streets still torn
mattress-filled dumpsters
lining construction site
houses one in ten redone
the haves still standing
tall and beautiful streetcar
reminds me of my childhood
in Brazil where jumping
on was the mode of transportation
men hanging off the sides unlike
here where tourists and workers
ride enclosed and people cross
the tracks unaware of each other’s
sorrows we gather with our loved
ones, missed so long embracing
grand kids not the tourist traps
that want our bucks a wedding
for the magazines jazz band
marching to some forgotten loving
way to jump the broom a culture deep
a way oppressed now displayed but still
not honored my heart is broken open
sweet grief and joy mingle down the
river walk and bourbon street spills
neat beating to the dance of our family’s sweet feet



should I listen to the rage against Obama
or Donald or Hillary or Bernie,
a new bra, the great multi-bajillion dollar
invention of a millenial girl-woman who is poised
to cash in on our future, one that seems less
likely by the day, or the horror of an overheated
globe, Cornell West spiritually ranting about poverty
or maybe some cute dog licking a baby

is love the licking dog or brother West?
Does my love mean i have to be kind?
Should I cut out the cuss words that
apply to Donald, am I trumped by what
i know to be true? Am i to blame for
the trouble here or is there no blame
at all and I am meant to be about my Father’s
business, and minding my own, aware that
my heart lives in the same house as my treasure
am i laying it up in heaven on earth or have i helped
create a hellish place my thinking tinged with the ignorance of our times

who is god but us collected all of us every
one of us, from bees to genes to girls and boys
what shall I fight if it is all me? how to proceed
in the greater truth of BEING, BEGIN
bathed prayer that quiet of the deepest listening,
lest i forget and like a pharisee start to beg in the street
looking out and up as if the Kingdom had not made a home in my bones

Lament for My Tribe

my poet tribe was taken so
quickly I missed the ending
that stripped me of warm communion
the sun never came out again but
i kept expecting it to rise
like it had every day of my
former life yes i found my
truest love, stole away
with her yes the ice had
gone out on the lake down
to the bottom churning
all beings in a vast and new
turning toward Spring sent
to bring new life, but this birth
now feels more like death

days when i wake to unexplained
tears my heart breaks for the loss
i paint the relief i hope for…
old tribe members remember me
putting my feathers back in place
maybe even touching my face
knitting my arms and legs back onto my torso
we will sing ourselves young again
sitting by the fire of our recently
flamed embers knowing that
some trees never grow again
they just lie protruding and still
in the lake a hazard to speeding boats
but nothing more quietly drowning
with their heads just above water

my native ancestors felt this genocide
even now those indigenous to the suffering of being
original people are hunted for the last
places on earth to be exploited maybe
that is at least part of my bone grinding sorrow
as the church ladies ask for donations of old
clothes to send to American Tribal people
imprisoned in poverty and disdain
even now when the sun is rising through
fog the weeping still comes easy
alone and in hiding my daily prayer
a wish to more than survive
find passion again and one other
member of the tribe unclaimed
by disease and the need to assimilate
for daily bread may we trust
the very creator of earth and stars
please send me one tough sweet
wandering bard who escaped the
cleansing not just ethnic but epic

I Fall Into This Well

(what can I say, I’ve been listening to Rumi)

what could i have been thinking
searching day and night for something
to ease my hunger, pay my bills
i demanded teach me to pray
you said come here and listen
what would you like me to do i asked
you said dive in strip naked beeeeeeeeeee

a burning bush was not your voice
the last train to Georgia did not
carry you to me, but right here
after i jumped into the well from
which i came and kept drowning
there your arms were swimming with mine
speaking to me from my own breath and beating heart

you said die and together we are life, let go the
the rope and bucket let our emptiness fill the universe