Photo by Tracy A. Hawkins
Frank X Walker
Nawlins Comforts Richard Pryor
Just look at you boy, strutting on stage
like you owns it. Flashing them big pretty teeth
and new red shoes. Pretending to smile like you mean it.
I knows why you here.
New Orleans knows your pain, feels your skin still crawling,
smells all the poison you ever swallowed screaming
out your pores, bathing you like a 100 proof halo.
You might be seven months sober
five months sweet rock free, but this here
New Orleans baby, and I knows the dark side of the truth.
I hear you pining underneath all that laughter.
But you took shame and loss and the dirt up under the dirt
brushed it off , hung it round your collar like a tie
made folks pay to see it, beg to touch it
then dared them to do the same.
You is coyote/hopping john/brer' rabbit/trickster/Elegba.
You is hoodoo's son through and through. Like a Po' Boy sandwich
dripping with hot sauce you was on this earth
to soak up all our pain, to forgive even my wicked brood.
Who else could make a free hearted whore and a rot gut guzzling
free basing bastard laugh but they own reflection?
Who else but you, Rich? To them that's po', black and ugly
mostly on the insides, boy, you is Jesus f'true.
Ponce de Leon Succeeds
Mama E's vision
of the face
of her son/my father
when she grinned up at me
called me by his name.
Before my own mother
this bittersweet planet
like an eagle feather
in the eye
of a thunderstorm
she smiled at me
like a child going out to play.
Standing in the cemetery
that cradles them both,
I wonder if my children
will tie my shoes for me.
The Price of Lamb
After Langston Hughes for Suheir Hammad
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it crumble like an apartment building,
full of women and children
when an Israeli rocket knocks, politely
and invites Arab men out to play?
Does it ricochet like an angry rock
from a child's hand, bouncing off a friendly tank
in occupied territory?
Does it protest silently with tears
like only a grieving mother can?
Or does it kneel and pray
five times a day
that Palestinian people will be free
put on a heavy vest-and explode?