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.

Lauds

Sunday, 26 April 2015

This morning, my dog and I caught God
trying to sneak through the city like
a man skipping Mass in search of a drink.

He still filled the sky and his steps were
like the echoes of an empty hallway.
My dog just wagged her tail but I

shouted at him:
I SEE YOU, OLD AFRAID MAN!
He didn’t turn, just created a dirty rabbit

which he threw over-shoulder at my dog. 
I don’t know if my dog or the rabbit was
more surprised. The rabbit dissipated 

using natural rabbit-magic, and when I
looked, so had God. The city whispered
an antiphon: Kýrie, eléison.

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.

New Psalm 9

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The black hands of the Lord
	pressed to the ground
The black ear  
	upon the earth
The black lips
The black belly 
The black body
	uncomposed

The Lord
	covered in crows
	pig-truffled
The Lord
	honey for flies
	a locusts' feast	
The Lord
	a black harbor
	a tomb opened
	in smoke

And 
canisters of 
bone and 
blood - munitions
on the evening news

There
on the ground
behind the cameras

The almond-palmed hands
still filled with clay

Neuroma

Monday, 11 August 2014

Where
there were words, once.
each right syllable grown
into a song heap, now just
a lighter square on concrete
where, flood-soaked, the jeweled ink 
ran that day

   an amputated decade

the mind assumes
all is still there
where you left it
no vacancy, no
absence, just
muscle memory from
an implacable cortex

   do not permit
   broken parts to forget
   wholeness.

Looking for familiar symbols
in invisible ink. Writing
again with the off hand.

Yes, even now
my heart still 
skips like adrenaline stones 
each time I'm thrown across 
her wake
each unanswered chip of water
asking
where 
it all went.