Category Archives: jas. mardis

Poem: Others Will Tell

   
You deserve Poetry

Others Will Tell 

.
.
        Others will tell you
     that:   your copper dress caught their eye
        and so they smiled  and winked and took their own picture
     to be reminded of you    later
.
.
         they will tell you
     that:  once they left you sitting there
         caught up in the camera’s eye
      they grew another head thinking of all the sweet things they didn’t say
  .
.
     they will tell you
   that:   every other lofty, wavering laughter since your’s on that day
      when the camera flashed and your face shown bright in the shadows 
    reminds them of how much sweetness and joy remains in the world
.
.
      they will tell you
    that:   strangers and friends have begun to ask 
       for their own copy of your picture   to gaze upon during breaks in their day
    to imagine the cool shade and warmth   to want to be framed by the shadows of candles
.
.
      they will tell you
   that: they finally understand    why others wander the earth
      cameras in hand    the new day’s sun bathing them all over 
   their eyes filling and flowing over with the hope of having such a moment with you
.
.
    they will tell you
   that: when I heard their story of the wonderful, watchful, witness of you
      I did not weep or wail or moan    I did not blink or wink or nod
    I simply shook my head and whispered: “Yeah? Wait until she wears red”
.
.
.
Jas. Mardis

I Don’t Want It All Back

“What I Miss?”
I don’t want it all back
   just that one morning 
      when I put my phone on the bumper
    and you wore that orange shirt dress
       and shook your head 
     at the idea that everything was going to 
                        work out
          that the angle was right 
     not to cut off our heads
          not to slip off the bumper 
       when the ten second timer hit
     not to have a hundred shots of sky
       on nights like this
         in the middle of the moon
      when the phone has six thousand pics
    and only one 
 of big hair   an ebony hue  an orange blur
       and endless
            endless 
                blue sky
        .

.

.

. (Oh, well…)

Jas. Mardis

A Thought of You & Time

“She Has Her Pick…”

a-thought-of-you-time.m4a

I thought of you and time today

    about how you use it
      in conversation 
  like a belt
    a strap 
       sometimes worn
     an adornment wrapped ‘round you
    for your companion to consider 
.
.
    
   picked out    especially for this moment 
       selected 
      to hourglass your presence 
     that heaven of sand above
        that ocean floor below
    and you
      giving out luxurious patience
      one grain  
          sliding out of order
        tumbling turning tilting 
    fitfully    into your companion’s histories:
          I saw your smile
         I drank in your laughter 
    I imagined the wet, soft press of your lips
         I felt the echoing air as you rose 
      and took your leave
        and 
       in the hourglass of you
 a grain of time ticks against the ocean floor 

.

.

          in your absence
there is a remembrance of you
      tapping like raindrops on dry wood
          hammering away at my soul 
building layers of moments into joy
  taking up the grains like old dreams
     dropping their exhausted husks
        against my closed eyelids 
      and listening to their exploding songs
    lulling me to a fantasy of doing it all
            again
         again   again 
            when you return 
         pushing the air ahead of you
              back into the room where I await
         the next island drop of sand 
        to fall 
              delicately deliciously decidedly 
            into the ocean

.

.

.

.

Jas. Mardis

Poetry: I, Eye

I Eye–audio

                    I, Eye

certainly
there is some other way of naming your attraction
some other ways
of counting out the names that I have given to your beauty

some simple method of calculating the hours spent remembering

all the joy
made possible      simply and wonderfully by looking upon you

and knowing  that
no other person or thing or moment on this old Earth
is ever going to bring me such a wonderful aching
until it returns   comes back around     knocks…enters…home

so,
tell me again how I first came to be in your eyes

dancing my old bones and flesh thru the sunset rivers of your stare
holding your browned, honey glazed look upon me
and being swallowed into your pupils   as a precious light

just      once      more
say my name   without opening your mouth
without parting your lips     without any sounds  at all
like you do on your pictures
taken from above your head    from your camera’s phone

selfish selfies

with the whole world wanting to be part of such a moment
men and women     themselves  watching for their turn in your eyes
willing to settle for a moment    of you   thru a lens
wanting silent credit for capturing all of what you want    just me to see

and  moments later     there you are

the distance    miles of roads   acres of grass and river waters
steps and tip-toed inches   erased with a button’s push

and you

your eyes so brilliant and bright and beckoning me into that flash moment
your silliness     your awakening into morning light    your muscle work
spilling out from my phone
sighted   suddenly    like lonely sailors must have seen Mermaids

missing home      watching  dark water       a noise
the  glass eye  raised to see         whatever could it be

Captain, my Captain…oh, my soul…”

.

.

