A Cool Place

By Larry H. Spruill

Every soul needs shade
cover from their fiery
solar furnace
broiling over
their cans and can’ts
stumbling through
the heat of the day
steady caravans through the
Sahara of life
seeking a cool place
to rest and reflect
upon the next move
in the sweltering debilitating
blanket of a breezeless
West African noon day.

Every soul needs shade
from blistering skies
driving every soul,
creature and thing
to the leafy limbering
branches beneath
the faint coolness of
the sweet mango tree.

Souls of Black Folks: Reading DuBois in Ghana

By Larry H. Spruill
(Spring 2004)

But the hushing of the criticism of honest opponents is a dangerous thing. It leads some of the best of the critics to unfortunate silence and paralysis of effort, and others to burst into speech so passionately and intemperately as to lose listeners. Honest and earnest criticism from those whose interests are most nearly touched, — criticism of writers by readers, of governments by those governed, of leaders by those led, — this is the soul of democracy and the safeguard of modern society.

W.E.B. DuBois
Souls of Black Folks
1903

We are about to celebrate the centennial of this important piece of 20th century literature. I have read it several times over the last 30 years. Reading it in Ghana gave Dr. DuBois’ spirit an opportunity to speak to me. He inspired me to see new things in his long standing treatise on black culture. This was my third time visiting his house, museum and grave site. Nothing has changed. There were no new artifacts. No new publications. In fact, I was a bit concerned with the continuous deterioration of the last earthly possessions of this giant mind.

It is so strange to see this homage to DuBois the ultimate mulatto and quintessential intellectual in Ghana, the sanctuary of Pan-Africanism and Black Nationalism. Perhaps in the next world, he and Marcus Garvey are finally having tea and discussing ways to influence the living to seriously consider AU (African Union) in the context of political democracy and personal liberties. The African proclivity towards tyranny and political violence must be discussed. There must be an end to discussions about colonial and racial victimization as rationales for ethnic wars, fratricidal political conflicts and the lack of freedom in Africa.

These same tendencies appear in urban centers in America when people of African descent obtain political empowerment in local communities. Criticism of black politicians is considered treason. The black electorate is required to become passive sheep to new sable overlords. Democracy and Western-styled freedom are essential to accountability to the people who are not only the governed but the government. The right to criticize a government must not depend on the color of the governors, but an inalienable right to do so.

Kristallnacht

Dedicated to the Jews of Germany

By Larry H. Spruill

Night of tinkling glass
Shattered dreams
Surreal screams
Frightened souls
Terrified by
Unleashed evil….
upon indiscriminate humanity
Tinkling, tinkling glass…
Fractured mirrors of life…
Walking on broken shards
Crunch, Crunch, Crunch…
Goose stepping boots…
Coming to take me away…
Coming to take away my things…
They come for my gold
They come for my money
They come for my heirlooms
They come for my art…
They come to take away my books
They come to take away my credentials
They come to destroy my clothing…my furniture
They come for my things…
They come to humiliate me…
They come to take away
my wife…my daughters…
my husband…my sons
They herd me together
with strangers and friends
They take away my dreams
They bring darkened nightmares
full of unknown tomorrows
Tinkling, tinkling glass
altering what is real
into horrible new realities
They are coming to take me away
I am not unique
I am not different
I am simply a Jew
They have come to take away all
but my living God in my soul
What is important now?
What will I have to leave my children?
No more riches…no more gold and silver.
No china…no lockets…no Torah…no today…
just uncertain tomorrows…
I will leave them my words…
I will them my beliefs…
I leave them my ethics…my values…
I leave them my principles…
I leave them the ideas that are dear to me…
I leave them my eyes on the world…
I leave them my reason for living…
I leave them my God and his promise…
I leave you my children…
the indestructible things
The things of my heart and soul…
I leave you the things most dear to me…
My sons…my daughters…
I leave you the things of my soul…
for your living…
for your posterity…
for our tomorrow…
I leave you my ethical will…
I leave you
peace honor
faith trust
loyalty compassion
righteousness courage
and especially love…
I leave you my quest for perfection…
before God and man…
I leave you my struggle to build
families and homes
friends and relationships
communities and a new world
I leave you my legacy and spirit
I sign my name to all that remains
These are my only heirlooms
my sparkling jewels…for you…
My children…cherish them…
Live them…
Preserve them…
Pass them on…
That I might live and
be not forgotten.
For the glass is tinkling…
tinkling everywhere…
It is Kristallnacht…
The night of razor sharp pieces
of mirrored glass…
through which I no longer see hope…
For they come…
For they come…
to take me away.
Forever.

The Spark

By Larry H. Spruill

The spark of God
twinkling like the stem of a firefly
hurling through eternity
to the darkened hearts of humanity…
Aglow in every bosom
The static kiss of God
igniting life
flickering…flickering
until ablazed with
blue, yellow, red flames
driving darkness into distant realms
a burning bush of spiraling beams
claiming our attention
human emotions not yet perfected
yet loving godly living
living godly love
touching God as love
a love which transforms
the brutish into
the beloved ones
with godly flames burning within
warming humanity in their wake
in a daily ebb and flow of victories
over self and sin
standing, walking, running and resting
on the heavenly bonfire
stoked by loving the unloved
lighting new fires with
glorious cloven-tongued words
flickering new sparks
into the abyss of hatred and hopelessness.
igniting new births…new journeys to the Son.

