i’m gon’ take me a piece of
sunshine, and paint it all over my
sky; be no rain, be no rain . . .
gil scott heron, i think i’ll call it
i remember 7
hauling a heavy metal bucket uv wetclothes
up six kitchensteps
out thru the vestibule
onto the patio
laid with mama’s own hands
when she was 80-years-plus,
then out into the backyard
gingerly hanging up clothes on a line uv taut ropes
strung frum an ironpole daddy cemented into goodearth
hinged to a windowframe outside a bedroom
near the rear uv the house
where guests slept
or a socialworker leftoff children
for sum carrie-caring, before
their almost permanent
new fosterhome was found.
me at that line standing wannabe tall on tippytoes
to make sure none uv those wetclothes tuchd ground
to bleed dirt into freshwash there under august-strongsun
baretoes scrunching, clutching hotgrass.
sum hours later, after cuming in frum playing
in a neighbor’s yard, or going out to daddy’s orchard
to pick ripefruit & berries — a cucumber, apple, peach, grapes,
plum or redpepper
or shimmying down frum my favorite cherrytree
with stickyjuice frum its sweet yellowmeat
dripping frum the corners uv mymouth,
or may be — i’d be
just emerging frum the cloistered woods
the otherside the full clothesline, beyond the chickencoop
where daddy kept his bigblue lincoln
in august 1952.
in greenwoods there, i stalked pheasants & walked wetlands
watching squirrels scamper & tiny critters run,
burrowing underground when i tossed acorns to’em.
i recall the lifting smell uv sundried cotton
baked & sunbleached, & burying
my-7-year-old-face in cotton’s bosom,
& tuching the sunstiff tuffness uv my dungarees
daddy’s khaki workclothes
& mama’s soft aprons.
it’s all cumbak at this poetic moment
as another augustsun approaches
out here in the desert
with this crisp cactus calm
in this place uv selfexploration
moving within the clarity uv death & rebirth.
(written, july 24, at age 74, in 29palms, at the southern california vipassana center, for a 10-day silent meditation course, where i washed clothes in the bathroom sink then took them out to dry in the 100+-degree desert heat, hanging them on an aluminum single-pole clothesline that brought this moment flooding back.)
Omowalé-Kétu Oladuwa is the son of Carrie and John Taylor, Margaret Fisher and Tyrone Foster. He is the spiritual student of Chief James Hawthorne Béy, and is indebted to Elders Dr. Margaret Burroughs and Dr. Gloria Joseph. Poetry discovered Oladuwa on deathrow and has lived with him ever since. He has written as poet, journalist and essayist for more than 50 years, and has self-published two collections of poetry: in the tradition—all/ways moving freedom forward (2018); and bone sutures | unwiring the mathematic of blackbody otherness (2017). Between 2013 to 2015, Oladuwa published the poetry & music CDs: Blues Dahlia Book One—Nappy Root Resistance an Audio Memoir; Tone Poems from an Urban Baobab (with JATA his musical ensemble); A Thousand Thousand Fireflies Never Equal Zero, with Dr. George Kalamaras and Michael Patterson; and A Taste of Yam Music, with JATA. Married and the father of five children, he lives in Fort Wayne, IN, and co-produces the jazz revival, A Big Apple Jazz Club Series, and Public Square Poetry, a monthly reading series. His online presence is at www.rootfoks.com, www.deathrowshadows.com, and on FB at A Big Apple Jazz Club, and RootFolks Poets Press.