T-B-T–Nat’l Poetry Month combo: First Bite (read by Jas.)

(First Bite AUDIO)

First Bite

Almost kissing you
has become something like a fever or favor
and quite possibly   both

I’ve kissed girls   before
you know      back on Morrell Street        before t.v.
when Cousin Lenny was the nighttime radio man
and the sun went down on him playing the records from Motown:
Little Stevie Wonder, The Chi-Lites, Marvin Gaye and
that ridiculous green-eyed Smokey Robinson and The Miracles
who made the girls forget all about you     with his falsetto
and damn green eyes
until they  put away that wad of double bubble
into a cheek

you know those fast girls
who wore the big legged culottes–
those one piece  shorts and a built-in shirt
–with the wide, pleated, flared, cuffed leg  that looked like cut-off dresses
until they moved  real quick

not every girl    just the fast ones
who had greased up legs  that were coffee-brown and muscled up
from all that double-dutch   and kick ball   and Soul Train Saturday morning
and who  learned      how to say everything     with sugar on top
especially

Can I have:
some of yo’ snow cone
  some of yo’ cold drank
     some of yo’ Now-n-Laters
  some of yo’ Kool-Aid
    some of yo’ Pixie Stixs and peppermint for this pickle

and only offered you bites of apple  at lunch    at Vacation Bible School
then asked silly questions like,

“Can I practice kissing on you?”
…then it was  tongue city
and the explosion of all those flavors
until the blush returned to their pickle-paled lips

Yeah, I’ve kissed girls before
but    almost kissing    a very grown   YOU
after our day in the sun   and new discovers   and shared secrets
and sitting here now   with this late night breakfast
our last moment of the day coming on fast
you  blowing cool, breath minted smiles across your coffee

eyeing my colorful plate        cooling that coffee
watching me take my own   slow bites    between glances and chit-chat
your mouth pulling  away from that cup    teeth   wetted and liquid sparked
me swallowing    you swallowing

your newly bared knee beneath the table    your skirt having fallen open
my jean-covered leg is  a poor and pitiful reply  to your bump
your mouth     a new pretense of welcome     your cooled cup   empty

I should have seen it coming
after all those years on Morrell Street   with those kinda hungry culotte-girls

shoulda been   all kinds of ready  with my fork and tongue
with my smoothest, flyest slip and slide over to your corner of the table
with my own   hot drink-wetted teeth and  lips and opening mouth

when I heard you say,
Can I have    somma yo’ potatoes

Jas. Mardis (4/2015)
(104aa)

** I’m not able to display the poem in the correct layout so forgive these left-justified presentations. The book will be ready soon.

**Prior to writing this self-serving poem, Jas.Mardis is a 2014 Inductee to The Texas Literary Hall of Fame. I’m sure his name is being scrubbed from their wall as you read and listen.

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)

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)

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


National Poetry Month 2015–Two Poems Read For You

National Poetry Month 2015

About Face
_____________

To see your face   again
I stood still  and thought of rain

thought of the way that it falls hard and racing          to the needy earth
thought of how water holds memory   like a speakable secret
thought of how     the droplets begging to be set free
must be what we call       thunder
thought of the joy in     filling up to the brim
thought of the moment when   tears    spill

I thought lovingly of watching raindrops invade my Grandmother’s gardens
thought excitedly of how the turned up soil      parts into bursts
thought jealously of how the bits of given ground        reclaim their new order
in  tiny closing pools with swallowed
gulping    drinks

thought of those quarter-sized patches  of newly wetted earth
and the way each one    takes its’ time and closes a darkened circle
back onto itself          just like in the blink of your eyes

yes
I see you now        I see the press and close of your lashes
and how the brown of your eye is swallowed like a refreshing drink
yes
I see you now      I see the way you open your eyes back to the world
how the whites are newly polished glass
and how each wetted and slippery round orb   reclaims it’s searching
yes
I know the reddened rose-come to-Ruebenesque flush of your small, rounded cheek
as you find me    delighted in your reemergence  from the briefest slumber
and I know the feathered rupture of your smiling mouth
across the succulent rivulets of your pampered flesh and pearled grin
and I know that your brow is curling inwardly
that it rises and takes the angle of your forever unanswerable question
the one that gathers the valley of tea-cake brown flesh between your eyes into bunches
and flares your nostrils into the slightest     breathless    moment of wonder

