South Side

Re-posted with the correct link now. To be honest. I’m geeking out a bit. I’ve wanted to set this poem to music since the moment I wrote it. It has taken me 7 years to have to time, energy, software and knowledge to make this and it may be the coolest thing I have ever done. Please comment! Let me know what you think!

South-Side

The days are hot and
the nights cold
and Heaven is a long way away.

I’ve seen the shackled masses.
I’ve peered into the forlorn eyes of government projects,
And through shattered glass
seen shattered dreams deferred.
Dreams can’t run syrupy sweet
if the streets are full of gunfire,
and I’ve seen churches perforated
— Riddled—
with the south side boys choir’s serenade of bullets.

Seething with the rhythms ofyouthful energy
And vying for freedom;
I’ve seen the streets pulse with
Blood red and crack fuelled indignation.
I’ve seen misdirected,
misused,
And poverty abused youth
find family in red bandanas
And Fight the Power with gunfire.

The devil finds work for idle hands and a tech nine fits easily into a backpack.
Rumble young man rumble. Ya Mama goes to work and ya daddy goes to jail. Rumble young man rumble.

Half the city,
half naked,
sweating
and laughing the rolling laughter of youth,
died of starvation
quietly in steel mill.
Mourning;
Warsaw marched north with Dublin
and Freetown was left behind,
praying for a return that will never come.
But the diamonds,
the blood stained powder diamonds,
breathed fire into its black lungs.

For a few dollars
or a few minutes in a dark alley
all your troubles would fade away.
trickling down into the hands of a neighbor’s son
selling to eat and fighting to live.

The devil finds work for idle hands and a kilo fits easily into a backpack.
Rumble young man rumble. Ya Mama goes to work and ya daddy goes to jail. Rumble young man rumble.

These hands. These hands that built a city. These hands that tended the land and beat the steel. These hands that raised and lifted a nation are wasted: lying fallow, sterile with salt sowed into their wounds. Raw and bloodied they beat in vain on the bullet proof “windows of opportunity.” Tear streaked hands—wet from comforting the invisible abrasions of oppression in the invisible children of the invisible ghetto—that are strong but too tired to lift themselves up. Dejected , they find their only solace in shaking the condemned hands of Ida B. Wells.

The Devil finds work for idle hands and a life fits easily into a backpack.
Tremble old hands tremble. Ya daughter goes to work and ya son goes to jail. Tremble old hands tremble.

The streets cry, alone at night, after the city shuts down. The trampled streets whimper to themselves: the only ears that hear them. In their silence lie volumes spoken loudly but never heard.

“Where is the voice of that so called down-trodden mass” they ask.
“It is calling, always calling to you. Stop. Listen. Hear Me! I’m dying” they answer.
then Silence

The devil finds work for the darkest hands and half a city fits easily into a backpack. Rumble south-side rumble. Ya sisters go to work and ya brothers go the jail. Rumble south-side rumble.

The days are hot and
the nights cold
and Heaven is a long way away.

Their Culture Is Capital

As my art and writing has expanded in recent months I’ve gotten really into recording my poetry and setting it music I created on acid pro.  This is my first attempt at it with original words and original music. Though, the chorus is written by Pete Singer from his song “Little Boxes” as song in this youtube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mJSSHu3ocA .

 

They complained about the cold with a rare Chicagoan honesty. When the wind hits their faces and seeps through every orifice and pore to settle slowly into their bones they are broad shouldered and husky folk poets. So proud to be clear eyed and laughing. So proud to live where the freight-handlers daughter used to live. They walk slowly down Michigan avenue as one as if the hawk forces their crowd comfort into ubiquity. The city of big shoulders. The Big City that thinks it’s a small town as all the girls sing

Little boxes on the hillside,

Little boxes made of ticky tacky,

Little boxes on the hillside,

Little boxes all the same.

They walk from Hancock to the Bean like the children of tortured writers conceived on benzodine trips whose parents told them not to do drugs after they filled their riddlen scripts. They step over the high homeless not recognizing that faraway look in their father’s eye’s because they may have been concieved in Vegas but daddy found God before they were born. They traded in riddlin for tea and found themselves unable to ask for a raise.  Being addicted to self-improvement means they have to exaggerate their flaws with cornucopias of neurosis and fat girls lose weight to come to terms with their arrogance.

The streets grin under their footsteps. You gave them your tired, weak and huddled masses yearning to be free and the streets melted them together. Michigan is asleep at 10 and by midnight it murmurs

There’s a green one and a pink one

And a blue one and a yellow one,

And they’re all made out of ticky tacky

And they all look just the same.

