Academic journal article African American Review

Thelonious

Academic journal article African American Review

Thelonious

Article excerpt

It's as if you are given the sky to carry,

lift it on your shoulders and take it to lunch,

sit in McDonald's with it weighing you down,

this business of being black, of staying black

until the darkness of some eternity kisses you.

Birth gives you something other folk thank

God for not having, or else they pray for it,

to have its gift of a body inclined to touch,

inclined to sing. Yet they will not give back

to God the paleness of being able to touch

absolute power. They envy only for so long,

as being black is being bound to danger.

Among us there are masters like Monk,

who understood the left hand stride

on a brick. In his rapturous dance beside

the piano, he was connected to silence.

He danced the disconnected steps to knowing

the scratch and slide of the shoes leaving

the ground, the shoes of the lynched men.

He carried this thing that we are,

as the mystic he was, reveling in its magic,

respectful of its anger, mute and unchanged

at the hate and envy surrounding us. …

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