I Suppose It Is Time

I suppose that it is time for such a thing to happen. The world has not completely stopped, just taken a sabbatical during the pandemic and virus recovery attempts. Along the way a lot of people have perished. Many of them from the virus and many others in the normal course of life’s medical tragedies that seem suddenly less than immediate, but just as certain as, well, taxes.

Photography with wood window and curtains--night lit view--Copyright JasMardis

I am in the vein of reality where mortality is upon me in a way that brings it all truly home. My spirit demands a sudden accounting of things as I read of the death of a former lover. Approaching my sixtieth birthday in July, an age that my Father did not reach successfully, I am pondering the absence of a woman with whom I once lay generously and passionately for hours and days without beginning or end. Her smile and warmth and coming alongside me in general conversations of daily being and faith explorations gave me a toe hold on the person that I am today. We once turned the morning into awakening with ravenous hungers and physical bonding before surrendering to the start of day. Even now, her body long gone from me; married and surrendering to a spouse; she gives me pleasure and expectation, as I page thru the mornings with others.

Gone. Dead. Passed. Deceased. Succumbed.

She called me not long before her death and asked if I still wanted a particular thing that we once found in a resale shop. It was right there; in her hand; rusted and seized up, as useless as the one we found over fifteen years ago on a lunch side trip. Next to the BBQ place, across a slanted parking lot with a slow-cranking, red and white sign and $30 box springs out front, the wide store windows burped with metal shelves and promise. We left the foil-wrapped food on the car seat and browsed for what she called, “another man’s trash”. Two aisles into our browsing she yelled out to me, “Got IT!” and ran to me with a Smith-Corona manual typewriter. “Fix it up and write me poetry. All for the low-low price of $10 …and rust dust on both our clothes and the back seat of my car.

Later that day, with the office abuzz with some manner of team building, maybe a baby or wedding shower that overtook the conference room, she called me with a request. “Can you come to my office? Well, actually. Can you meet me in the stairwell while this party is going on?” I headed straight over and rode the elevator up to the floor below her office and entered the stairwell for the meet up. She asked if I had written anything yet on the seized up device from lunch. “Nope”. She lifted her navy and white polka-dotted dress and I read, MUSE, written in White-Out on her thighs.

That’s where we found ourselves frequently for much of the next year. Getting caught by stair runners and pretending to share a quick smoke, before the days of twenty-five feet from the building entrance smoking areas. Soon enough the novelty of sneaking off ran its course and our lives succumbed to other relationships and marriages and our growing kids from previous relationships. But, still, she called, all those years later with a familiar tone across the phone lines. “I found another one. You want it? I can send it to you…or you can come get it (laugh). She wasn’t close. Our kids were making kids. That office building has long since started securing the stairwell with digital codes. I couldn’t take off in the middle of the day. I held onto the MUSE through numerous relationships. There were years to add to that story.

Social Media came around and phones changed into cameras and messages could be secreted to anyone at anytime. In the middle of the night I received her breasts and a recording about how much they would be missed. “But, you can remember them like this”. A little while later, months later, she asked for my body’s picture. Later still, she asked if I remembered the White Out; unlit cigarettes and the guy who watched from the next floor up.

In the mail one weekend was a manilla envelope. Inside a sandwich bag was littered with slivers and squares of nylon, silk and cotton fabric that had been sprayed with perfume and had a Victoria’s Secret tag taped to the outside. No return address needed. There were twenty-two pieces: it had been twenty-two years since we last touched. I did not reach back to confirm or celebrate or figure out a flight to nowhere. I put the whole thing in my side table and waited out the unavoidable.

I really do hate Social Media and the insensitive nature of calling out the dead. Memorials of life started populating my timeline within the next few weeks. I guess nobody knows that you are leaving behind lovers when laying hold of your image and videos of your voice…laughter…wedding…graying into a sexy grandma. There is no reason to consider who kissed the dead or found them in delight…read their thighs…felt their breath and bite and exhale.

The ways of the World do not consider your becoming years or fathom a guess at the worth and waning melody of finding yourself suddenly mortal. Unlike a parent or relative; elderly or neighborhood or College roommate’s passing, the first time you lose a lover is a sobering affair. Your bodies are forever linked with shared muscle and fluid exchanges. There is grace and homecoming ending forevermore. And, there is an upturned calendar, hourglass and ticking…ticking…and time running toward you, now. Suddenly, it is possible that you, too, could breathe no more into the memory of someone special.

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.

