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A Bookless Education

She sits at Jack In The Box
No less than 3 sweaters
Shrouded by one very used coat
Socks and shoes
Have seen better roads

Wary at first
Till 2 days later
She eyed me with trust

We talked about the necessity of mommas
The loss you feel when they are gone
“I’m 98 years old”
I stared at her wrinkle-less face
Decided to take her word for it

Her oldest son died
At a domino game
Cause of death
The crossroads at the intersection
Of a bullet

One brother was killed
Over some dope
We laughed about old men and young women
The curriculum of economics

For my finals
I pressed 2 dollars in her hand
For a cup of coffee
I was told
what to give God
To recognize blessings

- Gayle Bell

(featured in the poetry forum 08.12.14)

editor's note: A paperless degree for a cuppa joe - not spilled on your lap, but into your soul. - mh

Orange and Cinnamon

Her hair in a quick up-do bun
rushing for the am rail
Captains and dommes of industry jostle
along with the flotsam and jetsam.
My purse on my arm
Your lunch bag on my lap
Not quite contained into designated spaces
How to peal and cinnamon an orange
without the expense of a dry cleaning bill
The cinnamon puffs in the air;
fine particles escape the maroon container
I close the lid
eager for the rush of citrus and cinnamon.
Tell me what you smell you command
I remember our smiles
Us walking in the sun to the park
With a peach, orange, and honey in a bag
Your patient way of guiding my hands
Cinnamon a fine dust over your breast
Freckles adorning them like a lady’s shawl
meeting the orange tang of my tongue
I take the orange from your stomach
kissing the place that held the orange
blow the excess cinnamon across your belly
inhale the scent of clean air
lightly place a section of orange
between my lips and into your mouth
You handed me the peach with a smile

* Upcoming publication in “Dampen To Bend” Coal and Femficatio Publishing 2013

- Gayle Bell

(featured in the poetry forum 06.10.13)

editor's note: Sweet and spicy picnic pleasure; delivered with love. Nice! - mh

Jazz ²

Autumn NY
Song Repetition
Jazz was
the constant equation
was Jazz
Be Bop Jazz
Parker, Porcino, Wetzel, Metome,
Varsalona, Jacobs, LaPorta, Williams,
Phillips, Mondello, Caplan,
Orloff, Smirnoff, Harris,
Manne, Iborra, Hefti
Skit skat
No other
place could they meet
Maybe a
crowded table filled with
chicken wings, Blintzes, boiled eggs,
Pierogies, lox,
minestrone, beer, vodka,
tea, coffee, bourbon
Skit skat
No other
time was then
In a
closet crammed with
scarves, umbrellas,
raincoats, sweaters,
wraps, cardigans
Skit skat
On a
stage with
bongos, voices, hands,
drums, French horns, guitar,
piano, harp, trumpet, oboe
Skit skat

- Gayle Bell

(featured in the poetry forum 12.12.12)

editor's note: She's showing us the only refrain which never holds back; skit skat - thanks for that, Linn! - mh

She Sounds: For Sweet Poppa D

She sounds like sweet peach mint tea
That was stirred in the good pitcher
From the china cabinet
That is served on a tray
With tea cakes

She sounds like a
Morning on a lake
With two bamboo poles
With only one with a hook in it
And a poetry book
On a swamp boat

She sounds like breakfast
In the city debating
Pancakes or waffles
And you know that stuff
Is bad for you
But you order extra
Butter and syrup

She sounds like
An evening in a sharp suit
And an orange dress
Dancing in socks and stockings
A party of two

She sounds like she wants
To undress me
And she wants it now
With a delectable cackle
And no reason to blush

She sounds like a beginning

- Gayle Bell

(featured in the poetry forum 02.24.12)

editor's note: Oh, yes, indeed! She sounds exactly like that! - mh

The Professors of Jazz

The party smelled of Magic Shave “new improved smell”
Dutch Masters, weed, chicken wings, boiled eggs, and Crown Royal
shooed from the grown up talk
Now stinky foot, I’m gonna show you the right way
to listen to jazz
If you have to eat spaghetti dogs every night
Invest in some Bang and Olufson speakers
I got these on the black market
Those Danes know their speakers

Seated in the best seat
in the middle of the floor
with a big pair of earphones
This, Uncle Son said brandishing a lp cover with
Miles’ stern face staring at me
is who you listen to
I have the architects of jazz right here

He gave me a coffee mug
with a picture of the Rhine
put a capful of his whiskey in
grabbed some sugar cubes
stirred it in my cup
put some coffee
stirred that up
This, he announced
is what you drink
when you listen to
the PHD’s of Jazz

- Gayle Bell

(added 02.24.12)

Blue Muse

Monk you refused to become background noise in some tin ear
Fuck peaceful tinkering you growled while your ivory’s screamed
Take me to that place where Bird flies red
Monk anoints us and Mingus grabs you and won't let go
Take me to the trinity of jazz and bless
until the blues is released

