A New Sun Rising

by Mwatabu Okantah

the sun rises--
another day on the urban plantation awaits.
since that first
emancipation day, slavery
has a "new wave" look

each day
we see them,
descendents of the field
hands that have no
more cotton to pick.
laborers in a time
when machines
do the work of low skilled men.
loved ones turned into
statistics quoted(annually)
at professional negro conferences.
numbers ripped and read
nightly at six
and eleven.

on any given day
in the inner city quarters,
we see them,
we pass by them,
they picture-frame the reality
we wish not to face.
the script is all the way live,
not rehearsed here.
no wake up calls.
no cued studio audiences.
no Hollywood soap fiends to spoon feed
the rabble daily during
what used to be the housewife hours.
no TV here;
this devastation is real.

at the edge of the plantation,
we see them.
their days unfold
in ceremonial gathering;
the new day ritual
counting of coins always begins.
and then, the first
bottle, the one to kill the poison,
the one to blur away familiar
eyes; too familiar
eyes haunt all street
corner sadness.

as the plantation turns
these broken brothers know.
these black battered men remember.
their memories cheap wine
to be passed
from brother to slowdeath defying brother.
we remember them,
as little boys, or brothers,
as fathers, as friends,
or ex-lovers.
we see them, we wish
not to be burdened by these
suns who somehow
never rose to shine…

there is no Fresh Prince
in the 'hood--
no situation comedy.
the new plantation is bleak.
what is this ex-slave's freedom
that gives birth
to spirit dead children
who stand staring on street corners,
who hide in alleys,
who drink a bitter wine,
who eat an even bitterer fruit,
who free-
base themselves
in search of crack-
deferred dreams?

no Hollywood South Central here.
each day, see them.
do not look passed them.
do look into their eyes.
know the quiet turbulence
raging white deep
in the private corners of most
black peoples lives.
who is to judge them?
we have been fooled
into withholding our strong

black healing will not
be seen
on television or surround sound
motion picture

see them.  they are
only black men.
see in them
the depths out of which our future
must surely come:

our new sun
will rise from the worst
to the best in us,

and, the best
in us
has been alive
in us
all along.

for Omar Ali Bey

A New Sun Rising by Mwatabu Okantah

© Copyright 2001. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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