Tony Medina

Five Poems

Volume 14:2, Spring 2013


Black rowboats
Stuck in a pink sun

Rainforest of striped skin
Smooth as a baby’s
Bottom or the bald
Face of an egg

A smile for miles
All that bright pink
With black teeth

The ocean is a pink
Sponge with black
Rowboat teeth

Stuck in the
Green of your
Sweet surprising

You fill me with
Water from your
Sugar well

Each slice

The mouth of you
Becomes my mouth
As I kiss your
Endless water



Ever love a woman
You loved her too damn much
Ever loved a woman so mean
You give her flowers, candies and such and such
She pay you back with a switchblade to your gut

I know it might sound violent
It might sound extreme
But did you ever love a woman oh so mean
Breath carnation milk sweet
But what come out her nostrils is steam

Ever love a woman
Who flips just like a switch
One minute she’s battin’ her lashes smilin’
The next minute she got you
Lyin’ in a ditch

I got an on-and-off woman
Who loves me on and off
One minute she says I love you
The next minute she scowls
And scoffs

For my birthday she gave me
A bottle of my favorite gin
Said she gave me a big ol’
Bottle of sweet
Down home sinnin’ gin

Heavy as lead
Then got to drinkin’
And thinkin’
And blinkin’
And bashed it over my head

Went to the doctor
To work on her head
Went to the doctor
To fix what’s broke in her head
Ol’ Doc ended up mendin’ mine instead


Mirlande Jean-Gilles, "Oscar Peterson," mixed media, 2013

Mirlande Jean-Gilles, “Oscar Peterson,” mixed media, 2013



Piano rainfall
Jelly roll

Ebony fingers on
Ivory box

Maharajah of the Keyboard
Wasn’t a chord

You couldn’t strike
Quick and precise as

Each note a string

Each key a ring
In the heart

Instant composer
Of the intellectual art

Where have you gone
Where will you go

Taking back your blues



after John Coltrane

My sky has bite marks
Blood pores from the sun, ocean
Where my bones buried

These welts on my back
Railroad track of bones, cowrie
Shells weigh my soul down

Life has holes in it
Past falls through present, future
Raft wading toward light

Love is what’s salvaged
Your discarded legacy
Left for crows to pluck

Hip hop left its soul
At the bottom with my bones
‘neath a grave ocean

All wounds heal in time
Saltwater redemption songs
Psalms anoint like gauze



(from a fortune cookie)

