Wednesday, April 08, 2015

National Poetry Month - 7 of 30

What hasn’t met you – Elegba soliloquy 1

I drove the 15 hours to see my daughter born,
to hip her to the wind that that buoys sails
before – presumably – I’d drive back
and give her bridges to cross to get
to me – leave her the map by which she’d find
her father. But instead, I’ve found myself
here, among the flatness and the windsweptness
the bitter cold and the bifurcated city
holding my ear to the ground trying
for a clatter to lease for her first dance.
I’ve thought about being
a father before all this so I’d planned
some things – picked some colors out
and selected some tunes. If I’m real
I’ve always known it’d be a girl
too. You don’t spend your whole
life learning how to shadowbox troubles
to not have all the orishas get together
and dream up one last river for you to cross.
And the girl ain’t the troubles but the orishas
don’t bring you the war without telling
you how to suit up – showing you the armor
And so it is you end up, where you end up.

Call it Chicago this time and call the girl
Freedom, call her Savior, call her She who has been calling
from beyond the guf for many years, she who has
come to your dreams as the lover you couldn’t place,
whose face is always averted, who makes you chase
her in the rain.  So you drive the 13 hours.
From your window you can hear grackles,
cardinals, sparrows quarreling for dominance
over the boulevard’s early Spring offerings and you
want to wake the coughing child and tell her
about the sharp rhythmic claps that call pigeons
to flamenco above Brooklyn rooftops just before
sunrise – if one morning you were broken-hearted
and your woman recently moved out so you climbed
the ladder up through your ceiling and onto your own
roof just before the day breaks rakish into color,
and laid there and cried for the pigeons, the city
the water tanks on the roof tops, the Puertoriqueno
hand claps, like you knew you’d be leaving soon.

I want to tell her what’s in the 15 hours and why her Papa
chose the colors he comes to her in, like it’ll matter
to her. Like she’ll know better what love is, what mine
wants to claim every morning I climb into the dark
and come in search of her.  I hadn’t intended to stay.
I hadn’t intended to shepherd her citizenship of this
place.  I thought I’d teach her the names and spellings
of all the bridges from here to Brooklyn, and how to cross
them in order so she might arrive one day clutching a cigar
in one hand, a machete in the other and my name
like a grip of tulips coming from her throat.

You don’t drive 808 miles alone
without being  transformed, without devising
whole new schemes and reasons for why you’re making
the trip just 2 hours outside your destination.
You’d better if you hope to reach the new place
equipped for the new bullshit
a city tries to learn you while you’re searching
for its dance floors and séances
its Black folk and soul food
its bass and the new basements
you want to blue-light your ribcage

But that’s how you leave a city. Pile a van
high with things given you with kisses,
so high you can’t see out the back window
and take them 13 hours to some place
you won’t be recognized, until a girl comes
screaming into the world and looks immediately
for your chest, who coos into the songs
you’ve been saving for her. Say it like this:
like the old people have told you for years –
what hasn’t met you, hasn’t passed you –
you’ll understand that even as the principle
of the sound coming back around the same
groove of the same turntable whose needle
hiccups imperceptibly at the moment that was once
smooth. You’re grateful for that hitch
in your step, for the thunder of pigeon’s wings
whenever next you get the chance, for the girl
more patient than you with the morning
and the singing and all the telling you keep

dragging her toward.

To schedule a reading or an appearance please contact Ofer Ziv at Blue Flower Arts at 845-677-8559 or email


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