Monet’s Waterlilies

Today as the news from Selma and Saigon
poisons the air like fallout,
I come again to see
the serene, great picture that I love.

Here space and time exist in light
the eye like the eye of faith believes.
The seen, the known
dissolve in iridescence, become
illusive flesh of light
that was not, was, forever is.

O light beheld as through refracting tears.
Here is the aura of that world
each of us has lost.
Here is the shadow of its joy

–by Robert Hayden
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Dedication

i wrote a lil diddy

dedicated to daddy’s nickname

that i got tattooed 

when i was 22

it went like this: i am to soar, evermore, like the eagle above the clouds do 

then i wrapped my skin in wings so i’d always feel free, got a job and two degrees to support a writing habit, see

A Conversation with Cops and Youth in Brooklyn’s District 17

The atmosphere in the noisy, packed gymnasium was hesitant at best. The predominantly African American students sat in small groups with one or two officers in full uniform among them. “Officers! Don’t sit beside one another,” said long-time Community Board Chairperson Patricia Reddock as she scolded the crowd, earning a wave of laughter from all. The officers, now slightly embarrassed, move to disperse themselves among the adolescents. They all look expectantly to Reddock as the talks are set to begin.

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The Community Board District 17 Youth Committee’s 2nd Annual “Rap With Cops” event in Brooklyn, headed by Reddock, was held at the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club on May 9. In attendance were roughly 70 teenagers from ages 13 through 19 and about 14 officers from the 67 Precinct of different backgrounds, genders and races. The goal of the event was to encourage youngsters to ask their own questions of the police without parents or teachers inhibiting the conversation.

They start introductions to break the ice and then slowly move onto role playing both ways. The cops are asked about everything from why shootings of young Black men always occur in this country to who would win in a one-on-one game between the precinct and the school basketball team.

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PO Raul Flores and student listening intently at the group discussions on policing and gun violence.

With the controversial police shooting two months ago of Saheed Vassell in Crown Heights, the neighboring district on the corner of Utica Avenue and Montgomery Street, police response and shootings are at the forefront. District 17 comprises of 88.3 percent Black residents and 21.7 percent of residents under the age of 18 according to the American Community Survey from 2011 to 2015. The East Flatbush and Flatbush areas are made up of these girls and boys that don’t always have a voice. The community board aims to humanize not only the cops in their neighborhoods that they rely on to the adolescents, but the kids to the cops as well.

Joan Bakiriddin on the youth committee said, “Look how much they’ve brought the chairs together. How they lean in listening to each other. This is our second year with the kids and they remembered and came back.”

Once everyone gets comfortable enough the staff and facilitators sit off to the side to observe the cops and teens huddled into tight circles smiling, listening, paying attention, laughing. Even the disinterested participant has a chance to speak. After about an hour the groups stand to present what they’ve learned from one another. “Split seconds can bring out the worst in people,” said one teen as he held the microphone and attention of his peers. The teens talk about the uncomfortable topics and role playing so they could get into the headspace of what it takes to be a cop.

“We’re nervous too,” said P.O Maher, explaining how it feels to routinely investigate dangerous situations. He said with the constant supervision and body cams no one wants to make a mistake or be penalized for someone else’s mistake in another state.

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The second annual “Rap With Cops” event was held in the gym of the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club in Brooklyn, NY.

Sgt. Bruno Pierre told his group about the instance where he was being attacked with an individual with a machete where he had to use his firearm. He said he talks to his kids at home in the same way, and hopes they learn from his situations.

Teen coordinator at the Boys and Girls Club Johnson Burrows said, “There should be more of these events. Sometimes you got to let people figure it out for themselves. Out in the streets, I’m not there to facilitate between the cops and teens. This way there’s an understanding.”

Reddock gingerly walks around to each group as some erupt in laughter or remain engaged as the evening comes to a close. Afterwards a signed jersey by Brooklyn Net’s Caris LeVert and student certificates for participation are given out as everyone flocks to the provided food and refreshments. 

