When Ellis Plays His Saxophone

When Ellis Plays His Saxophone
by Latorial Faison

When Ellis plays his saxophone, 
the Heavens rain down a jubilee.  
It's summer time in Harlem.  
I hear Hughes, Basie & blues. 
Locke & James Weldon Johnson 
come writing, composing, singing, 
loving, hating, knowing every joy 
& pain, the black & white of it, 
bringing rhyme, reason, 
righteousness, revolution.

When Ellis plays his saxophone, 
northern lights shine on a dark South 
screaming & scatting Grandma’s song. 
White face becomes us coming 
into our own, brave, bleeding brilliance, 
strong, teasing talent into style, 
playing beats, christening chords & keys, 
stomping rhythms & strumming strings.

When Ellis plays his saxophone, 
I hear peace, dead peace, peace crying, 
peace living, peace lying out in the sun 
in search of blacker opportunities 
with its naked, uncaged, unswayed voice, 
its mixed history & pride, 
drinking up night as charisma, character,  
& charity join hands to set mourning free.

When Ellis plays his saxophone, 
miracles birth immutable genius, 
instruments speak & preach, 
melodic sounds rise up with tight right fists, 
a battle hymn to sing, to raise up dead poets, 
to guide today's Israelites through 
a new & improved wilderness.

When Ellis plays his saxophone, 
I am all the way live, every way colored, 
crimson, mahogany & midnight blue, 
reshaped, bronzed & smoothed into staccato, 
sharpened to crescendo, low notes, high notes & all. 
I am cleansed by the birthright of a freedom song.

Copyrighted 2015 Latorial Faison

Published in Obsidian: Black Literature in the African Diaspora


The Face of Freedom

You moved and maneuvered
through mountains, brought

water, hope, and safety to
people who had been denied

freedoms . . . of speech, beliefs,
and sleep. Far away you came

close enough to death, or it
came for you, and you went

heroically, nobly on into a
sunset that it might rise again

on peace, captured or killed
terrorists, bombs undetonated,

or a country liberated.  Your
blood, sweat, and tears have

quenched American fears; the
world has found sanctuary in

you. Nations remember your
name, and their innocent

praise the fact that you came
to save them. You perished

praying for a sign, a song to
sing to sleep, a light to shine

in your dark place, one last
look upon a loved one’s face

you left behind. We see you,
honor you, know that our

destinies have intertwined,
that they have been aligned

by a truth you upheld, an
oath you took.  We lift and

lower flags, sound bugles,
wear memorial dog tags

to salute the life and death
of you.  We remember that

you marched, sailed, flew,
that you commanded, and

parachuted too, assailed an
enemy, or destroyed a coup.

You sacrificed, gave the best
of your life, for freedom.

Copyrighted 2012-2014 Latorial Faison
Published in Stars & Stripes and Freedom Verse


What is Poetry?

by Latorial Faison

When you ask me
"What is poetry?"
take a good look
it's my destiny

poetry is the man who
comes to my rescue
saves the soul in me
from a headful of insanity

poetry is my shrink
my music, my ability to think
the air that fills my life's lungs
defining me as I speak in lyrical tongues

poetry is my evolution
my God fearing constitution
the love of my life's charm
my calm before and after the storm

poetry is my God given seed
daily reviving in me a new deed
it's the Word growing from within
the mirror reflecting my soul's sin

poetry is my conquered fear
my security when a world of danger is near
it's my philosophy, my morality
the complicated methodology of my duality

poetry is my good sense
my faith, my hope, my pretense
I can't lie, it's my third eye
it's my answer to the question "Why?"

poetry is my history
my country girl life's mystery
it's my ocean and sky
my fun, my freedom, my high

poetry is my prayer of consecration
my lit path in valleys of desolation
it's my moving, my grooving
my balm, good and soothing

poetry lines my soul
God gave it to make me whole
He sent it to set me free
God made poetry my eternity

poetry is where I begin,
my end, my truth telling friend
my stoning of misery and strife
"What is poetry?" Poetry is my life!

Copyright © 2003-2017 Latorial Faison | www.latorialfaison.com
Published in Mother to Son by Latorial Faison


Secrets of My Soul

by Latorial Faison

Dare me to pursue this
to pen the secrets of my 

soul in Father Time's 
precious ink, royal black 

& memory gold. I do it
& cry the truest tear, for 

a writing heart does not 
bleed fear. Read me, line 

by line. Turn pages chronicling 
my life & times. No fears or 

inhibitions, no regrets or limits,
just a make-shift room & 

mirror's glaring image. The
woman I see in me, they ask

"Who is she?" My wits have 
found her authoring genteel 

words, an underlying voice 
dying to be heard, a girl who 

found her way into being, my 
flesh & blood, my entire life's 

meaning. She rises to the 
occasion resiliently, unselfishly, 

& something like religiously,
answering the muse's call to 

arms to walk a lover's tight 
rope with poetic charm. She 

wields the words that I dare not 
forsake as I strive to dream this 

dream before I wake. Peeking
over shame, the duality unfolds

& I shall, one day, find solitude
in the secrets of my soul.

Copyrighted 2001 Latorial D. Faison | www.latorialfaison.com
from Secrets of My Soul (Cross Keys Press, 2001)