Konch Magazine - Seven Poems by Paul R. Harding

Paul r. Harding

Konch Magazine, poetry submission May 2014

Poem titles:


Evening Gown

Fellini Sees


Cared To

They Tried to Kill Me Yesterday

Johnny Hodges


Books of poetry include Excerpts of Lamentation & Evidence of Starlite (Aurius Un., 1993) and Hot Mustard & Lay Me Down (En Theos Press, 2003). Poems published in Transition, Coon Bidness, Berkeley Poetry ReviewRaven ChroniclesEarshot Jazz. Manuscripts of early poetry housed in both the Gwendolyn Brooks Papers at the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, and the Derek Walcott Collection at the Alma Jordan Library, University of West Indies. Awarded Philip Whalen Memorial Grant and Edith K. Draham Scholarship for Fiction. Performed ‘Spoken Music’ alongside legendary musicians Charles Gayle, Gary Bartz, Ravi Coltrane, Michael Bisio, Burnt Sugar Arkestra Chamber, and other renowned musicians. Founded Children’s University as Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle Education Director in 2002, and served as Earshot Board of Directors President 2008-2009. Currently teaches for the Liberty LEADS program at Bank Street College of Education, and resides in Bronx, New York.





a hard thing when you want the thing to be right.

babycrawl down the hallway, tune in

natural scale,  re-invent mouth, river all

mountain all over again. creak

backporch rocking chair- a hard thing.


sydney bechet grew up and fell in love.

a hard thing when it feels that good you


the bassline.


a big beautiful thing when it’s 5 am


picking cotton down the row at 7

but you don’t bent over back what time

it is toning coleman hawkins’ mind.



hard thing right down the middle

a hard thing when you are thinking about

love about how hard God swung. a

hard thing in Son House’s stomp. hard

to hold the whole note long as patiently

while mama by the window ate

green grapes



hard to fit in watching her spit the pits

poems making sound worth every mistake

every moving cell imperfectly waiting

in such a clarinet you know when

jimmy hamilton meets eric dolphy- a

hard way to stop and care long enough

for rhythm to make it to the next

underground station railroad

reginald workman




Evening Gown


zipped up the silverfish back

a forlorn mood playing ping-

pong with the moon and mars

you patiently waited along

with the brittle stars

long ago


down the stairs of all my hope stepped

something soulful lyrical, aside

from dark satin provoked

if i think about your face

sapphire necklace pin around

your nocturnal nervous glow

ready as the milky way enter

anxious for the hour late to

the ball, suspense as ironic

any western ceremonial, pre-

cious gems and silk decorum

to be announced, entitled, acclaimed,

crowned power some-

thing black aside from africa

behind tophat and tails

if i think about their grandfathers

human cargo orchestra

the ballroom floor across

in bluenote love songs wore,

embraced dancing slower

than slowly, not meant to be

so long


all the way into the far cry of

wound playing russian roulette

with venus and the moon

something soulful, lyrically took

stairsteps of hope down

            -asked you to wait for me at the coat-check room

stood outside just checkin’ out the brittle stars

you were all nocturne in

iridescent evening gown.

Fellini Sees


never dreamed past 

ceased following 

before the silence 

realities film emoted 

heaven blacked and white-d 




endlessly sighted 

borderless as ocean 

of hell if he knew 


Butterfly McQueen 

through genius notion. 






birds eat garden seeds

nana safe gray country eyes

kitchen sink tolerant potholders

open hot oven door around

to one side impulse

saxophone back alley voice

with Bessie the dog.


nana safe where no one bothers

jump game pavement painted circles

cantaloupe sliced jiggles mandarin

apple two bananas in a bowl

nana hummed from the Hit Parade

mastered spoon flour yeast eggs

black birds ignored the white rags


around and around impulse

stirring ‘til firm temperament

fatback b-flat down the alley

other side of the kitchen table

cadence peeling nana played;

safe old roots family faith

pulse rather than rule.


bessie behind the beat found

still beating amazing dark eyes

levee work hands marry cameo

skin before sea-gray humming 

elbows kneaded dough. little anthony &

the imperials sang “Goin’ Outta My Head”

on the kitchen radio.




Cared To


too boring to

apathetic ally aware

totter wittier care

moral clause contract

integration soda

fountains schools

public accommodations

painfully withstand

adoringly care; sub-

liminal truest violence

cultural mores lauds

sound directors reap

special effects 3-d lore

even republic pictures

boris karloff door creaks

Have Gun Will Travel

bonanza the rifleman

paradoxical plays moral

potboiler electronic burner

computer deleted sorrow

dumas eyebrow page turner

were bread and apples

lover letter hours.



Tried To Kill Me Yesterday


they tried to with cute TV  

commercial kids in big bright 

yellow kitchens not unlike they  

Gone With The Wind(ed) me.  

from black Friday devil food’s 

caked me. more than one Alamo 

movie tried to kill us while 

Mr. Clean made history spotless. 


disney storyboarded Song of the 

South me after thurgood of The 

Supreme, jackie of The Dodgers 

tried to kill the paul robeson in me.  


nat king cole could not find a sponsor 

to save my show. they 

tried to kill me. 


tried to kill me yesterday. 

they tried to robert smalls out of me. 

they tried to ida b. wells out of  me. 

they even tried to tell me they understood 

how I felt after they sold my mother- after 

took the drum and the book away to destroy 

me- industrialize black hat villain im- 

perialize, blackmail me. they 


tried to kill my ancestors with 

blackface and the king of swing. 

tried to jim crow, atom bomb, 

and poppy seed me. they 



tried to kill me with conked hair 

and sharecropping interest rates. 

they tried to kill me yesterday 

they tried to kill me yesterday 

they tried to kill us with 


opportunities in traditional urban 

league naacp poverty pimp agencies 

and if the penal system failed to ex- 

terminate me then supersonic military 

boot camps will train me to kill my 

brother and sister and self. yes, 



tried to sterilize my senses right under 

our noses. steroids and preservatives 

rush me like a microwave dinner 

in urban renewal reservations.  


tried to kill me yesterday in  

whirlwind uncanny slam dunks 

in slave name autographed. they 

tried to firestone rubber tree 

plantation me. ultimately  

they dow jones shares 

saturate me. they 

tried to 


kill me yesterday 

kill and before any  

approaching army 

or drones strike  

stealth sped lies 

rice fields villages burned 

in a mother’s cry 

Libya Florida Yemen children die 

yesterday and tomorrow they 3D 

genocide everyday me. anyway  

they can me in 

commodities of suicide 

thrill and distract 

profit from genocide

me. they- oh 

they tried to kill me 

they tried to kill me 

they tried to kill me yesterday.



Johnny Hodges


personal sound,

long repetitive edges

flatted perfectly round

egg yolk clean

future bird human

key high


clusters shining pour

off rhythm’s romantic little

rabbithole riff fingerings

soul shift work

hands hold too close

too honest not to hurt


less words than worlds

console alto deeply bends

tomorrow sunnyside

saxophone surly penny

colored rabbit-eared steps

up to the microphone

golden vertical personal

beautiful influential tone.