Monday, December 15, 2014

The Best Laid Plans (Of Mice and Men)

It was one o'clock in the morning and there were two things on the table in front of me; a slice of Lemon Pound cake and a white Apple bag containing a small gift. I couldn't really tell which one was pissing me off more, the Apple bag I was certain, was mocking me like a heartless kid in the Second Grade pointing out the one damn thing that I didn't want to hear. But the pound cake might have been worse. At least I knew why the Apple bag was upsetting me, the pound cake I couldn't quite figure out. We had always been cool, it was my favorite, in fact. Whenever I felt down I'd stop by and after a few bites it was guaranteed to cheer me up. But not this time. This time it was just sitting there uneaten on the plate, the upper edge of it curling like a savage half-smile or maybe it was just the way that the whole thing was shaped like an open mouth, a mouth that was laughing hysterically at my silly ass. Not that I maybe didn't deserve to be laughed at, but still. I was sitting there, shooting laser beams out of my eyes at the two of them. I had been there this way at least 15 minutes, which is a World Record for me to sit and not eat something sweet, especially if that something was the Lemon Pound cake at Bread and Butter in the Borgata Casino. Which is where I was sitting, boiling, boiling mad like a pot of water forgotten over a high flame for way too long. I was so incensed I had actually lost track of time, so furious I didn't even see my boy JS walk up and slide into the seat across the table from me.
"Yo Pitt, you alright?" he asked.
"I walked by here twice and you're just sitting here like this. I don't think I've ever seen you this mad in ten years."
"What happened?" he asked "You lose a big pot in the Poker Room?
"Something like that." I said.
"It must have been a really, really big pot for you to be this pissed." he said.
"Something like that." I said.
"Nah", he said," I seen you lose a hundred pots for big time money, it's got to be more that that."
"Something like that." I said.
He started chuckling, "Wait a minute, this is about that chick, isn't it?"
"Something like that." I said.
"You just don't learn, do you? He asked.
I sighed "Something like that."
"Of course!" he said, "What else could it be?"
He looked down at the table, at the Apple bag and the pound cake.
"What's this?"
He reached for the bag, opened it and removed the contents. It was a small gift about the size of a paperback book, wrapped with ribbons, a bow and a card with a woman's name handwritten on it taped to the bottom.
"Damn!' he said, "Look at us getting all fancy, ribbons and bows and shit."
"This is wrapped really nice." he said, "No way you did this yourself."
"I didn't." I said, "I got it done at Hamilton Mall."
"Hamilton Mall??" he asked "You rode the bus all the way out there just to get this wrapped? Or did you buy it out there and get it wrapped afterwards?"
"I just went there to get it wrapped.' I said.
He looked at me, "Either you're crazy or this must have been super important."
"Probably a little of both." I said.
"It's a little early for Christmas gifts, isn't it?" he asked.
"Yeah," I said, "It was for her birthday."
"She's working right now" he said "Why don't you go give it to her?"
"I tried." I said "She wouldn't accept it."
"Really?" he asked.
"Yeah." I said "I kept trying but she flat out refused and the worst part about it was she did that whole "beautiful woman trying to let a guy down easy thing" like I'm some kind of a moron who wouldn't know what was happening."
"Well . . . " he said "What would you prefer she say?"
"Do you want her to say "Leave me alone you crazy obsessed Stalker?"
"If she really thought that, then yeah, that would actually be preferable." I said. "At least that would be honest. I hate it when people try to bullshit me."
He looked at me like I had three noses. "You'd prefer that to what she said?"
"Of course I would.' I said "You can't have a real relationship with someone without honesty."
"You got to start somewhere, right?" I asked.
He shook his head a few times. "Let me ask you a question."
"Whatever", I said.
"What would it take for you to just leave her alone, like what would she have to say to you?"
"If she told me she was in a long term loving relationship, that would do it." I replied.
"Bullshit!!" he said. "You wouldn't give up then, that would just make it worse."
Now, I was even more pissed, something I hadn't thought was possible.
"Remember a few years ago when she started going with dude?" I asked.
