Split backs grind down;

the carobs, cremes, golds, and caramels all

Tamped into the polished silver portafilter, scalds

to liquid fetish the grounds

appropriating its hearth, its heart and soul

for consumption, now poured

into a fragile white cup,          the milky foam

slices into brown heart like a hot white

knife, metamorphose

genes of this espresso.                        They feel they’ve given the gift

privileged lactose, I watched this

barista take that portafilter, hands stained with

the browns of a moment ago, all

polished, shined his blotted, rouge mouth

his thin face opaque in reflected machine, as he dumped all

those leached grounds out, all

the richness; he stripped, discarded, the tale typical apathy:

one day was on top, they all

loved us, now no longer relevant, no longer in need,

into garbage, a tub somewhere, strung-out.

The exposed brick on wood, the minimalistic

architecture and the hip-hop of my youth trying to

escape this monument to gentrification, this shrine in their own

Image but where would they be without all of the browns grounded of this world?

The jams are consoling and only other presence of color, so I

asked it to stay.

I can feel their curiosity measuring my nose and

The crest of my lips, how’s and whys of my ashy elbows

with their eyes to say, “you are different. Maybe, you don’t

belong here.”

I count, one two three, don’t

count just

me.

At a diner, parenting questioned, cheap coffee tastes like excuses; the stale toast like an elegy recollects lonely druggin’ Denver days and his pop a salesman on Great Plains.

Higher than stomped ceiling; limbs fused to tulip chairs and glazed on the knotted Macramé. Like rounds of tether ball— “That Brazilian Gold,” fire hooked mid ceiling; nights interchain.

Used to sparkle of ruby, plus the smooth fit of an old heirloom—baseball mitt. A past perfect “Contender,” sketches of him drawn with a stick of fusain.

He’s outside Omaha, jeaned, flannelled, stands in the flickering abysm on flat plains. The aurora borealis, he can’t see it though he knows it’s still there, somewhere, plain.

“Pink elephants fox-trotted across the molding and window frame that night,” he said. Acid days, mounds of cocaine, gold fish in the heel of platform shoes; nothing plain.

Out west in Denver, his eyes were set on dying light blending slopes metamorphic. Jealous by what he can’t cut; yearns for no stops, one-way to California as there’s no plains.

“He can’t make fire bleed? White inna white world!” Her mixed son shrugs, eclipsing ears. Fixture at Chris’ and other bums drinking to better days, which won’t come, to put it plain.

Marble bar of Irish Spring son’s traumatized by the instability and homelessness.  Renting two rooms out, a husky dog, glass cases, a grandfather clock, slow, drab gongs plain.

That ’98 white mustang: sputtering, a graveyard for cigs, valleys of choking ash. Marks on clothing, marks on skin, that COPD scaring the lungs, wheezing again.

A child left, in an abandoned house and the feeling of wilderness. Your shared genes walk the world oblivious in his privilege; my heart swells of disdain.

How the night was shared in a quartet: a baby’s face, suffocation, excuse, the dark sequenced void. San Francisco bound, sour bottle champagne, a child’s pretenses fizzing over those flat plains.

Stares at a plane ticket, a boarding call, one way in night sky’s abysm, two paths, he takes the easiest. Four children w/o a father—a windless, restless, lonely plain.

Green and gold quilts,
Wet and tangy mildew,  damp grays.

A fire,
A cloud of black,
Effect of the two passages
Where its flesh connects.

Its red eye,
blazes in a dirt pitch,
Dug into a gut where
Thatch, evergreen, and the smell of vanilla lay,
Say
Who to burn for.

1_1
Photo, Philosophy, (c) Charles Snyder, 2017

Never Speak Easy, photo essay.

