The True Import of Present Dialogue: Black vs. Negro (For Peppe, Who Will Ultimately Judge Us For Our Efforts)

Nigger
Can you kill
Can you kill
Can a nigger kill
Can a nigger kill a honkie
Can a nigger kill the Man
Can you kill nigger
Huh? nigger can you
kill
Do you know how to draw blood
Can you poison
Can you stab-a-Jew
Can you kill huh? nigger
Can you kill
Can you run a protestant down with your
’68 El Dorado
(that’s all they’re good for anyway)
Can you kill
Can you piss on a blond head
Can you cut it off
Can you kill
A nigger can die
We ain’t got to prove we can die
We got to prove we can kill
They sent us to kill
Japan and Africa
We policed europe
Can you kill
Can you kill a white man
Can you kill the nigger
in you
Can you make your nigger mind
die
Can you kill your nigger mind
And free your black hands to
strangle
Can you kill
Can a nigger kill
Can you shoot straight and
Fire for good measure
Can you splatter their brains in the street
Can you kill them
Can you lure them to bed to kill them
We kill in Viet Nam
for them
We kill for UN & NATO & SEATO & US
And everywhere for all alphabet but
BLACK
Can we learn to kill WHITE for BLACK
Learn to kill niggers
Learn to be Black men

–Nikki Giovanni

Plaster, Wood, Bricks

Plaster, wood, and bricks.

If I could speak. The things I’d say.

I’d let it all hang out in ways that she’d hate.

My body, poked and prodded with posters and pictures. I see her in a scarlet depression, smoldering. Curled into herself as she constantly slams my doors and cuts the lights. Thank God the eggshell paint absorbs some of the tension. I swear the heavy, sickening thickness in her bated breaths makes me tremble. Is it pain there behind her eyes as she sleeps, tossing in between bed squeaks? It can’t be just that.

This morning she rose gravely, perpendicular to the mattress like a fresh zombie from a grave. Something happened out of the ordinary. Before the un-swaddling of the covers, mussing of the flattened curls, smacking of sleep intoxicated lips and eye lids. There was a smile there amid the sunken sadness. A smile. Then she looked up. Before the morning music or shower, she looked up, past me, as if to thank someone. Brief and silently lingering was that look. Then the balls of her feet gripped the linoleum and she was off.

Sometimes I want to beg her to stay here in the dimness with the five of us. It’s safe, safer than where she disappears to anyways. Her scent is all over the place, and we’ve known so many over the years, but I think we like her. Another smile, and then another, in the mornings, sometimes in the day, and even in the night. Something’s changed. It must have.

Look.

Rarely any shallow sobbing into the silken pillow. Surreptitiously, we surrender our services to her. Soak in her off-collar looks, call in the breeze at night, and gently whisper in her ear as she drifts from the conscious world into the next.

Trust

Trust me

like Pharaohs calling to rain clouds in a drought

Boundless grains of salt parch the Earth

I watch the skies open mouth

Trust me

as sure as death is to sing swiftly to cold bodies

Let’s make ours warmer

fill the space in the universe that propels us closer

The truth without trust

are only falsities lying in remission

repeating omissions

waiting for lies to come to fruition

Trust be nimble

& I’ll be Jack jumping back to the candle stack

that first lit these rhymes for you

Just trust

the way infants knowingly cling to their mothers

small fists of utter dependence

We sway with an unparalleled rhythm

and the pyramid kings have all gone home

I now call you to stand at your throne

I trust you to answer with that

regal swagger I know you have

This is me at my best

throwing down dented armor and all other guises

I trust you to tell me the truth

or do you not know what your disguise is?

Tucked in, patiently pacifying your disgust

I peer into your eyes sometimes

and only see what could’ve been