"And she was floating around here, giggling like a schoolgirl who had discovered true love."
"Yeah" He said, "I remember that."
"OK", I said, "What did I do then?"
He thought about it for a second. "You told her you were happy for her."
"Do you think I was lying?" I asked?
"No." he said, "Stupid maybe, but not lying."
"Did I keep trying to talk to her?" I asked.
"No." he said " You backed off, I guess you got a point, but I can't imagine caring about somebody THAT much."
He picked up the gift and turned it over in his hands.
"If I know you" he said "This is some kind of book."
"Of course." I said.
"You and those books" he said.
"Must be one hell of a book, what is it, a Bestseller or something?"
"No," I said "Nothing like that. It's not what you think it is, this whole situation isn't really"
"Well' he asked "Why is it such a big deal? Why not just return it or give it to someone else?"
"I can't return it" I said, "It's signed to her personally with a note from the author."
"Really?" he asked "You went through all that, getting it signed and shit?"
"Yeah." I said.
"Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids." he said chuckling.
He turned it over again and looked at it. "You gotta let me see this book, it must really be something."
He reached for the ribbon as if to untie it, I snatched it from his hands.
"Whoa Dude, chill!' he said.
"You can't open it." I insisted.
"What difference does it make?" he asked, "She doesn't want it anyway."
"Is it some kind of secret?" he was grinning.
"No" I said, ""Nothing like that. It's not at all what you think it is"
"Well what book is it? He asked.
"Hand me your iPhone." I said.
He put it on the table, I picked it up, typed the Book and Author's name into Google, then hit the first result and handed it back to him. He read the entry silently, slowly moving his lips, then began scrolling down. All around us slot machines were making their merry C Major rings and chimes, and the voices of the other people in the cafĂ© became audible to me for the first time. he scrolled down to the bottom, double tapped his phone, then re-read the entire entry. He then looked up and scratched his head.
"I don't get it." he said, "What dude buys this book for a chick?" "It doesn't make any sense."
"I mean of all the books you could buy her, why this one? Is it that well written?"
"I don't get it." he looked at the screen again "What's the big deal?"
"I mean is this the right book? This is the book you bought her?"
He turned the phone towards me so I could read the screen. I nodded yes.
"Really?" he asked again. he turned it back towards himself and slowly read aloud.
"A Question of Freedom: A Memoir . . ."
"That's it" I said, "That's the right book."
"By Reginald Dewayne Betts" he finished.
"Wait a minute, I've seen this name before in your Facebook comments, you know this dude."
"Yeah." I said "He's a good friend."
"So you wrote him and asked him to sign it and everything?" he asked.
I nodded yes.
He laughed.
"Seem like an awful lot to go through for somebody who doesn't really appear to care about you." he said.
"I mean, you say yourself that she doesn't know how to be loved. So what's the point?"
"Because reasons." I said.
"What's that song by Cuba Gooding's dad?" He was laughing again..
"Everybody Plays the Fool Sometime" I sang badly.
"Exactly." he said.
"But it's like a poker hand." I continued "You always try get your money in with the odds in your favor, but sometimes the other guy gets lucky and you don't win. That doesn't mean you don't bet." I said
"I don't know." he said "Seems like a longshot to me."
"Look," I said "If you care about somebody then you care about them, it's not like you can just hit a button and quit caring."
"I know" he said "But it's been years and things are still the same."
"Yeah" I said "But if you believe in somebody, then you believe in them, just because they don't know something now doesn't mean they can't learn it eventually."
"You got a lot of patience." he said "Definitely more patience than sense."
"So what happens now?" he asked "What's Plan B, you just gonna sit here and be mad forever?"
"Not forever" I said "The Buddha said that walking around angry at somebody is like grabbing a hot coal to throw at them, you just end up burning yourself."
"Good thing you're sitting." he joked.
"It is what it is." I said
" I don't know yet." I paused, "I'll think of something eventually."
"Well" he asked "While you're thinking, are you going to eat this slice of pound cake? It's making me hungry . . ."

