April Poetry 2016: This One Day

This One Day

 

There is just this one day

A set of    single       unmissed moments    occurring between us

bringing thoughts and new wants and joy

bursting from within me

 

riding the instant melody of your surprising voice

heaping coals onto the fire that is your laughter

 

unearthing treasures in each slow closing and reappearance of your eyes

upturning urges and tickling the toes of my stepping nearer to you

 

I won’t bother asking if this evening    is honestly    all     mine

 

hopefully you are asking, too

hopefully,  like     wonder,   you      across this landscape of table top

across this closing divide

on the other side of this meal     at the end of a swallow

 

tenderly  wrapped  like a luscious tongue ’round the tine of a fork

savoring  this new taste   that fills  our bellies

 

I would go ahead and cry for you

go ahead and let the held back water flow from within my soul

go ahead and fill the dry, ochre fibers of this mud cloth sewn overshirt

 

I would     go ahead and lay down for you

a mere bridge    a heaven’s gate    a whisper covering and claiming it’s only heart

 

there is never enough time on night’s like this

never enough nights    wetted     and savoring    and lavish    like this

 

I am certain that tomorrow awaits just beyond these windows

waits    and claims new life    just beyond the doors of this eatery

waits    and ponders  which other big, precious brown eyed beauty

what other   ebony hued and ivory grinned   slender slip of curved Sistah

wherever  other self-assured and charismatic women will be poured out before me

 

Tomorrow …..a desperate creator of itself

having never cared to hold over  remnants  of what Today has laid bare

Tomorrow

already     pressing the clocks and watches into a new hour

wants me to believe that you are on your way gone

slipping away     filtered out by the cold and dark night    that we are being guided  into

the exhausted Waiter     himself a Tomorrow Man

already paid and cashed out and done with our ogling eyes   and cold, spilled fries

 

Tomorrow….Tomorrow…..

I am convinced that if you will accept my offer to  take you gently into the wealth

and warmth of   a moment    pressed against the tear stained ochre shirt

even Tomorrow will claim us     as its’ very, very own creation

 

 

 

 

 

Jas. Mardis

 

 

New 2016 National Poetry Month poems

Jas Mardis is a 2014 Inductee into The Texas Literary Hall of Fame and an award winning Poet, Radio

Commentator and Art Quilter.

Summer Story: Jeffie and The Itchy Penny

I grew up in Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas,  just up the hill from the Jack In the Box on Corinth road and down the block from Greater Mt. Pleasant Missionary imageBaptist Church. Going a little further would land you at the Dallas Zoo or, in the other direction, the entrance to the legendary Dallas Sportatorium. No matter which direction we took back in the day we were guaranteed an adventure.

For my brother, Little S.L., and me there was nobody who took an adventure further than Jeffie Caldwell. Most of the time we walked wherever we wanted to go, so when we finally did get a bike Me, Little S.L. and Jeffie took turns riding and walking alongside it on our journeys.

Most days started with a yell across the neighborhood to find out what was going on for the day. Jeffie was always out before us and he stayed away from home longer and later than we were allowed. The next mornings would be spent sharing fried egg and Spam sandwiches while Jeffie told us what he’d discovered. We sat spellbound on flattened basketballs in the shade of our garage and apple-pear tree as he scared us with his escapes and unbelievable sightings. We learned to tell if he was making stuff up because Jeffie would pick a boring part and start poking a stick at the yellow jacket nest on the underside of the garage roof line. The hornets would swarm, we’d scream, swat, dodge and Jeffie would disappear.

One day there was no response to our yells. Me and Little S.L. went looking and eventually found him down the hill in front of the Jack in the Box. He was sitting on the curb, staring at two, white steel pennies on the pavement between his feet. Every so often he would scratch his unusually dirty palms, then rub them hard against his equally dirty handed down jeans.

“Hey, Jeffie”, we called out to him but he never took his gaze off those pennies. “What’s happening, Jeffie?” also went unanswered and it took a few minutes before he noticed that we had been standing there. Jeffie’s eyes were big, but he kept them closed to slits most of the time because he needed glasses. When he looked up at us his eyes were bugged, bloodshot and a little glassy. He called on me first. “Hey, Buggy, uh, can you do me a solid, man?” Without waiting for my answer Jeffie stepped slowly away from the shiny coins and asked, “Uh, can you pick up dem pennies for me, right quick?”