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.Jas Mardis is a 2014 Texas Literary Hall of Fame inductee and a Fabric and Pyrography Artist .

Final Natl-Poetry-Month Poem: How Sweet It Is… (audio and text)

Audio: How Sweet It Is

How Sweet It Is…

I want to sing
not just that hand moving vocalizing from American Idol tryouts
but sing in a way that makes men    wait to go pee

when the alarm has gone off   and it’s me on the radio
and the morning is still cold on the other side of his woman
and she is barely making a sound
but her mouth is a smile
and her hips are exposed from beneath and around her gown

and I’m chiming something from The Originals

and I don’t even care that it’s four-part harmony
’cause damn    he’s looking over across her curves and sweetness
and remembering a few nights ago   that should have been last night, too

and she’s curling her shoulders into the full light of day  breaking across into the room

and her leg straightens   and the gown   just gives up

and there is something rising in the air on the sun’s rays and in the mist of dust
and there are all kinds of “yes” in the way that she opens her eyes to him

and the covers and pillows    fall into line

and there is nothing to be said with words
not even that line about “gonna be late for work”
because I’m on the radio

and what they HEAR when I sing: “DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR”
is “I’ve been missing you since yesterday night”

and what they FEEL when I sing: “WHEN YOUR LIPS ARE KISSING MINE”
is, “Yeah”

and what they KNOW when I sing: “DO YOU HEAR THE BELLS, DARLING”
is, “All I need is five minutes to show you”

and what they DO when I sing: “DO YOU HEAR THE BELLS RINGING IN YOUR EARS, BABY”
is ask, “Can we turn that up a little bit, then?”

…”OH, I’LL NEVER HEAR THE BELLS….OH, I’LL NEVER HEAR THE BELLS…
NO, I’LL NEVER HER THE BELLS WITHOUT….YOU, BABY”

How sweet it must be    to sing

Jas. Mardis (04/2015)
National Poetry Month 2015

**Click here to see The Originals sing their hit song properly

Jas. Mardis is a 2014 Inductee to The Texas Literary Hall of Fame, Multiple National Association of Black Journalist GRIOT Awards for Radio Commentary and  a Pushcart Prize Winner for Poetry. He is Editor of KenteCloth: Southwest Voices of the African Diaspora (UNT Press). For booking information of poetry or The Family Story Project workshops–j.mardis@verizon.net or just send a reply from this page.

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

Lily of the Valley

      Photo credit April Anue

Lily of the Valley



by now

we are clearly smitten

unsure of the end but certain of the path to it

all at once I understand something that others have wanted me to read

or at least the reason for so many to agree
it is a simple coming together

the rising voice of two people who know truly of love

somewhere along the way

their tongues have merged into a single song
you and I know it as kindred spirits

we already know what the hours ahead of us hold

so few minutes make up a night together

that we are both out of time before the clocks have run full circle
I want you to be sure of the brown bud

frozen outside your window

baked brown into a dormant husk in defiance of the driven snow

and laced poorly with the ice-cicled web of a lone spider
I want you to know that it is a bud of the Rose of Sharon

again cast against the shadows of another fair Maiden

the sun darkened lily of the valley

biding time in the season of bitter cold and frozen brambles
and so, let’s answer the question rising and falling within your breast

the one that begs at the corners of your mouth

the one that is awakening the unfamiliar craving tugging

riffling and running with your blood’s fire thru your soul
listen, Sweet, as I speak with a plan of love on my lips

with every intention of your flowering and blooming

of covering and protecting              of comforting and pleasure

listen, like this bud in repose, for a strum of the web in your Winter
Our’s is not the Solomon Song

but You can be the dark maiden come in from the sun

breaking free from all of the known words of men and sisters

pressing your head gently to the thunder of my welcoming breast
you have been found

every whisper of your heart song is heard without need for reprise

each of your nights are calling for voluminous joy

endless is your destiny        evermore becomes the only answer
and so to your soul I speak:

  Lily of the Valley      Rose of Sharon

    do not bother with the brambles that have so long entangled ’round you

press into the shadow of their brittle vein and thorns
come forward to my arms and favor

 wipe the weeping memory of any binding rope

    untie the warm caress within you

  undress the trembling, waiting, loving, searching hopes.

Jas. Mardis    12/28/2017

Jas. Mardis is an award winning Poet, Commentator and a Fabric Artist living in Dallas, TX. Jas. Is a 2014 inductee to The Texas Literary Hall of Fame.