Black boy, White Spaces: An Unfinished Poem

 

 

Aaron, Dad, Alexis

We did not create our Blackness. It was imposed upon us . But we accepted it, and made it beautiful and now we love it.

Why is it so hard for them to do the same?

 

There is a part of me,
underneath the indignation and the pride,
beneath the bluster and the argument,
under the fight and the grit and the rhetoric,
that worries that this is just
lunacy.

That I am standing in the darkness
A lonesome, solitary figure,
howling half baked conspiracies
to world of disinterested strangers
Like a hermit listing his litany indignation at the moon.
I stand in this depressed darkness,
Worrying that the illness I battled back for years,
The madness that used to bounce off the cavernous walls of my skull
The ineffable, nervous insanity,
is growing inside me,
constantly pushing back against the brick walls of apathy–
barriers built of traumatic tuned gut reactions —
constructed over the years to keep the recklessness at bay.

Any moment I feel that I might slip,
Unknowingly,
Uncontrollably,
Sweetly…
Into the succulent abyss of psychosis.

I dread the moment when dementia is inseparable from reality
while simultaneously yearning for its sweet ecstasy.
Yearning for the warm, nearly maternal comfort of diagnosis
because I have much other fears too.

Deeper,
Dimmer,
defused fears that grow in the unexamined emptiness of my subconscious
terrors that haunt the primordial recess at the core of my being:
the depths where emotions are felt in the body.

Fears that I’m afraid might shatter me if I examined them in the light.

There,
unfathomably submerged,
unarticulated, and unsated,
I am paralyzed by the fear that I’m not crazy.
That it’s the world that is psychotic.
That it’s the world that is nearly nonsensical,
fueled by a cruel and only occasionally perceptible illogic
composed of massive structural mysteries beyond my comprehension.

I fear that my traumatic recoil is the safest reaction.

I fear that truly engaging in or with the world would burn away my soul
Leaving me the hallow shell of another Black boy torn asunder,
Burned by the unbearable Whiteness of it all.

There is a part of me that hopes,
beyond my hopes for peace and revolution,
beyond my dreams for family and love,
beyond needs for water and food-
a primal screaming visceral, ineffable, unsatisfied part of me-
wishes that I’m overreacting.

That the Whiteness is non malignant.
That these stares, and statements and statues are isolated coincidences
brought together by the misanthropic meanderings of an overly defensive mind.
That I’m overly sensitive to it all.
That 36 million Black bodies do not riel in this torture chamber called America
where Micro aggressions drip daily,
without rhythm or consistently discernible logic
onto our blood soaked foreheads

slowly

drip by drip

driving all of us,
collectively
stark raving mad.
I pray to every god I’ve ever known, every night that everyone of us is not shucking and jiving on the razor thin edge of white racial sensibilities hoping that enough of our culture drips from their lips as they consume us to be able to feed our children.

What God could have created a scale capable of weighing this much injustice?
What Divine metals could withstand the sheer tonnage of my oppression?

It is impossible.
I must be crazy.
I must have overacted.
I must apologize.

I must make amends
dance on the tip of their fragility
pretending that I like the music;
that the room is not built of bones of former slaves
thrown,
in chains,
into the ocean for insurrection.

Pretend that what I’m hearing is really music
not a cacophony of beigeness
whispering
nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger
so melodically that I think its my name…

Strip

This latest poem is less a poem and more a audio art experience? The Poem is called strip or remover of difficulties or the things they ask you to strip away. It’s new, its different, it complex. Listen to it twice and let me know what you think!

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 when to know. 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 the taste of mother’s cooking. 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 she did it anyway. She stripped herself of her ideas first, letting them fall seductively to the floor. She removed her desires slowly, concealing enough of her wants to be mysterious. Her delicate and 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. You wouldn’t learn to ask until college though. 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 scrabs 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.
Pieces of the earth we use to enhance our beauty.
Our purpose is not to serve and so we cannot be judged by how well we do.

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.