Thirty Lines About The Fro from Issue 81/82
The fro is homage, shrubbery, and revolt—all at once.
The fro and pick have a co-dependent relationship, so
many strands, snags, such snap and sizzle between
the two. The fro wants to sleep on a silk pillowcase,
abhorring the historical atrocity of cotton.
The fro guffaws at relaxers—how could any other style
claim relaxation when the fro has a gangsta lean,
diamond-in-the-back, sun-roof top kinda attitude,
growing slowly from scalp into sky, launching pad
for brilliance and bravery, for ideas uncontained by
barbershops and their maniacal clippers, monotony
of the fade and buzzcut. The fro has much respect
for dreads, but won’t go through life that twisted,
that coiled. Still, much love lives between
the two: secret handshakes, funk-bottomed struts.
The fro doesn’t hate you because you’re beautiful.
Or ugly. Or out-of-work or working for the Man.
Because who knows who the Man is anymore?
Is the president the Man? He used to have a fro
the size of Toledo, but now it’s trimmed down
to respectability, more gray sneaking in each day,
and you’ve got to wonder if he misses his pick,
for he must have had one of those black power ones
with a fist on the end. After all, the fro is a fist,
all curled power, rebellious shake, impervious
and improper. Water does not scare the fro,
because water cannot change that which is
immutable—that soul-sonic force, that sly
stone-tastic, natural mystic, roots-and-rhythm
crown for the ages, blessed by God and gratitude.
Notebooks from Issue 81/82
What good are notebooks?
—Talking Heads, “Life During Wartime”
I crave them as if craving something carnal,
blankness of pages erotic, clean with sensual
possibilities and ready to be dampened
by my insistent ink, swirls of language
made plain on thin blue lines taut
as tightrope. I collect them like other women
collect shoes or boyfriends, fingering pristine
pages while standing hushed in aisles
of bookstores and stationery shops,
stroking plush-covered ones with a single
finger, loving floral-print ones more
than actual flowers, needing another and
another until my house is overrun
with them, and they start arranging
cocktail hours and support groups—
for the ones I have not written in
grow lonely, and the ones managing
the burden of my desperate handwriting
need someone to talk to, peers to confide in
about these dog-eared secrets and semi-scribbled
imaginings, covert half-truths, outright lies.
How they congregate around my bed,
waiting for me to pick one up, start
another hazy page of scrawls and arrows,
cross-outs and restarts, confessions
that will never be confessions until
I judge them fit for judgment. Sometimes
when fate has flattened me with its one
hard fist, only the black-and-white
composition notebooks of childhood
will do, marbled covers unchanged
from when I first learned cursive—
one letter reaching for the next
in the crazy tilting of my untested hand.
Only those wide-ruled lines will do,
those patient beginnings.