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.

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.

not afternoon tea

A Love Sonnet

Afternoon Tea by Alice Bailly-1927

the divine women of cedar creek lie,
they make up stories and tell tales all day.
bemoaning love and lust, three of them sigh,
“what more can a mere woman do,” they say.

their naked bodies flailing in the sun,
each has her own way of being in tune
with nature, with heaven–things on the run,
with them, the best month for this is sweet June.

“and why should we worry, we’ve all we need?”
one says as she sips on afternoon tea.
“society’s issues can’t harm my creed,
I’m happier now than I’ll ever be.”

these women of cedar creek, they mean well,
of lust and of love, they’re under their spell.


For the next two posts, I’ll be finishing up the sonnets. It has been an extremely long time since I pulled these babies out. Prayerfully, you’ll go easy on me. This is Love Sonnet #5.

The Decency of Common Words

The old lady downstairs has cancer
steeping in her bones.
Her daughter walks her dog now.
She greets me with pleasantries and
a brave smile.
I offer moments of wordy goodness
as we cross paths.

Her heart is breaking.
I can hear it.
What it must feel like to watch
your giver of life deteriorate at the
hands of a silent criminal that has killed
millions must be indescribable.
I think she wants to tell me
something, but the words are stuck
behind her tongue.
I never pry.

My next-door neighbor’s fianceé is
cheating on her.
She works 60-hour weeks
and comes home exhausted from
the verbal lashings she combats daily
while dealing with the public.
She tells me that my dog “is
the cutest thing ever” and I compliment
her on her uniform.
She wears it well.

I do not tell her about the dark-haired
woman who holds the hand of
her lover while she’s away.
There’ll be time for that.
And I will not be a part of
that conversation.

The thin walls of our building
will be the teller of all things
and her heart will break too.
My favorite neighbor moved out
of our building about a month ago:
leaky ceiling.
Our neighbor above him had a faulty
toilet.

I miss his freckled face and wispy
red hair that smiled at me
before he did.
I still see him from time to time.
He moved into the building
across the street, but it’s not the same.

He always had a bounty of words
that pressed into my spirit and made
me look forward to his voice.
He was the sun of our sky
and now another set of people
are blessed to feel his light.
I hope they appreciate his
heart as much as we do.


This is a recently rejected poem from a prominent literary magazine. I figured I’d share it here. Thank you in advance for reading. Peace.