Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sat with a Refugee Talking Books

Who’s your daddy! Who burns up the gas some!
Drives you from your momma’s house to the ball park
Your daddy ain’t home, he left day you were born
Walked out with the stomach pains, unpaid bills

Now where do you turn when you wanna talk ball
Who do you toss the ball to on the basketball court
Your daddy must’ve known you were gonna be a boy
He picked up on his skills drove right down the lane

What am I to you, do you take me for an older brother
Not a brother from the same mother but a trigger fella’
Beating up her ass some, giving him the middle finger
Politicking with the ballers bout the next black President

I come from a list of men who sat with my father drinking
He breathed his gin tonic like I breathed my first martini
In our modest African home they would come thirsty
Thirsty for soup, hungry for conversations about politics

I called them uncles, not brothers of my father’s family tree
They were home and by being home they were family
From the professor to the ambassador, they were gentlemen
Sat in groups, drinks in hand, making sense of black struggle

I called him uncle, he drove past my father day I was born
Overwhelmed and overjoyed, my father said, “I’m a father”
He was like my father, kind and cold with a sailor’s charm
But we spoke, unlike my father, he and I took time to speak

Where were you when the word Negro was the word for blacks
Did you read Invisible Man or Confessions of Nat Turner
He spoke against his country, wrote about it in a memoir
Oh Ghana did I ever know you as a woman in kente cloth

I have lost touch with all the girls at the Royal Preparatory
In an American country I dream of philosophy and love
Sit with a woman talk Charles Bukowski then make love
Would she come, extensions in her hair, black as night

I am envisioning an Afro Punk who pays homage to Bjork
In a voice so mellifluous she sings about black beauty
On a white cloud she braids her hair, paints her lips purple
Would he understand, my uncle, my friend, my father’s other

He recommended Tony Morisson’s Beloved, The Bluest Eye
He taught me how to play white when the world turned
Be able to honor my black pride as the son of a father figure
We were warm, our words were warm, like flat Heineken beer

He was to American music what my father was to mathematics
If Marvin Gaye could spin a web I’d be Wittgenstein with a chalk
Who are the soldiers traveling through the forest of my father’s mind
It’s a dead world, I feel no life, it’s a dead world, nothing but strife

Whether we sat in the company of the many, father looked unimpressed
Watching me go on about adventures in the words I had published
Books I had read, Martin and Kingsley Amis, my uncle knew of them
I listened as his words added to the music, African flavored pop

So go look for your daddy, tell him why you want him in your life
For the nights before you go to bed, he can read you a book
For some of us our black fathers cried the day we were born
Others saw it as a death sentence, living to build license plates

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