Sovereignty

Can be fragile, easy
to fade or be erased, all

It takes is a single heavy hand
or a legend thrown

Like a gauntlet, the hand that opens
an island’s body, an autopsy.

Nothing says empire
like a flag, says republic like fabric

Stretched & strung, swathes
of land tethered, a sanguine stitch

Of the tongue, language conquers
from within     before the blade

Separates flesh & kin,
breath & the line, all

Broken by a wall
& a people’s history

Crumbling in another’s wake

More by Fred L. Joiner

Currency

a pocket can sometimes be
a kind of prison,

I have never lived in
a cash economy where the bill

fold unfolds to find someone
creased in the middle,

but perhaps credit moves
the same, the way it scores

the pocket and the body
boxed and bureaued

the edge of a card
cuts anything  akin to skin

a Dollar, a Euro, a World
Bank, a debt to erase, a wait

a race, a weight.

Austerity

If it were only that simple, as sound,

but the first cut always leaves

some unwanted,

unworked. What language

fills greed’s bottomless gut,

the flesh that sells flesh,

cut away from the bone of debt? The language

of cutting is a subtle lexicon, always

sounds kinder, gentler, than the trill blade

under the tongue of our economy’s math.  Soft, sayings

like human scale, like rightsizing,

like achieving efficiencies

hide the blade, hide the murder

that pen and protocol make, masked.

be specific

            on listening to "Yama"

She asked me what the song
did for me

“Be specific” she said

I tell her Lee Morgan
wrote this song
for someone he loved
& let get away

I try to explain to her
how the blues can be
happy
how they can bring
comfort

I try to give words
to how a song can
crawl up inside you
 shine a light
on something
forgotten & make it
live again