Refuge Temple

refuge temple

254 Purdy Street, Buffalo, NY, childhood home of Lucille Clifton

There will be another storm always on the air
Or in the air or are you the air
Cold unrecognizable following
The inside road
This vessel bears one through
Snow or time to find the house
Paint peeling and maybe unfamiliar but the address
Is to a place that doesn’t exist anymore
An empty lot
Now owned by the woman
Next door who leases it to a
Storefront church that needs the space for parking
I take a selfie with the snowbank
254 Purdy Street
Sunday morning they will plow and cars will fill the place
Worshippers filing next door
Names of the family who lived here forgotten
Sayles their name was Sayles
Well there’s Miss Bowden says the neighbor
Who lives over there
Ninety years old
Lived here her whole life
If anyone’d remember she would
Though if the house don’t hold against the world
And the body don’t hold against the world
Snow falling down
What can hold
The church house the neighbor next door
The snow Old Miss Bowden
This empty lot
We empty now
Everybody drive home
Song done over
Snow river hover
House is gone
Stormsent era
That Miss Bowden may remember
The twelve-fingered girl who lived here
We tell the neighbor: her name was Lucille
Playing in the street
Afraid of the dark
Bringing the light

salon des refusés

East Side, Cleveland, OH, apartment building of Julie Patton

In the house of Julie Patton
Bumblebees do sing pollen
In the cave of ears
Every thing listens
Jimi, Barack, and Marilyn Buck
The saints of the place
In vigil of excellent beings
Light poles hold typical beasts
Though here they empty themselves
Into me
Orange spaces do make
A world again for though the gods are mythic
The goddesses spin
Dear Julie sing
Me through the long hallway
The dark one sleeved in your mother’s
States of mind
State of mine is the one that opens my body
In heat through dark and salted moments
Body is a book
House does quiver
Unwritten the way of how to find you
House is the book
In the language of feathers that launch
Whose heart could race
Winter air winter season that rushes
How we in dark are slung
The dark that opens its hallways
Time mastered by Shiva and Hanuman
I did stand in the empty space
Filled by snow
Then here in the sun-flirted front room
Watched by Saint Nina Simone and Saint Joan Baez and Saint 
Buffy Sainte-Marie
I wonder forward in Sapphic tongue
Who is remember me
Who is open me with their tongue
Who languages the space of a house that don’t exist
Better thought sun see Julie sing sanctified
Sing swung sing one and one and one and one

school house

Barrington, Rhode Island, right near the Bay, home of C.D. Wright 
and Forrest Gander

When she gives me directions and describes it to me
I expect a red-room schoolhouse
Driving across the water from Providence
Into the stream-laced far shore
Far shore where a boat unlands
To determine the shape of what isn’t
There I drive past wrong streets
Wrong houses places whose bells I ring
Stranger in the forest and dark-skinned too
Where do I belong
From the bathhouse I came
Where I worshiped at all manner of strange altars
Does this make me more or less human
Tongue makes you human
And how it translates the body into language
To find the door as it was described to me
Frosted glass and Japanese characters lining it
School saying the language of the sun
No sums add up here
But she calls me in
And I frown to know long to know
What holds the house against the world
How will words survive the dissolution of the body
Of the planet’s core
Sore and soar it came down through the cloud cover
Gray-white curtains
House of a dozen languages
At the cold lake the far away lake
She grabbed me post-lecture where I told about how
I could not translate the words of the poet until I came to her own sun-loved city
She begged me to always love all manner of strangers
I thought she meant the regions of the body
I’d have promised her anything though years later in Rhode Island
Named for an island no one can find
Lover I love you forever
House that disappeared
Books that live in the air
Island that no one knows
While on Purdy Street good people park their cars in the snow
Go inside and sing
We don’t have nothing more than this anymore
No planet no lover no words no nothing no more
More Poems by Kazim Ali