Monday, July 23, 2012


always in summer I would work at dad’s office
right in the middle of bustling smoggy western avenue near venice
near mc donalds and fatburger
edge of the hood but not quite the hood
I loved Dad as Dr. La Rose, OB/GYN
ushering in black babies to the world both planned and unplanned
administering to a patient high on some drug or another
she may or may not have been loyal to friends or family but she was always loyal to Doctor
she’d make sure to show up on time to keep that appointment cause the baby was due in a few weeks
I’m sure there must have been something about listening to a baby’s undersea heart in a pregnant woman’s belly that was magical
a life round and full just like a woman
patients would be sitting all around that vinyl blue plastic couch of his
all that heat generating from sitting there for an hour or two would make their thighs all sticky and wet
acting like impatient kids waiting for their mom to pick them up
making all kinds of noise
wanting to see doctor
I gotta see Dr. La Rose
Where is Doctor????
trying to work the last nerves of Ernestine the receptionist
she'd take a long drag from the Kool cigarette hanging out from her lip
take a long sip from the 9th Pepsi she had that morning
and tell them you know you all need to hush
Doctor is coming
just hush
and then when he'd finally arrive
they'd get real quiet and sweet like they were waiting for only five minutes
Dad not only had bedside manner but waiting room manner too
somehow to me it was kind of an honor to change the tissue paper on the tables in the examining rooms or file stuff in the patient’s charts
I’m like my dad too you know
even though I may not want to be a doctor
these hands can heal
even though I’m 12 and too young to operate on anyone
my hands made a difference in a small way
so cool 

when it was lunchtime Reverend Shepard would come to the office
small lightskin man in a black suit & porkpie hat
didn’t know where his church was but we always called him Reverend
he’d always bring us some big macs or maybe even a fatburger from down the street
during lunchtime dad would pass out on that old olive green couch of his
snoring like a buzz saw
annoying the hell out of Laverne the bookkeeper who’d always be shivering and turning up the heat in her office even though it was 90 degrees outside
and then I understood
this was Dad’s house
a home without the underwear thrown on the floor or a Lakers game blaring on the TV
he took care of all those women who needed him
just like a father would
this was his home
and I was safe 

Copyright 2007

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

soul train kids

it was june 1975
end of the school year
summer was one big long recess for kids
time to put away the failed math tests and break out the earth wind and
fire and ohiiiiiiiiohhhhhh players
shove those books and desks aside
cause you can bet your last money it was gonna be a stone cold gas on
the classroom floor
parrrrrrrrrt-tayyyyyy tiiiiimmmeeeee
don cornelius and shabby-doo had nothing on us fifth graders that was
for damn sure
we could boogie on down
we could boogie on down with the best of them
in 1975 old school music was new school in our school
you had to float float on
float on float on
it was red hot un-huh reh he he hedddddddd
just make my funk the p-funk I wants to get funked up
make my funk the p-funk I wants to get funked up
do you remember the 21st night of September….
as far as us soul train kids were concerned we could forget that month
for now
september sounded better when maurice white and phillip bailey sang it
didn't want to see or think about those back to school clothes at sears
we were fueled by the red sugar rush of strawberry crush and hawaiian
plus all kinds of salty laura scudders and lays and a big
old bag of cheetos
we may have been late in turning in our homework
but we were definitely not on the late freight with this real mother for yaaaaa

all of us got out of the teachers single file line and in two
sooooullll train lines
nancy did the football throwing a disco touchdown at the end of the line
alisha penguined her legs from side to side turning cool into cold
stephanie did the feel until she couldn’t feel anything
mark huntley and marcellus popping and locking it up
roger richards roboting in the room
and as for me
as for me
I did that kinda dance I saw one of those glittery soul train divas did
before the show was over and you heard the theme song
you know that song
doo doo doo dooo doooo doo doo
let’s get it onnnnnn it’s time to get down
one arm up
the other arm down swaying to a funked up beat
then I’d twirl and hop twirl and hop twirl hop twirl hop twirl hop down
that line
didn’t know the name of the dance
so what didn’t matter
you don’t dance to the beat
you don’t dance to the beat
the beat dances you
the beat dances you

we danced and got down with our bad selves until the teacher brought in
a big cake that penny mcgee’s mom bought for the party
we waited for that cake like the guest that got the party started
the teacher slowly sat the cake down on the table and opened the lid
as she opened it penny made a loud groaning noise
ahhh daaaanggg
a big old hunk of cake was cut out
the letters “MER” from the word summer--GONE
HAPPY SUM---the cake read now
there was only one person I knew who had the guts to do that
the principal of the school
if I were penny I’d be groaning too
casue I could not stand that woman
the principal didn’t know the principle of the thing

spinning one 33 after the other
from commodores to stevie’s innervisons to marvin gaye’s I want you
the soul train stayed in our station until it was time to get picked up
by our parents after school
end of school partying
you could bet your last money
it was a


