Category Archives: poetry

audio files for you audiophiles

people often ask me where they can listen to my poetry online, and for too long i had to say that it was impossible.
all that has changed, slightly, with these two files for your consumption.

you can listen to Pick Me, here
and Consent is Sexy, here

feel free to send them around and share with friends.
much love.

Dear David,

a six sided star fishes for identity on my chest
tucked under a mixed family it dangles like a
worm on a hook under American waters

David, you’ve become a constellation we no longer strain to see
like a king’s crown your yellow light showed us through the darkest times
exposed us to the darkest crimes
when you labeled us
a problem
a question
they answered with genocide; another problem
another question
they answered with atomic bombs
more problems
we stop asking
and instead promise never again
we lie
dead
as our babies boom
might as well drop them out of the planes
it makes as much sense as cartoons
as war propaganda

Dear David,
they gave you a nation, but what did you say?
are you trapped between those two blue bars
or can you still get away?
because Israel was dropped on top of Palestine and is there to stay
like one triangle turned around and dropped on another
you see David, my brother, cannot be anti-Semitic
if he is as Semitic as me, Isaac
Ishmael just wants to be free
but you’ve got him building pyramids from the charred dust of bulldozed homes in the Gaza
stripped of rights
you’ve let your brother sleep naked and hungry too many nights
you Pharaoh
cashing checks from the West, Bank
you’ve become settled, in your thinking
unlike your Torah, you do not move
you have not turned
you six sided sinner
you blind Goliath
you have a hexagon center that points nowhere but inward
what are you looking for out in that desert?
is it another ghetto?
are you just jealous of the swastika’s popularity among disaffected youth?
are you trying to be a bad-ass?
or are you just an abused child now grown up
molesting your nephew and calling him names?

Dear David,
our homeland is neither
just like the Christian Right
and you, my symmetrical friend
represent me no longer
you are a problem
a question
they answer with violence, repression
more problems
more questions
your jagged corners do not know how to answer

how ashamed you’ve made us
I used to cover my notebooks with pictures of you
now I tuck you under my shirt
in order to hide
my association with
my role in unwillingly supporting
your racial, national, religious apartheid
you make me sick, David

oceans away, you fish for identity on my chest
reminding me of who i am
because of how you can’t be
reminding me of where i come from
by showing us where we can’t go
you are a fallen star
not lucky nor bright
and I still see myself in you far too often
like some birthright trip to hypocrisy from Crofton, MD
because all I can say is
never again
as I put my necklace away
and pray
that we end
this oppression

rising to the occassion

giving in to output economies competing with birds for pecking order
inserting seeds in earthworm inches stretching chances like smiles across 60-year-old fences standing stubbornly tall in the night
I want Banksy to paint a window to paradise on your walled arms
graffiti on your guts like the colors of the red line blurred past your rusting memory of singers and springs
I have sandpaper hands and a woodworking brother
let’s talk to the night and ask for a massage
bring aching knees back to life to shuffle once more
let your feet not be weary
twenty three thousand steps to get here now is not the time to stumble
walk with purpose
queens can go far in any direction and it’s not limited to the surface so dive head first into city blocks, school yards, and winding backroads like they were handmade bags for your dreams
let us open them together and break the seams apart simply for the sake of liberation
can you see it?

a spark and a breath in

I had to walk across a desert just to find my own feet
I had to break a few hearts just to hear one beat
picking up the pieces now I’m puzzled when I weep
drinking tears to clean my mouth so my soul can simply speak

I had to say everything so I could understand one word
had to watch reality to appreciate absurd
now I’m doing all I can, sometimes they call me Verb
still walkin, still talking, lookin back just like the bird

and I’ve never felt lazier flyin so fast
the world ain’t gettin crazier, we just forget the past
and no we’re not doomed, just consumed by race and class
while morality’s distorted shrinking through the looking glass

chasing after pleasure, feelin just like the Stones
can’t get no satisfaction, but it’s the only way I’ve known
had to get lost in the jungle just to find my way home
it’s like I live at open mics how I’m related to these poems

and this one looks like you baby, so maybe we are kin
and I’ve still got the matches if you need to look within
had to spit this poem backwards so my ending could begin
lighting fires in your eyes with a spark and a breath in

