at a funeral back home i saw an old
college roommate, suburban dude, psych
phd. we called him mister posh perrier
in our waning undergraduate days
as he moved away from communal
artist poverty back to his origins before
the rest of us had decent credit scores.
we have lived in the same city limits
for over a decade. dopplegangers in private
practice dotting the near counties. tried
to uncover him years ago. here he is,
in a mourner’s backyard, talking
millions selling houses and condos
blocks from my oldest sons’ school. we
are locked door, nightly news, ebonic sound
bite. drunk, i take his card, divulge plan
to drop him on west madison after dark.
tour chicago with no banks and scarce
fresh produce. rattle his republic, survey
millions who might benefit from pedigree.
city of bones
after August Wilson
in this town where no one wants to die
the crime rate is low everyone
clothed fed to belly full medicine
bountiful young people all
challenged to limit of potential a system
to support aptitude fresh air
& produce in our town women & girls
revered cherished protected men
gracious sensitive fitness prayer in multiple
tongue prison is those who do not
believe streets safe & clean a brotha
can get a cab free shuttle for the too high
in our town where no one wants
to die news always polite the world played
nice today…details at 10 no sickness starvation
lonely avoid walking on neighbors
lawn taxes paid on time haiti japan
spared all of us superheroes all of us
ordinary this town
not cairo madison tehran
no fly zone no gangs we assemble peace
gather in tiny or public space say excuse me
we are post race no history beyond right
now maybe yesterday we can’t remember

my dreams sleep in beds they have outgrown
nightmares leave room enough for any soul
i am the size of my own hollow promise
flush with life despite the darkening night
the preacher prays for me her vacant psalms
church fan perfect with a cutting smile
message unholy, steam rises from lips
why can’t we speak the grace we all avoid?
might we choose a path the prophet walked?
mama knew the way to seek pure light
now i find me in her waning breath
wandering toward them with baby steps
i am anew, born in the pain of death
god forbid i lose all i have learned

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