Tony’s Poem (a reminder for a spirit who does so much for so many, for me. and for himself)

mah grandpa’s hands were hard

moved over in soil, experience,and living.

labor- ah learned from him- meant the turning of soft exteriors to callaces.

men have callaces

an ah kept dat

hurt mahself- deliberately to reach this one available marker of manhood. 

 

we don’t trust folk who give handshakes wid de same essence of dead fish

nor folk wid fake flowers

nor a person who don’t know their way round a kitchen too much. 

we good on giving interaction ta dem. 

 

men have callaces

labor means callaces

oppression an’ neglect breed rough callaces

 

your hands was soft when we first came to meet- is still soft now.

an ah- in truth- did pray protection ‘gainst someone who may be a fair weather friend.

 

sometimes rhetoric fails us an’ we have ta see folk through heart more than habit.

 

you’re hands are still soft

still young

dey hold madness like a well worn dress.

an’ dey do brilliant work- wid love and fruit

both in Babylon an’ in dream, your hands create.

dey beat at wat is.

demandin’ decency, dignity, real rights,housing, and love. 

 

you’ve got hands capable of graspin’ truth.

 

wat is known from older times is wisdom- in abundance an’ in bits

wat is know from older times is foundation

an’ base, part,

it ain’t completion.

 

we know that ta be as true as dere is sun. 

we here- becoming new ancestors- wid whole other bits

 

hands is doing. 

soft an’ hard.

 

wat happens in de dark- as voices set in on us,

de white specs tease, an’ holding arms make might desires- 

is doing.

we clasp wet palms past stomach pains

cravings

turning acids an other shadow thoughts. 

 

we become tears

older times called us weaker fo dat.

still- dey is doing.

 

wat happens when our vibrations find home an’ name wid one another

– as wat little comfort can be can be made- is

an’ we define de space we hold.

souls tickling. 

 

dat is doing

is courage

is human

is everything!

 

an’ ah is glad ta have met you friend,

dis reality is sometimes a short stop fo in a spirit journey fo real faggots, de way we is 

dis reality is sometimes showin’ us more disaster than ceremony-

cause real faggots see so much. 

we see till de only real thing is ta rip out our hearts an’ eyes an see nothing- at de ends of pipes, or tips of condoms.

 

dat’s why we do.

why we must promise ta always remind each other ta do. 

ta keep sight

our feelin’ mire is de most painful blessing we has.

 

our emotions is vast

is immense

is like de great movings-

de bring us ta wat older generations did.

we do.

our emotions, de praxis of learnin’ ta love despite wat is

an’ wat de walls patriarchy has erected, 

dat very queer thing is doing.

 

real faggots live to be any age between 1 month an’ 47 years 

an’ ah feel mighty blessed ta be here wid you.

 

ah felt softness, tears, life blood, an’ beauty after ah held your hand past introductions. 

an ah will love you always- in every dimension an’ on every moon possible.

 

an ah is grateful always-

for wat you do fo me

an’ yourself.

fo wat ah do

fo wat you’ve taught me through sheer existence. 

 

cause dats wat we do. . .

we do.

 

we is de dialectics of soft hands an’ callaces

we is real faggots, chantin’ down Babylon

wid life, action, an glitter

we is flowers

remindin’ de less enlightened wat beauty being can be

 

an’ in dat is our greatest act. 

 

in de process of simply breathin’ 

we give life beyond wat may be visible most times. 

 

but dat don’t make wrong wat is truth

learnin’ ta love all of wat we is- have been an’ will be-

dats wat we do. 

 

 

 

 

an’

dere is another Black man dead. dere is always another Black man dead. always another Brown stained trauma to be swallowed. always fire and destruction and always rape. always bullets flyin at targets marked for death before spirit gave them melanin an mother gave them life.

in an attempt to not seem completely obvious there is a turn- a narrative of charity. somethin wid children. and fund raisin.

and always ah find it necessary to find time to remind mahself dat dey news is lies- dangerous ones

an babylon is castin spells ‘gainst us constantly an dats mighty tough

but we ain’t all ugly, water dry, and without patterns.

we love patterns

an royal colors

an sewing

an sowing

an Black is de color of folk who have moved galaxies wid our mind and hold anecdotes for stress in de smiles we so lovingly exchange

Africa is our sacred womb. she calls and inspires. waters our minds and she is de only thing close to a God we has.

our higher mother- ah wish ta find mahself enamored over an over

she chants us out of babylon an reminds us dat all things queer, Black, natural an otherwise was born of her

lies, convincing as they can be, cannot cast any shade on what creation is- on wat we is

ancestors,

mule bone,

rivers tellin horses

diaspora.

emancipation an jubilee.

an so Black is also de color of power and endurance. it is de color of those unmoved by the supposedly impressive. it is a love song an war cry. it is community tone an spirit an it can never be painted wicked by a few capitalist seeking profit from sensation. 

sun. flower. seeds.

i want to move in my anger

not to be consumed

but to understand it.

to uncover where it has roots.

find myself there

and hold him.

replant some seeds-

of love. healing.

perseverance and strength.

and most of all

the knowledge that

no matter how many times the world has ended in the wetness of tears.

it has always come back vibrant.

and in seeing new sun

we have the beauty

of choice and movement.

mah theory.

mah ancestors knew things. they created science through a harmony with nature and, told tales to the youth for remembrance and empowerment.

mah ancestors had a knowledge.

the gaze of the colonizer tells us what the white man’s standards are and what ha considers “civilized”.

Part of the colonizing process was the creation and enforcing of a hierarchy of knowledge.

Our tongues were invalidated in this process. That African spirit that posited that value was to be found in oral histories, performance and story telling was cast aside.

we are a people who shared parables, lessons and culture through our spoken word as well as documenting things with ink and image. the colonizer said that all history was what was written and through this he brought his domination- his histories, his mythologies, his values were put in place. the imperialist of Europe spread out- destroying lives, erasing histories and establishing his text.

when folk who consider they-selves political speakers ask me “why don’t you write any theory anymore?”

I respond “i do. i am always in the process of theory writing, saying, and creatin’ ”

mah theoretical understanding comes from books-true nuff. But it also comes from breathing, toughing dirt roads in South Carolina (where mah family was enslaved), laughing in the ghetto, protesting in the streets and loving those who is close.

mah theoretical output comes in the form of loose sentences, songs sang aloud, prose, stories about love/ loss, poems and pictures. mah truth can be found there- more than in any essay or structure paragraph i could scheme up.

truth and theory is where-ever we dream them. Dere is no one kind of understanding to be had and not everything to be learned can be learned in that western academic structure. mah prose is mah theory and these scattered writings is a unfinished manifesto of thoughts waiting on wings and a rainbow shawl.

i pull them to me. in close, where i can see and im happy because i write for me

and mah ancestors.

and they understand.