Category Archives: poetry

short poem

 

i love to say hello
hate to say goodbye

look you up and down
then look you in the eye

yearning for the future
nostalgic for what’s passed

wanna change the world
but we’re still buying gas

consumer and producer
are we making love

or am i just a pigeon
mistaken for a dove

 

pigeon

 

Mother’s Day Poem

I grew up wearing nothing
But other peoples’ clothes
Strangers’ used clothing
Bought by my mom at local yard sales

At some point, probably around middle school
I was embarrassed about my pre-owned garb
Thinking clothes should be bought full price
at some fancy department store
I don’t know who taught me this but it sure   wasn’t    my     mama

My mom lives by her own code
She is not normal
She is weird and quirky and fun and we love it
She is the Queen of Weird
The odd thread holding our family’s diverse fabric together
And the old comforter keeping us warm

She is also the Queen of the Yard Sale
Fashioning a new life for our family
From used goods of others
Saving paper and threads
Toys and tables from their landfill fate
She was recycling before it was hip
Throwback before I could throw
Turning old to new with the smudge of her hand
And a wipe of her brush

Yard sales were an integral part of our home

For those who might not know, a yard sale is not the selling of a yard
Also commonly referred to as a garage sale, and again, no selling of the garage is involved
Rather, upon the yard or from the garage, a family will offer their used property for sale to all Who may come by to see. No business license necessary.
Almost like a flea market, which usually markets no fleas, these events can be found every Weekend throughout the U.S. and  around the world

My mom is stately
Tres Chic and powerful with her curly Jew-fro crown
The Queen of Yardsale
Makes friends with everyone
Everywhere
And secures unheard-of deals
From villages near and far

It’s a skill few possess
Taking the patience of a teacher
The eye of an owl
And a griot’s gift of gab

She has a flock of female friends following her lead
She is the Queen
She can go far in any direction
And early Saturday mornings her kingdom opens

Queen Yardsale has an MBA
We call it her Mom Buys Anything degree
Not haggling, hassling, or scheming, NO
These ladies are professional negotiators
With more bargaining skills than any businessman on Wall Street
Top-notch firms of female-headed households
Holding used goods up to the light

Like disobedient children
Nothing is ever thrown out
When it can be loved and valued still
With a little elbow grease and extra care
Revived

When it can be weird, eccentric AND cool
Like my mom
Taught me
That weird IS cool

So whenever I would call her weird (and yes I said it often and survived)
She would simply say “thank you,” with the most sincere pride.

It took me a long time
To understand this wisdom
This love
This extra care

For all things born
And all hands and moms prepared
To make them born again, anew

Like our relationship after a fight
And all the stranger’s clothes I’ve grown through
Like the smile on her face
When I say
Mom, I love you.

 

jbt n mom

What Do You See? Questions from Trayvon Martin to his killer

 

What do you see when you look at me?
You don’t look me in the eyes
So what is it you’re looking for?
 
Am I the kid who beat up your brother in middle school?
Am I the one who stole his bike and you couldn’t do anything about it?
Do you see vengeance in me?
A chance to get back at him? To get over?
To “make things right?”
 
Is that why you followed me?
 
Or are you a “teacher?” A righteous educator taking life lessons to the street
with a bully curriculum and a 9mm?
Do I look stupid to you?
What was your GPA?
Do I look like I need to learn a lesson
Hard as steel today?
 
Aren’t we all stupid to you?
Aren’t we all carrying guns and breaking laws?
Or is that just you?
 
Really, what do you see?
What can you see?
Can you see my father? Or does my skin preclude me from having great male role models like yourself?
 
I hear you mentor black boys; what have you told them
About hoodies and iced tea?
What of Jim Crow and self-defense laws?
What of segregation and privilege?
 
Have you shown them what streets they cannot walk?
What white ladies they cannot talk to
Or whistle at
In this sundown town?
 
Have you drawn chalk outlines for them
To step into for the “safety of the community?”
Have you told them how much their hair reminds you of drugs
Their noses violence, their lips rape, their skin crime?
Have you scared them into forgetting their pride
And cowering before you, Massa?
 
Or are they just the exceptions to your black rules?
Just the Oprah’s and Obama’s among the 99% of us thugs?
 
Am I all dick and fists to you?
All crack and rap and basketball?
Am I not a child still?
 
Can you not see my mother in my cheeks?
Her joy and laughter and pain and hope
Breathing through my lungs?
Is she not holy, not sanctified, not deserving?
Like your mother?
Can you see her grief?
 
Can you touch one tenth of the earthquake
Rumbling in her chest every morning she wakes
Without me?
Can you imagine the almighty strength she wields
To prevent herself and my father from finding
Sweet relief in the same violence turned around?
 
Can you see how god she is?
How god we all are?
Even you?
 
I wonder, truly
What do you see?
What can you see
In me
Besides bullets?

 

braided and baked

braided and baked like challah
my identity is constantly turning and being read
like torah
different interpretations of the same living thing
and idea an artifact we can study
it is my breath on the bar’chu
calling me up to be
my tongue on tekiah waking up those who sleep
i speak
my purpose
i am
my words my deeds my dreams and my bloodline
swimming in ashkenazi rivers looking for a solid home
drowning in survivor’s guilt and
windsurfing in a poem
i am
only the food i eat literally but
there is much more inside me spiritually
i am
divided
between ancient and fresh
right and left
spirit and flesh
hashem and nefesh
between hip and hop
there is a hyphen
a chai fitting between jewish and white
between erev and night
between misappropriation and my natural right
i lay flat
putting my body on the line like my ancestors did
when it’s time to stand for justice
time to sit-in and protest for fairness
time to speak up and lay down our arms for peace
my identity guides and reminds me that
i cannot cease until all are free
for we were once slaves
now comfy and prosperous in our post-post-modern age
our obligation remains
burning like the eternal flames in our temples
but many in our diasporic tribe bring us terrible shame
it’s simple
know mercy
do justice
be not pharaoh
be not goliath
do not create ghettos
tear down walls
love your neighbors
love!
because we are a people
braided and baking together
constantly turning being read and reinterpreting ourselves
and struggling to not forget where we’re from
struggling ever so hard to tikun olam
our ability to heal the world does not come from violence
it is not born in security threat analysis or
border wall military check points
check again
check your holy books your history and your heart
check yourself
my friend my sister my brother
my identity
our identity
is deeper than skin
so check the weather you will see a change blowing in the wind
on the backs of a diverse new generation
bringing together the right and the left
the spirit and the flesh
hashem and nefesh
ancient and fresh
to build the bridges we need
to save our identity

My Angle on Pimpin’

Check out this hot new video of my poem Pimpin’ on Park Triangle’s new series The Angle.

Jonathan B. Tucker: Pimpin’ from Park Triangle Productions on Vimeo.

Aside

i know you wanna go coz all day you gotta wait gotta wait  for the train and then wait at the gate wait for the show and wait to have fun and then wait until you can go wait for … Continue reading

i want a real love

i want a real love
i don’t want a halmark, disney, fairytale love
i don’t want a flowers and chocolate and let’s lie to each other just to make it work love
don’t want your make-up, hair, nails and heels plastic love
or your i’m so real i’m unreal, get used to it love
NO
i want a D.I.Y. love
a sugar how you get so fly? love
a giving all we can until we die love
an original love
a so crazy intense it might be criminal love
a we’re inside each other’ thoughts
subliminal love
a you know me better than i know myself love Continue reading