Darkness of Skin

Sharing poem written by my son Cliff

The increased darkness of skin
akin to sin
We can judge a man
Beat a man
Kill a man
without repercussion
As long as he is justifiably dark enough to warrant such hatred
Words of hate
can freely exit the mouths of a lighter shade
and incite similar feelings
Misguided fear
if we continue to turn a blind eye
And continue our history of blind hatred

How can we live in the land of the free
Under the pretense of innocent until proven guilty
And watch men and women killed in plain sight
Because of the darkness of skin?

Our politicians speak without conscience
Our police act without consequence
Racial division in our everyday consciousness
And we are to pretend that this is not an ever growing problem?

If we are to grow
and succeed
How do we continue to make decisions based upon the darkness of skin?

Stick Figure Jesus

Five year old on her knees

eyes closed to her world

hands clasped, or cupping air

in prayer

to the God of Man


Five year old at her desk

draws a stick figure Jesus

smiling sun with a face

beside puffy white clouds

veiling heaven


Religion, Religare

Green-eyed, earth bound

assassin of the spirit

False security of thy balustrade

Imprisons my soul


The young woman prays

As it was, so it shall ever be

Five years old on her knees

Eyes closed and averted

from judgment


“Bless me father, for I have sinned,”

I have killed the Buddha

served sour milk to Ganesh

I’ve eaten swine on the Sabbath

and worn white after Labor Day


Five years old at her desk

Defined by adolescent artistry

and faith

draws a stick figure Jesus

for her daughters and sons

Got No Use For Love Songs

Got no use for love songs

when love is in my heart,

Got no use for trees and mountains

when they’re right in my back yard


Got no use for blankets

in my house that’s bright and warm,

And got no need for sturdy shoes

I drive everywhere in my car


Got no need for understanding

I don’t have much to say,

And got no need

for God…

or religion,

all things that I can’t see


Got no need

no need

no need…

no tears

no pain

no joy

no art


I search through the garbage

for something to eat,

I’m hungry.

Check the cracks in the sidewalk

for a blade of grass,

my garden.


The children run, and jump, and shriek

and laugh as they defy me

destroying my rules

set for them

and me


But children need to play

If you can’t beat them…

I run, and jump, and shriek

Got no need for rules

when the child is in my heart



I am

not bitter

I am


I am

not a raisin

my black curls

shriveling in the sun

I am

of the windblown seed

progeny of millions

I am

not dark

I am

a black hole

You Call That Poetry?

I’m not a poet, and I know it. Other than a few story fragments, all I have left of my legacy writings are poems from the same period in my life. My sources of inspiration, then as now, would be the poetry of Langston Hughes, and 30’s era popular song standards such as Paper Moon and On The Sunny Side Of The Street.

Upon searching for the lyrics to Paper Moon to refresh my memory, I realized just how much the sentiment was echoed in my own verse from Is That Real?

It’s a barnum and bailey world
Just as phony as it can be
But it wouldn’t be make-believe if you believed in me

Evidently, these songs resonate somewhere deep inside me. Maybe they are lasting impressions from all of the old 78’s from my mother’s and grandfather’s collection that I listened to as a child. Whatever their source, this music informs my writing and voice.

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