Poetry

Volcano I

Visit – Hawaiian Acres an Beyond

 

Before the full moon

the trip started off  skewed, up too early at 5am

arrived at airport after teaching at  Key Project

almost late only to discover

no driver’s license, bank card, charge card, insurance cards

so check in impossible until proper ID

Hubby went home and searched in logical and accidental places and corners

no luck on missing silver card case bought at the Indian Pow Wow a decade ago

while giving a poetry reading at Borders and visiting cousins on Kauai

 

With passport in hand after missing my flight

I boarded 2 hours later for the short 1 hour flight to the Big Island

where the Volcano was creating 100s of small earthquakes daily

and the eruption of Fissure 8 had already destroyed 500 + houses

and displaced over a thousand people fleeing rivers of lava in Leilani Estates

and beyond to Kapoho

 

 

GREENS

Green with early morning presence
The green that is the Ko`olau mountain range
after fierce rains, waterfalls, and rainbows.
The exotic green leaves that hold the orchids
The green of koa trees in springtime
The green rivers of summer
The green distance from me to you
The green of fresh salads
The strong clear green of my Mother’s emerald jewelry
The tall green shade of fruit laden trees
The green of collards, mustards, and kale
The green of young love
The green flash at the ocean’s horizon
cradled by reflections of peach and tangerine clouds at sunset
The moss green of virile passion
A green prayer for the daughters and grandchildren.
God’s greens linking…
A green riddle: How much do I love thee?

 

 

Pale Yellow Love

What I first remember
Was I two years old or younger?
waking up in my oak wooden crib
my bedroom, the middle one
painted pale yellow, flooded with early morning sunlight
sounds of birds’ wings fluttering in nearby bushes
sparrow tweeting, mocking birds scolding, blue birds chirping
smells familiar: morning dew heavy sweet air
honeysuckle bushes, dogwoods, crepe myrtle,
pink buds, pecan trees, pines

What I first remember
calling for Mama or Dada to come
waiting to be picked up, taken out
have cloth diaper changed
warm and heavy with pee pee
waiting looking out my two tall windows
over the crepe myrtle bushes
across the green lawn
beyond the perfectly trimmed hedge
to the pine forest beyond

What I first remember
listening for familiar footsteps in the  hall
from Mama’s room, the bathroom, or the kitchen
her voice reassuring, saying, “I’m coming, K.”
even while she walked
her loving smile coming around the door
happy to see me, hold me, take care of me.

I remember and am comforted by
my pale yellow memory.

 

 

Going Home to Tuskegee

I

Tuskegee

Enter on Highway 29
after the airport in Atlanta
pass miles of Nature’s pines
pass Notasulga and the Piggly Wiggly grocery store
pass Auburn and the university
pass the road to Chehaw the two room train station
in the middle of the cotton fields
where the waiting rooms, fountains, and toilets were segregated
when I was but a child.

Pass Moton Field, where the Tuskegee Airmen trained when I was a kid
now a museum and national historic site
sporting vintage P51C fighter jets
with red tails and assorted original color designs
poised to take off

Moton Field, where my Godfather, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. began his pilot career
after being shunned at West Point for four years
where my cousins and I used to swim in the creek nearby
watch out for water moccasins
find smooth sparkle stones on the sandy edge.

After the white folks’ cemetery on Highway 29
Pass the Greyhound bus station on the edge of Confederate Square
on entering downtown
where cousin Sammy was shot in the back of the head
by the old man Segrest from Shorter
while waiting for his girlfriend to arrive three days after New Year’s
because he tried to integrate a white’s only bathroom.

Pass St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
where Kathleen Neal Cleaver’s dad was the priest, our “Father”
I attended every Sunday with my favorite older cousin Marion
We walked from her house close to campus to services.

Pass the extinct Drug Store on the Block
where after church we regularly bought and ate ice cream sundaes, banana splits
or sipped on Black Cows, a favorite, at the soda fountain
The Block had a few other tiny businesses mostly owned by friends’ parents.
There we sat perched in our hats, stockings, and Sunday best
next to college students and community folk
on the edge of chrome stools that swiveled in front of the long mahogany counter
while my parents and other grownups slept after Saturday night dinner
and late night poker games with good friends.

I remember my childhood was neither deprived nor frugal.

II

In tenth grade I went north to George School, a Quaker institution
attended earlier by Julian Bond
After my graduation, Kathleen nee Neal Cleaver attended
and Alfred Anderson, Chief Anderson’s son, enrolled too
but there were never more than three or four black students
who matriculated at one time in those days.
Some from Tuskegee attended other prep schools
mainly Jack and Jill types.

Caught in between two worlds
Segregation then integration impacted upon our ’60s education

When I graduated from GS
only 156 voting age blacks could vote in Alabama
out of 15,000 eligible voters
a moral struggle ensued
a people and a nation stained by blood and violence
slowly transformed
the civil rights movement spread around the world
oppressed people pushed for inclusion and self-determination
in all areas of human behavior: marriage, travel, education, employment
women, minorities, the gay community, the physically challenged.
The conditions and consciousness were right
poised for direct action and protests, SCLC, SNCC, the Black Muslims
and the Black Panther Party were active and diverse forces.

Laws were passed, people learned, hope grew, more were included
According to their abilities, ambitions, attitudes.

 

 

One Change of Clothes and Determination

I

Tuskegee
a bright mirror of to-do attitudes
black folk, hard work, rewards of success
a diamond of a small southern town
mined from dark slavery, sharecropping, miscegenation, and dreams

Destination: a small school
students walked miles to learn,
arrived in worn and bare shoe soles
with one change of clothes
to work, to learn, to improve themselves and the race
through education, building a school, the buildings, a campus
students, making the bricks one by one, cultivating the grounds
building the chapel in 1898
tall stained glass windows
royal gems, precious colors
witnessing the great fire, destruction of the chapel in 1957
flames seen from my house two and a half miles away
knowing fear, understanding endings
listening to rumors of KKK violence, burning crosses, churches
Tuskegee
people watched the tragedies of fear and race
where the brotherly love?
people so connected yet disconnected
by color and class and unknown family histories
whispered and unshared
Fears of whites held close in their throats, behind the ears, navels, knees
Fears squeezed and hidden under their nails, between their toes and fingers
fears of educated articulated uppity niggahs
who laughed, traveled, studied, earned degrees,
sang Jubilee songs and spirituals.

Blacks thrived, got jobs, created jobs, researched and learned black history
understood the value of black pride and self help.

II

So many pictures
family resemblances
Chief Anderson who taught the pilots at Moton Field
who took up Eleanor Roosevelt in his small plane
and the Quaker school in Pennsylvania where I graduated
not far from Lincoln where Dad graduated college
Al looked so like his Dad when the latter was a young man

My dad looked like his dad and brothers
came to Tuskegee to work on peanut oil therapy
to help create a liniment for paralyzed President Roosevelt
My mom Lottie looked like her beautiful mom, Maude, my murdered grandmother
and my daughters and I resemble both.

Tuskegee so much history, so many pictures
So many stories, open and hidden.

 

 

Poems written by Kathryn Waddell Takara

Published in Chaminade Literary Review, 26th Edition, 2016