Where I’m From 2018
I'm from the cries of families/ sundered at our southern border/ while
Lady Liberty faces a filthy sea. / I'm from "all [white able-bodied well-off
hetero] men are created equal" and 'Here/ Puerto Rico, have some paper
towels!'//I'm from our Predator-in-Chief/ who brags about grabbing
pussy/ and mocks a woman who was sexually abused. //I'm from
countries we bombed or clear-cut/ or destabilized to get what we
wanted./ I'm from the Seven Deadly Sins/ confused with the American
Dream. //I'm from the whole Pilgrim whitewash/ our refusal to admit the
land we stole/ the Indians we slaughtered, the Africans/ we chained to
build our wealth. I'm from/ their descendants, gunned down on the
street. I'm from/ children ripped from their parents' arms/ when the
ship docked, at the auction block/ in the field. I'm from their blood and
bones/ feeding the ground I stand on.
One tells your future by your palm
One tells your present by your feet
One frees the current in your spine
One sets your pelvis straight & neat
One hears the lostness of your days
One reads your words and holds them dear
One needle-maps the ancient ways
That chi flows when the path is clear
One springs the lock of your dream
One shares the wisdom of the wheel
One stands steady as you scream
Witnessing a truth that helps you heal
One shows a pose to make you strong
One leads that pose into a flow
One says Let go when you are wrong
One loves you more than you can know
Cleaning out the middle
left-hand drawer of the desk,
I came upon this picture
taken several years from now.
Some of our clothes look odd,
and not all of us are there.
The strange thing is that I don’t
recall where this is going to be
or why we will gather.
I can tell somebody has told
the least ones to hold still.
They look frozen. The rest of us
stand tired and smiling. Family
features flow through our faces.
It’s hard to tell if one will be me.
Long Arm Poem
First my arm wanted to go to the house in Harlan but stopped at
the Pineville bridge. I thought I might get something from under that
bridge, a lump of concrete or a piece of glass but my arm went on and on
into the Tennessee hills, to that graveyard across the way from my Great
Aunt Fanny’s daughter’s house. And what I picked up was a clod of red
clay from the pile the gravedigger had made, “a right smart of dirt”
Fanny’s daughter told him, though she didn’t think he had made the hole
deep enough. He insisted it was just right, then told us, “There’s always
more dirt comes out of a hole than you would think could be in it.”