body shop

Quraysh Ali Lansana - 1964-

i've heard tell of a hustle
in brooklyn where clever folks
throw themselves in front of cars
lurching down eastern parkway

not the beat-up green mini-vans
or duct tape toyotas of poets, not
impalas bleeding chrome
spinning disposable testosterone

but mid to high end machines
of certain insurance booty, drivers
in the 30 to 50 year range, same
demographic as oprah's audience

i suppose there is a right and wrong
approach to this science, the angles
of minimal damage to consider, side
to bumper, back to door, head up

unless her poodle is well groomed.
few have retired, i would speculate
but work less now that checks
lack bounce and the mailman walks briskly

it must be the eyes, wide and clean
that distinguish these impact alvin aileys
from ordinary jaywalkers

at utica i marvel at the desperate genius
the split-second calculus, the risks and gains
of such occupation, before descent
into the dark anonymity of the 4 train

More by Quraysh Ali Lansana

bible belted: history

okie white men

are a curious herd

never sure if cowboy

or cracker  skin coated

in dust from 1830 or 1921 

hard to tell  they grow

whiter with age

bible belted: math

Pro-Black doesn’t mean anti-anything.

            El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X)


there are at least twenty-seven
white people i love. i counted.

four from high school, five from
undergraduate years, maybe

three from grad school
(one gay=bonus points) &

an assortment of compelling
melanin-deprived miscreants

in chicago & countrywide.
two brothas in the afterlife

remain why i add rather than

klan march

perhaps in a sincere gesture of protest
the managing editor decided it best
i welcome the grand imperial wizard
to channel nine, guide him back to
the senior producer’s glass cube
where he would proceed to engage
in heated words with the general
manager, whose robe hung upstairs
on the executive suite door. neither
of us offered our hands. staffers gathered
around me at the desk for a better view
of the meeting, questioned the cause
for vein pop and venom bleed
through office walls, summer sun
redefining our faces.