pardon the rivers on my face
but I’ve seen too many closed into earth
without their insides ever seeing the light of day
what say you when your lover’s womb
is the middle passage the ancestors
never made their way through
when spirits are thrown overboard
before they ever reach shore
lines under my eyes all silt and sink
every poet’s words bout motherland
or sea crossing was a holy hand of nature
was Oya’s breath whispering gales of the decades
old levees behind my eyes
watched parts of me crumble into an ocean
wide as god’s mouth last year
I live across the street from a former housing project in New Orleans. It’s now turned into “mixed income housing.” There’s a police jeep outside of nearly every major building and I’ve been told by a resident that there’s a cop that lives in every one of those buildings. That resident also told me that there’s literally a curfew and rules around how folks can gather. The first few years of living there I thought half the apartments were empty because the neighborhood was such a ghost town. I’ve never seen a Black working-class neighborhood in my city be so…
lest you be lassoed by the hood boy/ be noosed back to the wretched limbs of your family tree / lest all you try ghosting come back haunt yo’ happy home/ creep up your children’s spines like that crack-head did ya mama’s fire escape/ that one night in Brooklyn/ just a vagrant truth looking to be fed/ might set flame in they hearts/ turn it kitchen and whip they bloodline like it’s stir fry/ leave embers in they throat/ turn they mouth trap house till they open it and you get all the smoke
got a whole gang gang of…
War is big business. PERIODT. It’s never about patriotism. It’s never about nationalism. It’s never about pride in your homeland, father or mother country. Hell it’s not even about self-defense. What it’s about, what it’s always been about, is one nation brutalizing the shit out of another nation to rob its resources and/or make the other nation work for it for the other nation’s benefit. Sounds like a jack move to me. But hey, what war isn’t rooted in enough violence and theft to be interchangeable with a good old fashioned street robbery? What capitalist business ain’t a hustle? And…
Capitalism has the power to eclipse our vision, to remove our eyes and replace them with dollar signs if for nothing else, by repeating the same lie a million times until the whole world believes it.
So first we need an understanding of capitalism, what it is and how it functions in order to properly diagnose why words like socialist and democrats will never mix with it. Let’s start with an etymological breakdown of the word capitalism. The root word capital means money that is accumulated to be used to invest to exploit the labor of workers to…
When I’m eleven in the sixth grade I learn the weight of a Tupperware lunch case. Correction: I learn the weight of a Tupperware lunch case at a Brooklyn public school in 1991 where all your friends eat free lunch. A public school where your friend Kareem casually shows you his razor blade under the lunch table. The razor blade his brother Lateef, aka infamous tag artist MACK of the Decepts told him to carry for protection. Maybe my lunch case, too, is a form of protection. An incessant reminder that I am not and never will be one of…
The other night I found out that my Great Grandmother’s brother was a hustler named Romalus. Heard he was the man when it came to running numbers in New Orleans and that nothing moved on Rampart St. without him knowing about it. Known for adorning both his hands in diamond rings and even a diamond or two in his teeth, Romalus used to pull his black Cadillac up next to his kinfolks’ house in the 7th ward, not too far from where I live now, step out his ride and stunt like the neighborhood superstar he was. All this told…
I don’t necessarily need to leave the country to explore the richness of Black culture in an Afro-colonial setting.
Step off the plane and make my way to the CTA train station adjacent. First marvel at the giant spinning fans whirling above me. Then ogle the massive cylinder funneling down towards the black tunnel awaiting the approaching train serving old America vibes. I could be somewhere in the 50s, or on set of an 80s movie emulating 50s vibes.
There’s this grainy old tape of Biggie Smalls when he first came out in the early 90’s. In it, he’s got his arm hanging casually around the shoulder of one of the rappers from an infamous group at the time named Onyx. His eyes are characteristically low, one cockeyed as he looks into and simultaneously away from the camera. “Yeah,” he says,”we coming after all you Big Willie crackers…” and he continues on about how he and his generation of rappers plan to make their big come up into riches through the rap game. His fellow Brooklyn “God MC” Jay-Z…
there’s this white boy sitting next to me on the plane. his angsty hands keep flashing towards the window too quickly. jerky motions that jut out just near my face as he points towards the window i’m sitting next to. the boy sitting next to him is brown with short straight black hair. the two of them hit each other back and forth. do as young boys do. i try not to keep score. try to ignore my mind as it does what it’s inevitably bound to. which is tally who hits who more and who initiates the hitting. but…
The Ellisonian Basement is a collection of my writings on Blackness & visibility in the post-modern world, OR Duboisian double consciousness under surveillance.