Roger makes a prophesy
for Samuel Reynolds
I consider it my duty to allegorize the falling of birds; to tell the fable which explains the proliferation of finch and blackbird throughout southern fields. I was anointed a long time ago exactly for such stories as this. This is a black poem. This is an old black man poem; a blues and calypso poem. A poem for smoke & sage & rum poured out for the spirits. This is a history poem.
Once upon a time, black was not a color. It was a time. Black was not a place. It made itself entirely of the soil. Black was eternal and black knew this, so black paid its tithes in oil. Black paid its tithes in gold. Black paid its tithes in diamonds. Black paid its tithes in niggas.
Black traveled far to pay these last tithes. Black understood how rich it was and so invented the ideas of sacrifice & martyrdom. Black learned to fly to make its prophesies true. Black lost limbs and learned to wail. Black learned to swim.
Samuel believes we are living in an age of retribution. Samuel believes black has finally lost patience with scripture and with itself for martyring its own blood. Black has grown to become made of steel. Black attracts the smell of bullet and blade. It is only natural that a tithe paid in precious metal should come back to haunt the very skin whose dancing prayered it into being. Now the sky demands what black has been too polite to require – a blood debt. So the sky gives up its winged things. The sea gives up the mermaids’ messengers.
It is my duty to tell of these things. I have given up the poem for the necessity of the psalm. Scripture has been reading me for a long time now. It doesn’t matter what else we offer the black dirt as tithe. We have to become easy lovers with death, but once you do, God how beautiful everything is; how even the birds’ extravagant leap is something to behold. Even the land beyond us becoming steadily barren, is golden.
I love the heft of gun and knife in my hand because our hymnal is a hymnal of blood. This is my duty; to sing it out of even my own heart if it must. But there is something larger coming; covering itself in so much text, we will be locked so many arms with it in combat, we’ll be a monstrous Shiva before we know it is here. To prepare for it is to get good with death.
Samuel has been watching the skies for a while now looking for things that rhyme with rapture. Only one thing we’ve been able to ascertain for sure. Black has been getting ready for this. Black has been war-painting itself for 2 generations and making earth music to drive itself into battle, to get back what its owed. It means black must re-read the legends of its flight. It means black must suck salt, prepare for another big crossing, prepare to face its enemies at the sea.