Monday, March 2, 2015

Promise to Momma and For Dad by Charles Clifford Brooks III

Photo Credit -- Matthew Polsfuss

Although voting in the fall contests is still going on (until at least March 7 -- hint, hint) and last week's snow and ice are with us, let's pretend that spring is starting.  Tonight here are two of Charles Clifford Brooks' poems which will be eligible for the spring contests.  This first poem, he said, was the hardest poem he had ever written.  

Promise to Momma

You told me Tuesday it’s time
to simmer for my heavy mind’s sake.
A son shouldn’t be so good
at makin’ his momma’s heart break.
So, I won’t say how I got so lost
just yet,
because hell is listenin’
for me to spill my secret.    

Don’t go blamin’ bad luck,
because a restless soul is my undoin’.
I’m overdrawn at the Bank of Legion
due to the price of a few sinister seasons,        
so I sing spirituals
and do my best to unclench my fists.
There’s a debt to deal with
from damage done
to my wrists.

Yet, the scars ensure
I don’t misplace the memory
of your undeserved sorrow.
You won’t weep in the rain again,
and my veins will be clean tomorrow.
Saint of a Self-Destructive Son,
you instinctively let my Hyde slide,
but I shall not.
I cannot.

When I sit down with my misdeeds,
it’s obvious all I’m gonna do
is fall short of a picket fence,
the wife of a quiet life,
and you. 

For Dad As the weekend winds down, dad brings his old dog to the big house. Today, that hound bounds towards the tool shed. The old man and I prop up against white front porch pillars, while folks across the street shuffle single file into church.
Daddy and I know damn well there’s no minister or deacon-on-a-mission reporting anything new about redemption. Jesus is probably playing golf. To celebrate the Holy Spirit, we share a smoke, squint against the sun, then whisper, Amen.
Two men sit stoically, seldom speaking, among distracted pines and forgetful wind. 200 acres are framed by azalea, then split by a healthy river.
Today, as the hour teeters on twilight, Little Walter plays harp. We’ve had our good days, son, my father says through his cigar, and we’ve had our bad.

Photographer -- The Wispy Gypsy

Clifford Brooks is a teacher, freelance writer, and poet living in North Georgia. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and Georgia Author of the Year for his first book of verse, The Draw of Broken Eyes & Whirling Metaphysics. Clifford’s next book of poetry, Athena Departs, is currently in the last stages of editing. His newest accomplishment, with the help of many brilliant artists, is the creation of The Southern Collective Experience, who will soon have a website of their own. His online presence includes TwitterInstagramFacebook; and his personal website Cliff Brooks. Artistic snippets of his work (as created by Holly Holt, a member of The Collective) can be found on Pinterest here: Athena Departs; and The Salvation of Cowboy Blue Crawford.
Clifford also participated in the summer contest where he won the Jazz Traditions Award for "Blues 'round Midnight":
Now go vote in the fall contests -- and listen to music!
Clifford sent me links to Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama's "If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again":
I'm going to repost their "I Shall Not Walk Alone":
Here is some Little Walter for you, starting with "Mean Old World":
"Can't Hold Out Much Longer" has more harmonica:

For more information about the fall contests, see these links:

1 comment:

  1. The honesty and universality in these verses are what one looks for in poetry!