the sky,
floating in the water,
I became part of the sky. 
I wanted
to lie under the 
stars when I was 
to disappear 
into the sky.

Here in the city, 
my yard is 
full of trees. The streets 
are full of lights. 
I can't disappear 
into the sky