Day 10 of 30

FRIENDS THROUGH SCREENS

i talked to my friends
through screens today.
not screen doors like grandma’s in
south carolina, the one she’d tell us
not to slam, gravy sifting through
metal mesh like delicious spirit.

but kinda.

and not smoke screens
either, riot clouds
where we listen for
directions from us screaming
running from them, this way,
i’m here, over here, this way.

but kinda.

and not television screens
where we teleport to cartoon
and laugh track and someone
else’s life or life-like role
where doctor’s are perfect
except for an occasional affair.

but kinda.

i talked to my friends
through screens today.
turns out it’s true that zeroes
and ones can make a million
smiles, take it from me, but buffering
almost sent me into panic. Well, not panic.

but kinda.

Day 9 of 30

THE MORNING OF DR. KING’S FUNERAL, APRIL 9th, 1968

Coretta wore a black suit,
a pill-box hat with veil,
and skin sewn by God,
and, my God, somehow
had to pestle the pain
and steady her hand
enough to part and pony
and bow her baby girl’s
hair without tears
turning it to static.

Day 8 of 30

CURRENT

today i took a walk around the block
to deliver a piece of mail that was
mistakenly left on my doorstep.

right number. wrong street. big sun.

i turned left down D. people sat
on their front steps. a white guy with
an adorable mutt, an older black woman
her hair a half-inch frizz like my
mother’s, a child playing in the sprinkler.

and in an instant, an instinct,
like a spring-loaded moment, I waved.
the white guy waved back, his dog licking
its own nose. the older black lady pressed her
palm my way, tickled the air, couldn’t help
but grin at me, as I smiled at the kid who was
too busy laughing in the water to acknowledge

a wave. but there was a wave. a wave
that momentarily pushed us back to shore.
and just for a few seconds, just for the time
it took for a hand to go up and down, just for
the time being, we all stopped holding our breath

Day 7 of 30

RANDOM THOUGHT

today, i stared out the window
and watched the sidewalk dry after

a downpour. something refreshing,
reassuring even, about witnessing

a strip of rock i step on daily, this
runway for minor major moments, like coffee,

be discolored, like coffee, by rain, first in
spots then splotches then swaths then sheets,

then slowly return to itself in the searing sun,
and though this has nothing to do with sidewalks

and rain, all i could think about was how maybe
we, built of rock and wall, should learn to watch

paint dry. maybe it would benefit us to
bear witness to the tedium of transformation

Day 6 of 30

ONE OF THOSE DAYS

there are days when
poems dont want to be written,
and people dont want to try
to find metaphor and analogy
for sleep and sex and salvation.

there are days when
people dont need to be poems,
but instead stick figures
on construction paper,
flat and perfect, crayon crude.

Day 5 of 30

SUNDAY QUARANTINE

something about the strange way it serves
as beginning and end, cross of rest and ready,

or maybe because it lives as praise in the throat
of almost every history and is the namesake
of every god,

or because it’s the only time breakfast
tastes like breakfast and not
like jet fuel, and this cheap sofa

actually seems soft enough to break the bottom
half of my face into a smile, even in exile.

Day 4 of 30

SIGNS (working title)

you used to track wet
prints of shoe sole, intricate
chevron across the hardwood

and when i’d repay the visit
i’d hang my wet socks
over your shower bar

there was never any rain
but always water and
for us always liquor or

something to make us laugh and
joke about who we’d never want to be
trapped on a deserted island with

Day 3 of 30

YOU KNOW YOU KNOW YOU KNOW for Bill Withers

my mother always said he sang like he wasn’t
no light-skinned man. said his voice walked
a flat line, no nonsense, no running, just
a stand and deliver, sermonic, part your hair
kind of tone, like that west virginia coal
caught in his throat and blacked it up something
serious. up there strumming like a folkie,
but he ain’t no folkie. he our folk, for sure.

Day 2 of 30

SAP

all my life my father has been a hundred-year-old
tree, even in his thirties and forties. always
sturdy and thick-barked and impervious to sway.
his limbs never swinging. his leaves ever brown
and dry. an agro-alarm. he’s always needed to hear
when people are coming close. he’s always needed them
to know whose ground they walk on. whose roots they
stand on. his life a perpetual fall, brisk and
beautiful but not without signs of winter.

and recently, we that used to nest in him,
we his chickadees, who taloned his harsh and hung
upside down and pecked at his bark for years,
searching for sweet, have discovered sap.

it is sticky, and we are concerned
about what has gotten into him.

And…we’re back! It’s National Poetry Month AGAIN! Day 1 of 30

Before we begin, I don’t want to pretend like I’m not being emotionally and mentally affected by all that’s going on in our world. But this is the only way I know how to process. So, I can’t promise you these all wont be about the coronavirus. I’m hoping they won’t. That being said…let’s get to it.

 MODEL

my mother hasn’t seen my face in
some time and it’s turning our
nightly phone calls into painting sessions
where she tries to see if she can
catch the curve of my jaw, the worry
weight in my wooly cheeks, the new
growth and extra half inch of hair,
the one that stress broke off.

I tell her I haven’t been drinking or
at least I haven’t been drinking much,
and she thins the paint around my stomach,
turpentines the pot from my belly and
says, that’s good to hear.

I say I’ve gone to get groceries
and she dabs her brush in the black
and does a wash which will suffice
for the t-shirt she knows so well
and the jeans and sneakers,
and the hoodie she used to be
concerned about, all
from the timbre of my voice.

It’s a rough. An idea. But still something
to hang on the wall and marvel at until morning.
But before we say goodnight, before she
rinses the brushes, I say again,
with great uncertainty,

I’m alright, but are you?
And I know she hears the fear in my voice
I know she’s painted the furrow
that seems to go on forever, but instead
of yes or no, she says,
you haven’t seen your mother’s face in
some time and have forgotten
what you look like.