With Our Babies

put down your gun/pick up your baby
undo your collar/open up your arms
strip off your uniform/salute to your equal
unpin your badge/reveal your rib cage
dismount your Tomahawk/hometrain your tongue
swallow your mushroom cloud/civilize your crosshairs
put down your gun/pick up your baby

we hush children with full-clip seduction
check their fever with kerosene rags
dab runny noses with knuckles polished by crocodile tears
refuse to shed dead excuses
while our youngins killed in the line of duty

at the seance we must hold in atonement
I will enter the room wearing a collage of
drive-by camisole carjacked khaki pants
a ghettobird overcoat sneakers with Rodney King laces & neon heels
from my backpack I will pull bottles of holy water distilled at room
temperature a cassette tape of toddlers giggling at the silly jokes of
serious men & women a video tape of mothers & fathers smashing 40-ounce bottles & crack vials, whitewashing cigarette billboards & pimping through the halls of congress with rehabilitated lobbyists

my skin covered with a tatoo bearing the names of children starved by
forgetful recipients of affirmative action
my third eye a hologram with the shifting images of pie charts
comparing government welfare for citizens & corporations

in the rotunda where we must hold the seance of atonement
the voices of the despised children will rage along the curves of the
circular walls the indignant agonized sound shredding the protocol of NRA
mailings interrupting the remarks of the Senator from shadowland
shattering the goblets clinked in toasts of accomplishment challenging our
satisfied laughter

I can’t just hold hands in the dark
(something is wrong with our babies)
the seance is over
(something is wrong with me)

I put down my gun
my collar is open at the throat
my uniform is a pile of cloth at my feet
my badge has been spun into piano wire
my Sam and Dave tongue bleeds the music of Earth Wind & Fire
through the crosshairs of civilization I read the stones of a kaleidoscope

when something is wrong with our babies
something is wrong with me

I know I Aint Hip No More

I make eye contact
with babies on the street
look deep into their eyes

to catch my stares
they twist in their parents’ arms
ignore shouts against talking to strangers

messages link babyminds & mine
I think
mold their feelings into words

How can you make winds coo in my ears?
What shape is your smile in my eyes?
What place does love claim in my life?

I beam the babies’ priorities into my neighborhood
sprinkle talcum powder between warring adults
breathe heated massage oil into frozen egos

I sneak along deserted streets in your town
paste clown faces over Dewar’s Profiles
spray paint Benson & Hedges with infant smiles

I know I aint hip no more
I cuddle trends that could answer
Marvin Gaye’s cry
(save the babies/save the children)

I might as well be wearing red socks & highwaters
to a late 70s GoGo in Southeast DC
or wearing lemon doubleknit Sands-a-Belts
& clapping despite Sandman’s pan at the Apollo

clomping in two-tone platform shoes
& escorting a California Girl to a house party
or shading my eyes with a gangsterlean wide brim
& pumping up the volume on the Muzak Top 10

if microwave cool is the style
if the password is kneejerk ideology
if sweet talking power brokers gets me over

I know I aint hip no more
I know I aint hip no more

Son of Two Fathers
(for Richard May)

boy fractured
dangling like a wish bone between
DNA passion vows
lovers’ breath holy duty long goodbye
with each baby step
cross a border
leave a father’s song & shadow
diaper sagging under weight
of a name times three
carried by bow legs in search of a lullaby

sing father
sing step father
moan daddy
hum dad
blow pops

bow my adolescent chin to chest
listen for family in the brilliance of my heartbeat
blending lessons I learn in three accents
worry I am only
epicenter of wounded people
crucible of festering emotions
hope I can become
human moment fusing
into crisis resolved
moment stretched into lifetime
illuminated by one mother loved by two fathers

a son
one man’s biology
another man’s life work
a son
curious within flames of fear
mysterious as his influences

hungry son
poised before
doorway to resistance
doorway to love
doorway to celebration

turn the knob baby boy
turn the key my man
pick the lock homeboy
oil the hinges brother
cross the threshold son

man whole
I am the son of 2 fathers
my shadow same as his
my hello echo his
my voice (1st father)
my handwriting (2nd father)
“When I grow up
I want to be just like my father
& the man who loves my mother”

the future is work enough
without devoting my faith to yesterday’s loss
need to reach my horizon with now & then in harmony
child in me hold everybody responsible for the past
man I am say let’s do this now
make the rest of our lives solid as Lou Rawls on a blues ballad

as funky
boy fractured
as unique
man whole
as timeless
pain healed

walk with me father
stand with me step father
hug me daddy
know me dad
live in me pops

like I live in y’all
boy fractured
like I live in y’all
man whole
like I live in me
pain healed

The Ocean Is Ours

don’t be foiled or fooled by the zip code
the ocean is ours
the mountain is ours
the river is ours
the forest is ours
the sky is ours
anything less no
to anything less no
to anything less
than horizons & freedom & justice
& peace & humanity
day in & day out day in & day out
flooding the calendar with
holidays & democracy & festivals
& meetings & resolution
I’m down with that I’m down with that

don’t be tempted or trapped by the zip code
health is ours
wealth is ours
government is ours
law is ours
safety is ours
anything less no
to anything less no
to any murder disguised as deterrence
any whims disguised as policy
any mercenaries disguised as leaders
any theories disguised as gospel
any gossip disguised as science
day in & day out day in & day out
flooding the calendar with
baptisms & rebellion & ceremony
& protection & institutions
I’m down with that I’m down with that

don’t be stamped or seduced by the zip code
the second is ours
the minute is ours
the hour is ours
the sun is ours
the galaxy is ours

anything less no
to anything less no
to anything less
than food & shelter & work
& family & life
day in & day out day in & day out
flooding the calendar with
vigilance & fiestas & militance
& dedications & cooperation
I’m down with that I’m down with that