"Let me see you do the rag-time
We prance on the edge
of survival, in our do rags
and faded red-skin jersey shirts;
hunch over coconut and chocolate cake,
craving great-grandmomma's comfort,
grandpoppa's corn-whiskey wisdoms too,
walking, stumbling, falling, rising,
stumbling, falling, rising we be yeast
in America's bread, our bruised bodies
and egos broadcasting battle, walking,
falling, rising, into mercy Lawd, mercy.
Too many stairs to climb. Crystal ain't
worth a dime.
Nothing left 'cept the hubble bubble
of your name mercy Lawd, mercy,
swinging, birthing brilliance
like Duke in the Dark Holiness
* * * *
the New World
"The Times They Are a-changin'."
In southside Richmond,
former heart of Robert E.
my teacher friend tells me
her Hispanic boy students speak
in a heart's second, "I am Aztec!"
I tell my friend, "throw some Jimmy Santiago
on them, and wait. Watch. They will savor
those ancient African beats." Not far away,
in a shopping center, Miss Ann, frantic
in her polyester, hands strangers
homemade CDs. Daisy fresh, frightened,
she blurts, "He's up there actin' lak he
the President." She wants all church folk
to know, to understand before it's too late.
I want to let her know that Jesus loves her,
I want to tell her that John, the Baptist,
is my first cousin.
I want to sing her David's song.
"Princes shall come out of Ethiopia."
I want to tell her that Yahweh, like a mammy
bending over her baby, reached
into darkness to create