Saturday, May 27, 2006

Civil Liberties

it ain't easy
being civil
when you're 'sposed to be free

the subject of opinion,
here is mine:
we are all human.
while this is a democracy
a nation of peace
can we teach what we don't practice?

our words: weapons of mass destruction

america, the beautiful brother
a coat of many colors
the joseph holder
with a vision of world rule

we cry freedom, yet the price is a souless sound
as it trickles from the eye

from fear, from violence, from oppression
of speech
that lisps
and orates

but your freedom has a price, they say, and it must be earned
so we struggle for this thing, that we are told
is ours to lose.

Peace: a universal human problem
Because the blood of baby boy with the tattooed neck
and the soldier are one with the wage
of sin

the wages of sin
is death
perhaps this is the price we pay for our freedoms

Shh. Still. Kill.
Our mission
to protect and preserve
protect our beautiful words
preserve our beautiful ideals
be they cellblocks, street yards, boarders, or nation states
and yet after we have had our words
not a beautiful thing remains

Truth is, we break our teeth on our words
and marvel at the ruins

Be accountable,
they say

Yet we are behind enemy lines everyday
footsoliders in a game we can't play
and have no chance of winning on our own
the thief comes to rob kill and destroy
yet it cannot make

Will we ever really learn?

that freedom is love
and it is free
for all those who accept
Him who paid the price

What is the price we are willing to pay
for our refusal to accept love
lay down our weapons
pride, ego, spite

For our desire to be right, we will lose our life

If we refuse to accept
neglect our inept abilities
we will be
accountable for every word uttered,
every act done

Am I the only one
or is it hard to be civil
when you're 'sposed to be free

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Rock

Got a pocket full of rocks to throw
but my burden is heavy
Beautiful Black angels
Regal ravens soar like seagulls
Call on God
But leave the devil to develop the details
Golden dreams and shell casings
Alliterative allegories litter the sidewalks
And I wonder when we stopped standing on the rock
That was firm
Rock House
Build your house on the solid rock
Or see it blow away with the wind
As the world turns taciturn realities become loquacious
Quiver and give it voice
Because we act like we don’t have a choice
But God revealed to me
That the sea is whatever it perceives
And on the solid foundation we must build our dreams
Or get swallowed by an ocean
That cares nothing of our stability
Everybody seems enchanted by the American dream
Golden gleams hitting the eyes, boom, superlatives
Feasting on the peak of a mountaintop
Still have not learned that our golden calves
Are what keeps us bound
Still looking to be found
And trouble is a willing bounty hunter

We marched in Selma
Like Jericho
Went from We shall overcome
To just say no
Glib slogans to disguise the fact
That as a people God is calling us back
Abandoned the church because
Some wolves hurt the sheep
Threw salt in our wounds
But if the salt looses its flavor
What good its it?
Did we not learn from Israel
God didn’t deliver us from the chains of bondage
To wander around looking for them...?
I think it is time for my people
To come back home, come back home

Got a pocket full of rocks to sell,
so my burden is heavy
Beautiful Black Angels in bondage
On the block
Live for the rock
Give for the rock
Put that on their unborn kids for the rock
Cry for the rock
Yes, die for the rock
Do anything to hold down the block
That we ain’t even bought
And don’t own
Trading the peace of God
For steel bullets to the dome
But I think It’s time to come back home

Although rocks weight pockets
Will those rocks hold you at night?
Pray that your soul take hold into flight?
Will it lay down its life for you?
Pay the price for you?

We blame God for His absence and shun his presence;
and all I got is the rock
Which I stand;

Yet vengence is mine, says the Lord
and who ever is not for me is against me
Said that he came to set the captive free
Yet how will he hear you if you continue to
Sell the devil God given free?

Guess what they say is true
The kingdom of heaven is within you
So many lost soldiers are still slaves
Think they getting paid,
I wish they could only see
That the rock, they need
the rock that is the source of your salvation and strength
But will you
Live for the rock?
Give for the rock?
Put it on your unborn kids for the rock?
Cry for the rock?
Yes die for the rock?
Give everything to hold down the block
That is already bought
And paid for?
Built for your hopes on what time and death can't take?
Yes, My people, before it is too late
I think it's time to come back home
Come back home
Come back....

Friday, May 19, 2006


(Photo by Ellen Gailing, for the MASK Healing Garden dedication May 13, 2006)

I release you from cages
for your love cannot be contained
True freedom is free

Beautiful English

I don't speak beautiful English
like all of you
she says
in sing song syllables
and breathtaking conjugation

Her eyes are rivers
her mouth the moon
she crosses the lands of her life
with stage presence
pirouette, demi-pliƩ,
sing, dance


her mother tongue glides deafly as it
swiftly as the coming moonlight
It is a hard love; ethereal, ethiopian
come from little, but made it into much
the stuff that Jesus taught with the fish that fed five thousand
This dream gives to all who are hungry
a mother could not read or write but made art
and built a business they said she would never
regal, persistent and clever

and yet,he scarred her heart
colored her Easter Sunday
with scarlet letters
this evil man has taken her mother
a careless thought
from a shriveled heart

and yet, God keeps.

