by Ron Dowell
after “(Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Going to Go.”
Mayfield lit the torch in black dark,
said Keep on Pushing when kept apart
from parks, restaurants, movies.
My face turned black-hot when called
a nigger. So, I love music
that interrogates ears, tastes
like conflict, has disorder’s stench,
a chance to abandon my challenge.
Bayard Rustin said, tuck your black
bodies in places so wheels don’t
turn, and Mayfield, our winter lion,
readied me for the cold with nouns
and verbs that catalyzed, images
that showed and didn’t tell, and I
stood next to Josephine Baker’s
sensual fire after telling
of great black kingdoms they reject.
My story showing I deserve, am
worthy of respect. I felt Black
and Proud, said it loud when Mayfield’s
flame passed to James Brown; die on your
feet rather than live enslaved on calloused
knees. GET UP, STAND UP—fight, Sly Stone’s
lyrics racked, burned my cerebrum.
What enters Black heads leaves through black
hands—join together to fight this
holy battle, Bob Marley incites.
Mayfield passed to Lauryn Hill, and
Tupac, the flaming stick to Nas,
and to Public Enemy’s Chuck D.
I’ve got to keep on pushin’ (mmm-hmm),
someway, somehow. I can’t stop now.
What Black oracle will clasp the torch?
Category: Featured, Poetry