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Dion Jahmal: California Poets Part 6, Four Poems

Dion Jahmal

October 18th, 2023

California Poets: Part VI

Dion Jahmal

Four Poems


The forest is my church. I, ushered in by a choir of pine. Remove shoes, place feet on sacred ground.

In my chest beats a burning bush, Ablaze with faith. Heaven’s breath replaces wind, The sun baptizes me in the warm light.

My pastor is cypress her branches, Extending into sacred indigo. The silent sermon of solstice falls like leaves.

A congregation of fowl sit in pews, Made of sticks and grass. They call and respond with click whistles.

A sun kiss lake touched by spirit, Breaks into waves of grace. I stand on my knees.


I’ve known men who became


Never once having seen a father.

I’ve known men weaned on the

trauma of Queens.

I’ve known men who told wives

the most horrible things.

I’ve known men that have bled

in the soil of Amerikkka.

Men that have seen so much evil

they stop believing in their god.

I’ve known men that save the

deepest hate for themselves.

I’ve known men that found the

deepest love at the bottom of a


I’ve known men who’ve found

Relief in self destruction.

Who’d rather punch than talk.

Who’d who rather give up

then surrender.

I’ve known men to find purpose.

I’ve known men to use their strength

for good.

I’ve known men willing to apologize.

I’ve known men who kiss their sons on

the lips.

Men who dance with their daughters

on floors made from dreams.

I’ve known men who now hold mommy

up not down.

I’ve known men that have fully surrendered

rather than give up.

I’ve known all these men to be me.


I have my grandfather’s hands.

At a funeral repass Caramel kin folk pass Around pictures of our past.

A set of amber eyes sparkle Like a pair of burning bushes. I ask, who is this gentleman?

An elder takes my hand, the Memories like fingerprints Slowly rise in her mindscape.

That man is your great grandpa. He once saved your grandpa’s life. She recants you have his hands.

It was your grandfather’s hands, Holding son through mossy muck Saturated in moonlight.

Avoiding alligators Roaming banks of blue bayou. The sweet southern air thick with

Boiling clouds of mosquitoes

And vapors of malaria. It was his right hand,

They warned to chop off wiping,

Son’s tears as they moved through the Bogged terrain of the Big Easy.

Later, it was those same hands,

Teaching son a tailor’s trade. Styling life with careful measures.

Stitching dreams, tailoring love.

So, like salt and sage before I will take my destiny,

Into eager hands cutting

And sewing the stories of Those unwilling to toe the line.

Using paper as my cloth

Pen or pencil my needle, And my grandfather’s hands.


What was I before, Being a man or Black. A target or stat. Before being carried in A poisoned womb. Before sperm of A father gone to soon.

Before twinkle in The eye of addicts Chasing their high. Was I… A tree perhaps? Rooted in dense earth. Oak, Cypress, Pine, or Muir.

Or was I a bird, Eagle, Pheasant, fowl. My wings outstretched, Riding the winds howl.

Or was I a wolf, Running in a pack. A bear fresh out of Hibernation On the attack.

Or was I the Salmon it chases, Muscle and fin, Swimming upstream Guided by natural, Instinct from within.

Perchance I was the Lake giving it life. Or the insects on shore Living without strife.

Whatever I’ve been, Prior to what I have come to be. I wish to return. For each, where born free.

Author Bio:

Dion Jahmal is a poet and author of the memoir BLĀKÜ. His poems, sonnets, and Blāküs have been published in various anthologies, and online publications. His unapologetic approach to poetry is the result of over fifty winters spent as a multi-cultured human in this experiment called America. Contact/Booking info:


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