The faces of Pussy Riot
move through the crowd
on a placard in Kiev, mist
of breath & weather rising,
& then tear gas & bullets.

A chorus of protesters falls
dead in snow, the woman
still holding to her sign.
Okay, friend, we can talk
about Victor Hugo,

how tomorrow hides inside
yesterday, how an emperor
marked his name on air
as half-dead soldiers hid
in the bellies of horses.

But let’s come back to vigils
burned-out & flowers heaped
around Independence Square,
to the after-sound of rock bands
in the night’s cold epitaph.

A Night in Tunisia

How long have I listened
to this blues & how long
has Dizzy Gillespie been dead?
I remember an old longing,
a young man reaching
for luck, a finger paused
between pages of Baldwin’s
Notes of a Native Son, a clock
stopped for a hard, crystal-
clear moment. This was
a lifetime before the night
streets of Tunisia burned
on cell phones in the clouds,
tear gas & machine gun fire
& my head in my hands
an hour. I traveled there
many times, humble
side streets & sweetness
of figs, hot seasons of meat
on the bone, naked feeling,
& Dizzy’s horn still ablaze,
a bleat of big fat notes
in the dark. Even if I’d never
stepped above simple laws,
my youth had betrayed me
with years still to come
& jasmine in bloom.