Academic journal article Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy

Where People Move and Find Their Being

Academic journal article Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy

Where People Move and Find Their Being

Article excerpt

I.

For those in whiter spaces,

the inner city is not home;

it is simply a thereness, hovering;

an idea pushed far from the holy.

Only those who see a deeper beauty

will brush the corners of that world;

and to write that which is seen there

is to risk speaking the unspeakable.

II.

Jamaica Center, Queens

First, it is the bodega, blossoming

with a ruffle of coats and lotto tickets.

The liquor store, pale-green,

yet empty in the street.

The young, weathered faces

enthroned on pale stoops.

The thin church walls, trembling

to "Peace in the valley"- And an

unendurable greyness, crying-out,

"Lose hope; we have abandoned you."

III.

They tell me,

"You can say the word 'injustice,'

but cannot know the weight

of body rejected, the hot flush

the night father is arrested. You can read

the word 'shooting,' but cannot know

the crackle of gun shots,

the teeth against cement-"

here, at the edges of peril where

people move and find their being.

IV.

Harlem

This is how those with much

take from those with little:

Slowly, the childhood bodega

is cleared for the dim bar.

The apartment handle is sawed-off

for the brass revolving door. …

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