In these violent and painful times, I wanted to share my poem, "Where People Move and Find Their Being," published in the 2015 issue of the Harvard Journal of African American Policy. Now, you may read it as one poem- a whole. I seek to illuminate the underserved city community (and gentrification/police brutality) in the context of white space. Similar to the Black liberation theology of James Cone, I locate divinity in Blackness and sexuality, raising up the so-called “thug” and “crack whore” as the real image of the Virgin Mary and Christ. He presents the Black Lives Matter movement as an essentially spiritual movement with its own symbols and narrative.
You can read the entire issue here: http://hjaap.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/HJAAP-2015-promo-compressed.pdf
WHERE PEOPLE MOVE AND FIND THEIR BEING
“The projects in Harlem are hated...
And they are hated for the same reason:
both reveal, unbearably, the real attitude
of the white world...”
- James Baldwin
Jamaica Center, Queens
First, it is the bodega, blossoming
with a ruffe of coats and lotto tickets.
The liquor store, pale-green,
yet empty in the street.
The young, weathered faces
enthroned on gray stoops.
The thin church walls, trembling
to “Peace in the valley”—and an
unendurable grayness, crying-out,
“Lose hope; we have abandoned you.”
They tell me,
“You can say the word ‘injustice,’
but cannot know the weight
of body rejected, the hot flush
of father arrested. You can read
the word ‘shooting,’ but cannot know
the crackle of gun shots,
the teeth against cement—”
here, at the edges of peril where
people move and fnd their being.
This is how those with much
take from those with little:
Slowly, the metallic bodega
is cleared for the dim bar.
The small handle is sawed-off
for the brass revolving door.
They say, “This is Morningside Heights!
The edges of peril are not near!
The thug, the prostitute: gone!,
pushed further from our luster.”
Still, in the pregnancy of night, two Angels
broke through the skyline. Lifting
the blackness, they say: “No! the one you call
‘crack whore’ is the Blessed Mother; see her blue
garment, the dip of her brown breast.
She is holy.” Then, revealing a man
in an side street, another Seraph advances:
“No,” she says, hovering. “The son you call thug,
the son plummeting in bullets, is The Christ...” And,
illuminating his vast body, says “He is
the fabric of existence... Repent, repent...”
After the decision is proclaimed, those
in whiter spaces sink into their beds.
Outside, like burning petals, an expanding line
of youth, streams into the night.
Signing hands-ups and I-can’t-breathes,
they make-real their Last Supper.
While, in the streets, the armored tanks
wait beneath a blackening sky.