Brickhouse Lily

Lily in the Bricks. By We Inhale Photography

the house torn down, the lily remembers the builder —

 

jenny claimed the block

tupac rose from concrete

still deep in the streets

lily in the middle of the bricks

whole world fall down

chicken little up in this

saw the chicken scratch                                                       most mistook it for the news

but there were trailers                                                                                                                          anybody know only fictions

offer trailers

still in NOLA a dime later

new milli the world ended                                                           but clowns kept singing

so only predicting prophets felt it fall off the plate

 

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A Deep Dive Into the Prison-Industrial Pipeline in “Beyond the Bars”

An Oakulture review of my latest stage work.

Oakulture

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What does “home” mean? Is home where the heart is? Where the hatred is? A physical location? A state of mind? Can prison be a home? What does it mean to come home? And, can you ever really go back home again? These philosophical questions are at the core of the Lower Bottom Playaz’ production of “Beyond the Bars: Growing Home.”

In “Beyond the Bars,” the prison-industrial pipeline becomes a backdrop for an powerful examination of black masculinity . An array of black men, ranging in age from mid-20s to senior citizen, come together regularly to check in with their feelings. It’s somewhat telling that the vehicle which allows them to gather for this purpose is a re-entry support group; all of them are formerly-incarcerated.

The prison-industrial pipeline becomes a backdrop for an powerful examination of black masculinity

Their check-ins are largely about dealing with the ramification of their…

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#youwillnotkillmetoday (NPM2017 20)

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death will come
on the day it wants
dressed as it pleases
at the time he chooses
death will come
of that there is little doubt
how it will be received
is the matter here
#youwillnotkillmetoday
with ignorance
because you hate me
because of my melanin
because I long to be free
because I demand equality
#youwillnotkillmetoday
there are traps by my
front door
armed guards at the
back of my mind
least you try to
slip in with me
unaware today
is not your day
if old age comes
soft to drape me
in forever I will
graciously away
but today is not that day
miles to travel
more forward to draw
from the mud
more errands for my ancestors
more clever cartography
more dancing tomorrow
from fractured todays’
and hard lived yesterdays
I have grown tough skin
over my hope
I water it with pragmatism
I am vigilant and will
not be set upon unaware
I anticipate you in my dreams
and have drawn a circle in
salt around your intentions
wrapped a prayer in white
cloth delivered it to a tree
that knows your name
I have talked to the dust
& the wind about you
and they whisper my name
before yours as life naturally
proceeds death
#youwillnotkillmetoday
I am the promise risen
from the ocean
I am what grows outside
the fences you build
the rising whine at
the back of your worried
fretful mind (yes
the other shoe will drop)
bells are for tolling
as each dog has a sun
rise suns set on all houses
this is not your day
today I walk upright unafraid
continuing to dance on oppression
drumming for justice
walking against the wind
up every hill since  the good ship jesus & plymouth rock
I am the sword and the stone
carrying darkness like a banner inviting creation

I am

my machetes are sharp

my powder is dry

I have left yucca for

the left-handed child

iron in my

right pocket honey

in my hand

#youwillnotkillmetoday

I have banished you from

the land of my dreams

I want not I suffer not

I am the living circle

unbroken

#youwillnotkillmetoday

image: by Jimmy Nelson

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1 if by faith (NPM 2017 19)

 

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1 if by faith

lined up

next to none

talking about

chances found

rolling down

hill looking

for a way up

out of no way

1 if by faith

best intentions with

the devil over your shoulder

young bucks pray to get older

grannies pray they come home

mama’s pray when they gone

devils prey on & on

sometimes

living just holding on

dodging ducking left with

bucking

the system each other

anything trying cast a shadow

over the shine burning inside

trying to manifest

trying to live long enough to

be blessed confessing

to any means

with the devil

over your shoulder

held by the prayers

of others fully strapped

into the mission of

rising your bootstraps in

your hands can’t be soft

rather be a dead man

loaded fully intending

to hit the mark

even if the target

moves hidden in

the dark lion heart

blessed with more

than common sense

winning is in him

he intuits it

back bent into it

1 if by faith

held by invisible godz

bucking the odds

playing with mediocre cards

still shining even

in a crooked house

still writing the music

hypocrites and their

children dance to with

cotton on their breath

still breaking lynch steps

holding on to the last

dream left forward because

they built a fence on the

hill you came up you too

tall to go back you

were little when you walked

under the bridge

between could have been

and what you built

no way back only forward

motion spoken here

life is movement

movement is life

1 if by faith

the table’s set

refusing to be late

gotta collect a debt

1 if by faith

lined up

next to none

talking about

chances found

rolling down

hill looking

for a way up

out of no way

always on the 1

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At the Berkeley Flea (NPM 2017 18)

