To The Boys Who Growl at Street Harassers To Get Them Off They Momma’s Back

“Never look the hotcomb in the teeth, queens……..”
yet the eviction notice is a starless gyre.
The first hood death is not ice or fire
but in exodus from concrete and shelter.
Men speak of royals and drink their ripple
as boys break bread with their elders
Nationhood is a mask that takes their faces
to the kingmakers of the block and corner.
Though Sundays is no rest to blue scarved pharos
light shows they rule in outlines.
Fallen gladiator-dawgs among frocked deacons
talk the tatters of their invisible shields.
They holler and make noise in invisible fields
yet your rent is realer than space.
Loved one’s pantsuits they nip at and splice
in their mind, so your mouth cuts
their channels. In low rabid roars
radiate madness on the madness
in untreated thugs fevers and dreams.
Their surfeit splendors they make into sounds
fling at the seams of makeup defenses.
Future bread is on the morning lines
is at them baked boys' expenses
so make your mouth their screaming walls.

Blues For John Amos

(after Shelley's "To A Skylark")

“Teach us, TBS spirit”
They cable his manner.
from apartment to apartment,
from cord ply to cord ply
to which rooms will allow
for the evidence of niggas unseen.

Higher still and higher
from the firmaments of the steps
and the rusted railing iron
they mimic him like a science.
To the fluid, vivid motion
on the glass and in the screen shot
they practice his demeanor.
For the time share and hour
they sacrifice by foil
and hookup to see his face.

In the golden light pole
of sunken suns
the old heads below want to tax them.
Rituals of oblivion
(Or oblivions surrogate zippers)
linger in the antennas unseen hourglass.
They seek refuge in his presence,
his voice, his swagger
his manner upon men
44 minutes on the hour
  (those not pre-empted by braves games).
            Teach us, TBS John Henry
            Teach us half the stability
            that the act must know
            The shows in minutes will soon be done
            and we will have to leave
            and go down again.

Uncle Moe Re-Finds His Religion (After Dressing Big Momma For Church The Morning After One Of Dad’s Tantrums)

For her crowns, sparkles, and ermine ends
the tailor—in a belief after belief—bends
his reason into rainbow hat bands.
Talons reappear, as do devotion veils
that raise from the brims of shoulder pads.
What’s hers in these moments
lay render to fire gods, so he transposes
words into fibers. Iterations
in the light weave into witness
as the doubter creates his testimonies.

Soon, the rock-drills will reform.
Mania turned transformatively inward
will reappear as penitence in her room.
Clean hearts stated as evidence untoward
will deny jagged ceilings and hearths.
will make flesh all meaning of everlasting arms
in the flames that avarice feeds,
will write the fiends credo in rethread deaths
to the pipe glass’s invisible sword.
This Sunday, the Anti-Passover has come
and the skeptic cannot afford
the distance from her in his doubts.

When The OG Took The Fall For Once (Then Realized It Was His Last)

In the autumn of his (thirty) third strike
thirty three homies deny him as quick
as a trap fiends butane light flicker.
Thirty three cutlasses (with runner dads) lock
him from the market but not the traps.
In the hour D-boy in the round up looked
for forgiveness but his scrubs were so still.
Among the brown boys against ivy walls
and gray cedars, there was no penance root.
In the not-jack out of all his jacks
he was dragged-on the pavement-against
his will but not his karma debts.
The glass start to shut out all rain and skies
and his cherubim cheeks betray him.
Healing and its compound homes
Is a transparent flock of shadows.
Corner stores are razed and destroyed
then the window suffocates all light.
The steeple leaves, and then the cross flies.
and his cheeks are mush in dark windows.

On Young Elder’s Mourner Scrunchies

(after Yeats’ "On Death")

Neither dread or hope attend
the bus stop grievers.
Their homies await dope men
and tweak out their bones.
Many times, they knot them.
Many times, they make symbols
till bonds become harder to break,
till stitches beyond scars
both tell and show
the evidence of lost ones unseen.

Old-young ones in their pride
confront near murdered men.
They cast derision upon
their dust embalmed masks
with pictures of their smiles
and side jackets
before dope gods washed them gray,
before hustling backwards
circled cradle-graves of abstractions.

Ex homies heckle them
in the supersession of buses
but they pierce, knot, and cry
They finish, then take their transfers
as ex homies gasp for breath.
Bus grievers know death to the bone.
Man-boys have re-created death.

Robert Lashley

A semi finalist for the PEN/Rosenthal fellowship, Robert Lashley has had poems published in such Journals as NAILED Magazine, Feminete, No Regrets, and Your Hands, Your Mouth. His work was also featured in Many Trails To The Summit, an anthology of Northwest form and lyric poetry. To quote James Baldwin, he wants to be an honest man and a good writer.

Photograph by Christie MacLean

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