It's been a while since I've updated this site. Hope you've been enjoying Avis D. Matthews' fall poems. Tonight I'd like to post Shan Spradlin's poems. You may remember him from last year: https://thesongis.blogspot.com/2017/07/welcome-to-kim-d-bailey-and-s-liam.html
Two of his poems won honorable mentions in my last batch of contests.
Here are some new poems by Shan!
The Top Two Steps
Today the sun plastered the
Skin like asphalt filling
Potholes on the corner of 82nd
And Central. By nightfall the sidewalks
Smelled of dive bar burgers
and happy hour. Two
People walk by holding shadowy hands.
They could have been strangers two
Hours earlier. I slip across the street before the
Crosswalk so I can feel the silk spray
From the concrete fountain chase
Invisible droplets over my skin. A
Sunday's paper lays undisturbed
across a deserted rod-iron bench. There are
Still a lot of lights on in the old hotel
Towers. Twin brothers sit on the top steps
Smoking cigars and drinking vodka from a
A brown bag. They still remember the night
I stopped. We all set elbows
Distance from a bottle of truth and
Played spades on the front door mat. They told me
There’s an old tunnel underneath the
Hotel and before it collapsed and the hotel turned into
Public housing, President Eisenhower stayed there. Now
Everybody stays there.
THE WHITENESS TURNS
Her naked shadow stripped
The moonlight down to fettered silk.
She touched through the darkness
With a transcendent plea
Her delicate breasts pushed air
From my pounding lungs.
Her deep kiss left me stolen
Her voice held the mysteries of generations.
Her feet were callous on my shin. Rough
To the bone. Skin moist from sweat glistened
Tears of children while her
Tongue tasted of bitter redemption.
She smelled of hand-me-downs and sorghum
I ran my fingertips along the scars on her back.
I kissed the knees bent down in the dirt.
I tried to wipe away the tear stains , but
My white cloth couldn’t reach the pores. My scars
Disappeared into my tender skin. I couldn’t speak
The words that spilled from her lips. I wanted
To tell her story but to do so was
Cutting out her tongue.
|Photograph by Joey Zanotti, 2017|
The Length of a Word
What is the length of a Word?
Is it simply the number of letters
Placed parallel one to another on
A scribbled pad . Ruled paper. Painted on
Subway walls. A lover's note tucked in a pocket-
What is the length of a Word?
Is it measured by the interpretation
Of a kiss. Is it caught up in December’s
Chilling breath. Or the tears that escape the
Silence when all of life has spoken. Can it be
Stretched around the lonely embrace of an
Umbrella. Is it as distant as a palm print
On a downtown railway window.
What is the length of a Word -
Is it the sum of the entire conversation.
Is the length of the word a secret we hear
In the dark and wait for in the sun. Is it a mixture
Of all we say, hear, and feel. What is the length ?
A word can travel through the heavens,
Introduce strangers, ring phones, un-wrinkle hearts,
Connect opposite poles. Promote love. A word
Can shake hands. Sign its name. The length
of a Word Is a measurement - the
Consciousness of the mind. The
Conviction that squeezes the air
From our bones. It is the Cicadas
In our ears introducing spring.
What is the length of Eternity-
One unspoken word .
I don't think that "The Two Steps" takes place in Paris, but I thought I'd start off with the late Jerry Gonzalez' version of "Parisian Thoroughfare":
Here is his version of "Nefertiti": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Svi5lIPJ4o4&list=PLSOoR39gcJ8rVUyDQv7LM5KuIzXj1PDlg
At one point, Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band did a tribute to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, the group that fuels my grading, especially at crunch time. Here is a song from that album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJSncU-v-PM