Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Shadowboxing with God (2006)

You've been shadow boxing with God
and lost
looking for a way out of egypt
but stopped at the water cauze you had no boat
Prayed for manna from heaven
and got mad cauze there was no gravy

One of these days, you're gonna get real tired, friend.

tangled in a net you cast
that blew back in your face and covered the whole of you
east of the Jordan river
with no catch

You've been shadow boxing with God and lost

Trying your best to scale the path to the mountaintop with no rope
Wandering through the wilderness with a cracked compasss
Praying for rain with no umbrella in hand

Be careful, brotha
as you test the waters like Peter and then look down
and find yourself drowning in your own fear
praying then looking around nervous that somebody might hear

Cauze one of these days you're gonna get tired of getting knocked out
like Sugar Ray Leonard
Bruised like Tyson
and bewildered like Ali

and recognize that a handshake is must better than a fist.

Necessity (2005)


I thought that Mammy
Was a memory
Of a woman I never knew
A great great grandmother
That did something a long time ago out of necessity
But not me
Not me in high heals
And $300.00 suits
And boots
Not me with a degree
And private schooling
Not me, miss I’ve-moved-beyond-just-Black-to-beautiful
And yet
I am beginning to suspect
That Mammy left her place in time and followed me one night
Exchanged her soul with mine
I struggle as I find
I am there to open doors so that
others can walk through them.
Prepare and serve meals
I will never eat
Share thoughts that become the blueprints for empires
And yet I cannot be trusted to lay the foundation
Of my own house
I am first to come, and last to leave
I turn the unthankful
Into something new and clean
And yet when the guest list was created for the blow out party
My invite was lost in the mail

Your underestimation of me should make me laugh, but instead I cry.

I rest on the shoulders of beautiful black women
Who did what men thought was impossible
Who picked up the dirty plate
And washed the linens
Made the plate into knives
Linens into ropes
And ropes into ladders
leading them to escape from inoculated ivory towers
The world watches, amazed
by what a black woman will do
out of necessity

Even You (2005)

Even You

blood spilled
On the outskirts of a Baghdad
Women in white linen are
Cloaked in a heavy garment of solitude
A mother
Runs to clutch her lifeless child to her chest
Holding for what seems to be an eternity what is left of a hand
Once small and sleeping
it used to clasp her swollen breast
Now the breast is
reticent and red
and full of rage
at the twenty four year old solider from Georgia
who was not looking to be a hero
just looking for a way to be an engineer
and now has mastered the art of war

And men say it is in the name of freedom

Tonight, having mastered the art of war,
A stately room somewhere outside of Washington
A finely crafted pen
Drew a line in the sand
And called it
A defensive action
Nearly five hundred eyes
Looked on
And hundred more lips
Remained mum
Their scream stolen and hidden behind their breath

And men say it is in the name of freedom

Tonight in the shadow of a stolen scream
somewhere east of the Sacramento River
A child’s fate was sealed
With another pen
The ink called sacrifice
the battle called the budget
the victims: those who will not fight back
with the glitz and glamour
and a little fanfare
the American Dream
has been signed away

And men say it is sacrifice.

Tonight in the afterglow of dreams
Somewhere in a county in California
There is nobody answering the phones
Nobody to listen to the calls for help
From the homeless, the seniors, the youth
Who are begging for
The I need/ we need/we all need
Fathers/mothers/mentors/records expunged
A hand to pull us away from a lover monster’s fist
A flu shot, a diaper, a bus ticket, a case manger, a doctor,
A home
A child waits for help, but they have sent all the workers away

And men say that it is in the name of sacrifice.

Tonight, a child has become a male, but not a man.
In a city outside a suburb
young life is flowing into the streets
In mourning of his life
And liquor bottles
Become mosaics
to his end
gone before he could finish the cell phone message
is mama I love
On the other side of the mirror
Sits a Samson
Without his hair
In a prison cell
Making things he will never own
Knowing he will never buy anything again except time
And even that is out of stock

And men say it is in the name of justice.

Tonight justice has retired for the evening
And hope is perched
Somewhere on a big beautiful church doorstep
Where a homeless man slept
And well meaning parishioners
Hurried, fearful, and overwhelmed to their cars
Thinking to themselves that Jesus knows my heart

And men call it faith.

Tonight faith waits
Somewhere inside apartment 123
a young mother weeps
because yet again
another man has bruised her heart
as well as her body
with false promises
and left the table
only after the plate was bare
nothing is left
not even for his sons

And men call it love.

Tonight the sons of God have gathered before him to offer their love
Yet, somewhere, just outside of
But not close enough to earth
Mary’s daughters are weeping
And weeping
Their tears thick like ink
Curdled like milk
Hot like blood
Enough to fill the oceans that create the distance between them
And men say it is in the name of sacrifice.
And men say it is in the name of freedom.
And men say it is in the name of faith
And men say it is in the name of love.
And men say it is in the name of God.

But is God listening to the sounds within the world, one must wonder, what on earth is it that He hears?

Yet somewhere
In a place called Calvary
In a small clearing
Before a scant crowd
Four stakes were driven into the soul of God
And tears were shed for
Our failure to be
All the things we name
And tears were shed because
Jesus knows the hearts of men.

And still,
God says,
“ But I have called you, even you, by name.”

