It was raining like hell
When they cuffed me
I told the cops
It was simple
An eye for an eye
Leaves the whole world blind
Just like Lady Justice
Except that I have a smile
Not a smirk
On my face
See, Trayvon carried skittles
But I packed heat
When I followed George
From his house
Until he idled
At the drive through
It’s hard to leave a Krispy Kreme
Once you’ve seen the Hot light
And it’s even harder
After I’ve dropped my whole clip
Into your chest
I told the cops
It was simple
Lady Justice is blind
But I can see clearly
The rain is gone
© Gayle Force Press 2017
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This Black History Month I’m Grateful for Zora Neale Hurston
Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not
make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the
pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”
-Zora Neale Hurston
Hurston was the kind of multitalented thinker who helped
validate the name of the Harlem Renaissance. At various points in her life,
Hurston was best known for being a prominent anthropologist, highly acclaimed author
and a dedicated folklorist.
With her fictionalized books being rooted in specific
real-life experience, Hurston paved the way for contemporary writers like Alice
Walker, Jodi Picoult and Toni Morrison. Hurston’s ability to translate spoken
diction into written language helped introduce an authentic Southern Black
vernacular into traditional literary forms. The richness of Hurston’s language
seemed to move her beyond the dialect poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar and
Langston Hughes who also attempted to represent the spoken voices of the south.
Despite having once been out of print, Hurston is now
considered an artistic foremother for feminist and womanist writers, thanks to
Walker’s efforts at reclaiming Hurston’s legacy. In the past forty years,
Hurston has moved from being virtually forgotten to holding a prominent place
in the American literary canon.
Hurston’s novels are among the earliest
examples of Black women existing in the center of their own stories. Her female
characters may be buffeted by the harsh winds of racism, poverty and sexism by
their dignity remains intact.
Today, I am grateful for Zora Neale Hurston. You should be
Seven decades ago, a frightened young girl named Nina saw the tallest, greenest statue she could imagine. The statue held some sort of lantern and little Nina was transfixed in its light. While everyone around her began jumping and shouting, Nina stayed quiet and perfectly still as her eyes remained focused on the lantern and pulled in all the light they could hold. When the ancient boat finally stopped moving after weeks of rough passage across the Atlantic, Nina’s mother had to pull her arm, hard, to break the lantern’s spell.
Five years later, Nina began working, helping to sew gowns at the Catholic hospital on the Lower East Side. She could hardly wait to bring her first wages home to the tenement where she lived with her mother, stepfather and little brothers. Nina knew how much Mamma and Papa Tony could use the extra money. She only held back one quarter from her wages.
After six weeks of hard work, aching fingers, teenage longing and two bits at a time, Nina walked nineteen blocks out of her way to find the storefront that sold the tallest, greenest Statue of Liberty bank in all of New York City. Nina now knew that the light she’d fallen in love with was called a torch and that the torch on her new bank was a simple piece of wood, painted and glued onto the plastic. But pulling the torch, just a little, opened the back of the statue, just enough.
Over the years, Nina stuffed her bank with a few paper dollars then a letter from Korea stamped USMC then a postcard from a small college in Ohio then a picture of her first grandchild. For six decades, the statue bank held Nina’s hopes for the future and dreams of the past.
Even now, the statue remains unbroken and its light is reflected in our memories of Nina.
Chelsea ran away as I tried to take her picture again.
We are going to end up with a lot of blurry sightseeing photos. Few of the marvels of Vienna will be documented appropriately. Too bad she got that awful haircut right before the trip. I bought her a hat from a street vender but I don’t know that it helped much.
I was upset when we got home because the only picture she’d let me frame was the one of the benches where I proposed. No Chelsea, just benches.
We could never afford a honeymoon so we always thought of that trip as our grand adventure. Too bad we were stuck in Lansing instead.
© Gayle Force Press 2012