‘Birds Hustling In May’ and other poems
By: Kindaka Sanders
Table of Contents
I was just thinking about joy.
And you were right.
Because he gave it to you, I think
He is a better man for you than me.
That you were scared of losing him,
And you never felt that way before,
And never felt that way about me,
Sent my heart to the pit,
The hell I had fought all my life
But it also caused me to think
About the nature of things.
That although he may be
A better man for you,
Under no circumstances is he
A better man than me.
It made me understand and believe
That joy is not the be-all end-all.
That there is also such a thing
And greater things than bliss.
Experiences with another so
Magnificent that at their apex
They spawn slight levitation,
And can only be described by the colors
Have you ever seen love glow in green and yellow?
So pristine it attracts angels?
So exquisite that it casts off form?
So Elysian it’s rejected by time and space?
And that’s what I have in me.
So, thank you for telling me
That you never loved me
That you never loved me for me.
All that means to me
Is that you never really knew me.
You could not have.
Then I realized that maybe it was not you
I really wanted
But the love I had in me,
Thinking that I needed you to dig it out.
But the only thing I needed to do this whole time
Was to be myself.
And that made me stronger
And prouder to be me.
And prompted me to say,
Who are you
Not to believe in me?
And why do I need you
When I can be me for free?
So, while I submit to your joy,
There is greater light in me
Because everything in me is greater.
I just saw no need to express it.
I always thought that it was
A trite and petty thing,
But I can truly say
I am happy for your joy.
It made me realize
That any feeling that can move you
Is truly a powerful thing.
It just ain’t me.
To Wrap Nothing Itself in Mercury
The older I get
The more silent I become.
The more pithy remarks die in my throat.
The more my feelings hang
As imperiled travelers
On Ojos Del Salado’s walls,
Refusing to be vomited
Into a toilet of self-applause.
The older I get,
The more my overreactions
Move in holding patterns
Until they can properly land.
The more they question me,
Until I can understand,
That their absurd demands,
Are really the world’s demands,
Which may not be
Demands at all,
But, nonetheless, a part of a deity’s plan
That we grow and
abuse that ruckus energy
to make us hurry up and know.
The path of trial and error
Is more of a straight line,
Although it moves both forward and backwards in time
Rather than the path taken by the wise
Who in spite of being right
are always blind,
Yet always sense the obstacles,
So, they prefer to circumvent than climb.
So their path is long but painless,
While most of ours are quick and shameful,
Fraught with doubt, littered with distraught,
Possessed by pain, and painful thoughts,
Chains and merciless memories,
A multiplicity of sensitivities,
Self-deconstructions and re-assemblies,
Wrought with blame and secret enemies,
Guilt that harbors ancient synergies
That honor our paths
But not our abilities
As if they were all for naught.
Yet, it is obvious that we wanted to be caught
In a vortex of negative energy
To prove that it is what it pretends to be.
Or we are so bored with our identity,
We are prepared for the short and painful walk,
Only to learn the lessons we have
Repeatedly been taught,
Ill-prepared to use the garments
That were so gracefully bestowed,
Those rare abilities that are destined to have progeny
If only we had thought;
Those incarnations of wisdom,
On a train traveling through our thoughts,
But every time the flange
Runs across our abilities
The train seems to get lost,
And tossed completely off the tracks
Only to snapback to the distant lands
Of our fathers.
Because everything rhymes in time
It’s just a matter
Of the cost.
So why bother being lost?
Well, I guess when you take the blinders off
You may more inclined to remember
The scenes of pain and possibility
Encountered along the walk.
Otherwise, the ride would be over,
one so monotonous it was not a ride at all,
And, in the end, we would only be left
With a painless
Sense of loss.
Love in Green and Gold
“Would you accept me as flawed
Would you accept me as damaged?”
Only you don’t know it’s love.
You think it is something else.
I still don’t know the answer to that.
And it might be too late. To lie still.
Because, “you are the will & you take too long.”
But she is strong, she is fast,
She is swift, and she tolerates no guilt.
For she is love itself.
She was asking you to love her
That’s why she told you that.
It wasn’t because she was honest.
It was because she had already asked.
I wanted to own her
But I can’t because she is free.
