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 

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Sony Holland-Soft Power

Joni Mitchell.

The name of one of many singers I wish I could say I know. An unmistakable voice, like many of the best and renowned vocalists of the last century--distinctive, ethereal, angelic, a voice that can evoke melancholy and joy, sometimes in the same song, like many a jazz and blues singer. I offer the song, "River", as evidence of that sentiment.

Sony Holland.

The name of a singer who I can say that I know. And after listening to her new album, Soft Power, I can unequivocally say I am beyond glad to have made her acquaintance just a few short years ago. Everything I said in the previous paragraph, can be said of Sony, if based just on this album alone. It's no coincidence that I bring up Joni Mitchell's name, because upon first listen, it's the name that immediately came to mind, not least of when, she does a cover of Ms. Mitchell's "A Case of You". But, that in no way means that she mimics Mitchell's vocals, for Sony's voice is all her own, on this song, as well as on several original tracks and her covers of "Streets of Philadelphia" and "Moon River". Listening to her sing is like having a conversation with an old friend, especially if you're driving in your car, which is what I was doing while listening to this album. And I would say that, even if I didn't personally know the singer. But, once again, I am more than glad to say that I do. And I would strongly recommend that you get to know her too, by getting a copy of Soft Power. The title is as applicable to the vocalist herself as it is to the contents of the album. And as summer approaches and thoughts of vacations and road trips loom, you might just want another traveling companion along for the ride. I submit to you, Sony Holland, as evidence of that sentiment.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

What Christmas Means To Me

What Christmas means to me—
                        that somebody loved us enough to care; that somebody stills loves me enough to care. That family is not always about blood. That it’s not about the size of the gift, but the size of the heart of the person who gave the gift.  It means not caring about a particular greeting, but that you took the time to acknowledge the receiver of the greeting, regardless of however you choose to say it. That no one has to feel alone; that no one has to be made to feel guilty if they are not feeling the joy of the season. That said joy should not be dependent on what the calendar says, which might make the season, when it does come, that much more meaningful.

It means we still need light in the darkness. It means “peace on earth and goodwill toward men”, should not be a sentiment on a greeting card, but a dominant concept that we are all striving towards. I wouldn’t have a problem listening to carols or hymns all year long, if it meant that our lives reflected the words that we were singing. It means that we don’t have to believe the same things, but we should see the other as needing of love and recognition of each other’s humanity.

It means that many of us might require ghostly visitations, a la Scrooge; that, like the Grinch, be reminded that “Christmas doesn’t come from a store; that it perhaps means a little bit more”.

It means that for many of us, like George Bailey, we need to be reminded that each of our lives touches so many others; that it would leave an awful hole, if we weren’t around.

It means that the refugee, the homeless family, the hungry child will always have a place to be, even if it’s a dirty and smelly barn.

It means that wherever there are cracks, the light will always get in; that the broken will always be blessed; and the imperfect, holy.

It means love, and if I never give you anything else concrete or tangible, something you can taste, smell, feel; whether you are a stone’s throw away or thousands of miles away;
whether we communicate via Facebook, email, by phone, or if we are fortunate to do so, in person, I sincerely hope, with every fiber of my broken, imperfect, cracked being, that you know that you are loved—

you who’ve recently lost a spouse, or child, or parent;
you who may feel that no one understands you;
you who feel that no one sees you because of the color of your skin, your sexuality, or your religion(or even, lack thereof);
you who may not even have anywhere to go this time of year;
you, who just needs to hear that someone loves you, even if you don’t want to believe it right now.

I hope that what Christmas means to you, if nothing else, is that you are loved, from someone who cares. Peace be with you all.