“Mi Pueblo,” by Cruz Villarreal
Old town, my town, bound by the Grand River,
the Río Grande,
lined with walkways that welcome strollers, bikers,
and rainbow families.
The hills of Mt. Bonnell at dawn blindfolded
the Colorado at noon barebottomed and
a poet's salsa at midnight barefoot
along the pavement
Of your soul
To get closer to this poem
to that fresh air music
of people coming
in Austin, Texas
Harlem Hopscotch is part of my Imitation of Life Series which I like to call digital storytelling. The work consists of a compilation of videos and images.
These images and videos are mostly what I have documented as I move through my beloved Harlem community. They are a string of day to day occurrences. They are simply a sum of my lived experiences, that together become very performative.
The videos and images are layered, in a sort of stop motion like way. The aesthetics of the work speaks to a place that is textured, unique, spirited, animated and diverse. With this series I show the dichotomy of the community how the old or nostalgic view of Harlem is ever present, while...
I heard them and I still hear them
above the threatening shrieks of police sirens
above the honking horns of morning traffic,
above the home-crowd cheers of Yankee Stadium
above the school bells and laughter
lighting up the afternoon
above the clamoring trudge of the 1 train
and the 2 and 4, 5, 6, the B and the D
above the ice-cream trucks’ warm jingle
above the stampede of children
playing in the street,
above the rush of a popped fire hydrant
above the racket of eviction notices
above the whisper of moss and mold moving in
above the High Bridge and the 145th Street Bridge
above mothers calling those children
to come in for dinner, to come in
before it gets dark,...
Painting by Isabel Bishop
With the man I love who loves me not,
I walked in the street-lamps' flare;
We watched the world go home that night
In a flood through Union Square.
I leaned to catch the words he said
That were light as a snowflake falling;
Ah well that he never leaned to hear
The words my heart was calling.
And on we walked and on we walked
Past the fiery lights...
(On the bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963)
“Mother dear, may I go downtown
Instead of out to play,
And march the streets of Birmingham
In a Freedom March today?”
“No, baby, no, you may not go,
For the dogs are fierce and wild,
And clubs and hoses, guns and...
Once, long ago, when Nature’s hand
Was busy at formation,
She found a box of chaos scraps,
The loveliest of creation.
And so, in sweet caprice––who knows––?
To please some dear companion,
She took the store of beauty-scraps
And made this matchless...
The river is pressing itself into banks drifting against light and stones.
The wind is flittering just a little brushing grasses and shifting against
the oaks and cottonwood trees. A few swallows dive sharply for insects and a heron
hides in the reeds while the red tailed hawk circles above on a distant cyclone of air.
They search the tall grass for the secrets that hold us together.
Cyclists hum along the hot asphalt of the bike trail then out past parks
where families picnic, where children learn the mysteries of minnows and of mud.
As I left the post office the other day,
a friendly tourist, family in the car,
pulled over for advice
on Asian restaurants within a one-mile radius.
I fanned myself with a useless L.L. Bean
winter catalogue as we discussed his options.
He said, You must miss the seasons.
The seasons? We have seasons.
Oh, yes, he smiled. Summer and summer.
O visitor from somewhere cold and gray.
My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn't
dammit: No tears.
I'm stone. I'm flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
this way—the stone lets me go.
I turn that way—I'm inside
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference. ...
I’ve stayed in the front yard all my life.
I want a peek at the back
Where it’s rough and untended and hungry weed grows.
A girl gets sick of a rose.
I want to go in the back yard now
Like an echo,
it comes back,
the bend in the creek,
like a uterus’
as memory revisits,
territories of the past,
panning our naked
bodies – some of us
in the water, loin-deep,
making animal sounds;
This city of song:
Bird gave birth to bebop here.
Now bullets blast loud
composing dark symphonies
played for liveless brown bodies.
Kansas City knows
terror is a tricky tune.
we still want to dance, we just
need to remember the moves.
for the Ho-Chunk Nation
I. Beauty at its best is undisturbed in winter
the white wings of ice and snow
wrap round this forest without
so much as a whisper
The dry oak savanna fills and fills
without warning, without witness
and then one day we are buried
in our own mock amazement—
Where did all this snow come from?
as though drifts of snow and slates of ice
The gravel road rides with a slow gallop
over the fields, the telephone lines
streaming behind, its billow of dust
full of the sparks of redwing blackbirds.
On either side, those dear old ladies,
the loosening barns, their little windows
dulled by cataracts of hay and cobwebs
hide broken tractors under their skirts.
So this is Nebraska. A Sunday
afternoon; July. Driving along
with your hand out squeezing the air,
a meadowlark waiting on every post.