Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree (Poems)

A Little Less Vanilla

When one bakes with diversity,

add 3 cups of humility,

and take a long taste of Chocolate City.

Listen to some go-go.

Watch a young man dance before the coffin of his grandma in a love show.

Hear the song of joy and grief.

Add 3 tablespoons of the river Anacostia.

The change in your pallette may very well cost ya

and there could be some heart burn

as you listen and re-learn

to really breathe

because trying to mute DC is a form of hypoxia.

What you been cooking up doesn’t make much sense.

It’s time to use some different ingredients.

Maybe a little less salt.

And a lot more pepper.

More chocolate.

Less vanilla.

Because this is more than grabbing a chili dog from Ben’s Chili Bowl.

What good is soul food if you’ve lost your soul?

Posted in Longreads and Essays

Street Secrets Redux


Today, at this moment, I sit on the bench in the park where I walked 20 years ago. Back then I captured the place with a piece I wrote called Street Secrets.

This neighborhood of Mt. Pleasant has changed. But this park beneath the church towers has stayed the same, right down to the graffiti-scrawled benches and gum-stained paver stones. I wonder if the homeless men still gather here at night for a meal.

The pedestrians seem younger and of a paler hue. La Raza is represented but not like it used to be.

Do these newcomers know the history of this place that they now call home?

Here is where I told the man to let her go.

Here is where I stood between two gangs at the drop in center.

Here is where I taught them to play chess.

Here is where I mourned Walter.

Here is where the cop cars were torched.

Here is where the tear gas fell as I kept the youth at bay.

Here is where I walked 20 years ago past the bench where I sit today.