Monday, December 31, 2012

Favorite Films and Albums of 2012

As is customary with most critics and/or pundits at this time of the year, regardless of the media venue, I've decided to throw my hat into the ring, as we say goodbye to another year(good riddance!), and proffer my picks for what I thought were my favorite films and albums of 2012. Mind you, I missed out on a lot of films and there were several albums that I unfortunately did get around to purchasing and/or enjoying, but these are what I was able to enjoy, for what it's worth. And rather than list them in order of like, as is the norm for most lists, I've decided to list them alphabetically. Feel free to let me know what you think...

Favorite Films of 2012

The Amazing Spiderman
The Avengers
Dark Knight Rises
Django Unchained
Harper Lee and To Kill A Mockingbird
Hunger Games
Rise of The Guardians

Favorite Albums of 2012

Away From The World (Dave Matthews Band)
Blak and Blu (Gary Clark, Jr.)
Blunderbuss (Jack White)
Boys and Girls (Alabama Shakes)
Home Again (Michael Kiwanuka)
Is Your Love
Big Enough? (Lianne LaHavas)
Little Broken Hearts(Norah Jones)
Making Mirrors (Gotye)
Pour Ame Soveraine
(A Dedication to Nina
Simone) (Meshell Ndegeocello)
World Wide
Rebel Songs (Tom Morello)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Between The Garbage and The Flowers

(for the children of Newtown, Connecticut)

Between the garbage and
the flowers,
I saw you standing there,
partially naked
and beautiful;
you said,
for all the lost children,
for the loss
of innocence;

you told me your name
was Jesus,
then kissed me tenderly,
on the lips;
you spoke to me,
in poetry,
which sounded like
the sweetest music
I've ever heard,
as if angels were crying.

I wanted to give you money
but you refused;
you simply said,
'love', ' love';
you repeated it,
like a mantra,
and then,
danced away,
as if you had been
a vision;
and I was left there,
almost kneeling,
between the garbage
and the flowers,
and wanting to hug
the first person I saw.

©2012 Joseph Powell

Saturday, December 08, 2012

The Bass Player Is A Woman

She strokes my soul
like she strokes her guitar,
tenderly, yet firmly
with every note she plays;
my savage beast
is calmed
by her melodic flourishes,
her rhythmic tempo
massaging my every pain.
Right now,
in this moment,
we are one,
though we are surrounded
by hundreds.
And as she takes a bow
to thunderous applause
she absolutely deserves,
I could swear
I catch
her glistening eye
staring back at mine
and I smile,
as I clap my hands
in return.

© 2012 Joseph Powell

A Poem For Donny (for Donny Hathaway)

I am trying to write words,
inspired by the words
that you sang for me;

I am trying to calm
the screaming in my head,
I am not certain
I am imagining or not;

I feel your pain--
at least,
I like to believe
I understand it.

Like you,
I want to create art;
I want little ghetto boys,
like the ones
we used to be,
to be inspired
for something greater
than themselves;

I am holding back tears
I wish I could have
cried for you
that day
when I heard;

I am writing this poem
for you, Donny,
in the hopes
that I believe
that everything
is bout to get better.

© 2012 Joseph Powell

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Like Jimi's Guitar

I want to write a verse
as good
as the riff I heard
last night
from Jimi's guitar--
I want it to pierce ears,
I want it to shock systems,
I want it to overthrow governments
and make kingdoms fall;
I want it to
make the dead
come to life,
and make blind men

I want it to blow minds
and break hearts;
I want it
to be the very definition
of truth,
to be like
the tablets come down
from Mount Sinai,
like manna from heaven;

I want to write a verse,
unlike any other verse
that's ever been written,
as if God Himself
were speaking directly
into my soul
through to the arm
of the hand
that holds the pen
I use to write with;

I want to write a verse
that will be broadcast
through every major media outlet,
from the television
to the Internet;

I want to write a verse
that will make
the world's heart stop
just to listen;
a verse that will not,
can not,
must not
be ignored.

© 2012 Joseph Powell

Monday, September 17, 2012

For The Colored Boy Who Considered Suicide When...

I have kicked the ass of the one they call suicide;
told him to never darken my doorstep again,
"you miserable son-of-a-bitch!"
It is not that I am in love with my life,
far be it,
but I have a few miles yet I still want to tread,
and people who depend on me
(or is it I who depend on them?);
words that no one else will ever write
and that someone out there probably needs to read;
I've been told
that life is suffering,
and who am I to believe I am exempt?
And the loss of love
is a poor reason for a loss of life.
So, on your way,
you pathetic bastard,
your invitation
is no longer welcome,
for I have the
unenviable task
of living my life
until its logical
and inevitable conclusion.
No sense
in hastening
its impending approach.

© 2012 Joseph Powell

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Thoughts On Turning One Year Older--A New Poem

Upon turning one year older,
I am entertaining mortal thoughts,
Which is slightly preferable
To harboring
Suicidal tendencies;
I am thinking of things
I've not yet accomplished;
Of women I have not loved...
Or ever will love;
Of women I've loved and lost;
Of friends no longer here;

I am still comforted
By the thought of being
One of my mama's three sons
And being my daughter's father;
Of the God-ordained ability to
Fuse a few words together
Into something
Resembling beauty,
Resembling truth;

I don't know how many more years
I have before me of turning older,
But I hope
They are filled with
A mama's love,
A daughter's growing adoration,
The continued camaderie
Of a few friends,
The abundant support of family,
Maybe a woman's
Tender and graceful touch,
More poetry
Than I can put to paper,
More beauty,
More truth.

© 2012 Joseph Powell

Monday, August 20, 2012

I Dreamt Of Picasso-New Poem

In my mind's eye,
I envisioned myself
talking to ol' Pablo--
talking about art,
talking about women,
talking about life;
at one point,
he told me
that he dreamt of me, too,
to which I laughed.

'No, no', he said,
'I dreamt of you,
that you are destined
for great things;
you're an artist,
and such is
the fate of all artists.'
And then he smiled;
and then, I knew,
in spite of myself,
he was right.

And as I awoke,
I sat down to write this poem,
thinking of him,
staring down at me,
with that knowing smile,
knowing that he was right.

© 2012 Joseph Powell

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Golden--A New Poem (for Gabby Douglas)

They're going to try
to steal your moment;
They're going to say
you're not good enough,
or pretty enough;
They're going to call you names
or talk about your hair;
that you don't deserve
the accolades,
or your place in the sun,
your place in history;

I would say,
your response should be--
to stand your ground,
with the already sure footing
you've shown,
smile that megawatt smile of yours,
as bright as any sunshine,
and simply say,

'I'm golden.
How are you?'

© 2012 Joseph Powell

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Questions--A New Poem

Am I so hideous?
Is it me you find repulsive,
or my appearance?

Are you content to judge me
not by the content
of my character rather?
My bleeding heart,
my poetic soul,
my ecumenical intellect;

are you callous
to my already wounded ego
as to not open your eyes
to the possibility
of me?

Am I that disgusting?!

These are questions I have,
that I wrestle with,
that I have to posit
as I move forward in life--
that I submit to you,
daring you to answer
if you even have
the courage to do so.

© 2012 Joseph Powell

Monday, July 09, 2012


I have become synonymous
with anonymous;
persona non grata,
to the ones
who used to call me,
a simplistic
a shadow
of my former life,
another somebody
who used-to-be
now trying to find
a place called

And the mantra of
'it's going to be better',
'it's going to get better',
is sounding like
a broken record,
even if it was played
or projected
would still
amount to
a lot of white noise
against the black void
of my now empty
and broken heart.

ain't nobody tryin'
to hear this,
because we live in a time
where love can be bought
on the internet
or competed for
on reality shows;
where you're only as good
as the last time
you said, 'I love you'
and meant it,
which now,
you can't remember,
because the memory
has been replaced by,
'I don't need you anymore'
'I don't love you anymore'
I don't want to live with you...
(use any variation of those
aforementioned phrases,
followed by 'anymore')

Love is more than just
in need of love today--
it needs to be reprogrammed
better yet,
lived up to
its original intent.

In the meantime,
I'm not sitting around
waiting for a revolution
or an evolution
of said love;
or a parking validation
for my time
here on earth;
I've got healing left to do
and more writing;
'get busy living...,
that's goddamn right';
continuing to try to walk
slightly bowed,
not broken,
'announcing my presence
with authority'.

© 2012 Joseph Powell

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Friday, June 01, 2012

Boxer, Get Up--A New Poem

trying to breathe
through bruised nostrils
and shattered dreams;

trying to remember love,
a woman's touch
that mattered,
to the core
of a now
battered soul;

trying to see through eyes,
swollen shut
by anger and pain,
left by
the surprised sting
a failed love affair;

trying to stand,
under shoulders,
weighted down,
by an uncertain future
and an all-too-brief past,
rendered moot,
by present misery.

The boxer,
left alone in the ring,
for a few loyal diehards,
come to his aid,
nay, whispers,
a short prayer,
to a God,
he's not sure
is listening anymore,
to somehow,
have the strength
to get up
and fight
another day.

© 2012 Joseph Powell

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Othello's Deathbed Curse-Redux

I originally wrote this poem after a painful breakup some years light of recent events in my life, it's amazing how this still holds up.

Loved too well—
Nay, accuse me not.
For I have loved enough
And then some;
But never too well.
For my heart,
Blinded by love,
Fails at discernment—‘tis true.
For this crime,
I am most guilty certain;
Punish me most severe.
For the severest penalty
Cannot equal the pains I’ve suffered
Or loves unrequited;
Nor match the bitter pill
Or sourest medicine
Of unwarranted affection
Or unmerited scorn.

Oh yes, curse the day—
Love made its acquaintance
Of me,
Only to make me a fool;
Or worser yet,
A wretched pawn
With wounded ego
And battered heart.

Oh yes, curse the day
I first set eyes on that
Which is called woman
And felt the first spark of desire,
Only to have it snuffed out
By unrecognized eye
Or unreturned affection.
Oh yes, curse the day
And again, I say, curse,
With ever-fervent zeal,
The day, not that I was born,
But that I have not died,
From Cupid’s arrows flung;
Only to have their mission aborted,
Their intent gone astray,
Leaving me naked and ashamed,
Empty of all feeling,
Having drained the well of tears dry.

Loved too well, nay,
I have loved well enough,
Only to be haunted time
And time again.
Nay, I repeat the aforementioned curse.
Curse, I say,
Love and all its vile affectations
Or affections, if you will,
Or not, it matters none.

Curse, my already bleeding heart,
For availing itself to be made vulnerable;
Made susceptible to love’s deceits
And woman’s charms;
I say, curse the woman,
The weaker sex indeed!
Only in stopping short of inflicting pain
Rather with dagger sharp or poison sweet
Or bullet swift;
Than with the pains of scorn or rejection—
Which, in contrast, last the longer
And inflict not death.
Yes, all of this and more,
I say, curse,
And I say it again,
With all that is within me,

© Joseph Powell

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Poetry Man-The Book

Poetry Man-the book-is now available for purchase, both in print( and E-book(, Barnes & Noble NOOK store, and the Apple IBookstore)versions. 30 poems conveying the heart of the poet. Whichever format you choose, get your copy now. You will not be disappointed. Thank you for your support.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Just Like Pagliacci Did--A New Poem

I am crying private tears--
a man is not supposed to cry in public,
'it's not manly',
they say;
well, I say,
my tears are more real
than anything you can ever imagine;

my tears,
are tiny pieces of my soul,
yearning to break free,
from inflicted damage
and emotional turmoil;

responses to
being told,
a life with me
is not worth living;

they're all I have to offer
to express spiritual pain,
because uncontrolled rage
is also not acceptable
in polite society;
and laughter,
when it does come,
only masks it for a time--
like a clown
who thought he knew
what love was,
and found it more elusive
than the face of God.

I will cry my tears
as they come,
and I will write my words
because that is what I do,
knowing that I'm as much a man
as any,
and that love
is an unwinnable game,
best left to those
who can stay in it
or are allowed to;
but for me,
I'm drawing up the bridge
surrounding my heart,
buttressing the fortress,
so that I can face
the inevitably rising
in guarded peace.

© 2012 Joseph Powell

Friday, May 04, 2012


in the distance,
a mournful sax is wailing;
I hear a baby crying
its little heart out;
a police siren
is blaring down
a dark and lonely street;
a woman is screaming
in orgasmic ecstasy;
a man is pleading
for his life;
a preacher
is channeling God's voice;
a mother
is yelling at her children;
a poet
is about to take the stage,
to loudly proclaim
the words of this poem.

© 2012 Joseph Powell

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Just A Man

I’m just a man,
nothing more,
nothing less;

I’m not a hero,
not a role model,
not your latest celebrity;

I’m not your cuckold,
your whipping boy,
or the butt of your stupid jokes;

I am a man,
nothing more,
nothing less.

I don’t dance
I don’t sing,
but I will write you a poem,
but only if you want the truth;

I am not perfect,
so stop expecting me to be;
I fuck up,
just like everybody else,
some days,
even more so.

But I am here,
until you tell me
to go away,
and then,
I’m like the wind.

I’m just trying
to put one foot,
in front of the other;
just trying
to keep
my head above water;
just trying
make it to the finish line.

I’m just a man,
nothing more,
nothing less;

There is no other way
to say it,
and there’s no other way
to acknowledge it,
so there you go…
nothing more,
nothing less.

© 2012 Joseph Powell

Monday, March 05, 2012

Remember When We Used To Sit...

I'm watching water flow by
in the marina just beyond,
while listening to Marley,
singing about sitting
in Trenchtown yards;
am thinking nostalgia
is a strange
and beautiful thing,
as I'm reminded
of sitting in
south side playgrounds
near housing projects
that no longer exist;
sitting, often playing,
sometimes dreaming...
of what?
I wish I could remember--
maybe it was enough
that I was dreaming;
it meant that
I was moving forward,
it meant that
I wanted
to be somebody,
I was somebody
as Jesse said,
as the Bible
of the storefront church
I went to, said;
as my mama is
still saying,
in her own unique way.

Yes, Bob,
I too remember when
I used to sit
in government yards,
but not quite like
the ones you remembered,
but I do remember when;
pretty sure,
I'm not the man
I probably dreamed
of becoming,
but I still became
a man,
and I still became
who still
remembers when.

© 2012 Joseph Powell

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Irrespective--A New Poem

I will continue doing what I do,
regardless of whoever is watching,
whether God or the neighbor next door;
living my life,
writing my words,
... loving my woman,
loving my neighbor--
in other words,
being a human,
irrespective of color,
which is black
(and I wear it proudly,
thank you very much);
irrespective of religion,
which in today's world,
has become a plaything,
by those who don't know how to play
(but if you must know,
I still do believe in God,
in spite of His followers);
irrespective of my sexual orientation
(which means, I am oriented
to like sex
and like it as often as possible,
again thank you very much).

These are the facts,
written in the only way
I know how to write,
which is poetically,
even provocatively,
irrespective of your willingness
to read it
or to agree with anything
I just wrote.
I will continue to do what I do,
but for now,
in this context,

I am done...
nuff said,

until next time.

©2012 Joseph Powell

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Reflection Of A Bright Light

I wanted to take a moment to share a few personal reflections on the loss of Ms. Whitney Houston. Usually when I've been inspired to write something following the death of a loved one or a famous icon, it manifests itself in the form of a poem. But, aside from being admittedly reluctant to write yet another death poem, I wanted to, in this particular instance, write something a little more prosaic, a little more deliberate, for lack of a better word.

I consider Ms. Houston to be one of the integral elements of my ever-evolving jukebox, during my transition from boy to man, the period I somewhat fondly refer to, as my 20's. From the midpoint of my college years to and through some key monumental life changes and crises at the end of that personal decade, the persona that was Whitney was fairly and uniquely prevalent. From her music videos to her songs on the radio and through mine and my friends' cassette and, eventually, CD players, to her appearances in films, like "Waiting To Exhale", "The Bodyguard", and "The Preacher's Wife", she presented herself as someone who was beautiful, sassy, sexy, self-confident, and irrevocably talented. Also, I might add, to say that I had a crush on her would be a mild understatement.

'The voice of a generation' is a phrase that often gets bandied about in describing certain singular individuals, and arguably so. I would venture to posit that Whitney Houston was, and is, the voice for a whole generation of young people who were influenced and affected by her music at the height of her heyday. Her songs and her ability to interpret them will, I believe, place her in the pantheon of great vocalists who came before her--like Aretha, Gladys, the late great Minnie and the recently departed Ms. Etta; her aunt, Dionne, and mama, Cissy, just to name a few.

At least two of her songs had a deeply profound impact on me personally, during a rather emotionally tumultuous point in my life--that's when you know that you're in the presence of a great artist, when their art resonates so significantly in one's being that it almost defies explanation.

I realize that all this I have heretofore written is a mere hodgepodge of thoughts, a feeble attempt to make coherent sense of what is essentially a tragic loss, particularly for her family, as well as a world of fans. But as I was deeply touched by her life and her music, I am equally touched and saddened by her passing. And I know, given the cynical and rush-to-judgement world we live in, there will be, and already are, the naysayers who will want to solely focus on the negative aspects of her life, her inability to overcome her weaknesses and conquer her personal "demons". And I am reminded of these words, spoken in regard of another woman, who too was chastised and lambasted for her apparent weakness--"let he who is without sin, cast the first stone".

I will conclude by sharing that one of my chief regrets, as an inordinate music lover, and one that invariably comes up whenever there's a passing of a musical legend, is that I never got to see her perform live. But it is tempered by the satisfying realization that her music and her iconic images, chief of which, is her stirring and memorable rendition of the National Anthem, which alone would almost be enough to cement her legacy, will continue to live on and be enjoyed for future generations to come.

R.I.P., Ms. Houston. Keep singing!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Infinite Possibilities--A New Poem

When I look at a blank page,
I see infinite possibilities;
a canvas, a clean slate,
upon which
to paint myself
to draw the world;
the place where my pain
and my ego
can converge
to make art.
It does involve a struggle,
a tug-of-war
against myself---
the need to be vulnerable
and the desire
to retreat;
it's the place
peace and war
where there is only room
for truth;
for there is too much
at stake,
to hide behind
bullshit and "virtual reality"--
leave that for
the entertainers.

The blank page before me
is the chance
to fulfill my destiny,
to be that which
I was meant to be
since the day I was born,
to join the pantheon
of those who've come
before me,
who paved the way
for me to follow,
so that I might help
make infinite
the possibilities
of those who
come after me.

© 2012 Joseph Powell

Diamonds In The Distance--A New Poem

Glittering lights
on the horizon,
Like diamonds
in the distance;
White streak across
a perfect blue sky,
Or as near to perfect
as I will ever see
in my lifetime.
It is daybreak
I am alive
Thinking of words
for the new poem
you are now reading...

You're welcome.

© 2012 Joseph Powell

Monday, January 30, 2012

Who I Am--A New Poem

I have forgotten more words
than I have written;
I have loved more women
than I have been with;
I've shed as many tears
as there are stars in the sky,
I am almost sure of it;
I've wanted more in this life
than I would know
what to do with
and have received more
than I have ever expected;
I have seen prayers answered,
I have seen prayers denied;
I have tasted the sweetest kisses,
I have felt the sharpest pains;
I have heard the most beautiful
of music;
I have seen things
that would break
the hardest of hearts.

Who am I?
I am the culmination
of everything
I have seen and heard,
touched and felt,
spoken and written,
breathed and smelled;
the accumulation
of everyone
who's ever affected me
and who I've been
blessed to affect;
I am the everyday;
I am sacred
and I am profane;
I am that
which is beautiful
and that
which is ugly;
I am my mama's son;
my sisters' brother
and the inbetween
of my two brothers;
I am the fortunate one
whose daughter
calls him father;
I am a poet,
whose best words
have been written,
not spoken,
whether you've read them
or not;
I am a child of a God
I see in the mundane
the magnificent--
the homeless man
who asks me for a dollar;
the little child
whose laughter
is as sweet
as any music
I've yet heard;
the mountains I see
in the distance;
the trees I pass by
on my morning workout.

Who am I?
Someone who doesn't
want to be squeezed
into any of
your handmade boxes
or slapped on
by your erroneous labels;
someone who doesn't need
to be defined
by your narrow categories
and myopic sentiments.

