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.

I loved a woman once…

Audio Prose

Odilon Redon|Angelica on the Rock–1904

And, I thought that perhaps, she loved me too. We find out the strangest things when we confess–when we reveal our feelings to others. What seemed to be a connection built from words and learning the backgrounds of our lives’ pasts was just… two people sharing a oneness and the similarities that surrounded us were not meant to be taken and held up to a promising light. There would be no romance, no spinning of the times, no eruptions of heart-throbbing, pulsing love-making, and nothing else that would classify in the realm of labels, a relationship.

Communication, I was always told, is key and when I communicated to her my feelings, that proved to be my doom. It was not the only time, for I am a knower of rejection. It has laid up with me, it sometimes has a home when I do not seek its company. Yes, it was not the only time, but it was the last and it hurt like hell. I still see her in my dreams, hear her voice, know her words. When you love a Writer, you know that they have the power to build you up or tear you down, and they do not do it as a courtesy to you, in your face, it comes in their work. And you, being a Writer yourself, you do it too.

I loved a woman once…

And, she taught me that it is not always best to share one’s feelings, that the tides have various shifts and changes and if you are not careful, you will be swept up with the seashells and gritty sand. I do not know what it is like to turn off my heart. I wish I did. There are days where I wish I did not know her voice, did not know how common words such as “caress” and “safety” sounded as they rolled away from her tongue. We take things along with us from the hurt places. Unknowingly, sometimes we keep them and when they see fit, they raise up at the wrong moment, reminding you of just how sharp that pain was.

I loved a woman once…

And I have written fifteen poems about her, only sharing two of them when asked, and reminded of just how close I am to dying an early death in the game of love. She would have no remorse, and why should she? The line had been drawn and I watch where it lies, mindful not to cross it. What have I learned? That the heart wants what it wants yet the mind has to remind it that sometimes, it cannot have what it wants… And sometimes, without its knowledge, it is for the best.

I loved a woman once…

And she loved me enough to not love me back.