. . .

lighting fires in your eyes with a spark and a breath in
I had to spit this poem backwards so my ending could begin
you see, I’ve still got the matches if you need to look within
and this one looks like you baby, so maybe we are kin

it’s like I live at open mics how I’m related to these poems
I had to get lost in the jungle just to find my way home
and I can’t get no satisfaction, but it’s the only way I’ve known
chasing after pleasure, feelin just like the Stones

while morality’s distorted shrinking through the looking glass
no we’re not doomed, we’re just consumed by race and class
the world ain’t gettin crazier, we just forget the past
and I’ve never felt lazier flyin so fast

I’m still walkin, still talking, lookin back just like the bird
now I’m doing all I can, sometimes they call me Verb
had to watch reality to appreciate absurd
I had to say everything just so I could understand one word

drinking tears to clean my mouth so my soul can simply speak
picking up the pieces now I’m puzzled when I weep
I had to break a few hearts just to hear one beat
I had to walk across a desert just to find my own feet

no joke

I sat down in front of my computer and thought that I could pound out a poem that would suck me, you, and the rest of this room into it like a tornado, but instead I projectile vomited clichéd meta-whores in a start-stop jerking train of thought that went about three intellectual inches before falling into a pit of white blank page muck. I thought I must have upset the poetry gods. Perhaps I just got lucky on those other pieces, or maybe my words have just become flaccid after too much excitement ejaculating on crowds around the country. Wow, that came out wrong. That too. Stop thinking dirty thoughts. Am I talking to you or myself? Did I really just have an internal conversation in this poem? Jeez, this poem sucks. All my poetry sucks!

My poetry sucks so bad it’s like mental masturbation cut short.
My poetry sucks so bad I got kicked out of a free workshop.
My poetry sucks so bad the state board of corrections uses it to punish convicts for bad behavior.
My poetry is so bad my own mother no longer accepts it as a present. . . or me as her son.
My poetry is so craptastic nightclubs play my CD at 3am to get people to leave.
My poetry is so bad I get negative scores at slams and end up owing the judges points.
My poetry is so horrible my girlfriend threatened to dump me if I mentioned her in this piece (love ya babe!)
My poetry is so bad a district court judge told me in all seriousness that she had to research the constitutionality of performing it in public.
My poetry is so bad Michael Jackson’s ghost just appeared in the back of the room to make sure you all know I’m using the literal definition of bad, and that my poetry is in no way bad like he is/was.
My poetry is so bad pet stores won’t even buy my chapbooks for their animals to piss on.
My poetry is so bad a group of students from Galluadet told me to shut up.
My poetry is so awful the riot police asked me to help them disburse protestors at the World Bank/IMF meetings.
My poetry is so heinous 7 counties in the tri-state area have banned me from performing in their jurisdictions because it disturbs their peace.
My poetry is so bad my best friend walked out of my last show. . . and my life.
My poetry is so bad two doctors confirmed that it literally caused a woman to become ill after hearing just half of one piece.
My poetry is so bad I made an infant child, who doesn’t speak or understand any language, wake from her sleep, start crying, vomit, and then give me the finger.
No joke.
My poetry is so bad it hurts, literally.
But it’s still better than yours! (not really, i love you baby, calm down it was just for fun)

look away

a pause
and a breath
then nothing

perhaps a stare
unfocused
unaware
unwilling to go there
ourselves

we cannot even look

the dead have names
we read
and remember
we read and forget

a pause here
or there
we pay our respect

as though we recognize
what we owe
no service rendered
save for the gates
to the soul
left open

