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.
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.
Like daylight on wings, a year has passed. Facebook didn’t bake me a Cake but its cool. A lot of small deaths have happened since that day. Usually the face stays the same but I find that the neck changes. Oh and I’ve discovered more strands of grey amidst new faces and adopted words. There have been a lot of changes in relative terms and even my own eyes have concealed pertinent things from me when its been necessary to do so. The main thing about the passing year is where I find myself in my ongoing story. I’m happy to say that after a year, a deep wound has healed. The dressing is finally off, and the emotional scar matches the one on my forehead. Its distinctive but not too big. I can’t say for sure that time rubbed the salt in it. Time and I don’t have that type of relationship. Its hands off and head up. I’d say living has a lot to do with the choice one makes to dig a grave or dig the foundation on which to rebuild after the fire which has all but consumed the life behind the projected image that is perceived by everything that leans against it. Long sentences be damned and sentenced to death but not so easily. Death is as passionate as life, but its not as picky. The meat and potatoes of life is first you do what you must to survive. Then once that mountain has been conquered, you do what you must to protect your heart (your love). Then you live forward. By limp, or by crawl. If the back is bent, and that hump is conspiring to keep you down, then you find something to hold you up and steady. Then you walk. In time you may run again, and flying isn’t as far gone an idea if you can pick up speed. Love is a kind of regal audacity. The lighter the load on the heart, the heavier the love. I’d like to believe that I still have the capacity for the heavy love that knew no boundaries. Once was. To see. Once again. To be.
“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.
Mother tongue is cool, and you can be the conscience of my indiscretion, or the remedy that triggers a poet’s latent talent out of the comfort zone and complacency of a reclining chair. Dormant, but not dead. Though he used to die a small death everyday, he thinks it would be best to live a lot, stop the rot from dot to dot like her heart forgot to die again today. And now we come to you and I, and now we wonder how and why? Wondering how high…is the drop? How long…till it stops? Its not the pain that troubles you, cause death serves a purpose of its own agenda, though I’d sooner be a warning sign for danger than the fool that got in the way of a stranger called Providence. And if it bites like last winter, and sister warm blood tastes better, then you should know that the fraud will be the block buster ’till further notice, but notice how your past reminds you of how far away your future cast you, drawing doodles with your minds eye, can’t see too well with your past life, and dearly beloved is a dwelling place for the restless, rowdy like premature ambition, a mission statement wears your age with contempt, crowded with sentiment on insecurity highway, down below, the parched valley raises up another question mark to consider in cubic shapes of monochrome colour, yeah underneath that red Sun, rising to fall, waking to sleep through fog, the distance, the drift, and your wondering how high is the summit of your desire, to climb back up from your small death, on the string of the loose change that barren land loaned you, the countless grains of Sahara’s sand timer tickles the unfancied soles of your feet into motion, defeats stagnation, anticipates the storm, marches on like the aftermath of the Somme, but will not carry the dead on depressed shoulders, and empty stomach.