For the pain she bore so deep
and for so long
the "I never told you to tell" song
echoes into cavernous ears

we see her
bright and gleaming
aching to act
stretched upon the screen
as another tries to unloose her dream
from its jar
by placing the lid on
the daughter of the country of the sun
said he wanted to make her the only one
and marked her
with the lit reality

she and baby flee
seek safety in the arms of
mama Italy
wander the soul of a world
knocking at each window
looking for someone to take them in
willing to work to win

and still,
God keeps

For one day as she sleeps
in a room of her own
she dreams of more
finds America in her heart
living in one room
working day and night
to open the door of the world for her son
for $6.75 she is the only one
bronzed beautiful siren
amidst wooden floors and tea lights
in a quaint Italian spot
she serves people from her heart
she shines in the light of a golden glow
usually reserved for old women;
it is wisdom and joy in living
and oh how her works touch

because when the business is
ready to be sold,
they ask her,
a the beautiful brown single mother
to assume her role
as keeper of the dream.

where will you go, her customers ask?
And then, an offer,
he loans her the means to glean the dream
and she agrees
will pay him back in four years

she does it in 13 months.

and still God Keeps

Her words dance and shine
more beautiful than a fluent speaker
because she means them
because she is them
she is Pisa, never falling
she brings the good news
to others with brown girl blues
beautiful blue English painting
the sky
the color of moon

Yes, God keeps.

Getting Away

The One that Got Away, Abstract - Michelle Milam

gone in spirit
present in body
in love
with the
letting it in
and out
quilting your questions
1000 different women
and still you are left with a common thread

Do you love me enough to love you?


It is time
to walk away
leaving you with
the tattered patch
Stop worrying about you being cold

But, truth be told
I was always yours to loose.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Getting Up With The Bruise

lent is
in my pocket
and I reflect
on the season
God, it's been so long
since you seen me and
I'm here
kneeling alone
against the power of the throne

can't live by bread alone
I got a
hungry heart
a full mind
and the blues
'keep running from the destiny you call me to
looking for myself in
other reflections
not withstanding direction
without a dollar to my name

Can you heal these blues?
Gut bucket blues
the kind that keeps you on your knees
getting up with the bruise

Can't love just bread alone
because it don't love you back
Got twenty eight dollars,
a dream
and faith
the art of persuasion

Stressed and blessed
a hungry heart
and a full mind

Been cooked
and hooked
on forbidden flavors
wondering if there truly is rest from my labors
wanting that thing
clandestine and far away
Can I be filled?

But the heavy heart is strong willed
that's why it sinks
it needs not dine
on fine wares
and wine
wondering if humanity is a crime
There is a resurgence of urgency
that we
have been set free
Gut bucket blues
the kind that keeps you on your knees
getting up with the bruise

The world breaks your bread
but God keeps on breaking
with Him less is more
be strong of courage
for he is your lily in the valley
of your darkest dream
and he makes you to lie in cool greens
He takes little, and makes it great
the dim dream bright
the hard whisper heard
just breathe
and meditate
on His word

He will heal your blues
Gut bucket blues
the kind that keeps you on your knees
getting up with the bruise

Monday, May 15, 2006

There's a Balm In Gilead

Scriptural Basis

For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt: I mourn; dismay has taken hold on me. Is there no balm in Gilead? is there no physician there? why then isn't the health of the daughter of my people recovered? Jeremiah 8:21-22

1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek ;he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3

I Still Believe there is a Balm in Gilead
Performance Piece

Written by Michelle Milam
Lyrics Adapted from the Classic Negro Spiritual “There’s A Balm in Gilead”
Preformed by Magenta

There’s a Balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;
There’s healing for the soul…
There’s healing for your soul….

Yesterday I saw her
The city they say never shines
The city they say never learns
The city they say will never win

The shadowed new Jerusalem
haunted by her stolen sons

but one
bright morning
I saw her;

the warmth of the sunlight
as it dances in the curves of her sometimes
crumbled streets
the sweetness of her young, but scarred feet—

Her brown
smoothed skinned men
cleaning yards in the Pullmans
Officer Harris smiling
as islands of potential, young and crisp
stand around him
in the afternoon
two men breaking ground
in communion
green fields welcoming the steps
of soccer players
the sounds of the blues
echoing through time
when we launched a thousand ships
and built a life in Seaport, Parchester, North Richmond
new foundations
growing from unyielding concrete
the nape of her lovely neck caressed
by children's laughter
the echoes of her heels
in the hands of women of praise

There’s a Balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;
There’s healing for the soul…
There’s healing for your soul….

I still believe there is a balm in Gilead
that heals the souls of
wounded women
and she is a walking wound
this woman; our city
our mother

her beauty is in her strength
strength rooted in her pain
pain rooted in her sorrow
from what dreams may come?

see her run?