So I…

nana died. sometimes daddy isnt here. sometimes i sit so still that i kind of want to be invisible. except Mommy always sees me. so i smile.

im pretty sure no one person should watch this much Buffy in one sitting when my Mom comes in. she peers at my sunken form on the couch. been in relatively the same spot since graduation. i cant afford college though i got in places. i cant hop off to see the world, but i can turn on the tv. im not good enough. i cant leave and move forward. i cant go back to high school. i cant-

enough, she says. she picks up my blanket, muttering in Spanish that you are who you are and you are where you are. then she unceremoniously dumps me on the floor of my future. so i get a job.

we fight about me cutting my hair. we fight about schools. we fight about the dishes and cleaning the bathroom. so i go away.

Ma calls. she’s hurting. she’s busy with the little ones. she’s angry. she needs help. she misses me. so i go home.

my Mother pushes me to write. to create. to paint. to be better. so i get a masters.

sometimes when life’s too stressful and there’s deadlines and i cant finish anything and i shouldnt be a writer and i suck compared to everyone else and im tired–

she hugs me and smiles. so i smile.

 

 

 

when he stopped writing her

the letter always bled for her for her eyes (brown as those old bottles in the medicine cabinet) bleeding words like teardrops yet without spilling onto the green tile floor those words always pure only staining the paper glossy black ink blood like muslin stuck to an old wound those words always strong yet blurred, obscure words only a scholar would find obscene

happy are those who die because they have returned to those first crumbs of dirt that fed us to that first hole to that soft black and smell of coal

-Pablo Picasso

Homey Don’t Play

when I was a kid they still burned crosses on Stone Mountain you know

I am old

obsidian war-like headstones jutting out from the ground

old

stumped, roving, mad

mobocracy

there’s too many mysteries for answers

known unknowns that fill the cracks of conscious when we probably should be paying attention

but I’m over it

that shit will swirl in an endless cycle

pale faces speak,  brown preach, women woman all over the place

just provide me with pretty and silly thangs

I’ll cradle the corner and entertain the children

as the world burns

#NationalWalkoutDay At Brooklyn Tech High: Photo Story

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Brooklyn Technical High School

 

 

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BKTech student at the walkout has a 17 marking for the seventeen fallen at Parkland.

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Student bows head in solidarity for victims of shooting.

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Group of students pose for a 4×5 photographer at the rally against gun violence.

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Crowds gather in front of Brooklyn Borough Hall in protest of gun violence in schools.

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Crowds gather in front of Brooklyn Borough Hall in protest of gun violence in schools.

Brooklyn Tech students gather at Borough Hall in protest of gun violence in schools.

Crowds gather in front of Brooklyn Borough Hall in protest of gun violence in schools.

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Student holds sign in front of Brooklyn Borough Hall in protest of gun violence in schools.

Letter To The Police

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Photo By A. Long

Dear Sirs:
I have been enjoying the law and order of our
community throughout the past three months since
my wife and I, our two cats, and miscellaneous
photographs of the six grandchildren belonging to
our previous neighbors (with whom we were very
close) arrived in Saratoga Springs which is clearly
prospering under your custody
Indeed, until yesterday afternoon and despite my
vigilant casting about, I have been unable to discover
a single instance of reasons for public-spirited concern,
much less complaint
You may easily appreciate, then, how it is that
I write to your office, at this date, with utmost
regret for the lamentable circumstances that force
my hand
Speaking directly to the issue of the moment:
I have encountered a regular profusion of certain
unidentified roses, growing to no discernible purpose,
and according to no perceptible control, approximately
one quarter mile west of the Northway, on the southern
side
To be specific, there are practically thousands of
the aforementioned abiding in perpetual near riot
of wild behavior, indiscriminate coloring, and only
the Good Lord Himself can say what diverse soliciting
of promiscuous cross-fertilization
As I say, these roses, no matter what the apparent
background, training, tropistic tendencies, age,
or color, do not demonstrate the least inclination
toward categorization, specified allegiance, resolute
preference, consideration of the needs of others, or
any other minimal traits of decency
May I point out that I did not assiduously seek out
this colony, as it were, and that these certain
unidentified roses remain open to viewing even by
children, with or without suitable supervision
(My wife asks me to append a note as regards the
seasonal but nevertheless seriously licentious
phenomenon of honeysuckle under the moon that one may
apprehend at the corner of Nelson and Main
However, I have recommended that she undertake direct
correspondence with you, as regards this: yet
another civic disturbance in our midst)
I am confident that you will devise and pursue
appropriate legal response to the roses in question
If I may aid your efforts in this respect, please
do not hesitate to call me into consultation
Respectfully yours,
–June Jordan