Serious trouble will bypass you
A safe will not fall on your head
A Roadrunner-Wile E. Coyote anvil will not crush every bone in your foot
You will not be riddled in a drive-by
Take up residence on a front lawn as a blood-spouting sprinkler
A roadside bomb will not make a smoky potpourri of your charbroiled flesh
Your heart will not collapse at the sight of pork chops
The IRS will not take away your kneecaps and have you sleeping with the fishes or
cut your throat or get clobbered over the head at a Greek wedding
from the exuberant tossing of dishes
You will not be evicted like dead fish tossed out onto a block of ice
The CIA will not inject you with a deadly flu
Your doctor will not drop a license plate in your open chest during surgery
The nursing home staff will not lace your diapers with itching powder and Crazy Glu
A Mack truck will not mow you down in the middle of the road
You will not be strangled by your airbag after being blindsided by a cross-town bus
A meteorite will not leave skid marks on the back of your head
The Grim Reaper won’t try to wake you up to make sure you’re dead
Your wife won’t try to feed you a meatloaf seasoned with Class Ten Caustic Poison
You won’t bite into a fast food burger stuffed with razors
The hormones from the chicken won’t choke your chicken
You will not eat yourself out of house and home roam the streets like an outpatient
on Marzipan and Methadone
You won’t choke on the remote and suffocate on a barrage of beer farts on your couch
in a convulsive state of epileptic leisure
You will not be overcome with the sudden urge to jump off the side of a ship stick
your head in an oven or masturbate to death in 4-4 time
A gaggle of nuns will not beat you with rulers
A cacophony of phantom slave ship gas chamber killing field moans will not shrink
wrap your ego into a parlor piece of paranoia atop a mantelpiece of indifference
You will not lose your mind in a bargain basement bin department store line
You will not be forced to prefabricate your dreams and order them over the phone
like pizza
Your online date will not turn out to be a seriously ill cereal eating serial killer
whose name is Captain Crunch and whose favorite line is You’re Great! while
turning your flesh and bones into Lucky Charms
You will not be smote by the hand of God or two or three space aliens looking for
You will not be hogtied by a wet nurse with a fetish for Dominoes garlic knots
dipped in prune juice marinara
You will not be violated with onion spears and asparagus tips
You will not be forced to name your firstborn daughter Chinchilla the Hon
You will not be forced to surrender your jazz CDs to rightwing fusionists trying to
make a fascist statement
You will not be forced to consider the intellectual merits and social-political
implications of reality TV
You will not be forced to convert to the hip hop edition of the King James Bible
The radio active waves from your cell phone will not reach into your ears and crush
your brain like a grape
The rash on your ass will not be connected like dots by a tattoo artist with a blue
period cubist fetish from Tijuana named Pablo Picante
The red white and blue flags up your ass will not be waved at half-staff some bored
maniacal angst-ridden youth will not hack into your I-pod and program it
full of Lawrence Welk, Barry Manilow and country music
Warmongering oil barons will not invade your hair
Thugs will not give you hugs
Your children will not grow up to address you with: What up, son?
The overly-handled overly-indulged spoiled brats you raised with soccer TV
videogames cell phones I-pods laptops and shopping mall playgrounds
will not end up saying, Fuck you, Mom! every day except for a few
hours on Mother’s Day
Evidence-planting killer cops will not make a bouquet of guns out of your bashed in
You will not be buried alive in a mulch pit peppered with the cannibalistic feces of
barnyard animals
Your Viagra will not get mixed up with your high blood pressure pills
Your life won’t end up a tragic comic punch line in a Greek chorus
Your wings won’t get melted from the sun
You won’t kill your father and sleep with your mother
You won’t be forced to push a boulder up a hill
You won’t be pushed off a windowsill
The Dow Jones Industrial Average will not push you off The Empire State Building
A gang of young street toughs will not douse you with lighter fluid and set you on
fire as you sleep on a park bench
The Ozone Layer will not fall from the sky and crush you like a bug
You will not be torched like an ant under a magnifying glass under an unrelenting
global warming sun
A tsunami will not leap up at you out of your backed-up kitchen sink as if it were a
whale swallowing your Jonah
Irradiated water will not invade your bloodstream
A government-sanctioned deadly virus will not colonize your lungs
Your DNA will not be cleansed with Clorox or Listerine
You will not get Alzheimer’s from jheri curl juice or Afro Sheen
Camel riding soldiers will not try to annihilate your genetic line
You will not be turned into a jigsaw puzzle of your former self
The cardboard box you live in will not be snatched up by a violent breeze
You will not be forced to drink bottle-capped wine
Beefy high fructose corn syrup stuffed kids will not try to turn your back into a
hobby horse ride while you sleep on the curbside
Acid rain will not pockmark your hide
Your flesh will not be grinded into a spirited pâté
Your body will not be turned into a communion waif to appease the appetites and
boredom of the bourgeoisie
Pseudo intellectual political hacks dressed in high priest gear will not accuse you
of being a liar
You will not be forced to carry the wooden cross you’ll be nailed to while wearing
a makeshift crown made of concertina wire



Tony Medina is Professor of Creative Writing at Howard University. Two-time winner of the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People for I and I, Bob Marley (Lee & Low, 2009) and DeShawn Days (Lee & Low, 2001), he is the author of a number of books for adults and young people, including I Am Alfonso Jones (Tu Books, 2017), Broke Baroque (2Leaf Press, 2013), The President Looks Like Me & Other Poems (Just Us Books, 2013), An Onion of Wars (Third World Press, 2012), Broke on Ice (Willow Books, 2011), and My Old Man Was Always on the Lam (NYQ Books, 2010). He recently received the Langston Hughes Society Award from the College Language Association (CLA) and the first African Voices Literary Award. To read more by this author: Tony Medina: Plan B Press Issue