Long Beach, California is rife with talented creative souls. From 2011 to 2015 I had the honor and privilege to find, to hone, to craft poetry with some of these hyper talented people. This is a series of shots that tells a story. I shot these images, I imagine, on a Friday night between 2013 and 2015 at Elise’s Tea Room located on Long Beach boulevard, Bixby Knolls neighborhood. Every first friday of the month (First Fridays) we host a poetry open mic night. This night in particular was special because we had really gifted musicians as well as vibrant spoken word poets sharing the same stage. I believe, when a poet, or a musician performs that that space becomes holy ground. Hallowed. There’s a giving and a receiving as if holding church in this space and the recipiants walk away with a bit of stardust or holy water annointing and healing. There are many open mics in Long Beach and across the world. Poetry is not a new phenomena. Poets or Grios for thousands of years have been doing this work. I was lucky. The crew I am a part of being: Philosophy, Jragonfly Jon, Shy but Flyy, Nerd, and myself Charles Snyder, aka Black Charlie, is something special. This is an homage to these people who I craft with and love. This is an homage to poetry and it’s transformative power which compared to the other artistic corridors I delve in has had the most profound change and impact in my life to date. To Long Beach, CA. Lastly, cheers to all of people who have attended  Never Speak Easy events for these several years, thank you!

 

 

Personna (In order of appearance, the artists):

Philosophy
Jragonfly Jon
The Loneliest Casanova
Michelle Denise Jackson
Shyy but Flyy
Sipho N’Jedi
Guitarist* (need name)
Marvin West
Allise Brillault

I still sit in this room
For shorter spells.
Cleanse.

I still think about
Blue moon cycles
Blue flame slow.
Dance.

Sometimes pain
Is all I have left of you.

On keeping shit outside, it’s like this-

You were telling
Sister a story about how you regret
Not seeing grandpa before he left for higher regions.
Y’all were talking about decisions. You made one
To prove some kind of sense of responsibility,
“I’m a man dammit!” you wanted her to know it, not sister,
But an ex-lover (really to yourself).
You were hella broke and didn’t want moms
Cashin’ out for the plane ticket to Ohio
Though she offered. You wanted your ex to
Respect you. She still didn’t.
Point is you didn’t see him, grandpa (or yourself then),
You and her didn’t last,
You have lived with this regret, this clogged energy.
This was a daft
Process, if you caught yourself in time,
You would have grown
A set of true golden wings, strong, flourishing, working
In higher places, yet
Ornery you were and though you still saw the danger,
You thrusted into it even harder. As a result
You had these make-shift, rushed,
Premature, cheap ass tin foil wings,
You were most definitely burnt by the sun, (you thought you were ready/safe to fly solo)
Boy, did you fall, all that tape and wax, unraveling down like ribbon,
Clawing at the sun, you did, like he was about to help you, you
Couldn’t hold you up
Against the heat, plus that love wasn’t love anyways, wasn’t strong enough
To keep y’all no ways (everyone told you).
Sometimes your stymied heart is more like a stomach,
Best to keep the clogged, rancid, festering energies outside,
But you knew that Anaheim baguette was gonna get you.
You love baguettes.
True.

Loneliness is like this-

I remember this clan of pigeons would
Huddle on the ledge/sill of my northern window
Those variant greys, pecking iridescence, that cypher of gnarly
Cooing, anyways, they shat there, always, I never opened that window.
Basically,
I like to keep the shit outside.
But somehow,
It still gets in.

Small light in a dark room,
I am that candle
In the corner of the room
Flickering
Unwavering
Faint but seen
Even when a candle is covered
The light is still seen
If no one sees me
The darkness will
I know who waits there
I know who sits at the corner of my bed
Or holds me during cold nights
Unwavering small light
Truth is, I have always been afraid of the dark
Truth is, I double check my locked doors
And the body begs to give up
But I don’t let it,

I am that small light
In a dark room
Because I can’t let it go out
Even a small light in a dark room
Can be blinding
Even small self-truths
Feign self-awareness
Is light.
Is light.
I can’t go out,
I got too many people behind me.

