Paul. Medgar. Malcolm. Martin. Bodies of murder. Not all by the bullet. Hazel. Claudette. A day for one. A day for all. Slow death tames the loud and proud. They burried the living and laughed with them as they turned pages and cheeks. Mighty like Jehu. Zealous too. Lap the water with cuped hands and you keep your eyes open so that you don’t fall for the dream that sleeps with your unfaithful heart. That young man you see is that old man that sighs. Been here before. Been new. Been clean. Been old for sure. Been dead. Some die to live. Some love to death. And some tarry with the years they accumulate. Caesar takes his cut but no deals with black messiahs. Hoover up the Hamptons. Freddie’s dead as Curtis said. Been here before. Known the soil like they knew soul food. Like cotton. Like candy. Like us. We were sweet. We were lovers. She loved him dearly. Loved us to life. Dreams. That’s what it was. We were ideas. Not fixed. Not defined. We were possibilities for the pulled trigger to decipher. And bullets explore continents with names like Robeson. Evers. X. King. Scott. Colvin…….. ……… ………. ….. ……. ……… ….. …… …… ……. ……. …….. …….. ….. And years blow back to hunt the now before we wake with ideas to fix and define today.
I see with foresight the burning, naked and aged skin that sheds its fears to reveal a doubt which weighs heavily on the water that contains the boat of promises, still wet and unclean as misguided infancy and the harbour that yields to the shame.
A codependency of misfortune. A child raises its parent, addicted on the imposter serum mislabled as power. Every miscellaneous shell of a citizen has walked the plank. The inquisition has been and gone, and the version of future that is being foretold has cast its judgement on history.
We are the here and now and the dead and gone. Both tied to past denial and the second coming of delusions. What is a country, if its offspring can claim to not recognise its swollen face, with eyes leaning over the balcony to survey the dead of hope, whose bones protest while the dogs strip off the flesh of indignation, clean of evidence. And what of mothers who sought out land within that hostile terrain to make an idea out of dispossession, four walls of tender to tame the patriach’s emasculated by conquest and subjugation? A father’s name carries only the tide and its tongues, of tribulation and tribe but to which child does a country belongs to?
A body of water and blood where we drown our morning sorrows, again. And threaten to sleep with our decaying spouse hung by the terror that was born in us.
A tower on fire burning lung after the flames were put out and the blood cries out. No Cain at the site of the murder. No justice. Just us. Souls taken up higher than the smoke, fly down to watch the mourners arise to a new day with their heads held up by rage and despair, and hearts bowed down and bowled over by the agony and incredulity of what happened. What really did happen?
We who knew the dead watched the conversation turn to the custody of the truth and the enquiry about the meaning of an event that forever changed the world of those who were loved and unloved in life, death and the afterlife. An afterthought in the aftermath, is the price of life that is haggled in the courtroom. Payment for the life of the dead, is a future for the children of Grenfell. But is it money? Or is it the mercy of confession? A courtroom of lies still engulfs the air, we share breathing space in the now. Two years dead and burried, yet the living have not the forecast of rest. And God be judge of the classified red ink on white papers.
Today is a wedding ceremony. A marriage of possibilities. My cousin has exchanged vows and time will study and tell what it has seen, heard and known under God. Black life like black bodies have long been a surrealistic feast for the voyeuristic eyes of fetishists and fantasists. Joseph Conrad could not open his eyes even behind the safety of his pen, to straddle his imaginative reconstructions of the monolithic burden bearers in the heart of darkness situated in the continent of his mind’s perception.
Baldwin generously invested the deformed and fragmented faces of exotica with the unusual idea that they were worthy of being depicted as fully human, even in a foreign land. The continent is not a country. And a country in this context is not a geographical destination. The poetry of Baldwin is not merely the words sentenced to a page but rather the lives affirmed by his words dancing to the tune past the margins of hate and redeemed by love. In his writings love is the great pacifier even when it sets fire to our expectations and challenges our notions of who is worthy of grace, and the horrors that transgress the invisible inhabitants who are generational custodians of a manifested multifaceted curse with wings.
Barry Jenkins painted the poetry of James Baldwin beautifully in ‘If Beale Street Cold Talk’. Next week lovers around the world will serenade each other with cards, gifts and kisses flavoured with wine and chocolates. Babies will be conceived. Lies will be ever more creative. Truths with be earnest and unsparing. Death will still be in business. Card or no card. Life will go on. Love in its bittersweetness covers the multitude and will endure the fall out. A torn page is the pity that a chapter can afford to lose.
“Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word “love” here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace – not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.”
– James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
Wettest eye watering skinned brother on the inside, arachnid crawling out, side eyed, hunger bites the heart of fear, and the killer, mother knows best, knows not the fright that drives him to stomp small creatures and their secrets, like vaporous confessions that rise up with death.
Smoke city. A body burns, like nations, like bodies burning nations. Iraq hid in flames of refutation.
Web swinger, entrapped in the ganda, hung to dry on the rope that pulled him up to the measure of Spider men, climbed into company love of misery and a tail wagged for the milk of magnesia and human kindness, as mythical as the love that murders with good intentions to broadcast.
Charity. Just spare me the charity of words like the vain in life who speak of the ignoble dead, fishing in blood rivers. Dead as purpose of Pompey. Restless in peace.
Patriots are foreigners too. Like poets. Dead ones seem to outlive the living. Their words are the ideas that dreamers cling on to for a fictive future.
The living are dreamers at dawn. Walking on corn toes. Curved. Running the zig zag. They are pragmatic with crayons. And they laugh loud and unclear like the noise they speak.
