A Book About Forever

                

          It has been four days of hearing you

Your laughter filling me up from where my toes end to where thoughts begin
Your early days stories
Taking me into long forgotten tales of my own
Memories and wonders and hopes and delights
Slipping between us like forever is still an infant
Like these old bones are not creaking
Like all my teeth are still where they used to be

           I am not in a hurry to be the old man that I was before 
    Before you smiled  when hearing my laughter  just a few feet away
 Standing in the same aisle   Standing in the same dusty pathway of knowledge

You: forgetting about the Orishas and JuJu women book
Forgetting about the heat of the day and the market booths
Forgetting about the drum circle men and women keeping their thunder
Between their knees and wrap-skirts and welcoming rhythms

         They are all around us
         But we are alone
     Just you and your smiling to yourself about the ways I am making you want thunder

In your breasts thru your belly between your thighs

          Later   after our third night 
     You will tell me of how you surrendered  all of your old fears  to my laughter
How you spent a journey of steps  backward toward the savoring sound of it
          How you pressed your palm to your belly  exposed by your tied off shirt  
    How your fingers played along  and said that my tongue would trace your navel
   And spill cups of whispers  into you  with the same   heavy  baritone  and bouncing joy
       How you turned your face toward  me   and parted your lips  intending to say your name
  But  instead    you swallowed up the view of my walking  and  taking   you   in

Me: this is what the dreams of aloneness have taught me
And I have watched you saunter beyond and back to me twice already
You are in desire mode you came wanting knowledge of mysterious things and women
Somewhere you have reasoned that another book is waiting for you
I can see it in the way you come to the end of the shelves and take the corner toward home
In watching you I want to know that manner of thirst that way of having the tongue surrendered
That opening up and taking in of things anew

        Later    after our third night
   I will let free every thought and want of you 
               From this first moment of you  amongst these books of our people
     You are already   forever   known to me for the way you want words  around you
  The way you steady yourself and touch each spine 
                 in the same way that you will read the curve of me thru a wet towel on day seven
          already    everything  that I knew before seeing you searching   has been lost

and there is only come whatever will come whatever may

            so… I ask for the title of the book that would send you on such a journey
 and I listen when you turn your face up to me and say



              that you are looking for book about forever
          and it seems to be written  on the sound of my laughter

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.Jas Mardis 2022
Jasmardis.com

Tell It All

         

TELL_ it all

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      It seems silly    in this moment 
   but let me just say:
William TELL! Do TELL! TELL Me A Story!
 or, maybe just …TELL Me Something Good!
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   how could I not take the advantage 
       the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity 
   to play with your name
       to chance your smile
     to risk a another slap on my wrist
.
       Truth be told 
Entering the room where you stood eating  
     confident … owning your ground
  I expected you to say:
        Angel.  Vixen.  Joy.  or just for once
 the Sistah to say “You can call me Often”
.
         instead 
    you are called by the most unexpected 
    of monikers: Tell
      so,
  Tell me you love me 
floods my mind from songs on the radio
    “Tell Me…Tell Me…Tell Me….
   Won’t you tell, tell, tell …tell me”
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       I’m certain that the crooner is crying
     his tears are starting their journey 
his shirt front stiffens for their weight…
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     Wait, I have it wrong
   the song is, “Say You Love Me”
but what a wonderful mistake!
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     Forever and more the thought of you
  the first thought of you 
       and every time I say your name 
 and consider your face  
        every time I 
           enjoy you chewing 
        recall you standing in a room
            every time I 
           drink the aroma of your memory
    it’ll come with the joy of song
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4tel2
Jas. Mardis

Poem: winds of change

Winds of Change

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      I found myself 
            standing in the wind today
     standing and pushing my body against the idea of falling
     against the thought of twisting 
    against the desire to move on 
        but
       I was standing 
           suddenly 
          and steadfast 
       in the spot where I’m sure 
      I’ll kiss you for the first time 
          You were on my phone
      a text   an emoji    a silly, moving image
    telling me that you were certain
        its hands/your hands
       tiny/small   but thick and lined with years of muscles  delicate caresses waiting to be rested against a fold in my cheek 
        waiting to trace the rivulet-curls 
       of my new beard 
   into the curve of my jaw
         onto the bulb of my ear’s lobe
      where you’ll pinch it gently 
      and guide the awe of my opening mouth 
      onto the wanting blush of your grinning 
      and so
        I stood      still 
       and took the biting wind 
       took the pressing hand of that force 
    took the whipping chill  
 took the harsh whistling  growling  bark
   took the pushing and twisting at my legs
 took the tugging away at my hat brim
     took that moment 
             before I had known you existed
   before there were snatches of thoughts
        and remembrances of your faces 
    and reasons to hide away the echo
          and fullness and temptation 
      of you laughing 
         I took that past me
      absent the coming moment of you
    absent the pulsing  racing  hoping 
          days without you or an emoji you 
        and watched them eclipsed 
 like useless    wasted sunny days of youth
    covered over
        by the chance of a day
     with you tugging 
       tugging    tugging 
          me 
   into the winds of change 
    
