Robert Gibbons ("The Priest and the Poet," "A Jim Crow Row")





The long road to destiny is filled with peril and shock

Saul changed his name to Paul,

Walking a Damascus road to persecute Christians,

He was struck by alight

Light is here, it is internal

It shines, though sometimes we feel dimmed

There are things one must experience and see

Odysseus had to god own into Hades to see his mother

Margaret Atwood communes with the dead

The spirits of ourancestors are always around

Charles Lwanga the little boy from Uganda

Refused to doubt himself

Though he came from the bush

The king wanted no prayer in the royal court

Lwanga prayed religiously

He was burned alive for what he believed.

Martyrdom isinevitable in some of our destinies

Nomusa had 32 brothers and sisters

She had to prove toher father

She was worthy enoughto go

on the great elephant hunt.

Yet, we must seek the truth,

Deep mysteries, subterfuge realities

So that they may rise like jeweled spires

Booker T. knew that road

As he walked into destiny

Martin's destiny, Malcolm's destiny,

As Malcolm swam the historic Zam-Zam River

Swimming allows us touse our entire body

We must use our entire body like a human instrument

The African Proverb,"pray on your feet."

I don't think Fannie Lou Hamer

Knew her words would walk into destiny when she said,

"I am tired and sick of being tired."

Or Rosa, but not only did she walk into destiny

She sat in it, she was manacled to it.

That road, that road,

All roads do not lead to Rome

The church building has failed

Though architecture, barrelled ceiling, baptisteries,

Doric columns are beautiful

Beauty fades likeVirginia sandstone

The church must address destiny

John Locke said,"Everything is in a flux."

We must keep flowing.

When it comes down to pain,

Misery, hysteria, poverty, psychosis,

Color does not matter

When it comes to survival

Blood, liver, diabetes, HIV, crack

Color does not matter

That road, that road,

To destiny

Walk that road

Your own road,

Make it yours

Walk it fully, that road,

Color will not help you on that road

Jim knew he needed Huck to survive

That is why Martin said,

"Black man and white man

Jew and Gentile

Protestant and Catholic"

Because color does not matter

That road is only for the strong

We must see what our ancestors saw

Beyond the physical, the spiritual,

Even the metaphysical

Martin said,

"I have been to the mountaintop and

I have seen the promised land."

The mountaintop is an elevation,

A rampart

It is a mental uplift

It is singing your way out of pain,

It is I dream a world

It is I wander as I wonder

It is wounded in the house of a friend

It is still I'll rise

It is my grandma

It is the gospel in my throat.

It is the sanctity of this poem.

It is that long road to destiny.


  (Originally posted February 15, 2008)





(a tribute to Jesse B. Semple)

Homage to James Langston Hughes


Semple enrolls in Central Middle School in Cleveland.

His 7th grade teacher decides to divide the class based

on color. She did not know that one of her students in

that row had a history and would make history. She called

the row a Jim Crow row. She did not know his great grand-

father, Lewis Leary, fought with John Brown at Harper's

Ferry. She did not know his grandfather was the famous

abolitionist, Charles Langston. She did not know that his

uncle the legendary John Mercer Langston would not become

President of Howard University, and the first African-American

member of Congress from Virginia. She did not know that the state of

Oklahoma would eventually have a Langston University named after this family.

It was simple to accept his segregation, but as you know though he

is Jesse B. Semple, simple is just not good enough. All she knew was:

a row of tragic mulattoes

a row of tomato/tomatoes

a row of demarcation

a row of gentrification

a row of pro-choice

a row from the Village voice

a row with sounds of the tom-tom

a row that followed Raymond's run

a row with no emancipation

a row with a proclamation

a row in the tenderloins

a row on a sharecropper's farm

a row on the church pew

a row of a darker hue

don't you know

it was a Jim Crow row


(Originally posted, October 5 2008)


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