Horses of the Gods
Clouds tumble and twist in a grayish-white sky
before there was an Iceland, there was only
the land of ice, where Vikings roamed the
tundra and sailed the seas, battling the
elements and each other for honor
and glory and a place in Valhalla,
the hall of heroes, Odin’s chosen
ones, who pledged their allegiance
to the king of the gods by fighting
with pure hearts in the wintry landscape,
when the thunder roared, the warriors
saw steeds beat down the air with
their heavy hooves causing the sky
to shake and sending sparks down
to the ground, no one could ignore
the might of these steeds who
served Odin and his kin as they
flew through the tumult and alighted
like butterflies in the snow fields to
stake their claim as deities of
History of Quincy Street
I remember being in mama’s arms
staring at a living room that had seen
better days, broken furniture piled up
in a mound against the wall, glass
strewn about the floor, rats scurrying
under the ruin seeking refuge from
the young family that was moving in
I was too young to remember if where
we had been in the South End was as
awful as what I saw but it had to be if
we were moving into this apartment
that sat on the ground floor of a
yellow and white triple decker in
the center of Quincy Street.
Over the years the apartment, under the cleaning
efforts of mama, would appear less like
the aftermath of a bomb attack from Iraq and more like a
home filled with warm hugs and loud laughter as
two young children played games in the
long hallway, monster on Halloween
and annoyed the stray cats in the backyard
It was a house that withstood the storm
of 1978 where the snow drifts were taller
than my brother and me and the street
was a river of white, its where our little legs
trudged through the winter wasteland avoiding
plow trucks and sledding in vacant lots.
In spring, the rose bush would bloom and
in summer and the sidewalk would cook our
feet, the fall brought cool winds blowing
leaves down the street and pushing us
towards school, winter would come again
and we’d huddle around the kitchen stove
when the oil heat ran low, the mice would
hibernate in the walls and the roaches would
disappear until the warm air returned.
Mama always told us to do well in school,
to do better than society expected,
another poor black family destined
to continue the cycle of welfare and struggle
to go further than she did and not let government
cheese, shady landlords and icky insects be our
We had every desire to do better
we had to make mama proud,
no blind eyes to her efforts
single motherhood was her cross to bear
but her words were heard
we would not become statistics
of the streets and learn from the streets
that gave us so many lessons like
a second mother showing us how to survive
bullies, gangs, thieves and thugs.
We had scars from our encounters but
they only made us damaged warriors
still willing to fight, still willing to live
for block parties, games in the school
yard, walks to the store, Saturday
cartoons and afternoons with creature
It was all we had, it was all we knew
but Quincy Street taught us one
last lesson before we left – there
were many more streets to
Teleporter needs repairs
stinks in the labyrinth
Eye the dungeon
in the kitchen lab
Blind to the vanished
smell the orifice
Adjustments to the cable
such flashy controls
Something is weird in the bathroom
don’t hog the strange
Sounds from the restroom
make me smile
Like receiving junk food
after falling into a mess
Radio plays the music
that’s already in my head
It moves my feet
and sways my hands
Fetch me the googles
before I activate the machine
There’s a fire
in the boat of plans
So much for good technology
It needs a new formula
When I found my wrist bleeding, I didn’t scream.
I watched the blood caress my skin as it eased from my veins.
A pool had already formed on the pillow where my hand laid.
the blood was the shape of a flower, petals spread greeting
the morning sun in my window. I felt no pain. It hadn’t
reached my inner self. My brain was somewhere else.
with my other hand, I touched my wrist feeling the
blood latch on to my fingers spreading down to
my hand. Both covered in blood. A marvel. A mystery.
Why did this happen? My dreams were dormant.
But I had fought death in my slumber. The battle
was a blank but the blood was real. So real.
Perhaps the answer can be found by my bedside.
The knife on the floor. The note scrawled in haste.
The wish for death. As the sun shines life into
Roses in the Wasteland
Ma cried in the kitchen. Her head was bent. Her body was stooped.
A roach crawled across her hand. She didn’t bother to swat it away.
Daddy had beaten her again. But the marks went beyond her skin.
The bruises went past her bones. Her hurt was beyond physical.
Ma took the beating to protect us. Protect us from the beast.
A brute who hated the beauty of her love. Her love for us.
Small and defenseless. My brother and I.
We had escaped to the backyard.
From there we heard the yelling, the swearing and the crying
We could do nothing. My brother and I. We wanted to fight.
But could not. We didn’t know how. You can’t hope when you.
feel helpless. Then there was silence. Daddy was gone.
Ma was alone, but she wasn’t.
We were in the yard sitting by the rose bush marveling at its
beauty. Seeing the power in its thorns.
Wishing we had thorns of our own.
The writing must be done
Until the moon kisses the sun
Heart versus heart, a
Tug of war, my eyes are brown
Not green, love is gone