Two Nights Only

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Check out these great pho­tos that Cleveland Public Library took while I was down­town this sum­mer writ­ing po­ems for their First Folio ex­hibit!

Free Poetry for Shakespeare

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The Cleveland Public Library asked me to come do Poetry 4 Free in the Eastman Reading Garden on a cou­ple of dates this sum­mer as part of their cel­e­bra­tion of the Folger Shakespeare Library First Folio ex­hibit.

I had fun — it’s been a cou­ple of years since I was down­town writ­ing po­etry on the fly for folks, but I pretty much took right back to it. I wrote 11 Shakespeare-in­spired po­ems in 2 hours. Folks could ei­ther give me a fa­vorite pas­sage, or pick from a few that I had se­lected.

Por ejem­plo:

Some folks had no idea who Shakespeare was, and oth­ers re­lated hor­ri­fied anec­dotes from col­lege. A few peo­ple just grabbed a quote and took off with­out let­ting me write a poem for them. Everybody seemed like they were hav­ing a good time.

When the Cavs Won It All

Sunday, 19 June 2016

What will I re­mem­ber about to­day,
in this city
that takes every punch,
un­flinch­ing, on our chins;
that rises up from every blow,
stand­ing tall, cut-mouthed
against the world?

I’ll re­mem­ber
that this day is like
every other day
this city work­ing dou­bles
while you slept on it
this city skip­ping va­ca­tion
to get the job done
this city, la­conic, in­tractable
where we bow to no king
no, not even our own
this city of re­demp­tion
where we al­ways wel­come our sons home

Today, to­day
is for 
                YOU 
to re­mem­ber:

this city can al­ways say it left it all on the floor
this city where every stand is a last stand
this city where we pull for each other, ex­change 
blood-stained grins
and sing loud­est for the un­sung.

You had for­got­ten
what we’ve al­ways known
Cleveland is the city
filled with cham­pi­ons
and to­mor­row, 
we get back to work. 

When the Cavs Won/​Lost It All

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

About a week ago I was con­tacted by Bill at Fox8 who had re­mem­bered my pre­vi­ous Fox8 ap­pear­ance about my Poetry 4 Free project. His idea was to make a piece about how Clevelanders were re­act­ing to the Cavs be­ing in the fi­nals & he wanted me to come up with some­thing that would help tie it all to­gether. I think he did a great job con­sid­er­ing he had to plan the piece to work for vic­tory or de­feat. Clevelanders tend to be good at that kind of plan­ning. Here’s the piece:

I also an­tic­i­pated the pos­si­bil­ity of need­ing two out­comes. My full poem is be­low. I only gave a cou­ple of hours to it, so it isn’t as re­vised as I would like, but I knew it was go­ing to be a small part of a larger whole, so I tried to struc­ture it for both co­her­ence and re­or­ga­ni­za­tion. I only had to change the first line of the last stanza to change the tone of the poem. Efficiency!

What will I re­mem­ber about to­day,
in this city
that takes every punch,
un­flinch­ing, on our chins;
that rises up from every blow,
stand­ing tall, cut-mouthed
against the world?

I’ll re­mem­ber
that this day is like
every other day
this city work­ing dou­bles
while you slept on it
this city skip­ping va­ca­tion
to get the job done
this city, la­conic, in­tractable
where we bow to no king
no, not even our own
this city of re­demp­tion
where we al­ways wel­come our sons home

Today, to­day
is for 
                YOU 
to re­mem­ber:

this city can al­ways say it left it all on the floor
this city where every stand is a last stand
this city where we pull for each other, ex­change 
blood-stained grins
and sing loud­est for the un­sung.

You have for­got­ten (or) One day you’ll learn
what we’ve al­ways known
Cleveland is the city
filled with cham­pi­ons
and to­mor­row, 
we get back to work. 

CLE HELPER BOT

Saturday, 6 June 2015

I cre­ated a Twitter bot named @CLEHelperBot. It retweets the hash­tag #WhereInCleveland. That’s all it does. What’s the point?

