All tears ain't weeps, all closed eyes ain't sleep,
so, ya gotta be careful where ya plant ya feet.

Ya homeboy was gleamin, riding low and leaning,
getting crazy money and his hustle was screaming.

Jump in gee, I'm gonna teach you how to be.
A real smooth operator, just like me.

Hit you off with a package, showed ya how to move.
Ya started clocking crack, not taking ya butt to school.

Ya tutor, mentor, ya first homeboy,
the one ya thought was all that and more.

Then the bust came down, he wasn't around,
ya screamed for his help, he couldn't be found.

Now ya feel like hell, cause he won't go ya bail,
word's on the street that he's got ya girl.

Now, ya days are dull, at night ya can't sleep,
from day one, ya gotta be careful where ya plant ya feet.

        --Marvin Ali Mays

The Gulag Effect

Blackmarks from unwiped jackboots
have scarred the hallway floors
splintered doorframes
unable to prevent wandering eyes from seeing what's inside,
overturned tables, spiderwebbed mirrors, broken windows,
allowing the wind to whip around uninhibited
blowing around papers and light garments
that used to rest peacefully inside drawers
that have been yanked from their oakframes
and thrown carelessly onto the old wooden planked floors
A family portrait has fallen from the wall
disgraced by the slash of a blade
the picture once spoke of peace and undying love
but now represents a shattered people
left with no soul,
but not just one family, this family,
no, it speaks of generations of families
cold, alone, and wandering

        --Anthony Leahey


I have survived a billion summers
existed among the seven wonders
in a time-before time knew its place.

Baring jewelry that restrained
in the holds of ships chained
I came-to America.
I was savage
the Human version of a vulture
so you beat me
and baptized me
while stripping my culture.

It is true that who I am
has been lost through the years
through the whip and through ignorance
and through bloodstained tears.

Still I survive
living to fight
with all my strength
and all my might
against my friends and enemies
against the odds
and my mind
and even my own kind
most times against myself

But this was given to me!
It is not human nature
to take advantage of the next man
it is a learned behavior
the American dream
I mean-plan.
though bloody
and beaten and battered
on crutches I barely stand
but I am standing.

Standing against a torrential current
I am currently engaged in a battle with mankind
I am leery of mankind's truths
HE is not like me-
HE is "kind of man"-
his morals are loose.
We have taken zero time
to examine the source
Hollywood and music
have changed the course
so now the underground railroad
leads to the penitentiary

I have evolved in reverse
from king to nigger
to negra-to colored
to African American
and now Black
I like the first title
and I shall have it back

I am unashamed of my hue
I have worn like a shoe
since before ice had an age
or hate had a face
the sun knew my place
for I was all there was

I am Adam
and Abraham
and Moses
and Jesus
and Mansa Musa
and Touissant
and Malcolm

But you understand
I am HE
HE who was-before the middle passage
HE who will be-after no child left behind
I am a Godsend
I am the beginning of which there is no end.

        --Eugene Thomas


You're my foxy pearl, my baby girl,
my adorable mommom,
my mommy chula, my chocolate kisses.
I want you to be my Mrs.

If it's decreed that I'll be free
I'll marry you instantly.
If it's decreed that I'll do time
I'll be your friend and confidant.

Having a good man and a good friend these days
is like winning the lottery.
If I come home to marry you
I'll treat you better than the movie "Love Jones".
"Love Jones" can't fade me.
Their romance wouldn't be a bump on our knee.
Describing in mathematics would be
"Love Jones" plus spirituality equals you and me.

I will romance you.
You will pamper me.
Last but not least,
we'll get freaky.
We'll be the best thing together
since peanut better and jelly.

        --Jamal Muhammed

Jerseyworks home  contents  paintings   timeplay  Lake-poetry  Shelly Power interview 
Gerald Stern review  fiction-Sterling Brown  Laszig-poetry 
interview-Sypniewski  poetry-Campbell  photos-Belgium