To change the world enough

you must cease to be afraid

of the poor.

— Alice Walker, “To Change The World Enough.”

In the

midst of

a midday

cafe lunch,

He made

Himself known.

Staggering, drenched,

half-sidewalk, half-street,

countenance bulging

with booze,

awareness, mien,

washed-up, incoherent,

disheveled, rancid,

Complete perplexity.

He halts

before you

& stares.

Surprise? Recognition?

Hidden sanity?

He halts

& Stutteringly 

demands money.

You decline.

He swears.

A waiter

persuades Him

to leave.

He cusses,

winding down

the route

He came.

Swerving ’round

the corner

a midnight

military Humvee

pulls curbside

& spirits

Him away.

You watch

in silence,

with indifference,

sipping your

sweet sense

of privilege.

He is

an anathema

in this

hidebound enclave,

whose culture

erases all

traces of

urban existence.

Black Angels

Black Angels

What if Gabriel was melanin

At visitation?

What if Michael’s mahogany hands

Expelled the dragon?

What if cherubims and seraphims

Sing behind ebony wings?

They say all angels are white,

Bright, as stars tracked across midnight skies.

When I look around, I find my angels here.

They’re departed brothers damned as criminals,

Sisters slain like demons by the law.

They’re immortalized in chants and banners;

See excellence as resistance and survival.

In certain spaces I feel their presence rest:

Silent Bible study halls, chained-linked courts,

intersections between stoplights and lynched Jordans.

In the rhythm of the spirituals, A Love Supreme,

Nina’s ballads, Marvin’s soul, I hear them whisper:

We’ll meet you at the mountaintop.

Are they too dark to soar in glory?

Do they not deserve their place by the Son?

Stirrings in June

A poem for Youth Day — June 16th.


Stirrings in June

There, hung black and white

on that photo wall,

In the frosty air of museum halls,

Young Hector

is carried away from harm.

Like his sister, Antoinette,

I run

not from

Youth Day police rounds

with the hissing stench

of tear gas

reaching close behind,

but to

a horizon of revolt

where conformity

can be as harmful

as oppression education

taught from the blackboard.

I want to scream against establishment

as loud as those children on Soweto streets.

But, if not with my voice,

then with

my pen

sketching riots, barricades and protests

in the form of defiant prose.

Hoping, like that Generation of ‘76,

that a brighter dawn will rise

upon this midnight society of mine.