Feed the Dream: The Palmetto Poets' Place
GALLERY CRAWL
Nichole Gause



IN THE GREEN SHADE
         After by Romare Bearden's In the Green Shade


It's the coolness of green
I want to slip into.
It makes me want
to change my skin
like some chameleon,
like some shape shifter
& become a pair eyes
that watch from the collage
as the woman by the stream
of flowers bends from the waist
like some tired dancer.
We wonder what woman
can afford to bend
like that even for her cleansing.
It makes us want to cry
'Oh, Jesus' and shade
our eyes to see better.
Some desperation
must ebb through her to be so
bare, so transparent
among so many eyes
even if we look away
we still bear witness
there can be no secrets
here not with such beauty,
and confusion, and
oneness.



POOL OF BETHESDA
       For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. -John 5:4


Lie still
  allow the breeze
to ripple across
     my body
close my ears
  to the moans
      rising from the banks
concentrate only on
    the blue of possiblity
that stretches across me
  patiently wait
for the angel
           to stir the miracelous in me
to feel the turning, twirling
trouble that creates
  the mother me,
     the healing me
to whomever enters first.

 

HIS SADNESS

We can smell it
coming off him
like fever, like blood
in bandages.
Even the smell
of liquor
does not hide it.
We pretend not to see
the swagger;
pretend not to hear
the slurred, sappy speech;
pretend our hearts
do not ooze, crumble,
fester into heaps.
He is a good man,
who can't do right.
Who fixes things,
but never the things
he breaks.
But we love him,
there's no two ways about it,
we love him.
The same way
we love spoiled children
who whine.
The way we continue
to love children
who kill.

 

INTERROGATING QUEEN CHARLOTTE
             After Allen Ramseys portrait of Queen Charlotte


I hear your portrait traveled the colonies
so people would know that you were queen.
Imagine the different people -
poor, white, enslaved, indentured -
gazing at your black looking self.

Did people look at your portrait
and wish away your broad lips?
Accuse the weather for your hair?
Excuse your brown tinge?
Were you one of them?

They say that Ramsey did you justice,
but did he really?
Did he take liberties?
No insult implied,
but did he narrow your nose,
reduce your lips, smooth out your hair?
Did they ask you apply more powder?
No disrespect, but you look ashen.
Were you sick thinking about this picture?
or from wearing 75 pounds of clothing and pearls?

Were you taunted?
Your highness, don't be so closed mouth
now is the time to speak.

What I really want to know -
were you disturbed by slavery?
Had you heard the tales?
Did you think to go before the king
As Queen Esther did and submit a plea?

Or did you see yourself as something different,
set apart,
royal.



THE NEGRO LIFE
             After Aspects of the Negro Life, An Idyll of the Deep South by Aaron Douglas


At first study, it looks
like we work,
we sing,
we despair.

Look closer,
stare into the orbs of light.
We work with our backs,
make music with hands,
heads thrown back
in what appears
to be singing.

Then heads are lowered,
knees bent,
hands offered
in what appears
to be to supplication
of prayer.

But it all depends on the light
where we are in the light
and whether we are basking
init or it's slicing us
like a two edge sword.



HOW DO FLOWERS OPEN IN DARKNESS?
              After Primrose Paschals Beulah's Baby


Coffee is served in a chipped tea cup
and the bread without a saucer.
Their clothes are formless
and the strap falls off the mother’s shoulder
but do not worry
she is not exposed
but made bare.
Her hands are exquisite
for a poor woman,
each fingernail is cotton candy pink.
Her hands are strong, and smooth, and delicate.
They are busy attending to baby-
Beulah’s Baby.
There’s something of a smile
starting on her face.
Beulah’s baby stares directly at you,
but she will not smile.
Is not curious.
She is demanding.
She doesn’t even know
every thing is for her,
everything is her.
She’s the only thing
of hope in the whole room
the whole painting
the whole world. 



REVERENCE


When my first cycle broke through,
I was afraid,
shamed to have a body
that weeps blood.
A wise woman told me,
to stop such silliness.
Afterall, all women do
what they are called to do.

Then I dreamed
I was taken up into the night sky
and seated on a star
amidst all types of women
and beside us
ran a crimson stream
that burbled
the laughter of children

And God was in the midst,
filling our lungs,
running through our hair,
and licking at our hearts,
ordaining us to create.

Then I went back
to my clay case
shouting and high stepping
all the way.
To await the day
that I would be called
to travail and pull
from between my legs -
Life.


FATHERLAND
SCENES IN A MINOR KEY
SCORPIO RISING
LEAVING
GALLERY CRAWL
IN THE LIVING ROOM

FRAGRANT INFERNO
YOUR ONLY SHINY THING
ENDINGS
THE LIZARD IN THE WASHING MACHINES
AWKWARDNESS
MORE LIGHT THAN WE CAN HOLD
 
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