Why this?

The occasional poem of my own and a generous helping of work by others that I find inspiring. Site is named for a beloved book by one of my favorite writers, Italo Calvino, whose fanciful work lights--and delights--my soul.

Friday, June 12, 2015

At My Best

August is the cruelest month: never enough daylight, too much
heat, no holidays and nothing matters except September’s

dawning responsibilities, but the August of 1994 I was Holden
Caulfield, summer camp senior counselor for the junior trail

blazers, black and brown children two weeks shy of first, second,
and third grade. Nothing is as positive, as motivating a force within

one’s life as a school bus full of kids singing along to the local
radio station blazing hip-hop and R&B. (Imagine this cherubic

chorus riding upstate to Ini Kamoze’s “Here Comes the Hotstepper.”
[“Muuur-derah!”]) My workday is filled with hazards like chocolate

melted sticky swim trunk pockets, insistent sunburn, and the assorted
rah rah of parental unsupervision, but those bus rides back from

upstate water parks and pools were my favorite times working.
Have you ever ridden in a cheesebus with ashy children asleep

against you, staring at sudden trees — more numerous than project
windows — blurring along the highways like confusion giving way

to doubt, the heady smell of dried chlorine and musty towels
lulling you into the soft timbre of a Midwest falsetto? Tell me

what it is to fall in love with a lightskin girl covering the Isley
Brothers. I was not two weeks into 21 years old. I had yet

to wear a box cutter in my fifth pocket, or see a semi-automatic
aimed at my center mass, to feel its dumbness against my spine.

My life was uncertain, save for its unlikely length under my control,
like the pilot who falls short of what he says, what he says

he’s all about, all about. All my homeboys were still alive, just
like Aaliyah Dana Haughton, not yet an angel of the cruelest August,

begging a boy, who may not be in the mood to learn what he thinks
he knows, to look beyond his world and try to find a place for her.

--John Rodriguez

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