I can tell you that your chin quivers just before you smile
that  your breasts rise expectantly beneath every one of your blouses
that your curls unpin slowly from behind the tips of your ears
that your  tongue passes over your teeth in a beautiful habit
that your  lips press into themselves and emerge from that meeting in splendor

yes

I can see you now   I see your face like raindrops falling    landing   smiling
…into place    …from your sky-bursting laughter    …your heaven of moments
I see your questions and wonders      and how you want just one answer
how you want to know       in the new heart that you have opened     just for me
that     when we leave this moment
will I remember that, yes…we can come back here…
anytime

Jas. Mardis
4/2015 (24aa)

About Face audio clip  < CLICK FOR THE AUDIO>
player




Weighing Waiting
__________      _____

If you wait for me
the first time

before you see my smile     up close

before you like the way
I tilt myself into
laughter
& sunlight

before you agree that there is a beautiful rhythm
in the tap and scuffle of my body’s
swaying, vigorous, massaging approach toward you

before the weight of your anticipation wanes

if you wait for me     before you know me    well
before the glee within your imagination and wanting  slips

before there is caution and hesitation
weeping  into the excitement of having everything that I saw in your eyes
and asked to see    again  but   closer and nearer

before
before
before

if only you will wait for me
and let your bag fill and warm the cafe’s glitter-red booth space
that I am coming to draw around myself    like a cape
and be royally    regally   and rapaciously  poured out before you:

Go ahead
choose the entire tray of desserts
claim the coffee is already cold     each time the Waiter plops it down
between our voices and laughter and flirting     that easily shames the machine-thrown mug

chase the carnivorous bites of meats and cheeses and fruits
with wine that has to be brought in from stores along the block

call sweetly into my bent ear with conspiratorial abiding

gentle     gentler still     gently and grinningly give graciously    in
and speak the truth of the matter and meeting    aloud:
Yes, after all those unfilled minutes alone
after claiming your spot in the pool of my gaze
after teasing the heat and sauce from my spoon

after
after
after

I was     am     will certainly be again
well worth the wait.

Jas. Mardis
(4aa)
player

Weighing Waiting audio  <CLICK FOR AUDIO>


Welcome

mardis pensive look

 

Jas. Mardis is a long term resident of Dallas,Texas. He is an awarded Poet, Radio Commentator and Storyteller with current projects that include anthology editing, quilting, radio and print commentary and coordinating workshops at The Family Story Project.

Jas. Mardis has three previously published chapbooks of poetry that are being re-released in the Fall of 2015 under a single title, “That Boy, There“. These titles were released during the 1990’s as, “Southern Tongue”, “Hanging Time” and  “The Ticking and the Time Going Past”. These book titles are out of print but are available with an online search thru various independent book sellers who purchased inventory from book stores that have since closed their brick and mortar stores or simply gone out of business. These original books range in value from, the original $5 cost-to- upwards of $90 and one seller’s asking price going above $100. This is back stock and historic, original printing, so be guided as your desire and wallet will allow.

Jas. Mardis is the Editor of “KenteCloth: Southwest Voices of the African Diaspora”, 1999 UNT Press.
This is the first anthology to cover the writing of African-Americans from across the Southwest: Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. It holds significance as it is pre-Hurricane Katrina and documents a core of New Orleans contributors, along with the works of emerging and established writers, such as Tim Seibles (2014 National Book Award Finalist), Ms. Bernestine Singley (When Race Becomes Real),  Kalamu ya Salaam, Rev. Jesse Truvillion, Mr. Lindsay Patterson (Langston’s Hughes last Secretary), Clifton Taulbert, Pearl Garrett Clayton and Sharon Bridgeforth (The Bull-Jean Stories), among others. There are 42 contributors in the anthology and many of them were new voices, such as Ms. Singley, at the printing.

Jas. Mardis received The Pushcart Prize for Poetry for his contribution, “Invisible Man”, to the anthology.
Jas. Mardis has also been award The GRIOT Award from The National Association of Black Journalist-Dallas Chapter for Radio Commentary heard on National Public Radio station, KERA 90.1 FM in 1994, 1995 and 1996.
He was also a finalist during that same time for the KATIE Award from The Dallas Press in the same category.
Other publications and awards can be viewed on the WRITER page of this site.

Jas. Mardis is the Coordinator of The Family Story Project, a for profit family history workshop program that assist individuals and families in discovering their family narrative thru the stories that have been told thru time.
More information on The Family Story Project Workshops can be found on the FSP page of this site.

 

 

Fabric Artist & Writer