February 1, 2018



Yet again

the phone call

setting off sirens in Jerusalem

the wails of a mother losing a child;

this time a silent movie of roofs caving

smoke and debris, rapid chaos

and then a low inaudible hum.

What is that sound?

A half-century memory to the mystery of our meeting

walking to the edge of manhood together

summer nights in Cleveland

broken hearts confided,

hand dancing in dim house parties

with those good girls we loved,

the Four Tops and Donald Byrd,

slow rub dancing to “Christo Redentor,”

sacred romance to a sassy seductive horn;

creased trousers, polished shoes;

talks on the stoop by street light,

the promise of college just ahead.

He loved his studio on 16th Street

in D.C. after school at Howard;

what brown boy learned from a chef,

tasted pâté and wine?

we took our girls to El Bodegon for the food

and flamenco at night

he told me when Della set fire to his tender heart

her name pouring from his lips from that day

like a mother tongue

a part of his breath

an appendage to his name

BernieandDella, Della-and-Bernie

either way

landing in Los Angeles

We reconvened from time to time

jazz Fridays at the museum

movies at The Grove

dragging me along like an album

from his old life

for her knowing that last bit of him,

life’s savories filling his big heart

until it burst;

her call starting the silent cacophony

the loss of feeling in my spirit,

what is that sound?

where are my words?

my paralysis.


last night   the hum

became the sound of buildings caving

his loss an earthquake

the hum is a moan

a wail, an agonized cry

I realized

is mine. 

c  M. D. Harris, 2015