- Gayle Bell

(featured in the poetry forum 07.27.11)

Blue Kiss

If I could describe the blue
In Monet’s lilies
It would be eclipsed by
The wrinkle in your dress
Hidden by your off-white shawl
Your mouth pressed
On my cheek in an ‘oh’ of pleasure
The after-image of your smile
Your shoes leaving an arrow
For me to follow

- Gayle Bell

(added 07.27.11)

Jazz Instigates

Jazz contemplates with a cigarette
Lit by a jeweled hand
Why Blue’s always sings about
Breaking up happy homes
Shit where is the happiness
In torn apart rooms
With shaded eyes
Now this music
She waves towards the quartet
They wail the same refrain with a
Little loss but no one gets hurt
Not really you see
While she writes Blue’s number
In maroon lipstick
On a linen napkin
That will be tucked in a silk shirt
Voices layered on the mirrored floor
In folding waves to delight

- Gayle Bell

(featured in the poetry forum 03.02.11)

Blame It On The Sun
Wilton Norman Chamberlain Talks To Ray Charles Robinson

Sharing a bottle of gold registered cognac
their cigars resting in a crystal goblet
silk knee high stocking feet resting
on a burgundy calf leather footstool

How does it feel man? You know,
when the lights stop shining on you?
I know you can't see the lights but
damn man, you know what I mean.
when the heat stops shining on your face.

Baby, it's like this,
you create your own sun.
Give it a name like the only woman
who didn't love you for your money
or power, or none of that
make sure you stand
inside her smile

- Gayle Bell

featured in the poetry forum 03.02.11)

Gangsta Lean

Diamond in the back
Sun roof top
Diggin the scene
With a gangsta lean roof

On the stroll near
the 1 hr motel no tell
Dos dinero para pinoche
Afro wig bigger than my face
Red river in one hand
choking on a eve filter

Diamond in the back
Sun roof top
Diggin the scene
with a gangsta lean roof

getting a primo from Caroline
Cornbread’s main stable
“Look at the trick’s shoes,
“a narc’s shoes are always too shiny”
'Naw bitch', Jean Nate chimes in
'That’s just a trick that likes nice shoes,
Look at his hair cut, if it’s too short he’s 5 0'

Diamond in the back
Sun roof top
Diggin the scene
With a gangsta lean roof

Touching up my Flori Roberts lipstick
in the bar’s mirror
feeling as old as my fake id
a man fits a drink into my hand
‘wanna date’ I smile
I look at his scuffed shoes, long hair
walk outside with him
Popping my gum

- Gayle Bell

(featured in the poetry forum 12.12.10)

Loon Call
((In memory of Richard Sevrens))

We met under the bodhi tree
with chips for me
almonds for you
drink my strong coffee
out of a red carafe

We talk about hearing Mingus
places you drove your taxi
I talk about my shitty week
Remember Gayle, it’s the streets
and it’s war

I turn a corner expecting your
surprised face enveloping me
in a Richard hug you reserve
for old jazz boppers
even an errant funkster

We were listening to quartets
body and soul moving
to hip kats and kitties
speaking poems and rants

We sit under the tree
discussing Hughes’ haiku
and a Miles brew
your flute resting at your side
I wake up and remember
My tears falling in b flat minor
trilling coherent patterns
on this page

- gayle bell

(featured in the poetry forum 07.13.09)

Black Man Wharf Blues

Lines on face
lines on shirt
standing with high hats
weathered hands
weathered pants
reward for hard work
a fish
shoulders rolled back
like the sleeves
of his shirt
dreaming of a steak

- gayle bell

(added 07.13.09)

Self Portrait 6

Corn tortillas wrapped in foil
So good like they were made
by Tia Liz
Sweating under her box fan
while she sucked on a lemon
And drank peppermint schnapps
Talking shit about that educated
Puta that took her man

Rushing for my bus sipping
a nice earl gray/
peppermint/green tea
environment friendly mug
mp3 and do rag on my head
pen silently melting

- gayle bell

(added 07.13.09)

Salome’s Dance

U2’s “Heartland” is on
I’m dancing for the woman
who has to drag herself
from cum wet sheets
find coffee, bum smokes
until the horn announces
her next trick

Thin hotel towel
put in a bag to be used
in a gas station bathroom
maybe a douce
probably not a meal
that luxury will have to wait
for a safe corner

Hoping the cops are in
a better mood today
nursing a skinned knee
and a missed chalkline
the crazys are
looking saner
GOT to be
more careful

Beating down jones
until theres enough money
there’s never enough
of anything

The whiskey mixes
with cum, sweat, cunt juice,
and shit in your mouth
and you would drown in a
river of dirt
to feel clean

Flinching at the judgement
stares of eyes and turned up
noses when they stumble
on your makeshift office
alley, doorway, bathroom stall
sometimes backseat at a stoplight

