June 6

-Today I honor my Mother’s 99th birthday on

6/6/16 to 8/18/04:

‘Damn—katrina! damn katrina? damn, katrina.

i’m glad my mother died two years before this mess or she mighta been one of those old old women trapped by the water as it swole up to the



5th floor

& she couldn’t git out & she drown-ded remembering her salad days on the high dive.

as it was she died of congestive heart failure, a drowning of another sort.

she went down hard, cursing us all for not rescuing her

from the end.’

(from “high dive,” a poem by Cheryl, 2011)

-And also my Father’s Army service at the U.S. Invasion of Normandy on 6/6/44, as he drove a supply truck to arrive at the front on 6/7/44:

‘he was prematurely gray, even as he left for the war in 1941—the only unmarried son. His mother could not leave work before he had to get his bus for camp. To compensate sent her close girl friend to catch up to him with fried chicken on the backseat and drive him. His precocious niece sucked her thumb crying, ‘unka, unka,’ and even my Mother’s two waif-like children, living across the street with their mean grandmother, begged him from the sidewalk to come back before dusk, as he bent the block to Liverpool and the Luftwaffe. Drove a supply truck with stripped out brakes, arriving on Normandy Beach 6/7/44. (‘A job only a nigger would be given,’ recounted in sardonic retrospect.)

In his ‘service uniform’ he returned in ’45 in time to meet his mother strolling from work up that fabled block of 4-story row houses her family had owned since Reconstruction. As always, she’d changed from her green and white char dress to her flowered street clothes and hose for the walk home. She ran to him, casting down her pocketbook


even her shopping bag

of soiled articles.

(from the poem “Block Elder” by Cheryl Clarke, 2011)

JAMES S. _POPSI_ CLARAKE - 04[1]unnamed[2]

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