vacancies to be filled
some with vengeance
all with despair
deep brown eyes
no one can repair

only cover

hide from sight
wrap in blankets
pulled down for us
not for them
the earth has already shaken
them off
swallowed them up
and spit them back
in our faces

and we carry them now
without ever looking
burden less than grief
duty almost as strong
as our helplessness
feeling more dangerous
than not

we seek protection
take cover
take cover
take covers
spread sheets over eyes
pull down blinds
keep moving
keep covering
let them not be seen dirty
let them not be seen naked
how they came into the world
how they were forced out

we cannot even look
at the truth
when it opens up the earth
and floods our eyes with shouts
no pauses just
deep brown eyes

look away

deep brown eyes
crushed beneath the weight of
our own homes
suffocating slowly in
our own tombs
customized and crushed

look away

lest you wish to take their place
eyes deep brown
something deep down
south making noise
so we dig
and we work
we dig and we work
salvaging enough shreds of hope
to braid a wick
dip it in blood
dip it in oil
and mutter a prayer
for the next seven days

cut off all of our hair
wail at the sky
and ask the same questions
without looking into the

deep brown eyes
no one can repair

only cover

hide from sight
wrap in blankets
pulled down for us
not for them
the earth has already shaken
them off
swallowed them up
and spit them back
in our faces

and we carry them now
without ever looking
burden less than grief
duty almost as strong
as our helplessness
feeling more dangerous
than not

i’m on the you tube

red leaves

brought on by bright orange and yellow
golden sun burning
turning seasons
turning colors

she gets dark crimson
after blood red berry
no fruit in her leaves
except moods for my eyes

a spectrum of surprise
down the color wheel
around rings on trees
arms and branched fingers

if only fall could linger
longer
but

red never stays
she leaves like green
just faster

Jon Tucker Must Live!

I was born in the backseat of a child’s playground
minding my own business, man-child of a conversation
untranslated
slated to be the next problem
the next argument
the next five knots in your throat
like the most beautiful clog in your tearduct drain pipes
overflowing on some American highway off ramp
off put
exit stage left me
off broadway off center
old man child off his rocker
still swaying on point in his off moments
saying this was a mistake
I must have reminded him of somebody else
I couldn’t have been me
because he mis-took me everywhere
took me for, granted no, wishes I
were not
they say Jon Tucker Must Die but I’ve got
at least a few minutes left here with you
so listen up business man child of yesterday
your fuel is a fossil
on display behind velvet ropes in museums to be studied
while we turn the sun around
to face tomorrows artists
and clean your muddied waters, Mississippi
your bloodied daughters, New York
shining through soot
sparkling on concrete
no longer underneath your foot
we’re rising to meet your clouds, Colorado
to greet your crowds, California
to free your cows, Wisconsin
yes we’re in a new age of abolitionists
uprooting oppression and all its viciousness
for living things must live, Jon Tucker included
no matter the worst thing you did
we know that you’re more than that
and we’ll prove it, Texas
try to improve it, Florida
stay fluid, Maryland
deep beneath basement club music brought to more Baltimore bricks baking
businessmen-children burning with often more than desire, Georgia
more than mobs with murderous fire, Carolina
more than jealousy, Michigan
more than greed, Nevada
we’re not in Kansas anymore, but really we’ve never been there, Alaska
we all burn differently here
and I’m far from home wherever I am, Washington
DC warming and warring the world
and all of it is inside of me
melting my idealism like glaciers
continuing the civil rights movement like an iceberg
90 percent undergroundwater welling up in my chest
stuck up, stuck out like I’m the best
most exceptional, professional cheater
armed checkpoints at my joints
occupying your theater
homeless vets kicked out to my toes and my fingers
shivering and starving with all these over-eaters
inside of me
not caring
Jon Tucker is America, child prodigy and daring
and although he’s not perfect
Jon Tucker Must Live.

