Brown as bark.

Black as the universe.


Walk down a midnight street.

Jumped by cops. Tasered.

Rolled on sidewalk like a garbage can.

Left to crumble.


Skin scraped.

Raw patch. No dermis.

Burns like hell.


After awhile get up.

Can’t stand.

Knees clubbed.

Fingers splayed wings on the ground.


Head beating like a Louis Armstrong

solo in Harlem.


Audience looking like a thousand me’s.

Dark suits. Dresses with black frill. Baubles from ears.

Louis like a preacher mesmerizes the audience

who clap like strings on fire.


Richard Wright in the oven, charred.

James Baldwin’s protests, The Fire Next Time.

Cops breaking bodies,

Young man shot in his black back.

Back then. Here again.