February 2010

He looks crazy.
Red lightning bolts of blood
shoot through his eyes
the whites gone yellow like sour milk
while dark pools peer out holding
shadows within
the shadows he sees from the corners
of his eyes
He’s clearly insane.
Hair matted and locked
like Dred Scott in the prison
of his mind–he’s a slave
in a free state of this nation
while the State of the Nation applauds another year
of liberty, indivisible,
he’s an outlaw
he’s the invisible man
the shaking cup in his hand and his hand-me-down cloak
work like magic, make eyes slide
away from him, guiltily
til he becomes just a ghost to avoid
while we
annoyed by the brief interruption of our
comfortable lives, don’t stop walking
don’t stop to realize that he belies
the national myth of prosperity;
in these mean streets where we
daily ignore our fellow man
don’t give him a glance, much less
a helping hand, we
look away from the shame
of our acclaimed democracy

And he becomes crazy
–so we can look away–
–so he can take the blame–
–he’s a threat for us
the man who doesn’t have a name
the man we call crazy
when really
we’re the ones who must be


I work for a living

following in the family’s footsteps

eight hours inside and yearn for

an hour-long lunch outdoors

in the watery spring sun

I come from


white bread

white middle class

and you’d think we would

have adapted to it by now, like blind

cave fish or albino moths turning soot-colored


“Quartz countertops

Smart web-capable apartments

Designer hardwood flooring”

gushes the ad on the side of a recently renovated condo building.  This neighborhood was born rich, the grand landscapes of the park considered a suitable sight for upper class eyes, and it stayed rich.  The carriage houses where residents’ steeds used to stand now hold those of the Lexus and Mercedes breeds.  The soft, gold-tinted glow of track lighting spills from windows onto the sidewalk, and I can’t see anybody living inside.

we are all turning into werewolves

turned lunatic and raving

howling at the moon because it’s silent

distant and we can blame it

instead of closer bodies

bringing us closer to madness

with each revolution


it is a dark and stormy night but

I forgot where I put my torch

and pitchfork

what will the neighbors think

when I turn up empty-handed to the mob


there’s silver spoons in their mouths, but no

silver in our wallets

there’s no silver bullet for this monster we brought

groaning to life, just

a silver lining

hopeful sunlight shining around the edges of

a somber cloud


boom—hear the thunder

crack—or is it guns

see the sky fracture, shattered by lightning

feel the afterimage burning on

your eyes, exploding into a supernova of rage

but remember

this is how stars are born

new and brave

dreaming of becoming suns

give me your pain, your huddled masses

waiting for the train

in the cold dark morning

in the cold we are mourning

the death of a salesman, the one who sold us

a priceless dream—told us we were free

told us about justice but we remained

ungrateful and greedy

clinging to our familiar chains

killed him before he could give us

the key

so we’ll never know

what we could’ve been

sleepwalking through trash and rain

come back to us

and teach us how to dream


come back, Doctor King