crimson maps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

beyond borders, breaking waves, your bravery
supposedly rescued me but what’s done well
like your steak standing up on its plate
taking it like a true soldier, bleeding
crimson maps of where we’ve been
what we’ve conquered or been devoured by
systems that flower by inequality’s growth
and our alibi it cowers by societies smoke
this is not a joke and, if it is
we’re not in on it– outside looking
shut up. wake up. we’re here.
shut up. wake up. my dear.
raise yourself up and fear less
we hear you, meet you in the middle
playing my golden brown fiddle
beating the devil to the cake today
sweet eats that feed and keep
the bad at bay– do you ascend
coz I fly, I swoop, I swing, I sing,
I want you to toe the clouds with me, exploring everything
up there down here anywhere
beyond borders, beyond bank accounts
beyond the last chance
to find the next one.

— Crimson Maps by Jonathan B. Tucker & Gowri Koneswaran

poem for Dave (work in progress)

the left knee of your jeans has a small tear in it
dropped from there to the ground
on several memorable occasions
a tear no larger than a penny

one solitary tear
spelled the same as tear
which sounds the same as tier
like on a higher level

and you’ve been there, my friend
for years in space, seeking a level most of us couldn’t attain
but you’d always remain grounded in your jeans and tees,
with us
singing the songs that make us remember,
strumming the strings that weave us together
red country, blues city, and your purple tee
poking holes in all our self-righteous ideologies

you sing justice
you build the space where sound echos
and draw strings to shake us

the world is out of tune
but you have a good ear, a strong hand, and a steady beat
to make us

connect on your loom, a tapestry
you shape us,
as family

on the porch with ripped jeans
we bloom
when you spill a little of your drink on us
warmth in every drop of your spirit

falling like tears
spelled the same as tears

but if there were holes for each drop
we’d be naked by now
swimming in salty regrets and sweet joys
like the emperor’s sad clothes
dissolving as hard truths rain on our wicked western fantasies
but we are of the land, brave and true
and Cathy and Dave, it’s thanks to you
we can smile and forever enjoy our times with a crew
like family

wearing each other’s clothes
holes and all
tears and tears
and if ever you should fall
know that we’re there with your left knee
playing the earth like a drum
that you’ve built carefully from
echos and accents
of vibrating spaces
with a love words cannot capture
like our smiling faces

emcee growth

001[1]

pushin you to greatness, wait sun you won’t hate this,
stubborn hard work challenging so you can make this,
grade A, certified, self-determination,
pushing you to grow like forcing seeds into germination,
oaks yelling at acorns to sit down and be patient,
so your future won’t get squirreled away or cracked out on the pavement.

we are not so hard that
we cannot be formed,
emcee egos are castle walls about to be stormed,

emotions are kings
hiding under fancy rap sheets,
“dare to share your heart, we’ll nod our head to its beat,”
whether it’s true or unique, authentic or weird,
in art as in life it’s better to be loved than feared,
so stop scaring your moms and come up out the covers,
prince, nobody believes you even know how to love her,
when all you do is hit, tap, cut, poke, and holla,
a jew like me will twist ya mind up and bake it into challah,
pushing you to greatness
when you reach for mediocre,
content with just leaves
i need you to be an oaker

freshly sharpened

freshly sharpened minds
can still dull an audience, unlightened
intellects like pencils, freshly sharpened
prone to crack if you push too hard, so Continue reading