Home is where the heart is heavy. If you cut through the chatter and chit it’s all bullsweat. Now if you knew where to bury the living, I’d hand you a shovel. No words. No songs. No honour to purchase.
They’ve got that one day exclusive on offer. Get your love at half the pain. All foreign currencies accepted. Faces are guilty but eyes are blameless.
Black bodies. Gold plated hope behind second skin. Black holes for weeping bullets, scream behind screens, unheard trauma scares dreams into a silence so loud that it hurts to hear. No fears to trace, to find the trail of tears that triggers the trigger of cowards and all that we choose not to see. All the cows we milk as they moo. Not yet found like Mother’s love. Away from home. Cold meat on a warm climate. Touch it. Pull. Tear it apart. A human lives behind it. Gold for skin, not cuddled, so dark as to be unseen. So much of night lives in you. Lights up your days. A paradox of mourning. You have known all your life how bright invisibility is. So shiny you didn’t need virtue to polish the skin that hides your identity. When is a human a being? In the womb of contemplation is a seed travelling the possibilities of being alive in a world not yet born.
“The paradox of education is precisely this – that as one begins to become conscious, one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.”
– James Baldwin
Get the picture? Which one? The image projected? A thousand words have tried where pictures stayed silent. Lips have been sealed for the greater ‘good’. Sir Truth and his unaltered ego is a serial killer. A knight of the relm, for sure. If agendas were as conservative as esoteric knowledge, would you be as equiliberal as Apathy desires? Or impure as tradition on its hands and knees? Cleaning your rented body with the dirt of the soiled soul. Begging to differ (I beg you not to defer). And would I be walking words in riddles? Wondering how loud must a picture speak to gain the attention of our indoctrinated subconscious? A fast learner. And how violently must silence scream to escape our hash tags imprisoned in the moment, like puppies to be hushed, sucked up suckers, straw men drawn up to be quatered when the revolution falls off its white Horse? Hung long as the tree that holds up the neck by the rope. Long as the distance between the horizon and haughty eyes yet to awaken and wink. Long as black death and wide as blue Ocean before its tides turn the honey Moon. Death has a name too, but we don’t know it yet. Long as yesterday when the shorts fit. Almost as long as today, and the toil between the moods of the Sun. Love labours in the vein of what you think you know and how little you have learnt in your textbooks on contexture. Thats not a word, and yet it is the home of every word abandoned in the ramble of questions. Homeless. Stateless patriots for the cult of I. Confounded. Who finds it.
Fumbling treasures, we are wreckless, wild, word to the wicked. But if a child is a father of the man, there is hope of mouth to heart resuscitation. Cross words, quized and crossed out of bridges built and belted out of the mouth of babies.
Love on the hope lines drawn on calloused hands. And no Island is a man. Womb for rent. Love for sale. For free? Hate off the scale. Weighed. Expensive cake. We’ll eat it too.
Dingling. Dangle. When you choose to. When you unlearn to love. When you see how you kill your child everytime you kill me. Unborn. Unknown. When you see. And no man is an Island but he is seed to be planted. Where will your hate plant me so that I might flourish and grow down and strong enough to eat your children’s children? Dead or alive. Unlearn to love you. So deeply. That I might find you. Embrace you. Twist you. Turn you. Stir your eyes to acknowledge my death as I stare at the prize. Blood cries out. Abel holds the cain now. The dead are hungry too.
Past, pretense and future hindsight dares you to pontificate on your escape, they’ll point if she caters to your fate, and ask whose burying the next round, and when do you return from delusion to find that you are twenty minds late? But you ask as if the answer lies in the knowing, when love lives in the dying, yet still you are young in the grey of years past to believe that your vision and my survival are dependent on each other, like a Teller bound to a story unfolding with the falling and rising of eye lids, opening revelations and shutting down imagination’s excesses, banished to the kingdom of Sleep, unchartered chapters of mystical and mortal men’s premature strides, running like percussion through dark forrest into the cycle of death, birth and bastardisation, where beginners and old masters are disowned and abandoned by the twisted night to be discovered by the creased morning of wall scaling daylight dreams, pressed into purposeful and pleasurable copulation, the greatest sex they ever had felt like dying and being born at the same time, and yet she never touched him, fifteen minds before he fell from her grace into your bed and out of my heart, transfigured into the maroon shadow that haunts our love’s memory.
We were merely the reflection of consequences put into place, tall before our eyes first met, unmatched in the first desire of seductive impression, and ten minds before I drank in the light of her archaic beauty, and with mine eyes seeing the glory, and ceasing the moment, painted her on the fragile canvas of my soul, I stole a solitary glance and whisper of her breath from the air we shared, inhaled deep into hungry lungs that devoured it like a secret to hide from evil relatives, the envious paws of strutting organs that sought her for themselves. What the heart wants, when the liver needs, her beauty and my kidneys tangled, tussled up, cries of triumphant oratory for down strokes that reach further than vocabulary allows, vying for her attention, detained by my intent. Everything is in her, and everything that she exudes raises the stakes and cuts through the drift that my thoughts float on, my impulse finds itself in a maze with courage and it’s stomach locked out with fear of what awaits above the trenches, outside of first and second skin, the surgical dissection of my emotions turn from blood to the colour purple, and my hand reaches out again to be met with indifference and a smile worn back to front, five minds before she stood infront of me without a face, to be written into existence and drawn with experience, who she never was, to be, yet to be, lost loved, a travelling mystery through time on the grand tour of life, her hair long as eternity with strands swept off her head by the wind onto her shoulders, and further up to the ground beneath my clay feet of hope that she would find my unwritten face, and tell my fast, tense and determined future in her sight….