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Homage Poems (after Lucille Clifton)

Poems collected from participants in Dave Johnson’s 10*10*10*2 Workshops!

homage to my laugh

this laugh is deep
as a Pit-bull woken from sleep
dreaming of happiness
this laugh is loud as my father’s shout
as sly as my mother’s wink
this laugh is dangerous
especially after a drink

—Dave Johnson

Homage to my tidy house
decluttered and feng shuied
Homage to all the things I’ve finally put away
Homage to breakfast crumbs that take me to the floor
Homage to the new found me with space for so much more.

—Bhikshuni Weisbrot

Homage to my Specs

Thick, plastic
both a window and a shield
“Hey, Four-Eyes” is a compliment
I can see more than you
Smartypants is my middle name.

—Gina A. Turner

Homage to my blue eyes

These eyes are mirrors
color of the sky
sometimes I see myself
reflected in them
and in that reflection
another mirror.

These are no ordinary eyes
they are my mother’s eyes
my grandmother’s eyes too,
and all the generations
that came before.

Sometimes my eyes reflect
the colors that I am wearing
looking more green or blue.

The crazy lady on my block
used to worship my blue eyes
stop the baby carriage, and hold me
like a fine diamond to the light.

But I was too busy
looking at the sky,
mirroring blue perfection.

My eyes are water
reflecting the sky
blue as it passes.

Thank you for saying
that my eyes are nice
I was thinking of clouds.

—Mike Cunningham

Homage to my hands

The best thing about my fingers is
I can feel about four inches farther than my fingers are.
Long and invisible, springy and prehensile,
my fingertips feel the far side of a hunk of clay.
My fingertips feel where to make that clay end,
way over there, so it comes back here.
Likewise, my fingers feel the pins way up ahead on the seam. I can feel how all the colors are combining on the brush,
My fingers know where to make paint go, how the brush tip bends —
I cannot see it but my fingers know.

I was weeding, and I got tiny thorns all in my fingertips and knuckles,
that was not good.
And now with this quarantine I am not supposed to bite my nails.
There are situations that make my fingers twitch,
like I want to clean that mess up, or I am getting really mad.
If my fingers could live without me, I think that would just be fine with them —
they would go off down the road mighty pleased with themselves.

—Devin Dougherty

Homage to my head

This head is an old head.
Repository for childish jokes
and grownup secrets. For work
worries and random lines
of verse. For recipes, regrets,
the changing faces of children.
Mother’s voice still warns against
getting a big head. Dad tells me
I’ve got a good head on my shoulders.
When this head of mine casts a shadow,
I see the outline my father’s face,
broad at the top, narrowing to a point,
like a heart.

—Joan Blessing

Homage to My Body

I eat a cookie with my
mouth and my tongue.
I have feet to jump
and to kick a balloon.
My hands throw
a balloon
to the moon.
I blink my eyes
to give them exercise.
My belly rumbles.
My belly dances.
My arms wiggle.
My ears hear thunder.
My lips give
one hundred kisses.

—Jacqui Andre Fabri-Baksh (Age 4)

Homage to My Hair

My hair is counting
the days. If it grows
as long as a ladder,
maybe that will be
long enough to make
the outside safe.
I live on the third floor,
my hands are dry
from too much washing.
I have been growing
planted vines, like
measuring tape,
watching the thin green
stalks stretch toward
the window’s edge.
If I weave this hair into
a carpet, if I loom it
with the ivy stems
and shoots, maybe
that carpet can fly us
to a new, blue place.

—Erica Miriam Fabri

Homage to My Eyes

These eyes are stories,
classics that flow like rivers
off bookshelves in crowded places.

Read them and see little button
unbuttoned and matured
big sister wanting to hold on
but having to let go and embrace
joy of life twice from her own womb
before grands spring forth
like summer springs into autumn.

Read them and see friendship,
passion, sun-dried tears, weariness,
resilience, weakness, chipped, stained,
broken pieces love and hate especially
pigeon poop upon my purplish
pink Mother’s Day brim.

These eyes are stories
that speak to those who see.

—Kiswana Dee

Ode to My Money

I knew I loved you
the first time
I saw the silver, the copper
the paper of your body.
I knew I loved you
when at the bank,
the ATM, the store,
or when
my brother paid me back
you were released into my care.

I knew I loved you
when for decades, oh
and even a quarter century
you saw me stumble
then get up & dance
with you holding
my waist.

you disappear for days.
you won’t answer my calls.
You say “No”
when I beg & beg
“please, honey, come on back home.”

I give up on seeing you
& there you are knocking at the door
wearing a shiny green suit.

I’ve lost you, found you,
found you, lost you.
I will hold your hand
like you are my mother.

