dusk in atlanta

dusk in atlanta

 

the natives lay back down,

returning to encumbered slumber,

after a sudden, hollow vacation

from grassy parks and peaceful nooks

prompted by the unwarranted eviction

for square tents named justice and democracy

that disappeared as if industrial smoke–

a mirage of rainbows, beats and voices–

 

where folks briefly assembled

from across the land

said in their name,

“we must end poverty,

we must end injustice!”

relaxing in thirty-second floor rooms

and sitting in workshops

with ice cold water pitchers

and brains stationed back home,

 

yet here,

all around

there are families

sitting upright in shelter lobby chairs,

children contorted on mother’s lap

while the laws of the rich snicker,

deny woman the need

for respite from the cold.

 

energy and smiles abound

below sycophantic minds

citing short stays, self-imposed impotence

while walking past a curled up human

scavenging for shade under sycamores—

in too many eyes

blending in with the shadow.

 

what mother allows her children to grow up on the streets?

in these shelter lobbies?

put on those bootstraps,

apply oneself,

the American dream, an uplifting movie

where the guy who lost everything fights hard to get the job,

almost loses his kids to the state,

but perseveres without stealing, maintaining morals, morale.

 

film’s veneer, each opaque promise

destroyed in the rhetorical heat

of the political projector.

 

the same mother who was orphaned at five,

the same who was forced to prostitute

herself to survive Reagan,

the same whose mother was evicted

from public housing for private development,

the same whose mother died at home from a preventable disease,

the same whose mother spent their life savings to migrate

north with the promises: better, fairer treatment, wages

the same whose debts from the sharecropping slave system

forced the family into urban slums,

the same mother widowed by her husband’s lynching,

the same whose mother was denied 40 acres and a mule,

and the traitorous use of the 14th amendment to give

corporations individual protection still owed minorities,

the same mother whose voice rendered silent, visibility a shadow

with the dismantling of 1877 and the taking off of the crow,

the same mother who tried to escape thru the railroad

only to be snuffed out by dogs as if she were one,

the same mother, resilient in spirit

passing along African traditions

of song & dance

before they slipped from collective memory,

who faintly remembers her parents

on a wooden platform,

kiss her and hug her, embracing her as tightly as possible,

as thick translucent skins tore the family

north, south, west.

 

 

words cannot be the only course

people cannot wait

people look and feel and are broken

yet people survive

 

in systems where equality flows

like water at the bottom of a shallow well

in sight, but not touching one’s lips

where the bucket ripped from one’s hands

by a white master

prevents quenching a thirst

rightfully due

to all of black or brown or reddish hue.

 

when those tents and faces and speeches return

people will still be wrapped in blankets

creating a safe space

where they don’t have to see

all of the hypocrisy.

 

 

be united–

fight for justice–

let tents descend on space sensitive,

resolving to prove that presence practices

the same solidarity it speaks.

 

 

atlanta,

we came and left much trash & doubt

why did we come but to

shake your hand,

listen, talk,

break bread,

shut down afflictions

overcome divisions

 

you, the mother of all of us,

the children

of all

of us.

–july 3 2007

in the aftermath of the united states social forum. i stayed for three extra days in atlanta and walked through downtown, the mlk historic district and little five points neighborhood.

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Published in: on August 8, 2007 at 3:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

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