Little S.L. stepped in front of me and picked up the pennies, but instantly dropped them and yanked his hand away to scratch against his pants. He swore–“SHIT. DAMN”.  Jeffie didn’t say anything. He looked over at me and asked again, “Uh, hey, Buggy Man…can you pick up ‘dem pennies?” Little S.L. kicked at the pennies and said, “There’s something on the back of the pennies that stung my hand, Jr.”

We just stood there for a minute or two or longer, really deciding what to do next. I knew that Little S.L. would never swear in public and certainly not in front of the Jack-in-the-Box. I also knew that Jeffie could come up with some pretty “different discoveries” and didn’t want to pick up pennies that had been dipped in some kind of liquid. “Uh, Jeffie, where you been all morning?” was how I avoided the whole thing…for a minute. “Hey, Man…you know….just walking around and looking around for stuff…you know.” Little S.L. broke in quickly, “Where was you walking when you got dem Burning Pennies, Jeffie?” “I ain’t got no BURNING NOTHING…They Itching Pennies, Steve!”

Ten seconds later, with the pennies flying across the Jack-in-the-Box covered eating area. I agreed with Jeffie. As soon as I reached for the coins a string of pressure covered the tips of my fingers and thumb. Once I grasped the coins a quick, itch-burn-biting sensation came over my hand. I swore…in front of the Jack-in-the-Box.

That’s when the White Manager opened the side door and came out to run us off. Jeffie, showing us in real-time one of his “famous escapes” scooted over to the spot where the coins had settled and spoke up, “Hey Mister, we’re just practicing a magic trick, wanna see it?’ The Manager stopped and laughed at him, “What kind of magic trick has two white pennies thrown in the air for no reason, Jeffie?” (That’s why you didn’t cuss in front of the Jack-in-the-Box) “It’ll cost you two tacos to find out”, Jeffie recovered and the Manager lifted an eye brow and put his hand on his hip. Jeffie looked at the pennies then back at the man and added, “We only get the tacos if you can’t figure out the trick! Okay? Oh, and you don’t tell Rev. Caldwell that we been cussing next time he’s down here.” “Deal” the man agreed and went back inside for the tacos. 

When the Manager returned there were two neighborhood boys-workers with him. “Okay, show us the trick”

Jeffie made a big show of waving his hands over the pennies and muttering magic words we knew from comic books, but at the end he said, “The Witche’s Itches to anybody who touches her coins!” Then, to our surprise he picked up the pennies and placed them on one of the round metal table tops. “Now, if the trick works then the magic spell that I just put on the pennies will make your hands itch like crazy when you touch them…go ahead and see it…PICK UP THE TACOS..PENNIES!” Everybody laughed, but one of the boys reached out for the coins. He never made it. He snatched back his hand and looked oddly at Jeffie.

The Manager tried next  and quickly dropped the coins and scratched madly at his palms before turning to a smirking Jeffie, who had already reached into the bag for his taco. “Boy”, the Manager whistled out, “What in the world is Rev Caldwell teaching you boys”. Then, they returned to the restaurant and said to get out of the customer seating area.

Jeffie handed us the remaining taco to split and used the paper bag to scoop up the pennies. He rolled the bag into a tight wad and dropped it in the waste can beside the building.

Jeffie was stone cold quiet at our questions about the pennies and we could see him looking around for a wasp nest to whack, so we put him in the middle and kept walking. Stopping at his sidewalk, we waited for his answer. Jeffie told us that he had been in an alley looking for cans and bottles to sell when he saw a White lady burying something behind her garage. He waited until she was finished and back inside before digging it up and, instead of jewelry or gold, he found her cat in a shoe box. The cat had those pennies Scotch taped to his dead eyes. Jeffie had made it all the way to that seating area before figuring out what was itching him so bad.

Finally, when Rev. Caldwell came to the screen and barked out, “Jeffie, was you boys cussin’ down at the Jack-in-the-Box?’ we knew it was time to run!

National Poetry Month: Translation Challenge

Here’s a new poem for National Poetry Month that needs to be translated into English to be fully appreciated.

