Thursday, February 14, 2008

The History At Home | 14. Love

In addition to my obligatory poem a day, I wrote the entire first draft of this manuscript at my first Cave Canem workshop ten years ago. I still love these poems - all 69 of them. (Enough to have self-published it years ago.)

Excerpts from 69 Love Poems, One Black Man

#2 B. taboo is a bucket of strawberry ice cream. We scoop it out.
Spend our afternoons with numb cold tongues
circling around scandal. More office romance. Over a cigarette,
my white co-worker confesses. She has felt your fingers

in her most intimate places. She noticed. Your Blackness.
Apologizes for her racism. Fervently, champions her political correctness,
blames her parents. Pawns you off on me. Arranges the chance encounter.
And that night, at the meat market, I watch you

dance. And I can not trick Elegba into paving a road
far away from you. Can not silence
Oshun's shrill melody carves rooms in my stone heart.
I can not fill these caverns with snow anymore.

Can not close my eyes and disappear
like a frightened child. The lightning shudders
even behind my eye lids. Gasps
between us. Those small rabid dogs howl.

Reality rips away her cloak. I am naked
before you. Trembling.
How much will you bid
to lift me from this auction block?


Aztecs drum
in the pipes

my heart taps its feet
in time. Running

toward blades
of euphoria.

I am afraid
my pulse

sprints to Huitzilopochtli’s pyramid
steps. Will taste the ragged edges

of hearts in baskets.


In the natural world
two positives repel

each other. What attractions
can we have other than

man and woman?
Is that enough?


Black Joke engaging
Grace of God*.

What stories flow
in dark waves

from your hold?
This alien shore

greets you
with no shackles.

Throw down your anchor.
I have Yerba Mate

for your soporific spirit.


Last night, you reached across the Ohio River,
placed the North Star on my tongue,

smiled benevolently, and snapped
back to the other side like a rubber band.

The river had large chunks of ice
cracking in the crisp night air.

You beckon to me.
I could fall through. Drown.

Beneath these rushing frozen islands. Currents
are Mississippi Delta deadly. Large as any

Atlantic undertow. Can you promise
this crossing will not water my lungs?

# 27

Love is rummaging through the attic.
Opening the box we put our Blackness
in, brushing off lint. Seeing
the perfect fit, flattering cut
tighter than skin. Each other's eyes
mirror critical and forgiving.


On your birthday, I embarrass myself
in front of our logical white friends.
Formality like cake candles. I shout out:

"Pray bruthas and sistas! Shout out!
Thump your brown feet against the floor!
Dance bruthas and sistas! Clap
your hands!
Cheer. Holler. HOLLER
and don't care what the neighbors might think about you.
Carry on! Bruthas and sistas. Carry on! Bruthas and sistas
Stamp your feet. Ululate a joyful noise! Give thanks!
Get down on your knees
to the Almighty for all we are receiving.
PRAISE! the holy mother
for seeing fit to bless him with this long long
free life. Humble yourselves before
each God
and every Goddess who has given
this old man
each of his twenty-six years."

To whom am I speaking?
Can they hear me?


Yellow grass

the birds are women
circling with knives

forks for your body.


His naked body, the colors of fresh
baked cookies. each mark, a sweet
delightful promise. wet packed
power riots under the taut skin

holding him together.

Sometimes, I salivate watching him
stride from the bathroom. Wonder
if the burnished chocolate pools will harden
when the sun turns us to archaic dusty

leather bound books.


Black pen bold strokes.
Into my cap. This tunnel of groovy
spirals. Saves your ink from drying.


Last night, I swallowed the North Star.
My lantern eyes opened to see you. Waiting.

The Ohio river rose up from her bed
singing fiercely. Rolled toward me. Naked

on the snowy bank, I stood
shivering with delight as she washed

a white cloth of centuries
spotted red with our bloodlines.

Sutured the markings of history's
twisting knife. In one Black man's

body, I found a skiff
in the words I love you

and rowed. Home.

* NOTE: on Black Joke was the name of a British anti-slave patrol ship. Under the command of William Ramsey, Black Joke was made famous for pursuing and capturing slave ship. One story tells of a 24 hour pursuit which resulted in the release about 500 slaves. Grace Of God was the name of a slave ship. If you follow the link above - you’ll need to scroll down.


Kellybelle said...

love your writing.
Hey, if you don't want to move to cleveland to work at american greetings, why don't you try to get the freelance hook up?

kellybelle from over at Field Negro's blog

Kellybelle said...

Do you know Kamillah Aisha Moon?

Christina Springer said...

Thanks Kellybelle! I truly appreciate the positive feedback. (And cherish, crave, yearn for constructive criticism, as well.)

Work for American Greetings? Hell, yeah! But, we just moved back to Pittsburgh from London, England a year ago. (Hubby's new job wanted him in Berkley or Boston - but we said, "No go, relocate our international asses back to Pittsburgh.) And I've still got some serious commutes since I'm still on the artist's roster at the Tower Of London.)

But - freelance? Could you clue a sister in? Hit me at svahairie at gmail period com. I'd love to know more! (Cause I am so tired of hand making cards all the time! LOL!)

Happy Valentine's Day! And much gratitude for taking the time to drop by.

Christina Springer said...

Oh! Silly me!

Kamillah Aisha Moon - I'd love to meet her. She seems to be newer CC. I'm from that first 5 years - when fellows were few.

I've been on a "mama hiatus" for 5 years. (Even though my time off tends to look like other folks daily.)

But - I've seen - loved her work! Thanks for calling my attention to it again today.

Ain't the day of life expansive? Glory!