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April Poetry 2016: Others Will Tell

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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.

I Did Not Kiss You Then

 

 

 

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I Did Not Kiss You Then
for you M.

If I start now
I will be able to kiss all of your lips
pursed, like clutches of sweet, buttery mahogany leather between
elegant unhurried undressing darkly mocha eyes
and that most succulent sweep and beckoning perk of chin
always poised and framed in the light of your falling and bouncing curls

I did not kiss you then
back then
all of those unrequited opportunities ago
back when I was too foolish to go under your water
to walk your warming earth mother
to say into your close, laughing breath all that finally awakened within me at fifty

If I start now
I will be able to press without abandon against your lips
against this watched and known breakwater of longing and whispers
against the gravity of our parallel seasons of beautiful wondering and wandering
that lands us again and again on these paths and passions

I did not kiss you then
in the light of those too soon days of our youths
in those stumbling days of flat bellies and too much drinking
in those ready mouthed moments of sudden parties and naked stupidity
in those deafening grab-the-ring and step quickly off the ride chances

If I start now
right now
with your face this close with your voice so softly stayed in your throat
with your coat wrestling open in the heat of this museum hallway
with all of our friends trying not to notice what every lone and beating heart
calls fire in the self pleasing habit of their own chased bedded nights
If I start with this small kiss of your beautiful lips
I may be able to catch
us both up

 

Jas. Mardis
01/28/2016

This One Day

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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.

Stealing Sweet Apple Pears (poem and audio)

asleepAudio: Stealing Sweet Apple-Pears

 Stealing Sweet Apple Pears

We could not walk away from the wet mouthed joy
of the palm-sized apple-pears
stolen at a speed of one hundred steps an hour
from the tree in Mr. Willie’s backyard

each bite to come

worth the bare-foot procession over spurned alley trash
and fallen branches petrified against the barren, rootless earth

each of our shirt-baskets
full to the wide-eyed brim with yellow-green and crimson delight

our mouths already full of last summer’s remembrance:
zest and tang and pith and running

we could not

not even when he stood watching
his ratty bathrobe tied into a knot
the same patterned knot that tied his Viet-damned soul
tied it so tightly that this battle for pears
was his only connection to the world still outside of him

tied and ragged
ragged and red and yellowed and bruised
as much like his wounds on the battleground
torn into strips and shreds and being pulled away from him

like the skin of his plump, backyard fruit
between our teeth

gathered between the supple lips of our youth

pulled and suckled away from the meat and the seed

each bite
each crimson and yellow-green oddest oval globe
taking our teeth like first and last
lovers

each fruit
licking back against our tongues
lapping back into the canyon of our bite
claiming that moment of fulfillment
cajoling our senses toward the next summer’s delight
creating the answers to the questions of pleasure

each of those fruits
come so graciously year after year to that tree
come so tauntingly aromatic on the first day winds
come so wickedly olive-to-sanguine
and finally to wasted, fallen,  saffron fodder for the night creature’s to taste

We
We could not walk away from the wet mouthed joy
of the palm-sized apple-pears
dangling so much like desire
swaying in the lilting southern summer siroccos
like radio music from air-condition less cars
and the sweet, sweet flask of bay rum spilled onto the barber’s smock
and the yelping night hounds trapped, swollen in mid-hump out back of the fence
and
the from heaven falling
out of Mr. Willie’s apple-pear tree
having never landed and bounced against the earth

rather,
dangling
flying
circling and spinning and pendulant from a branch
my face turned crimson
my pants ripped into a knotted gash
and Mr. Willie
coming finally through the screen door
knife
in hand

Copyyright 1996 Jas. C. Mardis  All Rights Reserved

Miss You Much (poem and audio)

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/fsa/l

audio:Miss You Much

Miss You Much

sometimes
I miss you so much that
I retrace every other mere woman and girl back thru my heart
I recall the error of their kiss    the yielding moment of their last breath into my mouth
I recant all of those restless declarations of love
I slit my tongue.    I weep.   I moan.   I return to a fetal pose.  I re-die to them.

sometimes
when I am unable to lay your old touch asunder
when there is so much of you in the air that I breath in sips and get dizzy
when a fever rages in my bones  as though I am leaving my own flesh
when so much of what I want is found in stories of moments with you
I slit my tongue.  I weep.  I moan.  I return to a fetal pose.

sometimes
the most pleasure that I can manage is the remembrance of your “yes”
the chime of my mantle clock gathers me back to when you stood naked at the fire
the ring tone for you on someone else’s phone revives your first,  “Hey, Babe”
the way that I try to love others makes them cower and leap from my bed
I slit my tongue.  I weep.  I moan.

sometimes
well past bedtime I do not lay still against your long absence from my life
well beyond my reach   your laughter rides every gust of wind until it reaches my heart
well after I am soaked and awash in tears and aloneness    I apologize …again
well into the days of living on without you    the thought is foolishness to my soul
I slit my tongue.   I weep.

sometimes
there is everything and nothing left to say between us
there is my hand on the phone   with your number dialed  and knowing that you are waiting
there is every little thing bringing me back to my side of town   there is your darkened door
there is the distance being closed by looking at our pictures on my screen
I slit my tongue…

Jas. Mardis
(8/6/2015)

Jas. Mardis is 2014 Inductee to The Texas Literary Hall of Fame and is the Editor of KenteCloth: Southwest Voices of the African Diaspora (UNT Press) and a Pushcart Prize winner for Poetry.

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

These Pictures are Lying Again (poem w/audio)

Migratory worker on the Norfolk-Cape Charles Ferry, writing a postcard home to his parents

AUDIO: These Pictures Are Lying Again

These Pictures are Lying Again

there are pictures from today   a year ago
that will soon be from two     three    ten years ago
with your smile    still     hungrily for me
your long, sinewy arms   still wanting me    within
your eyes   gone soft and renewed with our found fondness
with each other’s touch and voice
and overnight laughters   early morning pleasures

pictures
racing    like rainwater   over fertile ground  and opening seeds
licking  over landscapes  like gardens and Edens    revealed anew
like juices   bursting in mouthfuls of first  bitten   forbidden  fruits

and I know now
as I will in two    three    ten years to come
that there is forever a weakness   down deep in my soul
for the want and fever and fresh joy of your face
for the building up “yes”   from the year of these pictures
for the measure of haunting regard    that  pulses my remembrance
in this string of found   almost postcards
undispatched   from a folder on my phone
and   are so much more ether and imagination   than photographs
—dare I say–of old

and so, much like the year that is no longer    this year,

what I hold in my hand is   in addition to not being you
not even a photograph  of you

not even the same exposed four-by-six inches of paper
that would have filled a space in time on this earth   as did we
not hardly   the erasable   or torn  terrible kind of thing to be stuck
in a proper album    beneath a coffee table    yellowing in the glue
fading behind the noisy, slipping-off sheets of shiny covers

even the existence of these digital ideas   shames my memory
of what is true of your time in my desire
of what is true in the remembrances of my narrative of us:

did you ever kiss me against a large oak with bark as thick as both our fingers?
was I ever undressed   and asleep  in the light of an April Sunday morning?
do you still have the sticky patch above your right breast  from the hospital tape?

can you still taste  the sweet icing from your god daughter’s wedding cake…
did the oily stain that it left on your favorite red dress   ever come out?

is your mouth  still, impossibly beautiful
does it still want to say  my name    from  one, two…

soon to be    ten years ago

Jas Mardis  (06/2015)
(4yat)

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)
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