The Spiritual

What Will Stay Behind

Who will stay behind, and what? A wind.
Blindness from the blind man disappearing.
A token of the sea: a strand of foam.
A cloud stuck in a tree.

Who will stay behind, and what? A single sound
as genesis regrasses its creation.
Like the violin rose that honors just itself.
Seven grasses of that grass do understand.

More than all the stars hence and northward,
that star will stay that sinks into a tear.
Forever in its jug, a drop of  wine remains.
What will be left here? God. Not enough for you?


What god will catch me
when I’ m down, when I’ ve taken
sufficient drink to reveal
myself, when my words are little
more than a blurring
of consonant and vowel?

I’ m drunk on spring:
branches of waxy leaves that
greet me at my driveway,
a family clutching
trays of sweets.
How can I sing of this?

If I cannot sing, then
make me mute. Or lend me
words, send me
the taste of another’ s prayer,
cool as a coin
newly minted on the tongue.

What Is Sacred

I have no idea what priests
dream of on Christmas Eve, what prayer

a crippled dog might whine before the shotgun.
I have no more sense of what is sacred

than a monk might have, sweeping the temple
floor, slow gestures of honor to the left,

the right. Maybe the leaf of grass tells us
what is worthwhile. Maybe it tells us nothing.

Perhaps a sacred moment is a photograph
you look at over and over again, the one

of you and her, hands lightly clasped like you
did before prayer became necessary, the one

Aubade with Bread for the Sparrows

The snow voids the distance of the road
and the first breath comes from the early morning
ghosts. The sparrows with their hard eyes
glisten in the difficult light. They preen
their feathers and chirp. It’ s as though they were one
voice talking to God.
Mornings are a sustained hymn
without the precision of faith. You’ ve turned the bag
filled with molding bread inside out and watch
the old crusts fall to the ice. What’ s left

black herman’s last asrah levitation at magic city, Atlanta 2010

This exclusive shit I don’ t share with the world.
50 Cent
I, Herman, made medicinal — concocted potions in ways my former’ s was hearsay;
Turned palomas christened Zora on to formulas husbands roll over n mitzvah.

I, a black lad, proud Virginian, selling out Liberty Hall n pinched w/ stickpins
in Woodlawn, do bequeath my next-to-last oratory:

A Lizard in Spanish Valley

A lizard does not make a sound,
it has no song,
it does not share my love affairs
with flannel sheets,
bearded men, interlocking
silver rings, the moon,
the sea, or ink.

But sitting here the afternoon,
I’ ve come to believe
we do share a love affair
and a belief —
in wink, blink, stone,
and heat.
Also, air.

This is not a fable,
nor is it bliss.

remember this.

Poem of Disconnected Parts

At Robben Island the political prisoners studied.
They coined the motto Each one Teach one.

In Argentina the torturers demanded the prisoners
Address them always as “Profesor.”

Many of my friends are moved by guilt, but I
Am a creature of shame, I am ashamed to say.

Culture the lock, culture the key. Imagination
That calls boiled sheep heads “Smileys.”

Buddhist New Year Song

I saw you in green velvet, wide full sleeves
seated in front of a fireplace, our house
made somehow more gracious, and you said
“There are stars in your hair” — it was truth I
brought down with me

to this sullen and dingy place that we must make golden
make precious and mythical somehow, it is our nature,
and it is truth, that we came here, I told you,
from other planets
where we were lords, we were sent here,
for some purpose