Friday, July 8, 2011

Molly's Turn: Poetry, unexpectedly beautiful!

Askia Humphrey: Poet
 My daughter has brought into our lives a wonderful young man who is an incredible dancer among many other talents.  The talent that you cannot visually see is his poetry.  I have never been real fond of poetry, growing up with the beat generation poets as part of my parents circle of friends in San Francisco.  Just didn't like poetry, although I do love Maya Angelou, whom I met when I was about 11 years old. ( I credit her with my appreciation for people, she taught me that everyone is worthy of respect and the kindness of being listened to).  Encountering Askia's poetry has really changed my perspective on the subject.  I can see how beautiful and precise poetry can be.  And how revealing.  Askia writes from his own personal experiences.  He creates an audio painting, to my mind,  and I am intrigued by his work which leaves me wanting to read more.

I have gathered together his poetry into a small booklet which hangs from his painting so that anyone who looks at his beautiful face can read his gorgeous words. Can you tell I really appreciate  him??

Here are Askia's Poems:

Salem Light

She tilts her wrist;
An old southern belle
Holding a Salem Light
Between her index
And her middle finger.
The smoke streaming up
From the little ember
At the end of it
Hangs around her head
Too heavy to ascend.

She sits poised
Like the proud obverse of a coin;
A cameo amid the smoke;
A profile silhouette
Against the lighted window;
Her chin is high
And her eyes are narrowed
With crows feet so deep-
                             Hard old trails
            From Texas to California.

She brings the Salem Light to her lips;
The smoke stops
And the little ember glows.

The Silence of Pietro Olivetti

Every day,
Between chemistry
And literature,
Pietro passes Ana
In the hall.

Some days
Pietro stares
At his watch,
As if he might be late.
Other days
He files through his books
As if he’s lost his homework.

One day,
While passing Ana,
Pietro looked up
And saw her
Looking back at him.
                                She smiled,

That night,
Pietro wrote in his journal,
“Looking into her eyes
Was like looking
Into two great continents,
And I felt there was a sparrow
In my chest,
Beating it’s wings,
Hoping to fly
Over those continents.”

The next day,
Pietro saw Ana
Coming down the Hall;
And coming near to her,
He thought of dropping
One knee
And breaking into verse.
He thought of telling her,
There’s a bird in my chest
Will you unlock his cage
So he can fly?

As they came close
Pietro looked
Ana in the eyes,
And as she smiled at him,
Pietro dropped
To on knee,       
And tied his shoe.

Love and Gravity

The stairs lead up
To a carpeted hallway
Illuminated by moonlight
Shining in through a little window.

The window looks out over the roof
Of the first story,
Over the neighbors house,
And out into the universe.

The moon is visible.
They say it’s moving further
Away from the earth-
Every year: four centimeters.

It makes sense.
The sun is cooling.
The stars are drifting apart.
I even read once that entire galaxies

Are moving away from one another
And defusing themselves.
It seems the Ouroboros
Isn’t swallowing itself at all

But heaving itself
Away from the primordial unity
It symbolizes; someday
It’ll be face to face with its own tail

And the law of gravity will fail
To hold the celestial bodies together,
Flinging the moon
Into cold, dark, silent space.

In the carpeted hallway,
I walk away from the window
And into the bedroom.
It’s pitch black.

I drag my feet along the carpet,
Feeling my way across the room
To the bedside.
There’s a moan in the dark-
A stirring on the bed.
My lover lifts the comforter for me.
I crawl into bed beside her.
She rolls over.

Pulling myself to her side of the bed
I lay my arm over
The middle of her body;
She takes my hand

And draws my arm up
Under hers;
My wrist between her breasts.
Then, simultaneously

We pull into one another.
I feel her heat,
And her ribs.
Her breath comes in the dark.

The moon slips away from the earth,
Every moment, some measureless distant.
We two humans, hold together, warming
One another in the cold, dark, silent room.

Askia reading at the Falkirk Cultrual Center in San Rafael

Photo courtesy of Tamara Holland
Check out her blog Bean Up the Nose Art at:
All poetry copyright 2011 Askia Humphrey

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see Askia getting these props. This is a great post, and a great way to get to see his poetry . . . which is a very good thing!!!