Category Archives: urban youth

Spring Snow Unwanted



Sometime in April under some black crust

This winter’s last filthy snow’ll liquidate 

No flowers can obscure this world at rust

Snow’s death & decay commemorate

Spring will unleash the green harpies of youth

Fighting out of future switches, blossoms

Adorn ev’ry curling muddy shoot

To which the superficial’ll say: awesome

But as my personal shadows lengthen

I miss the frigid hassles of my youth

Tribulations’ texture made me strengthen:

Learned surviving, becoming astute

Beautiful winter recedes to black muck

Which, if you live long enough, you’ll call luck

Elevated Subway Sonnet



Elevated subways arrive with force

Rumbling, earth shaking thunder under foot

Terrifying physics without remorse

They’re massive dragons that we tolerate

As they rumble off into the distance

With inhaled passengers from the platform

They seem light serpentine monsters of chance

Bending and curving to the land conformed

Watching elevated trains snake around

The buildings and steeples of our New York

Is both magical as well as profound

Making umpteen tons seem float like cork

The iron gìant that we rely on/

Ferocious, fearful and yet somehow wan

Spring Semester 15 (in 8)




Tomorrow I begin again
A new semester & students
We, together, will start new trends
Embarking on fresh engagements

New personalities to teach
Me how to better instruct
People to locate goals and reach
Enduring happiness and such

Classrooms: aging and decrepit
Ideas and theories: still older
Will become students’ learning kit
Where their intellect will temper

Ev’ry new college semester
Turns people into investors

Haiku Journal DMV-Manhattan-Subway Edition

new york sattelite 1

Yesterday I went to the DMV to get a New York License. I was dreading the waiting, but optimistic about finally getting my bureaucratic life in some sort of order. (Next I will try to get a passport!) I write my journal haiku or senryu throughout the day and today’s rhythm gave me a lot of time to reflect on events. There were three things that happened yesterday and I think this is a good “haiku journal” entry, so I am vainly sharing it. (Sorry I can’t format this into columns this Morning)

39. Computers are out/
Metrocards demand money/
At #woodside station/
#haiku

40. Tollbooth clerk covers/
Window with impotent signs/
Backs them with ennui/
#haiku

41. Most are just angry/
Ancient immigrants can’t know/
“Why no traveling?”/
#haiku

42. Clerk tries to explain/
To ancient Himalayan/
Of “system failure”/
#haiku

43. Palms up and head down/
The clerk gives up on language:/
Universal sign/
#haiku

44. Mercifully my/
Soggy cash is accepted/
By god in machine/
#haiku

45. Kindly Latina/
Money’s rejected by god/
Of electric eye/
#haiku

46. She’ll be late for work/
While desperately begging/
For a crisp fiver/
#haiku
47. DMV start time/
For attempt at an ID/
12:20 PM/
#haiku

48. Bureaucracy makes/
Life together easier/
(Not always nicely)/
#haiku

49. Pallet of people/
From which DMV’s painted/
Beyond the spectrum/
#haiku

50. I love New Yorkers/
In their peculiarity/
While being tested/
#haiku

51. Done with first window/
At a painless 12:50/
Miraculously/
#haiku

52. Alpha-Numeric/
Computer-read tickets called/
Impersonally/
#haiku

53. Slow but efficient/
Workers execute their functions/
While we demand more/
#haiku

54. Man with pompadour/
Speaks formal Urdu to wife/
Condescendingly/
#haiku

55. New Americans/
Seem more adept at these lines/
Then those born right here/
#haiku
56. Subway ride back home/
Walked vanishing Manhattan/
Past places ʇɐɥʇ were/
#haiku

57. Manhattan changes/
It is no longer my place/
It’s for others now/
#haiku

58. City Landmarks go/
New places: new memories/
Mine Evaporate/
#haiku

59. Walking those same streets/
Without friends I once walked with/
I’m slowly erased/
#haiku

60. Memories miss me/
Youthful, lustful, desirous/
I’ve outgrown ʇɐɥʇ self/
#haiku

61a. That city belongs/
To ambitious desirous/
Not contemplative/
#haiku

61a. That city belongs/
To ambitious desirous/
Not the satisfied/
#haiku

62. Lovers on the train/
Hungry hands kept to themselves/
Eyes feasting on eyes/
#haiku

63. Thus it’s ever been:/
Youth revels in its beauty/
While the old look on/
#haiku

 

 

