crack house

- 1964-

greeter

she hustles us in
eyes tired

shadows stutter
behind nervous trees

 

outer room

screen door grime
a porous portal

paneling drips
frantic carpet

 

living room

up early  ricki lake
an endless loop

tv’s wide blue mouth
the only thing moving

 

pantry

she fast food  she
buy one  get one free

 

kitchen

parched bones
silently akimbo 

peel of burn
gray of skin

he sizzles
cooks

More by Quraysh Ali Lansana

bible belted: history

okie white men

are a curious herd

never sure if cowboy

or cracker  skin coated

in dust from 1830 or 1921 

hard to tell  they grow

whiter with age

male bonding

for Adrian, J., Christopher, Matthew, Greg, Roger, Major & Randall

i want my sons to know
men who smile

i want my sons to know men
who own their imperfections

i want my sons to know
men who listen

i want my sons to know
men who hear hearts, see words

i want my sons to know men
who honor women

i want my sons to know
men who appreciate the arts

i want my sons to know
men who adore their mamas

i want my sons to know men
who aren’t afraid of tears

i want my sons to know
men who respect their fathers

i want my sons to know men
who use fists in self-defense only

i want my sons to know
men who value and dignify men

men who work hard, can’t
spell quit, understand no

i want my sons to know
men who apologize

i want my sons to know men
who have relations with The Divine

men who question everything
men who know humility

i want my sons to know
men who read books

i want my sons to know men
who laugh at themselves

i want my sons to know
men who see possibility

body shop

i've heard tell of a hustle
in brooklyn where clever folks
throw themselves in front of cars
lurching down eastern parkway

not the beat-up green mini-vans
or duct tape toyotas of poets, not
impalas bleeding chrome
spinning disposable testosterone

but mid to high end machines
of certain insurance booty, drivers
in the 30 to 50 year range, same
demographic as oprah's audience

i suppose there is a right and wrong
approach to this science, the angles
of minimal damage to consider, side
to bumper, back to door, head up

unless her poodle is well groomed.
few have retired, i would speculate
but work less now that checks
lack bounce and the mailman walks briskly

it must be the eyes, wide and clean
that distinguish these impact alvin aileys
from ordinary jaywalkers

at utica i marvel at the desperate genius
the split-second calculus, the risks and gains
of such occupation, before descent
into the dark anonymity of the 4 train