MUSIC: LISTENING TO THE OLDIES

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There’s a reason why it’s still here

       That “old” music, emblematic of all our firsts

History,  instrument-etched

       Rhythmic scorching guitars

Saxophones – longing or lucky

       Pianos running us up and down

ranges of emotion

Bass and drums defibrillating

beatless hearts

       All spooning with words

That led us in that timeless

       Continuous dance

Along the Watchtower

       Among the purple flowers

In that Purple Haze

       There’s a reason for “oldies stations”

Sanctuaries for melodic reminders, telling us

       Passion, its usefulness, is deathless

As long as humans prevail

       “Old–school” music will continue

Demanding answers to questions

       That should have been asked

Of the past

THE PERILS OF BEING THE BEST

Rainbow Little Torch

I’ve been running for my dream
That started well before
The public even knew
There was someone to adore

I was swimming for my dream
Well before I was born
Who knew the heights that I would reach
The laurels my head adorn

I’ve been throwing at my dream
As you watched and tisked disdain
“She’s so big and unbecoming”
As if my goals were your domain

I’ve been fencing with my dreams
Assault by angulation
Beautiful balestra in hijab
Avoiding fearful imagination

I’ve been balancing all my dreams
On rings and bars and mats
Long before you got off your couch
To write uncharitable scat

Don’t shower me with bloodless praise
“I’m the greatest in the land”
And in ultimate compliment say,
I “compete just like a man.”

The Ghosts of Jr. High

Jr. hi sch

They advertise the old junior high school now

as luxury apartments.

A community of renters of classrooms now

better used as kitchens, bedrooms and

living spaces.

 

I wonder about the Feng Shui of old schools –

is there such a thing?

What about the sleepwalking renter who turns

down the wrong hallway and finds himself

at the mercy of the bruised hands of the bully.

He better keep lunch money in his pajamas

to soften the blows.

Bullies don’t die; they are the hissing saboteurs

that live long on the shoulders of the bullied. I know

I wonder about that old mattresses full of dirty secrets

from the musty storage area under the auditorium stage?

 

What about the science labs? All those electrical outlets?

To be used in the bedrooms maybe?

 

And the principal’s office? Those silent walls painted in a white

sadness faded gray with by the

hollow projections of success. And the chairs

just outside – chairs that held the scared &

waiting and the tears of the kid who solved

her problems with her fists, whose father

would do the same.

Ahh, those weighted 10 minutes felt an

unmerciful hour of despair – many times.

 What about the guidance office – off course for sure –

 sailing past abridged horizons of the disadvantaged

 rich and poor. The test scores that tell too little locked

 away from any potential help.

 

What about the cafeteria; that battlefield of emotion

all watched over by bullets and targets.

Fear palpable, quaking food trays

passing the cool tables. Hip A&F, Gap,

& old navy, establishing beachheads

waiting for dispatches from the

cute banana republics

shielding frightened dictators

in well-decorated spider holes.

 

And the gymnasium with its polished hardwood that

felt like stone when struck by the head.

What about the janitor who cleaned that

hardwood of blood that gushed

from your wound? Did he harbor sympathy

for you? For your victimhood? Or did he give

that imperceptible nod to an abuser’s covenant?

 

And what about the locker rooms and the gym

teacher who waved, back and forth, a

yardstick through your new Afro laughing

derisively in spite of her over-pressed &

outdated hairstyle?

 

And remember your heart breaking with all the pain

of a truth  that couldn’t be spoken.

 

On Sunday, there will be an open house at the old

junior high school that has been converted into

luxury apartments.

No need to go. I’ve seen it all before.

In the Kitchen of Memory

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Theirs are the young faces brightened

By the garish blue-light of their toys

They look up to cast wary, beleaguered eyes at us

“What do we know?”

We have left the living rooms to them for their disposal

Seated on comfortable sofas and chairs – our gifts for their retreat

We huddle in kitchens preparing healthy meals

For children who are no longer

And will have nothing to eat

As they rewrite their lives in 140 characters or less

Living on likes and bytes

No thought given to the time-capsule in the attic

The one that holds the baby clothes and tangible

Photographs of all their ‘firsts.’

And the trunk jammed packed with sheet

Music for instruments

They’ve forgotten how to play

Maybe they’ll want to explore one day

Like they used to

Sneak into the attic and see the Polaroids –

The young, beautiful couple beaming at their baby

“Who are they?”

They are the originators of your story

The authors who’ve shared the same pen

Picking up when one partner drifts off

Crawling away to heal the cuts

To hearts now cowering in kitchens

Licking the sweet spoons of memory