You’ll Be My Lord

lyrics waiting for a melody
By Larry H. Spruill

I Love you Jesus
Don’t let evil take me
Don’t let him handle me
and bind me down
If you will keep me
I’m going to stand right here
with you forever
and you’ll be my Lord.

Someday I know you’re coming again
You’re coming to call home all of your people
You’re going to rapture me…
In the twinkling of an eye.
It’s got to be like that
According to your word
When you come again, I know
I’ll have to go…

I Love you Jesus
Don’t let evil take me
Don’t let him handle me
and bind me soul
If you will keep me
I’m going to stand right here
with you forever
and you’ll be my Lord.

Warm Winds

By Larry H. Spruill

The warm winds of heaven
blew softly on the potter’s clay
mending empty vessels
souls void of rainbow living
blind to smiling sunrise morn(ing)s
new merciful days of promise
kindled by sparks of divine fire
in cold fleshly hearts
giving birth to infancies
mysterious new journeys
to the pearled gated city
guided by celestial lamps
lighted golden pathways
searching for the source
of the potent breath of life
whistling unknown tunes
fertilizing souls with sweet whisperings
with unconditional love…
for a deaf, jaded world planted with
broken hearts soothed by
fresh words on a holy breeze
healing the nations.

Thank Ya Stranger

by Larry H. Spruill

I went the way to to the house,
In the twilight,
in the evening,
in the black and dark night:
Darkness gathered
around my soul.
I was tired. I didn’t know anyone.
It had been a long time.
A wooden bench awaited me.
I felt like having a smoke. I hesitated.
I didn’t know if I could.
I was a stranger.
I thought about it. It didn’t matter. I was exhausted.
My feet screamed for rest.
I smoked a butt from my jacket.
From a distant hallway
there was a tapping and shuffling sound coming my way.
With a final smoky exhale I crushed the filter under my boot.
I looked up at the purple night skylight
centered by a lonely crescent moon
I felt piercing eyes scanning my body..
No tapping…no more shuffling in my ears.
Across the tunnel like hall a wrinkled browed man
his chin resting on the back of his hands
wrapped around a white painted cane.
feasted on my lunar distraction
Our speechless eyes met.
Seconds, timeless moments passed.
From a raspy place, the old man said
“Thank ya stranger!”
I was not puzzled. I knew what he meant.
“Your welcome!” I was home.

Tears to Selah

by Larry H. Spruill

Potent tears pooled
in silent sullen hearts
carrying currents
of suffering and pain
flowing as spewed crimson lava
a stream-like cauldron
of dashed hopes
and dissipated dreams
crashing into the cooling waters
of a crescent turquoise seaside bay
at the foot
of a troubled temperamental mountain
misti-fying the sugar coated beaches,
forested hills and lush green (emerald) valleys of life
sprinkling the looking glass
of our earthy souls
falling as creative Edenic rain
washing the perpetual hurt
and disappointments peculiar to
creatures like you and I…
enabling us to trust ourselves
while looking to the Unseen One…
to feel again…
to start again…
again and again…

Selah

On The Other Side of The Window

By Larry H. Spruill

Legions of worn out thinly threaded dresses
partially covering dusty wirery legs
capped with barefeet with crusted toes
encircled by flip flop shower shoes
walking the tube like two lane highways
crossed by narrow red dirt roads
cleared of brush by well beaten foot paths
leading to distant bush villages
walking under a golden glowing setting sun
casting elongated shadows
of young boys and girls
skillfully hauling upon their heads
deep pots of evening water
to their adobe homes
They walk with the agility and grace
of ballerinas and Bolshoi dancers
flawless
eyes fixed on the distant puffs of smoke
bellowing from the village hearths and chimneys
what are they thinking about?
What stirs the souls on the other side of the
polarized bus window?
The blanket of night will soon fall.
They will disappear into the darkness.
There are many hours before I stop to rest.
For now, I pass soul after soul in an air-cooled bus
on my way to a frigid hotel room and restaurant.
I cannot imagine their dreams for tomorrow.
Perhaps, an effortless day of fresh water and food?
I do not know how to really know
my people
on the other side of the window.

A Virtual War in The Sacred Forest

By Larry H. Spruill

In the sacred forest apparitions peak
through sun streaked boughs.
The ever green sanctuary of the
uneasy spirits of those who once were
and still are –
those who mark off their domain
to receive their offerings
from the living of their days of flesh
the faithful ones devoted to
the mysteries of tribe and tradition
following the ways of the ancestors
alive in the elders
in father and son – mother and daughter
dancing under the giant trees
with green scrolled leaves
prescribing the protocols
of blessings and cursed admonishments
to the wary about the unlawful.

The altar is ablazed by hungry ancestors
readily pouring out ancient wisdom
through a dotCOM priest reconciling
Bantu mysticism with techno cyberspace sonnets
blending the ethereal talking drum with
the pounding digital IBM keyboard
pronouncing faith in the
forested temples and the internet cafes
both requiring faithful leaps into
things hoped for with evidence of things not seen.

The forest and cafe promise journeymen
pathways to soulish bliss
warring for the exclusive rights
to the hearts and minds of
the now and tomorrow
both declaring the irrelevance of the other
neither victorious…
neither defeated…
both waving white flags
for now…