My thought process:

  1. I fre­quently don’t know where to find stuff in Cleveland. Stuff like gaffer’s tape, a de­cent tai­lor, an old-school bar­ber­shop, a date.
  2. How do I find peo­ple who know the an­swers to these ques­tions?
  3. How can I make this use­ful for other folks?

For the bot to be use­ful, two things need to hap­pen:

  1. Many Cleveland folks need to fol­low @CLEHelperBot and re­ply with an­swers to the #WhereInCleveland tweets it retweets.
  2. People need to use #WhereInCleveland when they want to find some­thing around here.

I’m try­ing to crowd­source lo­cal knowl­edge to help out vis­i­tors & res­i­dents alike. If you use Twitter & live in Cleveland, I’d ap­pre­ci­ate your help get­ting this off the ground.

Public Square

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Walk to Public Square,
while you live, and sing
the vic­tims

roughly shoved be­tween
lath and beam — the dead women — sealed in walls, scratch­ing
un­der the floor of Imperial
Avenue. The Seymour at­tic decade,
three women in chains 
a half mile from my home
the raped child’s rape child
on the same play­ground as my son

sit down on Public Square
while you live, and sing
the vic­tims

your fin­gers in the holes
left by one hun­dred and thirty-seven
po­lice bul­lets 
your body po­liced upon the
as­phalt so hard it stops
your twelve years of life
split open by a po­lice sidearm.

stand up on Public Square
while you live, and sing
the vic­tims

of men
of po­lice
men
of in­sti­tu­tions of
men, whose words
are worse than si­lence.

stand up on Public Square
and tear it down. 

At Lincoln Park Pool

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

de­spite the heat
ad­vi­sory, I brought my
son to swim. ninety-four de­grees
on July 4th and Cleveland has been
grilling ribs since 9AM
and bot­tle rocket blast­ing since
June 15th.

My son runs off — but Antonio,
thumbprinted mark of Cain
beshoul­dered, 
ever-bel­liger­ent, 
red­mopped stut­terer with 
metal-backed teeth — comes to spit self-con­scious
im­pu­dence. He may sway to 
full-bore bully in an­num
but now the ques­tion growl­ing in his seven-year skull re­mains
unan­swered. I fa­ther at him, a learned herd­ing, out­flank,
astray, askance, a thwart to de-rile his style.
Girls with fresh breasts, too shy
to show their bikinis un­der shirt, come 
tell me how cute my son is. Girls not much younger
take turns sit­ting on spout of foun­tain­spray, hands trick­ling
down…
ever all-pur­sued by some om­nipresent brown brawl of boys, 
stum­ble-tongued and
puppy-ea­ger.

And I feel my age as
the only par­ent here — adrift of vigor — cross-legged on a thread­bare blan­ket
palms flat into 
ground grit — A tart
mag­na­nim­ity, and all these young run­ning to be old. 
As chil­dren sus­pect we
with­hold — I clutch this.
It is right to keep from them.
The pat­ri­mony, my first
taste of en­tropy as cool lemon­ade. 
I died when my life be­came my child’s.
Already my blood 
only heats be­tween hot
con­crete and sky blaze. As some­thing done grown,
I watch this pack of grow­ing things.

A soggy neon el­lip­sis with spi­rals of wa­ter
flung as it flies. A poor throw brings 
the ball to
the feet of 
Antonio
and
the chil­dren all shout
his name. All shout his
name. A bend and I see 
fin­gers squeeze 
wa­ter; drops 
stut­ter pool­side, the metal
creak of the life­guard stand.
ALL shout his name.
A choice made but in­ept arm
be­trays — launched in the 
gen­eral vicin­ity of
no one. 

An erup­tion
of wa­ter and from the scrum sud­denly
the whole pool is play­ing catch. 
Old men and life­guards, my son
astride my shoul­ders arms aloft
and we all shout his name. All
brought to life for
what I’ll re­mem­ber as — amid sun and the shad­ows of lost dogs — the mo­ment
when
Antonio was king.