What is the life of a young Black boy lost worth to the society? What is the social price of the Negro lived experience? How are we remembered?
The specter of the prison system and society ambivalence to my plight as a Black male has always followed me. I grew up watching my grandfather battle white gentrifiers over everything on our, formerly all Black, street. I grew up fatherless because he had 22 years of his life stolen from him by the State via the prison industrial complex. My cousin, as brown and as bold as he was, found himself facing the inside of a cell for fighting a police officer that spit on his face. These three men and their experiences with the White power structure of the State shaped my understanding and fear. We are demonized and oppressed on various levels.
Recently, a childhood friend of mine was found shot to death on a corner. When the bourgeois press gets there his pockets will be searched for drugs, his person for weapons and his life for any narrative deemed good enough to vilify him. When we leave this planet, it is often without sympathy for the hell that we suffered through here due to this poisonous system. This poem is for him. We are beautiful. We shine like coal pressed. Our lives are important and precious and worth honor. All of us.
I Hope You Had A Good Day
In remembrance of high top fades
and scratched up Jays
and crack mothers hollering at the top of their lungs
and Wedsdays filled with forced Bible study sessions.
In remembrance of you I speak this poem.
Being Black ain’t easy when life is like this.
We who been through hell and mud
sweat and exploitation.
steel shackles and watching the colored only discos burn down.
We who breathe life rhythm into music
a cool blue in the fields of the Delta
and fish fries.
We stand here crafting our lives out of this given nothingness.
On corners flanked by able-bodied men.
In kitchens decorated with the help.
Picket signs and pigs
pin-stripes and pot handles
bus boycotts, crack and the failure of the Panthers all wrought a now like this.
I remember small specs of dirt covering the red in your hair.
And the way you smiled.
Some small laugh covered in congestion and a slight optimism.
Standing like the first fall of snow
or mama’s voice on good mornings. . .
both rarities in our lives.
Wrapped in shrouds made of dreams
and the mockery of freedom flags.
I remember a laying of hands guiding us to shore in Summer.
Forever fields and a life filled with wonder
Not corners, stalked by death, where we fight and fall
Where images of how our childhoods use to be dance about on gin bottles and coke cans.
Begging us to be reality
Got a text that said they found you dead
Bleeding out and alone.
No harder words were read.
No one deserves to die alone.
How now can I explain the current movings of Earth and thought?
How life was with you and the falling of grey
This poem closes with a something often sought.
Like shaping of the very clay
I hope you had a nice day.