Old clothes hang on my bones that
Feel more mine than ever
Shedding dead weight so I
Won’t be late for my cue to
Walk through the door of opportunity
Excuse me as I strip my skin
Revealing what lies within
Patience is not wearing thin: my
Body is shrinking but my soul is
Expanding past the confines of the
Physical frame I occupy in the meantime.

From under the magnolia’s dark green leaves,
I saw Her. For the first time I recognized a face
Of someone who wasn’t familiar; I was
Comforted by a stranger. She showed me
A vision that would one day become mine.
I was 5; She was ageless.
We danced and told secrets and
I walked along her roots
Until the street lights came on.
Then I’d be gone, only to return to her
Branches’ embrace, coming to know her divine face
Day after day. Like it was my own. She told me that I
Was a warrior; She told me that I
Would never be alone; that my own roots would always
Guide me home; that my mind contained
Knowledge that I didn’t yet know; that through me
Healing love and creation could flow, in and out.
I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew She meant well.
I didn’t see her for many years. Until:
After 17 rotations of the sun, after thinking
All I was was said and done, She returned to me
In a dream. I was
Down and out, seeping self-doubt.
I looked upon Her face but saw my own:
She said to me
     “Come in through the leaves. Sit at my roots.
      Look at me: look at my blooming flowers that will soon wither;
      Look at my deep, entangling roots, that have held on for many storms;
      Look at my leaves, evergreen, but always growing.
      I am proof things remain but there is no way that
      You will stay the same. You will yield to change.
      To feel joy amid all the strange
      Is a feeling you cannot feign,
      A feeling foreign to your brain
      There is no way it will sustain. But, find peace
      Knowing that your soul’s moonlight won’t cease
      As the same light was never extinguished in
      All those who came before you:
      Your magic is ancient. Your roots are deeper than
      Any pain you may be feeling now. You carry within you
      A potent medicine, passed down to your in your life’s blood,
      From mothers, midwives, magicians, mighty warriors
      Who bore you, who birthed the essence of who you are,
      And are becoming yet.
      Like you, I, too, was once a sapling, just beginning to feel
      Our great mother’s earth, not yet knowing what it could offer.
      She ensured my growth was not stunted; that I was not lost in the forest.
      For every snap of a branch, there have been ten more that grew;
      For every season I went without, my blooms doubled the next.
      It is not in your mind’s eye now, but it will be:
      The day when you come to know Her as you know me,
      The day you fuse your old and current selves, to meet
      Who you will become:
      The past, present, and future selves as one
      Fluid transition to your newfound position
      Giving recognition to all parts: those without and within
      To strive, to seek, to dream
      May you never lose steam
      To achieve, to fight for what you believe
      To pursue all things with hope, all things
      With love, in service to below and above.
      Illuminating dark spaces, to seek familiar faces
      In unlikely places and cherish the embraces
      That you may never feel again.”
And She is gone. The coolness of the air, not Her branches,
Wraps around my shoulders
Much of what surrounds me serves only as a placeholder
For the connection that yields direction.
The signs and prayers could all just be deception
But is believing in something not better than despair?
It’s a game of Lotería, but it keeps matters fair
But magic and all is coming, with no shortage in sight
And I can change the course of fate if I will it.
Still, for now, the Fool’s fortune is greater than my own
What power can I possible conjure when I’m all alone?
I am left with only my intuition and sheer volition
That’s wearing thin, but I’ll search for more within
Even if nothing is revealed, even to examine my scope of field
It may yet yield all which is past and now healed.
I remember the pact we made when I was five,
But, oh, how much harder it is now to keep hope alive.
I’ll continue to dream
even when I’ve lost all steam,
even when the light narrows to a single beam.
I’ll continue to hope
even when the Universe says nope,
even when I’m seeing only a limited scope.
I’ll continue to pray
even if I don’t know if I’ll see another day,
even when the response is after much delay.
I’ll continue to dance
even if I’m not granted a deserved chance,
even if my moment’s magic fails to entrance.
I’ll continue to create
even if I share my art too late,
even if my efforts are met with hate.
Magnolia’s gaze reminds me of my earth’s view
This vantage point above it all
But keeping close to those I’ll care for
Nurturing with compassion and intuition,
Healing by soft light,
Providing others with gentle protection,
Remembering my ancestors’ loving lesson
Of rooting, and growing, from deeper within.

This poem was guided by my Mexican ancestors and by the magnolia-scented memories of my childhood. Root in make room for growth.
Shofi Ahmed Jun 11

Like a
southern song singing on a dream scene.
a smooth fairy dance facing the Moon
a thrill of exposing Stonehenge once and for all
a melodious raindrop in the serene pond
a butterfly dance on the rose
a turned on tall tale of the blue peacock
Like a pure belief in heaven without a pinch of salt!

As she comes through,
she went by.
This is America in the South,
it's full of terror and awe.
She claps the earth in fury
and pierces darkness
of the night sky,
much like a beautiful woman
illuminating a room upon entry.
She pours her heart out,
so I sit with her, drink and listen.
I hold my toast to the sky
while she cries out with furious ecstasy.
I used a little too much lime,
and it needs a touch more gin.
But she is not ashamed or disappointed.
She is divine.
And I am content.
It truly is the little things in life,
as they like to say.