Past the Bean the steel and glass condos ooze the stench of potential ripening into through desperation and bar crawls until you wake up, hungover in parenthood. Young college students whitewash the mandarin they don’t understand with sheer bravado as the New Negroes wait for the train to get past Garfield where their city begins. The temporal anomaly that forces the races to avoid sitting next to each other rights itself after the loud mouth Uchicago students step off onto the platform humming:

And the people in the houses

All went to the university,

Where they were put in boxes

And they came out all the same,

And there’s doctors and lawyers,

And business executives,

And they’re all made out of ticky tacky

And they all look just the same.

The Southsiders lounge in the box cars like coal miners coming home from work. Like those coal miners they take cold showers to wash off the soot and cool themselves down in their tenements without central air. Yet after the showers they are still brown and black as the night and so they rub their paychecks on their skin hoping they change color. They pelt their children with cell phones and nike’s hoping that they bruise white enough to go to college.

And they all play on the golf course

And drink their martinis dry

And they all have pretty children

And the children go to school

And the children go to summer camp

And then to the university

Where they are put in boxes

And they come out all the same

After the train stops the city continues for miles. Bottles of broken dreams litter every street even as the smoke from crack in Englewood becomes the exhausts from Cadillacs in Beverly. This is the New Nation that the newspapers call Chiraq but from Hyde Park to Chatham former Irishmen sell suits to formers slaves. These former slaves, blind from malnutrition, sing work songs in their food desserts infused with the new culture of capital.

And the boys go into business

And marry and raise a family

In boxes made of ticky tacky

And they all look just the same

There’s a pink one and a green one

And a blue one and a yellow one

And they’re all made out of ticky tacky

And they all look just the same

Strip

Objectified

Strip away the paint and the decorations and a house is a just a shelter.

A physical space for us to be protected from the elements.

Pieces of wood and steel and brick that allow us to live our lives.

That is the purpose it serves and it can only be judged by how well it serves that purpose.

 

You remember the first time they asked you to strip. They didn’t know what they were asking but your mother had taught you well. Your slave like hands slowly began to undo the braids on your head. You undid your history with each row you took out; rows of fertile hair where your identity grew unraveled.  You reached your ash black hands towards your mouth and stripped away your mother tongue. You used your degree to strip the pigment from your skin and hoped that it bruised white. The act of bleaching stung at first but you would get used to the feeling; you would tell your son that it’s what it feels like to successful. You knew what purpose you needed to serve and you had learned to serve it well.

 

Strip away the paint and ornaments and a car is just a vehicle.

An instrument to carry us from one place to another.

Pieces of steel and leather and rubber that allow us to live our lives.

That is the purpose it serves and it can only be judged by how well it serves that purpose.

 

You remember the first time you asked her to strip for you. Neither of you knew what you were asking but you did it anyway. She stripped herself of her ideas first, letting them fall seductively to the floor. She removed all but her base desires slowly, concealing enough of her wants to be mysterious.  Her delicate, child-like fingers unlaced the rope that held her self-esteem together just like her mother taught her. Her movements were easy and provocative but unnatural.  She stood in front of you, naked, left with only her tentative will to clothe her, ready to shrug it off if you asked. On the surface it felt right and you repressed the part of you that knew it was wrong. The act of repression stung at first like shaving the skin off your soul so that it could harden when it heals. Soon you would get used to that feeling; you would tell your son that it’s what it feels like to be a man. Her eyes ask you if she served her purpose well and you are unsure how to answer.

 

Strip away the flavor and the spices and food is just energy.

An organic fuel to give us sustenance.

Pieces of the vegetables and animals and minerals that allow us to live our lives.

That is the purpose it serves and it can only be judged by how well it serves that purpose.

 

You remember the first time she asked you to strip for her. She didn’t know how much it would hurt. You pulled back the emotional curtain as she sat across from you. She watched in silence as you used the knife to strip off the mask, the temporary fix that, over the years, had been permanent. You ignored the bleeding and locked eyes with her, studying her reaction. She didn’t realize it hurt until you started crying. She rushed over to tell you that you could stop but you kept carving. Once the mask was off and the tears had washed away the blood she said you were beautiful. The act of accepting her love stung at first like your pulling off the scabs of your scarred soul. Soon you would get used to feeling, you would tell your son that this is what is should feel like to be a man. You ask her if you served your purpose well and she answers:

 

Strip away the clothes and the history and a person is not just an animal.