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits 3 DEC 14

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Follies 28 NOV 14

Someone asked me why I think Bill Cosby is a rapist. I asked them given what we know, what are the odds that he's being falsely accused? They didn't know, so I calculated it for them. To be "fair" to Cosby lets only count the 14 women who were willing to accuse him under oath. Also to be "fair" to him, let's assume that the rate of False Accusations of Rape is the 40% that some Men's Activists claim it is. (I'm not endorsing this number, just trying to be as fair as possible.) To compute the odds that he is being falsely accused we would need to multiply .40 times .40 a total of thirteen times. This gives us 0.00000268 which we multiply times 100 to give  .000268 which is the percentage chance that Cosby is being falsely accused. Or to put it another way, given 14 independent accusations of rape and a 40% chance that any one of them are false, there is a 99.9997% chance that Bill Cosby is a rapist. I understand that math is hard for some people, so feel free to read this as many times as you wish. And if you continue to defend him I'll feel free to give you as many sideyes as I wish. Because now you know. 

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Follies 21 NOV 14

Eye stinging wind-
NYC man shot 
stairing while black

Ebb tide
almost too far out to see
Daddy's ashes

Grammar Lesson-
The blood of a black boy 
lays in the street. 
It does not lie.

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits

November rain
suddenly far straighter
her hair

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits

So I got this app that lets you make comic book or graphic novel type panels and I've been playing around with using haiku and Senryu to create graphic poems. We'll see where this goes. I really like the above poem and the picture of Warhol helps make it work, in the original poem Warhol's name is in the title. 

One thing I don't like is that the Captions don't let you use Caps or Quote Marks, so I'm not sure that the fact that this is a song title comes through. 

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Follies

Wind turbine-
She loves me she loves me not
she loves me

 "Girl, he called me again last night" she said to her girlfriend sitting one seat beyond her, "but I'm not going let him know what's up yet. "He's fine, but you know how boys be doing." Her friend nodded and chimed in "Tell me about it, you let them know how you feel too fast and they be trying to take advantage."
 I was riding a New Jersey Transit bus out to Hamilton Mall on a semi-crowded bus that included these two young women, one of whom I recognized as a Cashier at an AC casino on the Strip, maybe Resorts or Revel. It was Summertime and the sun flowed through the bus windows like water through a hole in a ship, giving me plenty of light to read "The Northside" a hardback history of black folk in AC written by the same cat who penned "Boardwalk Empire." I had just glanced up to check the progress of the bus as I have a long history of missing my Stop while reading, sometimes not noticing until the bus reached the end of the line. I wasn't easvesdropping but caught that last snippet of conversation and turned to face them.
"What's up Poker Player, you all right?" she said to me, recognizing me from my frequent late night cash outs after poker sessions. I remembered her name as Adena.
"Aint nothing' I responded, "Just going to the Barnes and Noble"
"I see you over there all lost in that book" she said "Like you aint know nobody."
I laughed, "Yeah, I get like that when I'm reading, the whole world disappears."
"That must be a good ass book then" her girlfriend chimed in.
"It is." I said "It is, it's about black folk in AC going way back, by the dude that wrote 'Boardwalk Empire."
"That was a book?" she asked.
"Yeah" I said "But I haven't read it though."
"I watch the show all the time." her girlfriend said.
"I watched the First Season." I said
The bus groaned to a stop to discharge an elderly woman and a toddler.
"I see yall talking about boys." I added
They both laughed "Of course" she said rolling her eyes "What else would we be talking about? You know how yall do."
"Do you want some advice?' I asked her.
"Yeah, whatever." she replied.
"I think you'd be way better off letting him know how you feel up front."
They both looked at me like I had just suggested that they ride butt naked on top of the bus in a blizzard.
"What?" she said, "If you let a boy know how you feel right away he just gonna try to play you like a hand of Spades"
"Uh Huh" he girlfriend cosigned.
"Exactly!" I said.
"Huh?" they both said in unison, "You bugging, That don't make no kind of sense."
"Actually, it makes the most sense." I said.
"I aint gonna just sit there and let somebody take advantage of me." she said.
"Exactly!" I said again.
Now they looked really confused, like I was speaking Yoruba or something.
"Look" I said "Any dude that's trying take advantage of you is a predatory asshole who isn't somebody you want to be in a long term relationship with."
"Of course, that's obvious." she said.
"So," I said "Why not find out right away, before you invest a bunch of time and emotions into him?
"Once you peep his game you can just bounce."
Her girlfriend objected, "But they only going to try you if you let them, if you show them you aint going for it then they aint going try that with you."
"Not at first." I said, "But an asshole is an asshole, it's going to come out eventually."
"I don't know" she said "It's different for yall than it is for us"
"Sure" I said "But look at it this way, is communication important in a relationship?"
"Of course!" they chimed in harmony.
" Is trust important in a relationship?"
"Of course!" they chimed again.
"So" I asked "Why you starting off with a dude not being honest in your communication and not trusting him?"
The bus hissed to another stop.
"Well, once you get to know him of course you'll be honest then." she said "But you gotta see if you can trust him first."
"Yeah", I said "But what kind of foundation are you setting? And anyway how a person acts when they think they can get away with something is who they really are." 'Why not find that out from Jump Street?"
"You crazy" Her girlfriend said "I aint going out like that."
"Ooh girl, look." Her friend pointed out the window.
"What?" Adena asked, craning her neck.
"Two people over there minding they own business" her girlfriend said.
We all busted out laughing.
"Wasn't you reading a book or something?" she asked.
"I was in fact." I admitted, "I was, but my stop is coming up anyway."
I stashed my book in my backpack and uncoiled my six foot frame.
"I'll catch yall later."
"Bye" they waved.
I ambled off the bus and turned my head to avoid the dust clouds following the bus down the highway.

