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By dbanach - Posted on 26 January 2017


On Interrogating the Statues of Dead Men

By Kemi Alabi

when you ask

the statues of dead men

how they got here

they will admit—

they don’t remember

they don’t remember how the tattered meat

of their bullet-plowed muscle

repacked itself neatly into marble

when asked about the loaves of spine,

once flexed into so many pieces

they fed the starved courage of all the broken-jawed saints,

the statues of dead men will admit—

they don’t remember when theirs stiffened into something

so whole

when you explain

god stopped showing his face around here

that we’re not sure if it still looks like ours

when you explain

we chisel our heroes into metal and stone

that you’re here to mine for ghosts

the statues will stay silent

this is when you demand

they stop speaking architect

and say something more than legacy and adorned silence

but notice they do not possess the entombed voice of the hero

there’s no wrecking ball dense with breath where the heart would be

just rock

or maybe a stale pocket of hollow

no answer

just another blank stare

when you beg the statues

to scrape the stoic from their joints

just enough

to buck out a rain dance

before the city burns down

before the flames leave nothing but the salt of our spit

and abandoned prayers charred onto altars

you will notice how blood refuses to ribbon its way through stone

you will notice how still impossible becomes

when it faces the tremble of theliving

1975

Sergio Castillo hides a prank

in the middle of a college campus

sculpts 50 steel doves

shapes them in the graceful arc of a single, soaring bird,

then pins them to a block of cement, flightless,

he calls it Free at Last

the symbol of a nation united

sitting

impotently perched

on the granite-etched words of its only king

“We must

come to see

that the end

we seek

is a society of peace.”

and until we do, the birds will stay

paralyzed in their metal,

stranded in the gunpowdered smack of a dream on pause

don’t mistake this for proverb

this is riddle

don’t mistake this for threat or eulogy

this is cock-eyed double dare

when you ask the statues of dead men

what it takes to finish what they’ve started

they will always say nothing

when the cavalry leaders are too statue to speak martyr,

too marble to march hero before us,

you

twig-limbed human

must prove yourself flesh and blood enough

to make the world move

this is cock-eyed double dare

when you ask the statues

what it takes

listen closely

they will say

nothing

they will wait for you to notice

there’s a wrecking ball swinging to the beat of your pulse

there’s rescue growing potent in the shift of your bones

there’s legend hidden in the knuckles of your unslung punch

listen closely

for the tender crack of their bloom

there’s chance stowed in the unfurled fingers of a fist freed at last

notice the hands of time beginning again

notice how much they look like ours

 

via Peter M. Labombarde

Common Dust

by  Georgia Douglas Johnson

And who shall separate the dust

What later we shall be:

Whose keen discerning eye will scan

And solve the mystery?

The high, the low, the rich, the poor,

The black, the white, the red,

And all the chromatique between,

Of whom shall it be said:

Here lies the dust of Africa;

Here are the sons of Rome;

Here lies the one unlabelled,

The world at large his home!

 

Can one then separate the dust?

Will mankind lie apart,

When life has settled back again

The same as from the start?