We are more than the gold and cotton and paint that covers our flesh.

More than what others force us to pretend to be.

Our purpose is to not to serve and so we cannot be judged by how well we do.

 

Their Culture Is Capitialism

They complained about the cold with a rare Chicagoan honesty. When the wind hits their faces and seeps through every orifice and pore to settle slowly into their bones they are broad shouldered and husky folk poets. So proud to be clear eyed and laughing. So proud to live where the freight-handlers daughter used to live. They walk slowly down Michigan avenue as one as if the hawk forces their crowd comfort into ubiquity. The city of big shoulders. The Big City that thinks it’s a small town as all the girls sing

Little boxes on the hillside,

Little boxes made of ticky tacky,

Little boxes on the hillside,

Little boxes all the same.

They walk from Hancock to the Bean like the children of tortured writers conceived on benzodine trips whose parents told them not to do drugs after they filled their riddlen scripts. They step over the high homeless not recognizing that faraway look in their father’s eye’s because they may have been concieved in Vegas but daddy found God before they were born. They traded in riddlin for tea and found themselves unable to ask for a raise.  Being addicted to self-improvement means they have to exaggerate their flaws with cornucopias of neurosis and fat girls lose weight to come to terms with their arrogance.

The streets grin under their footsteps. You gave them your tired, weak and huddled masses yearning to be free and the streets melted them together. Michigan is asleep at 10 and by midnight it murmurs

There’s a green one and a pink one

And a blue one and a yellow one,

And they’re all made out of ticky tacky

And they all look just the same.

Past the Bean the steel and glass condos ooze the stench of potential ripening into through desperation and bar crawls until you wake up, hungover in parenthood. Young college students whitewash the mandarin they don’t understand with sheer bravado as the New Negroes wait for the train to get past Garfield where their city begins. The temporal anomaly that forces the races to avoid sitting next to each other rights itself after the loud mouth Uchicago students step off onto the platform humming:

And the people in the houses

All went to the university,

Where they were put in boxes

And they came out all the same,

And there’s doctors and lawyers,

And business executives,

And they’re all made out of ticky tacky

And they all look just the same.

The Southsiders lounge in the box cars like coal miners coming home from work. Like those coal miners they take cold showers to wash off the soot and cool themselves down in their tenements without central air. Yet after the showers they are still brown and black as the night and so they rub their paychecks on their skin hoping they change color. They pelt their children with cell phones and nike’s hoping that they bruise white enough to go to college.

And they all play on the golf course

And drink their martinis dry

And they all have pretty children

And the children go to school

And the children go to summer camp

And then to the university

Where they are put in boxes

And they come out all the same

After the train stops the city continues for miles. Bottles of broken dreams litter every street even as the smoke from crack in Englewood becomes the exhausts from Cadillacs in Beverly. This is the New Nation that the newspapers call Chiraq but from Hyde Park to Chatham former Irishmen sell suits to formers slaves. These former slaves, blind from malnutrition, sing work songs in their food desserts infused with the new culture of capital.

And the boys go into business

And marry and raise a family

In boxes made of ticky tacky

And they all look just the same

There’s a pink one and a green one

And a blue one and a yellow one

And they’re all made out of ticky tacky

And they all look just the same

One Man’s Terrorist

Revolution?

Revolution just rolls of the tongue

Fills the mouth with power

Revolution

Revolution is a black fist

Launched into the air

Green  and Red and Black

Bodies marching

Guns, and machetes or bombs

Violence

Flags wavering at dusk

Smoke rising symbolically

And war

Revolution just rolls of the tongue

So easily said

Revolutions are bombings

PLO

No surrender

any means necessary

Shooting

massacres

Killing fields

And assassination

But Revolution just rolls of your tongue

Filling your mouth with power

Revolution

Is death

Dying

Murder

Slaughter

Genocide

Rapping

Killings

Child Soldiers

Terrorism

And war

So easily said

Revolutions

Are farms burnings

Blood in the streets

Screams

Blown up babies

Villages of dead bodies

Revolutions

Are bloody

Animalistic

Struggles

For freedom

For justice

Or Hate

Revolutions last for years

The effects are prolonged through our children

Through our dead

Through our blood

Revolutions are liberation struggles

Now you call yourself a revolutionary?

