Contemplating Extinction as Theme in Basquiat’s “Pez Dispenser, 1984”

for Malcolm Latiff Shabazz

yellow roses in my mother’s room    mean
I’m sorry   sadness comes in      generations
inheritance           split   flayed    displayed
better than all the others

crown                                    weight

the undue burden of the truly exceptional
most special of your kind, a kind of fire

persisting unafraid      saffron bloom
to remind us of fragility    or beauty       or revolution

to ponder darkly             in the bright
the fate of young kings

the crimes for which          there are no apologies.

Related Poems

Urgent Telegram to Jean-Michel Basquiat

HAVENT HEARD FROM YOU IN AGES STOP LOVE YOUR
LATEST SHOW STOP THIS NO PHONE STUFF IS FOR BIRDS
LIKE YOU STOP ONCE SHOUTED UP FROM STREET ONLY

RAIN AND YOUR ASSISTANT ANSWERED STOP DO YOU
STILL SLEEP LATE STOP DOES YOUR PAINT STILL COVER
DOORS STOP FOUND A SAMO TAG COPYRIGHT HIGH

ABOVE A STAIR STOP NOT SURE HOW YOU REACHED STOP
YOU ALWAYS WERE A CLIMBER STOP COME DOWN SOME
DAY AND SEE US AGAIN END

a litany for the possessed

cultural whoremongers

appear on MTV

disguised dapper fresh

as third day bleached linens

from a sun not raised

on cotton indigo or gold

 

shaking singing ringing

baking dipping gliding

stomping sliding prancing

be-bopping dancing praising 

hip-hopping slipping slurping

belching fucking

 

grave pirates

sucking on the bones

of spirit prophets

malcolm ray miles

martin charlie

eldridge audre denmark

sojourner frederick countee

nat langston zora

louie richard nell

mahalia billie bessie

marcus gwendolyn

kwame toussaint mohammad

 

kente tie-dyed

refried batiked bleached

mudclothed dreaded blonded

matted twisted reddened

curled permed blackened greened

 

slinging

swords of quran bible torah

bringing

lies death deceit disgrace

 

juneteenth blood bones

sipping on holy water

that runs backwards

cultural whoremongers

holding hostage

prayers altars crosses

allah-hu akbar

axe

amen

namaste

shalom

 

addicts with poems

stuck between their teeth

join the night

pray for a vampirical moon

bootleg poems

sold beside remixed coltrane

rinsed out aretha sonnets

 

poets posing as undertakers

slip nip tuck drain

splinter irrigate protract

stitch catheterize graft

skin to word skin to history

skin to lies skin to truth

skin to battlefields in algiers

iraq vietnam korea somalia

johannesburg selma brooklyn

compton queens atlanta richmond

detroit afganistan

 

poets posing as seamstresses

sew faces sew teeth sew wombs

sew laughter sew tears sew regret

sew joy sew uprising sew anthems

sew constitutions sew treaties sew bombs

sew graves sew babies

 

brothas on the down low

sniffing for game

while sistas play

diva bohemian princess

sable goddess queen mother

high priestess of counterfeit

on a corner

that becomes continent

sahara amazon latin kurdish

 

the new immigrants

learn to walk

talk

become invisible

eat fire

twist glass

 

flat joins round

night forgets that

day is his true sister

rivers forget to open to skies

freedom is exposed raw naked

unadorned unnamed

 

cultural whoremongers

dressed up as words

metaphors preludes

benedictions

die alone

under skies that rant

retrace the scorn

theft murder

lynching of

a fallen muse
 

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
subtract.