To Anonymous…

The larger picture is this: Brooklyn is a bitch built on turmoil

blood, black and white, has steeped into its foundation

that’s the legacy we fight over 

and churn the butter to claim

when you from here

I will always do better 

but I giggle through your attempt at trying to tell me my history

my grandfather was a blockbuster

blacktaxed

he stood on our porch with a shotgun in hand 

as they scribbled nigger across his domain

it was as real as the bricks and mortar I reside in my mixed neighborhood

seeing as how that wasn’t the point though. let me stay on message

thanks for reading, for being a critic

for caring enough about the consequences of your words and mine to blot out your name so I can impartially give you these facts

shoutout to the first of firsts and to dissenters in the ranks

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The Lynching

His spirit is smoke ascended to high heaven.
His father, by the cruelest way of pain,
Had bidden him to his bosom once again;
The awful sin remained still unforgiven.
All night a bright and solitary star
(Perchance the one that ever guided him,
Yet gave him up at last to Fate’s wild whim)
Hung pitifully o’er the swinging char.
Day dawned, and soon the mixed crowds came to view
The ghastly body swaying in the sun:
The women thronged to look, but never a one
Showed sorrow in her eyes of steely blue;
And little lads, lynchers that were to be,
Danced round the dreadful thing in fiendish glee.

By Claude McKay, 1922

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

The Fanboy

breathe easy youngling. we know you bury yourself in characters, trying to recreate your own story

a hero noir as dark as you

they don’t know the night you’ve faced at such an age.

the lil and lonely homey

hiding behind his mask while the city he loves screams and shoots and beats him down

the quiet one with crossed wires and bloody sneaks

nose deep in a book

when we all know dark side boys don’t read

they’re too black

of heart

to fantasize about anything other than their own dry ass reality

we see you future.

you are valid

Minister Mama

no stabbing demons

or slaying dragons for me

I didn’t save your legs from breaking

or solve the world’s aching

heroics aren’t really my thing

no mountain of lies did I chip away at

or speak great truths to be had

I lack luster and deservedness

less than special

but I did get through this day

Doggedly rode out the pain

in between bad caffeine shots

and propped eyelids and bandaged hearts

because the mission mandates 

that I just

I just 

make it to tomorrow 

They End

Bolted upright I ask aloud to a sleeping room

“Is this a dream”

The timbre of my voice weighs down my ears, letting

me know that it’s not

Instinctively I feel for the dip.

Cool. Empty

Tiredness shoves me back into the pillow as if to say,

“Yes it always was but you knew that already”

I pray for answers that won’t come from simply having been asked

I used to pray loudly

out in a pasture where no one but ghosts could witness

now everything’s silent mutterings as I lull myself back

to restlessness

“It’s okay. It was a good dream.

Good dreams get to end.”

 

No Dash Needed

I am not   African-American

there’s no dash needed

if anything

I am

a native spook who sat by the door

listening for opportunity,

devout in my non

ever

shifting

identity

making lemonade.