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Jas Mardis

Copyright JasMardis 2019

Summer Honeysuckle, Like Manna

Creator(s): Lange, Dorothea, photographer
Fruit jars being sterilized on old lady Graham’s back fence in berry season. Near Conway, Arkansas. Lange, Dorothea, photographer

Audio: Summer Honeysuckle Like Manna

Summer Honeysuckle, Like Manna
for Terri Boyd

Go ahead
let the air  move in and out of your body   again        just breathe
let your surprised  breast rise and fall and rise
as we talk about  what is    familiar     between us

breathe      like
the last time you crossed the just cut grass of your Grandmother’s yard
where the air was sweet and new and Summer morning fresh

and remnants of those chopped blades clung to your greased legs
and dusted the patent-leather reflection of your shoes
and you kept on running     because there was blooming honeysuckle
to pluck and strip and lay gently on your tongue
then   pull back thru your pursed lips   and enjoy   in joy

it took all our breaths away to know that a wisp of honey hid there
like manna
opened  anew    each morning    always, just right there
laid out across
simple post and wire fences  that partitioned off the journey
for those blocks and corners that created   neighbors and later  hoods

every time I say it   I crave
another sip   of that backyard heaven weed
grown from vines that seemed to fall from an endless sky
yet   reached up from miraculous patches of ground cover

even now    we cannot run our minds into believable paths to their roots
where old bees    too fat for flight       must be relegated to stuffing
and slathering new vines with left-out and spilled-over nectar

what else could  explain it

surely not just childhood
moments of wonder and growing  and seeing mysteries so clearly
so wonderfully happy with just   sunlight   and cool winds on our face
sun soaked, nappy heads and pool water burned eyes and nostrils

surely no dog chased existence
or tree-climbing      bare-foot-racing mind could make up
this terrible goodness    grown wild and fetching and free

were there always wasps and yellow-jackets to chase you    screaming

do you remember the sting of that surprised you
as you watered the garden in burping  ripples from that tangled  hose

did your Grandmother come running to hush your scream

do you remember
if you left the water running when you dropped the hose

did that sweet, Summer-warmed stream run all night
did it run
until it found a way         into honeysuckle’s roots

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Jas. Mardis  (7/2015)
* Happy Birthday, Terri. Thx for your support

Jas. Mardis is a 2014 Inductee to The Texas Literary Hall of Fame

South of Eden

South of Eden

.

.
Sometimes

I have to be reminded

So, the rain comes flashing through

pouring life from on high

where the clouds have grown gray and fat

with what someone once said were

“The tears of the devil’s wife”

who was being spanked

and I’m reminded

when all is done

by how glorious and green the world turns

after being drenched and drained of its’ dullness

by the rain

and I’m reminded

by the copious pages of grasses turned again

toward the verdant sheets of green

stretching ever so fully

‘cross the fields and vacant lots

forever sprouting skyward into the heads of trees

sliding with elegance into the valleys and

over the hills

then climbing the ivy against the walls of lattice work and brick

and window trim

and I’m reminded

by how clear and blue and calm

the rain turns the sky

of how sacredly calm the earth’s beauty

can pulse the human blood

and excite the body toward passions long forgotten

of how one simple gaze of

grasses and tree tops turned back to green

and leaves reclaiming their reds and yellows

and the beige and white of buildings pulling up from the ground

the ground churning the brown dust and dirt and earth

into a thing of beauty

like the wide eyes of a woman  ready to love

and I’m reminded

by the early morning/late evening smells of that dirt

that   earth     sectioned off by garden fences

that earth

peeled back against itself into the frenzy of a mound

that earth

and the smell of it all

streaking through the air and finding the nostrils

sparking the heart and the memory

reminding

me to never forget the early mornings of my youth

when the open window brought me this same

fresh-earth aroma

and awoke me to it

so that I’d stumble to that window and look out

into my Mother’s garden

with the tall, green stems bending under the tomato’s growth

while swollen stalks of okra and peas watered the mouth

and branches of pecans and plums and persimmons

rallied their growth against our crunch of apple-pears

in their shade

and watermelons burst under the force of their juices

and sometimes I need to be reminded

that I am south of Eden

with her garden growing dense with promise and remembrances

and I open my mind’s eye to the beauty of it all

and make a wish on never forgetting to know

something this wonderful

is just   a   rain   away

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Jas. Mardis

KenteCloth: Southwest Voices of the African Diaspora

Page 62     University of North Texas Press  1997

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…”

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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