Socrates

Eight years out now
And stayin tame
Stayin low
Kilt a man over a woman
Kilt her next
Dese hands, dese crushin hands
Den came twenty-seven years
Indiana guest
Locked in my cell
Locked in my head
Locked in my heart and hope.
Don’t neva rock the Man
Don’t neva speak out
But crack a black man
Sometime for respect
Or for an orderly house
Dass allright.
My little quiet place
Poor, puny and peeling
But mine.
And I collects things
From evywhere.
Also cans and bottles for refunds.
Brought a boy here
For a break and a bite
He so close to dem gangs
And death
Watts here is a smolderin fire
Hate and hypocrisy.
He been comin long.
First sight was him
Killin my chicken out back
Didn’t know no different
And he come to know
I was OK with dat.
I was a man of murder
Lookin straight and quiet now
Missin a wife and kids
Missin they laughter
And purpose.
Coupla friends meet
With me at the Book Store
Talkin bout everything
Sizing up our ways and arguin.
Old Lady at the counter
Lets us come
And smiles extra hard
When her Man arrive
Gentle stooped ovah
They saints to me
And friends lettin me speak.
Lettin me come.
New job is a blessin
Packin and deliverin groceries
Fine old folks
Smilin, sayin “thank you”.
A wage, a walk and a way.
I hung on applyin
Til they said “yes”
And I woik hard an strong
Kids around me shapin up
Curious about dis ole man.
But so many
Messin with girls, guns and drugs
Would they see
What I seen.
Who knows?
Mebbe I’m heppin a lilbit?
Sleepin comes better, easier
Even with dem fights and fires outside.
An some o my dreams
Turnin bright.
(Images inspired by excellent book Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned by Walter Mosley. And the memorable character Socrates Fortlow.)
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