On the Outside Looking In

December 21, 2008

You never look
at me.
I often look
at you.

You have
those things
I am told
bring happiness.

I have
those things
I am told
bring shame.

I look into
your restaurant –

you spend
my week’s wages
in a night

so elegant
so white

table cloths
and candles
fine wine
and waiters.

I could go on
and on,

but I have been ordered
to move along…

If you want to love Jesus

December 11, 2008

He looks like this:

street beggar.jpgstreetgirl.jpghomeless.jpgstarvingbaby150.jpg

Not this:

jesus-pastor.jpgjesus 6.jpgjesus 5.jpgjesus4.jpgjesus2.jpg

before you place
money in hand –
blow off the dead
like dust


Class Warfare ?

May 28, 2008

Why not?
The rich are already
kicking our asses

Our country was born of
contempt for privilege.

Yet we are now besmirched

for having those same
patriotic opinions.

You are trailer trash
until they need you.

Dear Bishop

March 7, 2008

and what about the violence
once they leave the womb?

Newark revisited

January 22, 2008

During the summer of 1967 I worked at a Fresh Air camp in the rural hills of New Jersey. Twenty miles to the east was rioting and rebelling in the streets of Newark.

I was asked to make an emergency trip into the Newark ghetto to return a camper whose mother or sister had been killed by gunfire.  I was to say nothing about it.  The Bonnie Brae camp truck would be our credential for safe passage I hoped.  On each corner were crowds of angry black men staring at each vehicle passing by.  Forty years later many corners are still the same.

I was living in Newark in 1968 when Doctor King was murdered. Five of us (all quite white) lived in a black neighborhood while attending Seton Hall.

Down the street from our apartment was Cookie’s Plain and Fancy.  We would stop in after class to play pool, shoot darts, and drink High Life. Cookie had a shotgun behind the bar and  James Brown on the jukebox.  On the day he bought us a round of beers we felt like honorary members of the neighborhood.

When Martin Luther King was assassinated – it all changed. We were told not to return by Cookie.  We moved to the white suburbs soon after.

Evil had its way – with all of us.

whi/te boys gone
to the moon
plantin flags & stuff
why you boys goin
to the moon
dont yall think
yall done fucked up enuf
without messing
with somebody else’s world
in the beginning
it was africa
you just wanted to see
you said
& once having seen
commenced to fucking up
open up them china gates
& let’s hunt tigers in india
you whi/te boys sho nuff likes
what ever anybody else has
all ways got to be
digging in somebody’s bag
always got to be plantin flags & stuff
whi/te boys done gone
to the moon
just like they come here
talking bout it’s a
great adventure & we is
the first ones here
& plantin flags
whi/te boys gone to the moon
whi/te boys done gone to the moon
sho hope them lil brothers up there
dont show um how
to plant corn

– Kalamu ya Salaam

rises up…