Copyright 2012

Sunday, January 1, 2012


as she wrote
she saw
glimmer of light
photosynthesis redefined
colors refracted in rainbow hues
she saw
atoms spinning forever
making things matter
the cellular truth in constant division and refinement
she saw the intangible beyond the concrete
the strong mortar holding thought to thought
a foundation impenetrable to termite lies
she wrote beyond the subjects and predicates of her days
conjunctions keeping her intact
tenses present and kicking inside waiting to be born
she saw the devil and laughed in its face
she saw the real behind the smoke and felt her way through the maze
she saw pain beneath her placid smile and acknowledged it as her own
she saw the love of her life and recognized her own face
and as she wrote
she saw the god in herself
she saw the god in herself
she saw the god in HERSELF

prayer for lynda

all praises to the microphone
all praises
all praises to the microphone
all praises
all praises to the microphone
all praises
all praises to the microphone
for keeping my secrets
for listening to me when others would not
for amplifying my thoughts into poem
for loving me when no one else would
for setting me free
for setting me free
don't you know this mike is a priest and I'm the confessor
don't you know the coffeehouse table is my altar
don't you know that I'd lay down my life for the verb
mike hear my prayer
o mike hear my prayer
espresso machine whirring like a prayer wheel in the background
electric beats per minute of a poet spinning nouns
audience throwing themselves on the altar of the alphabet
mc leading us like a prophet to the promised land
word, set us free
word, set us free
in a war-filled world
we lay down arms for the word
when the money gets tight
we invest in the word
when there's no job to go to
we work for the word
when life beats us down
when hope slips thru our fingers
when we have no choice
we bow to the word
we bow to the word
we bow to the word
and we bow to the mike
we praise you

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

sooooo bored (from Summerfruit)

usually late july early august is when time stretches and grows longer for a kid in summer… hot minutes circling around the blades of the fan caked with the moist dust and dirt in the air making the blades turn slower….slower….slower. whenever it’s hot like this mom always says it’s oh hallelujah porkskin it’s too hot for words…so if I don’t say anything maybe it’ll get cooler….not saying anything…not saying anything…still not saying anything…tried that for five minutes…it didn’t work …and there’s nothing to do in this house…

….and tumbleweed’s outside playing football in the street with his boys…giving each other five on the blackhand side when they make a touchdown….and I just want to touch his hands….just want to get out of here……

mom’s cooking curry in the kitchen…the house smells of mom’s curry—yellow curry hanging on the walls….sitting on the furniture for days…breathing in the spaces between my damp fingers and toes….and MOM I’M SO BORED running out of my lips for the 19th time like stale warm tap water….all tv is just one big long repeat…saw that kung fu episode three months ago…saw that that starsky and hutch….JJ’s not feeling so dyn-o-mitiiiite……hong kong phooey is….phoeeey….

…just wanna run my fingers thru his honey blond fro…mom’s not gonna let me go out with him outside—she calls him a varabat—west indian for thug…oh my GOD……..

then mom comes out from the kitchen and yells why don’t you put away the dishes…… CLEAN UP YOUR ROOM….read  something…..I don’t want to read I’ve read everything....
….and I had….I read all the Archies comics and the Peanuts comics… ….WELL STOP WHINING—I DON’T LIKE WHINING she yells and goes back to stirring the curry in the pot…..and then I’d go back to looking at the fan….imagining I was a little boy in india looking at a cobra in a basket, the fan moving and swirling its head…taming the cobra with an intense stare….I am the cobra spinning tales of heat and dust, creating magic in a continuous circle….I am locked behind a circular cage  and I need to jump out of this cage before I EXPLODE …….cobra spinning and looping strands of heat and time together….summertime and the heat stretching out like a rubber band that never snaps….never ends….never shouts MOOOOMMMMM….I’M SOOOOOOOO BOOOOOORRRREEEEEDDDDD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

…and there goes my man outside…smelling like afro sheen and polly seeds…gliding on that sidewalk like he had wings……

Friday, December 23, 2011

red is beautiful

in summer me and my sisters lisa and laurie would take mom’s old yellow faded out bedspread and lay it on the brown lawn
we'd lay out in the sun pretending to be white girls getting a tan
look at how fast I tan lisa would say flipping her hair back and forth and back and forth like a blond woman in a breck shampoo commercial
laurie and I rolling and laughing hysterically on the lawn
but secretly I would push my hair back at the top my forehead
I had blonde hair too just like those women on tv
I could be white around the forehead
besides mom told us the other day that our great great grandfather was from Scotland
all of us sisters could be white if we wanted to
but we were black
and black was beautiful like the revolutionary chant we heard on the tv and the street all the time
black was bold and beyond basic
we would never be blonde like our Barbie dolls in our Barbie country camper that we all bought together with our collective allowance plus a few quarters and dimes
they had plastic bodies and even more blonde plastic hair
black is beautiful
yellow blanket with black girls changing color in the noonday sun
skin turning red like a peach sitting on the top branch
and it just don’t crack