Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday Love Poems: Tara Betts!

Happy birthday, Tara Betts, one of my favorite poets/pals/mentors. I feel so fancy putting these up.

Don’t forget,y’all, I’m always taking submissions!

A Hushed Ache

Love holds beginning
hair above his lip or fleecy
nubs trapped between his
scalp and your fingers.
The slow seep of his whisper
draws that kiss—two words
into a wavery line releasing
an ache, saxophone riff.

This love smelled young,
peppermint anticipation,
cocoa butter and cherry cola
lip gloss true to taste, brushing
its linger across necks, heavier
than hormone-laden fist, sweeter
than cornbread sugar in long kisses,

more than that cruel club lobbed
at his shadow skin leveled to dirt,
spot, nothing, but no one could say
this was too dark, less than
anvil meeting hammer sparks.

You talk nearly 20 years later,
knowing your friendship was
more than flutter, not just
biker shorts and pinning him
to your mother’s basement stairs
before she wakes and you don’t care.

The old ache surpassed the surplus
of a decade. You both joke about half-
relationships and backup marriage plans
when he pauses on the phone line.
He says she’s pregnant
and a wide silence opens.

Spin Cycle

Love tumbles us through mundane life,
a rolling cylinder, we dive
into the dirty clothes we wash.
The scent of soap cuts clean across
daily bores of husband and wife—
a cotton kiss on pillows rife
with surprise in a rigid hive.
The wash, dry, fold, so far from posh.
Love tumbles us
into breaking, spinning alive
in cycles that turn us in strife,
foggy suds that leave us awash.
Each feeling we coddled and tossed
settles, fresh snap as you arrive
love tumbles us.

Originally appeared on

My Man
for R.V.

black tides rising above his brow
eyes sepia as stained cathedral glass
birthmark bop across right cheek
the tender salmon of his slim lips
warmed with twin blade thought
cutting two languages
mouth, a cavern of crowing laughter
brown bear shoulders
easy chair chest upholstered
with two buttons
dark curls & tumescent halleullah
at his hips, shelf of ass on its own axis
his glazed ham treetrunk legs
curved span of his steadfast paws
nude musical in my jagged moments
clawed first to replace the unwieldy
shield I cringe behind,
My osito in skin of my friend,
my man, my man…

Tara Betts is the author of Arc & Hue (Aquarius Press/Willow Books, 2009). She is a fellow of the Cave Canem and VONA workshops. Tara teaches creative writing at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. Her writing has appeared in several anthologies, journals, theater productions, including Essence, Bum Rush the Page, both Spoken Word Revolution anthologies, and HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam.” She is working on her second collection and an anthology of Bop poems with Afaa M. Weaver, among other projects.

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