He’s from Harlem,
she’s from Brooklyn.
He said he loved her and that he’d take her away,
sometime, that summer.
“I’m thinkin a house, beach. Jus’ you and me.”
She can’t even respond.
The magic he speaks lulls her to believe.
Sometimes I feel you the only person I could talk to.
She smiles a smile that contains within it all her heart.
Many said that he didn’t do much, but they were wrong.
Neighbors saw him, day after day comin and goin from his mama’s house.
Handsome boy. But what does he do? Shame, he should be helping his mama.
They said he didn’t do much, but they were wrong.
He was a poet.
He took words and hung them up in the air like multi-colored christmas lights.
like candy-hued confetti.
He was the poet of El Barrio & even if his neighbors didn’t understand that, he did.
of El Barrio.
Inching close to thirty and still living at his mama’s house.
But since when that a crime anyway?
He looked neat (most of the time) and all he really needed, really was a little healthy meat on those bones.
And every so often
when that grant money came through,
you better believe he got himself a fade
a new pair of kicks and smelled like coconut oil.
And a skinny brown girl from brooklyn loved him.
The poet told this skinny brown girl,
he told her once
you know, i’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. i wonder why? And then he asked to borrow twenty bucks.
i’ve been thinking about you a lot lately i wonder why.
His voice is strong like thunder and warm like her mother’s baked bread. i’ve been thinking about you—
he sits at the computer in a Broadway office.
Manuscripts dusty with rejection
& weathered books are witnesses
See, every once in a while he whips downtown to this office
like a paddle ball on a threatening to snap elastic string,
seeming barely to make it
only to pop right back Uptown, home,
making it, miraculously in one piece,
long enough to be sprinkled with Holy Water
and eat his momma’s fried plantains
The skinny girl from brooklyn watches him and remembers the evening they walked huddled, down St. Marks, to a dive
where there was room
only for their elbows on the table.
Strayhorn’s Lush Life
wafed through the smokey bar that smelled like spilled liquor.
They sipped beer that eventually turned warm
(they couldn’t afford another.)
and smoked her last cigarette.
He told her yet again
how he wished
he had gotten
on that train. If only he had gotten on that train
I said to myself, I had to’ see you,
your face was right here, and he places the palm of his hand just inches away from his nose.
something told me to just catch that number six
and come right into your arms,
I kept on walking…
she’s seeing little hims running around her knees calling her mommy and him daddy. she’s seeing him reading Langston on a brown over-stuffed lounge chair and her sitting at a desk large enough to contain her mess, and to the right a window A window that looks out to the beach ‘cause he finally got them there. dreaming, she thinks to herself, he said once, in a poem, dreaming, I was only dreaming…but I didn’t get on that train, he continued, and ended up running right into jail.
His shuffling and shaking told her heroin.
His visible destruction was romantic.
A prisoner of past literature.
She always knew drugs were glamourous
the day Nancy Reagan said
to say no to them..
So when he came by that Broadway office
and nodded off at her desk,
she only wondered
when this skinny boy was going to get himself to rehab,
and be the man
he always promised her he will be.
She remembers the day he came by her house.
She swears he could scam a piece of cheese from a mouse.
they rolled joints–two total, and lit one up.
the high descended upon them like cool rain on hot asphalt
it whisked them off to the devices of their own minds.
He pocketed the second joint,
oblivious to the fact that he did not ask for it..
they listened to dianne reeves.
he stared into a darkness only he had privy to.
she knew better than to stir him from his reverie
so she continued meditating on the song.
a song about flying.
Thanks for reading!
You can order my 2018 memoir, “Decolonial Daughter: Letters from a Black Woman other European Son” or my latest “Blackgirl On Mars” (Repeater Books) anywhere books are sold!