“This City Is an Island”
by Jerry W. Ward

This city is an island,

Its streets tracing the unexamined
Pragmatics of duration,
Racing to erase
The coal black core of history.

No wine of communion

Can cleanse the indigo stains
Left by French/Spanish rains
And the grains of grief
Dancing in Congo Square.

This city is an island,

Masked in the calligraphy
Of good times rolling like loaded dice
On butchered blocks of beans and rice
Or like the tale-telling tongue
Speaking as plain as voodoo spice.

In every quarter’s the silent scream
Of ignorance confessed, shriven
And shrunk to the pinhead of a sin.
Only the dirt-blasted drippings of the storm
Insure a music to fix our fragile cage of love.

“Flat-Tire Politicians”
by Lauren Veal

Crimson highlights, magnolia bleach, and navy skies
Are the veins of our body.
We are apple red with anger
At the loose twine leadership by which our body is puppeteered.
We have midnight blue faces from the suffocation
Of being pulled under the currents with the plummeting economy.
White is the color of the countless blind mice that hurled us into
The blood-bathed war that can only lead to patriotic hypertension
Now it is left to the charcoaled caped knight in shining armor to
Water the dehydrated politics of the world and give rebirth to Eden’s Garden
The simpler recipe would be to place a toddler
between Playskool’s My First AK-47 and
A freshly cut olive branch and allow him
to govern the world as it pleases his Gerber mind.
We will awaken to the newborn cries of
third world nations needing to have their clocks
Of commerce and poli-tricks
Cleaned and reset from their ram’s concrete mind.

by Shaiku

As the sun does its thing
And daylight blows its breath upon the hands of time
and places its palm against them
pushing them forward
Causing the darkness to spread like spilled ink
Fighting against daylight and, as the minute slips into past bottles,
always winning
Darkness is a black tide on the firmament
rolling into place, holding everything hostage,
gripped tightly in its cold, blistered fingers
Turning all hope into mound of crumbled stone, forgotten
As any escapee hides, waits for the daylight to come again
and wrestle with the moon for that spot in the heavens
Holding in their cries for mercy...hoping not to be caught in that blinding emptiness…

by Morgan Wells

Their watermelon smiles shined like church shoes that summer.
The Royals tasted sour lemons instead of their sweet tea.
Soon, their bellies would be filled with hotdogs and apple pie
while they passed the time chasing pop flies and sliding hard into second.
The Land of the Free was an embryo being fertilized
Hancock’s butterflied stomach, feathered hair, and watered down hands
was the first to draw phonetic pictures of their exposition of autonomy.

As the Red, White and Blue People celebrated their exemption,
Raven Bodies remained exempt from the Declared Painting.

by Markesha Jones

Mountains and waves of bodies overlap in a ditch
Brittle as straw, burnt toast, crumblings
hollow shells live on without mates.
Lifeless bodies swayed under a willow tree
A slice of bread for them to eat.

Never did the Sun set
There was no sky
Days longer than Sunday preaching,
breathing was optional
Scorched by the flames of ideas fanned by
howling wolves on platforms
Desires stomped on by the boots of civilization
Soldiers are wound up and puppeted into position

Memories dug up by pain

“The Execution of Evil:  Looking into the Eyes of Timothy McVeigh”
by Ivy Archie

The burn of your crimson stare lingers
like the aftertaste of spoiled food.
The way your vacant and concaved eyes
covered us with deep and glowing nothingness.
The successful warrior you are:  capturing
friends, fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and
even those who hadn’t tasted the air.
An engineer of evil, you constructed destruction
like you had majored in pain your entire life.

I become a mouse running the maze of your eyes,
a fly captured in the web of your silence.

What number of evil are you?
Is our execution a vasectomy or a consummation?

