Canon – (From the collection INK)


 in the bosom

smelling like milk

knowing this is as close

to the honey

as they gonna let you get

it’s bitter to the taste


the house

walking on the bones

somebody write this story

tell what it cost

brown eyed dreamers

 crossing continents

with spoons

 instead of knives


everything that was


nothing means

what it meant

 nobility turned savagery

by ethnographer’s pen strokes

untounged and stripped of gods


worldview & geography

history became a piece of fire

weighing more than it meant

in the land of locust

writ in running ink

the testament

tested on the backs

on which it rested

unrepented sins

confessed by invested priest

 rewritten by academics

exploited by bankers


& other stripes of thieves

best go with it down the river

milk & honey on the other side

someone must play cartographer

like clever clarinet

sit near the door

know the language

leave the signs


 to sit in the bosom

of these united snakes

holding the door ajar

for nappy heretics

to dismantle master’s house

from the inside of the machine

where they grind the bones

of scholars

feeding them lies

to feed to others

yeah though they have seen the inside of the valley

they help to manufacture shadow

trying get an inside track

to the inside

jocking for position

praying tenure

dreaming of being

lead sheep


to eat well until the slaughter

where they too are delicious morsels

cuz wolves don’t care to know the difference

between the new white and real dark meat

even a café au lait with a Harvard degree

 a card that lets him caddy skull n bones stylee

is on the buffet


selling off

 his brothers

 that truth in theology preacher

& African nations

to answer

the call

never mind whose on the phone

this is the room

your forefathers died to get in

can they see us now

Porsches Jaguars and triple malts

our metaphoric

tattoo tears proclaiming

we are Abel to be Cain

& the sets we used to bless

now mean less than

corner offices & glass covered degrees of separation

from grandma’s hands, Ebonics & collard greens

sometimes it gets hard to remember to remember

playing the insider to outsider game

sitting in the bosom

far from where the hunger lives

walks the street

 got a nickname

you forget how easy it is to forget

easier than carrying a banner for a army that got lost

it’s warm inside

ain’t this where we sent ‘em?

integrated them to?

deeper into the beast

                                          ain’t this where we wanted to be?

deep in the bosom

                                              ain’t this where they aimed us?

grans & parents w/survival on their breath

bidding us go further

                                           sent us looking for milk & honey

prismatic dreams of integration

rising from the nation

within the nation

why we surprised they forgot to remember

what got wrote down crooked

we were confused

but persistent

in  sending them to schools that

taught them to be ashamed of

tales of  tongues of fire

invisible stars

country grammar

& the worldview contained there in

along with our most blatant sin

the color of our skin

we done marched & died

trying to find a way into

living like conscripted  slaves

 intent on arriving

at suspect destinations

hooked on the hooks

from the inside out

trading the smell of pragmatic optimism

for a lobster sandwich

 a time share on the shore

& college education

for children who don’t look like us

success is my tribal scar of separation

from the funk piss and grime


the  nation


in the nation

the cost is the death of  my negritude


like a ceremonial garment

which I have risen above

it cost too much too carry

as jackals circle

dreams are drained of liquidity

post race

seems a good room to stand in

as ghettos are reclaimed by urban explorers

greening occupied territories

without regard for the natives

someday this may weigh more

but if you ain’t got an army

 it don’t matter

teaspoons or pounds its all the same

they write the code

& sheep they do follow

cause it’s warm inside

best go with it down the river

milk & honey on the other side

someone must

sit near the door

know the language

leave the signs

someone must sacrifice

themselves to sit in the bosom

of these united snakes

holding the door ajar

for nappy heretics

to dismantle master’s house

from the inside of the machine

where they make their bones

 grinding bones

its hard to remember what you came for

when everything is for sale

& nothing means what you thought it meant

when you began

the distance back to grandma’s porch is greater than


& in real reality

you remember

it’s not home you’re ashamed of

its you

 the runaway

 still a slave

resting in the bosom

smelling like milk


mama & daddy dreams

of brown babies rising

everybody wanna be someone

only God can judge me

run your broken tongue

across the scars

become him before

this story

could you carry it

all the dreams

backed up in your bowels

no stage to shine

the joy running out

reality rushing in

the crooked deck

 being born with a dead man’s hand

a ticket to the merry go round in your pocket

even Mama’s hand can’t

soothe the pain

that pushes out your pores

the road is uphill

covered in broken glass

will someone write

how much it cost

to escape

 hide from the whirlwind

to rest in the bosom

smelling of milk

up nights

burning oil and turning scripture

while ghosts march

ask Collin Powell

about the price of sleep

once you cross over

even if you wake up

& come back home to the nightmare

you wrote

ask how much it cost to

pretend you Mike

hard as you can

till you think you are

if you can remember

to remember

Mama didn’t raise no fool

& this weighs more than it used to

could you carry it

if it was invisible

but it still bent your forehead to the ground

hurt in your back like old age

from the moment you were born

if it weighed more than you

would you carry it

or fall apart into ragged pieces that smell of

ill conceived dreams

water colors in a storm

& the wrong conversations

mama said rise

daddy died

 sorrow drowning in his eyes

a working man

wearing pride like a suit

so you could be you

stand up straight honey

look ‘em in the eyes

do what you need

get inside

the bosom

of the machine

get us some of that milk

honey bring that honey home

we waiting for you to


who knew that

the destination itself

would be the cruelest cut

 most suspect for a boy

whose mother dreamed

 a mighty man from the womb

 he still the usual suspect

even when he do what they want him to do

                                             what else can a thinking man do

 not to wash away

he is not invisible

can you see him now

with his pockets bulging with

needs and promise

do you see him

reading Dred Scott & Ralph Ellison 

seeing himself


how he would make it be

if he could

he has a map

of the road he took

the one that was open

 toll free

can you translate

what that cost

do you see him

past looking for an exit

can you see him

bleeding in the margins

it used to weigh less

it couldn’t have cost more