Jas. Mardis  (06/ 2015)
(4nomi/)

Jas. Mardis is a 2014 inductee to The Texas Literary Hall of Fame and Editor of KenteCloth: Southwest Voices of the African Diaspora, UNT Press

What He Say, Daddy?, What He Say?!

When we were boys, my brother and I had the run of Cypress Street in North Little Rock, Arkansas on oursl porchia Summer visits down home. We ate like kings and fished almost daily between stints of wrestling and throwing rocks at wasps nests and some, mean-as-hell, blue jays.

Early mornings broke thru a small window above the kitchen sink. It was always lined with the hard-skinned, green tomatoes from Madear’s garden below. Every morning, sipping cooled black coffee from Daddy S.L.’s saucer and crunching bites of beautifully browned toast, coated with runny egg and grits, there was little else to satisfy our boyhood needs.

I am certain that the early morning dew of Arkansas is medicinal. We never remembered our shoes and wore threadbare pajamas when walking Daddy S.L. to his blue and silver station wagon, but we were sorely protected from the 5:45a.m. chill. I think now that his smooth, baritone chuckle was our warmth as we skittered back into the kitchen to argue over the last sip of cold coffee and bites of breakfast left on his plate.  We would be curled asleep beneath the small, press board and vinyl table within minutes of his leaving…every morning.

He returned home at 3:30pm and walked in giant steps thru the curled up grandkids watching the black and white half hour of Lone Ranger and a local BOZO The Clown Show. We made it a good luck charm to touch the dirt dusted leg of his work pants as he swiped by. In the kitchen MaDear hard fried them palm-sized perch and boiled hot dogs and beans for the kid’s dinner. We heard them kiss.

Other afternoons he stuck his head thru the door and called for us to “come run with me”.  On those afternoons we headed down to the ballpark at Whitmore Circle to watch men play baseball. The best part of those “runs” were the Mexican tamale cart vendors who surely over delivered on those one dollar, corn husk wrapped bundles. But, the best thing  ever about those “runs” was a singing ball player, they called, “Big Cole”.

From the dugout Big Cole ran thru, what I imagined were, old songs; rifts of blues and names of women and men who had done him wrong. He was older than the players and rarely made it to the plate. I recall him swatting a slow lobbed ball over the Pitcher’s outstretched glove just once. He couldn’t “run slow”, the men teased Big Cole, and he slung the bat and settled back into the dugout. After awhile he began to hum, then riff on the idea of  finding a woman who could “wait til the bottle run dry”. “What He say, Daddy?” my bug-eyed query brought chuckles from the grown ups.

Again, Big Cole riffed on about Birmingham not being a ham at all! We oughta see the one up dat gals draws! And me, “What He say, Daddy? What HE SAY?” Soon, recounting stories of thunderous home runs were overshadowed by the salty tongue of Big Cole and a few others trying to jump into the rowdy workman’s calling.

Driving home, Daddy S.L. said that Big Cole was a “Caller” for the Gandy men who worked to straighten the tracks. The heavy loads of trees being harvested  from deep in the woods would damage the rail lines and could warp the creosoled drenched ties. He said the “Gandy Dancers” and work crews from the Penitentiary “throwed” them back in line. Big Cole sang to the men and got everybody on the same rhythm to make the job easier.

Daddy S.L. said that Big Cole hung around places and picked up stories to use in his songs. Later, in July, he drove me to the Little Rock Stock Yards and we parked near the junction where myriad train tracks snaked and fingered alongside the warehouses for delivery. We left the car windows down and a warm breeze had me nodding.

I awoke to a shadowy clanking of iron rods and deep laughter. A White man suddenly shouted, “Gwine up to de quarter head”, and men moved in unison toward a curved section of tracks. I sat up and leaned out the station wagon’s window just as the White man made a jerking arm motion and yelled out to the men.

On the hot breeze a long moan built quickly to a wailing, then nasally passage in Big Cole’s, familiar cadence.

Aahhh! Aaa-Ooohhh-Oh-Ohh-Oh

Aahh—Two lil’ gals was court’n Me

One was blind & One caint see

My Grandma put a switch to me

When I come home wit a kiss on me

Ol boys pull t’gether

Ol boys pull t’hether—HUH!

At “HUH!” the men shuttered, stomped, whipped their iron rods in a hard, short burst and I saw the track jut to the left.

He did it twice more before the White man gestured with his hand and the men halted. On the wind, that carried dry and hot back to the station wagon window, was laughter. Behind the guffaws came a question. “You couldn’t hide dem gal’s kisses, Cole?!”

Daddy S.L. shook his head, chuckled and started up the family car.

This story first appeared in the blog, Three Days In The City. All copyrights reserved.

Jas. Mardis is an awarded Poet, Radio Commentator, Editor and Fabric Artist. He is a 2014 Inductee to The Texas Literary Hall of Fame.