cinnamon

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beach
  

on tropic sands
gazing out to sea
wind ripples your hair
fabric molds to your shape

i see longing
unfulfillable
thirst
unquenchable

to my eyes a vision
of perfection
to my lips and tongue
sweetest confection

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Dawn Till Dusk

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dawn

 
Tender breaks the gentle dawn
as pink steals through the purple.
Crickets chirp and bullfrogs croak
while loons emit their warble.

Shafts of light illumine leaves —
paths of life I ponder —
sky is choreographed by clouds
from bliss, to peace, to somber.

Its prancing hooves, barely heard,
the curious fawn draws near.
Our eyes connect — mystically,
communication clear.

Spooked, it turns and scampers on —
nature’s cast, each plays it’s part.
Air is fresh with scent of pine.
Joy, overwhelms my heart.

A feather, from a blue jay,
snagged on sprig so feeble.
Was it loosened in its flight,
or ripped, by plunging eagle?

Nature cyclically evolves,
fall is prey to winter.
Life is born and then it dies —
there isn’t any victor.

From each death there sprouts new life;
moldering logs, maternal.
Passings, cause our hearts to break,
while new life springs eternal.

I’ll return — another month,
some other me — to this shrine,
imperfect in perfection,
befitting God’s design.

 

Image by Dan Marker-Moore, aka DANOR.ST

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beneath the cedars

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cedars
  
i sit
beneath the cedars,
in solemn serenity.
face red
with asking questions,
seeking answers
to the ways
of life and death —
molecules and atoms —
and how we’re all
connected.

my fingers
stiff, from cold —
a child’s stubby crayons —
make difficult the task
of turning pages,
jotting notes
about impermanence,
attachment
and letting go.

i’m surrounded
by spirits of seasons past.
i fear not —
they mean no harm.
their faces radiate,
coming from the light.
in their eyes
i see peace and love —
they are free
of mortal suffering
they endured
in life.

they comfort me.
Grieve not, they say,
soon enough, you will join us.
you will experience the universe
and all it has to offer.
you still have much to learn.
when you are ready,
we’ll be waiting.

i feel the joy of life —
(maples sailing leaves
of red and yellow)
moments, lifetimes pass…
then they’re gone,
as they should be.

beneath the cedars,
in their realm of wisdom,
reverently
i sit.

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The Silver Fox

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fox
   
slouching
in forgotten tap-rooms
dirty old men,
forgotten old men,
slop piss colored beer
from, wet, dripping glasses.
the hollow din,
the retelling of the good old days,
echoes sadly
as life quickly passes.

“They used to call me ‘The Silver Fox’
What do you think of that?
They used to care.”

an empty glass crashes
to the muddy floor.

“I guess I’ll be hitting the street tonight.
Sleep in an alley tonight.
Nobody cares.”

slouching
in forgotten tap-rooms
dirty old men,
forgotten old men,
slop piss colored beer.
nobody cares…

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borderlands

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chair
  

i live in the borderlands,
between reality and imagination,
just this side of fantasy.

reality is okay.
i visit there
to check my mail,
earn a few dollars,
pay some bills,
buy groceries.

reality is an okay place to visit
but, i wouldn’t want to live there.

i’m happiest in my mind
where I filter my thoughts
like an answering machine.
i delete the negative,
dwell on the positive.

people may see me walking alone.
they don’t see the beautiful woman
at my side
with her hand in mine.

i may be seen sitting at a table, alone.
nobody sees the delicate hand,
with the magic fingers,
sliding up my thigh.

or, the passionate kiss
being planted on my throat,
the fingers running through my hair.

where i work
people see me smile.
they think I enjoy my job.
they don’t know me.

   

  
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frost

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959 Jeff_Rowland_romantic_pictures (10)

 

a dove sits on a snowy bough,
her song cuts through my heart.
we both know how the lonely feels
when love is torn apart.

there never was an emptiness
the way I feel inside.
the ache is deep within my chest,
i have no place to hide.

was once a time my heart was full
when spring was in the air,
but Frost has draped me with her cloak,
my tears fall in despair.

the midnight train is leaving soon.
my bags are packed to go.
i shiver on the platform bare,
a spectre, slinking low.