About nine months later, I was leaving the Revel Poker Room to cash out my remaining $26 from the $400 I started with. it had been a brutal night and I was exhausted. I waited my turn in line with my eyes closed and then slowly pushed my few chips through the window.
"You must have had a bad night."
I looked up, it was Adena, the girl from the bus the summer before.
"Bad?" I said "Bad would have been an improvement. It was brutal."
"How have you been?"
"I'm good" she said smiling her work smile.
"How did that thing work out?" I asked.
"What thing?" she queried.
"With that guy you were talking to." I said.
"Oh, him?" she said, "I been done forgot about his sorry ass."
"He was cool at first, but for real he wasn't shit, just like most of yall."
She smiled.
I laughed, "How long did it take you to find that out?"
She looked down and away, "Too long" she said "Too Long!"
"Anyway I'm seeing somebody else now."
"I was just talking to my mother about what you said on the bus." she added,
"At first she agreed with me, but then she thought about it and said maybe you got a point and she wished she had thought of that when she was younger."
"And what do you think?" I asked.
"Both of yall crazy" she laughed "Both of yall!"
"But I'm going to keep it mind."
"Alright' I said as I faced my bills and walleted them.
"I'll catch you later" she waved.
"Later." I said, turning away and heading towards eight hours of dreams (where maybe I could actually win at a session of poker.)
"Next!" I heard her yell as I rounded the corner to the elevator.

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday Tidbit

Hot cinnamon bun-
That skyward swirling
Of her hair

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Reading today in DC

You won't want to miss this! I'd walk barefoot from AC to DC to see this lineup even if I wasn't on it. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Spark of Magic

Took what was supposed to be a weekend trip down to James Madison University for the Furious Flower poetry conference and it turned into two weeks in the DC area helping out a friend on a contracting job. At Furious Flower I got to hang out with a bunch of poets I hadn't seen in years and cop a bunch of new books. And somewhere along the way I got my mojo (and my Muse) back. Check it;

Mike Brown's body-
The neighbors slowly
trickling out

Ferguson Missouri-
The asphalt heats up
Mike Brown's blood

Mike Brown's body-
My son's full lungs
as we embrace

Ferguson October-
The lingering redness
of fallen leaves

Evening rain-
How quickly the grave
is filled

Blood moon-
Same boy prone in the black street
different name

Rain drops-
Mom's fingerprints leftover
in the flour

Her mouth-
Alarm-red roses
glossed with dew

over Brigantine Inlet-
Her left eyebrow

Shadows boxing-
by firelight

Staring into
an Officer's flashlight-
Full Moon

Flashing lights-
How many times will I
fit the description

DuPont Circle
A black Queen sways
in the Autumn wind

I forget the color
of her eyes

Ferguson dusk
The shadows of the body
longer and longer

My hands on the wheel
Their hands on revolvers

Autumn dusk
My son misjudges the ball
early stars

TV screen flickers-
The feathers of a raven
belie its caw

Lines of clouds
my latest poem

Cars crunch acorns-
A blind woman listens
in the crosswalk

Blood Moon-
The round fullness
Of her lips

Pausing to watch
two deer in the road-
Hunter's moon

Half Moon-
An old couple shares a
spoon of Gelato

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Late August Post

Long time no post, there's no one reason why really. Mostly it's because I've been spending more time Advantage Playing certain slot machines, something that requires me to move around a lot from casino to casino, which means a great deal of walking. Thus less time spent sitting and contemplating and less time writing. Time management has never been a strength of mine, every Report Card I ever got in school said "Does not use time and materials wisely." I have stuff I want to write about including a short, short story, but I need to sit in one spot for hours to do that. And I haven't. Also, so many things going on in the world, bombs in Gaza, the invasion of Ukraine, casinos in AC shutting down, Ray Rice and Janay Palmer in an elevator on video, the white sheet that covered a brown boy's body for hours on a hot street in Ferguson MO and the following flames that made everyone hotter. So, so many things. Including the nagging feeling that I should be writing about more of those things. My recollection of Ruby Dee reached 100 views faster than anything I've ever posted here and the truth is that my prose postings get way more pageviews than the poetry, although the haiku and senryu don't do too bad. I have written some ku and ryu since my last post here;

