Ralph Ellison’s Song


slain by ink

again & again

made invisible

conjured on the 11 o’clock news

new mau mau’s

jeans low wild threats to civility

written on like a wall

like an epitaph

suffering on the margin
blues after notes
air brushed black birds residuals of stolen jazz
danced but never understood

imaged like cartoon characters

styled products

forbidden fruit

dangerous sex

myths of mayhem

mouthed by those who still fear

the sins of their fathers

always a story

fading in water

rewritten to serve the occasion

heroes on postage stamps

posing no threats

hemorrhaging prostrate

lifeless outlined in chalk on the street

blood in blood out metaphors

for hope murdered

resilient beyond use

hard to contain


remixed & marketed

fictional pets

owed nothing

owning nothing

not even the songs

sung in sad sober sanity

leveling the demons of

cotton fields

chain gangs compressed

in the prison complex

numbered like stock


in mold infested projects

fodder for cemeteries

birthing children who have written obituaries

for themselves

encouraged to forget

forgive cut off your head

eat it reboot

breathe without air

swim on the sun

win by disappearing

then eat the specter

leave no trace

burn the tale

 & the library

hyper articulated by others

living in pauses
hyphenated by force
lost as a reoccurring theme
reinvention a tiresome necessity
predicated by predators

shrouded in ethnographers notes
exotic outsider
harboring dark thoughts
enduring outside time
waiting to be authenically discovered

conflicted by an ever present
here & there
then & now
yas’ sur’
naw’ sur’

consigned to the no where

where you never was

a haint who ain’t

can’t be

a contradiction with no interpretation

stuffed in the space where

the monsters are hidden

fed regularly

tools of destruction with detailed instructions

drunk on misery
high on suffering
addicted to survival

like stubborn weeds

here face to the sun

growing in crooked places

little water no shade

mostly stubborn persistence

existing in defiance

a hex

hobbled in the public sphere

hollowed out

emptied on the ground

feeding the soil

inhaling the madness

running in neon down city streets

flowering in slums

perfumed by wasted potential

& lost tales of slave rebellions

smelling of stolen narratives

in movie versions

where the fangs are eaten by the snakes

who tell the tale of how it is

& how it came to be

building institutions & reality in ink

skillfully shifting shape on celluloid


reality in the spectacle

of  HD fiction rendered in 3D

made scripture

stitched to me

eclipsing erasing

eating erasing

eradicating erasing