I just am
will continue to be,
as long as
there is breath
in my body,
as long as I have eyes
to see,
and ears to hear;
as long as I can
continue to write,
continue to love
and be loved.
You have been duly informed.

© 2012 Joseph Powell

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Because--A New Poem

Because I'm still breathing;
Because I still have things to say;
Because my job does not satisfy me;
Because it's what I always wanted to do;
Because not doing it,
makes me very unhappy
and a little insane;

Because I still miss my friend,
and he was a writer too;

Because, in spite of what she'll probably say,
I'm still trying to make my mama proud;

Because, in spite of the seemingly
overwhelming evidence to the contrary,
there's still not enough
poetry in the world;

Because I don't believe my father did
and I'm trying,
very hard, in fact,
not to be him;

Because, I'm hoping,
in spite of the seemingly
overwhelming evidence to the contrary,
my words might
make a difference,
to at least one person;

Because, it was given me to do
and I'm trying to return the favor;

Because, my daughter needs to know
that she inspires me,
every day,
to be a better artist;

there's a whole litany of reasons
that I could probably come up with,
that would fill up several more pages,
but I need to get to
the business of writing;


© 2012 Joseph Powell

Monday, January 23, 2012

Turntable--A New Poem


She plays me like a jazz record—
caressing my grooves,
fingering my edges,
making me sing
under the gentle touch
of her fine needle.

She can’t get enough of me,
playing me over and over;
she’s got me spinning
in ecstasy,
spinning in infinity,
spinning like
there’s no tomorrow;
and I,
powerless to stop her,
not even certain
if I want her to.

For I am the subject
of her devotion;
she shows me affection,
like no other;
and I am reminded,
that love is
a mixture of pleasure
and pain,
as my spinning gradually
comes to a halt,
and I await,
her attention,
her touch,
on my
black-as-vinyl body.

© 2012 Joseph Powell

Saturday, January 14, 2012


A man
Not divine,
But touched by
the divine;
A man,
born of a woman,
and a black woman
at that;
A man,
who was blessed
with a gift
to unite
and to divide;
to comfort the afflicted
and afflict the comfortable.

A man,
just one man,
who helped a nation
open its eyes
and lift its ears
to the cries
of its own people.

A man,
like you,
like me--
no greater,
no lesser,
A man,
like so many
come before him;
like so many
who continue to come
after him.

Is that you?
Any of you?
out there,
is waiting
for an answer.

© 2012 Joseph Powell

Friday, January 06, 2012

Not That It Needs Any Explanation

This is my first poem of the new year--here's to many, many, more.

I am writing for my life,
trying to find the right word
or words
that will, somehow,
make it all make sense.
I don't wanna repeat myself
and I've grown tired
of explaining myself--
the time for explanations
is passed;
what you have before you
in word and in deed,
is someone
who is simply
trying to hold on,
just simply
trying to be
in a world
that seems to be,
more and more,
rejecting authenticity;
rejecting raw honesty
and naked truth.

I am writing for my life,
because i know nothing else,
because I don't want anything else;
the jobs I've had,
the job I now have,
they are not who I am;
even the education I pursued,
though an integral
and meaningful part
of my life,
is not the sum total
of my existence.

At the time of this writing,
these are the facts
as I understand
and accept them to be--
I am a poet,
not because
of monetary gain
wide renown,
but because,
I continue to be
able to
put word to paper
in some sort of
coherent sense,
regardless of audience
or venue;

I am a husband,
still struggling to,
on a daily basis
to figure out
how to do that;

I am a father,
still amazed
that I get to be one,
having never really
had one
and still trying,
on a daily basis,
trying not to
repeat his mistake;

I am a man,
black and proud
of that fact,
all that that entails--
blessed by a God
that I don't always

I have loved much
and hurt more;
I have friends
from a long-ago
shared history,
and I have friends
who know me
as I am now
and count myself
to say so.

These are the facts
as I know them;
as real as
any that can be expected
to be;
take them or leave them,
that is the only choice
And, as for the entirety
of this poem,
the same choice applies
here as well.

End of story.

Draw curtain.

Fade to black.


© 2012 Joseph Powell