 

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rain soaked blues

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Down and Out Blues

i walk these empty, rain soaked streets.
footsteps echo against brick walls
formidable as a prison.
there’s no escape from loneliness
devouring my soul from within —
an endless cinema of despair.

locked within this kaleidoscope,
distorted images from my past
haunt daydreams, nightmares;
there’s no room for reality.
players in my mind pull the strings;
dance this mournful marionette.

i follow the cooling evening breeze
with no purpose or destination.
feet lead me in a trance.
mindfulness blocks my thoughts,
(destroyers of my self-esteem)
momentarily, held at bay.

life, a never-ending battle,
one foot in front of the other,
seconds follow tedious seconds,
breaths counted entering and leaving,
heart beats it’s pounding rhythm
down and out, rain soaked, blues.

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whisper and moan

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Drunk Wine

 

troubled blues with feeling
may ease my tortured mind;
free me from the clutches
of those I left behind.

these dirty hobo rags
hang on a wasted frame,
haunted by the memory
and rhythm of your name.

walking through this alley
shrouded, dark with death.
evil deeds will haunt me,
until my final breath.

craving me some whisky,
a friendly word and smile.
you can spend my money,
just stay a little while.

booze, it clouds my thinking.
your face is just a blur……
few more drinks together
i may think you are her.

guitar strings, whining steel,
a whisper and a moan.
use me and abuse me;
don’t leave me here alone.

 
  

 
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Caribbean Lovers

  
lovers2
  

tropical sands
and seas to eternity
frolicking lovers
leaping in surf
libidinous longings
seizing forever
fulfilling today

fuschia, her lips
loving and laughing
hungry hearts
heading for somewhere
to secretive shade
seductive embrace
rekindling embers

lost in wonderland
wandering everywhere
wherever life takes them
that’s where they’ll go
going forward together
while loving to live
living to love

  

 
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First Snow Fall

 

snow

white flakes
(like eider-down)
flutter from heaven
collect on tree branches
hedges and shrubs

like your kisses
soft and sensuous
they caress my cheeks
brush my lips
burst on my tongue

they blanket all
leaving the path
an untouched virgin
a wonderland
of mystery

all traces
of my coming
have disappeared
making me question
am i here
at all?

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escape

 

stkitts

 
Caribbean breeze
blows her hair
banana birds
in the palms
fingers exploring
forbidden places
her favorite perfume
pervades the room
rattan furniture
fear forgotten
sounds of nature
silence the world
of exclusion
partition
and politics
only love
remains

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the cowardly lion

 
lion
 

a big orange lion
lyin’ on a hill
he has all he needs
but he craves more still

he roars and he rants
’bout what he’s gonna do —
the truth of the matter
he hasn’t got a clue

he’s lived on his hill
for all his wasted life.
he’s ignorant and blind
to hunger and strife

the world is watching
and it won’t look away
for the evil he’s done
he’s gonna have to pay

without heart or brains
in his fantasy Oz
he can’t win the people
he doesn’t have a cause

a bully to minorities
he’s white caped and gowned.
when they come out to fight
he’s trampled to the ground

smoke and mirrors will clear,
the cheers will die down.
he’ll be left all alone
who wants a trumped up clown?

  

 

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Break Out

   

images

  

I feel a need to break out
of this cocoon of complacency
that has woven itself around me.

I feel the impending forces
of Fascism tightening the noose
around the neck of inclusion.

I see global corporations
controlling the world
free of the restraints of voters.

I want a world of compassion
where we share with our neighbors
not build walls of exclusion.

I see the upcoming US election
as a time of decision as to whether
we open our hearts or build barriers.

 

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No H8

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5593_medium

 

it grieves me to see
a world divided by hate,
when so much more
could be accomplished
with LOVE

with LOVE,
compassion and generosity
we could feed the starving
house the homeless
heal the sick

we have so much to lose
through segregation and blame
and so much to gain through sharing
the wealth of resources
in the world

I pray for empathy
conciliation and humility.
Let us put our differences aside
and explore what we have
in common

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Take Me to the River

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Memphis Music Documentary, ‘Take Me to the River,’ Now On Netflix

August 19
17:542016

 

Two years after its initial release, the film, Take Me to the River, has been released on Netflix. This is a documentary about the soul of American music, particularly that of Memphis, Tennessee. While telling the story of Memphis and its music, this film centers around the recording of a new album. An album, produced by second generation Memphians that features legends from labels like Stax, Sun, and Hi Records, mentoring and recording with some of Take Me To The River1today’s greatest talent from the region.

The brainchild of director, Martin Shore, Take Me to the River debuted at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas in 2014 but was four years in the making. Mavis Staples and Booker T. Jones were the first “mentors” to sign on. From there, legendary artists including Bobby “Blue” Bland, Hubert Sumlin, Charlie Musselwhite, William Bell, Bobby Rush, Otis Clay, Charles “Skip” Pitts, Lester Snell, Marvell Thomas, the Hodges brothers and more were added as modern-day mentors of the Memphis sound.

Their pupils and recording partners are young up-and-comers from Memphis and beyond. Child actor and rapper, Lil P-Nut, not only recorded a cover of “Trying to Live My Life Without You,” with Otis Clay, but also received some impromptu singing tips from Bobby “Blue” Bland. Bland and Yo Gotti record a modern cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine,” with an old soul feel. Academy Award winning rapper, Frayser Boy teams up with Bobby Rush on the Rufus Thomas classic, “Push and Pull.” And these are just some of the highlights.

The men recording and producing these cuts are themselves, Memphis legacies. Boo Mitchell is the son of Willie Mitchell, founder of Royal Studios. Luther and Cody Dickinson are both members of the North Mississippi Allstars, and sons of the legendary Jim Dickinson, who was a producer, guitarist, and pianist. The elder Dickinson worked with artists including Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder, the Rolling Stones and scores of others.

This film isn’t just watching artists in studios, however. It’s chock full of vintage footage of live concert performances, Memphis neighborhoods, and civil rights unrest, including the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the aftermath that spelled the end of the Stax label and studio.

Many of the old timers share stories of how things were done back in their day and talk about one another’s accomplishments and failures. One of the most touching of these is when “Skip” Pitts once again runs into former band mate, Ben Cauley, describing to the filmmaker how Cauley is the only survivor of the plane crash that took the life of Otis Redding. Another is the obvious excitement of Mavis Staples when Luther Dickinson learns the guitar part of a song written by her father, “Pops.”

Also, particularly hard hitting, are the still photos of some of the elder artists, with production notes stating it was their last, or almost final session. Artists that passed away after appearing in this film include Bobby “Blue” Bland, Hubert Sumlin, Charles “Skip” Pitts and Teenie Hodges.

There are great interview clips with other famous Memphis music makers that were even more behind the scenes. Art Bell, owner of Stax Records and Deanie Parker who was not only a singer but secretary, liner notes writer, photographer, editor, publicist and more, all for the Stax label.

One of the greatest scenes is near the end when three generations of artists have only a short time to record a piece. William Bell, Snoop Dogg, and students from the Stax Academy, record, “I Forgot to be Your Lover.” That, in itself, is a pretty amazing feat. What becomes, even more, mind boggling is that the young students learned and recorded the song, Snoop wrote and recorded his rap verses, and the entire project was in the can in less than 30 minutes.

 

Narrator, Terrence Howard begins the film with the words, “There are special places on this earth. Places of origin. The Mississippi Delta is one of those places.” Nothing could be closer to the truth, and Take Me to the River does an outstanding job of documenting not only the origin of Memphis music but its passing to the next generations.
With this gem of a documentary streaming on Netflix, we would also urge everyone to purchase a copy of the DVD. If for no other reason, then knowing that over 75% of the money made in sales goes to musician funds in Memphis. These include the The Soulsville Foundation, The Blues Foundation HART Fund, and the Memphis Church Health Center.

 

 

Brothers and Sisters

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hands

 

I have brothers and sisters
on the streets, around the world.
Most I haven’t met, but
give me a lifetime.

We’re all anticipating
getting together in love
sharing what we have,
sharing a hug.

People preaching hate.
What’s that about?
Preaching walls and wars,
preaching greed.

We’re all different
like my left hand
is from from my right, but
we work together.

Let’s get all the hands
joined in a circle
surrounding the globe.
Let’s share the LOVE.

 

 

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Private Eye

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follow
 
I was on a case,
hired to tail a skirt
wearing a trench coat
and a black, wide brimmed felt hat.
I was given a snap shot
for identification.

Obviously,
an out-of-towner;
she was examining a map
of Los Angeles.
I assumed
it was Los Angeles…

Assumption
has led me to trouble
more times than I’d care to remember.
I once assumed a hop head wasn’t packing.
He pulled a gat and pumped my leg
with a couple of slugs.

I watched her
from behind a newspaper.
She looked nervous.
A hack pulled up,
she took the back seat.
I tailed from two cars behind.

Just another day
as a Private Investigator.
Shamus, peeper, bird dog, blood hound;
that’s what I’m sometimes called
by people who like me.
Usually, they’re not so polite.