George & Trayvon

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George & Trayvon
This one’s too complex for a haiku:
Being white’s always been a “participation sport:” hate blacks or latinos correctly & be accepted by the clan-cops-continuum. If you declare white supremacy’s goals your own, you will get the privileges of that fiction (see the Samuel Jackson character in Django).
Zimmerman was probably the least comfortable in his family (& lightest) with the fact that their afro-diasporic-latinos and might have been teased about it by his siblings & parents. Being also the dumbest in his family he would have tried to prove his “superiority” by playing the neighborhood Gary Cooper (or Clint Eastwood) as a neighborhood watch junior sheriff, with a cereal box badge & REAL GUN.
Latinos, Asians, Australian aboriginals, -fuck- Haitians & Nigerians & Senegalese will all distinguish themselves from working class African Americans as a shortcut to getting some of that “American Dream” (sold at Walmart & denied to underclass blacks, Latinos & Asians).
Calling out & murdering an underclass Black kid is the surest way to get the stain of mother Africa off of your identity: the catharsis requires blood. As Hurston wrote “real gods require blood” regarding the anxious climb up the color cast system ranking system. Zimmerman, as an insecure light-skinned son of the African Diaspora with pretensions to middle class normalcy, had to kill a nigger (since he washed out of the police academy-lottery).
Interestingly his german/Jewish surname suggests another axis upon which this all plays: by breaking the covenant of the civil rights era Blacks & Jews he might be finding a way to get goyem approval as well, proving not all Jews are liberals & can be accepted by mega-church-christendom (adorned with parking lots & SUVs).

Performing Whiteness:/
A participation sport/
(Just hate them coloreds)/
#haiku

Killing a Nigger/
Earned Zimmerman Acceptance/
Of GOP-Klan*/
#haiku *NRA-Klan

In apartheid South Africa, Japanese were “honorary whites” while the Chinese were simply coolies (or so I was told), racism is a participation sport. It is one that j participate in with my pompous vocabulary & Ph.D. Since I was a boy my ability to arch language over working class whites gave me a feeling of satisfaction directly related to Zimmerman’s automatic pistol. We all participate. & yes this is related to 70s identity politics & essentialism, but the problems of white supremacy haven’t changed enough to merit new remedies.

1a. White Supremacy/
Means devaluing Black folk/
Even by Black Folk/
#haiku

1b. White Supremacy:/
Devaluing Black People/
Even by Black Folk/
#haiku

1c. White Supremacy/
Means devaluing Black folks/
(Even by “Niggers”)/
#haiku

1d. White Supremacy/
Devalues All Black People/
(Not only by whites)/
#haiku #

1e. Media content/
Devaluing Black people:/
White Supremacy/
#haiku

*Man Gone Down* by Michael Thomas Haiku Review

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*Man Gone Down*
by Michael Thomas
Haiku Review

1. Starting *Man Gone Down*/
Gently riveting to me/
(I “Identify”)/
#haiku

2. Confronted by youth/
The youth that hides in novels/
With happy sadness/
#haiku

3. Fiction converges/
With readers’ realities/
History revised/
#haiku

4. “Strange… to go through life/
A social experiment/
Understanding… Gone”/
#haiku (Thomas 99)

5. “You can tell when someone’s been loved; they don’t question its presence, nor do they despair when it seems to be gone” (Thomas 165).

6. Three hundred pages/
Of fearing his decisions/
Vicariously/
#haiku

7. Protagonist’s life/
Both Virtuous & sinful/
Flirts with disaster/
#haiku

8. Faithful to his wife/
Staying sober, kind & fair/
When cheating is rife/
#haiku

9. Crazy decisions/
Like evading a mistress/
Are perfectly right/
#haiku

10. “I was born a poor/
Black boy of above av[‘]rage/
Intelligence[: CURSE]” /
#haiku (Thomas 216)

11. The Expectations/
Placed upon Smart Black People/
Prove to be unfair/
#haiku

12. “Representing” Blacks/
Burdens folk who need to live/
Simply for themselves/
#haiku

13. “Representative/
Man” must undo and fulfill/
All stereotypes/
#haiku

14. Protagonist can’t/
Simply exist for himself/
He lugs history/
#haiku

15. Meditative run/
Through the Brooklyn Bridge’s ribs/
Explored though nicely/
#haiku

16. Digressions of thought:/
Thinking man in thoughtless world/
Explored New York well/
#haiku

17. Manual labor/
Suspends thinking men in toil/
This book explores that/
#haiku

18. Texture of labor/
The Psychology of work/
Is rarely explored/
#haiku

19. The isolation/
Of immigrants languages/
Exposed in this book/
#haiku

20. Job sites’ loyalties/
Along and across language/
Was a nice detail/
#haiku

21. Surrendering job/
With a violent outburst/
To keep pride was nice/
#haiku

22. Swimming under the bridge/
Like a weird aquatic troll/
Strange symbolism/
#haiku

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23. Impossible acts/
Of the damaged superman/
Kept me reading on/
#haiku

24. When he cheats golfers/
He falls to earth a human/
Though they needed it/
#haiku

25. Boston backstory:/
Old Friends on the edge expose/
Promise’s burden/
#haiku

26. He survives for friends/
Not the noble ideas/
Placed upon his skin/
#haiku

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Independence Day

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26. “Independence Day”/
A bloodless simulacrum/
Of revolution/
#haiku

27. Liberty’s freedom/
Requires the diversity/
That allows greatness/
#haiku

28. Accepting others/
As they see themselves creates/
Free Americans/
#haiku

29. Freedom’s true greatness:/
Equality before law/
(Free from OPINION)/
#haiku

30. My equality/
Erases historical/
Privilege of wealth/
#haiku

31. Freedom is diverse/
Allowing independence/
For everybody/
#haiku

32. Our diversity/
Is unimaginable/
To ideologues/
#haiku