Saturday, November 19, 2005

after dinner (2005)

after dinner
reflections on a couple dining in a thai restaurant

too brown not to love
in honor of memory
but too black to be a beautiful
paisley print queen

not ethereally ethnic
but decidedly so
and it excites and pains you all the more

i step out with a calling
dance in rivers
stand before giants
slaying them all

i bathe in daffodils
delight Delilah's daughter
with the desire's inspiration
then, I am
an earthen bowl filled with sun fed grapes
that were never raisins

my toes through oceans
step into the light
and become it
the craved image of my lineage
i never launched a 1000 ships
but brought each one home to a foreign land
their memory harbored safe in my breast
and yet

wanderlust lover,
it is never enough
for you.

no matter how coordinated our love
I'm just
the wrong shade of the rainbow
for your wardrobe to match

if i were...
tawny with tempest curls
a ruddy restless russet
a breathtaking beige
a butter pecan tan,
but i am

bittersweet brown
a magnificently coveted but avoided dessert
which is too rich for your palette
and you're too poor to afford

michelle milam

the beauty that souls wear (2005)

The beauty that souls wear
for every woman in the world

In the stillness of time
some women wear it as their signature piece
that slides on easily, as if it were made to fit
never, ever, resisted by
or weight fluctuations
or the general fall of youth
like autumn leaves to a snowy ground

this beauty is found

it glows with the effervescence of bright mornings
a cuba

this beauty is in motion
it is the meringue, the two step, and the bump
a melange of stevie wonder songs covered in jazz and a touch of poetry, behind the congo

this beauty
and flows with the smoothness of
sweet waters rushing
as soft and lilting as a lover's praise
as he admires his flawed self in woman form
and lives to drink her breath

it is the last thing to go before
nothing is left

and avoids the controlling gaze of a photographer's eye
this beauty is one that cleanses, uplifts, draws in, draws out
of the water
and like moses,
it causes unlikely love
that bring miracles to bear

this is the beauty that souls wear

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Faith (2005)

(For those who tell me to keep writing)

Last night I cried tears of sorrow for tomorrows
That some of my brothers, sisters, mothers, lovers and others
Will never see
A constant wound is taking in the whole of me
Shrouded in something too intangible to name
But to real not to
And I find myself asking why the ways of the world
Don’t move as they ought to

We sell each other down the river
For a 30 sheckles and a red bandana
And quiet room discussions are shadowy
places where the tongue becomes a bullet to poison the mind
That seeps into the spine of time
And stays there, lodged in our collective soul
Threatening to paralyze all that absolves
Of us our darkside
Here, everyman is out for himself grabbing for what little integrity he can find
And selling it
We drink the blood of others to make ourselves whole
And call it the way things are done

Last night I cried tears for all the years
I’ve pushed
and pulled
and grunted
and labored
to no avail.
Battled against a pervasive evil I cannot see, because it was always
so much bigger than me
But can still hear it lurking in the quiet rusty moments just before dawn
Last night I self medicated on serendipity, vacillated between hope
And futility
Struggled against the enemy inside of me
And came out clean

And I realized
that in the ultimate scheme of things
This is not just conspiracy theory
But conspiracy of the soul
Where the power of truth is thwartred by an evil
So deep that it covers the pain of
Our own indifference
And separation of the spirit from the source

Just as bodies are always in constant motion
I am in this constant struggle
Of struggling
That is bigger than the smiles of those who
Skim my skin and use it as a coat to cover that rainy day parade
And those who turn my curves into horse’s heels
I am a shining brown stallion, beautiful, but not behaved
Rewarded only when I am tamed and prim
Steady and dependable, perfect
but not quite human
And ultimately disposable

I am uncomfortable at parties
Where I’m invited to drink wine with wanderlusts
Great Gatsbyish gallant porches
When I am one of the few allowed to enter from the front door.
Respected, but not really.

Not really.

And that realization sets heavily with me
With the coarseness of a thick glass hitting a table

I pick in the
And those who look like me but just hate me because
I am a mirror image of their most hated center
The mother of their constant winter
And me the pleaser, serves them a conciliatory punch
That unwittingly hits them in the stomach
As I try to smile and nod
Crisp, attentive and ready to serve

They mistake my service for a minstrel show
Virgin faith, for naivety
The battle is not only rages outside but within me
Keeps me living on the edge of who I believe I could, we could be

We are in a battle
That we cannot buy our way out of, retire from, or grow out of.
We are in a battle that does not accept credit, take holidays or long weekends.
We are in a battle for the soul of humanity
What is,
Verses what we can be
Yet in this battle, the outcome is already known
I guess the truth is the devil is in the details

And I find myself struggling in a liquid pool
Of lucid light, fighting a battle that is not mine to fight
But knowing there is no other choice
But to be still, crawl up in some green soft field and die under moonlight

But tonight
I realized that
In a moonlight street over a Mississippi
In a quiet room off Hoffman Blvd.
In a spacious loft in Soho
In a country house in outer Atlanta
And in hotel on the outskirts of Rwanda

There is hope
Swirling around in a glazy blue flask
Ready to be guzzled until at last the last drop is to be had

Somewhere someone has given their gift with the world
Even if it is all they have
Somewhere men and women stand naked before one another
Bruised and beautiful
And only look each other in the eye

There is a good that triumphs the pontification
And the axis of evil is named for what it truly is:
our hurt, fear and pride
Refusing to believe the truth
that surpasses all the evil things collected from the wasteland of the human soul we glean

That faith is the substance of things hopedfor
The evidence of things unseen

Michelle Milam