Late August-
Stopped by the road's only red

but under this umbrella-
August sun

August morning- 
Dad's hairline receding
in my mirror

Another orbit
Now fifty-two flickering 

Round and shining 
On the desk -
August Moon

Gaza dawn- 
So many red marks
on my Lesson Plan

Changing the channel- 
Yet again
Gaza explodes

Bit by bit 
The cake disappears from
the urinal

A few of these may even be worth keeping. I also had a birthday and got three awesome completely unexpected gifts. My birthday isn't really a big deal for me and until I joined Facebook I would sometimes miss it until the day after. But Facebook makes it a big deal with all the birthday wishes so you know it's coming. What I didn't know was coming though were two anthologies I have poems in, both of which I was really excited about. One was "Red Reads First" an anthology of haiku and senryu from participants in the Head to Head Haiku Slam held every year at the National Poetry Slam and now the Individual and Women's competitions as well. As a two-time National Champ I was invited to participate and was eager to read the work of the many poets who won or competed in the years that followed. The other anthology is perhaps the most important publication I've ever gotten, inclusion in the 2014 Best American Poetry edited by Terrance Hayes. I've known since January that I was in but the books arrived unexpectedly the day before my birthday. I often get my mail at the Borgata Business Center (long story) and they call me when stuff comes in, but when I got the call this time I couldn't figure out what it could possibly be. The reading for Best American will be in NYC in late Sept. and I expected to get my contributor's copies then. So their arrival in the mail caught me off guard. And one of the copies is a hardback! That was a really pleasant surprise. I may have even celebrated a little. Then Showboat, and Revel closed, two places I have many fond memories of. At Showboat I'll really miss the Earl of Sandwich deli with their great sandwiches and fresh brownies baked with Ghiradelli chocolate. Many of the restaurants in Revel had great food and when their poker room was open I ate there probably five days a week. The food was so, so good in so many places. Of all the casinos that closed though I'll probably miss Trump Plaza the most, because I spent countless hours in the Starbucks there reading and writing. It had both chairs and free Wifi and was the only Starbucks on the Strip that had both. I probably made more Blog posts from there than anywhere else save the Borgata. The Plaza also had one of my favorite neon signs in all of AC (pictured above), it was a huge sign above an escalator that lead down to Pacific Ave and I never could figure out why it was there. It wasn't the name of a current restaurant or club on the premises, maybe it was leftover by a previous show or something. I always told myself that I'd ask, but never got around to it. I had to ride the escalator four times just get the shot right. But it didn't matter, how ever many times it took, I was going to ride it and get the shot. I'm a patient guy that way. 

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It's Gonna Be a . . .

Finally got my mojo back after a long dry spell. I think I have a short, short story in me too, if I can ever sit still long enough to get it down.

Fourth of July
The steady pop pop pop
of the rain

Second date
My car already parked
in her garage

Earl Grey
and me

Yoga on the beach
her Afro slightly matted

my glasses
half full

Manhole cover-
The ring around
Her right eye

Incoming waves
the white curls of a woman
on the beach

Casino sunrise-
A security guard's eyelids

Pistachio shell
with no seams-
Her pursed lips

Empty clam shell-
The doctor says
False Positive

Ivy greens a wall-
Her unshaven legs

A fifty foot shadow

Monday, July 07, 2014

Summer Madness

Summer lightning-
That blonde streak
in her hair

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ruby My Dear

I remember it was not quite Winter. I had tumbled into a car with Kenny Carroll and Brian Gilmore to trek to Philly, to the Painted Bride Arts Center. We were there to remember, to honor the life of Toni Cade Bambara. I remember so many famous writers in the room, on the program. Sonia Sanchez, Toni Morrison, I think Alice Walker was there. Amiri Baraka, Eugene Redmond, Askia Toure, Gaston Neal and so many others. The room was packed with writers, poets, people young and old. I was sitting down front and I remember an older, very beautiful black woman sitting just behind and to the side of me. I remember because she was thumbing through a book of poems as though searching for something. A book of poems I did not recognize. She thumbed through it with a familiarity that one only has when one has written the book. I remember that I couldn't see the cover of the book, couldn't see the name of the poet. She looked vaguely familiar, some Philly poet I thought. She was wearing a simple skirt, a simple many colored blouse, her hair wrapped in a long, very pretty scarf. She could have been anyone's mother or grandmother sifting through a book of poems. I remember the program was long, so many writers rose to testify about Sister Toni and her impact on their lives. And after several hours of testifying, all the famous writers had finished. I remember that they opened up a mic on the side for people from the audience to speak. The woman who was sitting behind me got into line and waited her turn to share. And I remember that it was not until she reached the mic and opened her mouth to speak that I recognized her, reading softly from her own book of poems. I'm not often stunned, but so much grace, class, and humility would stun anyone. Goodnight Ms Dee, I'll hum a little Monk for you.

