Sunday, January 20, 2013

My Friend Martin King

Year of our Lord Nineteen eighty something.
Years and years and years after Docta King had died.
After Madison and Pulaski burned
but the embers still flicker.
After we hurled bottles
cocked rifles
and spit bullets.
Peckerwoods bet NOT come 'cross the viaducts
because HE is dead and THIS is our CALL TO WAR.
We are at arms.
Pages were ripped from Bibles 
and floated through the sky
They have taken him from us.
They took him from us. And so we became disciples, and stones, and folks and
he. gone.
he been gone.

2 years ago.
Damn has it been 11 years since King died?
and years
After the morning after.
After King 
--KING A.D.--
We had to celebrate.
In spite of, 
Boss Daley's legacy 
his plantations
The Projects
the Black Belt
Miles and Miles and Miles down State Street
and all the other great streets.
Ida B. Wells was a project
not any project I was assigned in school.
But she was the projects.
Where people lived.
I wouldn't know who she was for years after.
Docta King got his day
His Avenue
wasn't far from me.
on the
Chicago USA
Carter Elementary School (3blks from King Drive)
I had to celebrate King.
2nd grade.
Me & Carnita Davis.
Interior Ernie Banks Gymnasium/Lunch Room/Assembly Hall/Home To Roaches the Size Of Armadillos/These Floors Sticky As Hell/Basketball Is The Only Sport We Are Taught/But We Here For The Doctor Martin Luther King Junior--oops I forgot to add the Reverend-
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. born day celebration.
And before, as always
*we have to sing James Weldon Johnson and Lift Ev'ry Voice-- before we take our seats.

"Uhl you sit next to Tawanna, she got the pee pee touch."
"I'm ain't!  You sit next to her!"
talk talk talk chatter chatter we are hyper children out of a classroom chatter---
"Lemme have that red barrett of yours! I like the one with the two birds on it."
"Naw, but you can have the blue one with the rabbit--"
Ms. Gray giraffe like neck musta extended like three rows as she spit thru clenched teeth "Sit. Down. Sidddddown. Now. All of you. Look at me.  Don't try it today. Not today. Behave, hear me?"
Please don't come back here. Ms. Gray please don't come back here. 
"Did she bring her ruler?"
Ms. Gray always seemed to clench her teeth whenever they talk about Dr. King.
"Hope not. Oooh De Anna, look the color guards!"

Color Guards. Little drummer boys; colored boys strapped
banging the drums like a channel 11 PBS Special
Chad and Brian
Chad tall, square chin and good hair--the color of graham crackers
Brian shorter, the color of buttermilk--hair bleached by the sun, spry like burlap
Color Guards
Banging the drums--how is it possible they drum faster than the beat of my heart.
I wonder if Dr. King liked drums. I wonder did he like music? I bet you Dr. King could dance. I wanna dance. Right now to these drums. I think Dr. King would like it if we partied and not sit in these wooden seats. I hate these seats. I wanna get up and dance and sing! Party for King, just him and me. And Brian. And Chad.  Playing. We friends. Yop, Dr. King is my friend.

Lift Ev'ry Voice An Sing
Till urf and heeeavan Ring

"De Anna stand up! Ms. Gray looking at you!!"

I stop daydreaming and stand. And sing.
We recite passages
Look pictures back when it was all black and white
I'm never going back to Woolworth
I hate German shepard's-
Whycome they didn't have book bags back then? 
Corretta so pretty. She look like she should be on them Soul Train commercials.
Recording of HIM talking.
Dr. King saying a lot of big pretty words.
I like his voice. 
Man, I like Dr. King. Oh man, Ms. Gray crying. 
So is, Carnita.
Why you crying? Why is my friend crying?? 
How come you cryin? It's a assembly. What's wrong?
Dr. Kings voice almost sound like he singing.

I wonder if Dr. King could sing? Did he do fun stuff, or just give speeches? Play with his friends?
Speaking of friends, I'm just gone stare at her until she tell me why she cryin.
Finally, Carita does look at me.
Eyes yellow-y red
tears at the mark line ready to race
she looks at me and says 
"I'm crying cuz....cuz....He was my uncle."

Yo uncle?

She cryin like Cicely Tyson.

I remember holding her tiny hand
to comfort her. I held her hand the way
I wanted to hold my mama's hand the day Marvin Gaye died.
I wanted to hold Mami hand
while she smoked her squares to the filter
and sipped Jack Daniels quietly at the kitchen table.
But I didn't dare.
She wasn't ready.
She was too angry
too hurt.
Maybe that's whats wrong. We all too hurt to hold hands.

I knew Martin King was not Carnita's uncle for real--
But I understood her sentiment.
Carnita and I held hands, because we had to.
We had to go through it together. Just like we all had to go thru

Holding hands because of our low Iowa Test Scores.
Hold hands when we got looked down upon from the other schools
the white schools
on the field trips.
It was always us against them.
And at 8 years old, Carnita was growing weary.
We all were.
Carnita must've understood the need to invent her connection to him. 
Fucking genius, when you think about it.
The memory makes me laugh
From deep fucking down inside, I laugh. I am filled with joy.
There is no deficit in my heart--no cynicism--lack--none of that bullshit.

Carnita's invention was both absurd and genius.
Because if she could think of him as her uncle,
surely I could think of him as my friend.

Coward's asks "is it safe?"
Vanity asks "is it popular?"
Conscience asks "IS IT RIGHT?"

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


coreyj said...

This is beautiful Slick. Thank you x

Sean Walton said...

WOW. Wow, my dear. WOW.