Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Exonerated Five

when they see us
we hope they see
boys who were not yet ready
to become men

when they see us
we hope they see
that the color of our skin
is not,
nor ever will be,
a threat to them

when they see us
we hope they see
in the image of the God
they say they believe in
and not
the wolves in sheep’s clothing
they keep saying that we are

when they see us
we hope
they see
they turned our world
upside down

when they see us
we hope
they see
until proven guilty
which they never did

when they see us
we hope they see
that though
we may be broken
are still strong
and united
and by
that strength

when they see us
who were once
who are now
who are now


when they see us

Antron McCray
Kevin Richardson
Raymond Santana
Yusef Salaam
Korey Wise

when they see us

© 2019 Joseph Powell

Monday, December 31, 2018

Yes To Year

Say yes to another year
to new possibilities
new opportunities
new memories

say goodbye
to mistakes made
words said
that should not have been said

say yes
to love
say yes
to love
say yes
to love

say goodbye
to what could have been
to what should have been
to those we’ve lost
because their presence
was required elsewhere
and not in the coming year
except as memories
of when you said yes
to love

say yes
to moving forward
though it may be difficult
and your steps not as quick

say goodbye
to resolutions you were never
going to keep and were never
meant to be in the first place

say yes
to what will be
to what must be

you must dream dreams
you must see visions
you must also live
you must also love
you must be present
for whatever the future holds
letting the past
be what it was

In this new year,
say yes to life
say yes to love
say yes to being present
say yes to the new
say yes to being human
because you’re going to make mistakes
and you’re going to say things
that should have not been said
and you’re going to lose people
whose presence will be required

say yes anyway
say yes
say yes
say yes

© 2018 Joseph Powell

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Spirit of Baldwin Compels Me

Check out my latest release-my newest collection of poetry. At least a couple years in the making. "31 poems from the pen  of a middle-aged, gifted and black writer, inspired by the spirit and words of the writer, James Baldwin..."

 The Spirit of Baldwin Compels Me

Wednesday, July 04, 2018


You can't do that;
You can't go there;
You can't be this;
You can't say that;
The land of the free
The home of the brave
Is neither;
But, rather
a nation
of liars
and cowards
who've made hypocrisy
their national motto
a way of life.

where the poor
are in the way
of the rich
getting richer;
where we'll honor
your cultural contributions,
but we stop short
of saying
that your life matters;
where your tired
and huddled masses
are no longer
where you can believe
whatever you want,
as long as it's what we believe;
you can say whatever you want,
as long as
it's something we agree with.

America, America,
you who've killed your prophets
and castigate those
sent to you,
those who want better
for you--
how long
must the cry
to come together
as one nation,
out of many,
be uttered
we truly
stand united
as brethren,
lest we
make the mistake
of perishing together
as fools.
No one wants
the house to fall,
but we can expect it
to cease
to be divided.
That is
the choice
we must make;
this is
the path
we must undertake;
anything less
or else,
is unfortunate
and God
help us

© 2016 Joseph Powell 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Is It Enough Yet?!

I just watched an interview this morning on the Today show with a 17-year old girl who was one of the survivors of the Parkland school shooting yesterday. A 17-year old girl who bravely and gracefully recounted, at times through tears, her experience including how she was shot; how her best friend who was next to her was shot and didn't make it; how she was more concerned about her parents' concern and feelings than her own safety and well-being. A girl who in some ways, especially in her gestures, reminded me of my daughter, Santi.


Suffice to say, I am writing this with tears in my eyes and anger in my heart that here we go again. That this has become our reality, our "new normal". This endless loop of shooting, thoughts and prayers, repeat. An endless parade of politicians and talking heads telling us that it's still not time to talk about what's going on; and a country that is growing ever more numb.

Numb to the point that we know not a damn thing is going to be done. That we're ok with children being interviewed about surviving ordeals in places where they're supposed to be safe, while watching their friends and classmates near and around them lose their lives. Children! Who will have to live their lives as a statistic; for whom this day will be seared into their memories for the rest of their lives. This is what we've accepted and who we've become. Children.

More than not wanting to see another child go through this or have to be interviewed about what this was like, I don't want to see or hear another politician talk about "thoughts and prayers ", if that's all they're going to do. Thoughts and prayers aren't going to bring those kids back. Thoughts and prayers aren't going to prevent another shooting. If thoughts and prayers didn't do anything since Sandy Hook...


Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Say Red, White & Blue 59 Times

In yet another moment of silence
I want to scream
'Enough is enough!'
Drown out the white noise
Of thoughts and prayers
Being lifted up
To unlistening ears
I understand
That if you shoot the flag
The only color it bleeds
Is red
Blue is the sky
The morning after
The last count
Which is 59
Or is it?
It's the current high score
In a national video game
That's never ending
And that no one
And your tokens are
No longer necessary

© 2017 Joseph Powell 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

She Prays For Me(A Daily Ritual of Love)

She prays for me,
when I leave the house
at the break of day,
that I will return to her
as the day closes;
unburdened by
unforeseen dangers
that are only visited upon
a select few;
she watches the news,
as I do;
is bothered by the news,
as I am;
and wonders in her heart,
as I sometimes do--
if today
will be the day,
or tomorrow,
or the day after that,
or the next;

so she prays for me,
when I leave the house
at the break of day,
that I will return to her,
as the day closes--
if only,
to be able to tell her
how my day went.

© 2017 Joseph Powell