Link to Horton's publisher and book: mainstreetrag.com
marvin gaye sings national anthem at the nba all-star game
Life should be so easy as a boy
on swing set, thrusting both feet forward,
pulling his face through a breeze, or
to be curled in a lover's arm in the park,
river swirls as meditation. War rages
inside this lean silk in the limelight,
oh how to articulate the madness except
through a drum machine, distant family member
to the djembe—
an electronic beat is what you hear.
Now layer that with a voice smooth
as hot silver flowing into half-dollars,
brighter than a thousand camera flashes,
and the mirrored shades gleaming
is for others to reflect themselves.
Oh the fork tongue whispering
knows the five-spots in Southeast DC,
has seen hollowed buildings on 14th Street
in a state of rigor-mortis from the 60s:
a construct of crumbling brick structures
held by aging plyboard.
A moon of narcotic drains from the nostrils,
everything bone bright—numb
as if this may be the apocalypse.
Oh they have chosen a troubled man
to signify Old Glory, which unfurls
if nothing but faithfully in the background.
rec time in hagerstown
In the yard with my faded prison jacket
shielding wind-needles of winter, the guards
rifles are merely desire extended,
desire fueled by eager index fingers
waiting for me to believe I am bulletproof
and scale the circular fence. I want to live.
I take a breath of sour air drifting downwind
from farmlands in Maryland's green hills,
grab a pinch full of Kite and twist a rollup.
Inmates run five on five, trying to remember
youthful years when they soared high
as sneakers could elevate off the blacktop.
But I know a hard foul can draw clenched fists,
—then solitary. I light the cigarette,
walk the graveled track and watch a sparrow
pull its speckled body over the hillside.
origin explained to my cellmate
(for Kelly Norman Ellis)
I come from the slow roll of top papers,
from the fifteen-joint nickel bag.
I come from moon lit street corners
that worshipped dead eagles more than God.
I come from gangster idiom,
the soft bank of dice against the curb
from dudes named Pocketknife,
Blade, Pappy, Graveyard Pimp and Wolf.
I come from inside a blue trumpet melody,
from the tornado swirl of a crack pipe.
I come from Magic City's rusted sky,
from the whiskey still of my father's father,
the bootleg house of my mother's mother
where I poured liquid healing into a shot glass.
I come from fertile down south soil,
from the wood, solid oak trees—
pines and mimosas that form an umbrella
over palisades of red mountain clay.
I come from possibility and never say die
instilled by everything southern.
night vision plain as day
Crosses threshold pushing
not heroin but herself one foot
push pull the other one two
a.m. deserted street-
noise stars drown blocked
by trees leaves in gutter
she climbed out of it high
red boot walker denomination
baptist religion ran-ran
face first her to the other side
of cool if an artist could
please do capture ash bone
the night dog barking at the rat-
a-tat-tat goes the uzi still
a lady she was in her day
these are all the same
daddy wasn't no glass maker
would be hard to tell somebody
gotta be witness the aesthetic
stay rooted in the cannot be
eyed never complete the human
a rough draft in nameless rift.