Odes to angry & sad young men.

JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE PARANOID
DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE NOT BEING FOLLOWED!
(East Village, New York City — 1987)

As the crowd pushes me upward
from the darkness of the underground,
a mild panic begins to rush
through my veins yielding
torrents of sweat that race
uncontrollably over my
forehead and chest.
With just moments to spare,
I hasten to tear off my tie,
roll up my shirt-sleeves, and
complete my disguise with
the darkest of shades and
the meanest of scowls.
At the surface, my head begins to
reel at the stench and sight of
unwashed urchins and broad-smiling
ne’er-do-wells with extended
palms seeking tokens, cigarettes
and loose change.
My already shortened nerves are
obliterated by the blasts of
Buick-sized radios carried by
junkies and peddlers of items
discarded by me the week before.
Looking about with hesitancy and
anticipation — I shriek and recoil
in horror and disbelief:
the punks, thieves, beggars and
schizoids are chasing me now!
… Boom — Chiga-Boom,
Chiga-Boom-CHIga-Boom-CHIGA BOOM!
Once home — saturated by disgust
and relief — I retire to the
tv-room with scotch and soda,
and eagerly await the new report
concerning those who were
not so lucky.

(from “Collected poems and stories”, 2005)

SURVIVOR.

Yeah, he’s a survivor …
His alcoholic mother has breast cancer;
and his ‘dad’ left long before
he was born.
Living in a trailer park
has its perks: no one really
cares if you stay out all night …
or for days on end, for that matter.
Yeah, he’s a survivor …
His sister is an ex-whore;
struggling to stay ‘clean’
so she can keep her job
as a cashier at Wal-Mart.
Her loser live-in boyfriend is
a ‘good-for-nothing’ …
a fucking bum who
won’t even bother to recycle
bottles discarded in garbage
receptacles or containers.
Yeah, he’s a survivor …
He gets beaten every other day
at school; and slapped once-a-week
at home. He’s used to it: doesn’t care
anymore really, but he has recently
begun carrying a switchblade to see if it
can be a deterrent … like going to war in Iraq.
He dreams of getting a handgun, and is hoping
that someone famous will one day pimp his ride.
Yeah, he’s a survivor …
He takes his HIV-meds when he remembers.
Life is a sweet mixture: sometimes ‘heaven’,
and oftentimes ‘hell’ … depending on the ‘high’,
the sex or the lack of either (or both).
A neighbor-punk called him ‘faggot’ once …
He just smiled … causing the asshole
to run in haste and fear. Who cares?!!
It’s all temporary anyway; what with
global warming, nuclear threats, serial killers
and terrorism .. and those fucking ‘super malls’.
His favorite posters in his room are pictures
of victims: from the second world war, from
natural catastrophes, from terrorist attacks …
anyone who reminds him that he is one of
the lucky ones.
Doesn’t matter. For the moment anyway.
At least that’s what he thinks when his
mom blasts the old disco hit “I will survive!” …
the one time in a blue moon when he
sets himself down to do his homework.
Yeah, he’s a survivor …


(from “Gaytude: a poetic journey around the world”)

HERITAGE? RIGHT!

Heritage … right!
So what has your generation
really passed on to me?!!
A set of identities that often don’t fit;
a world riddled with standardization,
wars,
lies,
plastic reality-show idols,
virus,
global warming,
uncertainty,
and all too easy access to drugs …
(that sweet salvation that ultimately enslaves).
Sure, I respect what you worked for:
a sense of potential, and the
personal freedom to express my
‘right to be me’.
But what the fuck does it matter when
individual isolation in an
out-of-control jungle presses me
further inward than you ever were?
I won’t give up today’s cyber-existence;
but sometimes I really do envy your
‘Good old days’ …
Heritage … right!


(from “Gaytude: a poetic journey around the world”)

L.A. HOMEBOY

Hey Homeboy!
Ran into Faith, your woman,
up in the barrio last Saturday.
She wanted to know how her ‘homeboy’ is.
I told her you was still doin’ time.
Her ma won’t let her write,
but it ain’t been the same, bro’.
Little Julio’s started dealin’ crack,
and she’s two months pregnant.
When I asked her if the kid
was yours, she started cryin’.
I didn’t know what to do, man;
so I put my arm around her
and mumbled: “You gotta keep the fai …”
Then I stopped, dried her tears
and smiled, while sayin’:
“If Homeboy was here, he’d tell you
to keep the baby, Faith.”

(from “Collected poems and stories”)

stud.

responding to the call
of a warm summer night,
the muscled youth surveys the
streets from his oakland stoop
with the vigilance of a vulture.
he soothes the heat
pervading his loins
with beer and cigarettes,
and gyrates to rhythms
from his sony walkman to
intensify his baiting scent.
at the passing of each female,
he extends greetings and suggestion —
lastly to a haughty one who
requests that he kindly ‘drop dead.’
the youth throws a kiss and laughs
in sport and self-defence,
until he spies the adoring stare
of another boy, and yells:
“what are you looking at, faggot?!!”

(from “Collected poems and stories”)

DOG DAYS.

On dog days,
when nothing goes right,
impatient young men grumble
that the gods are
not on their side.
Their pursed lips
may boast indifference
but tell-tale scars
of self-abuse underscore
the misery of defeat.

(from “Collected poems and stories”)

experimental dental school

PEER GROUP HEROES.

To inner-city true believers,
average is the ugly consequence
of weakness and error —
their idols being tv immortals,
and greatest foe time.
Suitably, peer group heroes
inspire the less visible
with eloquently-layered lies —
and not once disassociate
mask from morality.

(from “Collected poems and stories”)

boxinggloves6

BOUNDARIES.

Peripheral lines
in my psyche
and yours
dance and intersect
with agreement
and understanding.
But crossed
boundaries
lead both
dogs and nations
to quarrel.

(from “Three-legged Waltz)

skateboard-bane11.jpg

skateboard bane2skateboard bane3

adamjanuary2015-2

(poems and photography by Adam Donaldson Powell)

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