Speechless the Magazine

 To render. Be rendered. Awestruck. Awesome.
A magazine of poetry and related arts straight from L.A.

 

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Jawanza Dumisani

Jawanza Dumisani is head of literary programming for THE WORLD STAGE where he earned an opportunity to study with Suzanne Lummis through the UCLA Extension Writers' Program. He published his first chapbook Stoetry on FarStarFire Press in March 2003, and that same year was selected by The Los Angeles Poetry Festival to participate in The Newer Poets reading, a prestigious annual event produced by the Festival, Beyond Baroque and The Los Angeles Public Library Downtown. Most recently he's a recipient of the 2004-2005 PEN Emerging Voices Award.

Daddy'S Epitaph

                                   I

After boot camp Alphonso your eldest renamed you Sir
Kool Menthol and time clocks set for spring

Scrawny imposters spun from sweat and steel
Cast into men mimicking each drag.

Aunt Mariah branded you Congo
And a lost crusader for wandering infidels

Yang of Uncle Simon with his paisley ascot
I wonder how long ago and which side of the Nile you roamed

We are both distant twins of antiquity. Books torn
In search of an auction block or boxcar.

To the cellar we dance the ceremony of your anger
Yo’ Mississippi twelve ham-boned into my hide

These scars are a right of passage
Blessing them hones the slumbering muse.

Baptized in sacred water. I dip these hands to save you.
Wash your back. Bow my head and pray.

Your hand reserved for righteous discipline
Mine saved to dignify you

A bib at your ancestral table
Waiting to fill with talk.

Your plane a wayward ship of words
I, 3rd son of blue hurricanes

You, the architect of my breeze
These palms keloid in reverence.

                                   II

Like magnolia for burial
Momma’s words grew pungent,

“Be quiet so yo Daddy can rest”
Your resting dwarfs my sleep.

Ebony dust glows in two nights
Of your faded headlamp

Son of a cotton-picking emancipated ghost
Wedged in the bowel of a mine

Drug by crushed shoulders and coiled spine
Did you ever swing to Duke or Dizzz

Or exhale with your tired sons?
A beached tortoise dragging your shell

To Sunday morning, a stocking cap, one penny
And Royal Crown Pomade crowns you king.

I dread Sabbath ‘til you pass out pennies
To question the origin of god

A glimpse into tarnished armor
Secret sentry at the door of infidelity

Asking forgiveness from the 3rd pew for not much more
Greater treasures in hidden crevices of a favorite chair

Your sepia eyes jubilant as gold
Spilling from the mantel near the archway

Of a brick two-family off W. Grand River
Plastic slipcovers, Burger King and no garage

Your powder blue Ford rusting away
Royalties of a phosphorus glow.

Winter whistles through a lace window
Ushering earth to swallow you whole

Like an avalanche of
Tempered joy and ghetto gladness

A miner sinking into his chest, held
By stripped suspenders and a shaman’s hope.

                                   III

I indulge with the care of a surgeon
Cutting away where there’s no language

Cousin Kufi’s secrets etched on a cellblock
And your benevolent strap

Shrouded in your illness, I move closer
And caress the soft underside of your bravado.

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The Sight of Her

 

She so divine,
walkin’ solemn
with holy ghost precision
Perception’s a hawk spyin’
on ev’ry shimmerin’ blade of grass
Momma got sky full of revelation
both day & night
Spring shower traps her glance
inside clarity of each drop
Ricochetin’ off trash cans,
herded into quarter basement parties
with pennies leanin’ on everlastin’ arm
of a broken down phonograph
Settin’ a groove; Motown bombs
endowed with power
2 keep peace & steam passion
These b’ rainy nights in De`twa
steeped in Mason-Dixon Line lullabies,
where back bendin’ rockin’ was born
givin’ true birth 2 the bump & grind

 

Her eyes reside
on dew dressed foliage
below Bro. Green’s apple tree
Somehow she kno’
a belly ache jes’a few bites
from this moment I’m enjoyin’
Seems Reverend Perkins
had prayed her 2 a place
where she could see every thang
Wish we could know e’ chother
like we did ‘n dem dayz,
when we shot marbles
stead of 1 another
Ol’ Lady Cobb b’ yellin,

 

“Stop dat diggin’ dem holes out chere”

 

Only drive-by was the produce man,
a make shift Huffy or push cart
peppered with bottle caps & balloons,
a 3 wheel Popsicle vender
pedalin’ slow & easy
finger on the trigger with bells ringin,’
drawin’ lil’ angels like ants
2 leftover lunch in LA

 

Momma played half blind
but had 20/20 stashed in the brush
at Edgewater Park
Caught glimpse of my silhouette
‘tween streetlights & sundown
9 o’clock stare
chasin’ me 2 bed
& Bloody Bones out a nightmare
I’ll never dream

 

I’m yankin’ a red wagon
corner 2 corner & block 2 block
collectin’ empty Sweet Sixteens
& Faygo Fruit Pops 2 swap
fah’ 2 cents a piece; big one getcha’ a nickel
Fo’ my feet hit carpet
she tellin’ me
I oughta’ save a dime of dat dollar
fah’ church on Sunday
Momma human 2
Don’t see the flame in my front pocket,
got no idea how much
I’ve already spent

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