Sometimes they are gentle
it makes you want to hurt them
so you hold back
don’t give them the pleasure
the satisfaction
the need for pardon
you never gave yourself that gift

- gayle bell

(featured in the poetry forum 09.09.08)

Twilight’s Daughter

Daughter, if I could
tell you
My heart keened
You, amid that tribe of
near gone children

The loudest thugified brother
hauled up
popped you
dead in the face
you didn’t stop grinning

I sat with the rest
of us ole folks
Pinned down with fear
Guns we know you tote

Sometimes I feel like
I’m birthing the earth
Each momma’s
becomes mine
Flanks heaving in pain

I would let you know
how precious a vessel
You are
To let yourself
be done this way

I would resurrect the light
In your eye
Pride in your gait

My Hottentot Venus
do you cry
on the shoulder of twilight
When shadows
grow long

- gayle bell

(added 07.16.08)

Dark Harlequin

The insult hurls the night
“Fuck you nigga”
I’m riding shotgun with my friend
Hyped up urban mode
Masks on

A cinnamon skinned youth
clutches his anger
While brown brothers
Smelling the signals of

The man stumbles over
Struggling between fear
Unshed tears
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean you
Addressing my friend and me
My friend a recent stoke victim
Tucks her defeated arm nearer
I sit spine straight

He shores his spilling rage
“I just got out today
And already there’s someone
who wants to get hurt”
“I feel better when I hurt someone”
“But not you” he gestures to me and my friend

I try to vanish him it ‘it’s cool’ gestures
But he won’t be waved off
He wants me to understand
“I didn’t mean you, I’m a Native American
I’m a Red Man
He yells to the sky
Before he staggers off
In search of conquest

Did I understand him better? Yes
When I have leashed my pain
When it rampages on wary strangers
When wounded attack each other
Throw fist toward the perceived enemy

- gayle bell

(added 07.16.08)

Acts 22:16 (Cat’s Song)

You must be washed to be clean
take me to your firmament
I find myself
Off the cliffs
Of your smile

Your glance
Burns dry ice
Into me
chant your mohogamy
needs wasteland

Come to me
I can handle
love and pain woman
Give me tribunal
love of your brown alter
I will return it tenfold

The banquet
Ruth promised
You rains upon me
blessed in the waters
kiss sending bolts
to my soul

Shouting in the temple
Of your hands
my firmament
daughter of Ruth

shouting into your chalice
I am blameless
above your pedestal
you are my madness

- gayle bell

(added 07.16.08)


The jazz blows the skirt of
A high neck
Martini glass
High siding
Lady in black and silver
Bowing to the eloquence
Of need
Jazz players talk with
Their eyes and listen
With their hands
To break though
The language barrier
A sound as intricate
as a lover’s moan
when the sun is full on her face
dapples of minor notes
glowing from your breath

- gayle bell

(added 07.09.08)

Sister Pigeon & The Blues Compilation

My friend believes that when they come
They will not come bearing
Gifts and cures
They will come for us as an appetizer
With a honey mustard glaze recipe

I thought, ‘if this is the craziest that she is
we should wish for this kind of crazy’
I see us; mad, vacant eyes
one honk or raised voice away from detonation
What will be the crimes of opportunity?
concrete mad samurais wait

You can’t watch all of us
we slip into your bedroom
whisper a litany of your crimes
while you tremor in restless hours

Wait a minute…the fever is breaking …this just in
news from the brown and black poor
played endlessly in Media’s theater

When fear is the only thing
that keeps you away
from what you are

- gayle bell

(added 07.09.08)


“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A comedian heretofore respected used that word to preface
The lack of truth in the face to face encounters
At sports events
By the second reference I pitched the halfway read book
In the trash
Good riddance for it
You know how ‘we’ get when they use
That word

You know how we get when ‘we’ use
That word
That word
We were fed on
That word like soul food and
$5.00 haircuts
Not forgetting to get around that kitchen
Even if you got other blood in you

A beloved novelist
Recently dearly departed
Explained it in terms of fireworks
In an innocent June childhood
I blinked shook it off
continued reading his brilliance

Later that week, a dear friend
Ace bon heart
Confessed her father called her
that word
I gently corrected her
With some family narration
How that word
has used it’s ‘best before’ date

- gayle bell

(added 07.09.08)

A bit about Gayle: "I have self published six books of poetry, Jazz Sunday Brunch, Open Song, Dialogues and Porch Choir. My books Shouting And Getting Happy and Benediction were published by Genuine Lizard Press (William Bryan Massey, Editor). I have been anthologized in Hair Pieces, The Anthology published by Ujima PRC, Akosua Ali-Sabree, editor 2004, Di-verse-ity 2007, 06, 02, and 2000 published by the Austin International Poets, Kente Cloth; Southwest Voices of the African Diaspora, James Mardis, editor 1999. In 1999, I was Featured in the Film Poetic Healings directed and produced by Chinwe Odeluga. I can be found at poetry readings in the Dallas area."