I am old enough to know I am too young to grow old
in this unfortunate, young country. How much longer
before my body neglects me? On the corner of 155th St.
& Fredrick Douglass Blvd., a mother carries her child
from a store, the boy in her arms flailing as if he wants
to dive in the air beneath him & he is young & therefore
reckless with himself. The mother smacks him & this is
a kind of violence that may even prolong the death
he will one day be offered in this world. Black & Alive
are not always synonymous but when the young see
how easily even their beloved can unmake their bodies,
they gaze, hauntingly, at a baton hitched to the hip
of an officer of the law; someone occupationally ruthless
& not related by blood. The boy figures besides the back-
hand or belt, there must be more methods of dominance,
some that do not believe in a religion of mercy. Act right
or you'll end up dead or in jail! Yet, he is both, even with
his mother as she says this cruel & crucial kind of wisdom,
while slipping a cigarette between the lips, a necessary joy
from the world's indecent rage & the boy is then caught
in the smoke. His body, confined when vanishing behind
the dark smog & gun smoke looks quite similar to this.
Now, I don't wish to die in a way of an anonymous fading
so according to statistics, my best option is prison,
where a child might go to visit their father or their father's
father behind a window as if it were the frame of a family
portrait of two men who'll soon die behind the bars we all
thought would at least save them from a death outside the walls.
Forgive me. I have to divert our attention to the Daphne,
Calla Lilies & Mountain Laurels in a garden in Harlem.
Let go of the trauma for a moment. Gaze at this world,
perked up & alive, daring to grow beyong the age of 25
when most of us become candles, bouquets & wine bottles;
the simple rituals the dead are awarded. Look at the Gardener
closing the gate to leaves & floral kingdoms. When the gates
close, witness how much like the improsoned even they become.