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

National Poetry Month 30/30 Haiku/Senryu

Well it's NaPoMo and I usually do 30 Haiku/Senryu for the month. But for some reason this year I just haven't been feeling it. I'm not sure why, but I just haven't been writing. Part of it is that I've sworn off writing certain kinds of love poems. Part of it is Frankie Knuckles dying (which for some reason really hit me hard) and some other bad news involving the health of some close friends. I actually only met Frankie once, but it was memorable for a few reasons. Over my DJ career I got to spin with quite a few legends, including Afrika Bambaataa, Red Alert, DJ Kool, Little Louie Vega, DJ Mandrill, Sam The Man Burns, Terminator X, DJ Frankski and a few others. But two of those occasions bookend my career and were very similar experiences. In 83 at the start of my career Bam came to DC to play at a club called the Zoo where I was the house jock. Bam was already a legend, but DC wasn't into hip hop like that and as a result no one showed up. When I say no one, I mean no one. We didn't have a single paid entry. So me and Bam and his Record Boy (a young CCNY Sophomore named Rick Rubin) spent the whole night listening to records. Basically it was Bam quizzing me and then playing shit I had never heard before. It was the best education a DJ could ever ask for. Bam was chill, he didn't trip off the lack of a crowd, he just played records for us and we had a great time. He asked me if there where any records I was missing from my collection and I told him how I had never been able to find "High Powered Rap" by Crash Crew, Bam whipped it out and told me the story of why the record got pulled from all the stores. I never forgot his magnanimity and graciousness. Years later, in 1992 just after I had quit spinning I got a call to ask if I would play with Frankie Knuckles at Traxx in DC for Howard's Homecoming. I was done spinning, but I wasn't passing up that chance. I was just there to warm up the crowd and watch the system for the House, but Frankie was mad cool. Like Bam he travelled with a gazillion records, many of them rare. At one point he asked me what was the first record I ever bought, I said "Cuba" by the Gibson brothers. He goes through his crate and pulls it out! I hadn't heard that joint in 15 years but he cued it up. We talked music and how he accidentally invented House Music and lots of other things. He was mad cool, at one point he pulled out a white label copy of Whitney Houston's "I'm Every Woman" (which wouldn't be out for another six months)it was a DJ's dream gig, hanging out with a legend and talking music. For a cat of his stature he, like Bam, was very gracious, just a really cool dude. It was an amazing way to end a career, a night I'll never forget. But usually this kind of thing spurs me to write. I haven't been reading as much either and really have no excuses for that. I did attend Split This Rock in DC to do the Black Rooster Reading and that was the bomb. I also went to Pittsburgh to read for the launch of the Electronic Corpse anthology which I have some work in. And I've been asked to read at the Best American Poetry 2014 event this September. That's obviously a really big deal since you have to have a poem in the anthology to be asked to read and they only ask a few people out of the hundred or so who are included. That will be an exciting trip to NYC for me, for sure. Hopefully I'll still get my 30 poems in this month, but right now it doesn't look good, my Muse appears to be on strike.

April morning
flatness of the Atlantic-
Every page blank

Until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Tuesday Tidbit 1 APR 14

Wharehouse echoes-
Frankie Knuckles
final groove

Until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Poetic Tweets for NPR 2014

For the last two years the National Public Radio program "Tell Me More" hosted by Michel Martin has featured poetic tweets during the entire month of April to help celebrate National Poetry Month. If one wants to participate one merely needs to include the hashtag #Tmmpoetry in the Tweet one wants considered for the program. The Tweets are read aloud (twice!) on the air. Both of the previous years I was lucky enough to have one selected. So, below find the ten Tweets that I thought might be worthy this year. 

Polar Vortex-
The hole in my sock

So little snow
so many flakes

Union Station-
In each other's arms
on the steam grate

Lighthouse beacon- 
The burnt orange of her lips
through the fog

Don't call it a comeback
We been here for years-
Hum of cicadas

Razor wire-
The creases in Father's
Orange jumpsuit

August heat-
The kink in the rope 
between her teeth

August afternoon-
A drunk tongues
an empty bottle

February First-
Shoveling a path to
the grill

Chess tournament-
A boy moves from his
father's shadow

Red light-
The car locks popping
as I cross

Until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits 11 MAR 14

Not John Henry-
New sign on 
the Office door

Spring Cleaning-
Leaping up to dust
the top shelf

Between the hangover
And the blackout-
Cherry Blossoms

Heavy flurries-
Opening the door to
a blank page

On Friday I posted a haiku about a friend's recent cancer diagnosis and as poets sometimes do, forgot that all of the context that was in my head wasn't on the page. Sorry if anyone thought the diagnosis was mine and I appreciate the concern. 