She is the heart donor
That moves above
The fire that is me.
But I tried anyway
Despite all my power . . . .
It made me realize I had been acting up
like a toddler
Running from the tub.
Because I never ever truly
Wanted to be in love.
But a love suppressed will, one day,
Force its hand and be heard,
Overcoming the guardrails
Of the man you thought you were.
Love is not a tough decision.
It’s more like a rough religion
With a god who could care less about your belief.
It is not a good Samaritan
The world’s greatest thief.
It is not going to fit
All nice, neat, tidy, and new.
It has holes in it. It is ripped apart.
It is stained, but still true.
Birds Hustling in May
out on an outing,
in a white tuxedo suit.
a little boy, at the time.
full red lips floating in place
in an ovaloid plate of bluish grape Kool-Aid,
making it look as if a smile’s on his face.
joyously running around
a confederate monument
in the historic downtown area
of the place in the universe
where night meets day,
while his older sister stares suspiciously
at a stationary caboose.
both, it seems,
were trying to find the truth,
which, unbeknownst to them at the time,
was a design of never-ending increments.
but even then, as it were,
we were so drenched in
the feebleness of youth
that we had to rely on fairies
to explain our losses,
albeit just an unnecessary tooth.
and then, one day,
and my mama had to literally
push me out on stage
so i could read my line on time.
only a single line
but even that i declined
either out of fear, rebellion
or none of the above.
i always had a hard time moving
unless the path I was set on
was by the alacrity of love.
And i knew that the shove was love.
one that was needed
or the moment would have surely passed
and aimed flaming hot waste
like a boulder in the path
of my mother’s whole play.
so this time i was on time,
and time itself rewarded my efforts,
even though me, myself, was not the factor.
but this would not always be the case,
because in each story there is an actor
a writer, a thing of little use,
and a smattering of grace.
but the fact that i am moved
by the centripetal force of love
has always been that way.
and, in the absence of empty space,
it might just be the best case
for the existence of a single truth,
love. the only force that moves
without removing or taking
but efforts are not always rewarded.
no matter to whom they belong.
and this is a different problem
because there’s no power of being ahead
in the shoes of the confused
and for years I wore a size 12
in someone else’s shoes.
i have no idea what i was thinking
because all my shoes now
and three sizes smaller.
so either my feet have been shrinking,
i was given too much room to grow,
or maybe i was so concerned with style
that i was blinded to the size of my souls.
or maybe my feet were lying then,
are lying now,
or simply have decided to forget
what they never should have known.
or, most likely, i was simply
a Bugle Boy buffoon
ahead of my time
but too far behind
to know my behind
was so far behind
that I didn’t know
the size of my soul.
out there blind to self,
out of my depth
but holding my breath,
as if that would help.
i had no clue
of how much life one could lose,
how much energy, courage, and self-hate,
it would take
to mine or replace
a single bit of truth.
but i did know one thing was true
and this would set me apart from other youths.
i could see that too much God
would crush you,
albeit, into something new,
and too much
of the devil would ruin you too.
like too many sweets
on that dilapidated tooth.
and I knew that the world
wasn’t ready for the truth,
and my thoughts were deeper
than anyone I knew
and i could feel the hell
that others were going through.
but at the time pain
was the only thing i really knew
now i know it was too much
for even grown folks to go through:
and this may sound like
precociousness to you,
but to me, it’s the consolation gift
given to the boy who is blinded
to force him to see in the dark.
like the ability to peruse a hidden star
in a galaxy far far away
yet unable to see the casualties
to the self
staring right there in your face.
or to the one there:
slightly left of your right lung
concealed in the heart,
holding a multi-colored spark,
providing the only substance
that can live and see in the dark.
it is an insightful perception
but deformed nonetheless.
a hand-me-down gift
to the idiot savant
who believes he is smart
because he has been blinded
and can see in the dark.
it would be great if most things were luminous lemons
but the fact of the matter is and the fact of matter is
that most things are not.
most things are dark.
so if my shoe-size
was in anywise
the measurement of the truth,
we are all rotating around monuments that hate us,
and trying to figure out why a disabled
little red caboose
unleashed from its cable
does not move.
the old folks would say,
“are you watching the movie or
is the movie watching you?”
each is only viewing
the ejecta of the truth.
so while we tell ourselves lies
about our shoe size
and hurl around, over, behind, but never into the truth
no matter what our degree of knowledge
we still simply maybe
ahead of time,
yet wasting time
in a condemnatory haste
with a giant, self-congratulatory
smile on our face.
but no need lie to the indolent.
it won’t get them to move.
neither sooner nor later,
but as for me
and my size 12
later never came,
and neither did the truth.