© Derek Devereaux Smith 2015 - 2017

James May 25

I sleep with my window open
letting in the cool summer breeze.
It stormed today and the air is thick
and damp.
But the air feels good on my bare feet.
When I was a child we spent summer nights
sleeping on my grandmother's screened porch.
The only escape from the Alabama heat
was the wind after a thunderstorm;
softened by the pines outside
and the mesh screen that surrounded us.
The wind brought the night sounds
from the Southern woods and the smell
of a fresh rain-soaked earth sent me to sleep.

I smell that smell tonight.

I hadn't visited my cousin,
Seymour Weinstein,
In Tuscaloosa, Alabama for awhile.
So, I decided to go Down South
And spend some time with him.
While he was out Grocery Shopping,
I decided to take a nap,
When,
Suddenly,
Someone threw a big rock through the window,
And ran off.
Well,
I saw  a Police Station down the street,
And decided to walk down there to File a Report.
When I entered the station,
I was immediately questioned,
"Boy, are you a Jew?"
I responded, "But, yeah...."
"But nothing!" came the response from the Officer.
"We don't take Police Reports from Jews."
I felt a bit dazed,
"But isn't that unconstitutional?" I politely asked the officer,
But the response wasn't so polite.
"Get your kikeass out of her, Jewboy,"
"Or I'm gonna' have to handcuff you and lock you up!"
Well,
I didn't see any point in arguing with a Police Officer.
I guess Law Enforcement in this part of the United States
Doesn't serve Jews.
So,
I just said,
"Yes, sir,"
And I walked back to Cousin Seymour's house.
When I started walking back,
I could see that my cousin's house was on fire.
I had my cash and credit card with me.
So, I just boarded the Greyhound Bus,
And started heading back to Denver.
So much for the Deep South!

I buzz down Bourbon St.,
bar-hopping to and fro in pursuit of some
sought-after nerve.

I’ll pass street entertainers performing
various tricks and trades
and I’ll envy not their boater hats
filled with cash, but rather the
attention they command from mothers
and fathers alike, on-looking and inebriated.
                              Maybe father would’ve looked at me
                              with the same awe, had I donned
                              a pair of stilts or covered my body in
                              tinman silver, for his
                              failure to pay me mind
                              certainly wasn’t a result of
                              under-intoxication.

I digress. The thirteen blocks that stretch between
Canal & Esplanade Avenue host
a distinct pattern of storefronts:
                    Bar, strip club, bar, gift shop,
                    bar, strip club, bar, gift shop,

and so on.
I’ll stop in nearly every other one,
and the taste in my mouth
will start to remind me of the street’s namesake.

With a scant blouse on and
a batting of my bedroom eyes,
a man will inevitably strike up a
“conversation” with me.
While I unconsciously engage
in repartee, I’ll wonder to myself
what must be wrong with him
that he would hone in on some
despondent fool like me.

He’ll continue to ply me with drinks
until a taxi cab takes me away,
and through a backseat window
cracked open, I’ll hear
New Orleans sing
while I sigh.


W.M.S.
2017

James Mar 9

The rain on the roof, it’s hypnotic;
taking me back home
The tin roof on an old screened-in porch
summer nights we slept there,
escaping the southern heat,
feeling the cool breeze after a thunderstorm --
I smell the moisture in the air
fresh rain on the grass outside
Steam rising from the paved road.
The rhythmic sound sends me to sleep
I see my mother and my grandmother
shucking corn and shelling beans.
I catch nightcrawlers with my grandfather.
Tomorrow we’re going fishing.

James Feb 23

Growing up Southern;
kind not seen on TV,
the old tin trailer,
window unit air conditioner,
always facing the road.

School pictures every year,
fresh hair cut and thrift store suit.
Hold that smile, no retakes,
the proofs going in the album --
"boy ain't you grow'n up"

Hee Haw reruns keep grandpa happy,
reminding him of a time that never was.
That's alright, though,
we like to hear about it anyway --
Bedtime stories before he leaves,
Got to clean the tanks at the paint factory.

Work in the garden all summer long
fighting weeds while momma cleans houses.
Daddy left to look for work about four years ago.
He ain't found it yet, but we still see him.
He lives with his girlfriend just down the road.

Coke bottles are worth a nickel,
"so pick 'em up."

The cold wind blows, the tree tops sigh
Crows upon a bough, loose their cry
And he can't hear nothing --
Nothin' at all.

Prayers of the pastor are the only sound
A cradle of blood, falls to the ground
They don't see nothing --
Nothing at all.

A single black crow flies overhead
Eyes stare out of branches
He nods a sleepy head
We cry and you cry, repent too late . . .

But the screams they start in the hollow of our lungs
And something wicked this way comes
And you can't see a thing for all the faces
And blackness fills the skies.

He tries to run away but they make a screeching sound
Louder than a train wreck leaving blood upon the ground
Thousands of crows swarm --
Slowly, pecking out his eyes.

//

But the screams they start in the hollow of our lungs
And something wicked this way comes
And you can't see a thing for all the faces
And blackness fills the skies.

You try to run away but we make a screeching sound
Louder than a train wreck leaving blood upon the ground
Thousands of crows swarm --
Slowly, we peck out your eyes.

A single black crow flies overhead
Eyes stare out of branches
You nod a sleepy head
We cry and you cry, repent too late . . .

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