Thursday, April 25, 2013

When I Write

when I write,
I see visions;
this still-young man
dreams dreams;
when I write,
I hear the voice of God
in a still, small whisper;
I hear my mama talking;
the child I once was,
telling me not to give up,
to not squander the promise,
the talent that was once
fresh and new;
when I write,
I remember women I’ve loved
and the few who’ve loved me back;
the friends I’ve made,
and, unfortunately,
because of time
or distance
or death,
and I don’t want to talk about that,
for that’s a whole other poem
I’ve already written;

when I write,
I am not restricted
by race,
or color,
or creed,
or sexual orientation;
my muse
is an equal opportunity
when I write,
I try to stay
outside the lines;
my verse is
and will always remain

when I write,
is distilled
from its purest form
and reconfigured
through the words
I try to place
on the page
with as much force
and passion
as I can
possibly summon;
when I write,
I believe
a word
is a terrible thing to waste
and I try to choose wisely.

when I write,
I am trying to breathe life
into chaos;
illuminate truth
where there is darkness;

when I write,
I am trying to destroy prejudices
and open eyes;
spread love,
where there is hatred;

when I write,
I want it to be like the blood
that washes away all sins;
I want it to be like water
in a dry and thirsty land;

when I write,
I’m not writing with anyone in mind,
but with everyone in mind,
because everyone needs truth,
and everyone needs love,
and everyone needs beauty,
and everyone needs light,
and everyone,
everyone needs
And that what is I think of...

when I write.

© 2013 Joseph Powell

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I Don't Do Haikus

I will try to be as concise
as I possibly can be;
try to convey as much truth
within each line,
as can be mustered--
but I don't do haikus.

My verse needs to be free,
in a form that allows it
to breathe,
to move,
to become its own thing.

I want the words to go
where they're gonna go;
to take you,
where you need to be taken;
to caress you,
whisper to you,
make love to you;
slap you in the face,
shake some sense into you,
douse cold water
on your hypocrisies
and lies,
your prejudices
and myopia.

And, I,
cannot do that
with haikus,
not in the way
that they need to be done;
and not in the way
that I need to say
what needs to be said.

Believe me,
I respect the haiku,
I admire the form,
the simplicity,
the beauty;
and the skill it takes
to create one,
let alone,
But just as haikus
are not for everyone,
neither are
the verses I write,
in whatever shape
they choose to manifest themselves.

My only hope
is that,
whoever chooses to read them,
will come to respect
and admire
what it took to create them
and find within them
the truth,
the simplicity,
the beauty,
as in any haiku.

© 2013 Joseph Powell

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Face, The Truth

I told the man,
staring back at me,
‘If you hear nothing else,
listen to this;
pay no mind
to the naysayers;
the ne’er-do-wells
and the malcontents,
lost in their own capacity
to bitch and moan;
you are destined for better,
my friend;
you are a genius,
an artist...
don’t shake your head at me,
you are.
They will never understand,
they never did.
This world is not ready for someone
as beautiful as you;
they are not ready for the truth
you have to show them;
but you have to do it anyway;
you have to live it,
you have to create it;
you just have to be.
I see in your eyes,
my lovely friend;
if you ever again should doubt this,
and you probably will,
I am here for you.
All you need do
is to look in my eyes--
I am the only mirror
you are ever gonna need.”
I told this to the man,
as he stared back at me;
I’m pretty sure he heard me
and understood,
because he smiled
as I turned
and walked away from
the mirror.

© 2013 Joseph Powell

Sunday, April 07, 2013

In A Moment Of Silence

on a peaceful Sunday morning
I am thinking about grace
I am praying for faith
I want my tired eyes to see
I want my deaf ears to hear
my words are few,
these days,
not like when I was young;
though I know,
my every breath
is a gift from you,
a song of praise to you.
I also know
that I know even less now
than I thought I did
when I was younger.
but truth will always out
and this I cling to
as I sit outside a church
on this Sunday morning
not certain if I can go in.

© 2013 Joseph Powell

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dr. Maya Angelou

A Hymn For Sister Maya

The epitome of eloquence,
The embodiment of elegance;
Mother Africa descended
In all her glorious splendor.
Her voice,
Once silent long ago,
Now springs forth
Like the thunder
Of a thousand rainstorms
And just as nourishing;
Like the still small voice
Of a gentle angel,
Bearing glad tidings
Of great joy.
Her beauty
Knows no equal;
Her words
Are like fine silk,
Smooth to the touch,
Pleasing to the skin;
A double‐edged sword
Piercing bone and marrow,
For she canʹt help
But bring forth truth,
The truth.
It is her gift to us‐‐
Her calling,
Her lifeʹs blood,
Her duty
As one raised up from the wilderness,
Not as a reed swayed by the wind,
But a prophetess of the highest order.
She is
That heaven we find in a wildflower,
Our mirror to nature;
But not only that.
She is
The storefront preacher;
The street rapper;
The social worker;
That favorite teacher.
She is
Mother, daughter;
Sister, lover;
Our fielder of dreams
And conveyer of nightmares.
She is
The cry of Rachel
Weeping for her children
And refusing to be comforted.
She is
The song of the virgin Mary
In praise to her God.
The world is brighter
Because she has shone her light
In our dark places.
Her candle
Will one day
Blow out,
But the flame
That she has ignited
Will burn on,
For that is
What flames do.

© Joseph Powell

MLK Redux

In commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I resubmit this poem. R.I.P. Dr. King.

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

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Quotes For The Day

"Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind." --Bertrand Russell

"To educate is to create a critical spirit and not just to transfer knowledge." --Archbishop Oscar Romero

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

A Reposting of Lo, How Two Roses Not Yet Blooming (for Martin and Marvin)

On this day in April
I saw two roses,
not quite in full bloom
just yet,
fall to the ground.
And cried
blood-red tears.
'What's going on?'
'How long?'
Why do the good
always die young?
Always at the hand
Of those who don't understand
or who have not ears to hear
or eyes to see
and truth
in flesh beholden.
Even God must weep,
I hope,
for creation yet incomplete,
is most assuredly
a tragedy,
for which
there are never enough tears,
blood-red or otherwise
and all we are left with
after the crying and the weeping
is the remembering
and wondering
what might have been?

© 2009 Joseph Powell

Monday, April 01, 2013

She Redux (inspired by the poem, She Walks In Beauty by Lord Byron)

She talks
to me
in poetry
in still small voices
and seductive whispers
and speaks to me
of eternal life
and love unending;
her tone never wavers
but resonates,
giving me chills,
caressing my body,
calming my soul.

She looks
at me
with eyes so fair
and unrelenting
of the tender eyes
and darkest hair
of the rosy lips
and warmest smile
who can caress
with one look,
one touch,
one word.
of the giving heart
and sweet embrace.
second to angels
made in the image of God
for God too is beautiful,

who walks in beauty
like the night
and stirs men’s souls to song.
the rarest find
the precious pearl
who’s touched me to the very core
who walks in beauty
She who walks
She who

© Joseph Powell