If We Still Must Die

If We Still Must Die

 If we still must die
Like road kill
On each side the Mason Dixon Line
Like a Till whistle
Through a Southern breeze
Like a young buck
    Black & running 
                                                For our lives
-Likour Black lives-
Then let us 
           To tell the story
Of these bullets
                                                 Between our ayes.

© Latorial D. Faison. All rights reserved.
This poem was published in Stonecoast Review.



circa January 20, 2009
Some were perched on the limbs
Of D.C. trees to get a glimpse of it,
History being made, once again,
In the middle of so much black & white,
To hear Aretha spin her rhythm with
Our blues into a hymn where hymns
Had never been made, up close.
All that colored hope collected on
White ballots, dreamed on Jim Crow nights,
Birthed in the belly of a red, white & blue sale,
Hope stolen off the coast of Africa,
Hope chained to a tree in the Florida heat,
Hope purchased at a Galveston, Texas
Auction block, hope sold down a river
In Charleston, hope traded for a
Race horse in Missouri, hope terrorized
By white hoods in Alabama, hope raped
In Georgia, hope lynched & mutilated
At fourteen in Mississippi, hope
Assassinated on a balcony in Tennessee,
Hope in a Virginia slave preacher’s
Revolt, hope from the Carolinas to the
Slave holding shores of Maryland. We came
To hold this truth to be self-evident that
All Negroes are created equal to the forty-forth
President of the United States of America.

© Latorial D. Faison. All rights reserved.

This poem was published in Solstice: a Magazine of Diverse Voices.

Last Days

Last Days
by Latorial Faison

This twisting of esophageal matters,
     this forceful overseeing of lambs.

This coat of unnecessary colors,
     this abandonment of green pastures

This anatomy of chaos,
     this politics of a Judas kiss

This second death without a second coming
     this temple money-changers have built anew.

© Latorial D. Faison. All rights reserved.
This poem was published as "Last Day" at Poetry Superhighway PSH.

No Place Like Home

No Place Like Home

A prophetic wind blew.
We had landed not in Oz, but in

The land of the ginkgo tree,
Rice paddies & kimchi.

Half new, but old & true
To a traditional standard of

Morals & values that hold
Its men, women & children

In the palms of God’s own
Hands. There were no babies

With babies up or down its
Streets, no gangsters or guns

Threatening the republic it
Greets. Rich men, poor men,

Villages in between, store
Fronts, peddlers & violence

Unseen. From Incheon to Itaewon
Was but a different sight to see,

East Asian versions of what
We call American dreams.

© Latorial D. Faison. All rights reserved.
This poem was published in Poetry Quarterly, Issue 13.

When Ellis Plays His Saxophone

When Ellis Plays His Saxophone

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
singing, writing, singing love & hurt
black & white bringing rhythm
new reasons, righteousness & revolution.

When Ellis plays his saxophone
northern lights shine on the South
crooning and crying Grandma’s song
white face becomes us coming into our own
brave & strong, teasing talent into style
playing beats, christening chords & keys
stomping rhythms & strumming pain.

When Ellis plays his saxophone
I hear peace, dead peace, peace crying
peace living, peace lying out in the sun
in search of blacker opportunity
with black, brown, mulatto voices
mixing rivers & peace
drinking this night life straight
no chaser . . . looking, laughing
at the juice from our squeeze.

When Ellis plays his saxophone
miracles form musical genius
instrumentalists go to speaking
preaching in high-pitched sounds
raised up right with tight fists
a battle hymn to sing, to raise a dead
poet & guide us through a storm.

When Ellis plays his saxophone
I am all the way alive
every way colored
reds, whites & blues
clay-shaped, tar baby bronzed
smoothed into staccato
sharpened with crescendo
low notes, high notes & all
cleansed ’til my birthright is free.

© Latorial D. Faison. All rights reserved.
This poem was published in Obsidian: Literature in the African Diaspora, Volume 14, No. 1.


by Latorial Faison

For the first time in my thirty-nine,
I dialed and nobody answered, not
even God. A classic has been read,
closed, and shelved. The end. But I
recall the strength and tone of your
country-strong voices, the laughter,
the surprise, the struggle, the sorrow,
the resilience, the church songs and
field hands, building with 4 x 4’s, the
heating of pots and pans, yours was
an old fashioned prayer that kept me.
An era has ended, and the best of
Sunday’s dinners no more. 653-9218,
disconnected, not home, gone, fate.

© Latorial D. Faison. All rights reserved.

"653-9218" was published in Deep South Magazine, April 7, 2014, Southern Voice: 30 Days of Poetry


by Latorial Faison

With phallic symbols,
they write what life

they know. Random acts
and thoughts, breaking

hearts, lives, and molds,
wielding sex and words

well, conjuring curious
minds to bid and sell,

preying on spirits from
outer realms, mundane

heavens and borrowed
hells. With heads and

horns disguised, life's
wayward sheep seek

compromise, yet ever so
falsely doth a love abide.

© Latorial D. Faison. All rights reserved.
"Sacrilege" was published in Blackberry: a magazine, Issue 3, "Where the Light Is"

Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart
by Latorial Faison

Devils have done this deed
better than we ever could.

Hands and fingertips fail
to meet up with our verbs.

Words stare down from skies,
lighting up darkness, afraid to

fall on earth where we, in our
inadequacy, this falsity, have

failed to catch dreams in spite
of their brilliance, our ambition.

They fall apart while we bleed
euphemisms exorcising night.

© Latorial D. Faison. All rights reserved.
"Things Fall Apart" was published in Blackberry: a magazine, Issue 3, "Where the Light Is"

Black Boys

Black Boys
by Latorial Faison
For so many of our brief
years, we built our hopes on
dreams, energetic and
smart, gifted with heart, so
much passion, too much love
for life, but our lives were cut
short, our teen-aged Black 
manhood cut too short, too
soon; it is impossible to
realize, any more, the dream,
to fearlessly hoodie up our
heads in winter, to walk
southern, American suburbs
in early springs without
threat to any man or beast,
just kids with candies, sodas,
and teas. There will be no
junior and senior proms
for us, no caps, no gowns,
no senior pictures, no pomp
and circumstance for parents
to see, no new excitement
or reservations of going off
to a college town, our dreams
of higher education now shot
down in us; every hope and
wish, too many times have
come to this, too many Black
boys overtaken, not mistaken,
by darkness, left dead, robbed
of life in our infant beds, by a
Jim Crow, who keeps rising
from the racist dead, our young,
Black, innocent blood to shed.

© Latorial D. Faison. All rights reserved.
"Black Boys" was published in About Place Journal, Volume 2, Issue 4, 1963-2013, A Civil Rights Retrospective


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.

© Latorial D. Faison. All rights reserved.

"The Face of Freedom" was 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
"What is Poetry" was published in Mother to Son: Poems by Latorial Faison