I will not be marching with you

I will not be protesting the white house

I will be blowing it up

I do not vote

I assassinate

I do not go out on hunger strikes

I burn farms

I don’t sing songs

I drown out the voices with gun fire

There is no truce in this war

Only victory

No peace talks

Only Eulogies

So, when you ask if I’m ready for the revolution

I have my guns, and bombs and my machetes out back

Ready for war

Don’t step to me with petitions

Or letters to my congress man

The revolution has no paper work

And revolutionaries don’t have time

So, you waiting for the revolution?

Marching for a cause?

Have fun being non-violent kid

Cuz ,I’m the one with the fuckin’ gun.

My Pain is Lonely

My pain is lonely

And I see her burning.

Some times at night

I breathe hell-fire.

I suck in my pain

Letting tear drops of gasoline

Ignite in my throat

And exhale to burn the world.

My sadness is personified

In a solemn eyed pyro

Who burns her soul

To excape the cold at night;

Burns her mind to ashes

Every night when the dreams come

Sings the sorrow songs of burning desire

Notes warming her heart until it burns,

And feeds on her ashes.

She is a phoenix

Destined to be reborn

Over and over again

Writing poems

With the burnt hands

That are shackled

to her fate.

A wordsmith

Just to stop the pain

Blue Eyes

A picture is worth a thousand words

So I’ll use a thousand words to paint you a picture

500 words to open your eyes

499 to keep them open

And one to make you move

And since the world as been polluted with words

I’ll make these biodegradable

Organic symbols seared into your mind

And use a few of my recycled phrases

So you can free associated their history

So, Let me set the stage

This is my first picture for you.

Imagine blue words

Soft, subtle connotations

And deep green definitions

And let them surf through your

Mental images

With high-definition

Vernacular

Make these words vivid in your mind

Let them seep into eyes

Permeating your pupils

Like pixels in the camera of your

Soul

Let these words suck you in

Let it take you back

Let the light open your eyes

In the background of this painting

Is your typical middle of America

Suburban Classroom.

All the tables except one are neat

And well organized

The sparkle pens

And GI Joe lunch boxes

That sit on the polished off-white desks

Are all arranged with military precision

Outside the window

You see a roughly

Assembled gang of smiling white faces,

Their clothes disheveled from the first

20 minutes of recess,

rough housing while playing

smear the queer

the same games their fathers played

With the same names they didn’t notice

And they’re smiling the smile of happy childhoods

And happy families

Inside the classroom

Among the pictures of presidents

A picture of an immigrant

Family amazed by the sight

Of the Statue of Liberty

And the standard

Inaccurate paintings of

Columbus “Discovering America”

And the First “Thanksgiving”

You see a beautiful young girl

With her long hair pressed and permmed

Like raponsel, or Cinderella

A beautiful young girl with her pink Hannah Montana shirt

Sparkling jeans

And a white sweater in june to cover her arms

She’s sitting and drawing a picture of her family

Mommy, Daddy, Dawn and her.

She’s the only one in her family with blonde hair

She is a beautiful girl

She is a black girl whose eyes weren’t quite blue enough.

A mahogany child whose eyes weren’t quite blue enough for recess

Not quite blue enough for friends

Jasmine’s were not quite blue enough to smile

Because Wendy doesn’t have black gums

And even though this painting is a vivid one

Even though the colors are vibrant and real

Even though she stands out in sharp contrast

Of the stark and sterile room

Devoid of truth and color

In five minutes she is going to

Go to the bathroom again

And wash her face to rub off the colors

The million beautiful shades of brown

That seems to choke her

And chain her to her desk

Day after day after day

She sits inside to keep her skin light

She sits inside so she can draw her fantasies

She sits inside to color her eyes blue

Unapologetically Black

I am Black

And So I am political

I am a man

I am poet

I am a son

A student

A Friend

But am Black

And so I am political

You see,

My isolation informs my identity politics

I am a poet first

And a negro last

But when were studying Black history

I’m the only nigger in the class

I am Black

And So I am political

Alone in wasp’s nest

Being stung by you ignorance

I’m fighting for my identity

So I became unapologetically Black

In your face political

Standing, like a lone warrior

At night

In front of the white house

With a black bandana on

Shouting at your president

And ready war

I am Black and alone

And therefore maverick political

I am revolutionarily Black

Sitting in the back of your classrooms

Planning your destruction on the mid-term

Top of the class political

A average political

Dean’s list political

I am award winning political.