they canceled Reading Rainbow

they canceled Reading Rainbow!!!
they sent bombs to Iraq
they eat at the fancy restaurants
and sit fat in large movie theaters
they like to see violence
it amuses them
they have more things than they can name
they feel ownership of other living things
they bond closely with non-living things
they decided Pluto is not really a planet!
they canceled the Reading Rainbow!
they must not be poets
they must be sick
mad in the head
they come in wearing white coats and drag your butt out
they bang gavels and drag your butt out
if only they’d put on makeup and
drag your butt out
they must not like rainbows
they canceled Reading Rainbow!
if you don’t like rainbows (or drag shows) then you probably don’t like puppies, cookies, presents or orgasms either
they do not like these things
they do not like my jokes
they indulge in homophobic paranoia
(and you were right, puppies, cookies, and presents are all metaphors for something super gay)
they do not like my metaphors
they must not be poets
they do not like my vegan mac n cheese
they do not like vegan anything
they eat cigarettes and breathe raw meat
they like to profit
they need to profit
they live to profit
they make deals
they sell
themselves
father, forgive them, for
they know not what they do
they chop and screw
entire nations
over
they got money for war but won’t feed the poor
they don’t know who’s line that is
they do not know that Tupac Amaru Shakur’s mother worked with the Black Panthers
they are COINTELPRO-fessionally trained
to deceive
they canceled Reading Rainbow!
they made the Simpsons sterile
they are ruthless
they pray to their bathroom mirrors
for more hair
or less hair
or no lines here
or no lumps there
or more curves here
and more lumps there
they teach their children how to loathe themselves
they give their babies Dolce diapers
they give beggars rich snears
they want you to stop complaining
they said Pluto is not a planet!
they canceled Reading Rainbow!
they must not be poets
they must be crazy

poetic form

i’ve heard tell of haiku and sonnet, limerick and pantoum, and whatnot, but here are the kinds of poems that i am used to hearing as a performance poet.

backwards and forwards poems.
tongue twisters. essays. love poems.
anaphora anaphora anaphora.
slam.
circular poems. biographic.
sing-songy. rap. screaming
poems. snap your fingers.
stomp your feet poems.
religion. politics. revolution.
talkin bout music or the media poems.
love. lust. hate. breakup poems.
nature
and animals.
molestation and rape.
take your breath and
make you scream poems.
goosebumps and chills.
family. story poems.
funny. stupid and sorry poems.

from the desk of . . .

prof. tucker & ms. gowri k.

take your stinky monkey butt
over potpourri piles
fragrant vagrant sit still
and let’s collect your things up
starting lower again
down the upper and higher
the flyer the bigger the message
the smaller the flier: take my
card. grandmaster flash me
trash me like oscar the grouch
mash me like your mom’s potatoes
over

repeat, indefinitely

we’ll meet again in our next lives, and in our next next next lives after that we’ll fall in love again digging up hip hop artifacts in the year 3012, dusting off the wheels of what we think was the A2 train uptown buried in what used to be the atlantic ocean. we’ll date the carbon on junkyard adidas and consider dumpster diving for college credit our first real date. plaster molds of ancient headphones will be my gift to you, and you’ll kiss me in a remix of the most original language. i’ll get down, one knee in a pile of vinyl, trying to loop your heartbeat around a finger, unraveling feelings like cassette tapes, mixed and made from scratch just to reenact the rituals of ancestors fly enough to swim in vibes de la sol and moon walk in circles with their shoulders spinning the concrete. we’ll rewind together on the floor and repeat, indefinitely, for a thousand years.

singing the earth

tick tock it won’t stop create recreate
regenerate like a gecko’s tail can’t be lost
in translation we all go from god to human
and back again, speaking with borrowed and liquid tongues
bringing back
the myth of water
the mystery of missing it
only once it’s gone
cannot be found again, like giant squids playing peek-a-boo in the curtains
dark night oceans eleven hundred years around coming back in style
my file pulled from the archives
camera placement from above the ceiling
or beneath a glass-tiled floor
if our roots were visible would we know where we come from
instead we run to the sky to photosynthesize, dig with me
we’ve all got dirt on our jeans knees, scrapping, singing the earth
into night. we’ve all got worthless wings
and wild visions
night terrors and day tremors
we wake to move and be moved
see and be seen, spin and be spun,
a world of color, a unity of one,
the palate of my tongue.

~ i wrote this poem with my good friends gowri and henry on the glorious morning of saturday, june 27, 2009 ~