“Late Night Snack (For Jolivette Anderson)”
by Shannon Reaze

Sight can be so blinding for the formerly blind
that one may not see golden appreciation to the giver
Thanks for feeding a curiously callow mind
a late night snack, a meal of knowledge
Horns and Trumpets full of blaring appreciation I blow,
for remembering what it is like to be a new flower
opening slowly to the bees of life,
for remembering what it is like to be standing
on the baffling brink of a fully painted self
but not know what colors are needed to fill in the lines.
You showed me my own brush, and how to dip in the paints that I need
simply by providing a struggling sista with a bread crumb of information
one late evening, like a Waffle House last suppa
And you said, “This is my body of knowledge; take and eat.”
And I opened my mouth and swallowed you whole.

Clear as the water with lemon peals gracing the top of crystal clear ice cubes
in a cloudless glass is you, a truthfully translucent and transcendent intervention
A woman cubed and squared in just the right dimensions of space and silence
molded herself into a map to show me the coordinates to womanhood
that were hidden from me like the rocks just below the waters.

Pure truth, like before the first apple was bitten
measuring self on 31 proverbial laws uncharted by Newton’s law.
The light that shines so brightly
that it only took 2.5 in day and spirit of night for me to see where
the destination lies that the car of my soul longs to park.
2.5 in day and spirit of night has never been right,
but you pretzelized light around gravity to fit in the pockets of higher realities
taking it out only to shine through darkened insecurities of man’s wayward atlas.

But let her light not be twisted and flipped
by the bleached thoughts of lusty lesbian acts.
Sappho and Walker be witness to phallic misuses of light
to shine on their own one-eyed minds.
For her light is the prop that feeds this brown and barren earth
nutrition during a drought of sane prophets and unheard Marys.
Her light bright enough to illuminate the worth of all w/wombs.

You, a tree holding your own against the winds of penile projection.
You, a blanket able to cover whomever is cold.
You, sometimes a plane flying blind with no compass.
You, a mathematician explaining how 1+1=3.
You, a writer witnessing on papered canvas the bountiful brilliance of our beauty.
You, a mother to mouths pulled too fast from the breasts of breeding.

Yet, in light of your light, I was too blind to open my eyes in appreciation
Let now my words illuminate yours.

by James E Cherry

Blue notes bend, stretch, flatten rising
like thick plumes of smoke caught in
multicolored lights. A stage for a pulpit
finds you preaching the precepts of swing,
the pianist, drummer and bassist ex
horting you to levels of pentecostal fervor,
communicants worshipping in tongues of
snapping fingers, feet that syncopate amen.
Your voice is distinct amongst the
brassy swagger of the hot trumpet's
blast or the flugelhorn’s cool
seductive breath, like whispers
caught in the throats of lovers. Rivers
of chords water rich fertile melodies, riffs
as intense as African suns, nurture the soil
of rhythm, birthing flowers of song
in lush gardens of bebop.
The proselytes, on their feet, offer alms
of thanksgiving and applause that crescendo
and lodge, becomes twisted among the intricate
designs of your dreadlocks. Out of reverence,
you bow and pay homage to the ancestors.

by Sterling Plumpp

Be-Bop is precise clumsiness.
Awkward lyricism
under a feather’s control.
A world in a crack.
Seen by ears.
Von Freeman’s
tenor Apocalypses/beginning
skies fussy about air and protective
of trombones on Jacob’s Ladder
strung from basses
in a corner of handclaps.
Drums praying over evil
done by trumpets
and dances in fingertips.
Be-bop is elusive hammerlocks
a piano accords crescendos
in blue moanings.
Lingers in beats marching
across faces of sense.
Harmonic nightmares obeying
pianissimos of tones
erupting from barks of Powell.
Be-Bop is unexpected
style punching music
with garlic in tempo.

Billie’s pain
and a cup of insinuations
drunk by laughter
before tears arise.

by Curtis Nichouls

Trippin’ off this poetry.
double S Spells Super Stress
controlling Me.
Medication be jazzoetry.
M.I. finances constantly Ignoring Me.
Super who I…
double S on my chest,
and when I.P.P.I…
use both hands.
Standing tall over white
Pearly Porcelain, forcing it down,
when I Spit down on the M.I.
See me excite Society with
this vibrant thing.
South Side of the Chi till I dizz I,
but on the by and by…
trippin’ off this poetry
double S Spells Super Stress
controlling me.
Medication be jazzoetry.
Put together by E.B. & Company.
Super who I…
double S on my chest
and when I.P.P.I…
use both hands…I.

