Non-fiction Saturdays

theblackvote
Photo by Bruce Davidson via The Civil Rights Movement Archive

Mister Charlie Has No Blues

Flash Creative Non-Fiction

An Audio Piece for Sam McKenzie Jr.

There were some, only a few — they wanted you to believe your best interests were at heart. They cared. They gave you underpaying jobs and called it “honest work” while dipping into your pay. They raped your wives — “sowing wild oats” and pillaging where they could. If you are property, you mean nothing. You are nothing. A calf had more value — a farm over your life . . . You, to them, were subhuman or not human, depending on who was speaking. Your backs — the commonplace for burdens and griefs, yet shedding tears offered you nothing. If you were given what you were due, that did not go unnoticed. It was praised and worshipped.

It hung over you like the holy good deed.

But, let them tell it — they were good to you. You had it all. A shed out back big enough to draw a circle in the middle of the common room and walk around it twice. A rickety shot-gun home, drafty year-round. This was your life until you wanted to live — until you figured out this was not living. And when brains met action, you were dangerous. You figured out a ground was meant to be stood upon and stand your ground, you did. And this was trouble.

Trouble . . .

For “Mister Charlie” who has no blues but too many black folks causing him tension. If you wanted more, knew you could get it, and were meant to have it . . . If you figured out that equality meant “for all,” they had a problem. Your voice was your weapon. Your feet were your vehicle. Your strength was your saving grace. The power of a race built to be resilient does not diminish. When all you have is your heart to guide you, your hands to push you forward, your faith to bless you, and your family to believe in you, nothing else matters.

You stomped. You ranted. You raved. You conducted peaceful marches and picketed for justice. Back and side doors, balconies, separate water fountains, the backseats of buses and trains . . . Segregation — separating you from the “better” race for your own good — for their own good. And what good did that do? Remember, the voice is a weapon. You sounded off — refusing seconds, scraps, and the bits and pieces that did not add up to your whole. You took the front seat. You spoke up. You realized that you had rights and rights you fought to get.

Bless the black man who knew he was more than just a black man . . .

Bless the black woman who got tired of being silent. The voice is a weapon. Shots fired. Bullets had no name. Words dig in deeper. Movements sparked up in your favor. The right to vote. Integration. Front doors opened. Floor seats became yours too. Oh, look at that bus now with you sitting up front — ain’t it a sight for sore eyes?

The work you did, have done, no one takes for granted. You washed your hands with the blood of your sisters and brothers who were slaughtered before your eyes. Nightmares haunted you at noon instead of deep into the night. When you are believed to be ghosts, people treat you like one. But you were never invisible.

You were never invisible.

And that’s what scared them.


*Author’s Note: I am currently reading Blues for Mister Charlie, a play, by James Baldwin. To say that it is moving would be a gross understatement. This piece is my “Thank You” to Sam for his tireless efforts and the ultimate weapon that is his voice. He is such a powerful writer & advocate for equality and justice for African-Americans and People of Color.


Originally published on Medium. The link shared is a friend link as this is a piece behind Medium’s paywall.

the measure of a distant breath

I won’t hold onto
your words anymore.
in the quiet distance of our hearts,
friendship . . .

the one thing you threw to the wind
is neither cautious nor safe.

I cannot chase an inevitable “no”–
not when I am worthy of

an enviable “yes.”

selfish Gods die by their own hands.
here, let me take off those chains.

Afraid of Healing

Who are we if we don’t know pain? If we don’t grow from it? I had to reblog this because I read it and it hit me and it stuck with me.

Please visit the writer’s blog to comment there, should you want to. Peace.

INTROVERSE

In Their Own Words By Nathan Bond

Afraid to heal my deep wounds

Afraid life will be too simple

Afraid of missing the pain

Afraid I won’t have an excuse to disappear

Afraid I won’t need to scream at the top of my lungs when I’m too weak

Afraid I won’t grow without trauma

Afraid I’ll never be the same

I’m afraid of change

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For The One I Cannot Know

I will save a slither of humanity
for you, my cards held tightly
in my hand.
Do you have any hearts, my love?
I wonder at the gates of your
quivering lips, yearn to know
of the overwhelming tides that
broach upon your waters.
How can I buoy you?

This corybantic life has no end,
we race for a place in this world,
yet our souls have already
outlived the past.
You say that the mystics
won’t allow you to love,
your heart is trapped in
a closet, confined to darkness.
How then will I bring you
to light?

I have given you life in
the oddest of places,
conjured up beauty indescribable
and attached it to your eyes.
To those who don’t know you,
they know you through me.
This isn’t enough, though.
You slit your wrists, cleverly
avoiding consequences like
you’re famous for doing and I
swallow every condolence,
aching from your premature exit.

Oh love, where can I go
to be free of you, the you
I cannot know?
The fox in the woods
hunts for prey.
The bear hibernates, full
from months of gluttony.
The raven caws at dawn.
And I . . .
I burrow myself
in a time that can never
reveal who we are.

The saga always
continues.

The Damage is in the Eyes

Olayinka Babalola via Unsplash

He walks past her,
driven by alcoholic
motivation instead of her smile.
Their home is a soundless cave,
cracking in every corner.
She carries on,
her fingers tire of their daily
actions in the kitchen, in the bedroom.

The only thing keeping
her there is the new lease
on life she thought she’d have
with him.
The damage is in her eyes
but he cannot see it.

She struggles to make a life
work for them, she hasn’t given up.
It’s hard when you look
at someone you’ve loved for
decades and they turn into
someone you do not know.

She puts the kettle on the
stove for tea,
the hissing sound that follows
two minutes later wakes her
from a daydream.

She’s got to get out
of this Hell.