 

 

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Spy

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anna2
 

Silent, stealthy
surreptitious,
sneaking into files at night.

Sweet and sexy,
so seductive,
baiting enemies to her will.

Armed and savvy
secret agent,
stealing secrets, telling lies.

Imperative
in times of war,
unacknowledged, misunderstood.

 

 

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Butterfly

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butterfly
 

You say
you’re normal.
You put yourself down —
just one of many,
nothing special.

You’re delicate
and appear fragile
but, fly thousands of miles
buffeted by winds,
inclement weather.

Readers marvel
at your countenance.
Wonderful worlds you create,
inspiring all —
a virtuoso with words.

I marvel also
at your compassion,
consideration, intelligence,
strength and wisdom.
I am enthralled.

 

 

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Undercover

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matahari

 

Partner in espionage
combing back alleys
seeking clues.

Disguised, incognito,
never the woman
you appear to be.

Danger at every step,
subterfuge, deceit,
a necessity.

In times of war
everything is fair
as in love.

 

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So long, Sister

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ewd4

 

Pulp fiction vixen,
you’ve stolen my heart.
Sultry suggestions,
whiskey and wine,
destroyed my defences
tore me apart.

I played it tough
like a hard boiled dick.
You played it cool
in your form fitting dress,
just one of your kisses —
and gone, oh so quick.

I’ll reach for the bottle
in my bottom desk drawer.
My answer to problems,
affairs of the heart —
if one drink won’t fix it,
I’ll try it some more.

I’ll suck on a cigarette
watch smoke float away.
Think of your perfume
still on my lapel —
chalk one for experience,
the end of a day.

The chapter’s not over,
the case isn’t solved.
When the facts are all sorted,
you’re caught dead to rights —
I’ll say, “So long, Sister.”
my dream has dissolved.

 

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Eyes of Love

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quote-beauty-is-simply-reality-seen-with-the-eyes-of-love-rabindranath-tagore-49-50-32
 

I know
I should be master
of my mind.
Too often
I become it’s slave,
allowing it to
take me places
I don’t want to go.

Some of these places
are recalled memories:
unhappy childhood,
failed relationships,
other unpleasant
incidents.

Other places
most pleasant
are imaginary,
perhaps,
a playful meeting
with dryads and sprites,
or an unexpected, late night visit
by a beautiful woman.

I know
that memories
are inaccuracies:
daydreams influenced
by pleasant wishful thinking
or, by the despair
of failure.

In any event,
the only reality
is what I see before me.
By seeing through
the eyes of Love
I can’t be led
astray.

 

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She Lion

snarl

I am She Lion
I am proud
to scream my needs out loud.
As others cower in fear,
my perfect mate is near.
No submissive,
I shall strut,
my tail in the air.

Single minded
I seek the best
I will settle
for nothing less.
Though others court
they’re left behind,
the strongest male
I will find.

He’ll act as king
but, power is mine
to rule the pride.
For me the choicest food.
Of offspring, I’ll bear the most.
I’ll hunt and defend
cubs and females
to the end.

 

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Lioness in Heat

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lions2

 

I heard her
from a ways off,
the distinctive mewl
of a lioness in heat.
I licked my paws.
She’ll find me.

She found me,
paraded around
with her tail in the air,
leaving her scent
on the breeze.

I was interested,
but didn’t show it.
She began licking me
I licked her back —
we licked a lot.

She crouched,
belly to the ground,
tail to one side.
I bit her neck
then mounted.

This continued
for five exhausting days.
Eventually, she wandered off.
Perhaps, we’ll meet again,
or not.

 

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Surf

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We walk
through the surf
my hand holding yours.
We see diamonds
brighter than the stars
of the night sky.
We see porpoises
mating.

Can there be
anything more special,
more precious,
than shells in the sunlight?
We’ve found paradise
here on earth
where neither of us
had previously
visited.

 
 

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Dream

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I awake
to find myself
crouching on a beach
I have never before seen.
Water laps at my toes.
My fingers pick at empty shells,
all kinds and colors.
Thoughts are empty
as the shells.
The horizon is infinite
with barely distinction
between sky and water.
I feel suspended
between the two —
lost.

Appearing
close beside me
is a moving shadow.
I see the silhouette
of a woman.
Blazing sunrise blinds me
to anything else.
Beside me she squats,
silently picks
at shells.
We do not speak.
She takes my hand
and leads me to
our dream.

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