She is a wanton woman
we love her unevenly
build her up to tear down
place on a pedestal, but what has she done with our sons?
Yet not one can save her,
except Jesus

she is a woman
who has fallen and traipsed through the throws of
and come up spring
beloved and battered
mother of all things
wounded from the loss of her children

daughters who are looking for her
through the wilderness of youth
sons on brilliant rims in souped up coups
looking for streets of gold
to walk run heaven all day

But I still believe there is a balm in Gilead
that heals the soul
that moves the mind
that bonds brothers
that mends hearts
that moves mountains
and soothes the ear

I still believe that the wounded woman
is the one God hears
like "Ishmael"
and that change is
more than
what is in our pockets
it rests in our hearts
is exchanged by our hands
and it waits on no

There’s a Balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;
There’s healing for the soul…
There’s healing for your soul….

There’s a balm
Yes, there’s a balm
You see, I still believe that
in the depths of the darkest valley
that we are not alone
and that pain may take up residence
but the heart is not its home

I still believe
everyday heroes
can be God's angels
reconciliation is possible
street solders can be street soul-jahs
and no kind act forgotten

I still believe that
we can learn
and win
and shine
through him that loves us
that the lamed and maimed
will walk the walk they said we would never

I still believe in the eternal letter
that says death is a comma and not a period
and that like the
wings of butterflies
we need only look and live
to heal the soul
of a mother
and a brother
and a city
that shines
on a hill
facing the source
of the light

There’s a Balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;
There’s healing for the soul…
There’s healing for your soul…

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Where Have You Laid Them?

Draft One....
Where Have You Laid Them?
Draft One....

Scriptural Basis:

Spoken: And He said, "Where have you laid him?"
Sung: They said to Him, "Lord, come and see."
Spoken: Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, "See how He loved him!"
Sung: Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying.
Spoken (unison): And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.
Spoken: And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me."Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice,

(Sung and spoken) "Lazarus, come forth!"

Spoken: And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go."

(A guitar with a sweet but complicating melody-- sounding like the islands, maybe a morocco, and a horn of some sorts, of course a base, and bits of scripture between the poetry.)


No barrier could hold me from your voice,
I come to thee , Lord of my choice
you set me free from sin i was bound
no longer dead, in you I have been found.

Shhh, baby...
he's sleeping
but mama is weeping
and babygirl is peeping
from the bend of her mother's leg
wondering why her superhero
is so still
She can't understand
him laying there
him: cornrowed and had not
Her: pigtails and forget me nots
the white sheets of his bed
are crisp, still, and silent like flags
but breath takes no breaks
just it only watches and waits
on fate
his blackness beautiful and bruised
as the colored sky

Such a waste, but why? (Sung)

the doctors say it is too late
the deeply knotted wounds of his mother tongue
have coiled into bitter, sticky, knots in the back of his throat
and he choked
on the half eaten hurt

The old people call on Jesus, but where is he?
Where is he as another soulja
surrenders to strife

and another is doing 25 to life
and another woman who isn't a wife
must explain to her child why daddy can't kiss her

No barrier could hold me from your voice,
I come to thee , Lord of my choice
you set me free from sin i was bound
no longer dead, in you I have been found.

Life is measured in electric moments
the blip of a screen
the touch of a hand
stifles screams of dreams
the meandering of the mind
as the soul searches for
a tendered moment
paid in full

and yet his mercies are new each day
the great I am
the song of our soul and our sorrows

Where have you laid them
the fallen superheros boxed in by their own realities
the black fruit fallen by palm trees
of beachy cities
we cry out to the earth
for all the sons that have run away home
only to find that they are lost
sons of stolen souls
stealing the souls of others to make them whole
Singing a song of sixpence
when will it, when will it, when will it end?

Yet, his mercies are new each day
He weeps for them, touches them, gently as a kiss

Permit even this
Yes, even this.

No barrier could hold me from your voice,
I come to thee , Lord of my choice
you set me free from sin i was bound
no longer dead, in you I have been found.

Savior, Savior
Hear my humble cry
don't pass me by
Don't pass me by

Don't pass me by
Don't pass me by...

Get up, young man,
Come forth young man,
Be still young man
walk into your destiny
for concrete has no remembrance, neither has it kin
Come forth young man
and to him

Walk into your destiny
for he sets the captive free

Be released
be renewed
be reborn
just be


Savior, Savior
Hear my humble cry
Don't pass me by
Don't pass me by

Do not
pass me by
Do not
pass me by
Do not
pass me by

Friday, May 05, 2006

Wade in the Water...Rough Cut... Part II

this is an audio post - click to play

Part Two...If you like this snippet, please buy the album and tell everyone you know. The profits help put kids into summer jobs!

(The sound quality of audioblogger is not tip-top! You have to buy the CD to get the crystal clean sound!!!)

Wade In The Water....Rough Cut.. Play first

this is an audio post - click to play

It ends short...part one

If you are so led, please purchase a copy. It benefits Richmond's Summer Youth Program.(The sound quality of audioblogger is not tip-top! You have to buy the CD to get the crystal clean sound!!!)