Small light in a dark room,
I am that candle
That little light
Centered in the core
Pit of my belly
It devours what I feed it
Holds it there
As it were the pen acts as
A sculpting tool, gutting light from
Frozen wax

Hidden in this fragile glass
It composes it’s self
Dances, wings,
Warms its shell
Just a small little
Light in the infinite darkness

I am a bastion of hope
When the truth is muddled in a flower
Bed of lies, corruption, deceit,
I am a warm welcome
Inciting the lovers touch
I am a friend
Making the face of a broken heart
Loved again
Beautiful again
I am the purification
Beneath blue moons
Setting free the fear
I am forgiveness
For years of self-affliction
& shaming
I am the cradle that still holds
Inner child mine
I am the harsh reminder
To never stop writing
I am justice
I am the god cosmic gathering place
I am the glistening smile
Off the burgundy obsidian skin-
That liquid temptation in crystal
I am a molasses delight
Your hypnotic mystery
Watch me fight
Burning everything
The last memory
Or particle fired
Finding a way to always stay
Alive
The darkness
Remembers every
Candle ever burned

It will still remember
My parts,
That left over waxy husk,
That core I left
In its center

Same Everywhere
After Langston Hughes’, “Letter from Spain.”

Gijon, Asturias, Spain
February, something 2017,
Near 80 years since beginning of the Spanish Civil War.

Dear Johnny,

I am your brother.
I reside in Spain. Still the same everywhere.

Franco is dead. I think you would have been pleased
By this news.

You are my ancestor. Not directly. I lift you up.

Republicans/Anarchists sadly no emblazoned
Glory hallelujahs nor banners flown in their favor,
U saw that as a result
U saw that crooked cross spun scoliosis fascists other party
U boat and jet propaganda bombast in blast blast
All over Europe and parts of our mother land. You knew. You knew
Holding that Moor already ¾ in grave.

I live in a different Spain now
The Moors aren’t being thrusted into the front line as shield for Francoites
Naw, still persecuted though
And do risk life and limb to enter into this new thing
So too others from the diaspora
Like this Senegalese brother who said,
“You must write your stories and tell the children they are beauty.” Deep. Moved.

I will tell you they are safe.
That they live with a dignity like the white man-I would like to say.
But you know, like I know, that would be coal in the mouth
And still from your Galaxy House
Among those fiery deities: Malcolm, King, Angelou, Parks, Ghandi, Baldwin, Hurston,
You still write to save, to educate
U know nothing new abides in this earth but
The Sun Commandment: that which lives, must die.

To scribe the World needs the scribe-who is it?
The pain staked youth, they are Beauty, can’t shake it, that message
Yet the spiritual take:
It was the journey he took to tell me that
Engaged in this author’s glory
He risked his life and limb to soak up Spain shore
I can’t shake it
To tell me to scribe to uplift the
Future it is young and must be born in compassion not in material
I can’t shake it

This country of which I knew you
Stayed, I am sure, loved for a moment
I will tell you
That the world too seems to fear and hold us in crushing hands,
Still, I will tell you they still don’t know themselves: the whites
They still appropriate and dispose of our bodies
Like we were lower trash, still
The only thing that’s changed
Social media, we got varied outlets now

Random:
The Fog is Gatsbian. This night, I am strolling along
The boardwalk lights undulating like snake hips on black Cantabrian sea,
That black sea fighting against shore, a tiding inn
Did u ever see Asturias, Gijón?
U’d love it.

My fav thing is to walk back home
Drunk on whiskey and beers
Along this misty boardwalk

Had a feeling, never go back (US).
I was in Cartagena (Spain) face toward the bowed part of back-head of mother Africa North
And thought freedom, in some ways I am. In other ways, there is an ingrained racism here I am trying to dislodge…it.

I am tired. I am.

Today, I explained to a Spanish ten year old
Why the N’word is putrid. Deadly. Horrid.
I have done this several times to whites here in Spain and
To whites from our home living in Spain. SMH (this means ‘shaking my head’). They still do not get it.

I am sorry to report this. I had wanted to report better news. I cannot say
This dispatch is a happy one. Recently, a known bigot was elected but
I guess you already have lived through the worst bigots in that white-crowned-
House built on black spinal cord and hip bone, sweat, shit, blood…
You already know!
These cycles are repetitive, sadly.
I am sorry to report no real advances have been made
Although we finally had a Brother in office
I think you would’ve been proud.
Johnny (Langston),
I love you.

You still radiate.

Amor,

Charlie