Until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Friday Follies 7 MAR 14

Doctor says Stage Four- 
Coffee darkens a napkin 
then tablecloth  

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits 4 MAR 14


Summer sunrise-
The casino refills 
the ATMS

Walking backwards
Across the parking lot-
The Crab Nebulae

his name in black granite
Sliver of moon 

Manager's Office-
The telephone cord

Harvest moon-
A tight skirt waves
at passing cars

Red light-
The car locks popping
as I cross

Wide river-
Thelonious brooding
in the darkness

False eyelashes-
Wiper blades fill
with snow flakes

Lottery Balls-
Snow flakes on a bay breeze

Until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Friday Follies 28 Feb 14 Review of new Ballys poker Room


Morning tide
Wave after wave after wave
the schoolbus departs

Slice of pizza-
A Boardwalk seagull gives the sideye

Boardwalk sunrise-
A dab of butter on my bagel

Bare Exposure-
She removes all but makeup for money

A single long braid
her spine 

So little snow
so many flakes

Ten degrees-
Exhaling clouds
he bums a cig

Dear John Letter-
The ocean retreats
comes back again

April morning-
The Storm Drain clogged
with cherry blossoms

Polar Vortex-
The hole in my sock
saying Hello

Spring morning-
Following the butterfly 
on her ankle

Went to check out the new poker room at Ballys. While the one room is very nice, the space is spread out and they have more tables than there is likely to be demand for. The player base for poker is shrinking in AC due to all the new rooms in surrounding states and unless they have a plan to bring players back to AC they are going to wind up with a lot of dead space. A reasonable estimate is that they can double the action they had in the upstairs room in the months preceding the move. As hard as Dan and Julio are trying to make this room work there are signs everywhere that the executives above them are morons who don't understand poker, its culture or how to make the room succeed. A room this big needs players and things like Destination Tournaments, yet there is no evidence that they have any scheduled. Casears used to have a WSOP Circuit event, it was their one destination tournament, but if they plan on having one here there isn't a single ad or flyer or other piece of evidence that attests to that fact. Secondly, they put in a new gaming pit in the Wild West near the poker room that doesn't have a Craps table. It's almost impossible for me to explain how stupid this is. When some poker players lose, they often go chase their losses in the pit. The two most common games that they play when doing this are Craps and Blackjack. The Borgata has the highest grossing poker room in AC because they understand poker players, when you walk out of the Borgata poker room the first gaming table you see is a Craps table. This isn't an accident, they know that poker players on tilt will often head straight to the Pit, and Craps is the number one destination. Another example of how stupid the Ballys management is, is that I had a Security Supervisor almost throw me out of the room because I was sitting on a dead table. I've been playing poker for over ten years in AC and have never heard of this. In every poker room I've ever been in guys sit on dead tables while waiting for a game. It's a normal part of poker culture, I was also told that players would no longer be allowed to have people sit behind them while playing. These are bad signs for a new room, the Revel poker room failed in part because of similar missteps when they first opened. It doesn't look good for this room either, throwing people out for sitting on dead games is almost like saying you want the room to fail. Overall I'd say if you played at Ballys before,  you probably will continue to, but if you didn't there's no reason to start doing so now. 

Until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

February 2014 Haiku/Senryu

Union Station-
Asleep in each other's arms
on the steam grate

Northeast Direct-
The loudest thoughts
in the Quiet Car

Check Out time-
Even the geese head towards

Cafe Car-
More mustard in the mustache
than the mouth

Full moon-
the smokestack's eye

Typewriter Blues-
Only the empty clacks
Of boxcars

Penn Station-
An exquisite hand
on a column

30th St. Station-
A pretzel with mustard
and diesel smoke

Two Trains Running-
She puts her boyfriend on hold
for her husband

Desert stones-
The face of the small boy
Crossing them

Dunn mistrial-
What might be a shotgun
In the distance

Light flurries-
The salt clumps
in the shaker

Valentines Day-
Saving the last Kiss
for morning

February night-
A heart shaped crater
on the Moon

Two clouds-
Her arm in his

Snake Eyes-
The Pit Boss scans
The rail

Wind gust-
My Funnel Cake in
a Sea Gull's beak

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Here Comes The Sun

The cherry atop
My hot chocolate-
Her hair's red highlights

My blog passed 30k page views today, with 20k coming in the last two years. Switching up the format and posting more consistently helped a lot. I am probably going to start posting about more topics, especially sociopolitical stuff I'm interested in-stay tuned. 

