Poetry Blog by J. Otis Powell‽ (with interrobang) (2014)

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keith jeffries on Beyond It's Disease (Fri, 18 Aug 2017 09:02 pm)

J. Otis Powell! on Music Formerly Known As Jazz (Wed, 26 Jul 2017 01:23 pm)

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Cynthia Buell Thomas on Esoteric (for #sayhername) (Wed, 9 Nov 2016 12:41 pm)

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GeeProcessor on Double Dark (Thu, 4 Feb 2016 03:43 am)

The Last Thunderstorm / photo credit: Bill Cottman

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Splintered roots covered with rich black soil. Trees were unearthed and laid exposed to every passing eye. Ripped to shreds by lighting strikes. Trees egos and automobiles beat down by winds violent as fire. Traumatized beyond redemption and brought to a drastic epiphany. That is what summer storms are for. Just when we actually start to believe we have appropriated nature she reminds us who our m...

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Once You See Light

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photo credit: Bill Cottman Once You See Light by J. Otis Powell?! In response to Of What Use Is Poetry? by Amiri Baraka The question is meant to probe into how we carry weight through life, how we work through thickness talk through touching. I see what I see because of a prescription in my eyes. You see what you see separate and esoteric. Poetry is how eyes meet. Rhythm of hearts...

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from How Deep is the Sky

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photo credit: Bill Cottman So I have a riddle for you: Why is the sky blue? Now of course you can just keep reading and the answer will be given to you in a few lines or you can pause here and imagine an answer that allows you to contemplate an original possibility. One possible response is because the dominant color of the visible light spectrum is blue. At least that's a simple answer, th...

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excerpt from Ever Ready

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I was born expecting revolution and every day it did not come I was disappointed. What I did not understand came to me in a revelation of sorts; we live in perpetual revolution. I was waiting for it ignoring its ever presence. Revolution like evolution is 365 degrees of subtle adjustments, shifting paradigms. - From Bottomless Sky - Ever ready for revolution never ready to be enslaved. Wh...

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Holy Ghosts Dance

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Holy Ghost Dance

Ivory bones at the bottom of the Atlantic  

Ghosts dance to water music nobody composed

Dancing to holy tragedy




Bought and shipped

Our bodies are home

Connected to stories evergreen

Our bodies are home

Immortals dancing 

dancing to faint memories of

 Ohm boom bah boom

Lost languages and historic

Legacies detached ...

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Holy Ghosts Dance

Unexplained Bottomness / from Bottomless Sky

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Aquanetta often escaped to privet realities wrapping herself in psychosis, delusions of inferiority, vanity or ego depending on her mood, the weather or carelessly thrown dice. She uses music as white noise in moments when she has control and memories of songs when she does not. Variations on what is known as jazz and its bastard children are about all she got. Sometimes it is all she wants or nee...

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Vernal Equinox

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Vernal Equinox

Spring is official

We're in the part that hangs us up

The thawing what's been forgotten

Under snirt and ice for months

Secrets left for safe keeping

Are announcing winter's dark season

Like confessionals 

Transition or how hard spring can be

Reminds us of brutal beauty

Of life and death

Never considered separately

A tandem like

The War and Peac...

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Songs and Stories and Poems

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photo credit: e.g. bailey 

Songs and Stories and Poems

The Chronic Blues Band was in rare form

That night

 As they tended to be at The Blue Dawg 

When they had an open bar tab and

The room was filled with second hand Cannabis   

Smoke and electricity

Aquanetta had poems in her hand

And more on a music stand

Words flowed through her mind

Like a thawing river running


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Space Finding Time

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Space Finding Time

She dreamed a story

Of an amorphous

Wetness in the dark

That became a creative source

Of energy lunging

Into existence

She dreamed memories

Of origins and the genesis

Of perpetual motion

From a mysterious notion

Perhaps it was a feeling

A thought

All of a sudden there was desire

An urge


An aquatic muse

The ability to mov...

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Eleven (In Love With Beauty)

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photo credit: Bill Cottman


If I did not fall in love with beauty, wrote Amiri Baraka, I’d be cooler

Beauty took a vicious turn at a juncture of love and self-loathing

Media-made caricatures salt wounds of ancestors

Cannons that render us invisible still dominate history

If I had not fallen in love with autobiography I’d be cooler - stone cold

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 She said nothing but bent her knees plié-like begging my eyes

Her closed-mouth-smile firm – reaching, gesturing come

I reluctantly melted, surrendering my will for the moment

Loving her invitation more than my stubborn resistance

All afternoon it was come and she’d disappear, come – disappear

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When It Disappears

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photo credit: Bill Cottman

When It Disappears

I love music when it’s searching

When the sounds aren't sure

When one note connects   

Like family and new resolutions

Form through extempore solos

I love music when it’s copulating

When it’s out there on edge

When the Cats

Playing it are out there

Defying boundaries

Reaching for blue-green-lavender

Sound shapes


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Hamline UniversityNovawaiting for a spaceship

Forgetting Home (or how can I forget you if you won't go away)

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Photo credit: Kenn Thomas

Forgetting Home (or how can I forget you if you won't go away)  

Euphemisms white wash his-story

So truth disappears under vague denial

Southeast USA above Florida

Sharing a border with Pensacola

Where the past lives on 

In retrospective theme parks

The past is alive everywhere

Our world is full of museums

Memories gather into congregations


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AlabamaBombinghamColtraneJr.MLKSixteenth Street Baptist Church


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photo credit the Givens Foundation


After reading Is Always Be readers have asked if I knew Amiri Baraka. I indeed was a friend and associate of Baraka. I was introduced to his writing in undergraduate school in the early nineteen-seventies at a historically black university known as Alabama A & M University, not only in the classroom but in street performances of his poetry on campus....

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Amiri BarakaIs Always Be

Blues Jeans


"This earthly life is merely an embryonic prelude to a new awakening." Dr. MLK, Jr.

Blues Jeans

A shadow of disappointment

Settled around their earnest campaign

Like ominous clouds 

The debonair Martin who emerged

From his Gaston Hotel room

Dressed in a denim shirt over his dress shirt

And new blue(s) jeans folded at the cuff

Ready to march as a one-man campai...

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blue jean SundayBombinghamJr.MLKwhy we can't wait

Publishing Partnership

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photo credit George Roberts 

FY 2014 Grantees of the Minnesota State Arts Board Cultural Community Partnership Grant - Rain Taxi Review of Books, Minneapolis:

Rain Taxi and partner J. Otis Powell‽ will work together to publish a book of new literary work by Powell‽. A reading and discussion will be open to the public. Rain Taxi, a catalyst and cultivator of literary culture on the local as ...

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Eric LorbererJ. Otis Powell‽MSAB grantRain Taxi

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