Poems by Cheryl Boyce-Taylor

• February 2018

Moon over Eastern Parkway

last night
moon over
Eastern Parkway

a pale lemon
reflecting pool
I eat from your hands

grasp
pull
pinch

slurp
stutter
slow 

sweat
drift
pry

stop
bend
start again

bend
break
take

rip
bite
devour

tug
pull
lose skin

range
depth
slow  slow

lift
nibble
weep

wobble
groan
grind

moan
float
repeat

darling
slow
stop  repeat.

 

***
 

Glory

Most days before he was born
sun refused to leave her doorway

smells of nutmeg, curry chicken, angostura bitters
and her own dust peppered the hallways

thyme, zaboca, lucky leaves  and small reels
of blond cobweb thread lined the bedside table

she had spent most of the nine months before his birth
sewing little white hats, sleeping gowns

booties and blankets. It seems like that boy housed her body
for ten months or more, and by the time he was born none of her

handmade fineries could fit him. Finally her water broke
streaking a patterned ribbon along the bathroom and living room floors 

it was a strange color, the midwife said,
a mix of pink pomerac and dark Chablis

oh God, spare him, she prayed as she waited
in the bamboo rocking chair that her grandfather had lacquered

the color of dried rosemary leaves. From the second floor balcony
she could see the family grave yard elegant mansions of ochre and lime

she greeted Pa every morning with rose hips and brandy
sprinkled on the raw earth, and every night two red shango candles

keep my boy well Pa, lord she had so many names for that one child
Asah and Rufus, Marley and Anslem

he was born when Sunday slipped behind the moon
into the wide oval verandah of the midwife’s arms

puce was the color of his skin
she called him Glory.

 

***
 

I Am Nothing Compared to
9/11 Pantoum

the pleading eyes against the airplane window
the tumbling frame of father  bookkeeper  son
the reporter’s livid lens
day eleven of the ninth month

the tumbling frame of father  bookkeeper  son
the long red tresses flaming into shoulder blades
the reporter’s livid lens
September two thousand one

the long red tresses flaming into shoulder blades
the black charred Manolo Blanicks
I am nothing compared to September two thousand one
Dali’s frozen clock

the black charred Manolo Blanicks
Atta’s crumbled mind
Dali’s frozen clock
the treble of God’s ear

 

Atta’s crumbled mind
Rwanda
the treble of God’s ear
I am nothing compared to the Middle Passage

Rwanda
Goree Island’s slave depot
I am nothing compared to the Middle Passage
the jumpers at Two World Trade Center

Goree Island’s slave depot
Treblinka
the jumpers at Two World Trade Center
the half-melted copper bracelet

Treblinka
the tumbling frame of father  bookkeeper  son
the half-melted copper bracelet
day eleven of the ninth month

(After Milton Kessler)

 

 

Cheryl Boyce-Taylor is a poet and workshop facilitator, born in Trinidad and raised in Queens, New York. A recipient of the 2015 Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers Award and a VONA fellow, she is the founder and curator of Calypso Muse and the Glitter Pomegranate Performance Series. Cheryl earned her MFA in creative writing from Stonecoast: The University of Southern Maine. She is the author of four collections of poetry: Raw Air, (Fly By Night, 1997); Night When Moon Follows (Long Shot, 2000); Convincing the Body (Vintage Entity, 2005); and Arrival (Triquarterly/Northwestern University Press, 2017). Her work has been published in Black Lesbians—We Are the Revolution, Killens Review of Arts and Letters, Encyclopedia, Pluck!, Adrienne, Poetry, and Prairie Schooner.