Birds Hustling in May.
They brook no bullshit,
deign no nervous laughter
To assuage intimidation.
They use no small talk
To punctuate holes in conversations.
They are at home in silence,
While the outside world
Dribbles words around
To placate discomfort.
In their own way, they are gods,
Iron lion monuments occupying isolated planets,
stalking around a prevaricating star.
Their scars are etched deeply into
The stories they tell
Over the bonfire emanating
from the iron heap.
Their personalities blend with the steel
That surrounds them.
Their habitat is a barouche collage
Of hard steel and tough skin.
And only they know the sorrows hidden
In the silence of men.
I don’t remember
Feeling when the fertile
Web around me dried.
I just woke up one day
All that I could eat.
All my six-year-old
belly could hold.
I couldn’t stop eating.
I guess I was trying to replace
the life turned mud
Stuck beneath my little wings.
A bad chemical mix?
A six-year-old performing experiments.
Someone should have been watching.
Why weren’t you?
Yet you put the blame on me.
When I wasn’t even old enough
To bear the responsibility.
Did you not watch me grow?
Do you not know that you
Became you only because
Of my suffering?
You are standing on my hurt.
But you have the nerve to hate me.
You think I am weak,
Yet our worse times didn’t break me.
I survived it all.
You simply cut the faucet off
And declared that you were courageous and strong.
But it was me who had to carry around the muck
That tugged so heavily at my
Little legs and feet,
Clinging like death
To the light I had left.
So you are wrong.
As it was
with my toy parachute man.
I threw him up in the drizzle.
He landed in the fertile soil
Of our cornfield
And sunk beneath the mud.
Never to be uncovered
No matter how far I dug.
No matter how much I looked.
I finally realized it didn’t disappear,
It was took
By a carnivorous beast
Inside the ravenous sludge
That eventually dried.
And the man who could fly,
Eventually turned into dirt.
A childhood twisted up,
And the life within it
Squeezed out. Like
A nasty rag left
For someone else
Then tossed on a clothesline
Where it is left
To exist in perpetual dryness.
And you would like nothing more
Than to leave me there,
To forget about me.
You couldn’t care less
That I am a necessary part of you.
That everything you benefit from now,
I had to go through.
While you pretend to be hard
Like the dirt that became
The grave of the parachute man.
Yet my blood still
Occupies the dry grain.
With a little love
It might be able to bear
That delectable orange syrup
But only if you acknowledge me.
As if I were the Truth.
Love me, as if I were yours.
Because I am but a little you.
Than a bigger me. Too.
About the poet
Kindaka Jamal Sanders is a writer from Selma, Alabama. His writing is visceral, vivid, deep, poignant, and sometimes even comedic. His writing also reflects his hometown’s conflicting legacies and the multiple worlds he grew up in. He grew up around doctors and lawyers, black radicals and nonviolent civil rights legends, politicians and anarchists, realists and college students from around the world, on the one hand, and on the other, criminals, drug dealers, sex workers, shooters, and hustlers whose most basic goal in life was mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual survival. He sucked it all up. His writing expresses the pain, suffering, and joy of the broadest swaths of American others and their counterparts around the world. He has always been fascinated with the process of turning words into feelings and pictures and the inherent power of perspective to transform good into bad, bad into good, right into wrong, wrong into right, left into right, and up into down. He has written dozens of poems, short stories, creative nonfiction pieces, and a screenplay. He has produced records and written dozens of songs. Additionally, he wrote, produced, and directed a play. He has published several pieces in the past year and half, including Atlas, Move in IHRAF Publishes, Old Damn Gaines in Barren Magazine, Soul Under Siege in Literary Stories, and The Whitening in Wilderness House Literary Review, and The Paint that is the World (4 selected poems) in Literary Yard.