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Litany for a February Day

Evening flurries-
A heart shaped hole
in the snowman

Until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Miss Prissy

Lighthouse beacon-
The Crimson blaze of her lips
through the fog

There are things I can abide, like frigid weather in January, or dealers who make mistakes, or people who put the toilet paper on backwards. But I will not abide a world in which you wake up and think you are unloved or unappreciated. And before you roll your eyes at my use of the "L" word, let me clarify. Love is a word that so many use and yet misunderstand. "Science" is another such word. People think science is data, facts, figures, charts. The distance from earth to the moon, the mating habits of the Wildebeest, the valence of electrons orbiting an atom of strontium. Science as a noun. But that's only a small part of science, those things are merely the by products of science. Science is primarily a verb, a method, a way of interacting with the world. But the interaction is more important than the data, in fact, if a new interaction contradicts the old data and can be verified, then the data is discarded. Love too, is misunderstood. People think love is a powerful emotion you feel for another person. But that's only a small part of love, that emotion is merely the by product of love. Love too is primarily a verb, a method, a way of interacting with people. Interaction based on mutual trust, mutual respect and honest communication. Thus, when a person says "I love you", they shouldn't just be describing an emotion they claim to feel, but rather making a statement about they way they have interacted with you. There is no electronic gadget that can verify if a person feels a certain emotion, but anyone can look back at interactions and see if they have been loving or not. They can lie (or be wrong ) about their emotions, but not about their actions. And so, knowing that, know this. That whether you speak to me or not, every morning I wake up and pray that this is the day that I get the chance to love you the way you deserve to be loved. 

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Full Mug

It was a Monday night in the Anacostia section of DC, we were three; Kenny Carroll, Brian Gilmore and myself, all chilling at the Eight Rock Cultural Arts Center that Kenny ran. We had a poetry group, the 8 Rock Collective that was named after the center. We were hanging out after setting up some future readings. Then Kenny's phone rang, like it had a hundred times before. I could hear that the voice on the other end was feminine, yet husky with a hint of smoke. It was also harried and pouring out of the phone at a quicker than normal rate. We only knew one woman with a voice that sexy and that was Toni Asante Lightfoot. Toni was a local poet who also hosted reading series, her last series had been on Monday nights at a now defunct joint called Soul Brothers Pizza. I often would show up there and read because the owner Chris would give me free pizza in appreciation for my poetic contributions. He knew me from my former days as one of DC's legendary DJs at the Eastside Nightclub. But Soul Brother's hadn't lasted. Now it seems that Toni had started a new Monday night reading to replace that one at a new black owned coffee shop in Georgetown. Tonight was her first night and she unexpectedly had a full house, there was just one small problem-while almost everyone there had come to hear poetry, none of them were actually poets themselves The only poets present were Toni and her friend Toni Blackman. So, she wanted to know if we could swing by and drop some stanzas until she could maybe round up another poet or two. We piled into Kenny's car and swung by. Not only was the joint full, but it was full of some of the most beautiful and well dressed Buppies that one could imagine. There was no room left to sit so we commandeered the stairs. One by one she called us up and we did our thing. We didn't know it then but it was the beginning of a vibrant chapter in the literary history of Washington, DC, a city with some serious history already, especially where black poetry was concerned. Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, Georgia Douglas Johnson, the list goes on and on. One would never expect an Open Mic night to reap such rewards, but this was no ordinary Open Mic. Jelani Cobb, Ta Nehisi Coates, and A. Van Jordan are just a few of the now well known poets and writers who were regulars. Now, jump across twenty years, the Mug coffee shop has long since closed and been turned into a swanky furniture store, but you can still catch a sip of its former flavor. This Friday Jan. 31st at 6:00 PM, the Kennedy Center will host a 20 Year Reunion Reading for It's Your Mug on the Millenium Stage. Toni will be the host and I'll be there kicking some old stuff and a new piece or two. Ernesto Mercer, Toni Blackman, Twain Dooley and Holly Bass are just a few of the poets who are scheduled to appear. You don't want to miss this, trust me, you don't. If you can't make it, the event will be streamed live and archived for later viewing here

And until next we meet, may all you potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)