MERS : vous

J’ai pensé mille fois
d’être pris
dans l’espace entre votre
yeux
que nous continuions en passant nos navires

sur les premières mers de cette nuit

pensais que mille autres
de comment il est incontesté
magie
à trouver des manières de dire une fois
dans chaque regard de localisation

Oui, je vois de vous, trop

depuis cette nuit
Votre visage a dansé mon
doigts
dans le verset nuageux dans des visions brumeuses

et donc je me demande–

vous saurez mon navire

par la projection d’un mille avirons rapides

puis-je savoir votre port
par votre propre mille

la recherche de lampes…

Mardis Jas.
4/2015
vous première: 14aa


Companion Poems from Jas. Mardis

SEAS: You

I have thought a thousand times
of being caught
in the space between your
eyes
as we kept passing our ships
on that night’s first seas

thought a thousand more
of how there is unquestioned
magic
in finding ways to say once
into each locating glance
that Yes, I am seeing You, too

since that night
Your face has danced my
fingers
in cloudy verse… in foggy visions…
and so I wonder–
will you know my ship
by the splash of a thousand fast oars…

will I know your harbor
by your own thousand
searching lamps….

Jas. Mardis
3/25/2015
(44aa)

————————————-

Library of Congress

SEAS: Me

This time makes a full      first one thousand
grains of sand        passing thru the narrow path between
what has been      and        come whatever may

this is the instance the best of moments     on new winds
this drawing of you     near to me from across the ocean that is this room
your anchor swaying       your angles    among this fog of bodies
become a recognizable mast
the sails in your smiling glance      full-winded,     then folded fast behind your closing lips
gathered shamefully away on the softly-browned deck of your face

the iceberg of restraint is broken      beneath the surface of greeting
broken, most importantly, where it has been heaviest built

How strange to be strangers when so many know our names

Forge the smile-readied waters of this greeting
we are grown      our keels made true from       having been kissed
having been held close in fragrant gardens at midday and midnights
having been pressed against ruffled linens down pillows disheveled quilts
having been called gently and longingly from distant rooms
distant, beautiful, magnificently just departed rooms and being instantly needed back
following moments that began just like this

my ropes are moored to the pier of this distant chair
there is a breeze gathering and shaking my lamps
you can clearly see I have no Captain to calm their clattering song
you can clearly see
at my feet there is a newly lighted torch
Jas. Mardis 05/2015
(54aa/hb)

CRAVE (a read poem)

Crave

I have lived long enough
to know the ebb of blood through the veins of emptied arms
to know which wind will carry memories gracefully away
to let go of the idea of wanting someone to watch over me
at rest     from just beyond the open door      while I shower

and yet
what beckons greatly and returns with vigor is     to crave

not just wanting    like a sleep blinded babe at a teet
the animal within     seeking greedily the life from within      another
sloppily hanging on         pushing out weaker comers until your belly lifts you from the task

not just staggering onto half of a glass       and making the next perspective easier
not just yielding and waning      vexing thru a shadow of thirst with recently wetted lips

craving is its own penny
the start of something that has no forseeable end
something found or gifted or lost or earned
that opens up     suddenly and     graciously and       invitingly
it borrows all of your unused begging into an oyster-bothering spec of dirt
and hangs in for the licking    and lapping     and longing       to begin

craving
gleans the edges of the not-yet-sowed field
it taunts this and that idea of knowing     what truly can come of it all
it beckons an easing of the earth
it presses the softest petals into the aperture of cured asphalt
it does not remind what has been opened         to close

craving is seeing how you loved water on the faces of those children at play

how you lifted your sunglasses to rest on the crown of your twisted braids
and smiled from your soul thru your eyes at the tiny girl
who’s Father is already in trouble for getting her hair wet
but who used his t-shirt      and gracious laughter     to dry her water-drenched brow
then let her go back for more

craving is knowing that you do not want to leave      this moment with me
do not wish for fresher air        or fewer sprays on the splashing winds made by
these smiling and life-living children of all hues     in the sun of this day
out with me      with you

craving begs a self-taken photograph
it does not allow me to impose on the friendly father with his drenched belly
he has already smiled at what is on the way for this moment
he has sent his child back to the water
back to another surprise shower burst
back to purse her lips and try to take a drink from the falling finger lake
it has caught her imagination
it has grown into one of her first real and complete ideas

together we can see that she is learning to anticipate
learning to stamp and stomp and dance her feet above the last sprouting place
learning    and leaning   into having known a drenching   joy

once already

and …

Crave (CLICK TITLE and I’ll Read it to YOU)

Jas. Mardis 5/2015
(74aa/hugs)

