09 November 2010

Voices and Soul

06 November 2010

by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Poetry Editor

In July, I posted a little seen diary on dKos and also on my blog entitled, On Oscar Grant, Martyrdom and The Digital Age. I juxtaposed the self immolation in 1963 of the Buddhist Monk, Tich Quang Duc with that of the alternative musician in 2006, Malachi Ritscher; and the murders by police of supposed North Viet Namese sympathizer Nguyen Van Lem in 1968 and of Oscar Grant the morning of 1 January 2009.

In the early morning hours of 1 January 2009, Oscar Grant loosely fit the description of a young black man in America; a supposed sympathizer to the Thug Life and a threat to the community, the nation and the world; and so Oscar Grant was shot in the back by Police in those early morning hours, while laying face down on the Fruitvale BART station platform...

I wrote,

... Oscar Grant was murdered by long-held fear and animosity, murdered during a war on brown people domestic and abroad; by a policeman whose only defense is that he meant to torture Grant with 50,000 volts instead. There was no trial for Oscar Grant, only an apprehension and a gunshot in the back.

As I write this, the Judge in the murder trial of Grant is finalizing his sentencing decision for Johannes Mehserle; which will be handed down around 4pm Pacific Time. I am listening to KPFA interview activists at the Courthouse in Oakland, as they gather in solidarity. During the interview, a contingent of KKK and neo-Nazis stormed the area. They were quickly apprehended after they attacked a black kid who dared utter a protest against them. The thugs were taken inside the courthouse; where a holding cell is. I doubt Faux News will report that; but rest assured, plenty of images of black men in dark sunglasses and leather jackets will be portrayed, with commentary of the new hell that is America, what with a black man in the White House.

It is often stated that the US should be renamed, Prison America. I don't disagree with that assessment. It's almost as if we live a daily Stanford Experiment; some of us are guards, most of us are prisoners; but all of us, guards and prisoners alike, are housed within the confines of a concrete block-walled, razor-wired, guard-shack land.

There Are Black

                         There are black guards slamming cell gates
on black men,
                         And brown guards saying hello to brown men
with numbers on their backs,
                         And white guards laughing with white cons,
                         and red guards, few, say nothing
to red inmates as they walk by to chow and cells.

                         There you have it, the little antpile . . .
convicts marching in straight lines, guards flying
on badged wings, permits to sting, to glut themselves
at the cost of secluding themselves from their people . .
                         Turning off their minds like watertaps
wrapped in gunnysacks that insulate the pipes
carrying the pale weak water to their hearts.

                         It gets bad when you see these same guards
carrying buckets of blood out of cells,
see them puking at the smell, the people,
their own people slashing their wrists,
hanging themselves with belts from light outlets;
it gets bad to see them clean up the mess,
carry the blue cold body out under sheets,
and then retake their places in guard cages,
watching their people maul and mangle themselves,

                         And over this blood-rutted land,
the sun shines, the guards talk of horses and guns,
go to the store and buy new boots,
and the longer they work here the more powerful they become,
taking on the presence of some ancient mummy,
down in the dungeons of prison, a mummy
that will not listen, but has a strange power
in this dark world, to be so utterly disgusting in ignorance,
and yet so proudly command so many men. . . .

                         And the convicts themselves, at the mummy’s
feet, blood-splattered leather, at this one’s feet,
they become cobras sucking life out of their brothers,
they fight for rings and money and drugs,
in this pit of pain their teeth bare fangs,
to fight for what morsels they can. . . .

                         And the other convicts, guilty
of nothing but their born color, guilty of being innocent,
they slowly turn to dust in the nightly winds here,
flying in the wind back to their farms and cities.
From the gash in their hearts, sand flies up spraying
over houses and through trees,

                         look at the sand blow over this deserted place,
you are looking at them

-- Jimmy Santiago Baca

No comments: