Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Minister of Poetry Ayodele Nzinga

In the Bosom

in the bosom
smelling like milk
knowing this is as close
to the honey
as they gonna let you get
it’s bitter to the taste
the house
walking on the bones
somebody write this story
tell what it cost
brown eyed dreamers
crossing continents
with spoons
instead of knives
everything that was
nothing means
what it meant
nobility turned savagery
by ethnographer’s pen strokes
untounged and stripped of gods
worldview & geography
history became a piece of fire
weighing more than it meant
in the land of locust
writ in running ink
the testament
tested on the backs
on which it rested
unrepented sins
confessed by invested priest
rewritten by academics
exploited by bankers
& other stripes of thieves
best go with it down the river
milk & honey on the other side
someone must play cartographer
like clever clarinet
sit near the door
know the language
leave the signs
to sit in the bosom
of these united snakes
holding the door ajar
for nappy heretics
to dismantle master’s house
from the inside of the machine
where they grind the bones
of scholars
feeding them lies
to feed to others
yeah though they have seen the inside of the valley
they help to manufacture shadow
trying get an inside track
to the inside
jocking for position
praying tenure
dreaming of being
lead sheep
to eat well until the slaughter
where they too are delicious morsels
cuz wolves don’t care to know the difference
between the new white and real dark meat
even a café au lait with a Harvard degree
a card that lets him caddy skull n bones stylee
is on the buffet
selling off
his brothers
that truth in theology preacher
& African nations
to answer
the call
never mind whose on the phone
this is the room
your forefathers died to get in
can they see us now
Porsches Jaguars and triple malts
our metaphoric
tattoo tears proclaiming
we are Abel to be Cain
& the sets we used to bless
now mean less than
corner offices & glass covered degrees of separation
from grandma’s hands, Ebonics & collard greens
sometimes it gets hard to remember to remember
playing the insider to outsider game
sitting in the bosom
far from where the hunger lives
walks the street
got a nickname
you forget how easy it is to forget
easier than carrying a banner for a army that got lost
it’s warm inside
ain’t this where we sent ‘em?
integrated them to?
deeper into the beast
ain’t this where we wanted to be?
deep in the bosom
ain’t this where they aimed us?
grans & parents w/survival on their breath
bidding us go further
sent us looking for milk & honey
prismatic dreams of integration
rising from the nation
within the nation
why we surprised they forgot to remember
what got wrote down crooked
we were confused
but persistent
in sending them to schools that
taught them to be ashamed of
tales of tongues of fire
invisible stars
country grammar
& the worldview contained there in
along with our most blatant sin
the color of our skin
we done marched & died
trying to find a way into
living like conscripted slaves
intent on arriving
at suspect destinations
hooked on the hooks
from the inside out
trading the smell of pragmatic optimism
for a lobster sandwich
a time share on the shore
& college education
for children who don’t look like us
success is my tribal scar of separation
from the funk piss and grime
the nation
in the nation
the cost is the death of my negritude
like a ceremonial garment
which I have risen above
it cost too much too carry
as jackals circle
dreams are drained of liquidity
post race
seems a good room to stand in
as ghettos are reclaimed by urban explorers
greening occupied territories
without regard for the natives
someday this may weigh more
but if you ain’t got an army
it don’t matter
teaspoons or pounds its all the same
they write the code
& sheep they do follow
cause it’s warm inside
best go with it down the river
milk & honey on the other side
someone must
sit near the door
know the language
leave the signs
someone must sacrifice
themselves to sit in the bosom
of these united snakes
holding the door ajar
for nappy heretics
to dismantle master’s house
from the inside of the machine
where they make their bones
grinding bones
its hard to remember what you came for
when everything is for sale
& nothing means what you thought it meant
when you began
the distance back to grandma’s porch is greater than
& in real reality
you remember
it’s not home you’re ashamed of
its you
the runaway
still a slave
resting in the bosom
smelling like milk
mama & daddy dreams
of brown babies rising
everybody wanna be someone
only God can judge me
run your broken tongue
across the scars
become him before
this story
could you carry it
all the dreams
backed up in your bowels
no stage to shine
the joy running out
reality rushing in
the crooked deck
being born with a dead man’s hand
a ticket to the merry go round in your pocket
even Mama’s hand can’t
soothe the pain
that pushes out your pores
the road is uphill
covered in broken glass
will someone write
how much it cost
to escape
hide from the whirlwind
to rest in the bosom
smelling of milk
up nights
burning oil and turning scripture
while ghosts march
ask Collin Powell
about the price of sleep
once you cross over
even if you wake up
& come back home to the nightmare
you wrote
ask how much it cost to
pretend you Mike
hard as you can
till you think you are
if you can remember
to remember
Mama didn’t raise no fool
& this weighs more than it used to
could you carry it
if it was invisible
but it still bent your forehead to the ground
hurt in your back like old age
from the moment you were born
if it weighed more than you
would you carry it
or fall apart into ragged pieces that smell of
ill conceived dreams
water colors in a storm
& the wrong conversations
mama said rise
daddy died
sorrow drowning in his eyes
a working man
wearing pride like a suit
so you could be you
stand up straight honey
look ‘em in the eyes
do what you need
get inside
the bosom
of the machine
get us some of that milk
honey bring that honey home
we waiting for you to
who knew that
the destination itself
would be the cruelest cut
most suspect for a boy
whose mother dreamed
a mighty man from the womb
he still the usual suspect
even when he do what they want him to do
what else can a thinking man do
not to wash away
he is not invisible
can you see him now
with his pockets bulging with
needs and promise
do you see him
reading Dred Scott & Ralph Ellison
seeing himself
how he would make it be
if he could
he has a map
of the road he took
the one that was open
toll free
can you translate
what that cost
do you see him
past looking for an exit
can you see him
bleeding in the margins
it used to weigh less
it couldn’t have cost more
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