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

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

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

This One Day

image2

This One Day–audio
There is just this one day

A set of single unmissed moments occurring between us
bringing thoughts and new wants and joy
bursting from within me

riding the instant melody of your surprising voice
heaping coals onto the fire that is your laughter

unearthing treasures in each slow closing and reappearance of your eyes
upturning urges and tickling the toes of my stepping nearer to you

I won’t bother asking if this evening is honestly all mine

hopefully you are asking, too
hopefully, like wonder, you across this landscape of table top
across this closing divide
on the other side of this meal at the end of a swallow

tenderly wrapped like a luscious tongue ’round the tine of a fork
savoring this new taste that fills our bellies

I would go ahead and cry for you
go ahead and let the held back water flow from within my soul
go ahead and fill the dry, ochre fibers of this mud cloth sewn overshirt

I would go ahead and lay down for you
a mere bridge a heaven’s gate a whisper covering and claiming it’s only heart

there is never enough time on night’s like this
never enough nights wetted and savoring and lavish like this

I am certain that tomorrow awaits just beyond these windows
waits and claims new life just beyond the doors of this eatery
waits and ponders which other big, precious brown eyed beauty
what other ebony hued and ivory grinned slender slip of curved Sistah
wherever other self-assured and charismatic women will be poured out before me

Tomorrow …..a desperate creator of itself
having never cared to hold over remnants of what Today has laid bare
Tomorrow
already pressing the clocks and watches into a new hour
wants me to believe that you are on your way gone
slipping away filtered out by the cold and dark night that we are being guided into
the exhausted Waiter himself a Tomorrow Man
already paid and cashed out and done with our ogling eyes and cold, spilled fries

Tomorrow….Tomorrow…..
I am convinced that if you will accept my offer to take you gently into the wealth
and warmth of a moment pressed against the tear stained ochre shirt
even Tomorrow will claim us as its’ very, very own creation

 

 

Jas. C. Mardis
 


 

Jas. C. Mardis is a Poet, Writer and Quilter. He is a 2014 Inductee to the Texas Literary Hall of Fame.

April Poetry 2016: Others Will Tell

image2

Others Will Tell

 

Others will tell you
that:   your yellow 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 standing 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 trees

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
03/01/2016

 

 
New 2016 National Poetry Month poems
Jas Mardis is a 2014 inductee into The Texas Literary Hall of Fame and an award winning Poet, Radio Commentator and an Art Quilter.

April Poetry II 2016: The Morning’s Flesh

        Photo credit Jack Delano

The Morning’s Flesh

for Sweet

My finger touches the pimpled layers of fresh washed skin
And I cradle that luscious roundness in my upturned palm

My thumb slips into the curving   opening up   places
And a drizzle of juice covers my fingers and puddles into my palm

I stop my peeling and savor just the licking and lapping and pleasure

I always know this taste   it’s always the  first time
I know there’s    more to     come

The cover just falls away now
And the juice is spraying my open mouth and fills my mustache with sweetness

I don’t know if my teeth will hurt or tease these slices of sweet flesh

So I use my tongue
And let the bitter skin
Teach me new ways to enjoy the
Waiting, weeping flesh of
this morning’s orange

 

 
Jas. Mardis

 

New 2016 National Poetry Month poems
Jas Mardis is a 2014 inductee into The Texas Literary Hall of Fame and an award winning Poet, Radio Commentator and Art Quilter.

Cold This Month Poetry: ‘Be “Absolutely” For…

 

(for M.L., why not…)

 
Before I see you again
I will think of the way you consider your words with me
I will consider the smiles that you have held onto
and returned to your breast as though you needed back the breath

I will see you coming thru every door and down every hallway
always a surprise worthy of reliving
worth the price of the aloneness that follows

your arrival
and going away again
slipping thru sudden moments
creating and creasing your way into my hope: a Christmas unto yourself

I will begin each one of my next sentences with a loud laugh
I will start them over again and again

for each time that
I imagine you will smile
even with your face and beating heart so fully turned into worship

before I see you again
before you enter   and sway    and send forth your glow
before there is a shivering thought and smile of my own over you
before I can remember that other women walk the Earth
before the Sun warms your skin
before it spreads your smile
before it slits your eyes into that pencil-thin gaze that you’ve perfected
before …
before …be-absolutely-for
being adored …

go ahead and know that I’m always
looking
wanting
waiting
until it happens again

 

Jas. Mardis /12-16
Jas. Mardis is a 2014 Inductee of the Texas Literary Hall of Fame and Editor of “KenteCloth: Southwest Voices of the African Diaspora, UNT PRESS