—Phylise Smith (Pomona, CA)

Homage To My Eyes
(With apologies to Lucille Clifton)

These eyes have seen it all,
my father pooh poohing his babe
my brother dissolving in shade.

These eyes have squinted in laughter,
these eyes have teared in despair.
These eyes have widened with knowledge,
and narrowed in anger at sin.

They have gleamed when seeing some truth,
rolled in the presence of doubt,
these eyes have glazed over at bores
and blazed at the cruelty of wars.

At night when they close they don’t sleep,
they review the events of the day.
Even shut they insightfully see
the meaning the world has to me.

These eyes have sparkled in youth,
now blurred with the passage of time.
Yet even with fading sight they
rejoice in a well-turned rhyme.

When these eyes finally close for good,
there will be no regretting the loss.
They will rest in the comfort of knowing,
they have seen all that they could.

—Gerald Harris

Homage to My Hair

Not everyone has hair this curly.
People remember my hair.
People envy my hair.
It crowns my head like a halo.
If I ignore it, it curls anyway.

When I was young and foolish, I wanted
long straight hair like the popular girls.
I even tried to straighten my hair.
It would not be tamed.
The first humid day, it forgot
the chemicals, the huge rollers—
every horrible thing I did to it.

Blond, brown, or grey, it curls.
I wish I could be as wild and crazy as my hair.

—Jean Lamberty

Homage to my Single-Mindedness

My mind rarely lets me give in, or give up;
persistently, it whispers close to my ear,
There is always a way.

It keeps me awake at all hours
until the missing piece is found
of whatever puzzle in puzzling me.

It applauds as I fix vacuum cleaners,
ice makers, iPhones, struggle to learn skills
on my computer never before imagined.

My mind is dogged like a cat
patiently waiting for its prey,
encouraging as a grandmother who ardently
believes there’s nothing I cannot accomplish,
obstinate as a child who says
I can do it by myself!

My mind’s single-mindedness
has made me confident,
determined that there’s nothing I can’t do.

—Carolyn Chilton Casas
“Thank you for introducing me to poets I had never read.”

Smooth, not Rough

I pay homage to Inner Peace
And celebrate a love of
Serving to Smooth out
The Rough patches
I am insatiable
Always desirous of
Fresh Inspiration
To nourish and
Honor My Soul

—Sophie Tucker

Homage to my Imagination

My imagination likes to play.
It stayed in the park
when the rest of me went to school.

My imagination builds castles in the sky
and bids me move in—
while my left brain rebukes me telling me “No!”

This overactive imagination
fills me with chocolate pastries
when I’m hungry
and brings a friend (or two) when I feel sad.

It pours rhythms in my shoulders
rainbows in my hands
throws me on fresh cut grass
into piles of dried leaves—

But when I look at you,
away it goes, saying
“You’re on your own now!”

—Eliza Delaroche

Homage to the Memory Gardens

Marking old sorrows the gardens at The Battery blink alive without cultivation this year
These gardens winked yellow and then purple in March —
small lights in the gnarled woody browns of a winter that really wasn’t
These gardens, planted to mark the memory of deaths by war and terror rise again this spring
These gardens, solace while we wander masked among them, seeking respite from a foe we don’t yet know.

—Shellie Winkler

Homage to her Appetite

Her appetite is so big.
It is joy unleashed.
It is fulltime awe
For the glories from the kitchen.
It knocks you over.

Her appetite sparkles
imagining the delicious beauties
on the white tablecloth
and infects us with anticipation.

Her appetite is the proof
The meal will be a feast.
How can I not love
cooking for her?

—Christine Heiss (Berlin)

Homage to my face

This face is my face,
it’s been with me since birth,
began more cute and then begot
“the Irish bog people look ‐
just like your faither’s”, says my mither. (or “just like your father’s”, says my mother)
Celtic features framed by red‐blond hair.
It’s hide as unlikely to tan as a guide’s
in the Scottish Highlands in June or July,
with a Germanic air from years in Berlin. (over there).
This face is still an open book,
emotions streamed as film to its screen,
words dramatized as plays on its mouth stage
heard by the ears, written to its thought page
in its forehead, to be recalled in later years.

This face mutates whatever way it likes:
glows like a diva in the footlights,
imitates the moon’s crust at midnight,
when in lust, blushes to the hairline,
puffs up like a pig in the morning light.
Not that I’m dissatisfied ‐
but it’s not showing me from my best side,
sure, I admit, I’ve seen mugs worse than this.
but my face don’t do justice to my inside.

At times, this face shines through the eyes
like a full moon and guides
others to feel pride
and to have the faith to recite
stories of their past and future glories.
This face is not afraid of constant change ‐
by this stage, it has enough lines to stake a claim on being wise
this ‐ my face ‐ is that of a sage!

—Rachel Clarke (Berlin)
“Thanks for the extra session at the weekend with the community poem readings, amazing!”