working the clay
what is it that's not being said?
is it the news is not really news?
is it because the knows only hype the no's?
the eyes only look the other way?
real truth about the greed that robs,
that felons our schools, cutting funds,
no real facts like the two keystone state judges
pocketing bribes from pennsylvania prisons
in return for
long term sentences foisted on unsuspecting young...
could this be the source of our collective discontent?
you driven to distraction as I am, Miss Daisy
by weapons of mass distraction,
the painted mask,
over a grisly world scene
sensed away from outrage
cajoled away from action
what is it that's not being said?
could be capitalism
democracy remains a spoken token?
children kill children in our streets
politicos kill education
smoking guns, class war heat
what is it that you're not saying,
don't look the other
mickey mouse is not your savior
is your clay
sculpt young brother,
Last poetry workshop for the day
In Juvey Hall,
A staff teacher catches my
attention, gives me a small blue stickem
with the name of a student and his cell block:
in unit 400 would like to share a few
poems and get feedback”, it requests,
So I walk into the bowels of this youth jail
The teens are settling in to an early lunch
The goblins of loneliness lurk in the shadows
the witches of time drag on clocks' second hands
time, second hand mud moving at minute hand speed,
I find the young poet after crossing two
The guard tells me I can stand in the hall and talk
with the ward after he unlocks the door.
The young black man sits on a mattress
with text books framing the opaque window
no toilet, no bedframe,
no fresh air, no hope in his young face,
styrofoam lunch waiting on his prison bed
and I can't remember him? which class? which campus? which time?
reads a breeze through the trees poem and I shine his
words because I am praying for him.
His face so young and I don't want to know
what his crime is,
the crime is that it is Halloween
and he is not out in freedom enjoying being young,
I ask him to read the poem again and it is good.
He has a unique
stanza form on the page,
and I tell him I like his creativity.
He reads another poem and then asks me if
I'd like to hear a poem from his favorite
I say yes and he produces the collected verse of Langston Hughes
I tell him I'm in the Langston Hughes Poetry Circle
and he nods. He reads the poem Little
Old Letter after
hopping off the bed and moving to the door
so I can read with him and help him with words,
he tells me he reads this Langston poem
over and over,
I taste tears when he reads:
felt so lonesome
since I was born black,
feels like he is my son,
50,000,000 black angels
50,000,000 black Middle Passage Angels
perch on my shoulders shouting
and my jail blues son shows me another
book he likes
we talk about poetry,
I tell him we are more
alike than different.
I tell him I wish society wasn't so ignorant.
I ask him to hold his palm up.
I hold my palm up next to his
palms up we are the same color,
him to put his palms down
and I hold my palm down next to his.
Why does society call attention to palms down differences
I protest - - when both colors
I flip my palm up again and he mimics my motion
Now we are the same color again.
He asks me if I will visit him again?
I tell him I'll come back next Friday...
We shake hands same colors touching
contrast colors smiling
Langston Hughes approving,
goblins of loneliness surrendering,
I tell him if he will write in this tiny room
will get bigger,
I tell him if he will read in this studio room
it will get bigger,
I tell him if he makes this his writing room
he will grow and the room will grow
and this poem about a letter that takes a life
will change to a poem that gives new life.
I ask him what classroom
I've taught him in,
he says I've never been his teacher but
heard about me and wanted to meet me,
and one more time poetry performs a miracle,
one more time poetry transforms,
and I am humbled in the presence
I don't understand,
but I know for sure spirit
poetry spirit waits... to dance with you.
Jim Moreno Fall 2008
gripping thorns: for jennifer
you say I’m not an
because I disagree with this
two bloodless election
coups (except for the innocents slaughtered in haiti,
iraq, and palestine), small p president―capital b, capital s bush.
but I say my dissent is when I’m most american,
when I disagree, when we disagree with him.
we are most american when we shout out in dissent,
like thomas jefferson, like john hancock,
shouting out, declaring freedom,
under threat of hanging be hanged.
out like John Brown,
deploring the suffering
shouting out like Crazy Horse,
bravely fighting the slaughter of his People,
fighting the theft of his land by this same
United States government who had him chained,
then bayoneted in the back.
his people hid his body,
and no one knows where Crazy Horse is buried.
shouting out like Sojourner Truth,
wishing she could have saved a thousand
more slaves, if only she could have
them they were slaves.
shouting out like
how the whip drew his
blood in rivulets, then
rivers, his screams
shouting out like soldier
of freedom Harriet Tubman
whispered with hopes
of the People,
humming freedom songs to
her iron will insisting, demanding
freedom, freedom, freedom,
say click clack, underground railroad track,
shouting out like Rosa Parks, that she
was just too damned tired for anymore of Jim Crow,
that she would take a stand for little brother Emmit
and keep her seat.
shouting out like Jane Fonda exposing muffled cries
of Vietnam’s babies, echoing genocide in valleys of torture and death.
Shouting out like Angela Davis insisting on sweet freedom,
echoing cries of outrage from the strange fruit pen
of Ida Bell Wells…
I say I am an
American echoing Dr. King’s dissent
a patriot with great love for my country.
say I am an American echoing Dr. King’s
great sadness at ignorant, arrogant leaders
who miss the mark framed by founding fathers
at the Second Continental Congress.
say I am an American and I know where Crazy Horse is buried.
he’s buried in the soul of the unions who fight for a living wage.
he’s buried in the strong hands of black brothers who built this country
he’s buried in the strong
backs of brown brothers & sisters who harvest the food to feed this country, brown brothers & sisters who cry, “si,
se puede!”, with sweaty, homeless hands.
he’s buried in the minds of weary soldiers who refuse to obey orders that betray freedom.
he’s buried in the tears of the kind mothers whose children die in
the Middle East.
he’s buried in
the outrage of grieving fathers who buried their war dead sons
as this blue-blooded president nixed press coverage of their return
( a thousand flag-covered caskets are bad for the president’s image,
he’s buried in the insult
of families bathed in sorrow, who have not seen
their callous president attend one funeral of our over 1,000 killed.
Crazy Horse is buried in the brave hearts of men, as Dr. King said,
who fight injustice anywhere knowing it affects justice everywhere.
Crazy Horse is buried in the smiles of brilliant women
who live, love, and work equally with men.
great warrior Crazy Horse is buried in the sweet breaths
of slumbering children who trust us to create a world
will allow them to awaken
under warm blankets
with stomachs strangers
to hunger, with minds secure,
momma and papa are living in full democracy
from violent oppression.
I know where
Crazy Horse is buried,
I know where he
Crazy Horse is buried
Crazy Horse lives in you...