“Untitled #16”
by Naykishia D. Darby

A single leaf floats aimlessly in the wind,
one careless shot takes away a lifetime of misery.
As the seasons change like clockwork,
human nature is inevitably erupted.
Days going into night can’t give enough notice
to the patterns being given.
Life is on a climatic spiral downhill,
while that single leaf is still floating
aimlessly in the wind.

by Ayisha Knight

Sidewalk sphinxes
decipher spray painted cartouches
hushed by a Thorazine haze,
shape shift grammar into
schizophrenic delusions
often perceived as
incohesive drunken banter
so skeletons dressed
in human shadows
with kleptomaniac kerosene tongues
assume they’re just
speaking in riddles.
With pristine perseverance
disinfected copper colored soldiers
protecting their status quo
coax their metal camels
to travel through the
vast desert of deserted values,
drinking from discarded
liters of literacy
and feasting on
centuries of conversations
until the geniuses
draped in disheveled robes
rest on concrete pillows
and realize that
oracles become so clear
when you stop and
pay attention.

“Black Hole”
by Tony E. Patrick

Mississippi is
a carnivorous viper
that eats its own young

“Teaching Slavery in a Mississippi History Class”
by Tony E. Patrick

Red organs dyed blue
White hands bleached blameless of crime
Gold rain tastes putrid

“City Island”
by D. Morrowloving

two-stepping inside Isley melodies
barefoot moves around scarlet summer breeze

sun-baked skin vibrant as Georgia red clay
under first light of trumpet’s inflamed play

midnight lake swims search for seaside relief
stars delicately dry us in their heat

periwinkles, wild poppies close in sleep
blades of grass nestle while ivies still creep

city life obeys island fantasies
dancing on a dime inside Isley melodies

“On the Arrest of Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.”
by Jeremiah Ramcat

I am the shadow
of a genius slain
by the false allure
of American rain.

by Jeremiah Ramcat

beware of Pat,
Robert’s son

the one who worships
the gods of genocide

they reodorize
the fragrance of flowers.

“Winter Solitude”
by Jerry W. Ward, Jr.

Funeral follows funeral ---
the second line between ---
resentment segregates the tombs.

The universe is wrinkled
with the whims and the winds.
Saints cut of silk, frantic like the turf,
wanting terror to touch down,
explore lucid leaves of grass
for the asking
is nevermore.
The universe is wrinkled
with the whims of mothball hours.
Time.  An old man erect,
folding the canals of his bones.
An old woman, pious,
rigid in her rapture on an urn,
grinning toothless passion.
The universe is wrinkled
with the whims of worried days.
Words copulate not
none the less but more.
Salvation burns
where peace be still
is still to be.
The universe is wrinkled
with the whims of stinging seconds.

Sounds, jazz iced down,
signal the ending
always beginning
time. Sufferings in ascetic hymns
wash.  Absolute soap for the soul.
Primate wings renounce a name.
Yes, seeded clichés. Pungent despair
in the fragrant dust.  Flowers rust.
Gravity marks wasting time.

“Made by Moonlight”
by Sam Owens

Within the license of dogs conjured from the
Smoke and mirrored faces of a man’s heart, I am
Asked a question of helium balloons, and clouds.
I am promised stars, the moon, and frontier beyond.
The frontier is rumored to have the best wine.
The moon, they say, possesses the best milk and honey.
The stars, though fraught with ice and ether, can shine bright,
Brighter than the Sahara desert.  And above all else, I was promised a cool river bed.
Alas, the frontier was merely vinegar, the milk curdled, and I was consumed with
A Saharan thirst until all things turned to soot, ash, and dark volcanic glass.
It does not matter which way the cog spins, but it will spin just the same.
Puzzles must align to the grooves and sieves and be as trees.
Acorns in the spring, and blown wind leaves in the fall, or
The next choice will be made in hurricane winds and dismembered oak trees.