Category: Poetry

When Tomorrow Comes

I’m seeing integration

It’s expressed in the million different ways 

that define America 

in the 21st century

Neighbors standing across a fence

my almostkindabuddy 

begging the little girl in his arms to smile 

while speaking to me 

Sharing stories of dogs and kids, 

potholes and the weather

The small, simple recognitions of community

I welcome the prophecy of transformation

Of renewed humanity in the outdoor thoughts 

of barbecue, teenagers and shrubs 

endemic to suburbia and TV shows

Fleeting, powerful moments of joy and recognition 

begging for sustainability and sanction

Oh, if only our churches 

and clubs and families 

would do the unthinkable, could somehow do

the impossible, next generation inevitable 

hard work of embrace

Ah, the sweet embrace that’s waiting

To be given and claimed

By your hog riding, beer swilling ‘play cousin’

and our lesbian aunt 

And my own White son, 

still learning to be a man 

Loving Keith Urban and Run DMC, 

Unafraid of judgment besides that of silly girls

And wise ones too

Needing to be told over and over 

that you are not alone 

because Michael Jackson was right 

and you, my child and most precious creation

for whom I would gladly die 

are the hope and future of our people, 

of all the people

It’s your innately earned righteousness 

That will lead us,

must lead us to the glorious shore 

of a future 

authentically prophesied 

with love and deepest understanding 

Mijo, you ARE the Dream

I only wish I could explain it, 

without crying

I’m still worried you might confuse my tears 

with sadness though really 

its all joy

So much joy 

for the man you will be

and the life you will live

My sweat mingles with those unavoidable tears

And my laughter and my envy 

and my love and my joy for you

I wish I could live to know it

I am free enough for now

but you will be the love 

I stand and proclaim 

For tomorrow, today

In the sacred vestment of love 

I am blessed to be the poet

Celebrating the poetry

Thank you for becoming a poem

Of the future

Even more than a prophecy

The clear vision of tomorrow

You will help to create

And manifest with your life 

And my hopes

And every today 

© Gayle Force Press 2014

Naamah

The father of my children has gone mad. He’s spent every night for the last 5 weeks putting together a boat. A giant, absurd boat. Somehow he convinced Ham and Japheth to help. Thank goodness Shem is still willing to get water for me in the evenings. 

What I don’t understand is what’s gone wrong. Noah has been a good dad, a great farmer, and the best healer around. Now? He’s lost his mind. And I’m not even allowed to ask about his precious boat. Our kadosh is broken. 

 © Gayle Force Press 2020

Autumn Sky

 

After the harvest has been made

But before the frosts of winter have begun

The Midwest holds a special sort of magic

 

On nights when the moon takes its rest

Drive out to a small town

Then head away from the highway

And toward the darkness

 

When you realize that you’re nearly alone

The darkness seems friendly

Welcoming

As though it expected you

Whenever you’ve arrived

 

Far away from the dimming haze of light

You’ll discover endless universes

Represented in tiny, fantastically powerful orbs

That reach out singly to touch the whole of you

 

And wonderfully, graciously

This silent communion can last as long as you like

Or at least until the stars begin to fade.

 

 

© Gayle Force Press 2002.

 

 

As always, you can find Franklin’s books here.

From the Garden

Maybe we learned

The pleasure of sin

From Adam, not Eve

.

Maybe we learned 

The power of sex

From Adam, not Eve

.

Maybe Cain learned

That Abel could die

From Adam, not Eve

.

Maybe we learned

The earth could be tamed

From Adam, not Eve

.

Maybe we learned 

That wars could be ‘won’

From Adam, not Eve

.

Maybe 

.

© Gayle Force Press 2011

A poem by Franklin Oliver 

Over the Ohio

 

 

The water is wide

Littered with empty bodies

Once young old weak and strong

Mingled with fish and sledge

Along with the memories of those

Who made it over the Ohio

 

To a new home of hope

No land but how brave

Promising to remain 

North of the river

Away from pattyrollers 

Somehow, finally free

 

Their lucky descendant

Starts driving faster

As I take a bridge

One of several I’ll cross

Just hoping for fun tonight

In Cincy or Louisville

 

Leaving Kentucky for Ohio

Trading South for North 

Simply signs on the highway

Beneath the shining images  

Pointing me to a downtown

Or a floating casino

 

Nothing calls to attention

The history or the bodies

Still and real below me

Trapped in the Ohio

Permanently, without memories

Somehow, finally free

 

© Gayle Force Press 2012

A poem by Franklin Oliver

 

 

Survivors

 

 

Hunted and sought

Captured then bought 

Still we do survive 

 

Shackled and chained

Whipped to be trained

Still we do survive 

 

Raped and abused

Scarred, misused 

Still we do survive 

 

Worked just like dogs

Fed worse than hogs

Still we do survive 

 

Freed then discarded 

Our progress retarded

Still we do survive 

 

Separate but equal 

Slavery’s sequel 

Still we do survive 

 

The Movement fights

For basic rights

Still we do survive 

 

A change from the past 

With “Free At Last”

Still we do survive 

 

Dreams still deferred

Our consciences stirred 

Still we do survive 

 

The POTUS is Black

So racists fight back 

Still we do survive 

 

A Movement anew

Now what will we do

 

More than just survive 

 

 

© Gayle Force Press 2019

A poem by Franklin Oliver

April’s Last

 

 

Soon will be May again

That darling month of poems, flowers,

Gaiety and holidays

Till then though, 

April will hold fast

To its power to sway

The fragile moods of humans

With wind, sun, buds and storms

Performing their spontaneously choreographed dance

Raw and intemperate

In full, unceasing view of us all

 

 

© Gayle Force Press 2012

A poem by Franklin Oliver 

 

 

 

Christmas in America 

 

 

I know you know 

about God‘s beloved 

shivering on the floor

Wondering how hope turned into terror 

Upon arrival in the promised land 

 

I know you know 

about swaddled babies 

ripped from their mothers 

born at the wrong time 

in the wrong place 

in the wrong skin 

 

I know you know 

about free flu shots 

waiting idle in boxes 

while the cough begins to spread

Among the Other 

Waiting idle in boxes

 

I know you know 

about the human crossing borders 

binding people into suffering

instead of protecting them from fear 

 

I know you know 

about our old lady 

Standing with the lamp 

Waiting for tired huddled masses 

yearning to be free 

needing to be White 

 

I know you know

about the stable 

Home to donkeys 

A new family 

And earthly bribes 

For a heavenly gift

 

I know you know 

about sanctuary in Egypt

A fearsome flight 

For first time parents 

hiding the light of the world

in Ill fitting clothes 

begging him to stay quiet

hoping for one more miracle 

 

I know you know 

Whether Mary would be safe 

In your care 

Or if you’d remind her 

That Jews don’t belong here 

Without looking into her eyes 

 

I know you know 

This is Christmas in America 

 

 

 

© Gayle Force Press 2019

A poem by Franklin Oliver