I Rise Up In You

 

I rise up in you

like yesterday when

feet went smashing down

to drum beats in the

West African midnight

 

stomping out demons

from baby boys your age.

 

I rise up in you

on those days we

sat in “white-only”

restaurants guarding our stomachs,

not eating a morsel

not saying a mumbling word—

not batting an eyelid

til you let me eat

with no consequence of

separatist backlash.

 

I rise up in you

on Sunday mornings

dressed in

linen suits, fedoras,

handkerchiefs. Humming a

“Wellllllllll” or

“How I got over—been a

long long journey, my soul

looks back in wonder…how I

got over”

 

over crack cocaine in the 80s

when I rose up in you.

Disturbed largely in urban

Black/Brown slums, shot up

and snorted into brain matter

waiting to discover the cure for

AIDS. Needles dancing around

his arm Michael moonwalking

down a back alley.

 

And still I rise up in you

especially when Black men are

beaten by police officers—chastised

like dogs pissing on living room

carpets. Michael Vick fighting bulls.

Robert Kelly pissing on girls

after school.

 

I rise up in you

like Sean Bell rose to heaven

after 50 gunshot booms in

his chest and stomach,

‘fraid of NYPD’s historical

hatred tendencies to shoot first.

 

FEMA’s natural tendency to

let human beings get sucked

underneath 75,000 pounds of

New Orleans swamp water

neglecting a weakening levee.

 

I rise up in you

like Tupac Shakur did all

those immortalized “Thug Life”

lies and hypermasculine

confused graffiti’s etched

in his stomach. Traveling

back and forth between

Brenda and Hit Em Up.

Rising changes—can’t a brotha

get a little peace?

 

So I can rise up in you

like Jordan tennis shoes

raping your mother’s pocets

for a $150.00 pair of rubber mass,

tacky cheaply-made

stompers—sewn together

in 118° sweatshops filled

with 525 Chinese 10-year-olds

paid $0.50 per hour

molested by Nike’s over-zealous

need to create buyers who can’t

afford their solid

Dunks.

 

I rise up in you

like soul food on Sunday afternoon

at 3:00 PM. Buttered cornbread,

fried chicken, a little candied yams,

pork chops, collard greens, coleslaw,

gumbo and rice, chicken and dumplings,

green beans with sliced potatoes,

banana pudding, peach cobbler,

sweet potato pie baked beneath the sun’s broiler,

hamhocks smothered in the

world’s gravy, macaroni and

cheese baked in high blood pressure’s

oven.

 

Even then, I rise up in you

like sports and dance—

the only things we do well,

right?

 

Not educated on the discovery of sciences and

formulations of astrology and

open-heart surgeries and freedom

politic strategies, we drew

the original hieroglyphics,

used the power of the

drum beat to communicate

before formal speech,

we created the stoplight,

hotcomb, peanut butter, IBM,

jazz, blues, gospel, rap, R&B

like Whitney singing “my love is

your love”/ Bob wailing

“emancipate yourself from mental slavery”/

Fiasco motivating us tp “kick, push”/

Badu’s soapy sad love songs.

 

I rise up in Cube’s “today was a good day”

                 Big’s “it was all a dream”

                 Mary’s “you remind me”

                 Bey’s “love dangerously”

 

Set in a scene above all the

times I couldn’t swim in your

pools or walk through

hotel lobbies.

 

I rise up in Barack Obama

standing tirelessly through

forcasted storms pelting

him with the hail of undemocracy.

Unyielding toholding King’s dream

in his sweaty plams

 

dripping jheri curl juice in

the White House.

 

Catfish and red snapper

kitchen scents driving out to

greet us on those West African mornings

laying Kente cloth on the

dining room table.

 

Planting seeds in your brown boy

brain matter. Rising up

like a loaf of bread

filled with yeast.

 

In this classroom—

in my seat.

 

Begging you to claim your

undefeat

 

standing up with immense

cultural pride

 

tears tumbling from the corners

of your eyes

 

singing the words as I

rise up in you—in 1952

like yesterday’s dawn

 

facing the rising sun

of our new day begun

let us march on

til’ victory

is

won

© 2019 by J.B. Golden Group, LLC.

James B. Golden

Salinas Poet Laureate