I once told a teacher

There is no black history

There is American History

And that I don’t need a month

I need a text book that goes past

Martin Luther King

Because a lot Black folk got dreams

Deferred

Or shouted

But not heard.

See My American Dreams

Isn’t about little white girls

And little black girls

It’s about a Black man

Alone in this classroom

Being treated like a charity case

“Oh come look our nigger”

“Or, your not like the other black people”

I am not Cake walking political

I am no affirmative action political

I am here, because I’m better than you

I don’t get handed A’s

I take them.

My GPA is not welfare

It’s the fruit of my labor

I grew it on my own lands

And you better believe I’m the one that’s goin’ eat it.

And have it too

And you know what?

I’m playing the race card because

It’s the only card I got

You’re forcing me to play poker

But said there’s no cards for being a poet

There’re no cards for students

No cards for revolutionaries

No other cards for me

So I got a full house now

200 hundred years of slavery

And 3 cousins in jail.

So if all you can see is a black man

Than I’ll make sure it’s a black man with a black fist

And a ten point plan

I’ll make sure I have barrette on

My Malcolm X shirt

And the darkest skin you’ve ever seen

And if I’m so well spoken

I’ll be out side you building with a bull horn

I’ll walk into the class room with a microphone

Recited poetry to your soul

Just so you can hear this

I am Black

So trying to make you political

Bitter-Sweet Dreams of Harlem

I. Blue Eyed Sky

 

I’ve felt my world die

And I’ve seen the world resurrected

Reborn and rehashed

dumb, vibrant and laughing

Unaware of its insecurity

And insecure of its awareness

 

I’ve felt angel-headed hipsters

Breathe fire into my words

And felt betrayed

As their children stalked Harlem

Howling through my Negro city

Gentrifying for an artistic fix

 

I’ve seen beautiful blue-eyed radicals

Trying to Contemplate Black Mecca

And waiting for the moon

College educated contraband;

Hob knobbing with the hobos

As if they Jazz June

 

Now I see

Gorgeous Green eyed gentry

Thrift store jeans,

Imposed poverty facades,

And white-washed technicolor dreams

Of Harlem.

 

And I’ve watched their

Unsatisfying, subversive

Yet seductive

Imitations of

Lenox Avenue

Leave me breathless

Addicted to literary white girls

Reading Malcolm

With no justification for belief

 

And,

Feigning for subculture,

And subtext filled dreams

Lusting for open minded intercourse

With unprotected themes

I find my self destroyed by madness

starving,

hysterical,

naked

Black like the night is Black

Quixotically striking striaght

and singing sin

II. Black Mecca

 

In my dreams there was Jazz.

Jive talking Harlemites

In Zoot-suites with trumpets blaring

Be-bop for beaten souls

Scat, erratic organic rhythms

Black folk

Danced at rent parties

With free flowing chaotic beats

 

And,

In bustling, black Manhattan;

The legacy of Langston Hughes;

Laureate of Harlem,

And of Black, Literary Visionaries

Sat composing Odes

To Black Mecca

Subtle songs for ebony bodies

And roll calls for shackled minds

 

III. Miscegenation

 

 

Harlem was poetry in tenements

And the unbound expressions

Of my self-defined existence

Harlem was never a place

It is my state of mind

 

And so,

I’m Alone in my counter-culture

Black Bereted,

With hallowed eyes,

Sitting on south side street corners,

Smoking Africa laced dreams

Contemplating Black Mecca

And Waiting for the sun to rise

 

Dejected by my infidelity

And shouting to a starry eyed Dynamo

In that waning blue eyed sky

I’m Asking:

 

Where are my kindred souls?

Black skinned and hallowed eyed

Contemplating Black Mecca

Waiting for sons to rise.

 

sorrow tinted Words

I see in blue words

Soft, subtle connotations

And deep green definitions

Surfing through my mental images

With high-definition

Vernacular

 

I revel

In digital projections

Of a fragile mind

In red Helvetica

And purple times

Making the world

My canvass of words

 

I weave yellow dialect

Into the darkness

To brighten my world

Tying together forever

And today

In a golden eternity of now

 

I fire verbal bullets—

White hot steel terms—

At my enemies

And fight the power

With radical language

And call it revolutionary warfare

 

I love in moonlight words

Nighttime sonatas of language

And starry-eyed expressions

Of silvery days to come

 

I guess it is only fitting then,

That I when I cry—

Deep pools of cold syllables

Dripping slowly from my eyes—

I feel frozen,

and speechless;

blind for lack of color

and Dying for lack of words