Psychic Imprints

Tell me a story…
Muvva, tell me some stories.

The sensitive child
Vying for attention
Repeatedly requests

She
Perched on a kitchen chair
Rusty gold, old and trusted feline
Tapping     tapping
At the spirits in the hem of her robe
Hastily draped over her knee
Unexpected guest
To view the new arrival

The alteration in the pitch and tone of
Her voice tries to bring order to
The chaos of cackling children.

There is joy. JOY!

Marching orders administered:
Don’t mess up that room!
And ignored.

The child offers comfort:
Don’t worry, Muvva, I’ll help you…
I’ll help you clean up…
I’ll buy you a house.

Amused, she chuckles, caringly
Absolves the child in her reply:
That’s OK.

Child
Defiant
Happily vows
To do it anyway

Conversations between generations
At the kitchen table
Alchemy and affirmations bring
The childless father
To this place
Centered       focused     satisfied
Receiving the Universe’s blessings
Delivered by angels
Nestled on his shoulders
Spirits jump across
Threads of time
This the second decade virus
Once benign at 203
Turns malignant at 189

No cause for alarm
Legacies left in writings on walls
In whispered phrases
Parenting, parenting
All over the place.

The mother: Child, I have secrets to tell.
The son: I’m listening.

Throughout the exchange they realize
They both feel the same way about
Libraries
Churches
Trees
Within each is stored secrets
And lessons learned
Life and death and rituals
The irony

We two     the mother     the son
Listen and wait
For the echoes in trees
Gnarled, weather-worn
Branches holding spirits
Let us touch you so you can talk to us

The mother expresses her joy
In watercolors
The son
In poetry

The mother: You’re my angel!
The son: I’m just trying to earn my wings.
Computer screensavers record their mantras:
Sheila, take back your power…

Michael, remember the possibilities…

One spring afternoon the son asks:
How do you bounce back so often? What’s your secret?
The mother replies:
I just love waking up in the morning
Just seeing a new day
Listening to the birds sing and
Looking at the trees.

The son smiles.


© B.Michael Hunter 2000

“Psychic Imprints” was published in Other Countries III: Voices Rising, 2007.

Earlier versions of his poem, with annotations from circa six months before he died.

No Space at Forty-One

Researchers
Have not defined old
But they all agree
Once you’re over 40
You are no longer young

Older men
I used to prefer them
Now I’m one of them

Remembering cheers
From liked poets
Lines delivered
Haunt you

Dancing in clubs
Hearing music
Knowing all the lyrics
Remembering the first time
The artist performed at Club Car Storage

All your primary references are now retro
Replaced like the PanAm sign on the MetLife building

Outliving Martin
Outliving Malcolm

Talking about people because
You here and they ain’t
Every line ain’t really yours
But you use them

Only experience is down to the drenched sweat
Because you here
And they ain’t

Bryan and I ride the F Train
Remember the Bus Boycott in Boston
Remember Roy
Orange line on Washington Street
Mass Ave with the hole
Eyes sparkle
Pain freshened

Mother says
She’d never go back to Pensacola
Her birth home
To her Pensacola is
Black men dangling from ropes attached to trees

But I go back to Boston
Holding dreams still fresh
Yesterdays
Still fresh

We live long enough to see folks
Git right with God
Family find Jesus
Circles survive the Plague
Look in hindsight

Ask your mother
While she’s still here
Secrets to survive
Codes to daily living
Grasp at old folk
Real old folks
The old old
Not the young old
Like you are now

This time
You know too much
Parents seek your advice
Venus got her Grams with her
Celebrating her 80th
In and out making decisions
It’s not a burden
You ain’t reliving your childhood trying to make amends
It’s just the circle of life
You just doing your part
Taking your turn
Getting up with the sun
Taking back the daylight
Marvel at the joy of being
The sound of crows
Watering plants in your urban garden
Flowerpots on a sill
The window clocks your favorite time of day

Denise used to say
Some people read books to experience life;
I live a life that’ll be written about in books.
Are you going to read life
Or live it?


Over dinner
We talk about our fathers
Politics
Lovers
Ancestors

We get to apologize for past pain
Caused by casual conversation
We get to wonder what time will bring
Ten years past the first date
When we thought
We’d be old

Plotting toward new centuries
Tomorrow’s possibilities
Grateful
To be celebrating
The remembered


© B.Michael Hunter 1999

Performed by Allen Luther Wright at B.Michael’s Celebration of Life on 27 January 2001.

Affirmations

for John and Joe

Paint a mural of your love
bold
                       clever
                                             indelible

Baptize your vision
in primeval pools and puddles
of pastels and primaries

Give it three dimensions
with inky wads of discarded phonebook pages
tattered shoestrings
and links of rusty coat hanger

Make it shimmer with gobs of glitter
and shards of broken mirror
like Saturn’s rings
celestial debris in harmonious order

Autograph your oeuvre
with each goodnight kiss
with homemade birthday cake candles
            weeping wax
with juice from Saturdays of olallieberry-
            picking and sparring elephant seals
holding hands on long drives
slow walks arm-in-arm
Vancouver                  Venice                  Vanuatu

Know that no one knows you
like him

Acknowledge and appreciate each meal
together
and chew thirty-two times

Share silences and pillow-talk
chattering teeth on chilly mornings
evening jogs and fever-bouts
savor each full-mouth kiss

Remember all the possibilities

When you are octogenarian
souls rocking
side by side
cheeks parked on macramé cushions
measure time in days of gardening
and moonrises
warm your fingers and palms
on shared recollections
of fine wines and ceremonial gatherings

May angels and ancestors guard you — lovers

May honesty and humor guide you — brothers

May kin and kindred spirits buoy you — cousins

May you both
be anchored in the present
refreshed by mild winds
the joyful passing of
this moment
and
the next

© B.Michael Hunter & John Manzon-Santos 1998

Written on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of cousins John (aka Spike) Lomibao and Joe Garrett. Below is a reproduction of the original printed and framed.

1998g-affirmations-for-johnjoe


Image taken by event photographer and gifted to John & Bert by Spike & Joe, San Francisco Bay Area, June 1998

unwrapping the present

For Shiree, in observance of life’s passing

some things are undeniable
like time’s eventual wrinkles
framing our smiles
but that’s not now

now is the insistent itch on my shoulder
a solar flare on my body’s horizon
urging me to offer you
a piece of me         us
special
sour         sweet          spectacular
sad          soulful
somehow expressing
gratitude
for your courage

it’s morning
Sun shines through
shuttered windows
hot on our faces
blinding          images
swirl
generously descend upon us
move in concert
practicing their choreography
moment          to moment

there’s no need to delve into
deeper meaning          not now
no regrets in simply saying
friend family sister


© B.Michael Hunter & John Manzon-Santos 1998

1998F18-unwrapping-the-present-for-shiree

The Photograph: Michael Circa 1966

White shirt     blue tie
Teeth      teeth      teeth
BMH
Short hair
Curly
Brown
Eyes      hair
Aged copper color
Mouth      big mouth
Background
Sculptured lips
Curled
Caramel color skin
Boy
Poised
Young boy
School clothes
Oxford white shirt
Skinny clip on      navy blue tie
White bright big teeth
Smiling
Promise


© B.Michael Hunter 1995

 

1995-The-Photograph-Michael-circa-1966

 

Forgotten Thoughts

upon hearing the news
i wondered
had i wished for this?
voices echoing in my head
“be careful”
“be careful what you wish for”

him
johnnie walker johnnie walker
absent eggs & bacon, coffee brewing
morning smells
his breath was johnnie walker

and her
better get an A
spirit broken — nervous
better get an A
i’d work to keep her home
no trouble, i’d be no trouble
i’d get that A
ashamed i wished them dead

the best they could
they had done
the best they could
and for that
i wished them life

i left
trying to protect you
into the night
severing my tongue
afraid to disappoint
to protect you
i could live this lie
hoping you would die
before i’d get caught

what about your brothers
would this hurt your brothers?
she asked
he says
this is not the dream i had for you
had they wished me dead?

upon hearing the news
pregnant with desire father of dreams
my veins filled with poisoned liquid
my eyes now veiled
i remember at sixteen on a bridge i wanted to jump
getting the news
cysts and discharged fluid
hardening on the breast i once suckled
she cut and stapled in one day in the same week
he was cut and stapled
after his river of life refused to flow

i remember
at the side of the grave
children lowered
wailing mother
_______ “oh, Lord, why?
_______ take me, i have nothing now
_______ please, take me”
i had thought
“those that have given life
should not have to lay it to rest”
i remembered
upon hearing the news
what i had wished for.


© B.Michael Hunter 1994

Written at Bread Loaf Writing Workshop, Andover MA

1994-The-News


Beginning The Day

I begin the day massaging my mind
Knowing I’ve walked this winding road before
Gospel rings out of every pore of my body
Like a wrung sponge full of spilt milk
Which would have been ice cream
Had we not the night before been so in love
I’m really daydreaming unable to start today because of yesterday
Could life be the smell of french fries
Like the sweetness of your dreams
I could love you like tomorrow
A testament to your copper skinned beauty
Are you sure
Will we swoon?
Our dancing fluid or will it become an abrasive?
Will we stay in love
Life is often a winding road, it can be sexy and strange
Inspiring your heart to beat and attracting your mind to breathe
I begin the day massaging my mind
On my way to tomorrow.


© B.Michael Hunter 1994

1994G11-beginning-the-day



But You Were Yves (for Assotto Saint)

Calm fragranted air
How in all this stillness, this splendor
could grief be so great?

I’ve paced the floors of my mind
I am visited by old friends
Will you see them there?

I pictured trees and forest and motion
Are you a circle?
Was the shade you cast so broad it stunted the growth of others?

From time to time I wonder
What is to be learned from this
Death
Begs the question

I’m to write A SAMIKA
Seven lines with sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, ending with a couplet on how I feel.
A direction like so many I cannot follow
How does one duplicate brilliance?
The words you so eloquently wrote in A SAMIKA

Holding you one of six* —
to your final resting place
to decay on the love of your life
Did you die of a broken heart?
The ritual seems so ordinary


© B.Michael Hunter 1994


*Reference to other Black Gay male writers who died relatively close together in the early 90s: Craig G. Harris (1991), Donald W. Woods (1992), Roy Gonsalves (1993), and Marlon Riggs (1994).