Monday, February 25, 2008

And, In Closing...

To finish out with the theme of Black History Month, I leave you with another piece from my poetic archives, also inspired by another writer who I consider to be a spiritual and literary mentor and whose ability to speak the truth in love is something I've tried to emulate and continue to aspire to--James Baldwin. He was Harlem's(and therefore, America's) native son. The author of several novels, including "Go Tell It On The Mountain" and "Giovanni's Room";a number of essays including "The Fire Next Time"; as well as plays, screenplays and poems, he was a much needed voice during the height of the civil rights movement, someone not afraid to show this country who it was and still proclaim love for it, in spite of itself. As always, I implore you to check this writer out for yourself and be inspired as I continue to be. In the meantime, enjoy the following poem and let me know what you think by leaving your comments, thoughts, etc. 'Nuff said!

(for James Baldwin)

His flesh became word
And was spoken among us,
Though we esteemed him not--
With nappy head
And frog eyes;
Not exactly an appearance
That would easily attract someone.
But he spoke with the tongue
of a fierce angel
and his pen was a mighty, two-edged
He preached the truth,
in love, of course,
for how else could he have done it?
But heard him, we did not,
like so many of our prophets before him.

He came from among us,
yet he was not quite like us,
with a soul that epitomized
the dichotomy, the paradox,
the bittersweet wrestle
within us all--
black and white,
angel and devil,
male and female,
saint and sinner,
slave and free.

But like Martin and Malcolm,
his younger brothers
and fellow warriors before him,
he is now free at last,
his soul having found a resting place--
his sword beaten into a plowshare,
he wrestles no more.

© Joseph Powell

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