Poems by Reuben Jackson

Photo by PoPville Flickr user Crosb

I’ve been thinking a lot about these poems. If Reuben does decide to move from this city it is going to be a huge loss for us. We need more thoughtful poets in this town.

Reuben explains his writing:

“I am not sure I would call these “haiku”. In fact, I would not. They are 17 syllable “poems” looking at a side of this city (Washington, DC) which increasingly nags at me (to say the least). I am trying to do something with the very “Southern” aspects of life here-aspects which so-called home rule (etc.) has not changed. Finally, they are the -ahem-ahem- “musings” of a middle aged black man trying to come to grips with the tension, changes, what have you in what my Mom accurately dubbed a “big-small Southern town”.


Spanish music plays
in buildings where James Brown ruled
Throbbing stereos.


Followed in bookstores
Mocked by gangsta wannabees
Where do I fit in?


Why would you leave here?
A childhood friend inquired
Through a toothless smile.


Men I’ve known since birth
Baby sit ragged corners
Under served by life.


Girl with Whole Foods bag
Receives suspicious glances
“She must think she white.!”


Disdainful glances
Hurled at a new white neighbor.
Soon there will be more.


Parents left me here.
Is it too late to get out?
Dream on the down-low.


Politicians flock
Like self important peacocks.
Shopping mall- at last!


Take a crosstown bus
If you dream of salad bars
And sit-down cafes.

14 Comment

  • This sounds a lot like the sort of rhetoric my grandmother used to spout about when all the black people started moving into her North Philly neighborhood in the 70s. I guess what goes around comes around.

  • Love these poems, especially I and III. He has the rare talent of being thoughtful observer of life who can translate his observations into written art. Thanks for giving him a forum to share.

  • Thanks for posting these, Dan. I want to point something out, if I may. I’ve received a lot of e mail about poem VI. The point I am trying to make is that change, and, alas, the anger and resistance change can bring, will probably continue (“Soon there will be more”) The literary “I” is not lamenting the influx of whites, but in leaving the line the way it is, the voice of those who (sadly) do, is also present… As for the “rhetoric” charge.. They are only attempts at poetry-but I’d be hard pressed to see the very real contradictions, shortcomings and divides present in DC as “unsupported discourse”, to quote Noah Webster.

  • awesome job reuben! I really enjoyed these. Very short, but very thoughful!

  • My favorite aspect of the poems is that some are open to multiple interpretations. ‘Soon there will be more’ in VI…more glances, or more white neighbors? Well done to pack in multiple layers into such a short space. III is dense, with a twist.

  • Thanks for sharing these, Reuben.

  • Love these. Well done.

  • Thanks for sharing your work, Reuben. I really enjoyed these. I hope you will be sharing more in the future.

  • Like the haiku of Langston Hughes, heart-wrenchingly observed.

  • These poems are excellent. More, please!

  • saf

    Wow, that first anon really mis-read these.

    Rueben, I’m always glad when you share. Even when we disagree (often), you put so much thought into your expression that I cannot help but appreciate it. I get a lot of worth out of it.

  • Thanks for the kind words, friends. It is better ( and cheaper.. sorry, therapists of America) to get questions, anxieties, etc. out. I think so, anyway.

  • Monkey Daddy at 9:22 said exactly what I was going to say.
    No. III gave me goosebumps. Love the double entendre in VI.
    Thanks Reuben.

  • So happy to see these (of course the food ones speak to me!). Wise. Plus I’ve been lazy about saying I like this blog so thanks for giving the chance.

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