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.

To Be Lonely In Love

Fear by Maria Iakunchikova–1893-1895

I feel tightness in my bones,
breathing at night is exhausting . . .
But morning gives me another
opportunity to appreciate life.
You notice that I cut
my hair.

You tell me that you miss
the way it hung past my shoulders,
free-flowing like the wind.
I nod, make mindless conversation
with you, small talk.

We kiss,
our lips barely touching.
I feel nothing.
You remind me to take the
steak out of the freezer for
dinner.

The red potatoes, you say, will
be a great partner.
I remember the fresh asparagus
we bought from our grocer’s
a few days ago.
We plan to be home by 6 pm.

I spend five hours at work
drowning myself in everything
but you.
You call promptly at 11:30 am
to inquire about the steak
as if I’d forget to let it thaw.
We chit chat, I tell you
a meeting is beginning without me
and we end the call.

I flashback to when my heart
thumped nonstop at the thought
of you, when I raced home to
sit near your lazy arms on
our comfy couch, and when

your voice stirred me up
with overwhelming feelings.
I come back to now
and do everything within my
power to forget who you were.
It makes loving you easier.
It makes living with you tolerable.
But, I am still lonely.


Here is another recently rejected poem by a prominent literary magazine. What better place to share it than here? Thank you for reading.

down to the last drop

A Love Sonnet

Two Lovers by Yanagawa Shigenobu via Wikicommons

we’ve all that we need for our love to bloom,
the scent of you amazes me, it’s true.
my cool, I lose when you are in the room,
for this, in others, I searched–there’s no clue.

weeping eyes share our sentiment, my love
I need you like the sun needs the daylight.
my heart in your hands, this gift from above,
contained between us two with great delight.

I sip the sweetest nectar from your lips,
filling my soul with every ounce of you.
I’ve listened to the wise ones, learned their tips–
it is you who keeps me from feeling blue.

our journey into love will never stop,
you have my whole heart, down to the last drop.


This completes my practice run for sonnets. I hope you’ve enjoyed each one. I will resume them later in the year. This is Love Sonnet #6. Thank you for reading.