Rigorous
Volume One, Issue 3



Jacques Wakefield


Three Breaths in Clothing

1.

clothes held him
on the popular street

he wanted clothes more than he needed
to be dancing naked with God

stepping in and out of new sneakers
gave more meaning to life than
moving in the light of the sun
(perfect shadows of imperfect places in his soul);

moon bathing
after dinner,
lifting himself up;

sitting on the
stoop of the world
moving to the park
stylin' moves into
the hoop &
creating himself

rap(id) heartpounding
flash fashion
dripping sweat cementpounding
stepping up jumping up
pulling up the sneakers
after him
wearing himself inside
outside posting
himself against himself
greedy gulps of air and self satisfying posturing
gripping the sneakers to the earth
creating himself

wearing labels
on his cap on his shirt on his pants
on his jacket on his face
& in his off handed way of sayin'
"nigga" between every breath of word
lifting the burden of the word
away from himself alone
passing it to others who also wear their gods
on their backs for lack of substance,
creating themselves:


2.

caps turned backwards
evidence of how many don't
know if they're comin' or goin'
clothes too large, appearing as if
they belong to someone else much bigger
than themselves; a threat.
Neatness and fit don't count
or they do count: for nothing

A fear of being excepted by the unknown...
wearin' hoods like monks on the mad monastery of the streets
hoods hiding their fears and scowls
(is it gravity pullin' their backs round an'
down or is it top heavy oppressive air pushing them around?)

& the limp, like a broken legged walk, is carried
heavily or lightly skipped or chain ganged draggin'

that heavy ball of tradition catchin' the hip slowly
slidin' the leg in a cool arc under it...
walking for the rhythm of it,
arms & head bobbing
swimming space; coercing Time into themselves
always takin' Time out for a walk.


3.

she accepted profanity as friendship
fighting against the wind of her true heart
trying hard not to be different

nigga became her favorite word
to dismiss heartbreak or anoint someone
in playful affection

Though she said it as often
she couldn't bear it
as an evil or hold it for long in her eyes
only imitatin' the wind as it met her

wanting not to get caught in a deceiving wind
she tightened down here skirt an' brought them up to knee(d)
naturally now the neighborhood became smaller

soon the flower will open
& the earth will welcome
which way her pollen blows
& grows




Harlem Morning

There’s something more in the sky-head
than apprehension of clouds,
/distant capricious weather
& the mourning papers haven’t been read yet

Harlem where I woke
this morning,
A world where it’s been so long
From Hughes &
Other celebrants
Kin to color as the ruse.

Its history is now
A second ago, there
It goes again
A minute hunger
In a large broad breath

Consider,
Blood of a chin cut
Shaving ages away,
Face reflexive of
Many worlds’ disorders

A woman’s oblong
Legs extend in the shower
Through the centuries
Shaving a way scars for growth
Consider, the various advantages of wanderings
Whenever we go to work
To make our endings meet…

On the way
An early worker too
Rivets fear
Tending towards tenements too gone to be had
& I’m astonished at this diss belief.
Africa seeps through the pavement.
We are not ugly or unaware
A sun patient with its planets
&Time will till

I know histories lie.
At lunch for instance
I finally did eat a newspaper

And it seems I died yesterday
A forlorn shadow.




Memoir of a sixties’ teen

’66
I never told
Many people this
Before ’cept maybe
My mother knew

She only once disapproved
Of the poster of LeRoi Jones
in my room/he was barely Amiri
at the time/but I really believed

in “Black People”
and I thought the odds of “white people”
getting away with what they were doin’ was,
well, I wouldn’t’ve bet on ’em.

But like I said
I never ever told this to
Anybody before-but i prayed
To a Malcolm X poster
I prayed that he would be right
An’ white people would understand
his rightfulness.

I hoped that black people
even those who were colored or negro
or indifferent
would come to grips with ourselves…
i wished that Malcolm would run for mayor and show how friendly
he could really be
then i desired he shouldn’t be dead
That’s when “I” became the upper case…




Seven Faded Postcards

Dubois leans ’ginst
A bookshelf,
Still; In his educated blk & white.

A Platter’s man hails/to his knees
a microphone/sing in syncopated
White jacketed ecstasy.

Winnie Mandela swears a power fist to the heaven’s
Sound of Soweto/her eyes closed/&down
Beseeching humility to keep terms with justice
For the sake of peace…

Those around her seem not so sure or sleepy.
(Truth ain’t for everyone& can be burdensome
For the secret)…

Louis’ flesh skeleton/is teeth
Smilin’ thru abscessed lips.
There is a particularly plaintive joy for life/
Sets his eyes way back into his horn/
Where u can tell this man really loved
& didn’t want to see/or need a lot of reality…

…Monk shaved: shades…
                                              …those postcards.
Yrs away, way back.

When the one where Blakey is wearing
A fade haircut/& the others
Wear heavy grease on their mops…which,

Makes me make a historic point.
Miles’ bald; a close up pose of pure
Distance…


Jacques Wakefield: "I am a poet/writer/artist. Recently published in drylandlit.org, aaduna.org, Black Masks magazine, and Beatdom.com."




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