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hot afternoon  in late august

or sometimes in early

October in Berkeley

the trees are few

the heat radiates up

off the asphalt in ripples

like long grass on an africkan

savannah far away in my memory

the drummers drum

some ancient melody

scribed in their blood

by ancient rhythm older than

the city they drum in

some in the raiment of their ancestors

others dress in the robes of their new tribes

we come to see and be seen

we come to buy and to sell

come to haggle and present the

old along side the new

the worthless and the priceless

side by side like some ancient market

in some other time

sometimes dancers dance

or poets recite and we are in

congo square far away

laying down burdens

rearranging rhythms

and  reaching for something

living just under our surfaces

we circle seeing what we have seen before

paying attention or ignoring as our needs dictate

we eat platters of fruit

and sample scented oil

pay too little

pay too much

barter and trade

recreate worth

continue tradition

create our own legend

on long sunday afternoons

in earliest october

or sometimes late august at

the berkeley flea

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Poem from: The BlackStar Liner Anthology by A. Nzinga

Found Images of Berkley Flea Market

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in the land of skinny godz (NPM2017 17 )

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In the land of skinny godz

there is famine and want

the people wander

eyes closed

voiceless

afraid of punishment

they tow the line

ignore the crimes

stand in the lines

pray for better times

but skinny godz don’t

hear

they don’t answer

blood dripping from their

eyes hands in

their pants caught

at the crossroads

of meaning and power

they don’t want you to

see them naked

lying and stealing

legs spread

syphilitic infected with

polytics

trying to assassinate

a paradigm shift

rewarding those who follow

targeting those who drift to the left

or live and die to do right

proclaiming

drink dirt  call it water

fouling the natural order

skinny godz

made of plastic  napalm dangling

from chains of depleted uranium

burning the necks of the desperate

guilt nesting in their craniums

like ruthless roof wrens

with no faith in their fate

no trust in the work of their hands

over standing their lack of innocence

sure they have sinned

in deed & by omission

in the land of skinny godz

no revelation without permission

and or prescription

the money is in the nurturing

of your condition

no cures no miracles

just tithes & gifts

no miracles no cures

better comes after this

more tides more gifts

live on your knees

eyes towards heaven

remember only the

gifts & tides

to a broke ass

skinny god who

has an accountant

counting on what

you can bring him

to manifest manna

for a constant hunger

while the people wander

in famine suffering want

bathing in the dirt

dreaming of  water

eyes closed

voiceless

afraid of punishment

towing the line

ignoring crimes

standing in lines prostrate

praying for better times skinny

godz don’t hear they

don’t answer

blood dripping from their

eyes

 

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bag life (NPM2017 16)

 

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what do homeless people carry in their bags

the bags in carts on bikes over weary shoulders

the bags that mark them as without

outside unhoused wanders carrying

their lives in bags

do they carry their important papers

do they carry the warmer sweater

when the sun is beating down

but the promise of winter is

one that is always kept

do they carry

the last scraps of their

membership in society captialist

or maybe their Sunday best in hopes

on needing to be dressed up

ready to become one of

those inside whose lives

are not confined to bags

rather they are free to

consume more than they need

stepping over the unwashed

on their way to inside

do the homeless

carry their last Christmas

warm with family

looking at another year

together once upon a time

do they carry the what if’s

and why me’s or were they left

behind with changes of shoes

clean underwear and warm beds

do they carry mementoes of a life

without so much baggage

what do homeless people carry in the bags

do they carry their dreams shattered

and broken down so they fit

inside black plastic stack

neatly in dirty bins

beside tents under

freeway overpasses as passers-by

pass by on their way

to their cozy inside

spaces far away

from bag life

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